Plug-in charging system problem

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Eva Farkas, Mar 5, 2018.

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  1. Eva Farkas

    Eva Farkas New Member

    Hello everyone! I'm new to the forum, as I'm a new Clarity owner (Touring model), from Toronto, Ontario (Canada).

    We received our car on Feb. 15, and 9 days later, I ran into a charging error when plugged into a 240V public charger. The green charging light on the car's plug-in port was blinking rapidly, then would eventually go out. Charger did not show a fault (I tried multiple chargers in various locations to see if this would be different, thinking, maybe it was a charger error).

    This happened on a Saturday, so I anxiously waited until Monday morning to take the car to the Honda dealer. They hadn't seen this problem (car's too new on the market!). They did a "system reset", which basically means they removed the negative terminal on the battery (under the hood, not the main battery on the bottom of the car) to restore factory defaults.

    The error went away, and they were able to charge normally. They release the car to me and said "let us know if there are any more problems".

    Fast forward 4 days, and the error pops up again! Both times, I was a 240V public charging station (we don't have charging at home yet, as we live in a condo, and it's an uphill battle to get charging installed there).

    So, I take the car back to the dealer, and they immediately get the Service Manager to talk to me. It seems that after my initial report, Honda Canada contacted the dealer the next day, to let them know this is a known problem.

    Honda's explanation:

    This not an error with the car. The car has a built-in protection mechanism in its software that trips if there is current fluctuation during charging. So if the current changes (even slightly, or momentarily) during the plug-in charge, the system shuts down to protect itself, throws the error, and the error message must be reset.

    In other words, the power source must be "clean" (pure, uninterrupted, etc.). Honda recommends using Honda-installed 240V charging (ie. at dealerships).

    HAH! That's crazy!

    So, the Service Manager says, yes, that is crazy. No one can charge at the dealerships on a consistent basis. It's not practical and that's not a solution.

    So, Honda is now apparently working on a "software fix" which essentially will change/remove this shutdown feature, allowing "unclean" power to charge the car. Not sure how it will work (how severe can the fluctuation be? will there still be some type of protection available?).

    Apparently this is not supposed to be an issue if you are charging on a standard 120V plug-in, using the supplied cable/charger device that came with the car.

    Timeline is April/May 2018 for the software update implementation, and probably will be done on a recall basis. I will be getting a call from my dealer, as I am the only one who has reported this so far.

    Anyone else in this boat?

    Attached Files:

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  3. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the Clarity club of early adopters. Sorry to hear you’ve having this problem. I have charged about 20 times at a vey old public AeroVironment Charger and at my new ChargePoint at home with no errors.

    Has this been at the same charger or at different ones? Try using a different charger to see if it’s an unstable power delivery at that single charger and not a car problem. Best wishes.
  4. Eva Farkas

    Eva Farkas New Member

    Hi. Thanks for the welcome!

    Yes, different chargers, and different locations. 2 of the Ikea chargers (different locations), and 2 public parking lots. All non-Chargepoint chargers. So far, only Chargepoint has been rock solid for me. But there aren't too many Chargepoint stations nearby my work or home (yet).

    I'm hoping to get at least 120V charging in my condo soon, and then start the fight for a 240V charger (Chargepoint, if I can convince them!).
  5. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Bummer. Seems like the problem is in the car then. Good to know that you’ve got Honda to respond to the problem.
    Please keep us updated on the resolution. I will be interested to know if this is a problem/recall for all of us or just Canadian models.

    I will try to keep from cracking jokes about Canadian electrons.
  6. Eva Farkas

    Eva Farkas New Member

    Apparently the problem is widely reported in the US (I think we only have a couple hundred Claritys sold in Canada so far, so a statistically low chance of the error cropping up here in substantial numbers).
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  8. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Eva, I checked through the post on this forum and could not find any reports of owners having this problem. Where did you find that this is being widely reported in the US?
  9. Eva Farkas

    Eva Farkas New Member

    Honda Canada told the Service Manager at my dealership. That is why a fix is in progress (being developed in the US).
  10. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Please keep us updated.
  11. JimW

    JimW Active Member

    Their explanation sounds fishy to me. I have charged at least a dozen public stations and have never had a problem. I can't imagine that 4 completely separate stations would all have poor quality power.

    EV "chargers" (technically called EV Service Equipment) are not chargers, they are a fancy switch that turns on the power when a car has successfully negotiated connection, and turns off power when the car tells it to or if they detect certain anomalies, like ground fault current. The path from power going into the EVSE and the cord going to the car is direct, in most EVSE it is a mechanical relay. My point is that the EVSE does not do any conditioning of the power - there is no transformer. The EVSE simply connects the 240V power leads directly to the cord going to the car.

    The pilot connection from your car may be flaky. There are many report of EV chargers (the part located in the car) with bad pilot diodes, so they cannot properly negotiate for power. So the car will work with some chargers and not with others. I suspect there is a problem with your car, so recommend keeping pressure on the dealer to resolve problem.
    almase, Ragman and Timothy like this.
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  13. Timothy

    Timothy Active Member

    Eva, I am with Jim on this one. If the Clarity were as sensitive power fluctuations at an EVSE as your dealer suggests, many of us would have been seeing this issue. Most of us here have used many public chargers without seeing this issue. What are the chances that it's just the EVSEs in Toronto that have "unclean power?" Very small compared to the chance that there is an issue with your vehicle. You should at least get a better explanation than "unclean" and toss it by the folks here who know more about power than I do.
  14. Eva Farkas

    Eva Farkas New Member

    Thanks guys. Great to have support on this frustrating issue. Being a novice regarding EVs (though I've read a ton in the last few months), I'm likely to believe anything reasonable they tell me....

    I will be pursuing this if it continues. In fact, I'm going to go back to those "unclean" chargers, and see what happens. If they work consistently, or I get faults on chargers that until now have been solid, I will truly suspect my vehicle, and demand a pilot connection swap (under warranty, of course!). I can't keep spending days visiting the dealership (they're not open convenient hours with regards to my work schedule). I'm losing vacation days!

  15. JimW

    JimW Active Member

    To add to my earlier post, the "many reports of charger problems" comment was not related to the Clarity. Most were Nissan Leaf, and most from 5+ years ago. The consensus seems to be that chargers (the device in the car) and EVSE control circuitry have gotten more robust and interoperable since then, and there are not many incompatibility problems these days. A problem usually means either the car or EVSE are defective.
  16. Ken7

    Ken7 Active Member

    I've charged a couple of times at public stations and have had no issues.
  17. AlanSqB

    AlanSqB Active Member

    Try turning on the parking brake and closing all the car doors when charging.

    It should not make any difference but it has been reported that this sequence has been required for some public charging locations.
    VTSAX likes this.
  18. bpratt

    bpratt Active Member

    FYI here is information that shows the connection sequence between the car and the charger or supply equipment once it is plugged in:

    Supply equipment detects PEV

    Supply equipment indicates to PEV readiness to supply energy

    PEV ventilation requirements are determined

    Supply equipment current capacity provided to PEV

    PEV commands energy flow

    PEV and supply equipment continuously monitor continuity of safety ground

    Charge continues as determined by PEV

    Charge may be interrupted by disconnecting the plug from the vehicle
  19. AlanSqB

    AlanSqB Active Member

    This is a good source of info for the J1772 protocol.

    It sounds like the Door Open/Parking Brake thing must be on the car side but I have personally not been able to replicate the issue to troubleshoot.
  20. bpratt

    bpratt Active Member

    Thanks Alan. I had forgotten where I originally got that info.
  21. bfd

    bfd Active Member

    The dealer explanation seems far fetched to me, as well. For an EVSE to cause the car to throw a fault there would have to be a critical system failure. If the handshake isn't there from the beginning, then there's no charge. However, loss of ground or a shaky ground (no, not the California type) could create the same issue. And at a public charger, there's no telling whether or not something's worn out, been tampered with, etc. But this also seems like an issue which would not affect the Clarity system - it just wouldn't shake hands with the EVSE.

    Also, for the system to just shut itself down - not allowing further charges - also seems suspicious unless it's the car's charging system that's at fault. I get the "dirty power" argument, but it just doesn't fly with the sophistication of this equipment and the standards used. And in US/Canada, we're really not seeing the kind of 'dirty' power that might cause problems. That makes me feel even more like it is an in-car charger problem. You might try using the supplied 120V EVSE for a few days and see what happens.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  22. Eva Farkas

    Eva Farkas New Member

    You are all wonderful sources of information. Thank you!

    I would LOVE to plug in using the 120V EVSE, but I currently don't have access to a standard plug at home or at work. I'm parking at work in a public garage nearby that has 240V EVSEs for use (free!), but no regular plugs.

    At home, I live in a condo, with no plugs anywhere in the underground parking (or outside). I'm starting the battle to get either a regular 120V plug installed in my spot, or 240V EVSE(s) installed for use for all owners. At the moment, I'm the only EV owner in the building and the building is mostly older folks (less likely to consider an EV for future purchase). Still, this is the way of the future. I'm sure I'll wear them down eventually.

    No charging issues in the last 2 days using 240V EVSEs. I'll update as time goes on.....
  23. ilun

    ilun New Member


    I've used a dozen different public 240 L2 stations with my Clarity so far, and have never run into this 'charging system problem' fault.

    FYI. However, I encountered a different charging issue with one specific public charging stations, where the station would report the car drawing little power and it would stop charging (assuming full charge) when the battery is nowhere close to being fully charged. Remote starts from the HondaLink app would restart charging, but often stop shortly. That was a station part of the ChargePoint network and after the station owner did some tune up work on the charging stations it's working fine now.

    So far my take is that the Honda Clarity may be more susceptible to station-side charging issues than other cars.

    BTW. How are you clearing the fault code? Are you unplugging the battery neg-terminal or did you get an OBD-II scan tool and clear it from your phone?
    Johnhaydev likes this.

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