Clarity failed to start...

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Heino, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. Heino

    Heino Active Member

    I was on my way to a friends house yesterday, when I got into my Clarity and tried starting it, to no avail. Tried several times, and noticed that the start button was flashing red.

    Tried turning the car off, but that did not seem to work either... so I disconnected the negative battery terminal for a minute, and tried restarting the car.

    Now, it just showed a graphic on the display which tells one how to put the car into accessory mode.

    At this point I am suspecting the 12 volt battery... but wanted to see what happens if I connect the car to my lvl 2 charger. It took several presses of the charge door release button, before it would open. When I connected the lvl 2 charger, I couldn’t get the car to take a charge.

    Luckily for me, I have a 12 volt car battery charger, which I used to charge the 12 volt battery for several hours.

    The car started fine after that, but did have all sort of warnings pop up on the display for TPMS and other systems.

    Question - under what circumstances does the 12 volt battery receive a charge?

    I was working from home this week, and the car sat for 6 days without being plugged into a lvl 2 charger. My main E.V. battery was at 90% capacity.

    Now, I also have an Owl Dash cam, but the camera supposedly goes into low power mode after 2 days - but that could have contributed to the problem, especially if the 12 volt battery was already weak or failing (I’ve only had the Clarity for little over a year and the car was bought new).
  2. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Best answer, rather than guessing, is to own a multi-meter for such circumstances. If you suspect the 12V battery is low or dead, first put a meter on it and see if your suspicions are correct, before just putting a charger on it, which immediately loses your baseline for testing. Cheap digital multi-meters cost about $10, and a test is as easy as touching black to negative and red to positive and reading the voltage on the display. I feel everyone should own one. Can be used for all kinds of useful things besides the car, like simple determination of whether a disposable AA or any other style of battery is good, or needs to be pitched. Or if a household outlet is still functional at 110V, or if the item you're plugging in is the problem. They're wonderful tools.

    Invest a few extra bucks for a slightly better multi-meter, now it can also be used as an ammeter to determine whether or not your Owl Cam is actually causing a slow drain, or not. But it must be hooked up in series -- you can't test for low amp draw in parallel by simply touching the probes like you can test voltage, so it's a little more difficult to set up and requires disconnect of the battery and a method of hooking up in series to get a reading.

    To answer your question: Best I can tell, the 12V battery only recharges while the car is turned on, never while it is turned off...plugged in or not.

    For your car I suggest 2 things: 1. A load test of the battery to officially determine the current health of your 12V battery (or just replace it...they don't cost that much), and 2. An inline amp draw test to determine for certain whether your Owl Cam accessory is causing a battery drain problem.

    Without these tests, I see high probability of repeat of your situation.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2019
    4sallypat likes this.
  3. 12V batteries do occasionally, unexpectedly fail internally.
    I recommend bringing the situation (and car) to your dealer's attention and see what they can do to make you whole.
  4. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Active Member

    From all the 12v battery questions on this forum, I think we can assume the 12v battery is only charged when the vehicle is on. The J1772 only charges the main battery. I usually put my 12v on a Battery Tender if I plan on leaving the vehicle parked for more than a week. Your Owl Cam could have caused the problem, especially if it did not go into sleep mode.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  5. Heino

    Heino Active Member

    Actually, I do own all this test equipment and confirmed the 12 volt battery voltage was low by looking at my meter before applying a charge to the battery.

    The battery also has an indicator which stated that charging is necessary.

    Someone answered my question below... looks like it wouldn’t have helped much to have kept my Clarity plugged-in to a lvl 2 charger, since the 12 volt battery only gets charged when the car is turned on.

    craze1cars likes this.
  6. Heino

    Heino Active Member

    I already have a dealer appointment scheduled next week for an oil change and tire rotation. I’ll add this to their list of items to check.

  7. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    What was the voltage reading?
  8. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member Subscriber

    All your symptoms would be explained by a bad 12v battery. It’s hard to test a battery correctly and it’s likely your dealer will say it’s fine. I’d get a new one anyway and save yourself aggravation.
    jorgie393 likes this.
  9. Would the 12V battery be covered, at least partially, under the warranty?

    If so, have the dealer test it and show you the results. Then maybe consider having an auto parts store test it as well.

    The last 12V battery that I replaced had a 7 year warranty and was 6 years, 11 months old.
  10. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Ditto on what @Mowcowbell said. No 12V charging unless car is on. I would expect the 12V to last more than a week so my guess is either it’s weak or your dash cam is draining it. As several said above, a load test and VOM will tell you which it is.

    May I suggest that most any auto parts store will load test your battery for free and be much quicker than an appt at the dealership. If it tests good, you’ve only spent 5-10 minutes. Then, if it tests bad, you can go to the dealer for warranty replacement.
    Also, get a VOM with a clamp which is much easier than disconnecting wires and doing a series connection. Harbor Freight or the Internet has plenty of cheap Chinese knockoffs that will work fine since you don’t need the precision of more expensive ones.
  11. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    A warning about clamp-on meters...
    The point here is to measure current without having to break the connection and install the meter in series.

    You have to be very careful because many [most] clamp-on meters (particularly the low cost ones) only measure AC current with the clamp - rendering them useless for this purpose. If you find one that measures DC, then make sure it has adequate sensitivity. Some will only measure in the amp ranges, and you really need milliamps if looking for parasitic current. All of the clamp-on meters that can measure current in the milliamp ranges will be so sensitive that they are affected by the earth's magnetic field, and thus require you to zero the meter prior to clamping on the wire and taking a reading. You need to be careful to keep the same orientation of the clamp when zeroing as you do for the measurement otherwise the zeroing process will be erroneous.

    Clamp-on meters are great, but when measuring DC current, they require some knowledge / experience.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  12. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    @MrFixit you are my new hero. In hindsight this makes perfect sense. I completely overlooked that we’re dealing with very small current here. I confess to never having tried my amp meter on anything less than several amps at 120 V.

    Can I use my cheapskate VOM on its miliVolt DC (starting high and then going low) setting between battery and disconnected negative terminal to give me total parasitic load when car is off? Then remove fuse to the accessory’s housekeeping load I’m trying to measure. And then subtract the difference? Or do I have to series it into one wire that goes directly to the accessory and measure directly?

    I’m kind of interested now about how much the housekeeping draw is in the 12 Volt battery when the car is off. If we measure it and it doesn’t change over time, then we could make an informed decision on how long the car can sit before the 12 V battery is drained to the point of harm. This would let me know how many days away I can be before I have to put it on my battery minder.
  13. leop

    leop Member

    This is what I use for battery testing:

    You can find it for less cost on eBay, etc., if you wish. It uses the battery internal resistance rather than the amperage on a load but I find the results to be quite good. And, this is how the Honda dealer did the required 12V battery test for my Clarity purchase. I use this meter to make sure the auto 12V batteries are good before winter. The cost is well worth it not to have to have a family member call for their car not starting.

    For measuring the DC current from the 12V battery, I use the following multimeter with current clamp:

    Again, you can find this for less cost on places like eBay. I find that this meter works very well for measuring low (milliamps) parasitic drain currents.

  14. jorgie393

    jorgie393 Active Member

    Many dash cams (mine eg, a Thinkware) and I think the OwlCam bring discussed here, shut off if the voltage falls below certain level, to prevent overdraining.

    Still probably means you need a new battery...

    Sent from my iPhone using Inside EVs
  15. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    @KentuckyKen - Yes, what you are suggesting could work (I assume you meant to say on its milliamp scale not millivolt)...

    There are a couple of caveats... First, as you know, disconnecting the battery while connecting the meter is kind of a catch-22. You are unintentionally introducing another variable by doing a hard reset so the parasitic current may be different immediately after a hard reset.

    You could attempt to to avoid this problem by connecting the current meter to the terminal and the post, somehow keeping it connected while you disconnect the terminal. This would theoretically not cause a disconnect, but you may need 3 hands or some special connection technique.

    Yes, start on a higher setting, then go lower because you don't know how much current to expect. Of course, the Clarity has a mind of it's own. and may decide to invoke a heavy load while you are in the midst of your testing. When you open the door to pull a fuse, etc. the interior light will come on and draw much more current than the parasitic load... Who knows what else could turn on / off while you are noodling around.

    I would be tempted to obtain a clamp-on DC meter to avoid some of these problems, but as I said, the lower the current, the more finicky it is to get a good reading. You can get one of these for not a lot more than your 'cheapscape' unit. I bought one of these around a year ago:

    edit : @leop - I see you bought the exact same meter as me !!! Good choice !!!
  16. The Gadgeteer

    The Gadgeteer Active Member

    Modern cars have so much electronics always going that they put a pretty decent draw on a battery. Especially if one of the key fobs is nearby. Add in cold weather and the dash cam I bet even a healthy battery would have issues. Anyway simply using a battery tender or turning the car to the “on” state for a few minutes every few days will be enough to keep the 12 Volt topped up.

    If you do get a battery tender stick to Deltran brand. Trust me you don’t want any other brand battery tender. Most other brands will eventually cook your battery.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  17. JCA

    JCA Active Member

    I did an experiment last summer (Multiple System Warnings) and the 12V battery does seem to get charged while the car is off and charging (voltage across the battery > 13V), which makes sense to me because the 12V system is presumably being used for the charge management logic itself.

    I have no experience with clamp-on DC ammeters -- to use a regular multimeter you do want to avoid disconnecting the battery causing things to reset and affect the drain. You might be able to carefully position the tester so it's in the right mode and contacting both the battery terminal and the cable while they're still connected (will measure 0A at that point), then carefully remove the cable so the current is going through the meter giving the parasitic measurement, but the circuit is never interrupted.

    Be *extremely* careful though, even though the load itself should be very low, the dangers of shorting the battery are high. If I were doing this I'd probably do it on the negative side; much less risk of accidentally touching things to grounded metal around (cover the positive terminal completely so no person or leads can touch it). The resulting measurement will be the same.

    If it's not a high drain, then I second the other thoughts that it may be a bad battery. The dealer should be able to load test the battery and replace it under warranty if bad.
  18. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Maybe the 12V battery gets charged while car is off and big battery is charging...but OP Heino was asking whether the 12V battery ever gets charged after the initial charge has long been done, and the car is no longer plugged in? Like 6 days later as OP mentions? Was this by chance ever a part of your experiment? For that matter even being left plugged in, after initial charge is done? I am doubtful you experimented like this as most people don't let their cars sit unused for that long while they're home. But curious.
  19. JCA

    JCA Active Member

    I think we're in agreement; I was only responding to the statement that "The J1772 only charges the main battery". From what I measured, when the car is off:

    - The 12V battery does NOT charge when the car is not plugged in, or when it is plugged in but not charging (due to schedule or charge completed)
    - The 12V battery DOES charge when the car is plugged in and charging.

    So you are correct, sitting for 6 days the 12V battery will not be getting charged assuming the car itself was only charging at the beginning of that time or not at all. You could of course do things like leave the car at a lower SOC and use the app to schedule or manually start and stop charging for an hour a day; in that case the 12V battery would be getting a recharge each day similar to driving any car for an hour. But generally a 12V car battery should be last at least a few weeks, pointing either to an abnormally high "off" load or a bad battery cell in OP's case.
    Cash Traylor and craze1cars like this.
  20. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I see some statements in this thread about charging of the 12V battery when the car is off but plugged in and charging the HV battery. Last year I checked that with my meter and the 12V battery is being charged. The DC-DC converter is on in that instance.
    Cash Traylor likes this.

Share This Page