Clarity Fuel Cell

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by TeslaInvestors, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    At the risk of a Captain Obvious suggestion, I'd look thru the owners manual to see what it says about the maintenance schedule.

  2. slowjet

    slowjet New Member

    Thanks insightman and Pushmi. The steering wheel controls are the same and I checked the maintenance schedule. It shows on the screen that the due date is in 2 months.
  3. altfuelcarguy

    altfuelcarguy Member

    When it's due, the information display will show service A1. Happened for me at 13,000 miles.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Inside EVs mobile app
  4. altfuelcarguy

    altfuelcarguy Member

    On the tires chirping, it's possible your pressure is a little low. Check that it's in the 36 psi neighborhood.

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Inside EVs mobile app
  5. TeslaInvestors

    TeslaInvestors Active Member

    Yeah, I need to learn how to use that maintenance minder. My car dash showed 'A1 service needed soon' at ~10500 miles.
    I have seen some people get that at 15k miles, but I'm not so lucky. Service guy said, some got the message at 8k miles.

    I called Honda of Stevens Creek. They set the appointment very next day, as they only do that service Mon-Thurs.
    The girl setting up appt said, it will be ~2 hours. But when I arrived in the morning, service personnel said it's at least half a day, and will cost $380 to $420 for the liquid, depending on how much I need. This is what I was told before I placed my deposit, so can't blame them. But I had hoped, it will be an annual thing. I suppose, me and my wife are driving the car way too much :)
    I got a rental car from Enterprise next door for a day, so it wasn't an issue. The total came out to be $391.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  6. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    That was a big surprise to me. I didn't know about this expensive fluid--Honda should have included maintenance costs for this newfangled vehicle in the lease price, IMO.

    This post links to an Edmunds article that describes surprise maintenance costs for the Clarity Fuel Cell, such as the ion exchange filter and "a substance called insulating fluid." I also found this article that describes the incredibly stringent regulations regarding servicing a Clarity's fuel-cell stack and hydrogen tanks. They appear to treat hydrogen as if it were a dangerous gas like the noxious hydrazine used to steer spacecraft!
  7. TeslaInvestors

    TeslaInvestors Active Member

    That's crazy! I think roughly 3kg of hydrogen escapes the earth's atmosphere every second. So it's not really that toxic or dangerous.

    At least the service cost should be consistent. I've seen reports of A1 service as low as $280 in Southern California. In the early days some dealers charged as much as $1000+. But Honda has cracked down some, made it little better for service costs. I think the cost of that fluid has also come down.
    In my case, I did ask for this service cost before placing my deposit, and I was told around $400 by the same Stevens Creek dealership.
    It's still expensive, but didn't come as a total surprise to me.
  8. AllenHuo

    AllenHuo New Member

    I have been driving Clarity Fuel Cell for about 11 months and 16k miles. It has been great experience.
    However, I just receive a call from Honda, requesting to schedule a service to "replace the fuel cell stack". Anyone received similar call?
  9. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    I hope that Honda's picking up the tab for this replacement. I doubt there's a more expensive component in any Honda made.

    I wonder how Honda decided it was time to replace the stack? Are all Clarity Fuel Cell cars getting this replacement? Are only cars with 16K miles getting this replacement? Did HondaLink tell Honda something about your particular car that indicated it was time for this replacement? Will Honda or the dealer answer this question?
  10. M.M.

    M.M. Active Member

    I'm curious about the reason as well. 16K miles is probably in the vicinity of 500 hours of runtime on the fuel cell, depending on what kind of driving you do most of the time, and based both on hand-built prototypes I've worked with and my limited experience with more refined automotive fuel cells I would not expect a replacement to be required at that point.

    One assume's it's still under warranty and therefore covered--I can't imagine it wouldn't be. My random guess is that the car's software detected a crossleak in the stack and flagged it to Honda as needing to be replaced. Those happen.

    This was from a couple of months ago, but looking at that article there's nothing unreasonable there. Hydrogen is nontoxic and disperses VERY quickly on account of being so light, but it's also ridiculously explosive in an air mixture so if you're going to be venting multiple kg of hydrogen to the atmosphere you want to make darned sure there's nobody near it who could accidentally ignite the cloud. Likewise for the tall buildings--they're not worried about poisoning anyone, they're worried about it getting sucked into the HVAC system and turning the ducts into a fuel-air bomb.

    The other reason to stay away from a large cloud of hydrogen is simply oxygen deprivation--it won't poison you, but if there's enough of it you could pass out from hypoxia.
    MNSteve and insightman like this.
  11. AlanSqB

    AlanSqB Active Member

    They will pay for it. The FCEVs are still somewhat experimental. They may just want to pull in some examples from different points in the wear cycle to examine.

    They also have a telematics system so they’re always phoning home. Maybe the data is showing something interesting.
  12. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Ask if it’s specific to your car or part of a recall/SB and how they knew. Then let us know. Inquiring minds want to know.
    I knew there is some very expensive fluid that has to be periodically replaced but I’ve never heard of having to replace the fuel cell itself. Very curious.
  13. AllenHuo

    AllenHuo New Member

    Honda will pay for the replacement and provide for rental car. It was estimated to take 1 week for this job.
    I did asked customer support why my car need fuel cell replacement. If I understand correctly, it is a design issue. It is likely that it is not unique to my car.
    I didn't feel anything wrong with the car or seek any help from Honda. It is Honda who initiated the replacement.
  14. altfuelcarguy

    altfuelcarguy Member

    20K uneventful miles on mine. I've heard of a couple cars getting tank replacements due to failure of a sensor in the tank, but no stack replacements. Are you sure it's genuine? I would think you'd have a message on the instrument cluster if there was actually something wrong. Seems strange that they would call you as opposed to sending a letter that would have a paper trail. Wonder what would happen if you ignore it.
  15. AllenHuo

    AllenHuo New Member

    I didn't receive any letter about it. The customer support also declined to send me email about the appointment. But I guess it is not a fraud. The phone number called from is legit Honda number.
    In November last year, a message showing "Service Past Due 102 months, A079" displayed on dash. This is after A1 service around Oct time frame. I took the car to Honda, they reset the code and saying no issue.
    Before that, in September, a message showing "FC coolant low, See your dealer" displayed. Dealer told me no issue.

    So I indeed saw some error message before and they are related to fuel cell. I don't know whether they are related to current event.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  16. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Well... there could be a danger of "explosion" in the sense of rapidly expanding gases -- and not in the sense of a fiery inferno -- if the seal on the pressurized hydrogen system was breached. But it's not like hydrogen is toxic. Hydrogen is (as most of us know, from high school chemistry class) dangerous if it's mixed with oxygen; when the oxygen level reaches ~25%, it becomes explosive. But without knowing more about fuel cell systems, based on just common-sense reasoning and what I know about the dangers of hydrogen explosions (less significant than the Hindenburg disaster suggests), my guess is that shouldn't be a significant danger unless the tank seal is breached. Seems to me that so long as the service area is well ventilated, there should be no problem with explosive hydrogen gas building up in the service area.

    * * * * *

    Sidebar: Now, NASA does treat pressurized hydrogen tanks as a safety hazard, and (other than the obvious problem with a leak indoors leading to a dangerous buildup of hydrogen gas) here is why it's a hazard: Hydrogen burns with a colorless flame, so if there is a leak in a H2 fuel tank
    which somehow catches fire and becomes a burning jet, it can't be seen with the human eye. The way NASA scientists and techs deal with the hazard, so I've read, is to walk around the tank holding a piece of cardboard in front of them. If they see an area of the cardboard char or catch fire, then they know they've found the leak.

    * * * * *

    So, is this an excess of caution on Honda's part? Or Honda's lawyers requiring a ridiculous level of safety to avoid any possible injury lawsuit? Or is high-pressure storage of hydrogen more dangerous than I realize?

  17. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Seems like price gouging to me. If this is part of normal service for the fuel cell stack, then it should be included under warranty. Of course, one could argue that oil changes and air filter replacements are part of normal service and are not covered under warranty. At least they did warn Teslainvestors about the cost before he signed to buy it, so it's not like it's fraud.

  18. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    All that is certainly true, but if the procedure is to vent the pressure on the hydrogen tanks before servicing, then they could just do that outside and away from any open flame or likely source of sparks, so there shouldn't be much of a hazard, presuming some elementary cautions were observed. I guess they would need to post someone there to keep watch, to make sure no idiot smoking a cigarette wandered past the "NO SMOKING" signs which presumably they would put around the car.

    The real hazard would be venting the hydrogen tanks inside, where there could be a buildup of hydrogen in the air inside the room or building.

    Outside, as you say, hydrogen disperses rapidly because it's lighter than air.

  19. Pegsie

    Pegsie New Member

    Just saw this posted on Reddit about a recall for the Clarity FCV:

    Sent from my iPhone using Inside EVs
    AllenHuo and KentuckyKen like this.
  20. AllenHuo

    AllenHuo New Member

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