Oil Change / Mileage

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Claire's Mom, May 29, 2019.

  1. Claire's Mom

    Claire's Mom New Member

    I know you guys have discussed this at length in older threads but I'm curious if anyone has gotten new positive information / feedback from Honda or their mechanics? We bought our clarity in August 2018 and drove on several long trips before the Maintenance Minder came on in October (I think we were just over 6,000 miles at that point). We dutifully took it to our mechanic who changed the oil - but quickly let us know that it was probably premature. Between then and last month when the MM came on again, the car has driven ~ 7,000 additional miles - but less than 2K with the ICE. I have talked on the phone to Honda North America (nice - but uninformed) and the service department at the dealer where we purchased the car (again - nice but just said, "if it says it needs an oil change, then it needs an oil change"). I understand needing an oil change once every year at minimum - but has anyone found a way to *truly* tell if our cars need maintenance as often as the MM seems to think they do??
    Daniel M W likes this.
  2. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    So your two questions:

    "I'm curious if anyone has gotten new positive information / feedback from Honda or their mechanics?"

    I doubt Honda would say anything other than follow the minder. As for mechanics, you have one already who told you it's probably overkill. But that's one mechanic and you don't know what they are basing their opinion on, same with any mechanic, including the one who told you to mind the minder.

    The real question is your second one:

    "but has anyone found a way to *truly* tell if our cars need maintenance as often as the MM seems to think they do??"

    There have been decades long debates on how often even regular cars need oil changes, even when all variables are factored in (and there are many). These debates really got started in about the 1980's when carmakers started increasing service intervals, which cynics claimed was just a ploy to sell more cars at the expense of long term problems that would probably occur after the warranty expired. The introduction of synthetic oils led to renewed debates about the need to follow the manufacturers recommendations. Of course on the flip side are cynics who say intervals are set too frequent so that the dealers can make more money on oil changes.

    The only way to really know is to tear engines apart and examine them, or else send in oil samples for analysis. The former of course is not an option for owners, but the latter is fairly common for car enthusiasts who are really into the detailed operation of their cars.

    What it really comes down to is how long can you safely go? There is a strong opinion by many that an underutilized gas engine should have the oil changed at regular intervals regardless of miles. So how often? Personally I'm going with the old rule of thumb of six months, even if that is overkill. Realistically I don't always keep to schedules so that gives me a little padding in case I don't get to it on time, but I don't plan to go beyond eight months. The only hard and fast rule is don't go one day over a year or you could run the risk of warranty issues since the owners manual states one year.
  3. Mason

    Mason New Member

    For what it's worth, most cars I've driven have recommended 10k miles or 12 months on synthetic oil, whichever comes first. I believe you can reset the minder yourself. No need to change your oil at 2k miles. My sales guy told me to just look at the gas mileage to see if I need an oil change, so I'll stick with that.
  4. stacey burke

    stacey burke Active Member

    The maintenance reminder is set to group your service together so you will only need to go to the dealer one time for everything. The most frequent service that NEEDS to be done is tire rotation at 7,500 miles SO you get an oil change notice at the same time. You can reset the service reminder in total or just part of it. There is an option to say you have rotated your tires and nothing else. As for me I got the notice that I had 3 weeks before I needed service. I took my car to discount tire and had them rotate my tires and reset only the tire rotation notice. When I did that I got 4 months until i needed service. It has been 5 months now and It shows I still have 7 weeks to go before my first service. In 5 months it will be 1 year, the longest Honda says you can go without oil change.

    So by just resetting the tire rotation it prolongs the period of time that the maintenance reminder before oil is needed to change.

    1.Set the power mode to ON.
    2.Press the (display/information) button.
    3.Press the / button to select the icon, and press the ENTER button.
    4.Press and hold the ENTER button for about 10 seconds to enter the reset mode.
    5.Press / to select a maintenance item to reset, or to select All Due Items(You can also select Cancel to end the process).
    6.Press the ENTER button to reset the selected item.
    7.Repeat from step 4 for other items you wish to reset
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  5. graure

    graure Member

    The surest way to know is to buy a couple of oil analyses at Blackstone Labs, with the addition of the TBN testing for at least the first test, then stretching the oil on the second test past the maintenance-minder schedule based on the first analysis' results. I had this same issue when I had a CNG Civic, which although is an ICE vehicle, was reportedly much cleaner burning than a gasoline-powered car. I was changing the oil around the maintenance minder's recommendations around 8500 mile OCIs, but after my Blackstone analysis showed that the oil (Mobil 1 0w20 from wal-mart) had plenty of life left, I pushed my OCIs out to 12K miles and just ignored the maint minder's recommendations for oil changes (but still followed them for tire rotations, etc).
    Clarity_Newbie likes this.
  6. Clarity_Newbie

    Clarity_Newbie Active Member

    ^^^ This

    In my case, I use ICE 28% of the time which translates to 2800 miles for every 10,000 miles on the odo. The standard I use for the Clarity is 15,000 miles on the odometer (translates to 4500 mi on ICE) OR one year for OCI. I keep documentation to validate the ICE miles of course.

    I installed a fumoto valve on the Clarity. The next time the MM informs me it is time for an oil change...I will pull a sample of oil from the Clarity and send off for analysis. I am 100% confident the UOA will come back clean with data showing the oil is good for many more miles. I'll do this two - three times for documentation purposes and once I have the supporting documentation, I will continue with my OCI schedule...or perhaps extended it based on the science...OR...If the data shows it should be changed...then I change it...pretty simple.

    Several folks have asked to see the UOA after the sample is pulled. I will gladly share with you via pm if interested in the science behind OCI's.

    Every owner has to decide what is best for his/her situation. If you know and understand your ICE usage vs EV mode and stay within reasonable ICE mileage usage between OCI's...Honda would be hard pressed to say anything negative. The manual does allow for a one year OCI if the MM doesn't come on.

    The thinly veiled threat of voiding the warranty is always a manufacture trick...so if this bothers you its probably best to follow manufacture recommendations.

    Truth is...no one knows how Honda USA will react to a differing OCI based on facts n figures.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Rajiv Vaidyanathan

    Rajiv Vaidyanathan Active Member

    Great information. Given that my total dealership bill for an oil change was $39, I decided to just have them do it when the service reminder came on. Just easier that way. :)
  8. Claire's Mom

    Claire's Mom New Member

    Thanks everyone for the info!
    I still find it curious that Honda uses lower maintenance as a selling point (from the Clarity webpage) "Plug-in Hybrid vehicles can require less maintenance than gasoline only powered vehicles. Please see your owner’s manual for details on scheduled maintenance." but no one can seem to explain to me why a car that is using synthetic oil thinks it needs an oil change every 6 months regardless of the number of ICE miles driven. The new Toyota Camry Hybrids (which run ICE most of the time) only need an oil change every 10,000 miles or 12 months. Has anyone found a way (other than just keeping track yourself) to determine how many miles the ICE has run? My friends with Volts can see it on the dashboard display / app. Not sure why this feature isn't built into the Clarity's display platform.
  9. stacey burke

    stacey burke Active Member

    Maybe you did not see my other reply. The services are put together so there are fewer trips to the dealer. The tire rotation is in 7500 miles and triggers the other maintenance. See my other post to lessen the number or oil change notices that the Main. reminder gives...
  10. Claire's Mom

    Claire's Mom New Member

    Sorry - should have responded directly - the MM has codes - and both times ours has said "A 0 1" showing that it needs an Oil / Filter Change, All the inspections, and Tire Rotation. If it only needed a tire rotation, why would it not just show "1" at 7,500 miles.

    So you're saying that if it shows A for an oil change that it doesn't really need one? How would you know when it DOES need an oil change then? The other Hondas I've owned have shown Oil Life % somewhere in the display - so it was monitoring the oil in some way . . . does the Clarity not have that feature?
  11. stacey burke

    stacey burke Active Member

    Why does the main. minder put off the oil change when the tire rotation is shown as done? Because it does not yet need to be done.. They group services together so you do not have to have service done today and then again in a couple of weeks for the next one. If you say you have rotated the tires only the tire rotation is checked off but you still need an oil change. BUT the oil change will show at a longer interval. Give it a try and see what I said is not true. I don't know how else to explain it.

    Do you think that the oil needs changed at the exact same miles as the tires need to be rotated?
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  12. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    The issue is one unique to PHEV's which is an underutilized gas engine. Most of the advice, opinions, articles etc. about oil change intervals don't factor in underutilization since for most cars and most people that isn't an issue, so they are providing advice geared for the masses not for the exceptions.

    An example of an opinion on underutilization can be found on the Edmunds website:

    "If you have a weekend car or put very low miles on your vehicle, you'll have to change your maintenance strategy a bit. Robert Sutherland, principal scientist at Pennzoil Passenger Car Engine Lubricants, says that over time, oil becomes contaminated by gases that blow by the pistons, and the longer the oil sits with that contamination, the more it degrades."

    Now of course he didn't provide the magic answer as to how much you have to change your maintenance schedule. That can only be determined by oil analysis. Or by making a conservative guess like six months.
  13. Texas22Step

    Texas22Step Active Member

    Agreed. Testing the oil (as suggested by some) will no doubt yield some interesting information and may underpin a longer interval between Clarity oil changes, but the tests themselves cost about $28 each + time + postage + hassle, so it is easier and just as economical in the end to follow the maintenance minder.
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  14. My dealer provided the first oil change for free. I did the tire rotation at 10,000 miles.

    My plan going forward is to do oil changes and tire rotations myself every 10,000 miles. Our use pattern has us using HV mode about once a week, for at least 100 miles. Plus the occasional longer road trip. So the engine does get regular usage.

    As such, I ignored the maintenance alert that came up at around 12,000 miles and just reset it.
  15. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Why have to guess at all? The manual says the maximum oil change interval is one year if the MM does not trigger sooner. I don’t think Honda would allow that if it would cause any engine problems that would be very costly for them to cover under warranty.

    The major reasons for adding a time factor to the milage recommendation for oil changes are, moisture accumulation, fuel dilution, pH changes, and loss of additive effectiveness (and indirectly the changes in lubricity caused by some of these). To date, no scientific test has proved that more frequent than mfg recommended oil changes have any effect on engine wear.

    In my instance with ~9,000 total miles in the first year with only ~700 miles in HV plus the short infrequent System Checks and 14 hours run time on the ICE, the MM indicated the first oil change at almost exactly 1 year. That was after rotating the tires and doing the inspection and resetting the MM for those two items which gave me 2 more months on the oil change interval.

    So I’m happy to follow the MM since my mostly EV driving lets me only change oil once a year. But those who drive more total miles and more HV miles are having to change oil twice a year. Remember, as @2020 pointed out, oil in an engine is degrading over calendar time as well as run time. The longer the engine runs, the more blow by, condensation, heat, and additive loss occurs. So IMHO, a low use engine may extend its oil change interval but only until it runs up against its time limit which in our case Honda has set at one year max. But as my case points out, you have to drive rather low total miles and low HV miles to get the MM to let you go a full year.
    stacey burke and Texas22Step like this.
  16. fotomoto

    fotomoto Active Member

    My C-Max Energi is once every 2 years or 20,000 miles.

    Anything under 10,000 is ridiculous IMO; especially since the whole point of this type of vehicle is efficiency and conservation of fossil fuel resources. I haven't decided how I will handle the Clarity yet but I know I will not use a dealership for oil changes; even when Toyota included two years of free ones with my 2010 Prius I still did my own (cheaper than the out of town roundtrip drive+my time wasted sitting in a dealership).
  17. Atkinson

    Atkinson Active Member

    I wonder if we can tell if the MM adjusts oil change interval based on ambient temperature?
    In other words, are people in warmer year-round climates seeing longer oil change intervals than those of us in the Great White North?
  18. Steve C

    Steve C New Member

    I question the frequency of oil changes as well. The changing of oil would be more appropriately linked to the hours that the engine has run. In my case I work very hard to driving only in EV mode. My A01 came up when I had =/- 6500 miles. Of those miles I know that more than half of those were EV. It seems to me that Honda should use the existing on-board computer/s to compute engine hours to determine oil change schedules. I understand what KentuckyKen about moisture accumulation, fuel dilution, pH changes, etc., but I don't think it is a major factor with modern synthetic oils. I had the dealer do the entire A01 service anyway because I don't want to do anything that will put the warranty at risk.
  19. GV Ottawa

    GV Ottawa Member

    As a data point, I live in Ottawa Canada and completed (according to the MM) the A19 services at 11K and 22K within the first year of my ownership. I skipped the tire rotation though as I use winter tires and just rotate when those get taken on/off.

  20. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    Some Clarity PHEV's engines (eg. ours) run only a few hours a year, so there needs to be a calendar calculation, too.

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