March 20

2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Top Local, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast and video series, and we're talking cars with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience and 22 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. And today's victim is a car I know a little bit about, a 2018 Honda Clarity. What was going on with this vehicle Bernie? 

Bernie: Yes. So what was going on with this vehicle.  This vehicle was in for its first maintenance service. And I know you know a lot about this. So full disclosure everyone, this is your car Mark. We are featuring it and I know you know that, but it's awesome to, you know, thank you for the opportunity to do the first maintenance service on this vehicle. 

You know, a lot of people, we have a lot of clients who, you know, had been coming into this for years. Then they buy a new vehicle and for some reason they'd go to the dealer thinking they have to get service done there. Now I know if the dealer throws in free service, free maintenance of course go there. May be stupid not to, but for those who don't get free service, please come back to us because we do a really good job and it keeps your warranty fully intact because we use all of proper fluids and filters and everything that will keep your vehicle warranty intact. 

So, and we like working on new cars. You know, there's not a lot that needs to be done, but they're all nice and clean. And we'll look at a nice picture show of your car in a few minutes. So basically this vehicle is due for its first service. As you mentioned, I believe about 10,000 kilometres are on the vehicle and a pretty simple service. I mean  basically an oil change is essentially what it is and a visual inspection of the vehicle. 

Mark: So you just covered the second question. So it's a hybrid. Are there any additional service requirements? 

Bernie: There are none. I mean, the hybrid, the nice thing about the hybrid system is it just kind of works, it just works in the, I'll say in the background. I mean, it's certainly more than the foreground, but it just works. It's reliable. If anything does go wrong, warning lights will come on and you'll know that there's a malfunction of some sort that needs to be addressed. But other than that, it just basically takes care of itself. And you know, of course with this car being almost new, it, it does have a warranty on it. So for the first while, there's nothing that you need to worry about.

Mark:  It's actually a plugin hybrid, which means that we, it gets a drink on a fairly regular basis at home. 

Bernie: Yes. So a question, how often, how often do you actually run this on the internal combustion engine? Because that's really when we do the maintenance service, that's pretty much all it gets serviced is the internal combustion engine.

Mark: As little as possible. Because when we're, you know, looking at the difference between the two, it's got a very small fuel tank, a five, well, five and a half gallons, 27 litres, roughly. Which is really small. Kind of takes me back to my poor student days of an Austin Mini five gallon tank and which would take me from Kamloops to Vancouver actually. Anyways, this car with that small tank, in honest truth, we've had it for almost, well, in a couple of months, it'll be a year, and we filled it up six times with fuel. So not a bloody lot. Is the gas engine as little as possible because it's just so much cheaper at 11 cents a kilowatt hour to put electricity into the battery. It's way cheaper. 

Bernie: Yeah, and I imagine the car's nice to drive on plugin mode anyways. It's a lot quieter and you don't have to the vibration and the noise of the engine as well.

Mark: We'll get into that for sure because that's an interesting part of this vehicle. 

Bernie: Yeah. So really even though the vehicle has 10,000 kilometres, the internal combustion engine may have one or 2000 kilometres of actual usage. And I will say that, you know, when one of my technicians did the service, but I did look at the oil and it does look discoloured. I mean, not certainly hideous, but you know, it's a good time to change it because you know, as we've talked about different maintenance schedules in a previous podcast, you know, a hybrid is kind of in the severe use category because the engines, you know, it'll start up cold. It  often doesn't run for a long period of time. It'll switch on, switch off in hybrid mode. So you know, while it's running, it is actually under pretty severe usage. So it's good to change it at the prescribed interval, even though it seems like it may not have been run all that long. 

Mark: So Honda's made a lot of different hybrid vehicles over the past, at least 20 years, maybe longer. What's unique about this Clarity hybrid and what you've seen? 

Bernie: You know, what I see with the Clarity is okay, first of all, it's a plugin that's a bit different, a lot of Honda's were not plugins you know, until recently. So I think that's the biggest differentiating factor of the Clarity hybrid is the plugin feature but I, I just see it as kind of like Honda's evolution of hybrids. It's just the technology keeps improving over the years, and you know, and they keep adding to that technology. And what's interesting about this car is that it's kind of, I don't want, not an insult, but it has that same ugly rear fender cover, as the Honda Insight. This is certainly a much nicer looking car but it has that, actually, why don't we just show some pictures right now? 

Mark: The fender skirts Bernie.

2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service
2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service
2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service
2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service
2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service
2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service
2018 Honda Clarity Maintenance Service

Bernie: The fender skirt. Yes. Thank you. Yeah, it's got that, this is your beautiful car just freshly washed after the service. Yeah, it's got that, you know, sort of half fender skirt. Well the inside had a full fender skirt on it. But what's actually kind of neat about the Honda Insight, is that actually, that whole car body is actually aluminum, which is pretty cool. Like that's, you know, a 20 year old technology and it was like way ahead of its time. Unfortunately the styling was just so ugly. I don't know why anyone ever bought one, but they were, you know, they're pretty cool car for what they did. You know, so I just kind of see this as an evolution in that technology. 

Look at some other pictures because you know, speaking of aluminum you know, there's a lot underneath the vehicle that's aluminum. This is a look at the rear suspension and this whole a rear sub frame is all aluminum. And it's got this interesting, rear suspension arm. The picture doesn't really portray it quite as well as when you look underneath, you go, what the heck is this arm that sticks way out and it has a big steel frame. And my technician, Edward and I were kind of looking underneath and what that, why did they have this thing? And I think it's actually to prevent, if you back up from whacking this arm and bending it or breaking it. So it's a little interesting additional piece of metal there, but it really nicely formed, a nicely built, obviously weight reduction you know, is in mind there. 

We have another look, again another look of the rear suspension. Here's the muffler, beautiful welded stainless steel muffler. I mean, kind of neat technology. I always love the technology of cars as they come out. 

There's a look at the front suspension you know, just looks like a standard front wheel drive but again, a lot of aluminum pieces here. The control arms, the tie rod ends, really nicely fabricated. 

Underside of the engine. So this is a transmission and the electric drive unit in this area here. And then you've got your internal combustion engine here, oil filter. There's the air conditioning compressor, which is which is electric, you know, it's a high voltage unit, which is common in all modern hybrids and electric vehicles. Again lots of aluminum. And where are we going next. The front exhaust system, catalytic converter, orange cables, all orange cables, those are all high voltage electrical system cables.

And then we'll get back to the under hood. So here we have the internal combustion engine, air intake, intake manifold, radiator. This is the inverter for the electric drive motors, and you know, underneath here would be the transmission in the electric drive motors, ABS brake module, and of course, lots of orange cables. And then Honda's cool little nifty earth dreams logo. I dunno whoever thought of that, but I just laugh every time I look under the hood, especially when it's a straight internal combustion engine. I just go I don't know what that means. It's just weird corporate jargon. 

Mark: What's the size of this combustion engine? I think it's 1.4 litres. 

Bernie: Yes, it is. So not huge, but for you personally, what's the performance of this vehicle like?  

Mark: Let me ask you another question first. So how many electric motors? It's two or three, I think. 

Bernie: Oh, I should've done my research a little more thoroughly, but generally it's two.  

Mark: And I think there's a traction motor and a regenerative braking. 

Bernie: Yeah. Usually it's mg one and mg two and one of those motors drives the vehicle. The other one, we'll start the internal combustion engine. It'll do the regenerative braking, and then a lot of times, two of them will work together. So on this system, I actually haven't done my research as much as I could have, but they all work together and usually serve different functions. But one of the motors is usually substantially larger. That's the one that drives the vehicle. 

Mark: Yeah. So this vehicle is similar in a way to the way other electric vehicles, where they have the skateboard platform, where the batteries are along the bottom. The battery runs from the firewall and the engine compartment to basically where the engine cabin ends and then their batteries are stacked. The batteries are running underneath the floorboards of the car basically. The inside is quite roomy for this size of car. You don't have the driveshaft tunnel and so that's a really positive thing. It's a 17.7 kilowatt hour battery, which is for how much space that battery's taking, it doesn't compute. Somehow in my mind, it's really small for that much space. So they use some kind of weird technology that's not exactly the, you know, the best out there by any means. I mean, in a similar kind of space of Tesla will have 75 kilowatt hours. 

Bernie: Yeah. That's pretty amazing. It's a really amazing difference. It makes you wonder what's exactly in there in terms.

Mark: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, they've done it. They obviously know how to cram a lot of stuff in there. You can see from the engine compartment, it's got, you know, two electric motors and a combustion motor. Operation. You asked about performance. You get different driving modes. So you just click a button and you've got a sport mode and the vehicle if you start from the stop, it catches your attention. It's pretty quick. It's zero to 60 and seven seconds. 

Berne: That is quick.

Mark: Which, you know, in the world of EVs, it's not that fast, but in the, you know, regular world, this is just a passenger car. Your regular Honda Accord, basically. Maybe finished a little nicer inside. Got a nice but pretty common these days, you know, smaller size of  LED unit, which is, you know, my experience with it is it's not that user-friendly to use, but it's okay. I've driven Teslas. I know how they work, and it doesn't compare, in all honesty. The fit and finish of the vehicle, it's Honda. It's like a lower model Acura in terms of how I felt it was inside. It's very nice. It's a comfortable, super comfortable. Actually, I would say it's one of the most comfortable cars I've ever had. 

What don't we like about it? Performance wise it's wonderful when you're driving on the electric, like you were talking about earlier, it's very quiet. It's very powerful. When you want power, it's instantly there. All the wonderful things about electric. Anyone who says electrics don't have power is wrong. Period. 

Bernie: They've just never driven one. 

Mark: It'll snap your head faster than any other vehicle you've ever had. But when you suck too much power, too much, too fast on that small little battery, the other motor will kick in. It's got a constant variable transmission which I'm sure they probably had to use in this vehicle, which means that suddenly you got a whole bunch of noise and clatter happening that you didn't expect. Or if the battery is running low, the motor will automatically kick on and you don't have any choice about it and it starts to charge basically the gas engine is charging the battery so you don't run out of battery before you get home. 

You don't notice it at highway speeds, you can't hear it because of the road noise and wind noise. But in town, it's jarring that suddenly that motor comes on, or if you really stomp on it, it will kick in and both motors will run. That's where you get the full amount of torque. I think it's, 270 foot pounds of torque, which again, for a little one and a half liter equivalent vehicle is a lot. It's like it's got a V6. 

Bernie: Yeah. 

Mark: In performance. We wish that it had way more range. In all honesty, and if we had it to do over, we probably would have jumped and gone to a Tesla to be honest with you. Otherwise, no, the car has been trouble-free. It's easy to use, love the fact that we've got experience now as having a pseudo EV where you could just plug it in each night and you got all the juice and all the range you want in the morning. It's pretty amazing. 

It's sobering to see how much in cold weather that range drops cause it drops a fair amount, 17 and a half, or 0.7 kilowatts. It gives us generally on once, now we're starting to warm up, we'll get about 80-85 kilometres. So for most of the driving that we do even, you know, on longer trips that's going to cover most of what we need.

Bernie: Covers a good distance. 

Mark: And we've got the gas tank there so that if we want to drive to Seattle and back, which is, you know, a fair, good distance, the vehicle, you know, just throw some fuel in it and keep going. It's got 700 kilometres of range, so.

Bernie: That's pretty awesome. And it's interesting, one thing you mentioned earlier that caught my attention, you talk about how the, you know, as, as the battery gets low, it'll start charging the battery. And it's what amazes me about you know, the technology of these cars, you know, and all hybrids, even going way back to the Honda Insight well that's actually such a simple hybrid. It's a little different, but you know, these modern hybrids, the computer management of things, you know, is amazing. You know, things like the engine will just start because the batteries low, maybe not because it has to, but can't be lower than a certain level of charge, you know, for maintenance. So there's a whole bunch of stuff going on in the background in a hybrid that, you know, even when you hit the brakes, sometimes you're, if it's an emergency stop, it won't even do regenerative braking. It'll just go straight into a full ABS braking. So there's so many items that are just managed in the background on these cars, and it's reliable. That's the neat thing about it, you know, with all these computers. I've been in the trade for so long. I always worry, Oh my God. It's so complicated and it's like it, it seems like where it really counts, it's reliable. 

Mark: Yeah. So the regenerative braking is one other thing I'd like to talk about. That is a really, once you get used to it, it becomes very interesting to play with. Now with the Clarity you've got options. So when you're in certain modes, the regenerative braking on, and you have a paddle shifter where you can set how much you want. So if you're in sport mode, you can set it at, say full, you know, so it's got full regenerative where as soon as you take your foot off the gas. Off the accelerator, the car starts, you feel, it's just like somebody put a big drag shoot out the back. You're, it's pulling you back, pulling you down, slowing use your speed. Most of the time you're in EV mode trying to conserve as much battery as possible and it's not set like that, which to be honest with you is one of my pet peeve. I'm always clicking on the thing because then you can set it manually by how much regen you want every time you come to a stop.

And I'm always putting it up to four, up to the max because I want to gain as much battery back as I possibly, it's not much, but it helps. It extends it a few more kilometres. And that's sort of a pet peeve. It's kind of a weird way. I don't understand why they did that. Why they, you can't just set it once and leave it. That's how it is in other EVs. You just, you go into the control wherever the controls are and set how much regen you want and there you go. That's what you get. So that leads to the motor kicking in a little bit more often. 

Another thing that I wanted to mention is that it's a little disconcerting sometimes when I pull into the garage. This has happened once where, you know, I've been driving a little bit harder and the battery's been sucked drier a little bit, and the car is running and it, you turn the car off and the engine keeps running. 

Bernie: Hmm. 

Mark: Because it's charging the battery. It says the battery is too low. We're going to charge the battery. So you shut the car off, but the engine is still running. 

Bernie: Interesting. 

Mark: And then you flip the lid open and you plug in the car and the engine shuts off because now it's getting power from somewhere else. So it's very, very clever how they've set that part of things up to do that. But I think ultimately, Clarity was made in three different forms in California, there was a EV version, a hydrogen version and the hybrid version, all let's remaining for 2020 is the hybrid like mine. A very rare car. This, why didn't we buy an electric car? There weren't any. 

Bernie: Yeah. There was a run on them in BC for a, for a while when gas prices went high, and government put in some incentives, and I know that's when you bought yours and, yeah, it's hard to find. 

Mark: This was the last one in British Columbia, actually. In the whole province.  It's a nice car. 

Bernie: Yeah, it is a nice car for sure. I mean, yeah. If we're, this is kind of gone from a maintenance service to a review of the 2018 Honda Clarity, but I'd say it's an awesome car. And then based on the track record of a Honda hybrid reliability, I'd say it's a good car to buy.

Mark: There you go. So if you're looking for service for your Honda's in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. We love all cars. We will be honest about them as well. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment or check out the website hundreds of articles, videos, discussions on there about all kinds of makes and models of vehicles, all kinds of repairs. Pawlik Auto Repair is the YouTube channel. Thanks so much for listening and watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. Leave us a review on Apple podcasts again. We would really appreciate that and thank you, Bernie.

Bernie: Thank you, Mark, and thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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