RunSilent

Bricked in the Cold

20 posts in this topic

For the second time this winter, after sitting outside and plugged in all night, at -24degC, the car will not come out of park.  No warning signs, battery capacity at 100%, power available at 1 bar (33%).  Tried calling MB for a tow last time, but it took so long (45min) that the car, left with the inside heater on, finally warmed up and would work.  Setting for preconditioning doesn't seem to make a difference.  This weekend, no such luck.  Not even at -12degC will it move.  Will need to call for a tow tomorrow as it is going down to the mid -20s tonight.  I cannot even push it into the garage, the rear wheels are locked!  I think it is a defective heater in the battery, because when plugged into a L2 charger, it should be keeping the battery warm enough to function.  If the dealer cannot fix it, or doesn't find a problem, it will be for sale for someone to appreciate in a warmer climate.  2014ED with 39,000km, and fully dealer serviced so there will be no disputing the condition of the car or their awareness of it.  Anyone else had this problem?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is exactly what I wanted to know before considering one in northern AB. Do you think its the heater then? Or is it solely temperature related and nothing else is defective? Usually in the winter it sits around -25C and frequently hits -30, -40, or even less.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had this happen to me a couple of times in 2 1/2 years -- location just north of Toronto. I don't have a garage and make do with a L1 charger. It's an annoyance, but the car was fine after warming up for 10 or 15 minutes. Might be the same issue, but temps here are not as cold as what you are dealing with. Hope you get satisfaction from MB.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If this happened on a gas car, I'd be looking at the brake switch.  Most cars you must press the brake to move shifter out of park.  Do the brake lights come on when you have this problem?  I am not familiar with the 451 or electric but is there a way to move the shifter out of park before starting the car and start in neutral?  On other brands you turn the key to unlock move the shifter to N and then start and shift to D.

Maybe this will help.

 

Nigel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tried again this morning (balmy -18 on the car display) and no luck.  Unplugged the car, left the interior heater on for 30 minutes, (and in the process used up 30% of the charge,) and still no go.  I have tried all combinations of starting with the brake on, brake off, putting the key in first with the brakes on per the manual etc.  Will call for a tow later on when it warms up a bit.  Based on the gas models, I did read there was an issue with the shift box interlock, but since the ED has no transmission, not sure how much in common there is with the shifter between the two versions.

 

To kdubya, the reality is the battery shrinks as it gets colder.  At -30, you can expect a real-world driving range of 38-40 km assuming you would like to keep some heat on and the windows defrosted, and have about 5% remaining upon arrival in case of delays.  It is a combination of both the battery losing capacity and the load from the heater.  The other issue seldom discussed is the loss of available power.  At 30% available (1-bar) you cannot drive on a highway.  Where I work, it is less than a minute to get to the on-ramp so the battery has not had time to warm up sufficiently to get to 60% available, the minimum needed for acceleration and maintaining highway speeds safely.  On those days, I take an alternate route home, and it is a good 8- to 10km before the battery is up at a 100% power available.  In their studies a while ago, Transport Canada did recommend both warnings about the dramatic loss of range with a recommendation for official posting of figures, and the dangers of loss of power available.  If manufacturers had to post ranges for city and highway driving, at both +20 and at -20, consumers could make an informed decision, or they might make battery thermal management more of a priority and selling point. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, so in my part of the country it would be less than useless. I didn't realize you needed such a high percentage to reach highways speeds. I would be able to have a 240 plug at home in the garage and at work, but still. That's the final nail in the coffin for me. Thanks for the post. I'll stick to good ol diesel and used oil :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've driven my ED in -25C.   I definitely got a lot better than 30 km.  Closer to 60km.  I probably could have gotten 70 km if I'd pushed.  80 KM is possible if you can forgo most of your heater use by dressing warmly.  A few days ago, I got about 100km at -12C,  keeping warm using the seat heater.

It sounds like SilentRunners car has something wrong with it...  You should be able to run the heater for over an hour before you drop 30% charge, not half an hour...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I blogged of my experience in extreme cold:

http://mysmartelectricdrive.blogspot.ca/2014/01/crazy-cold-and-battery-heater.html

 

Quote

I turned the key to start the car and saw two warning symbols stay on, the first was the "car with the wavy tire tracks under it", and the other was a red "buster" lamp. The gear selector was locked in the P position and would not budge, even when forced.

 

My blog has a bunch of articles about my experiences, this one in particular has outlines of forum feedback and factual battery information provided by the manufacturer.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Car started working again suddenly and I put it into the garage to warm up and melt all the ice out of the wheel wells.  (No need for a lowering kit, there was 1/2inch of clearance between the tires and the ice...)  Went to the dealer on Monday.  Their diagnosis is the brake switch is probably faulty given the symptoms and weather conditions.  They had several other non-ED Smarts also calling up with the same complaint of being locked in Park last week as the temperature went up and down by 20 degrees in fairly short order.  Waiting for a call back to take the car in, as they had the brake switches on back-order and were waiting for delivery.  They are going to do the work under warranty even though they could not see the problem first hand when I brought the car in.  Other than this issue, and a faulty ABS sensor wire harness on the rear wheel two winters ago which the dealer also was able to track down and fix, the car is otherwise very reliable in the cold.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This first happened to me a couple years ago. The battery was too cold and it was protecting itself from damage. But there’s an easy fix. The battery is not set up to heat itself unless it’s plugged in. However, this doesn’t work if it already has a 100% charge. So, when it’s really cold (-20 or worse), Leave it unplugged overnight charged to 60-70% (so it will accept a charge) and then, in the morning, plug it in 45 minutes before taking off to work. The battery will be ready with 3-bars showing no matter how cold it is. You can also do this with pre-conditioning but I’ve never had much success getting mine to work properly. I find it’s easier just to plug it in, have breakfast, and drive off. Think of it as the electric equivalent of plugging in the block heater on your ICE car.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back up and running after it froze during the day in the parking lot at work yesterday at only -10degC.  The car had 70% SOC and full power 3-bars available.  After a tow to the dealer, they looked at this morning at -22degC and it was still locked in park.  The issue was the brake light switch.  There is a service bulletin out and the production number on my switch was below the number in the bulletin which then required the entire switch assembly to be replaced.  It all works smoothly now.   I am going to look into getting a timer for EVSE to split the charging up as Jaguar suggests.  Will wait for the next cold snap to see how it goes, but I'm confident at least it will go in the cold now.  M-B roadside assistance and the dealer service has been excellent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, 11-months later and bricked in the cold again.  1-1/2hrs to get through to roadside assistance, 4 hours for the tow truck to arrive, 1-1/2hrs to get it loaded onto the flatbed they sent despite me telling them the rear wheels are locked up.  Same symptoms as before, plugged in for three days, fully charged, -26degC, and the shifter will not move out of park.  I am beginning to have my doubts that these cars are any good in the long deep cold up here in the nation's capital area.  Will let you know what the dealer says this time.  If they replace the brake switch again (which is already at the new version) then I will know there is a fundamental design flaw and will sell it.  Not much point having a great car if it cannot be dependable.  The electric drive is great, the rest of the car not so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nigel, thanks, I had seen that on my first go.  But I would not want to try that with plastic parts at -27degC.  The car sat out all night at the dealer, and was still outside this morning when I went over.  I spoke to the service manager and requested that they do not just change the brake switch again, but look for something else because that is obviously not the problem.  I have the latest revision of the switch that is 11 months old, and there is no water, condensation, or corrosion in the housing that it sits in.  I asked them to check the battery heater circuits, because no-power bars will also lock up the car if the battery is not warm enough.  No word from the dealer tonight.  About all I can do is infer the car is outside by checking the battery and range using the app on my phone.  The charge holds steady, but the range shrinks as it gets colder.  Low tonight is again supposed to be -27degC, and stay that way until mid-next week. Since he is not inundated with other Smarts with the same problem, there is something wrong with mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might be right on the battery heater.  I've had it once where it wouldn't let me shift out of park,  but after running for about a minute it let me run the car with reduced power bars.  If there was no battery heater working,  you wouldn't be able to recover from this situation.

On the flip side, my Bolt EV doesn't seem to limit power much at all in the cold.  Not sure if that's the result of different chemistry, or bigger battery warmers,  but I've yet to come across a temperature where it doesn't charge quite well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the service manager at the dealership today, it was another failed brake light switch.  New switch installed, no signs of water ingress, no corrosion, on the contacts or wires, nothing.  I have read enough posts on this brake switch to know that it will probably be a running problem.  This is my third in three years now.

 

Driving home tonight (-17degC) on the highway, with the car stuck at 2-bars power, I couldn't manage more than 90km/hr on the hill I climb (...and that means 80km/hr speed-over-ground) and after 20km on the highway, still had not recovered 3-bars.  Warranty runs out next summer, so a Bolt EV is next on my list too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My new Smart ED doesn't seem to have any cold battery warning.

We ran it in -22C after 10 hours cold soaked a few days ago, no power drop.

Although, the defrost is nowhere near as good as the previous generation Smart ED, at least the new car has heated steering wheel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been running my car at -25 degrees each day in New Brunswick and I'm getting between 60-80km per charge depending on how much I use the heater. (I don't leave it on, I cycle it when my windows start frosting up, and when it's on it's on 1 at 22 degrees), and dress warm!! I park it in the garage at night, and charge it using a 110V plug.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My car hasn't been temporarily bricked in the cold at all this year, despite a few < -20 days. On the coldest days it refuses to fully charge, however -- gets up to about 95% and then stops charging. I've seen that a few times in each of the past 3 winters. When the temp warms up it goes back charging up to 100%. Sadly, the car is outside all the time, charging with 110V.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

    Chatbox
    You don't have permission to chat.
    Load More