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2017 Kia Optima PHEV
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am midstream getting a pretty strange PHEV issue addressed, so I thought I'd start a thread with what has happened so far and update it extemporaneously, since these sorts of threads often help people later. Also, maybe someone here has seen something similar.

CONTEXT FIRST: This is a 2017 PHEV with about 45k miles, and I've posted a few other threads here before about battery issues I've had. Short version of those: Battery capacity has been degrading faster than it should, was around 72% last I looked, and 70% of spec is the "magic" line where Kia replaces the pack under warranty (10 years). Also have had issues on and off with getting warnings of "System Temperature High, switching to HEV mode" or the like.

New story...

The system temperature warnings have become more regular, especially on longer drives. But something totally new happened Saturday: I am maybe a mile into a drive from home, come to a light, press the brakes to slow just like normal. Then a few things happen all at once. The brake pedal seems to suddenly give under my foot, like the brakes had failed - but only for a fraction of a second, then the resistance came back. At the same time of the brake thing, I get a bunch of warning lights on the dash, and a pop-up that says I need to stop the car, turn off the engine, and check the hybrid system. Yikes. So I slow down to a stop at the light, in a left turn lane into a parking lot. Light turns, I go to hit the gas and pull into the lot, and realize the car is dead. Engine shut itself off apparently. Restarted the car (took two or three tries on the button), started OK but still had the check engine light on. Pulled into the lot and parked it up kept the car on.

Fortunately, I have an ODB Link device (I got it mostly for the PHEV Watchdog for the battery capacity issue). So I plugged that in and code the codes out. The car had thrown an error P0DE7. When I clicked on that error to get the detail, it says that it is a PowerTrain issue, and the ECU was "BECM-B+EnergyCtrl ($7E4)". When I look up the P0DE7 error, it must be quite an unusual occurrence because there were maybe 2 or three citations of it anywhere I could see on Google. It means High Voltage detected from HEV battery module (or cell). When I search that BECM thing, I get zero exact hits, but if I break it up I get info that it is about the battery control unit. The high voltage thing seems really strange, since the battery issues I have had so far are about the battery not having enough energy capability. Not the other way around!

So I drove it back home, check engine light still on. Yesterday (Monday) I drove it up to the dealer (Liberty Kia). Sadly the check engine light was off. But on the way up there (maybe a 15 mile drive) I got that recurring "High System Temperature" warning yet again. So I pulled it into the bay, kept it on, and watched them download all the various codes.

With battery capacity dropped way more than it should, repeated heat warnings, loud fan sounds from the back, and now this new issue, clearly there is a substantial problem with the EV aspects of the car. Shop sent the data and info to Kia, who came back today and asked them to do a "flight test", which apparently involves turning everything electrical in the car on at once and run the wheels in EV mode too, to see what the system does at stress. I was also told by the mechanic that it seems like Kia was leaning towards replacing the battery pack. I am pretty sure we were headed this way soon anyway (one more Chicago winter likely would have done it), but now it isn't just a battery capacity issue.

Because this is a warranty thing on the EV system, if they do indeed need to replace the pack, they cannot release the car back to me until they do. And Kia dealers don't just keep these packs lying around - they have to be ordered. So it seems I might be down a car for a while!

I'll update here when I get more info etc. Feel free to comment if you have any input, advise, questions, whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Small update: The dealer shop did all the tests that Kia's regional engineer(s) requested, which was multiple. The data was submitted to Kia, who escalated it to some kind of district manager, on Wednesday afternoon. Apparently, in the brief conversation the shop had with Kia, it was stated that this combination of codes and warnings was not something they had seen much before if at all. This doesn't surprise me since a quick Google search of that P0DE7 code pops up next to nothing even on its own.

I kept asking for ETA but they have none. So Friday they gave me a loaner car to take for the time being. I am hoping to hear back Monday.
 

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Looks to me that the hybrid battery failed. When they do the battery over heat fan will come on. I own a prius so have been through this many many times. Go over to PriusChat.com join and check out the PHEV section.
The issue is nobody drives much anymore and it ends up killing both the 12 volt and the hybrid battery. Covid was the perfect storm to kill the Toyota G2 cars mine included.

You have to drive the crap out of a hybrid battery car to keep the battery happy. The more you use it the longer it will live. Sitting unused will also corrode the battery connections too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Looks to me that the hybrid battery failed. When they do the battery over heat fan will come on. I own a prius so have been through this many many times. Go over to PriusChat.com join and check out the PHEV section.
The issue is nobody drives much anymore and it ends up killing both the 12 volt and the hybrid battery. Covid was the perfect storm to kill the Toyota G2 cars mine included.

You have to drive the crap out of a hybrid battery car to keep the battery happy. The more you use it the longer it will live. Sitting unused will also corrode the battery connections too.
Yeah I'm guessing the battery pack is done. But I don't know about the unused thing being all that big an issue in our case. We had maybe a month or two where it was driven only a few times a week, but even then it wasn't zero. And it's been some version of almost every day if not every day since. I just did some quick math in my head, and I know pre-COVID we were pacing that car to right around a thousand miles a month. Right now, even with the COVID pause(s) and everything else, the car has 46k on it and its about 4 years and 3 months old right now. So there was a drop in usage but only very slight.

I do also figure the 12V acc battery is probably reaching that ticking timebomb age. Our other car, a Honda Pilot, is almost 10 years old and it has killed two batteries so far. Likely I'll just replace it myself proactively soon, which maybe I should do before the Chicago winter hits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Kia's regional or national decision-makers finally came back with the answer yesterday - replace the full battery pack.

The shop has done their parts order paperwork, and because it is such an expensive part, some regional parts manager has to sign off on it so it should actually get into the system within a day. Once the order is in Kia's system, they are telling me it takes 2 to 6 WEEKS for it to arrive at the dealership to install it. Then of course they have to actually install it, which I assume adds at least another day. I realize of course this is not a garden variety part, but that seems like a LOOOOOOONG wait.

At least I have a loaner, I guess. It's a Forte with no options whatsoever, but, it works. And in the end I will have a 4.5-year-old car with a new battery pack at 100% spec capacity, so that's a small bonus.

I'll update the thread in, apparently, 2 to 6 weeks when the repair actually happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The dealer texted me on Tuesday (11/2) that the pack and associated parts arrived stateside. So that was faster than I expected, with all the logistics issues going on. Then also faster than expected, it arrived at the dealer (Chicago suburbs) yesterday (11/5) and they had already started the removal and securing of the current, old pack. They are targeting EOD today for completion but we will see - they warned me this is a big job (I don't doubt it) and requires a lot of extra tests and checks after. Either way, the 2 to 6 weeks for delivery (in case others end up in this scenario) ended up being 2 weeks on the nose, at least going to the Midwest.

I'll post once more after I get the car back and test it out a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
FINAL RESOLUTION...

Work was completed on Saturday (11/6), so that was 25 days total from when it arrived at the dealership, or 19 days from when Kia agreed to replace the battery packs. All in all that is less time than I thought it would take for something this invasive and that required heavy parts shipped from Korea.

Here is what exactly they replaced, per the report: "REPLACED HUB AND CALIBRATED SYSTEM. REPLACED MAIN PHEV BATTERY AND SUB PHEV BATTERY." And then did various tests etc. I don't know exactly what the "hub" is they are referring to, and to be honest I didn't realize there were two separate battery packs (main and sub) either. But they were all replaced with brand new. Drove home OK and it is now plugged in to charge overnight.

I asked them if any of this changed the 10/100 warranty on the EV system, and the answer was no (which I assumed was probably the case). No change, if the replacement is done within the initial car warranty. I'm not sure what happens if this occurs near the end of the warranty or past it.

One final note - they have to essentially remove much of the back seat to get into there and do this work. So if you have that work done, I recommend checking that the back seat parts (seat and back) are in fact back in securely. One side of the seat in my case was not quite snapped back into place, but I addressed it. Just something to keep in mind.

Hopefully no one else runs into this but if they do, I hope the above play-by-play helps them out.
 
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