PHEV Flood Fail

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rhills
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PHEV Flood Fail

Post by rhills » Wed, 27 Jun 2018, 22:33

Almost a year since our PHEV failed suddenly for no obvious reason, we had the same thing happen today, albeit with possible provocation this time.

We had 75mm rain (in our own rain gauge) overnight and so there were some very large puddles on the roads around our place. We headed off for our dental appointments this morning and waded through about 4 large puddles, none more than axle-deep. About 2km past the last puddle we had a familiar cacophony of error messages on the dashboard. Basically every TLA (three-letter-acronym) our PHEV answered to was failing.

As happened last time, the vehicle dropped into "crawl" mode. I suspect this "crawl mode" limits the max current as acceleration was very sluggish, but we were able to get up to 40kph or so. We got back home, parked the PHEV in the garage and left it, heading out in our alternative vehicle, now very late for our dental appointments.

So, was it the water that triggered this problem? If not, it's a pretty amazing coincidence. We did some reading about the PHEV and fording and it appears that the official line is muddy. The manual makes some vague reference to not driving through water, however a number of people have stated online that they have been told that driving through water is OK, though various maximum depths have been quoted.

We've been extremely happy with our PHEV to date, despite the failure last year that resulted in a 6-week hiatus while the dealer struggled with the problem. Today's event has dented our confidence :-( We're not home tonight so the vehicle will have a long rest (and dry out hopefully) in its garage. However, what do we do if it starts up without any error messages as it did last year after "resting" for an hour or two?

Cheers,
Last edited by rhills on Sat, 15 Sep 2018, 12:36, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Punctuation repairs
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by antiscab » Thu, 28 Jun 2018, 08:39

Time to get the silicone gun out?
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by Johny » Thu, 28 Jun 2018, 09:57

I would say take this to the dealer with an eye to having it up on a hoist for very careful visual examination for missing or displaced seals around everything electronic. Also - mainly - check seals around sensors for ABS and any electrics around actual wheels.

If you're keen, check wheels yourself from under car. I have a PHEV to but haven't yet driven in heavy weather or any significant water.

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by rhills » Thu, 28 Jun 2018, 23:17

We've been away from home since yesterday, with the PHEV left in the garage to dry out. Tried firing it up this evening and got the same alarms firing so I agree with you @Johny we'll need to get Mitsu to look at it. Dreading it though as the last time we had EV troubles we were without the vehicle for 6 weeks. As many others have found, Mitsubishi dealers seem to struggle with diagnosing/fixing their EVs. I also wonder whether something wasn't sealed properly after the work that was done last year...

My wife went through the manual and found a warning there that said "do not drive on flooded roads", whatever that means. To us, flooded roads are the ones where the water is over the bonnet like you get in the tropics, not glorified puddles. We drove around this evening to the spots where we'd driven through puddles the other day, none of the gutters is more than 150mm high and we don't recall seeing any nature strips covered with water.

I'll try and get a chance to have a look around the wheels on the weekend. When my wife rang Mitsubishi about it yesterday, they said to call out Roadside Assistance. We'll do that, but won't have the opportunity to do it during business hours until Tuesday.
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by HuffnPuff » Fri, 29 Jun 2018, 05:14

I had a quick look and found. Couple of links indicating the outlander phew has a wading depth of 400mm.

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by rhills » Fri, 29 Jun 2018, 10:01

Any chance of posting the links @HuffnPuff?

My wife came across a couple of mentions of 400mm in discussions in other forums, but I was driving at the time and wasn't able to confirm if they were authoritative or speculative comments. FWIW, a work colleague who has a Volvo SUV (non-electric of course, this is Australia!) had it clearly stated in her manual that the vehicle should not be driven in water depths greater than 40cm so it's obviously a figure specified by at least one manufacturer.
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by Johny » Fri, 29 Jun 2018, 10:53

I know from an insurance point of view that if water enters the cabin over the sill then the car is a statutory write off. If you take into account the bow wave while driving through water then 400mm is a reasonable figure to give to those who can't figure it out themselves. Easy disclaimer.
I wish I could find where I got the following but I remember when converting the Vogue that I had to insure that the vehicle could handle 200mm of water safely.

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by PiMan » Fri, 29 Jun 2018, 11:58

I remember hearing a figure of six inches being all it takes to flood a vehicle. Some very brief research says 6"/15cm is about the threshold for a small car, while larger and heavier cars can tolerate maybe 45cm (give or take, depending on the make/model); this is based on actual testing, not just models or manufacturer warnings. If it is over the bonnet, that's enough to get nearly anything floating or drowning.

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by HuffnPuff » Sat, 30 Jun 2018, 17:56

rhills wrote:
Fri, 29 Jun 2018, 10:01
Any chance of posting the links @HuffnPuff?

My wife came across a couple of mentions of 400mm in discussions in other forums, but I was driving at the time and wasn't able to confirm if they were authoritative or speculative comments. FWIW, a work colleague who has a Volvo SUV (non-electric of course, this is Australia!) had it clearly stated in her manual that the vehicle should not be driven in water depths greater than 40cm so it's obviously a figure specified by at least one manufacturer.
Sorry, was just a quick google search. After your post I wondered wether there was a manufactures listing on wading depth. After all, the outlander is an suv and usually advertised off the beaten track.

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by offgridQLD » Thu, 05 Jul 2018, 09:44

Mitsubishi do test there EV's through standing water. As you can see in the link bellow they test the imiev with the battery fully under waterhttps://insideevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/14.jpg

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by rhills » Wed, 17 Oct 2018, 16:45

Finally got our PHEV back from the Mitsubishi Dealer (Rockingham Mitsubishi) yesterday, now with new Traction Battery installed. It's been a long saga.

The battery compartment did indeed get water in it, through a drain hole that had lost its plug. The cause of the problem was discovered by an independent investigator (Rod Style) we hired to look into the problem. He established that the underside of the battery container has 6 round drain holes ~25mm in diameter, 3 down each side of the underside, each of which should be sealed with a plastic plug. He also found evidence of accidental damage resulting in one of these plugs being dislodged so we were able to claim the cost of replacing our traction battery through our insurer. As the insurer had recommended this investigator to me, they couldn't really dispute his conclusions! That said, our insurer, RAC WA were very good overall, providing us with good phone advice and support as well as accepting the claim when I submitted it.

This photo shows the hole that was missing its plug (together with scrape marks suggesting how it had gone missing):
phev-traction-battery-underside-plug-missing.png
PHEV Battery underside - hole missing its plug
phev-traction-battery-underside-plug-missing.png (1.23 MiB) Viewed 572 times
This photo shows a wider view of the underside of the traction battery, with the missing plug just below and to the right of the centre of the photo:
phev-traction-battery-underside.png
PHEV Battery underside overview
phev-traction-battery-underside.png (796.33 KiB) Viewed 572 times
Now, if you own an Outlander PHEV, please pay attention to the next few paragraphs, they may save you a lot of money one day:

The plug was missing because of accidental damage to the underside of the vehicle. This occurred about 3 years ago when I accidentally drove over a low brick wall separating two carparks at different levels. I didn't know the wall was there until I'd clunked over it :-( Hitting anything on the underside of your PHEV could conceivably cause one of these six plugs, allowing water to enter your traction battery container.

If you own a PHEV and damage the underside of your vehicle, don't just take a quick look for obvious damage and sigh with relief when you don't see any, look for each of the 6 plastic drain plugs in the bottom of the battery container and make sure they haven't been dislodged!. If necessary, get your vehicle over a pit or up on a hoist. As far as I am aware, the normal Mitsubishi service routine does not include checking that these plugs are present despite the potential for water ingress resulting in expensive damage to your traction battery. I hope to get this changed.

Anyway, Mitsubishi determined that the traction battery needed to be replaced and RAC agreed to pay for it. A battery was finally ordered from Japan in the first week of August and a week or so later, I was advised it would arrive in early December! I immediately contacted Mitsubishi Australia (MMAL) who initiated a "case" for me to investigate. The battery ended up arriving last week (mid-October) so maybe my complaining to MMAL sped things up; I don't really know as they never actually said anything definitively about that.

In parallel with this, I had advised Rockingham Mitsubishi that I wished to keep the old battery to salvage any serviceable cells from it. As the vehicle has remained driveable throughout (albeit in crawl mode, with lots of dashboard alarms), it has been my belief that the water ingress is more likely to have damaged some of the celltop circuitry and/or other BMS electronics within the battery container, rather than the cells themselves.

The Mitsubishi Dealership service manager initially agreed with my request to retain the old battery but was apparently overruled subsequently. I was advised that "for safety reasons" the old pack would need to be disabled and destroyed. I responded by raising another case with MMAL. They initially took the same line, that I couldn't take the battery because it was dangerous. I responded saying that they are removing a battery that I own and that I would take responsibility for my own safety by arranging for appropriate experts to transport and dismantle the old pack. I had previously contacted Daniel at evShop in Balcatta, who advised that they've worked on many Mitsubishi traction battery packs and have the expertise to dismantle ours.

There were a couple more email exchanges with MMAL in which I pointed out that my Consumer Rights under Australian Law would be infringed if they kept and destroyed my battery. They eventually relented, sending me a formal "important safety notice" detailing the many ways I could electrocute myself if I wasn't careful but acknowledging that I was keeping my battery pack.

The following photo shows the very friendly and professional "Jean" from United Tilt Tray Service loading the old traction battery (in the very sturdy shipping container the new one arrived in) onto his truck for transport to evShop.
old-phev-battery-jean-loading-on-truck.png
Jean loading old PHEV battery
old-phev-battery-jean-loading-on-truck.png (1.57 MiB) Viewed 572 times
Daniel at evShop has advised me that they've made a start on my battery and will work on it during spare time over the next few days. Hopefully I'll soon find out what exactly the water damaged.

I'd like to thank RAC WA for supporting us and accepting the claim, Rod Style our investigative sleuth, Daniel and Lisa at evShop for advice and help with our old battery, Jean from United Tilt Tray Service for his prompt, friendly professionalism in picking up and transporting our battery and Rockingham Mitsubishi, particularly the Service Manager Brooke, for being very patient with a demanding and pernickity client who wouldn't take "no" from her "higher ups" for an answer!

Sorry it's such a long post, but hopefully this description might help someone else some day.

Cheers,
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by Johny » Wed, 17 Oct 2018, 18:53

Thanks for the excellent summary Rob. Since I launch a boat with my PHEV, I'll check the underside carefully. (Although the rear wheels never touch water)

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by zzcoopej » Thu, 18 Oct 2018, 06:12

rhills wrote:
Wed, 17 Oct 2018, 16:45
The plug was missing because of accidental damage to the underside of the vehicle. This occurred about 3 years ago when I accidentally drove over a low brick wall separating two carparks at different levels. I didn't know the wall was there until I'd clunked over it :-( Hitting anything on the underside of your PHEV could conceivably cause one of these six plugs, allowing water to enter your traction battery container.
Thanks for posting this. I find it quite remarkable that such critical plugs could so easily get scraped out, they really should have had a protective "rim" protruding around the holes. Pretty much a design flaw for an SUV / soft-roader IMHO.
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by rhills » Tue, 23 Oct 2018, 21:18

Today I picked up the cells harvested from our "flooded" PHEV traction battery.

Daniel at evShop Perth had broken them down to 32V packs (8 x 4V cells in series in a plastic container + some cell monitoring/balancing? wiring and circuitry on top). Here's one of the packs:
phev-32V-pack.png
phev-32V-pack.png (421 KiB) Viewed 452 times
And here are 9 of the 10 packs in the boot:
phev-flooded-cell-harvest.png
phev-flooded-cell-harvest.png (382.11 KiB) Viewed 452 times
Daniel says that all of the packs tested fine and he believes they are "in really good shape". He also took some photos of the battery take down so I can post those too if there's any interest.

All I need to do now is work out how I'm going to use the batteries. I already have the small AVASS cells ready to build a domestic energy store once our solar feed-in tariff finishes up in 3 years. As the PHEV cells are completely different chemistry (Lithium Cobalt I believe) I'd need a separate BMS for them, possibly separate charger and inverter too? It would be nice to use the existing cell-top circuitry but I suspect that it would need a lot of sleuthing to try and figure out how it all works. Anyone up for the challenge?

Cheers,
Last edited by rhills on Tue, 23 Oct 2018, 21:58, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Corrected number of packs
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by mikedufty » Tue, 23 Oct 2018, 21:33

Someone managed to put dual batteries in an i-MiEV. Maybe you could extend your PHEV electric range?

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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by coulomb » Wed, 24 Oct 2018, 09:57

rhills wrote:
Tue, 23 Oct 2018, 21:18
Today I picked up the cells harvested from our "flooded" PHEV traction battery.
Nice!
Daniel says that all of the packs tested fine and he believes they are "in really good shape".
So I wonder about the cascade of errors. I guess 360 V will find a way to cause trouble where 32 or 50 V won't.
All I need to do now is work out how I'm going to use the batteries. I already have the small AVASS cells ready to build a domestic energy store once our solar feed-in tariff finishes up in 3 years. As the PHEV cells are completely different chemistry (Lithium Cobalt I believe) I'd need a separate BMS for them, possibly separate charger and inverter too? It would be nice to use the existing cell-top circuitry but I suspect that it would need a lot of sleuthing to try and figure out how it all works.
The iMiev folk seem to be pretty on the ball. I haven't checked, and don't have time right now, but I'd say that they've already found most if not all of the important CAN messages for the iMiEV BMS, and there would seem to be a good chance that the same or very similar BMS is used in the PHEV.

My guess it that you'd want to use 1.75 of these 32 V modules, to make a 56 V module; that's 14S, which seems to be the accepted way of coming up with a voltage profile near enough to 48 V nominal lead acid. You likely don't need a special charger for these, just carefully select the "absorb" and "float" voltage settings. Others with their power walls can hopefully help with those figures.

This would leave you with ten spare cells. The main snag might be the BMS not tolerating those cells missing, or if present, not having the same voltage as the other (and how do you keep them charged). But I'm sure that this can all be sorted out. As you say, by far the best outcome would be if you can re-use the existing BMS.
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by jonescg » Wed, 24 Oct 2018, 10:51

Or get yourself a hybrid inverter which runs on a 300-400 V DC battery. I see Goodwe have a three phase version of their ES series but it operates at ~400 V.
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Re: PHEV Flood Fail

Post by antiscab » Wed, 24 Oct 2018, 13:08

If only a mere mortal could get a hv DC bus inverter.

I've been flirting with the idea of using a vfd with a 600v DC bus as a 3 phase ac coupled inverter. Creating the neutral is my stumbling block
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