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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently reduced the number of "clunks" per commute from EIGHT, to FOUR, simply by turning it on JUST after opening the door, & not shutting off until JUST before plugging in (unwind cord before shutoff).

If it's charging when I'm leaving, I just turn the key to "acc" before I unplug, then turn the key to "start" & there's no clunk at all.


Apparently the contactor that "clunks" on when you open the driver's door is considered by Fiat as part of the battery pack, with no replacement available except by replacing the whole pack. As a mechanical item, it is prone to wear, & could fail before your battery is worn out. It also clunks off shortly after opening/closing the door, clunks on when you turn the key, clunks off soon after you turn the key off, clunks on when you plug in, & clunks off when you unplug! That is, unless you do as above.


When I'm not driving, I now use the passenger door or hatch for access, since they don't activate the contactors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
At least one forum member reported that their dealer said their contactors had failed, requiring complete HV battery pack replacement.

HOWEVER, that's not my point. My point is to avoid failure when it's 8 years old or the like, since it seems quite likely that our batteries will last longer than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't think so, without an aftermarket (or sub-3-yr OEM) app.

Technically it's possible by getting in the passenger side & turning the key on, but that's probably not what you meant, since it closes the contacts.

It shows by flicking the headlights on IF you're charging (which closes the contacts).

I couldn't find a way to make % show anywhere (including OBD), without closing the contacts (driver's door, key on, or plugging in).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This owner's contactors seem to be failing. Maybe not, but it's pretty easy to avoid unnecessary over-use, & better safe than sorry:

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Another driver on the other forum has apparently had his 2014 contactors fail, so I repeat, literally easier done than said, once you get in the habit:

  • When you get in, turn it on right away. (or at least to "acc". Saves 2 clunks)

  • When you stop to charge, leave it on* while you plug in, THEN take the key out. (*or at least turn it off & right back onto "acc". Saves 2 clunks)

  • If it's charging when leaving, turn the key to "acc" THEN unplug & turn the key to "start". (Saves 2 clunks)

  • When not driving, use the passenger door or hatch for access. They don't activate the contactors. (Saves 2 clunks minimum, per opening)


You will notice fewer contactor-aging "clunks".

Yes, Fiat "must" warranty the contactors since they've chosen not to provide replacements, but rather to consider them an integral part of the HV drive battery which they are legally required to warranty for 8yrs/100k miles. HOWEVER they require $7,000 PIM replacement before warranting the battery, & sometimes they offer a buy-back which may not cover the full cost of a truly equivalent replacement car. & after 8 years & 1 second we're screwed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Senor! I corrected it above. It's pretty idiot-resistant. If you do try to start it while it's plugged in it just goes into "acc" mode, it won't start..

Also when you plug in while it's "on" in ready mode it just shuts itself "off" to "acc" mode.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
UPDATE! When practical I now leave the key in accessory mode & lock it inside:

Yet another user (on the other forum) is facing a $7,000 bill due to contactor failure even under warranty, since Fiat requires out-of-warranty PIM replacement before warranting the HV battery pack.

I'm pretty sure there was at least one more user reporting contactor failure in addition to all of the above.

So in addition to my simple procedure in post 7 above, which quickly became second-nature, I now put in a bit of extra effort: When I'm only stopping for a few minutes for a drop-off or pickup I now leave the key in accessory mode & lock it inside using the car's second metal key in the door handle slot (the fob won't work when the other key is in the ignition).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ya, that's one of the 4 green bullet points in post #7 above, all of which are extremely easy, & also easy to get in the habit of doing, especially considering the alternative of effectively bricking the car with a $7,000 repair bill.

I'm hoping I can keep mine alive long enough for an aftermarket replacement contactor to become available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No pics. I believe they're inside the steel battery case but ya, I figure there's a good chance Bosch just used something they already had, or at least can supply the part separately even though Fiat refuses to.
 

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Is there a way to just DIY replace the clunker/contactor? This reminds me of something Rich Rebuilds would put on his youtube for Electrified Car Garage channel.
 

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Is there a way to just DIY replace the clunker/contactor? This reminds me of something Rich Rebuilds would put on his youtube for Electrified Car Garage channel.
I think this depends on the person and their abilities. From what I understand, replacing the contactors would require taking the HV battery out of the car and disassembling it. For most, including myself, this would be way beyond my DIY capability or will. But some would view it as a challenge and make it happen. I have not heard of anyone replacing their contactors FWIW.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Likely nobody has replaced their contactors yet, because Fiat has classified them as part of the HV drive battery pack, so:
  • They've all been covered by the 8-year battery warranty. (until VERY recently: first sales were in July 2013).
  • They're unavailable from Fiat as a separate part.
Hopefully Bosh will make the part available, but even then replacement would be a pretty major job, as Kiesling pointed out. However it could be a job for an independent shop.
 

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This sounds exactly like a video they might do on youtube this guy used to do all this crazy salvage tesla rehab stuff but now the channel is mostly debauchery... latest thing is an LS tesla S.
Is the battery light enough to sit on a few big transmission jacks? I bet its easy enough to pull the battery but a nightmare to get lined back up even on a lift ... pinch points everywhere.

but theoretically you get a bosch part and peel back the battery case and you can get into some real trouble or fix the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Ya, but anyone going to that effort themselves will almost certainly do enough research on how to fix the car & avoid getting into any real trouble.

Contactor wear might not be that big an issue: Recent reports indicate that software prevents the contactors from closing if an HV drive battery pack cell (or 3) gets below critical voltage. So all those "battery failure" reports where the contactors wouldn't close really could have been actual cell failure & the contactors were fine.

Still, the battery could last nearly 261,000 miles* so I don't mind the teeny, tiny effort of the 4 little tricks in post #7 above to try to avoid unnecessary contactor wear.


*The only 2 properly-calibrated range loss reports I've seen are both about 2.3% per 10,000 miles so it would take almost 261,000 miles to lose 60%, at which time I'd still make my US-average (40-mile) round-trip commute.
 

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I like where your head is at I have already started using the hatch and passenger door and a few of those tricks. That clunk is kind of annoying anyway. I'm getting very good mileage on the car I have no doubt the battery is good and degradation concerns have been overblown but I'd hate to shoot myself in the foot this is good stuff.
 
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