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Batteries & Contactors Aren't Really "Failing" ? - Page 2
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Thread: Batteries & Contactors Aren't Really "Failing" ?

  1. #11

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    The likely reason for the problems are contactors that are weakening and are on their way out.

    I work for my local transit company and repair electric and hybrid buses. The HV contactors on our buses are common to fail. A transit bus sees more cycles of these contactors than a typical commuter car.

    The design of the bus HV battery is very similar to an EV car. The contactors and fuses are located inside the battery pack. Luckily for my work the battery packs are on top of the bus and only require removing the battery lid to access the components. Some times it's a hard fail where the contactors are welded closed or the coils have gotten weak and can't close the contactor. Other times it's the continuous arcing from opening and closing the contactors that weakens the power connections. We do a similar test to hear for a "clunk" but monitor the vitals to see if the 600v is transferred to the next stage. The voltage may be there but the connection could be weak and are not getting the current demanded. We would do a final check by isolating the contactor, cycling it, and checking it's continuity. I will usually cycle it 5 times, while monitoring the continuity. I may get 4 good readings out of 5, but that 1 is enough to cause major problems. In the bus system there are 3 or 2 different HV contactors (dependant on the manufacturer of the HV battery pack) that must all engage for proper operation of the vehicle.

    The cycling of the HV contactors sounds like it may be a band-aid fix but is likely a sign of failing contactors.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to Beav For This Useful Post:

    ElectricTireShredder (01-14-2022)

  3. #12
    Senior Member ElectricTireShredder's Avatar
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    Thank you very much for that detailed description!

    It shouldn't take long to find out if it's true, since the users will likely report back with any subsequent failures. We might also be able to get them to post their contactor history from OBD (@Peter_K please post yours) to compare to others that never stopped working:
    Contactor History 11-30-21.jpg
    It shows not only "Number of Open/Closed" but also shows the total number of "Opens Under Load" (which would cause arcing damage) AND it shows the number of "PreCharge Failures", which I believe is designed to virtually eliminate "continuous arcing from opening and closing the contactors that weakens the power connections"

    So based on all info so far it doesn't seem to me like a sign of failing contactors, because:
    - EVERY single one was a sudden hard failure (not gradually requiring more key cycles to work)
    - EVERY single one was failure to close (none had failure to open)
    - EVERY single one continued to work (at least for now)
    - EVERY single one failed in the morning, presumably after night-time charging, possibly from a non-OEM supply, which is a known source of glitches (I had 2 different ones myself in under 15k miles).

    Also, if I recall correctly, several of the cars that stopped functioning were low miles &/or low age, so I will try to find those details, at least for the recent corrected failures.
    Last edited by ElectricTireShredder; 01-14-2022 at 05:04 PM.
    2013 500e has been my only car since 2015.

  4. #13
    Senior Member ElectricTireShredder's Avatar
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    On the other forum, the following users had their contactors suddenly become inactive, with fairly low age & miles:

    - MDMTahiti in a 2016 with only 15k miles

    - witmannerik in a 2017
    - abenusa in a 2016 with only around 40k miles

    On this forum @Peter_K will hopefully reply with his car's numbers &/or contactor history &/or whether the last charge before failure was on the OEM cord or an aftermarket unit.


    I'm pretty sure some of the others that failed earlier (before we learned about this reset) were also fairly low age & miles.


    So at this point my prime suspect is either a completely random glitch, or after-market chargers.
    2013 500e has been my only car since 2015.

  5. #14
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    I'm thinking age/mileage might have less to do with contactor use than how the car is used. The majority of wear occurs when the car is turned on. A car used as a commuter might only see 2 to 6 connections over 60 miles. If the car is used as a runabout in the city, it might see 30 to 60 connections for the same range.

    It'd be interesting to learn if these low mile cars are sitting for days at a time or if they make lots of short trips each week. Another possibility could be if the 12V battery is weak from sitting... maybe arcing could happen with a weak engagement voltage? Given the secondary wiring for charging, I assume contactors aren't engaged when charging.

  6. #15
    Senior Member ElectricTireShredder's Avatar
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    The contactors actually are engaged when charging (see posts 1, & 3). You can hear them clunk closed shortly after plugging in, & clunk open several seconds after unplugging.

    So just as much wear occurs when the car is plugged in, as when it's turned on even just to "acc" mode when you also hear the clunk. It even clunks just from opening the left door, but there's no second clunk if you turn it on or plug in within about 15 seconds.

    My main points were the 4 bullets in post 12. Not age/mileage, which is only a pretty good indicator, just like a gas car: It can have less to do with wear than how the car is used. That's why I asked for OBD contactor history from everyone who reported corrected failures (no replies yet though).

    My own car's OBD pic above with over 13k closures was at only about 28k miles, so barely over 2 miles per closure! At that rate the cars that are reporting over 95k miles would have over 44,000 closures without contactor failure!

    Since it's more likely just a glitch I'd be even more interested to learn if they all were using after-market chargers which are a known glitch source.
    Last edited by ElectricTireShredder; 01-16-2022 at 06:31 PM.
    2013 500e has been my only car since 2015.

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