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[UPDATED] There is a Dangerous Problem with the Honda Clarity

UPDATE July 23, 2019
This problem has not yet reappeared, even with my personal testing. I was close to zero on a Palm Springs-hot day (was 108º F) and the engine raced when at 0 battery, but I didn’t lose power. I’ve been working with American Honda’s customer support for a few weeks now. They kept steering me back to the dealership but they have found nothing. The Clarity does not log any data so I purchased an OBD II connector with an iPhone app, so am keeping an eye on any aborrent behaviors (like the check engine light coming on and staying on for 36 miles but no errors were seen). Will update again if need-be.

My wife and I had a terrifying loss of power in our new 2019 Honda Clarity yesterday AND we were in rush hour traffic on CA-73 (a toll-road that runs from Newport Beach to I-5 in Laguna Niguel, California) driving along at 70MPH.

Here is what happened and how we discovered afterwards that this is an isolated, but seemingly common, quite dangerous issue with the Honda Clarity PHEV.

LOSS OF POWER IN RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC

It’s late afternoon yesterday (May 31, 2019) and we are headed home from an appointment up in Huntington Beach, CA. We are driving on CA-73 in the Clarity’s HV Mode. When the battery drops to two bars — the baseline where the car’s computer stops the drainage from the battery to power the car — the engine is supposed to kick-in but it began REVVING and then lost ALL POWER.

Since we were going up a hill, the Clarity immediately dropped from 70mph to 40mph in seconds and kept dropping. Pushing the accelerator to the floor did nothing except redline the engine and it gave NO POWER TO THE WHEELS TO MAKE THE CAR GO.

Due to the rush-hour traffic on all sides (and cars coming up behind us at 70mph or greater), we *barely* are able to make it to the shoulder with cars honking and speeding around us! It was a truly terrifying experience. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the car to power itself. I had to turn the car off, then back on, put it in “Sport” mode, and then we were able to drive it like it should work when the battery is depleted.

Just so you know, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has 3 modes: ECON, Sport and HV. ECON is battery-only. Sport is what you’d expect: it uses the battery and ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) to power the car simultaneously. HV mode uses the engine and the electric motor to power the Clarity as efficiently as possible in order to achieve the highest possible MPG.

In seconds I was switching between these modes in an attempt to get SOME power to safely get the car to the shoulder. My wife suggested turning on the hazard flashers which I did, and fortunately several cars slowed down so we could coast over to the side of the road and turn the car off.

After the adrenaline rush subsided, I was stumped that the car wasn’t smart enough to either warn me or, more importantly, to simply self-correct and not put us in to such a dangerous situation.

FOUND OUT I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE

Returning home, I find DOZENS of postings showing this is an issue many people have experienced. I concur with most that this is a DANGEROUS situation and HONDA HAS BEEN SILENT on this major issue.

CAR COMPLAINTS
I’ve found about 15 places where people have described the exact issue we experienced, but some also discuss other situations where the car had this revving-no-power problem (revving is also euphemistically called “angry bees”) even without a depleted battery. At CarComplaints.com there are several, including many like these:

January 15, 2019: “3 days after purchase I was driving on an interstate when the car suddenly lost all power. I managed to pull to a slow lane but the lack of power continued for another 5 minutes. It had been running on battery just prior and I had 2 bars of power left. The outside temperature was about 15 degrees. The internal combustion engine began to race but only began to give adequate power to the wheels after 5 minutes. A terrifying experience. Honda checked out the car and said nothing was wrong. I am hearing of other cases being reported like mine.”

Steve Borsch note: This is what happened to us, but the outside temperature was approximately 67 degrees. In the next two CarComplaint’s posts I’ve bolded specific items of note:

January 09, 2019: “Car revs up when driving down the highway but drops speed to 10mph. It has done this 2 times once in town and once on US-23 while driving 70mph. There are several complaints about the car doing the same thing to other Clarity owners and this is a highly dangerous situation that Honda should take care of! Reineke Honda in Findlay Ohio had my car for about 3 weeks and while test driving it the car did the same thing for the service manager Mike Stevens. They took a control box off a brand new Clarity per Honda’s suggestion and I am driving the car and had no new problems so far. They were not sure this would fix the issue but so far it hasn’t happened again. This is a dangerous failure in the car and I am lucky I wasn’t driving in Columbus, Ohio the 2nd time the car did it or I would have been rear ended! Honda needs to make sure this problem is fixed!!!”

February 09, 2019: “On approx 6 occasions, when EV power is used up, the car switches to ICE mode with issues. When traveling up hill, it feels like the transmission is not engaging. The vehicle losses power, and does not accelerate. The ICE revs extremely high without speed gain. Have also experienced a downhill situation with nearly full EV in EV mode. Vehicle feels like it disengages drivetrain. When pressing the accelerator, there was no response. One feels helpless when this occurs. Most of the time, the car had switches from EV to HV automatically, without issue. But, the above phenomena has happened 6 times in the last year this is unsafe. The vehicle was sold as an EV, with a gas engine to take over when EV runs out. At no time was there any explanation regarding potential situations that would cause the vehicle to become unsafe and lose power. One should not have to ensure reserve EV power for potential power loss situations. When these situations have occurred, upon shutting off the car and exiting, there is a strong smell of burning rubber and other material similar to transmission and brakes, or hot metal. Clearly something is overheating, and if the vehicle was not shutdown and allowed to cool, a reasonable person might conclude that significant damage to the engine, electric motors, EV battery, or transmission would take place. I am no longer driving the vehicle as a pure EV for city driving. The fear of power loss without control is extremely upsetting, and consequently, not getting the value of vehicle. My spouse will not drive the vehicle as driver or passenger if the trip is to exceed 20 miles in one direction. My gas savings has dropped considerably as I am unable to risk running out of EV before my trip ends. This vehicle has been taken to the dealer 3 times, and inspected by Honda of America. They deny there is anything wrong with the vehicle.

WHAT’S NEXT, HONDA?

What do I do next? More importantly, what do YOU do next, Honda? Almost all postings I’ve read say that dealer investigations turn up nothing and are a waste of time. I suspect it’s because the fundamental software code is at fault, something a dealer cannot fix.

HONDA: This is clearly a software issue since the switchover from HV Mode’s battery/engine, to only the engine, does not happen correctly. You must fix this before someone (or multiple people) die in a horrific crash and you are found to be at fault for not addressing this issue.

WHERE IT HAPPENED: Here is where it happened to us yesterday — we were headed southbound on CA-73 up a hill and the ‘shoulder’ we had to pull over on was on a bridge over El Toro Road, with cars racing by at top speed:

WHY A TWEET AND THIS POST: The primary reason I tweeted Honda today and am writing this post (and will tweet it too), is to document what happened, where it happened, and to have an audit trail in case something happens to me or my family while driving this car … or Honda does nothing to fix this issue and puts an unknown number of Clarity PHEV owners in continued jeopardy.

Picked Up My New 2019 Honda Clarity Yesterday. Could This Car Be My Best Purchase Ever?

After coming back from our Memorial Day weekend adventure in Palm Springs yesterday morning, I headed over to Rancho Santa Margarita Honda to check out the colors that the Honda Clarity comes in. Though I’d pretty much decided on the Modern Steel Metallic (a dark gray) they had a silver with black interior and a green with tan interior on the lot.

I bought the green with tan interior, a green they call Moonlit Forest Pearl. “Oh, how romantic,” I thought sarcastically. But it was the color my wife, Michelle Lamb, said she loved weeks ago when we first test-drove a Clarity, but which I rejected because of the tan interior and its tendency to get filthy quickly. Since Michelle does color specification for major companies (including automotive) I trust her judgement. Plus I did love the color too!’

I’ll reiterate what I said in this post 10 days ago about why I made the decision to buy this car and what a great deal I got on it:

  • Honda Clarity EV: This is the car. It is SO much more comfortable than either the Hyundai Kona or Tesla Model 3. We opted for the Touring trim (better sound system; leather seats; etc.). Though the EV range is only 47 miles, that will cover our day-to-day driving. For longer trips the Clarity’s Hybrid Mode — where the battery augments the gas use for longer trips with EPA rating of 110MPGe — means we’ll have 90% of our use on electric, and the rest with excellent gas mileage (when the battery is depleted, the combined city/highway MPG = 42).
    • Sticker price for the Touring trim = $37,520
    • My price after $6,000 Honda discount = $30,861 (offer details)
    • Federal tax rebate = $7,500
    • Effective car cost = $23,361 (plus tax, license, registration, etc.)

Of course I drove it around a bunch last evening, came home and sat in the car reading the manual, setting up the Homelink garage door opener, and downloading the HondaLink app and configuring it. Yes, I think this will shape up to be my best purchase ever (well … at least my best car purchase yet!). I’ll post something in a few months after I have more time with the car.

Here is what I believe is the *best* backup solution money can buy

It happened again this morning: A friend reached out to tell me their PC’s 1TB hard drive had crashed and could I help? Of course you guessed it, they did not have it backed up, the drive was toast, and they have either lost everything or could pay close to $2,000 to have the drive recovered!

I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for them, especially since he and I have discussed backup numerous times. I’ve always encouraged him to buy one of inexpensive backup drives that exist, which makes backing up so simple that anyone can do it, even him. So I’ll implore you to backup just like I did him but he is serious about it now after it is too late: PLEASE back up all of your systems and, especially, your main PC or Mac. It’s not IF your hard drive will fail, but rather WHEN it will fail.

WHY I DON’T BACKUP TO CHEAP DRIVES
For me, however, a cheap backup drive won’t do it which is why I use the ioSafe G3 drives:

The ioSafe Solo G3 is fireproof and waterproof external hard drive engineered to keep data safe during fires and floods and to protect to from theft. Designed for optimal reliability, the G3 hard drive is the easiest way to protect your photos, videos, documents and other irreplaceable data.

I’ve written about these drives before here and here and I own two of them. My iMac has a 1TB solid state drive in it and I have one external 3TB ioSafe G3 drive which is nearly full of music, photos, and files. Both my iMac’s drive and my external 3TB drive are encrypted with FileVault, so I needed a 4TB external drive to use for a Time Machine backup drive. So I purchased that second ioSafe drive — this time in a 4TB size — to back them both up (and yes, everything is encrypted there too).

In fact, today I ordered another ioSafe G3 drive but this time in a 6TB configuration. Why? Because my Time Machine backups only go back 30 days and I want them to go at least 30 days further back and maybe longer, so an extra 2TBs of storage will enable me to do that (and I’ll wipe my 4TB drive and connect it to my wife’s iMac).

WHY I DON’T BACKUP TO THE CLOUD
Consider me paranoid, but unless I control the private encryption key I don’t feel my data is safe. Anyone with that key can unlock my data and view it (e.g., Dropbox can, in theory, read all of your files).

The only one I would consider is SpiderOak’s personal One backup plan, a solution that encrypts your data before it is backed up and sent to their servers. As good as SpiderOak is, there are a few “fatal flaws” I see with using it (or any cloud service) as my primary backup solution:

  • My data is in the cloud on someone else’s servers.
  • It takes forever to transfer large data files so backing up is time consuming. Moving huge files can also hammer on your internet service provider’s data caps (which are becoming more common now that TV streaming is ubiquitous and used by more people than ever before) so you’ll have to pay more for data.
  • The 5TB service I’d need is $29 per month ($348 per year) which would buy an ioSafe G3 drive itself!

WHY I USE IOSAFE DRIVES & BELIEVE THEY’RE THE BEST

Look … you can go ahead and backup to cheap drives. But lets say your house catches on fire and the fire department arrives to put it out. If the area near your computer burns your PC is melted and so are your backup drives and everything will be lost. Even if it doesn’t burn and melt, the water used to put out the fire will most likely compromise the backup drives and make them unrecoverable.

The features that make it “the best” backup solution money can buy include:

  • The ioSafe drives can withstand temperatures up to 1550°F for 30 minutes per ASTM E119 (PDF).
  • They can be completely submerged in fresh or salt water up to a 10′ depth for 72 hours (which is so much more than a firehose would douse them with in a house fire).
  • The drives can be secured to either the floor or a hard-to-move object to prevent the drive, and the data it holds, from being stolen (I bolted my drives to my desk when our house was up for sale so no one could grab one and run off with it!).
  • These drives are very, very quiet and, with USB 3, they are fast.
  • They are a “set it and forget it” backup solution. If you have a Mac, use Time Machine to back up your computer. If you have a Windows PC, buying an ioSafe drive includes a license to Genie Timeline Professional: easy to use backup software for Windows that can protect your data with military-grade 256-AES encryption.

Living here in southern California makes drives like these even MORE important for my wife and for me. With earthquakes, wildfires, and more humans than most places on earth (so more likelihood of theft), having these drives as my backup solution give me peace of mind.

HOW AND WHERE TO BUY
Though you can buy these drives directly from ioSafe, here are a few places to pick up a 2TB, 3TB or 4TB drive less expensively:

WHATEVER YOU DO … BACK UP!!
Borsch, you’ve told me I need to back up … I get it!” OK, OK … but I thought my buddy didn’t want to hear me pontificate about backing up either and he didn’t … and now he’s lost all his photos, videos, emails and other data.

Don’t be like my buddy … back up now.

Disclaimer: I receive absolutely nothing from ioSafe or anyone else for my enthusiasm for their incredible hard drives. Yes, I do think they’re the best and just want everyone to back up!

Play With a Real HyperCard Stack

Open to see an update to this post added Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Somehow I missed this Ars Technica article (30-plus years of HyperCard, the missing link to the Web) on May 25, 2019, but thought I’d add it as an update to this post. In that article I learned about a new way to goof around with HyperCard — this time by downloading Steam for your PC, Mac or Linux computer — and, once you’ve installed it, you can load HyperCard here.

One of THE most amazing technologies on the Mac ever, was a software “stack” builder called HyperCard, created by a guy named Bill Atkinson (whom I met in Chicago in 1987 just after HyperCard was launched). Now a developer, Josh Deprez, has created this ‘virtual’, 9-inch, Macintosh (running System 7.0.1) with a “Disk 1” loaded in to it. Inside that “disk” is a Hypercard stack.

What’s HyperCard? Here is a brief explanation from the entry on Wikipedia:

HyperCard is based on the concept of a “stack” of virtual “cards”. Cards hold data, just as they would in a Rolodex card-filing device. Each card contains a set of interactive objects, including text fields, check boxes, buttons, and similar common graphical user interface (GUI) elements. Users “browse” the stack by navigating from card to card, using built-in navigation features, a powerful search mechanism, or through user-created scripts.

Fun to play with this virtual machine and the stack, but also to remember me how far we have come when it comes to computing and devices! The machine I spent most of my time using HyperCard on was my beloved Macintosh SE/30.

My Macintosh SE/30 was an amazing machine, especially since it had a 30 megabyte hard drive! That seems laughably small now, but at the time it was huge.

Having that machine enabled:

  • My daughter to learn about computers (we always played Cosmic Osmo when she was a toddler along with SoundEdit so I could change her voice to a chipmunk-like voice)
  • My wife and I to launch Marketing Directions, Inc. and her business The Trend Curve™. The first newsletter I created was built on that SE/30 and Aldus PageMaker, the first wildly successful page layout program.

Check out Dr. Josh Deprez’ virtual Mac and Hypercard here.

Apple Didn’t Include a USB-A to USB-C with the iPad Pro?

UPDATE today at 1:15pm Pacific
One thing that I should have put in this post…somewhere…was that I love this iPad Pro. The display is beautiful, the machine is FAST, and the Apple Pencil always being charged-up is a big win.

Glad I bought it.

On the day you could order the new iPad Pro 11 inch for 2018, I enthusiastically ordered mine as soon as I had a moment to do so and it arrived yesterday about 3pm. With the Smart Keyboard Folio, the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, and the iPad Pro 11″ 1TB model, my total with tax was $2,167.54.

Unbeknownst to me when I began to open the iPad’s packaging, that enthusiasm would soon turn to disappointment and then outright anger! Especially since I’d intended to set this new iPad Pro up and then restore my older 9.7″ iPad Pro with my wife’s iPad’s backup so she could take it on her trip which she left on this morning. Instead I ended up wasting TWO HOURS of driving and in-store time to chase down a cable that Apple should have included in the box.

WHAT…NO DONGLE OR CABLE?
As you may know, Apple decided to move to USB-C for these new iPad Pros, a move I see as a good one. In fact, I had already made somewhat of a switch to USB-C with my MacBook 12″ and its USB-C connections. As such, I already owned several USB-C cables and dongles.

What I did NOT expect was the included USB-C and charger was like the MacBooks: USB-C on both ends! No USB-A to USB-C dongle (or cable) was included. Setting up this new iPad Pro was therefore impossible for me since the 27″ iMac Retina I bought in 2015 for $4,800 had Thunderbolt 2 and USB-A connections. Without USB-A to USB-C in some fashion, I had no way to perform the required connect-to-iTunes step to begin the set up on this new iPad Pro!

I thought, “Wait a second…Apple couldn’t be this stupid…or could they?” so I got on ‘the Google’ and confirmed that yes, Apple had been that shortsighted and I had to go and buy a USB-A to USB-C charge/sync cable. Shit.

Read More

Apple Watch 4 Is The Best

You’ve probably read all sorts of reviews about the new Apple Watch Series 4 at this point, so maybe mine will prove interesting and useful…or maybe not. In any event I am SO enthused, pleased, and excited about this new model that I felt compelled to jot down a few thoughts.

First off I purchased the Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport Band with GPS + Cellular. As many other reviewers have written, the larger speakers in the watch make calls usable, but for me the volume is still a bit low. Everyone tells me I sound as good, if not better, than my iPhone X itself.

Secondly it is FAST! While my Apple Watch 2 was “OK” as far as speed was concerned, this new one SCREAMS in comparison. Apps load quickly, using the watch feels snappy, and sometimes I find myself just goofin’ around with it since it is fun to interact with. I rarely did that with my Apple Watch 2 since it was too slow and something as simple as checking the weather app took forever. It was always faster to take out my iPhone and use it vs. the watch.

In addition, I love the larger watch face and this specific face with its multiple complications. I chose the one you see above as it provides me with everything I want, need and use all the time every day. In this case you see (clockwise from upper left):

  • The temperature this morning here in Irvine, CA
  • “Reminders” showing I intend to return my Apple Watch 2 back to Apple’s trade-in partner
  • My Activity this morning (my wife and I walk an hour each morning)
  • Timers…I seem to use them frequently
  • In the center top is our 1pm appointment to order furniture for our new house being built in Rancho Mission Viejo CA
  • Lastly the four center complications (again, clockwise) are the date; my wife in my contacts; the trigger for a workout (our morning power walk); and my battery level.

Since getting this watch I’ve done something I didn’t expect: I’m leaving my iPhone X where we’re staying and going out for our morning walks with only my watch.

Unfortunately I’ve been appalled by the horrifically poor AT&T mobile service in southern California — and especially in much of Irvine where we’re staying temporarily until our house is completed end of November — so I don’t get to enjoy phone-free watch use as much as I’d like to, but it is awesome whenever I do and have good cell coverage!

Read More

My Apple Watch 4 Ordering Adventure

For our 32nd wedding anniversary on Thursday, September 20th, my wife and I decided to get Apple Watch 4’s for our anniversary gifts to one another. No…it won’t be a surprise, but it will be great to have these new, much more powerful, watches.

I was all set to order and I stayed up to do so at 12:01am Pacific time. Unfortunately I had to refresh my browser and didn’t get in until 12:08am.

You can see from the shipment timing above that my watch won’t arrive until 2-3 weeks after my wife receives her watch! You might say, “Well Steve, did you order them a long time apart?

  • 12:08am: Ordered my watch and then added to the cart BUT DAMN! I forgot to do my trade-in Apple Watch 2.
  • 12:09am: Immediately ordered my wife’s watch and entered her trade-in and added to cart.
  • 12:10am: Ordered my watch again, entered my trade-in, and added to cart.
  • 12:12am: Viewed cart and saw Apple’s warning that a single order can only contained two watches, so I removed my first watch order.
  • 12:13am: You can see from above what happened during the less than five minutes it took to perform this entire transaction!

I’ve told a few buddies about this and they just laughed at me and said stuff like:

“Apple only had 20 of each.”

“Man…talk about a first-world problem.”

“At least you’re not homeless and can afford them, you pathetic geek.”

So I’ll just shut up now and, um, wait for my watch while enjoying helping my bride set up her watch this Friday. Oh yeah, and as a stockholder I’m very happy people are buying this watch in droves.

Don’t Be Sad About Coverage On Your Mobile Network. Get OpenSignal & Be Smart

It will be nine weeks tomorrow that my wife, son and I have been in southern California. There are so many great things about where we are (Irvine) but one of them, surprisingly, is not the mobile networks! Thank God I just found something that I wanted to share with you since it might help you make your own decisions on what to do next if you’re thinking of changing mobile providers.

I suppose we’re spoiled since our mobile coverage in Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolitan area was almost always 4 bars and often 5 bars of service. Since I had Verizon on my iPad and AT&T on my iPhone in Minnesota, I could often compare the two and almost always they were pretty close in service strength and download speeds, regardless of where I was in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or their suburbs.

Then we got to southern California and almost everywhere that we found ourselves seemingly had crappy mobile network service. 1-2 bars was the norm. It seemed that every time we were somewhere with native Californians and I’d ask them what provider they had — mainly since they almost always had at least 2 bars of service when we had zero — they’d respond “Verizon!”

Thinking that maybe it was time to switch our family plan to Verizon, today I stopped in a Verizon store to get an idea of what their plans cost since their network saturation appears to be better than the one we’ve get with AT&T. The pricing wasn’t better, we have DirectTV NOW for $15 per month with AT&T, and we’d have to pay off a couple of devices. More homework was needed and, thankfully, I discovered something incredibly helpful. Read More

A Bug in the Apple Store App on iOS “Removed” a Gift Card from My Apple Wallet

It is likely that I discovered a bug in Apple’s Apple Store app for iOS that could make one of your Apple Store cards in your Apple Wallet vanish.

Two days ago I had three Apple Store cards in my Apple Wallet with varying amounts on them which were pretty close to the total amount of a new HomePod with tax — only $6.21 wasn’t covered by the Apple Store cards in my wallet so would, of course, be paid for using my archived credit card on file with Apple — so I decided to try to order the HomePod using the Apple Store app on my iPhone and go and pick up the unit at a nearby Apple Store in Southdale Mall (Edina, MN).

To my surprise the charge to my archived-at-Apple credit card for $6.21 kept failing! The credit card is used all the time so I tried the transaction three more times. It kept failing so I called my credit card provider Chase who told me that the card was just fine.

I then reached out to Apple Support and they basically had no idea what had happened. They did offer to order it for me or suggested I go in to an Apple Store. Of course, that completely misses the point that there is some sort of bug that disallowed me from using my credit card do I decided to give up and deal with it this coming weekend.

But here is where it gets REALLY WEIRD… Read More

Save on Cyber Insurance with Apple & Cisco

This just in from TechCrunch:

Apple and Cisco announced this morning a new deal with insurer Allianz that will allow businesses with their technology products to receive better terms on their cyber insurance coverage, including lower deductibles – or even no deductibles, in some cases. Allianz said it made the decision to offer these better terms after evaluating the technical foundation of Apple and Cisco’s products, like Cisco’s Ransomware Defense and Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Mac.

There is no question in my mind that Apple is inherently more secure than Android, Windows and other technologies. The operative word here, however, is “more” since there really isn’t any truly secure device. Or security is only as good as what we each are savvy enough NOT to do…like clicking on links in emails, inadvertently trusting a website that’s actually a phishing scam, and so on.

That announcement in Apple’s newsroom includes Aon as well: Cisco, Apple, Aon and Allianz today announced a new cyber risk management solution for businesses, comprised of cyber resilience evaluation services from Aon, the most secure technology from Cisco and Apple, and options for enhanced cyber insurance coverage from Allianz.

This is good in many ways but sure won’t hurt Apple and Cisco’s businesses, that’s for certain.

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