It's been a long time since I stopped by here.. Life got busy, but I still have the 2016 Soul Ev!
It has been a great little car over the last 5 years. A few hiccups here and there but that's to be expected with a first Gen vehicle. Anyway, nothing the warranty didn't solve.. until now.
So, I'm posting here today as something has finally happened to my vehicle, and though I am quite technically versed in things automotive, this one really has me stumped. My Heat Pump does not work (the heating function only). This is a big deal, because I live in Ontario, and it is staring to get cold.. and the PTC/resistive heater is using a ton of power to warm the vehicle, reducing my range. FYI, this is the 2016+ model with heat pump option.
It all started several months ago when I noticed the air conditioning performance had deteriorated over the summer. I also noticed what looked to be an oil stain on the condenser lower corner (driver side), and figured the condenser had spring a small leak. Brought the car into the dealer and turns out I was right. They did their diagnostic, and called me to tell me the car would need a new condenser, which was a special order.. They'd need a week or two to get the part. Ok, fine. I pick up the car in the interim, turned on the AC and ta-da! nothing. Got home and opened the hood, and noticed both charging caps missing, and a sandy, oily green mess around the ports. That was my first red flag of poor quality service. I called the dealer and it was at that point they advised me they "recovered" the R134 since it was leaking, to "save the environment." Right. Might have asked the owner of said vehicle, and R134. In frustration, I carefully wiped away the dirt, and wrapped the ports in plastic wrap/elastic bands to prevent further contamination of the system.
Anyhow, returned a couple weeks later and had the AC "fixed". Seemed to work ok for a few weeks, and then I noticed poor cooling performance again. Knowing that it had obviously lost some if its charge again, I returned and they verified my concern.. Long story short, the vehicle was in the shop maybe 4-5 times over the summer as they tossed parts at it... first the condenser, then an expansion valve, and most recently, the "chiller" (I assume they mean the electronics heat exchanger, as that is what they replaced). I also commented that I noticed oil on several of the hose barb ends (the crimp where the rubber and aluminum lines are joined), but they dismissed that as "normal" (yeah right... mystery oil from somewhere.. I wonder where...). Ok, and my OBC was replaced due to a weird fault code, and random cutting out of the EV system a couple times when I put the vehicle in park.
So, along comes the end of September when that last bit of "work" was done on the "chiller", and the A/C seemed ok, though the temperatures were in a range where neither cooling nor heating is required. Then one evening, I turn the heat on during a cold night drive, and notice quite a high power draw on the energy readout (I got used to checking that as a proxy for gauging compressor operation). I was surprised, and so checked under the hood when stopped.. and that is when I noticed that the compressor was NOT RUNNING with the heat on, at between 5C - 10C outside air temp. All the heat was being produced by the resistive heater. I tried the heat several more times during the following few days, with the same result. Heat, but only from the resistive source. No action from the heat pump.
I brought the car back to the dealer and had them look at it, and they determined that "everything is fine and operating as it should be." I've had the car there several times since, arguing that whatever work they did over the summer screwed up the heat pump, as it should clearly be operating at this temperature range and heating demand.. Their position is that the heat pump only operates below -20C, and since it is between 5C and 10C, the heat pump won't run. I explained that is exactly the opposite of how the system operates, and that it is the resistive heater that operates at those cold temperatures. I've owned the car for 5 years, and it has never operated this way before (by not operating). I even asked the dealer to demonstrate that the heat pump is working, and they won't do it.
I've had Kia Canada involved, and they just fall back to whatever the dealer is saying, which is maddening. They won't let me speak to any of their supposed technical consultants, stating these are an "internal resource once", despite having one involved in my case (he spoke to the seemingly incompetent mechanic who has been working on my car all summer). I've written numerous very detailed emails to the dealer and clearly laid out my concerns... so far to no avail. Of course, my warranty expired at the end of September, as an aggravating factor in all this.
I thought I'd check in here before I proceed further with the dealer and Kia Canada - has anyone else here experienced an issue with their heat pump in their vehicle?
One more thing.. maybe related, maybe not. I did test the A/C the other day, and it does still work. The compressor comes on, so it is not a loss of charge issue again. The compressor simply does not turn on when you engage the heat.. it's like the car doesn't even know that it is there. They (the dealer) did an update on the vehicle software during one of the numerous visits, and I was told it was to correct parking brake behaviour. I also noticed (accidentally) that the update changed the Chademo charging behaviour - it used to stop at 84%, and now it runs until at least 94% (maybe higher, but I stopped the charger before finding out). I wonder if that software update did something else to the vehicle, that is related to the inoperative heat pump system? (I asked for a software change log, and they won't provide one).
This experience has been so bad (the dealer and Kia Canada), that even though the vehicle has been alright, the service is just so poor that I could NEVER recommend a Kia product to anyone, ever. The level of competence, and concern for the customer and the proper functioning of their products is just not there.
Anyway, if anyone can offer suggestions for things to check, please do!