2016Electric
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:05 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Fri Oct 30, 2020 5:58 pm

Hi all,

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!

(thanks!)

JejuSoul
Posts: 1580
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:47 am
Location: Jeju
Contact: Website

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:04 pm

2016Electric wrote:... 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...
You are correct. They are completely wrong. The local technician is clueless. But, the heating and cooling system on our cars is extremely complicated and less than optimally designed. Also given that the Soul EV is quite a rare car it is understandable that the mechanics are confused.

Some possibilities
1/ The failure of your OBC may be related to the failure of the cooling system, since it requires liquid cooling to operate correctly.

2/ They have updated the firmware of your BMS. (You now charge to 94% on DC fast chargers). They have probably also included the latest BMS update which updates the climate system. This also requires an update to the FATC (The ECU that controls the heating and and cooling.) This is brand new and the side effects of the FATC update are as yet unknown.
For details see - BMS software update

I don't know if those are relevant. The important thing is that you need to get them to acknowledge it was their mistakes that led to this error.
Their repair efforts over the summer were clumsy and probably damaging. It is likely that your present fault is related to what they messed up.
They should be covering the cost of fixing your car.

You may find some useful info in this thread - Heating and Cooling the Cabin - The HVAC System

There is a diagnostic system for reading HVAC trouble codes from the console unit. Press the MODE switch more then 4 times within 2 seconds while pressing the OFF switch. The Kia Soul EV error codes are here - Kia Soul: Heater & A/C Control Unit (FATC) Repair procedures

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The codes for using Torque Pro can be found by clicking the link in the website icon under my user name on the left.

2016Electric
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:05 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Sat Oct 31, 2020 7:50 pm

Hi Jeju,

Thanks for your reply. Yeah, that's what I figured (they are incorrect). I met with the manager of the dealer last Thursday and expressed these concerns. I'm waiting for him to review all of my emails to the service advisor and get back to me. He also said he'd speak to Kia Canada.

Overall this is beyond frustrating. The heating system is a huge drain on the battery now, with night temperatures dropping to freezing. Range is already taking a serious hit.

I found a link to the shop service manual yesterday and bought a copy. Overall lots of good info in there. I looked up the locations of the sensors under the hood and the expected resistance values for testing (two refrigerant temp sensors and the pressure cutout switch). The values were a little out of spec for what the manual stated they should be at the given temperature (it was 6C outside), but they did respond quickly to a rise or fall of temperature when externally warmed or cooled.. So I doubt that is the issue. Pressure cutout is also ok, as is the ambient temp sensor... So no luck there (I was really hoping to find a loose connector or broken wire lead). By the way, the low pressure refrigerant temp sensor is a PIA to get to, burwd under the top plastic cover above the condenser / radiator. Lots of clips and screws to remove that.

I also tested the hvac unit as you mentioned.. Hold off while pressing mode 4x within 2S. All that seems to do is display a double 00, flashing at the bottom of the screen. The service manual mentions this test as well, and that you can then press auto, and the AC button to scroll through diagnostic tests, but nothing happens when I do that... Still shows 00 until I exit the test by pressing off again (this test done with the car turned on). Am I doing it incorrectly, or is that a good result?

I'm beginning to lean toward this issue being software related, and wonder if they neglected to update the hvac ecu during the other updates.. Can this be done separately? Is it at all possible they flashed the wrong software to the vehicle? I know there is a version of the car sold without the heat pump... Could that software have been used inadvertently?

IanL
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:57 pm
Location: Jersey, English Channel Islands

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:03 am

2016Electric wrote:...
I'm beginning to lean toward this issue being software related, and wonder if they neglected to update the hvac ecu during the other updates.. Can this be done separately? Is it at all possible they flashed the wrong software to the vehicle? I know there is a version of the car sold without the heat pump... Could that software have been used inadvertently?


I would definitely pursue that possibility. It sounds so feasible. And so easy to correct,

2016Electric
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:05 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:52 am

Hi,

Any chance you had the sa427 software update applied?

Is your heat pump working?

IanL
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:57 pm
Location: Jersey, English Channel Islands

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:16 am

The car is nearly 3 years old, but I've only had it for a year, during which no updates applied or due. Last winter the heating worked ok, but it's not as cold as Canada here. The energy consumed by applying heat seemed low, so guess the heat pump works ok. Sorry, not much help.

2016Electric
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:05 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Sun Nov 15, 2020 8:52 am

Well, I have an unfortunate update to post.

After having Kia Canada involved extensively in this situation, last week they agreed to run another "test" at the dealership and allowed me to be present for the "test".

Here’s what happened.

I arrived at the dealership thinking we are finally going to get somewhere with this issue and ask them what will be involved in this "test". The general manager of the dealership advises me that the test will consist of the following:

- Mechanic will sit in the car with a thermometer inserted into the vent
- Mechanic will turn on the A/C (cooling), and measure the vent temperature
- Mechanic will turn on the heat (heating), and measure the vent temperature
- If the car produces cold and then hot air at the vent, then the system is operating as it should.

At that point, I was speechless, as they were well aware that my complaint was NEVER that the car fails to produce heat; rather, the problem is that heat is produced from the PTC rather than from the heat pump, which is wasting energy and reducing my vehicle range. This was also all thoroughly documented in my emails to the dealership. As I explained this to them, they advised that this was the "test" that Kia Canada requested, and that was the only "test" that would be performed. Not surprisingly, they ran this "test", and reported that the vehicle is working properly and "to spec". I went to far as to open the hood as they performed this "test", and tried to have the mechanic and dealership manager at least look under the hood and observe the compressor turning off literally every time they switched the system mode to heat... they refused to look under the hood! At no point were the following things checked:

- How the heat was being produced (i.e. PTC vs. heat pump) and energy consumption
- Sensor values from the refrigerant temp sensors, pressure sensors, etc. during operation
- Refrigerant pressures during operation
- The vehicle was NOT connected to any diagnostic equipment
- Dealership manager refused to check the vehicle software to ensure the correct software was installed, and that there were no data corruption issues

After the dealership service visit (that was a complete waste of my time … and I've lost count of how many of those I have had to endure over the last few months), I immediately called Kia Canada and spoke to the manager that was handling my case. He seemed surprised at what this "test" was (he is aware my complaint is that the heat pump does not operate correctly), and said that he would get back to me. Around an hour later, he called back and confirmed the "test" performed was the one that Kia Canada requested, and given that the vehicle passed the "test", they would assist in this matter no further. Their final position is that there is nothing wrong with the vehicle (heat pump system), despite the fact that there is no way they can possibly know this, given that the heat pump system operation was never checked, nor were the components and sensors inspected for proper readings vs the specifications in the factory service manual.

At this point, I am at a loss as to what I can do (myself), but I am not about to give up. To that end, I decided to do some testing of my own (since Kia is unwilling to do so).

One development or clue I have observed is that the heat pump seems to engage if the ambient temperature sensor reads 15C or above, but disengages when the ambient temperature falls below 15C (as measured by the sensor). When measured with a thermocouple strapped to the compressor discharge line, I was obtaining temperatures of approx 40-41C (when the system would actually run). Kind of functionally useless, as you don't really need heat above 15C, but it does demonstrate that mechanically, the heat pump components seem to be working ok.

I then carefully manually cooled the ambient temp sensor down one degree at a time (electronic parts cleaner works well for that), and the system disengages when the sensor drops to around 15C, and the PTC takes over. Also, it seems that the temperature selector in the vehicle must be set to 22C or lower to keep the heat pump running, and any higher causes the PTC to take over. At those loads, the compressor is only drawing around 150 to 300 watts per the vehicle display. I have also test driven the vehicle with a multi-meter thermocouple connected to the compressor discharge line, to determine which system is producing heat. Yesterday, at approx 6C ambient, over a mixed highway and local drive around 45 mins in duration and inside vehicle temperature set to 20C (heat), all heat was produced by the PTC, and the heat pump never engaged.

So it seems that there may be some combination of sensor or software problem (rather than a mechanical issue). I am leaning towards software, possibly something to do with the BMS/FATC logic update they did in September 2020.

To recap, here is what I have found:

- If the ambient temperature is greater than 15C, and the vehicle temperature is set to 22C or lower, the heat pump seems to operate at minimal output (the compressor and radiator fan engages)
- If the ambient temperature is lower than 15C, or the vehicle temperature is set to more than 22C, all heat is produced by the PTC
- The FATC will not allow mixing of PTC and heat pump (as it used to do as the temperature fell / heating load was increased)

This operation is nothing like what I have experienced over the last 5 years of owning this vehicle. Previously, the heat pump would always operate when the heat was turned on, perhaps except for very cold temperatures of below approx -18C to -20C. Also, given that the PTC is now producing all the heat, HVAC power consumption for heat has increased from 0.15 to 0.5 KW to an average of 0.8 to 2 KW (using much more energy).

One more thing, not sure if this could be related or not.. but the work done over the summer at Kia has also changed the following:

- Chademo no longer stops at 84%. It continues until at least 94%, but something interesting does happen at 84% - while charging as the current falls when the BMS reads up to 84%, after crossing 84%, current slightly increases again before tapering off towards the final flow at 94% (not sure if slight bump up at 84% is normal?)
- The timed charge start options no longer allow L2 charging to stop at 80%. Now both entries show timed charge options only to 100%
- The OBC was replaced over the summer


Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?

… Or alternatively, a referral to a good lawyer in Canada who can deal with this sort of thing (I’m starting to think that will be my only option to have Kia address this)

IanL
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:57 pm
Location: Jersey, English Channel Islands

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Sun Nov 15, 2020 11:36 pm

2016Electric wrote:- The timed charge start options no longer allow L2 charging to stop at 80%. Now both entries show timed charge options only to 100%
- The OBC was replaced over the summer)


I'm inclined to think this is one helluva clue. You have a 2016 car, but the charging option is a change that was introduced in the 2017/18 model year, because of some nonsense about EPA definitions Afaik, the change is not retrospective. So I suspect you have a "hybrid" setup, perhaps with the wrong software, which may account for the heat pump misbehavior.

As far as KIA's behavior is concerned, I'm disgusted. They seem to have a corporate habit of lying to cover their errors. In my case, I found an error is the way the DRLs are documented to work. My dealer verified that they did not conform to the manual description, but when he communicated with KIA, they told him I had the wrong manual. Now my car was built in 2017, AND THE MANUAL IS DATED 2017, so for which car is my manual correct? They sent him a page scan from another manual, which I'm prepared to bet is for the 2019 model. They just won't admit to an error. The manual also has multiple mention of the car "selecting the appropriate gear", so obviously contains careless "cut and paste" from the ICE model. Bah!

JejuSoul
Posts: 1580
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:47 am
Location: Jeju
Contact: Website

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Mon Nov 16, 2020 5:09 am

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Yes. Kia has behaved really badly.
I think you need to do some homework before paying for a lawyer.
The test Kia did is one devised by a lawyer not by a technician.
It seems Kia has already consulted their lawyers, and has chosen their strategy in advance.
They will claim that your car is working.
You need to find the legal definition of what constitutes a 'working' heating system.

As for trying to fix the issue yourself. It does seem to be a software glitch rather than any component fault.
It may be that the new update always has this software error or it maybe something the technicians added wrongly on your car.
There is no way for you to know, and no way for you to correct the software on your own.

The only suggestion I have is to warm the ambient temperature sensor above 15C and trick the heat pump software into working.

That your car cannot set a charge to 80% is really odd. That is a setting on the Navi screen. There is no software update for your car that removes this setting. It should be impossible for them to add a different Model Year's software by mistake. Can you post a screenshot of this, and a screenshot of your system settings.
The codes for using Torque Pro can be found by clicking the link in the website icon under my user name on the left.

IanL
Posts: 105
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:57 pm
Location: Jersey, English Channel Islands

Re: Heat pump stopped working, no apparent cause

Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:38 am

I have had an idea. With some cars (notably Peugeot and Citroen), a computerised hardware/software unit called the BSI (Body Systems Interface, I think) can sometimes get a corruption of volatile memory, resulting in erratic behavior. The cure is to disconnect the battery and let the car sit for long enough for the memory to blank. Then reconnect, and the memory is reloaded from firmware and peripherals. Of course, this may not apply to our cars, but there would be no harm in disconnecting the auxiliary battery for (say) 5 minutes, to try it out.

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