First, read this forum post:
then come back to this page. This is the somewhat agonizing story of "Kona #2".
[Images link to larger versions]
|This is the picture with the forum post, which you don't see fullsize unless you're logged in. This was basically right after the chain impact.|
The Jeeps suffered significant damage, and are probably totaled given how
stupidly expensive it is to fix auto damage these days.
The phone camera does really badly in low light, and my flashlight was
only a little help.
[Causative individual 100% at fault, just so she's findable on the internet
and held accountable for so casually fucking up the lives of others:
|After I moved aside, the two Jeeps couldn't be moved yet. They had thrown absorbent litter along the path of fluids leaking from the crushed engine bay of Chelsee's Jeep.|
|Taking a better look the next morning...|
|The hatch and bodywork under the opening got pushed pretty far in, but fortunately there's a lot of nonessential "crush space" in the way the rear of the Kona's body is constructed.|
|The middle Jeep's bumper must have hopped up onto my inner bumper reinforcement, which itself was not pushed in too much, but its mounting attachments to the rest of the frame were visibly bent downward. As separate bolt-on pieces, it didn't seem likely that this would constitute "frame damage" to any significant degree, we'd just need new ones along with all the other replacement parts.|
|My custom spare tire was compressed a bit but not damaged, and I managed to extract it and the stuff underneath.|
[Newer/updated part of this page follows]
A guy from the insurance company came by to collect appraisal data,
and took much the same set of pictures.
The formal appraisal was emailed a while later, and ballparked the damange
at something over $7000.
With less than 20,000 miles on a $40k-ish car, everyone agreed that it wasn't
enough to total it, and I was sent a list of the insurance company's
"recommended" body shops.
Another pain in the ass, since it was up to me to call around and find one
that could tackle this.
Arrangements were made, and one morning I drove the car down to said body
shop to drop it off and pick up a rental car to use over the repair time.
I had no inkling yet that it would be the last time I would drive that particular Kona.
Some of the story is also detailed in the referenced thread, but here's more of it in pictures. Once the body shop got enough of the interior trim pulled out, another appraisal was done, and they found that some of the inner layer of body metal, that is the special "high-tensile" steel that forms the passenger cage, was a bit bent here and there too. Apparently you can't just pull that back out, even in the rear part of the car, and call it factory-spec good -- it all has to be *new* material to fully restore the car. The body shop researched a little more, including downloading and printing parts of the the body-repair guide from Hyundai, and determined that basically, the car would need an entire new ass -- including a lot of welding and extensive rework at the roofline. This suddenly brought the likely repair cost to around $25 grand or more. So the insurance company decided that it was a total write-off, and transferred the entire claim to their "total loss" department to handle the rest of the way.
Fuck. Not what I expected.
Now I had to completely change direction; I was already receiving pressure to go get my personal effects out of the car at the body shop and "release" it to get hauled away by a salvage outfit. This required a lot of fast planning, as I had quite a few extra parts vested in the car, some at a fairly deep level like wired into the harness. It didn't take long for the possibility of getting another Kona to replace this to reach prominence in my thoughts, as I not only liked the car at its acquisition, it had grown on me even more over my ownership to date. Well, except for all of the 2019 battery packs being under recent recall for fire hazard -- that was a whole separate nightmare around the owner community, mostly because Hyundai was completely bungling the "remedy".
So perhaps this dark cloud on my automotive path had a silver lining: the newer 2021 Konas were *not* under recall, as Hyundai had started buying safer cells from a different manufacturing line, so swapping to a car two model-years later would get me a new and safer pack and possible drivetrain improvements, effectively a fresh start on the whole EV-ownership thing. The first 7000+ or so miles had been fun, but in a way, even though it wasn't the actual situation here, it almost felt like I'd only been leasing the car for a couple of years and now it was time to buy in for real.
|I needed to recover what I could out of the wreck, so I loaded up some tools and parts and headed down to the body shop to work things over. I had to supply some stuff as well -- items like the rear seat, the junk styrofoam trays from the boot, and the plastic "engine cover" were still stored in my basement, so I figured all that had to go with the hulk since they were original parts of it. I found the car out back at the shop, with the rear end all stripped down and the parts just flung haphazardly inside the car, but everything else still intact. They hadn't even pulled the 12V battery.|
Numerous marks indicated their study of the inner steel panels, fueling the
determination that they were somehow beyond saving.
Still strange, because most of these parts didn't actually look distorted
If it was so "high-strength", how did it yield so easily to what seemed
a relatively minor impact?
We also see just how much waste volume there is in the design of the Kona's rear end in general, which looks much bulkier from the outside than it needs to be.
|I got to work, fishing the yuppie-button diode box out from under the dash and clipping out its harness taps; I had every intention of reusing that. [I had already pulled the rear under-plastic at home, and recovered my super-bright LED reverse lamps, thinking that one or both lower light housings were going to get replaced regardless.] I had some quantity of simple 12V accessories taped into various places, which all had to be freed up and removed. I left the brake telltale in the instrument cluster; it would be easy enough to make another one if I even considered it worth the time. I drew the line at trying to pull the radio and put the cell modem back in; whoever might wind up owning that head unit down the road could simply enjoy the benefit of not being on the internet.|
|This is just a reference shot, showing the topology around how the outer tail-lights mount into the body, because I wasn't sure. Looks like the screws point forward and the whole assembly would slide toward the rear to dismount. Not a very weather-proof setup, clearly -- the amount of organic dirt and muck that rain had carried in here over less than two years is somewhat dismaying.|
|It was about an hour of rip-n-tear to recover everything I needed to, likely to the amusement of the body-shop folks who saw me out there scrambling all over the car, of course barefoot as usual. I needed to get under the cowl to pull my critter-screen, into the front fenderwells to recover the LED headlight modules, and backpull some wiring run under the seat brackets and various other non-obvious places.|
|Everything got piled haphazardly into the Prius -- I'd sort it out later, and hadn't even decided if there would be a replacement Kona for it to go back into or not yet. I was so intent on all this that the shop folks had to remind me to grab my plates, too -- which would be transferable to a different car if it was 1> an EV and 2> acquired soon enough.|
|After checking in up front at the desk and handing over the key-fobs, I took one more fond farewell gaze at the remains of "Snowcap I" and drove away. That was it, done. All rather sad, and all because some self-absorbed bimbo wasn't paying attention.|
With the intervening hassle of completing the disposal and having to go
car-shopping again, it was good that the Prius was still on the road.
It had not run much over the height of the pandemic, and needed a good bit
of cleanout inside including yet another rodent-bolus in the heating
system and actual *mold* on my seatbelt.
But all that was minor; I still needed to get around in something, and
there actually wasn't much point in having the rental if I had another
car available. The problem was delivery logistics -- how to travel back
and forth when picking up or dropping off vehicles, without drawing heavily
on favors from friends.
An interesting solution to that was already in the works --
in parallel with this whole Kona mess, my next sideline subchapter in EV
ownership was already beginning.
I ordered an e-scooter.
You know, one of those little stand-up death machines that are all over cities now as for-hire pools. Higher-end models are available for personal ownership and some of the specs seemed fairly favorable, with decent pneumatic tires and full suspensions and respectable electric ranges. I plunked in an order and expected to wait quite a while, but the actual item showed up surprisingly quickly given what the source company had been saying about their supply lines. Its first real mission was to get me back home after dropping the rental back at the Hertz office, only three days after picking it up. Even if insurance was paying for it, why waste the money if I didn't need it? Besides, it was a Buick, and only Buick can take something in a smallish, supposedly agile SUV/crossover form factor and make its driving feel like like a big ol' wallowing land-yacht sedan from the seventies.
Not that I was doing the insurance company any favors. The next thing to talk about was my settlement for the officially totaled car, and of course they tried to lowball it on me. Fuck you, MAPFRE. I did my own research at Blue Book and NADA, and knew about what they *should* be giving me. I guess they just do this to everybody as a matter of routine, hoping to get away with it. Sleazebags. Try to be a *little* more honorable than Liberty Mutual, huh? They came up with sketchy "research" of equivalent cars, some being offered two or three states away and of questionable similarity at all. The kicker that I made very clear to them was this: I could not walk onto a lot and buy a commensurate *used* 2019 Kona, period, due to the outstanding and so far irremediable battery recall on all of them. I called the dealers listing the items in the "report" and at least two of them confirmed that no, those cars were under "stop-sale" and they could not legally be sold at all. My only choice was to go up in model years far enough to get clear of that issue, which, conveniently, a *new* 2021 model Kona would qualify for.
In response to my vigorous pushback, the insurance people "sent the claim over to management", and magically pulled an extra $7000 or more out of their ass that they simply could have offered up front. Still not ideal, but much more in line with my need to buy new again; I took the money and ran with it. My efforts in disproving the bullshit from the opposing insurance company had probably helped too.
Hyundai's website is actually pretty good with regard to car-shopping, and once you get the site to work in the first place, shows actual per-dealer inventories fairly accurately. It didn't take long to find new "Snowcap stock", conveniently allocated to a dealer in Arlington, and as soon as I told them "I am ready to hand you my plates and a fat check", they were ready to sell. Semi-long story short -- one morning a week or so later, I was driving home in a shiny new exact replica of the car I had just lost, same trim level and paint scheme and everything. With the scooter that got me to the pickup stashed in the back.
And the first Jeep to pull up behind me at a light was utterly terrifying.
|So now I needed to re-do all my hacks, notably the Yuppie Button for that extra bit of advisory protection to the rear. Half an hour after getting the car home, the dash looked like this. Happily, the new Kona hadn't changed electrically, and was exactly the same as the old one -- same wiring, same configuration of parts, and now that I'd done all the research on the first one, I knew exactly what I needed to go after on this one and how to access it all without mangling any little plastic fasteners.|
|The head unit was still a bit of a pain to extract but once opened up on the bench, the cell modem again came out easily. The metal retention tabs for its case are just twisted a little to hold it down, even though they *could* have been soldered.|
|I used the same diode module for the Yuppie Button, tucked up out of sight behind the gateway/fuse/power module, but made a distinct improvement in the foot-switch mounting. I has grown weary of the side-slam topology; it was much harder to control in that axis and I wanted a "stomp on it" setup more like in the Prius. The hobby-box is attached to the side kick panel but backs firmly onto the dead-pedal area under its far edge, so it quite rigidly resists applied foot pressure. And it's much easier to find by feel, if only a little higher off the floor.|
|I took a different and possibly simpler approach to sealing the "rodent habitrail" holes in the hood -- stuffed the volume behind them with fiberglass and sealed them up with super-sticky construction tape. I had actually forgotten to extract my little screw-together block plates from the old car, but no matter. This would be another experiment. At least I had recovered my ventilation-intake screen, which went into this new one under the cowl easily with only the token kiss of a drill to expand the fastening holes needed.|
|Flipping the spare wheel over and stashing the tool holder underneath instead turned out to leave a lot more room for additional things; in fact, my home EVSE just fits there if the cable is rolled at the right size! Perhaps it can travel there during eventual roadtrips. The whole setup still just clears underneath the closed deck board, and various other small-item storage optimizations were made around it. I had kept the specially-cut pieces of the old cargo mat, so those just went right back in here as padding.|
|An improved "rain hood" for wet-weather charging resulted from a little creative cutting and taping of sheet plastic. It anchors to a couple of points under the edge of the hood, which can then close and clamp it down. I assume that the J1772 connector setup is fairly water-resistant on its own, but if it's going to sit there for several hours why let it get any wetter than it needs to be?|
|I had left the mounting studs for my park-button finger guard in the old car. Instead of trying to reconstruct that exact setup, I came up with a simpler one that doesn't risk slicing into my cuticles. I had found that what I really needed was a hand positioning guide, to orient in the right place over the buttons without looking down. A simple piece of brick-strap would suffice. I basically lay the tip of my ring finger against the rise of the strap, and then Neutral and Drive are right under those last two fingers. The shift assembly itself is still too far to the rear ergonomically, but trying to move it would require extensive mods to the console piece.|
|It took about four days to get most of my hacks and setup back into the new car, with several other improvements and optimizations in the process. The weather was pretty miserable for some of that, hot and humid; I could not do any taping in the first couple of days because adhesion would have been poor to nonexistent. I could solder in the harness taps for the yuppie button, but didn't want to tape them up until more favorable conditions so they just sat exposed for a while. That's why tap points get offset along the length of a harness section, so they can't touch each other regardless. Fortunately, things dried out a couple of days later and I could finish up.|
Once back on the road, another needed operation was a full "learning" cycle
on the pack, with the same trick of driving around into "turtle mode" and
then bringing it down to nothing left with the climate-control system in
This time I had better instrumentation, particularly to watch for increased
high/low cell deviation as it reached the bottom.
Here at 2% real SoC, we were starting to push that 0.1V threshold that
supposedly could brick the pack if exceeded, but things never got notably
mismatched enough to be a genuine problem.
And if the high/low cell block numbers are still varying during this,
that's a good sign because it doesn't indicate any one cell out of whack.
Interestingly, at around 15 miles left during the "runaround", the GoM suddenly dropped to "---" miles remaining even though the pack was still at 4 percent or so. That was different behavior from the previous car. It was mildly concerning, as it could have indicated a cell "falling off the cliff" in terms of capacity, but the observed min/max voltages didn't support that idea. Apparently this behavior is just from some updates in the software, that now doesn't bother trying to stay more distance-predictive all the way down to the bottom.
|It was nice to then be able to charge back up to 100%, without those forum-driven fears of the pack catching fire and burning the car and house down.|