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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posted on 12-24-20

First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone on here who posts all of the useful information on here. Very helpful.

Ok on to my question.

Is there such a thing as a reliable 2012 Fisker Karma?

A few weeks ago, I purchased a mint condition Karma (Software Ver. 510) online from the original owner in FL (a car collector) with only 6k original miles on it (I made sure the Vin number was over 1500). He said he recently replaced the Hybrid battery and Contactor #5 (whatever that is).

I’ve only had the car for two weeks and It’s already in the shop!

1. After charging it over night, the car wouldn’t start (had a flashing green READY light on the dash). While waiting for AAA to arrive, after an hour the Flashing Green Ready light went away and the car started.

2. The HVAC system is stuck on defrost mode!
3. The high beams don’t turn on.
4. The right front turn signal only works sometimes (intermittently).

I’m already thinking about selling it. The Karma mechanic in SF told me “It’s not a Honda Civic”. I’m guessing he means there not reliable cars.

Is there such a thing as a "Reliable Fisker Karma"? Does anyone own a Fisker Karma they consider reliable?
 

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I have had my Karma for over five years now. At the start of ownership, I often felt that I was completing the production process on the car (getting battery modules replaced, a new diff on the back, making sure the recalls had all been done, getting the front airbags replaced, and on and on). Knock on wood, though, these days my car runs very well. I could complain about the AC going warm when the ICE turns on, but that's something I live with and will not be having fixed because I don't want the dash ripped out.

The thing is, that the tech in SF is right (Pat's Garage?). These cars were the very earliest examples of production from a new company. They were built by a highly respected contract manufacturer in Finland (the original Volvo C70 and Porsche Boxsters were made there too) but still it's clear that each car required special attention as it came off the production line (there's a book about it). You should only buy a Fisker if you know the history and what to expect. Of course, now you are in much better shape because you can always take the car to a Karma Automotive service center and they will do everything for you (at a price).

Buying an eight year old Karma with low mileage does not guarantee a reliable vehicle. These cars need to be driven, otherwise they will definitely complain. Even having a VIN over 1500 won't help you, because so few were made. Mine is #1030 and is great. The fact that your software is only on 510 means that the previous owner didn't keep up on maintenance (the current version is 535, though some would advise against that particular version (see forum)).

You buy a Fisker because you love the car and what it represents in automotive history (at least I did), not just because of its looks and the adoring comments. I fully expect mine to 'brick' one day (probably the batteries will fail or something terminal) and I will have to decide whether to fix it or not. Either way, I probably won't get rid of it. That will be the time for it to be a display item in a collection. But until then, I will continue to service it, drive it and get it fixed when necessary.

The bottom line is that even if mine bricked tomorrow, it has been a reliable car for the past five years. It has not stranded me anywhere (except once for twenty minutes when I had to reboot the car with the big black plug - something you might try, by the way - read the forum). But if you think it should be as reliable as a Volkswagen, you will be disappointed - this forum is testament to the challenges that a small group of people have faced.

Merry Christmas.
 

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Hello,

I understand your concern. Until now my car has been reliable in the sense it always has driven and never left me anywhere stuck. I also agree with the mechanic, it is not a Japanese car. Prepare yourself for some cost, especially when the mileage is low. That's the reason my car had 30k miles on it when I bought it, in the hope major issues would already have been solved. Since then minor components had to be replaced in chronological order from 2017: 12v battery, the motor cooling fan (out of balance / vibrating), PTC heater, front lower control arm bushings left and right, 4 tires, cabin blower motor, front passenger airbag, contactor #5 and the onboard charger module.

Until now 1 or 2 times a year I have a flashing ready error that until now always has been solved by a hard reset. And sporadically i get a reduced performance error probably due to the coupler that fails and wil need to be replaced in the next couple of years.

Most important to take into account is replacing the rear differential module and traction motors due to the soft spline issue. Furthermost battery modules may fail some time.

Maybe it is wise to check your car what is needed to be done in the future so you can make an estimate of the cost.

In my opinion you definately need to love this car, for the looks, for the technical engineering behind it, for the deeper thought in creating this car. It definately will become a collectors item someday, although it comes at a cost...

Merry Christmas,

Bart
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Simon and Bart, thank you both for your input and useful information about the Fisker Karma. That’s all I needed to hear. I did not realize what the cost of owning a Fisker Karma was going to be before I purchased it.

I’m going to sell it as soon as I get it back from the Karma dealership in Pasadena (front passenger airbag recall). Thank God that was covered. I can only imagine what it was going to cost me if I had to pay out of pocket for it. I knew I had made a mistake buying the car when the service manager at the dealership told me “Be prepared to spend $5,000 to $10,000 a year in repairs”. You should’ve seen the look on my face when I heard that.

Anyone in So Cal interested in a white Karma (6k original miles), look for it on Car Gurus and Cars . com in January. I’m just waiting for the DMV to send me the new Title. Oh, and the car just passed smog check with no permanent error codes (which I hear is rare).
 

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Bart: what version of software are you running. I was on 530 or 535 (can’t remember- whatever was latest) getting “ready faults” you describe, so I switched back to 520 and haven’t had one since.

As far as the original post: I have an early model (328), and have really had nothing go wrong at all. I did the RDM replacement proactively, but wonder if I might have even survived that ok. My gear selector recently went bad (described in a recent post), and I fixed that myself for the cost of a $120 part. At some point, something bigger is going to break and I’ll be at a real crossroads over whether to fix it or sell, but I think if I stick with it, it will be a real collectible some day: It is a specimen of one of the earliest modern-day EVs and not one but two publicly-traded multibillion dollar companies trace their roots back to the 2012.
 

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Bart: what version of software are you running. I was on 530 or 535 (can’t remember- whatever was latest) getting “ready faults” you describe, so I switched back to 520 and haven’t had one since.
Hello NS,

I am on 520. The last blinking ready error was 3 weeks ago after a full charge at a public charger. The time before that was September 2019. Also after 2 checks in the last 3 years by the Prodis computer no faults at all... My feeling is that it is may be caused by some HV check that fails, but I can't proof it in any way... Never had any problems yet with the battery modules... 🤞
 

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Sounds good Bart - it just happened, but it had been a year since the last time, so not bad.

Re-reading the OP, I note that the problems all seem pretty minor:

1. After charging it over night, the car wouldn’t start (had a flashing green READY light on the dash). While waiting for AAA to arrive, after an hour the Flashing Green Ready light went away and the car started.

Probably could have fixed this with a hard reset (short term fix, and then upgrade software to 520 and hopefully that would be long term fix).

2. The HVAC system is stuck on defrost mode!

If you mean your windshield is fogging, that sounds like a broken screen, not stuck on defrost mode. The low-tech fix is to cut something to block up that vent. It’s not worth fixing IMO because it will break again.

3. The high beams don’t turn on.

A very recent post indicates this may be a burned bulb, also not a major fix. I couldn’t even tell you if my own are working, since I have little cause to use highbeams. Unless you drive at night s lot and live in an area with lots of deer on the road, not a huge deal.

4. The right front turn signal only works sometimes (intermittently).

Sounds also like a new bulb would do it.

Maybe I’m wrong on one or more of the above, but I think you’re giving up too easily. I assume you didn’t make this purchase on a whim, and had some idea that you were buying an 8 year old car which would entail some repairs. Maybe your mechanic is looking to buy the car through a friend when you bail? Anyway, I completely disagree with the $5-10k/year estimate. If it cost that much, I wouldn’t be here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi NS, you may have a good point there. Maybe I will hold off on selling it for now and see how things go the next couple of months. Hopefully nothing major breaks on the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh and one more thing NS....

when I said my HVAC system is stuck on Defrost Mode, I didn't mean the windshield was fogging. The A/C and Heat work fine. I meant I cant change the Mode for the air to flow out to my feet or the Front Facing Vents. The air only flows out of the Defrost (windshield).

The dealership said its probably the HVAC Mode Actuator or Blend Door Shade Motor but they won't know for sure unless they pull the dash out. I guess I can just learn to live with it. It's not a major issue and I'm definitely not spending $3,000 to have it work correctly.
 

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when I said my HVAC system is stuck on Defrost Mode, I didn't mean the windshield was fogging. The A/C and Heat work fine. I meant I cant change the Mode for the air to flow out to my feet or the Front Facing Vents. The air only flows out of the Defrost (windshield).

The dealership said its probably the HVAC Mode Actuator or Blend Door Shade Motor but they won't know for sure unless they pull the dash out. I guess I can just learn to live with it. It's not a major issue and I'm definitely not spending $3,000 to have it work correctly.
Yeah, I thought that might be the problem, because that's what happened to me also - the shade tears easily. I paid the $3000 to have it work correctly, and it broke again pretty quickly (6 months?), so I advise others (as I advise you now) to live with it and not shell out the $3K. Instead figure out a way to cover up that vent. This is discussed in more detail with more input at this link:
https://www.fiskerbuzz.com/forums/13-fisker-karma/27705-c-windshield-fogging-solution.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The dealership called this morning and said they replaced the headlamp bulb but it didn't fix the high beam problem. They don't know why the High Beam on one side is not working.

The car was in Florida for the past 8 years. Is there something about the weather in FL that causes problems for the Fisker Karma?
 

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If anything, Florida weather is probably kinder to the Karma than most other parts of the country with “real winter”. EV batteries take more punishment and have a shorter range in the winter, and cold would have to be tough on many parts.

I would search “highbeam” on the forum. Here’s one discussion:
https://www.fiskerbuzz.com/forums/13-fisker-karma/38234-passenger-side-highbeams-always.html

Like I say: I have no idea if mine work because I don’t think I’ve ever even tried them - not a “high priority” problem. I get more upset when a “check engine” light displaces the current speed reading then I’d be by having no high beams.
 
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