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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Yesterday morning I tried to start my MY13 Volt with 57K miles. The boot-up took longer and then gave a weird message about 'service power steering'. The wheel was very hard to turn indeed. It also did not want to charge. Since I was under time pressure to get to work I gave up and I took the backup car. It seems I a pretty serious issue. I had visions of having to finally having to bring in the Volt for service (I have never done that in 4+ years) and worried how to get the car there.

When I got home after work I tried again. Now there were even more failure messages. Suddenly I noticed also the red battery symbol next to the many other error lights. So I checked the 12V battery voltage in the trunk: Bingo.. It was down to 10.1V. I charged the battery a little and then the car started normally.

I went to a local auto-part store and bought a new battery. Installing that in the back trunk is a little harder than putting it under the hood. But it is easily doable with the right wrench set. The good news was that ALL my settings survived the power outage. My Toyotas always reset to factory default, including the radio presets.

It is a bit odd that the Volt does not give me the 'root problem' of low 12V battery Voltage. Instead it gave loads of other data about modules that fail because of low voltage. It is also strange that the on board charger does not charge the 12V battery from the 360V main battery in this case. It only took a little push from the external battery charging to jack the voltage up enough to start normally. So in all, I think that a little software could have given a warning in time for 'service 12V battery soon', instead of potentially stranding people in the middle of nowhere. The state of charge is visible on the OBD bus, so determining battery health should be a piece of cake.

So all-in-all a happy ending. Except for the broken NAV, my Volt is still flawless.
 

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Mine is getting there as well. Build date in Jan 2014. 12v is at least that old if not more.

It is a bit odd that the Volt does not give me the 'root problem' of low 12V battery Voltage. Instead it gave loads of other data about modules that fail because of low voltage.
Not all that unusual. It's called a cascading failure. Happens all the time in complex systems as each system is talking to the alarm reporting tool not to each other.
 

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If there is a problem with the 12 volt system, the high voltage drive motor battery can not power up (contactors close to supply power). If the hybrid powertrain control module 2 has low voltage, it can not close the contactors. During low voltage, all computers kind of go crazy and not operate in a normal matter.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the detail. There are cascading errors as a result of low voltage. and without the high-voltage system firing up it cannot charge the 12V system.

Every Volt will sooner or later have a bad 12V battery, and that will be a sudden nasty surprise. So it does make sense to add some software tweaks to minimize that. Rather than displaying all errors in a brain-dead way, it could have this tittle piece of code in it boot sequence:
if(multiple subsystems report error AND battery is below 10.5V) {
suppress BS errors and instead report 'Bad battery'
}
Even better, it could monitor the battery voltage at intervals and measure its performance:

if(battery voltage under load < 11.5V) {
report "12V Battery is deteriorated. Please replace soon"
}
In conventional cars a bad battery gradually shows with poorer starting, lights dimming and a battery light. In the Volt it will likely be a nasty surprise out of the blue.
 

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If you leave your 2013 plugged in it will maintain the 12v battery at 13.0 volts. I don't know for sure where it gets the voltage from as the high-voltage contactors are opened after charging is complete, but I've measured it. I keep an accessory plug voltmeter plugged into the outlet in the top dash cubby. Interesting to see the voltages the car runs at, they change according to OAT, higher in winter, lower in summer. You can monitor battery voltage after you turn the car off during "retained accessory power" and observe battery voltage drop. Turning on the headlights for a few minutes gives a moderate load test.
 

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After my 2017 Gen2 left me stranded on the side of the road with a failed 12V system (was heading home from work), I now keep an emergency jumper/booster pack (the small kind) in my car just in case I need some emergency power for the 12V system.

Car only had ~8000 miles on it and some 12V fuse blew that didn't let the 12V battery replenish it's charge. Was a pretty crappy morning.

Love the car, dealership was helpful, got back on the road and no issues since. I will say though GM as a company is a huge disappointment in terms of addressing the questions I had (basically said "no sorry we can't put you in touch with the people you want to talk to". Screw you Social media Team .
 

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In conventional cars a bad battery gradually shows with poorer starting, lights dimming and a battery light. In the Volt it will likely be a nasty surprise out of the blue.

In my experience with 12V going bad in conventional cars, I hear a "whrrr whr wh.." as the engine tries to crank but can't. Try again and you get "whr wh.." Dead. Get out the jumpers (which I also carry in the Volt), get the battery tested ("Yep, you need a new battery") install the new battery.

The Volt's version is to have the dash go nutty with weird messages. Get out the jumpers, get the battery tested ("Yep, you need a new battery") install the new battery.
 

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Thanks for the info. Knock on wood, my MY2012 Volt (built March 2012) is still running with the original battery. I too have a jump pack for that eventual time when it goes. Too bad there isn't a way to select alternate gauges on the instrument panel by the owner such as battery voltage or engine temperature if desired.
 

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The unit I have has the Lightning model name. Picture of it below.

bat.jpg
 

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What is the name of the specific model jumper/booster pack do you have? TIA
I've got a Wagan iOnBoost v8 (7502, I think, but that's been replaced by the 7503). Noco also makes good ones in the "Genius" line. And there's a lot of cheapies out there that might be pretty crap at spinning a 5l ICE, but are probably fine for providing 45 seconds of 12v to boot up the Volt's computers and trips some relays.
 

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I actually jump started mine once with a simple old school 6/12v battery charger. Doesn't take much if battery is still in the car.
 
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