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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2011 Volt with 85k miles. Recently it has started switching from battery to gas before the battery is fully discharged. Usually it does so with about 1 bar left on the battery. It runs the range extender for a few minutes, then goes back to electric for about 30 seconds, then back to the range extender and usually it stays on the range extender the rest of the trip. If I look at the center display of the battery it shows the battery grayed out as normal, but it shows the last bar of power unused.

No I'm not in mountain mode. Driving in normal mode.

Last night I picked it up from the dealer - had the recall done for reduced propulsion due to cell voltage... done. Hoped that would do something, but it switched from electric to battery with half the battery left, but then switched back to electric. Only drove it about 5 miles. We'll see how it does today.

I'm sure this isn't good news. What's going on?
 

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If you are truly in Houston then it is probably not cold enough to trigger Engine Assist Heat. However, if the outside air temperature (OAT) sensor is bad the Volt could start the gas engine because the bad sensor is indicating temperature is below 25F.
 

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It was above 40 degrees F when I drove to work. It will be about 55 degrees when I go home. The dealer said they did an inspection when I took it in for the recall and all they recommended was a brake flush. Surely a bad sensor would have shown up.

I'll see what happens on the way home. If it keeps using the battery like this I guess its still better than not using it at all, so no need to do anything drastic. I keep reading on the facebook group about people's batteries failing completely and GM giving them huge prices to replace them. I'm looking at Greentec Auto online - they advertise $6k for a refurbished Volt battery and give a 36 month warranty. I love my Volt, but that's a lot of money for the car that would barely bring more than that if bought used.
 

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I drove all the way home on battery! 35 miles with 1 mile remaining when I pulled into the garage. I drove 65mph and did not turn the heater on. I'm thrilled. I hope this continues. Maybe the recall software update worked!
 

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Then this morning it drove 31 miles, battery showed one bar remaining, and it switched to gas. Sad trombone.
 

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It was above 40 degrees F when I drove to work. It will be about 55 degrees when I go home. The dealer said they did an inspection when I took it in for the recall and all they recommended was a brake flush. Surely a bad sensor would have shown up.
The dealer always recommends a brake fluid flush...

The BMS (Battery Management System) update will take a while to become fully implemented. Balancing the cells will take some time (days to a week).

The engine could be running for any number of reasons (low temperature (in Houston?), old gas, maint (warm up the oil)). I would expect the car to display a corresponding message.
 

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Then this morning it drove 31 miles, battery showed one bar remaining, and it switched to gas. Sad trombone.
That’s not too abnormal. Depending on how much power you’re drawing it will switch to gas from one bar. If you’re seeing it switch to has from two bars, for example, and above the ERDTT set point, that’d be a bit odd.
 

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I do wish they would communicate a little better on the display. The car shows battery remaining, but switches to gas, and no explanation is given. The Volt is built for people who want to use electric first and foremost. So you'd think they would know we don't want the gas engine running unless we know WHY its running. But on my 2011 they don't even give me kwh used. At least on the later ones they give you that much.

I'm pleased with the car. Just a little nervous. I hope nothing is malfunctioning with the battery and this is a symptom. Or if it is a symptom, hopefully its normal degradation and the battery will keep working at reduced effectiveness for a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The BMS (Battery Management System) update will take a while to become fully implemented. Balancing the cells will take some time (days to a week).
Thank you for that. I'll be watching it to see if it changes. Unfortunately I'm going out of town so the car will sit in the garage for a week.
 

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My battery counts down to 3km, then 2, then 1, then the engine comes on. I think this is how it's supposed to work.
 

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I do wish they would communicate a little better on the display. The car shows battery remaining, but switches to gas, and no explanation is given. The Volt is built for people who want to use electric first and foremost. So you'd think they would know we don't want the gas engine running unless we know WHY its running. But on my 2011 they don't even give me kwh used. At least on the later ones they give you that much.
It is not clear which display you are using when you talk about battery use. The center console display can be switched between the energy info screen, the recharge screen, and the power flow screen showing the battery and engine. In Electric Mode, the driver’s display shows a battery icon with green bars representing the presence of available grid power.

In my 2012 Volt, as you near the switch to gas point, the ev range estimate counts down 2 miles, 1 miles (and sometimes 0 miles if I’m not moving very fast), and then switches to Extended Range Mode. Same thing happens in metric distances with FI Spyder’s 2013 Volt. As you switch over to gas, the battery icon is replaced with the gas pump icon.

It is unclear when you write "the car shows battery remaining, but switches to gas" if you mean the car switches to gas (and the battery icon is replaced with the gas pump icon) before the ev range estimate drops to 0, or if you mean the car switches to gas when the center power flow display is still showing power in a battery bar.

I almost never drive with my power flow display showing, so I don’t really know if that center display would show power in one or more battery bars simply because something (perhaps some regen) has moved the battery’s state of charge above the switch to gas level and therefore one or more of those ten bars does indeed contain usable power.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Update. Six months after I made this post my car died on the way home from the airport, and when the dealer checked it, they said the main battery was defective and must be replaced. They offered to put a new battery in for $10k. My conclusion is the symptom of starting the engine before the battery is completely drained, then switching back and forth ICE to battery, was a symptom of my failing battery. I bought a used battery from a junkyard and had it installed, spending $4k on the repair. Now the car is getting about 30 miles on EV consistently. I'm happy to be back on the road. Deeply disappointed in GM for not providing a more affordable alternative. From what I've read replacement battery costs have skyrocketed recently. Why is GM seeking to profit off our misery? Very sad to see this lack of customer support from GM.
 
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