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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was driving my 2013 Volt tonight (car was in perfect condition with low miles - around 45K) when I got the propulsion power reduced message. I was able to make it home on reduced power with no air conditioning. Plugged in with my level 2 EVSE and got the yellow light. Car says "unable to charge" on the display. It will not start at all. I can't even take it to the dealer. It will have to be loaded on a flatbed truck.

I am going to inquire about service bulletin 19-NA-242 in the morning, to see if it would be worth it to fix the battery. Perhaps if only one cell or one module is bad it would be worth fixing. The car is in truly excellent shape, new tires, etc. otherwise.

I doubt if I will ever buy another GM/Chevrolet vehicle after this experience.
 

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Was this car parked outside? Texas heat. Or was it garaged in a hot garage? It’s a much discussed topic that high heat kills batteries. A nearly 10 years old car with only 45K or 4,500 miles annually. Parked 99% of the time. Was it always plugged in?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Was this car parked outside? Texas heat. Or was it garaged in a hot garage? It’s a much discussed topic that high heat kills batteries. A nearly 10 years old car with only 45K or 4,500 miles annually. Parked 99% of the time. Was it always plugged in?
Car was always garaged, and always plugged in to a Clipper Creek level 2 EVSE when not being driven. It has been over 100 degrees for nearly every day the last 2 months, but the garage, while not air conditioned, does have a radiant barrier in the roof and insulated door so does not get excessively hot. It is usually about the same as the outside temperature inside the garage, at least by the afternoon.

The battery provided 10.2 kWh for the last charge, it is usually somewhere between 9.7 and 10.2 and has given no signs of failure up to yesterday. Earlier in the day I had driven the car, and it had 10 miles of range left when I got home. It was plugged in, as always, but had not started to charge (it is set to complete charging at 5AM) when I took it out again last night. On the way home, it switched to gas when those last 10 miles got used, then I got the propulsion power reduced message. The A/C stopped working and there was less power as indicated. It whad trouble maintaining 60 mph going up hills, but made it home. I turned it off and plugged in the charger and set it for immediate charge, but I got the yellow light (instead of green) and "unable to charge" message. The car also will try to turn on (I get the Initializing.. display) but will not turn on all the way. Curiously, once it is in this semi-on state, it will not turn off again when I press the power button if my foot is on the brake. If I take my foot off the brake pedel then it will turn off when the power button is pressed.

I made a service appointment with the Chevrolet dealer for tomorrow morning, but added a note that the car will need a flatbed tow (dealer is about 10 miles away). I will see if service bulletin 19-NA-242 is applicable after they look at the battery, and what the cost will be. If they do end up replacing say just one bad module I wonder how long the remaining modules would last? May not be worth it to repair if I can only get a short time out of the battery.

I will probably end up not spending the money to repair and we will just become a 1 car family. If I had to buy another car I would certainly not buy a new electric car, I would buy an inexpensive reliable gas car or small truck (new) with a long warranty period. I'm retired and don't drive that much so I could handle the high gas prices.
 

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I certainly hope that it’s repairable at a reasonable cost. With the mileage that low, and no winter corrosion, one would think it’s in immaculate condition. With a solid battery this is certainly a $15,000 car.



Car was always garaged, and always plugged in to a Clipper Creek level 2 EVSE when not being driven. It has been over 100 degrees for nearly every day the last 2 months, but the garage, while not air conditioned, does have a radiant barrier in the roof and insulated door so does not get excessively hot. It is usually about the same as the outside temperature inside the garage, at least by the afternoon.

The battery provided 10.2 kWh for the last charge, it is usually somewhere between 9.7 and 10.2 and has given no signs of failure up to yesterday. Earlier in the day I had driven the car, and it had 10 miles of range left when I got home. It was plugged in, as always, but had not started to charge (it is set to complete charging at 5AM) when I took it out again last night. On the way home, it switched to gas when those last 10 miles got used, then I got the propulsion power reduced message. The A/C stopped working and there was less power as indicated. It whad trouble maintaining 60 mph going up hills, but made it home. I turned it off and plugged in the charger and set it for immediate charge, but I got the yellow light (instead of green) and "unable to charge" message. The car also will try to turn on (I get the Initializing.. display) but will not turn on all the way. Curiously, once it is in this semi-on state, it will not turn off again when I press the power button if my foot is on the brake. If I take my foot off the brake pedel then it will turn off when the power button is pressed.

I made a service appointment with the Chevrolet dealer for tomorrow morning, but added a note that the car will need a flatbed tow (dealer is about 10 miles away). I will see if service bulletin 19-NA-242 is applicable after they look at the battery, and what the cost will be. If they do end up replacing say just one bad module I wonder how long the remaining modules would last? May not be worth it to repair if I can only get a short time out of the battery.

I will probably end up not spending the money to repair and we will just become a 1 car family. If I had to buy another car I would certainly not buy a new electric car, I would buy an inexpensive reliable gas car or small truck (new) with a long warranty period. I'm retired and don't drive that much so I could handle the high gas prices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, it really in excellent condition, and with a good battery would be worth at least $15K. Would be a shame to just abandon it at this point.

It has low miles because for several years when it was new I was working out of state. It was driven once a month and kept plugged in while I was away. If the battery could be repaired and maintained I don't see why the car shouldn't last another 8-10 years. I got 17 years out of my last car, an Acura Integra, and only sold it to get the Volt. I could have driven the Integra for at least an additional 5 years.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hooked up my code reader and got these two codes:

P0AFA - Hybrid Battery System Voltage Low (either pack Voltage or any cell Voltage)
P1E00 - Hybrid Powertrain Control Module 2 Requested MIL Illumination

The P0AFA code was 'permanent' per the code reader and could not be cleared (I tried).
 

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Yes, it really in excellent condition, and with a good battery would be worth at least $15K. Would be a shame to just abandon it at this point.

It has low miles because for several years when it was new I was working out of state. It was driven once a month and kept plugged in while I was away. If the battery could be repaired and maintained I don't see why the car shouldn't last another 8-10 years. I got 17 years out of my last car, an Acura Integra, and only sold it to get the Volt. I could have driven the Integra for at least an additional 5 years.
Keep in mind all batteries degrade with time, even when used minimally. You're just not going to get another 8-10 years with another used battery. If it can be fixed reasonably and sold, that would be the way I would go given your low annual mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Keep in mind all batteries degrade with time, even when used minimally. You're just not going to get another 8-10 years with another used battery. If it can be fixed reasonably and sold, that would be the way I would go given your low annual mileage.
Yes, that's what I may do, although if I buy another car it certainly won't be electric.

Dealer says they will not tow it in, but on the bright side my insurance says they will cover towing charges!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Keep in mind all batteries degrade with time, even when used minimally. You're just not going to get another 8-10 years with another used battery...
What I meant when I said "If the battery could be repaired and maintained " is that the batteries can not be easily repaired and maintained like a gas engine can. When I bought the car, Chevrolet was saying individual bad cells could be quickly and easily diagnosed and replaced by dealers. We now know the cells are welded in place and are not individually replaceable. If the dealers really could replace individual bad cells quickly, there is no reason a Volt could not be driven for 15-20 years.

If Electric cars are going to go mainstream, the buying public will NOT accept a disposable car that you throw away as soon as you have the first failure of the battery. The batteries need to be able to be repaired as easily and inexpensively as a gas engine.
 

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If Electric cars are going to go mainstream, the buying public will NOT accept a disposable car that you throw away as soon as you have the first failure of the battery. The batteries need to be able to be repaired as easily and inexpensively as a gas engine.
I am sure this is exactly what was said at the GM boardroom five years ago. The result is the Ultium battery platform that will power all GM vehicles going forward. A faulty individual battery module can be deactivated via software allowing the vehicle to remain in use with full performance but less overall range.
 

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Lol jinx @TYmrLutz ...

Hence the Ultium modular replacement or upgrade system. Should be very interesting to see how that plays out in the real world with parts availability, cost to repair, batteries being re-marketed into solar storage, etc vs the "structural pack" concept from Tesla, BYD, and other copy cats.

I had not heard about deactivation and isolation of a single weak module in Ultium, that's even better. Got a reference on that?
 

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Replacing a single cell is doable, but not practical on an 8-10 year old battery. A bad cell can be cut out and with the proper tool, a new one could be welded back in place. But with an old battery, the new cells charging, and discharge rate will be so out of wack with the old cells in the rest of the module or pack, that it would cause almost as much problem as the old weak cell.

GM has learned from this experience and designed it's new Ultrium battery pack to contain more modules, making it more repairable and using those same modules in all of their electric cars. We were on the cutting edge of electric cars. I have been seeing Propulsion Power Reduced messages for over a year now, and I am hoping my 2012 makes it another year until the Blazer EV is available. If I could get a battery with all new cells for $12,000 or so, I would probably go that route, but otherwise I will be saying goodbye to my Volt once the battery bricks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
...I have been seeing Propulsion Power Reduced messages for over a year now...
This was the first time I got the PPR message and the car was bricked as soon as I got home and turned it off. Not much warning, but it did get me home.
 

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My Volt only spent a year and a half in the heat of Houston. The rest of it's life has been in mild Seattle. Also I have never turned the car off while the propulsion message was showing, which allowed the cell to recover before turning it off. Not to say that yours could have recovered, it may have gotten too low.
 

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What I meant when I said "If the battery could be repaired and maintained " is that the batteries can not be easily repaired and maintained like a gas engine can. When I bought the car, Chevrolet was saying individual bad cells could be quickly and easily diagnosed and replaced by dealers. We now know the cells are welded in place and are not individually replaceable. If the dealers really could replace individual bad cells quickly, there is no reason a Volt could not be driven for 15-20 years.

If Electric cars are going to go mainstream, the buying public will NOT accept a disposable car that you throw away as soon as you have the first failure of the battery. The batteries need to be able to be repaired as easily and inexpensively as a gas engine.
I agree, and I think most potential buyers aren't fully aware of all the factors yet. These type of posts are beginning to come up more on the Tesla Forum as well. It doesn't even need to be at the cell level. Replacing modules with new ones is different, however it still doesn't make financial sense for those who don't drive a lot given the battery calendar aging factor. For those people (like me) that do, yes an electric could potentially be a 15-20 year capable vehicle, and at financially wise TCO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My Volt only spent a year and a half in the heat of Houston. The rest of it's life has been in mild Seattle. Also I have never turned the car off while the propulsion message was showing, which allowed the cell to recover before turning it off. Not to say that yours could have recovered, it may have gotten too low.
I bought my Volt in Seattle (Chuck Olson) new in 2013, then about a month later drove it home to Houston.
I did not think of plugging in to charge before shutting the car off, I am used to always doing it in reverse order.
 

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I just let the engine run until the message goes away, I don't know if you can charge it while the engine is running. Others have reported that the message didn't go away even when leaving the engine running, so in harsher environments, it is probably less likely to help.
 

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Replacing modules with new ones is different, however it still doesn't make financial sense for those who don't drive a lot given the battery calendar aging factor. For those people (like me) that do, yes an electric could potentially be a 15-20 year capable vehicle, and at financially wise TCO.
Dunno... It's been seven years since I bought my Volt used, and I've put 40k miles on since. Is 5700 miles a year a lot or not? 30,000 miles of that has been paying $15 a month for access to a charger in my apartment building's basement. So I paid about $1200 to fuel for those electric miles, and would have spent $2000 more just on gasoline (excluding thing like 7 out of 8 oil changes I didn't have to do and other services, AND excluding just how NICE the car is as intangible) and that goes a LONG WAY toward funding a replacement battery section at "in production" prices.
 

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Did your volt need/get the update for cell balancing? There was a bulletin issued (sorry, don't have that offhand but searching should find it). Essentially, some Volts were not balancing the cells fully during charging. If you have not had this update, you may be ok to get the applicable module flashed to clear the code and get the update and the corrected rebalancing may fix the issue. If it has had the update for cell balancing, then you may be looking at a bad cell. If you can get the error cleared and recharged, you may get lucky or it may come back and then you will know for sure it is a bad cell. The dealer can probably diagnose a low cell as well or you can get a OBDII reader and the right software to check the cell voltages yourself.

Found a reference to the cell balancing recall:
Service High Voltage System error -Recall 18215 | GM Volt Forum (gm-volt.com)
 
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