The short version:
Sell your Chevy Volt today! If you have any other GM vehicles, sell them today! Never buy GM again! Discourage your friends and family from buying GM vehicles!
The long version:
Previously, I had owned a 2011 Toyota Prius, and thoroughly enjoyed that car. I averaged about 45 to 50 mpg. Unfortunately, it was t-boned, and I had to get another vehicle. I considered another Prius, but with some research I felt that a Chevrolet Volt was a better choice because it seemed to provide more of the things I wanted from a hybrid vehicle:
1, Primarily an electric car that plugged into a conventional 120v outlet.
2, No range anxiety with the gasoline backup.
3, Lower price compared to a Tesla.
I purchased a 2017 Chevy Volt from Carmax in July 2021. It had approximately 51,000 miles, had no negative reports on its Carfax, and I paid and extra $1,500 to have a blue one shipped, because I wanted to have one that I thought looked cool. I had such a chip on my shoulder. Among my friends I had become an unofficial salesman trying to convince them of the gem that is a Chevy Volt, and how disappointing it was that it was no longer manufactured by Chevrolet. I hadn’t been this insufferable about a new product since Netflix eliminated the need to go to Blockbuster in the early 00’s. I could drive farther than any Nissan Leaf, and for only 1/3 the price of a Tesla. I had decided on a second generation Volt (2016 – 2019) because it had longer range. 45 – 50 miles on a full charge compared to the 25 – 30 miles on the 2011 – 2015 models. Sticker price was about $17,900, and after the transfer fee, tax title and license, the total came to almost $21,000.
Over the course of a year I drove the Chevy Volt with no problems. I took the car on several road trips, and for day-to-day driving rarely used all the electric range. I would manually switch it to “Hold” on the freeway so that the gas engine would get some use. With that, the car would still calculate over 200 mpg. On road trips it would maintain 40 mpg when solely using gasoline. With GM transitioning to full electric vehicle by the end of the decade, my biggest concern was that the gasoline engine would have problems. I was afraid it might become difficult to find parts for the gasoline engine. Worst case scenario I would have to take it to a dealer for repair and pay higher prices. But not to worry, every major city has at least one Chevy/GM dealership, right? Repairing this type of vehicle they sold from 2011 to 2019 should not be a problem, right? WRONG!
Late July 2022, after a long day at work, my 2017 Chevy Volt wouldn’t start. I spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out what could be wrong. The console turned on, the shift was in Park, the brake was pressed, the E-brake would engage and disengage. Everything seemed to be fine. It just would not start. The console showed that I had plenty of gasoline, with a range of about 250 miles. The console also showed I had a full battery, with a range of zero. Which didn’t make any sense. And if the battery range was zero, why wouldn’t the gasoline engine start up? I watched a few YouTube video trying to figure out the problem, but eventually I called AAA.
AAA asked if I needed a jump start or a tow. One of the YouTube videos I watched suggested the lead-acid battery may be dead. I said, “Let’s try a jump start, but I might need a tow after.” The Chevy Volt’s lead-acid battery is located in the floor under the hatchback compartment, similar to where a Toyota Prius’ lead-acid battery is located. The connections for a jump-start are located under the hood in front of the driver’s side seat. AAA sent someone who attempted the jump-start the Volt following the proper connections for the Volt, but it did not start. The AAA guy asked if I tried using the key to start the vehicle. I had not. He proceeded to pry-off the START button from the dash. He said, “These cars with a START button also have a traditional key ignition behind the START button, and you use the key hidden in the FOB that you would use to unlock the door with to start it.” I was not aware of that! What a great idea! But there was no key ignition behind the START button. The AAA guy seemed more disappointed than I was. At that moment I wished the Chevy Volt had a transmission with a clutch and a first gear that I could pop to get it started. Even better, why not an emergency “go go gas engine” button or lever or switch? What if I had been traveling alone in a dangerous area when this happened?
Stumped, the AAA guy started watching YouTube videos about why the car won’t start. I couldn’t help but notice he was watching the same videos I watched before calling AAA. Eventually he gave up, and I arranged to get a tow from AAA. About 10 minutes after the AAA guy left the Chevy Volt’s gas engine inexplicably started. I don’t know exactly what I did, but I managed to drive it home safely and cancelled the tow truck.
Fortunately, when I purchased the Chevy Volt from Carmax I also purchased the supplemental warranty. The next day I had the vehicle towed to _ (1) located at (2) that honored the supplemental warranty. After two days, (1) determined the 2017 Chevy Volt to have a faulty Battery Energy Control Module (BECM) and that this issue is covered by the manufacturer warranty. (1) recommended that I tow the vehicle to a Chevrolet dealership to have the BECM replaced free of charge. They recommended (3) Chevrolet. So, I used AAA to have the Chevy Volt towed to (3) _
Upon arrival to _ (3) Chevrolet, I spoke with (A) and informed him that (1) determined the problem to be the BECM module. (A) _
said that they, “Only have one person in the State that works on GM EVs, so it will be about a week before they can look at my Chevy Volt.” This was not a problem since I have a backup vehicle.
Two weeks later I inquired with _ (3) Chevrolet who informed me they had not yet looked at my vehicle, but they’ll definitely get it evaluated within the next week. A week later, they still had not yet evaluated my Chevy Volt. I tried to reiterate to them that I already knew what was wrong, and if they contacted (1) _
they could probably tell them how they determined the problem was the BECM.
After a month of no forward movement with _ (3) Chevrolet I got frustrated and started to wonder if my vehicle qualified as a lemon. I found a law firm named (4) who specifically dealt with lemon law cases. (4) informed me that because my vehicle was purchased used it does not qualify as a “lemon” but it was possible that GM breached their warranty, and they might be able to obtain some compensation for me. But in order to proceed with a breach-of-warranty case they would need a record of what repairs were performed. I informed (4) _
that no repairs had been performed yet, so there was no records to provide.
I contacted _ (1) and asked if they could provide any records of my vehicle being there and how they determined the problem to be a faulty BECM. (1) stated that even though they were able to look up my vehicle in their computer, and that they determined it had a faulty BECM, it was a “cancelled ticket” and there was no documentation to share. Low and behold, the next day (3) Chevrolet contacted me and said they were able to evaluate my vehicle and determined the problem to be the BECM. How convenient! I asked if they could provide some documentation on this, and they said that because no work had been done yet they had no documentation to share. Also, because the BECM is essentially a microchip, it is on back order at least six weeks. This is after the vehicle had been at (3) _
Chevrolet for a month. This was not a problem because I have a backup vehicle.
On October 5th I got into a car accident that totaled my backup vehicle, which was not an immediate problem because I could rent a temporary vehicle with my car insurance. In my rental vehicle I drove to _ (3) Chevrolet and asked if they would like to purchase my 2017 Chevy Volt. That way I could either use it as a trade in for a working vehicle, or buy another vehicle elsewhere. Then (3) Chevrolet could take however long they wanted to repair my Chevy Volt, and do whatever they wanted when it was repaired. However, (3) _
Chevrolet told me they were not buying vehicles at this time. I asked if they could offer a loaner vehicle. They said they do not offer loaner vehicles anymore, and even if they did, it would only be for five days.
Feeling despondent, I decided to visit the Carmax dealership I purchased my 2017 Chevy Volt just to ask if they have any advice. I spoke with someone who offered an 800-number to GM Customer Service. That number is 1(866) 790-5600
. I was surprised that this number was never offered to me by _ (3) _
Chevrolet. I encourage anyone with a GM vehicle to write this number down, share it with other GM owners. When I called, I spoke with someone about my situation and they were very empathetic to my situation. They offered to reimburse me for a rental vehicle, they offered to reimburse me for the gasoline on my rental vehicle, and they offered to reimburse me for half of the car payment I have made since it went into the shop early in August. I was so appreciative of this and expressed my overwhelming gratitude with GM and their customer support.
When my rental through my insurance ended in mid-November, I was able to close that account, open a new account, and continue to rent the same vehicle. But this was going to be on my own credit card. Not a problem because I had the assurance of GM, they would reimburse it on a monthly basis. On December 1st, I emailed the receipts and other documentation to [email protected]
that was provided to me by my Customer Care representative _ (B) _
. The November reimbursement would be:
1, $1,469.90 for the rental car.
2, $600 for ½ the payments August through November.
3, $61.88 for gasoline.
For a grand total of $2,131.78.
After a week I had not heard anything and left a voicemail with _ (B) via the extension number she provided, but she did not call me back. The next day I called the main number and told them I am unable to reach my customer care representative, (B) . They just connected me to her voicemail again. I left another message. (B) _
called back within ten minutes and said, “How may I help you?” which indicated to me she had not checked her voicemail. I restated that I had sent my documentation about a week prior and was curious about the status of my reimbursement. Her tone then changed and said, “This case has been elevated to legal and I am no longer your representative.” And terminated the call.
The next day I called as soon as they opened at 8am EST and asked to be transferred to the GM legal department. They transferred me to legal and told them my situation. They informed that the law offices of _ (4) sent them some kind of letter. This was the same law office that apparently couldn’t do anything three months ago without me providing them documentation, now without my permission was taking legal action. And because of (4) legal action, GM closed my reimbursement case and would no longer talk with me. I don’t even know what was in that legal letter. In my experience, attorneys will ask a client’s permission to send a letter or perform an action just in case there has been a change in the situation. Apparently not at the law offices of (4) _
With the promise to reimburse from GM rescinded, I had to get rid of my expensive rental car ballooning my credit card balance. I had to buy another vehicle immediately. I visited my bank, and fortunately was able to qualify for another car loan. While I was at the bank, I asked if they could look up the value of my 2017 Chevy Volt since they have access to a JD Power & Associates website appraisals. According to JD Power, my 2017 Chevy Volt with 61,500 miles was valued at $21,500. I spent the next few days researching other vehicles, and closed on a used Toyota on Thursday December 15th. Not two hours later, _ (3) _
Chevrolet called and said the BECM for my 2017 Chevy Volt had been shipped, was on its way, and would hopefully be installed in my vehicle next week…hopefully before the only Chevrolet EV Technician in the State went on Christmas Vacation. Having just purchased another vehicle, on Friday December 16th I returned my rental vehicle.
On Wednesday December 21st, _ (3) Chevrolet called and said they had received the BECM and that it was being installed on my 2017 Chevy Volt. On Thursday December 22nd, it was ready. I had a friend give me a ride to (3) _
Chevrolet and picked up my 2017 Chevrolet Volt that had been in the shop for four and a half months. I noticed a new dent by the driver’s side door handle, a scuff on the front right-side bumper, and a crack in the plastic driver’s side headlight. But I had been fighting with GM corporate, and I just wanted to go home. And at this point I needed to get rid of this 2017 Chevrolet Volt. But first I wanted to try and make peace with GM Customer Service.
I called 1(866) 790-5600
, told them the situation, asked to be transferred to legal. Was connected to someone named _ (C) . I explained to (C) that all I wanted was for my car to be repaired and that the law offices of (4) acted without my permission. And if GM was willing to adhere to the original agreement of reimbursing my rental, my rental’s gasoline, and half my car payments, I would dismiss the attorney. And this would probably cost them less money. (C) said, “The button on the computer screen that would let me do that isn’t working. It’s greyed out for some reason.” I suggested maybe his computer needed a microchip that was on backorder. We both laughed. I suggested they could think about it and get back to me. As of the time I write this paragraph (25 February 2023) neither GM Legal, nor the law offices of (4) _
have contacted me and I have no idea what’s going on with the lawyer/legal aspect of this situation.
I had purchased the Chevy Volt with the intention of not having to use gasoline in daily driving, and then having a fuel-efficient car for road trips. I had assumed that if my Chevy Volt were to break down somewhere random in Iowa or Nevada or Tennessee, worst-case scenario I could have it towed to an authorized Chevrolet dealership and they would have the tools and expertise to repair the vehicle even if the repairs were expensive. It never crossed my mind that Chevrolet had failed to stockpile an appropriate number of replacement parts for a car that had been in production since 2011. Nor that they had failed to train enough staff to repair these vehicles. Worst of all, their customer service was difficult to contact. And when I did, they made promises they never intended to honor to a customer they never intended to keep.
There is an expression I learned in this situation, “You can replace a car, but you can’t replace a customer.” And this situation has cemented my brand loyalty with Toyota and Honda for life. Which is a shame because I have good memories with GM vehicles. My Mother owned both a 1969 and a 1977 Pontiac Firebird when I was young. Through college, I had a 1992 GMC Sonoma with a carbureted V6 and an extended cab. But I guess GM’s best days are in the past.
On Friday, January 6th 2023 I sold my 2017 Chevrolet Volt to a dealership. Not the one who repaired the vehicle…and scuffed the bumper, and cracked the headlight, and dented the driver’s side door. I sold it to _ (5) _
Chevrolet. Fortunately, they paid me what I owed, approximately $15,000. Even though I knew JD Power valued it at $21,500, I just wanted to get rid of the car and out of the loan. Also, I would feel guilty selling this vehicle to a private party for them to have similar problems I had. At least buying from a dealership there is usually an option for a supplemental warranty. A few days later I saw my old 2017 Chevy Volt for sale on their website for $22,997. As of 25 February 2023, it was still for sale.
1: Consumer advocacy groups such as Consumer Reports and Car and Driver need to develop a way for consumers to evaluate how long they can expect their EVs to be in the shop if they have a problem so that they can make an informed purchase decision. If there is only one EV technician in your state and zero spare parts in North America, maybe that EV sticker price needs to come down a bit.
2: Consumers for all EVs must insist their manufacturer warranty explicitly covers the cost of a rental car, its fuel, and supplemental insurance if their EV is going to be in the shop for more than three business days. The supply chain is too unreliable for the average consumer to rely upon an EV as their only vehicle. If the dealership does not provide loaner cars available, they should immediately arrange with a rental car company (such as Enterprise) to provide a vehicle for warranty-covered repairs.
3: GM, or any other dealership, should offer their customer service number to people that drop off their vehicles the same day they drop off their vehicles. It should not be put upon the customer to be a detective to figure out how to contact their customer service. That GM Customer Service number again is 1(866) 790-5600
4: Considering how GM killed the EV One in the late 1990s, which was the subject of the film “Who Killed The Electric Car,” and considering that GM cancelled the Chevy Volt in 2019, and considering how an essential spare part (the BECM) was not kept in stock, I can easily see how this was all part of the same short-sighted management decisions that has made GM such an unreliable brand. That is why you should sell your Chevy Volt today. Sell any other GM vehicle you may have. And encourage your friends and family to avoid GM vehicles.
5: Also considering that GM outsourced many manufacturing jobs throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Had they kept those jobs on American soil, maybe their quality of cars would not have gone down and there would be plenty of spare parts on this continent? Just saying.