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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
On occasion we read about a Volt owner being stranded or having other issues that require a tow or time in the shop. Sometimes low fluid levels are either the cause or a symptom. Either way, a quick 2 minute visual inspection of the fluid levels once a month is both good practice and could save you some major inconvenience on the side of the road.

Note: there is a Service Campaign #14114 (Bulletin #PI0961C) that instructs the dealer to make sure the battery coolant level is at the top of the label (see below). They are not recalling all cars to have the coolant level raised to the revised level. Instead, the level will be raised either through regular maintenance visits or if the level drops for any reason and triggers the "Service High Voltage Charging System Message". Originally, the coolant level was at the tank's join seam. The new level is higher to provide more leeway before a warning message is triggered. http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?118985-Service-Campaign-14114-RESS-Battery-Coolant-Level-Low

  1. What if I get a steady Oil Pressure light on my dash?
    You may be low on oil or have a blockage in the oil line. Running the engine low on oil could damage it and it's not covered by the warranty. Press the OnStar Button, and ask them to run a diagnostic. They can provide error code information and tell you whether or not you should visit your dealer. You can also request the DTC numbers, and search for more information on them in our forum.
  2. Should I check my fluid levels?
    Yes, a monthly visual check is a good practice to help discover any issues early, before they turn into bigger issues that may leave you stranded and needing a tow to the nearest dealer. This is especially true for the battery coolant fluid.
  3. I have my dealer perform the maintenance inspections. Should I still check my fluid levels?
    YES! Even if you have your dealer services your car, it's a good idea to take a look yourself. Some claim their dealer never did the visual inspection and left them stranded as a result. And dealers can make mistakes. Buyer beware.
  4. How long will it take to inspect the fluid levels?
    You can make a visual inspection in a few minutes or less. It's easy. A flashlight may help for some.
  5. What should I check?
    Facing the open hood and working clockwise: Brake Fluid, Windshield Washer Fluid, Electronics Coolant, Battery Coolant, Engine Oil, and Engine Coolant. Refer to your owners manual for details, but here is a quick visual guide:
    Chevy-Volt-fluid-maintenance-locations.jpg
  6. What are the correct fluid levels?
    Here is a visual guide to 1 Brake Fluid, 2 Electonics Coolant, 3 Battery Coolant, 4 Engine Coolant
    Fluid Level Brakes.jpg Fluid Level Electronics Coolant.jpg Fluid Level Battery Coolant.jpg Fluid Level Engine Coolant.jpg

    For the windshield washer fluid, open the cap and if the tube is empty, top it off.
    For the engine oil, see our engine oil FAQ: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?50809-Oil-Change-FAQ
  7. TIP - Markings: Use the side of a black Sharpie marker to carefully mark the fill arrows and fill lines like the pictures above (clean & wipe the surface fist). This will make it easier to see if the fluid levels are correct.
  8. TIP - Records: Keep a notebook and note the date and your fluid levels each month. This will make it easier to see if the fluid levels are changing. See downloadable inspection sheet (PDF) below.
  9. TIP - Closing the hood: Drop the hood from about 8 inches to close it. NEVER press the hood closed (it dents).
  10. What if my battery coolant level has dropped?
    A fluid level that has dropped since your last inspection could be an early warning of a bigger problem. This is especially true for the battery coolant fluid. Make an appointment with your dealer to determine why the battery coolant has dropped. It could be a normal drop due to trapped air finally being "burped" out, or it could be something more serious like a leak in the sealed battery compartment. If you have a leak inside the battery, you don't want to just continually fill it, as you could flood the inside of the battery. If you notice that it is low and you add more, only to find it goes down again, go to a dealer. Do not continually add coolant.
  11. What if the battery coolant level gets too low?
    If allowed to go too low, a sensor in the battery coolant tank will cause a "Service High Voltage Charging System" message to display. The car may no longer take a charge. The dealer should inspect the coolant system to determine if there is a leak in the radiator, coolant line, inside the closed battery, etc.
  12. What if the fluid level in my brake, engine, electronics, or engine oil have dropped?
    Fluid levels for these can be topped off as needed (refer to manual for fluid specs, cautions). Significant drops may indicate a more serious issue and a visit to the dealer may be needed.
  13. To top-off, do I need to buy Dex-Cool concentrate and deionized water and mix them them?
    No, there is no need to get a jug of Dex-Cool concentrate and a jug of deionized water and mix them yourself. You can buy a gallon/3.78L premixed (a pre-diluted "50/50 Premix") at almost any auto supply store, Walmart, etc. It should say it conforms to GM's Dex-Cool standard. This coolant is used in three coolant tanks: Electronics, Battery, and Engine.
  14. What about "topping off" using plain tap water, deionized water, or distilled water?
    NO! Want to kill your Volt? The Electronics, Battery, and Engine coolant systems require a 50/50 mixture of Dex-Cool and deionized water. The deionized water/Dex-Cool mixture ensures high-voltage isolation and to prevent the internal corrosion of cooling system components. In contrast, tap water has reactive minerals and impurities the will plate the inside of the cooling system, reduce it's efficiency and can corrode components. Distilled and deionized water alone (without Dex-Cool) are acidic and very corrosive.
  15. Are deionized water and distilled water the same thing?
    No, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deionized_water In addition to purity, deionized water has low-conductivity (aka de-ionized) Why? High Voltage! Not only can one get sparking and current drains through the water to ground, dissolved salts exposed to a voltage potential do bad things like plating out on some things, dissolving others.
  16. What about using regular antifreeze solutions?
    NO! NEVER add regular green anti-freeze to the Electronics, Battery, and Engine coolant tanks!
Related posts:
http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?113562-5K-miles-second-CEL&p=1589090#post1589090

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread...ing-System-quot-Message&p=1234761#post1234761

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?119385-Deionized-Water-Distilled-Water-and-Water
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Volt Fluid Level Inspection sheet (PDF): View attachment Chevy-Volt-fluid-levels-inspection-sheet.pdf
Click to download and print for an easy way to keep track of your fluid levels.

Here's a low quality image to show what it looks like:

Chevy-Volt-fluid-levels-inspection-sheet.jpg

I used a Brother P-Touch label maker with clear labels to create a reference scale for my two front tanks.
I printed out I : I : I : I on two labels and stuck them sideways on my battery tank and my electronics tank.

Fluid Level label.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)

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I am gonna look at mine tomorrow!

I haven't really looked at them in three years. (so ashamed!) :)
 

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Excellent post! I should add that few here know that the battery and controller coolants in the Volt and Spark EV will last much longer than the coolant in a regular ICEV because the temperatures are less hot and get less contaminants. Read the maintenance schedule and compare the change time of years with a regular gas engine. You will change tires and wiper blades sooner!
 

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Thanks for this thread, Steve.

It reminded me to check to ensure the TSB had been applied to my car. U fortunately it had not been done. I took it in today to have the coolant topped off properly and while there another Volt came in with low coolant level but he was getting the system message and couldn't use the EV portion of his car. I guess after 38,000 miles with the factory low coolant level I got lucky I never had any issues. :)
 

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Anyone know approximately how low the battery coolant has to be to trigger codes?
I haven't exactly been on top of monthly checks, and I don't have a pic from brand new, so not sure how far/fast it's dropping, but in Oct my coolant level was about 1/4 up the black sticker, now it's in line with the bottom of the sticker.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Anyone know approximately how low the battery coolant has to be to trigger codes?
It would be somewhere below the tank seam. I'd guess maybe an inch or so lower.
 

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Ok, thanks. Lots of time to monitor it and see if it's just settling, or a leak.
 

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as always with a fluid level sensor bumps -dips -and zero g's may trigger early on low level.
 

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Is there a version of this amazing post for Gen 2? Thanks S.erino for this great info!

On occasion we read about a Volt owner being stranded or having other issues that require a tow or time in the shop. Sometimes low fluid levels are either the cause or a symptom. Either way, a quick 2 minute visual inspection of the fluid levels once a month is both good practice and could save you some major inconvenience on the side of the road.

Note: there is a Service Campaign #14114 (Bulletin #PI0961C) that instructs the dealer to make sure the battery coolant level is at the top of the label (see below). They are not recalling all cars to have the coolant level raised to the revised level. Instead, the level will be raised either through regular maintenance visits or if the level drops for any reason and triggers the "Service High Voltage Charging System Message". Originally, the coolant level was at the tank's join seam. The new level is higher to provide more leeway before a warning message is triggered. http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?118985-Service-Campaign-14114-RESS-Battery-Coolant-Level-Low

  1. What if I get a steady Oil Pressure light on my dash?
    You may be low on oil or have a blockage in the oil line. Running the engine low on oil could damage it and it's not covered by the warranty. Press the OnStar Button, and ask them to run a diagnostic. They can provide error code information and tell you whether or not you should visit your dealer. You can also request the DTC numbers, and search for more information on them in our forum.
  2. Should I check my fluid levels?
    Yes, a monthly visual check is a good practice to help discover any issues early, before they turn into bigger issues that may leave you stranded and needing a tow to the nearest dealer. This is especially true for the battery coolant fluid.
  3. I have my dealer perform the maintenance inspections. Should I still check my fluid levels?
    YES! Even if you have your dealer services your car, it's a good idea to take a look yourself. Some claim their dealer never did the visual inspection and left them stranded as a result. And dealers can make mistakes. Buyer beware.
  4. How long will it take to inspect the fluid levels?
    You can make a visual inspection in a few minutes or less. It's easy. A flashlight may help for some.
  5. What should I check?
    Facing the open hood and working clockwise: Brake Oil, Windshield Washer Fluid, Electronics Coolant, Battery Coolant, Engine Oil, and Engine Coolant. Refer to your owners manual for details, but here is a quick visual guide:
    View attachment 55321
  6. What are the correct fluid levels?
    Here is a visual guide to 1 Brake Oil, 2 Electonics Coolant, 3 Battery Coolant, 4 Engine Coolant
    View attachment 55329 View attachment 55337 View attachment 55345 View attachment 55353

    For the windshield washer fluid, open the cap and if the tube is empty, top it off.
    For the engine oil, see our engine oil FAQ: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?50809-Oil-Change-FAQ
  7. TIP - Markings: Use the side of a black Sharpie marker to carefully mark the fill arrows and fill lines like the pictures above (clean & wipe the surface fist). This will make it easier to see if the fluid levels are correct.
  8. TIP - Records: Keep a notebook and note the date and your fluid levels each month. This will make it easier to see if the fluid levels are changing. See downloadable inspection sheet (PDF) below.
  9. TIP - Closing the hood: Drop the hood from about 8 inches to close it. NEVER press the hood closed (it dents).
  10. What if my battery coolant level has dropped?
    A fluid level that has dropped since your last inspection could be an early warning of a bigger problem. This is especially true for the battery coolant fluid. Make an appointment with your dealer to determine why the battery coolant has dropped. It could be a normal drop due to trapped air finally being "burped" out, or it could be something more serious like a leak in the sealed battery compartment. If you have a leak inside the battery, you don't want to just continually fill it, as you could flood the inside of the battery. If you notice that it is low and you add more, only to find it goes down again, go to a dealer. Do not continually add coolant.
  11. What if the battery coolant level gets too low?
    If allowed to go too low, a sensor in the battery coolant tank will cause a "Service High Voltage Charging System" message to display. The car may no longer take a charge. The dealer should inspect the coolant system to determine if there is a leak in the radiator, coolant line, inside the closed battery, etc.
  12. What if the fluid level in my brake, engine, electronics, or engine oil have dropped?
    Fluid levels for these can be topped off as needed (refer to manual for fluid specs, cautions). Significant drops may indicate a more serious issue and a visit to the dealer may be needed.
  13. To top-off, do I need to buy Dex-Cool concentrate and deionized water and mix them them?
    No, there is no need to get a jug of Dex-Cool concentrate and a jug of deionized water and mix them yourself. You can buy a gallon/3.78L premixed (a pre-diluted "50/50 Premix") at almost any auto supply store, Walmart, etc. It should say it conforms to GM's Dex-Cool standard. This coolant is used in three coolant tanks: Electronics, Battery, and Engine.
  14. What about "topping off" using plain tap water, deionized water, or distilled water?
    NO! Want to kill your Volt? The Electronics, Battery, and Engine coolant systems require a 50/50 mixture of Dex-Cool and deionized water. The deionized water/Dex-Cool mixture ensures high-voltage isolation and to prevent the internal corrosion of cooling system components. In contrast, tap water has reactive minerals and impurities the will plate the inside of the cooling system, reduce it's efficiency and can corrode components. Distilled and deionized water alone (without Dex-Cool) are acidic and very corrosive.
  15. Are deionized water and distilled water the same thing?
    No, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deionized_water In addition to purity, deionized water has low-conductivity (aka de-ionized) Why? High Voltage! Not only can one get sparking and current drains through the water to ground, dissolved salts exposed to a voltage potential do bad things like plating out on some things, dissolving others.
  16. What about using regular antifreeze solutions?
    NO! NEVER add regular green anti-freeze to the Electronics, Battery, and Engine coolant tanks!
Related posts:
http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?113562-5K-miles-second-CEL&p=1589090#post1589090

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread...ing-System-quot-Message&p=1234761#post1234761

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?119385-Deionized-Water-Distilled-Water-and-Water
 

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I am having trouble seeing my brake fluid level in my Gen2 Volt. Is this because brake fluid is clear-isn in color?
 

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This is a great source of information. I understand most of it carries over to the Gen2 vehicles, but updated visuals would be helpful, as well as any other possible changes. I can just refer to the manual, but do appreciate real world pictures and tips.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
This is a great source of information. I understand most of it carries over to the Gen2 vehicles, but updated visuals would be helpful, as well as any other possible changes. I can just refer to the manual, but do appreciate real world pictures and tips.
Sure, if you send the relavent G2 pics, I can update the FAQ for Gen 2.
 

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The battery coolant level on my new-to-me 2015 Volt is just above the seam. Looks like the dealer never checked the service campaign bulletin when it was taken in trade and "certified." I'm at 5000 miles. Can I wait for the 7500 mile tire rotation (if I check the battery coolant level regularly) or should I have it topped up now?
 

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The battery coolant level on my new-to-me 2015 Volt is just above the seam. Looks like the dealer never checked the service campaign bulletin when it was taken in trade and "certified." I'm at 5000 miles. Can I wait for the 7500 mile tire rotation (if I check the battery coolant level regularly) or should I have it topped up now?
Above the seam is fine.
I wouldn't worry about it too much unless you notice it drop below the seam.
It's a good idea to check it (and all the coolants) at least monthly as per the owner's manual

Enjoy your Volt!
WOT
 
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