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Battery Module Failure

First a little background –
I drive a 2013 Chevy Volt that I purchased that was certified preowned about 22 months ago. Up until the beginning of January, it has been the most reliable automobile I’ve ever owned, and it has been a lot of fun to drive! I use it primarily as a commuter car, and my commute is 38 miles round trip – however I routinely only use 8 kWh for this trip. The car has just under 75,000 miles.
The problem –
I was driving on my last stretch of my commute back home when I received a message on my dashboard “Propulsion reduced”, however, what it should have read was “propulsion unavailable”. While traveling at speed I lost all propulsion and power steering, but the 12v system continued to operate normally. I managed to coast into my neighborhood, and pushed it the rest of the way unto my property. I attempted to restart the car several times and force the generator to start by putting it in “mountain mode” to no avail. The car was towed to my local dealership. They have dropped the main battery out of the car and determined that one of the battery modules needs to be replaced. Today I was told that there is still not ETA on when the part will be shipped. I have contacted GM support and the dealer and they will not give me a reason how there can be no ETA on the part. I also inquired about replacing the vehicle with another used Volt, and they will only offer credit towards a new vehicle (which I cannot afford at this time since I am still paying off my existing vehicle).
I am appreciative that GM has provided a loaner vehicle, but I want to be back in my Volt or a replacement Volt. I have an infant that I am uncomfortable putting in the back seat of the loaner because I don’t want to damage the seat or carpet with various projectiles and/or fluids. I am troubled that there is no ETA on these parts required for the repair, and that GM is not willing to work out a replacement vehicle (I even offered to pay the difference in value). I just want this to be resolved. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Does GM not carry a stock of replacement parts for the first generation Volt?
 

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Two weeks or so is not unusual for parts that see a rare failure. And what you have is a rare failure. I waited two weeks for a relay and a week for a seat heater.

Low volume vehicles will have delay's on some parts. Now if you buy a Silverado truck that sells in the millions, parts will be more readily available.
 

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My 2012 with 52K just had a similar thing happen. Just coasted into spot at work, then towed to dealer last Thursday. They just called today saying they were having trouble diagnosing the problem. Brand new Buick Regal as loaner so I can't complain, but like you, I want my Volt back! Please keep us updated, I will do the same when I hear from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the reply Steverino!

I expect that GM would not be able to deliver the parts particularly quickly for the Volt being a low production vehicle. But after a month one could hope that there would at least be an estimated ship date. I'll keep you posted!
 

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My 2012 with 52K just had a similar thing happen. Just coasted into spot at work, then towed to dealer last Thursday. They just called today saying they were having trouble diagnosing the problem. Brand new Buick Regal as loaner so I can't complain, but like you, I want my Volt back! Please keep us updated, I will do the same when I hear from them.
Sorry to hear about your Volt! This appears to be a limited problem among these cars, because you are only the second person I have heard of that had this problem. I read about someone across the pond having similar trouble with their Opel though. I will definitely keep you updated, and I appreciate your comments!
 

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I expect that GM would not be able to deliver the parts particularly quickly for the Volt being a low production vehicle. But after a month one could hope that there would at least be an estimated ship date. I'll keep you posted!
You've been waiting a month? That seems unacceptable to me. See what those Electric Vehicle advisors say about it, hopefully they can help streamline everything.

And yes, the battery is 8 years/100,000 miles on the warranty so none of this should be out of pocket for you. And even after the warratny, as Steverino states, it's a very rare failure presently. :)

As an aside, I did have a battery module replaced in my Volt too, but it was for a temperature sensor failure, which is really more of a nuisance than anything (was causing an errant "Battery Too Cold, plug in to warm" message to appear). The section of battery arrived in a matter of days, it was 1/3 the size of the battery pack, all for one bad temp sensor out of several in the section.

An actual cell failure as you describe is extremely rare, I personally don't know of another one ever having occurred.
 

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Although the module did not fail, I got a 1/3 battery replacement for the same reason as ClarksonCote (temp sensor failure). Big PITA--took over a month. Same parts issue, too--no ETA, etc. You are doing the right thing getting support in the loop. Thankfully, our crazy long warranty includes transportation.

You're in a better position AFTER the car is fixed to worry about a replacement, not while they are still doing the work.

And while I shouldn't mention this -- I spilled coffee all over the loaner. Oh well. You live life and mistakes happen. If your transportation needs includes your infant--then so be it. My transportation needs requires coffee on my commute!

But before jumping into another used Volt--now with my Volt back I have an additional 0.5 kWh and a couple extra EV miles available. You should see if you also get a little range boost with the new battery before deciding what to do. I now have a " '15-like" battery in a 2013--almost like GM gave me a little range bonus for the trouble.
 

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It may not be many, but these battery modules don't seem that reliable having heard of this quite a few times. I am worried out of warranty! Might have been better to locate these some where that could be more easily replaced - there is space next to the 12V battery?
 

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What's the box at his feet, where does that normally go?
Thats a battery module.
In the picture there are two at the top of the 'T' and a couple more down the centre long portion of the 'T'.
The one at his feet is not from the pack pictured. The pack pictured is fully assembled, minus the casing.

IIRC they're not all the same size, either. There are big blocks and smaller blocks.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
...As an aside, I did have a battery module replaced in my Volt too, but it was for a temperature sensor failure, which is really more of a nuisance than anything (was causing an errant "Battery Too Cold, plug in to warm" message to appear). The section of battery arrived in a matter of days, it was 1/3 the size of the battery pack, all for one bad temp sensor out of several in the section....
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How long ago did you have one of your traction battery's one module replaced? I also attempted to contact the Electric Vehicle Adviser number, but received an automated message each time I called "Due to an unforeseen circumstance, we are not available to take your call". I'll give it another try tomorrow!
 

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But before jumping into another used Volt--now with my Volt back I have an additional 0.5 kWh and a couple extra EV miles available. You should see if you also get a little range boost with the new battery before deciding what to do. I now have a " '15-like" battery in a 2013--almost like GM gave me a little range bonus for the trouble.
I guess LG is having to produce new modules as needed then, thus the "no ETA". That's really cool that they increased your effective energy density! I knew the Volt needed high octane, who knew it took coffee?! :D

Thanks for your input on this, I appreciate it!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Not sure if you mean the GM EV Advisor team, formerly called Volt Advisors. If not, then you might give them a call.
GM Electric Vehicle Advisor Team
1-866-754-8100
Hours: M-F 9am-9pm EST

KNS
Hello KNS, I was not able to get through to an EV Advisor today. I called a couple times throughout the day and kept recieving an automated message "Due to unforeseen circumstances we are not able to take your call, please try again later". Unless I know an extension, I don't think I can get through. Is this more of an internal number?

I had called the normal GM customer care number originally.

Thanks for the information, I will try them again tomorrow! :)
 

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It may not be many, but these battery modules don't seem that reliable having heard of this quite a few times.
I would not be surprised if this issue affected <.05% of the Volt's on the road. If so, hardly an epidemic of unreliability, all things considered.
 

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It may not be many, but these battery modules don't seem that reliable having heard of this quite a few times. I am worried out of warranty! Might have been better to locate these some where that could be more easily replaced - there is space next to the 12V battery?
I am also very concerned about having something like this happen in a couple years when my warranty expires. I am not sure how the Volt would respond to having all of the weight of that battery in the back but I imagine it would not be good. The position of the battery makes a lot of sense for many reasons including weight distribution, but like you said it's hard for the average person to get to the battery. I guess I need to make friends with someone who has a hydraulic lift!

There is a fellow by the name of Jason Hughes who is working on putting together his own EV using battery modules from the Volt and Tesla motors. I don't know what model car will be the host, but it looks like a fun project. Anyway, he looks to have a lot of knowledge in this subject thta may be of interest to you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu7c3gbVJCc
 
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