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Battery Module Failure

17238 Views 67 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  VoltenRock
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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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!
Thank you KNS, I will be giving them a call!
Also the. Traction battery has a 8 year 100,000 mile warrant!
Thank goodness! :)
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!
...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....
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!
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!
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
Hours: M-F 9am-9pm EST

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! :)
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!
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.
I agree that my Volt's issue is rather rare, and up until the failure, it has been the most reliable car I have ever owned. I would also second your opinion that only 0.057% of first generation Volts are likely to exhibit this problem. I cannot find the original press release, but GM stated that for every 1 million cells produced, only two fail. Being that there are 288 cells per Volt it's a 1 in 1736 chance. But those are good casino odds, better go try my hand at blackjack! :)

- Article from that mentions the cell failure rate.
My Volt is going on 6 years and has over 85,000 miles. Out of pocket maintenance and repair to date $36. The battery is fully depleted and recharged 6 days a week. Of course, who knows what year 10 or 15 will bring? I'm sure normal car stuff (brake pads, 12V battery, struts, bulbs, etc.) will need repair/replacement at some point, but those would be expected.

I did have a relay and an oil hose go out, both within warranty. This has been one of the most reliable cars I have ever owned. Meanwhile, Chevy updated the lift struts for free, updated my EVSE for free, added battery tunnel reinforcements for free, and gave me 5 years OnStar for free.
The Volt is a work horse, and not only practical but a pleasure to drive. I hope that this is the last issue I have with the electrical system for many years. I anticipate other parts to go out over time too, but to replace the battery after warranty could effectively total the car. All the cars I have kept hit the 200,000 mark, I hope the Volt performs the same too, and maybe beyond!

My Volt's battery at the shop. Despite this unfortunate situation, the battery is pretty neat to look at.
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-- Update on my 2013 Volt's battery module replacement --

I just received word from GM customer service that the battery module should ship next week. There is light at the end of the tunnel yet, I'll keep you posted! :)
Earlier today, the dealership called to let me know that my Volt was ready for pickup. There was about half a ream worth of paper with all the notes from the mechanic that the dealer kept. I spoke with the mechanic, and he indicated that there were two cells within the top portion of the 'T' (behind the seats) that fell outside operating voltage range that caused the battery to shutdown. He stated that although this is not a common occurrence, most replacements happen with this particular module. GM replaced the entire module (#3) though I'm not sure if it was a newly manufactured or refurbished unit. It was in the shop for 43 days, and about 32 of those days were spent waiting for the module to be shipped. It has been a long wait, but I am glad to be behind the wheel of the Volt once again!
I think we're in the same boat. Mine shut down again and now they found that I had a bad cell in the traction battery. Waiting to see if GM wants to replace that section or the whole battery.
I'm sorry to hear about your Volt :(
Have you heard anything from GM yet?
Since you've had a 1/3 replacement (like me), I would be very curious to hear what kind of range you're getting. I've had a couple mile bump and I'm wondering if I just lucked out or there is some kind of reprogram they do during this procedure that gives us "15-like" battery performance.
I am still waiting for the battery to settle in. The first kWh of the drive acts very strange and I don't think is registering correctly (10 miles for the first kWh when I normally get around 5 miles). After that it works fine. I'll update you after I get a few more cycles on it.
Since you've had a 1/3 replacement (like me), I would be very curious to hear what kind of range you're getting. I've had a couple mile bump and I'm wondering if I just lucked out or there is some kind of reprogram they do during this procedure that gives us "15-like" battery performance.
Take a look at the attached photo. These are the values the Volt showed after my drive to work this morning. It usually takes 3.4 - 4.1 kWh to get to work. I think that I do have a few miles extra range, but not 64 miles! I did run it down a few days ago and reached 55 miles. I normally get around 47.

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Curious if either of you have OBD, what the fully charged voltage and SOC reading says?
I do not have one, any recommendations?
Whoa that's insane! Still running stock OEM Goodyears? I have heavy Bridgestone Driveguards--pretty much the opposite of LRR. I lost 4-5 EV miles upon installation and never recovered. I was getting 34-36 in winter temps before the partial battery replacement, I'm getting 38-42 now. I do the same commute and always use up all my EV range on every drive. It will get difficult to compare soon if the weather keeps getting freakishly warm.

If you're bored, you should do a few drives to CS mode (no stops) to see where you actually end up. The range estimator can start to "estimate" way higher than you'll ever get in real life with just short drives and partial charges. Also, make sure you let the car sit on "empty" unplugged for about an hour before plugging it in.

I wouldn't expect crazy range to continue--the car will settle into its "new range" after some drive cycles. I've settled around 10.6-10.9, about 2 extra EV miles. However, when I first got the car it was more like 3-4 extra EV miles. I just hope there's not any more "settling" in my near future. It's a complicated car so it's possible this is all just part of the "learning" process still--but it's been a couple months so I just hope it's learned enough now.
I bought my Volt used, and it came with Firestone tires, and they work well, though I will need new ones in a year or so. I haven't depleted the battery in one drive without stopping yet, but am hitting the high 50s in range the few times on ran it down throughout a typical day. The car is still figuring out my driving and how much capacity it has after the reset. I also learned something interesting that I didn't know - the miles remaining guess o' meter only goes up to 60! :)
I purchased one like this for a friend, seems to have worked fine. But I didn't do long term testing (so don't drive with it plugged in until you have)
Mine is very similar but much older (and much more expensive!!) - probably the same internal components. Mine has been used extensively, even while driving for hours on end without issue.

+ Torque app and load in the custom PIDs listed on the forums here.
Thanks Canehdian,

I appreciate your suggestions and information!

Just wondering, can you use one of these to determine Amps during use? Or is this something that only GM can do by dropping the battery?

Thanks again!
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