Yesterday evening I got into my car to a completely black MyLink/infotainment screen on my ’17 Volt. No graphics, no sound, no signs of light. I tried resetting with a quick power down of the Volt before I left the parking lot and also by pressing and quickly hanging up the OnStar button (I’ve heard that can sometimes force a reboot). I even turned off the Volt and opened the door for about 15 seconds before again restarting it and no change. I was also already late for a dinner appointment and couldn’t afford to waste any more time so I drove off.
While I was on my way I thought I’d give OnStar a call in the slim hopes that they might be able to remotely reboot the system—they can get error codes after all. I’m pretty sure rebooting the MyLink/infotainment remotely is not possible after talking to the OnStar infotainment tech (that’s probably a good thing for security reasons), but the initial advisors thought it might so it was worth a shot and it was worthwhile to get this documented.
After about five minutes of driving Mylink/the infotainment screen changed to what I’d describe as a maintenance mode. It’s as if it has no software, but the basic firmware on the unit’s hardware and is awaiting the real software to make it functional. The words on the key info. on the screen is “Status: Waiting For Update Media” and “ Copying 0/100”. My amateur diagnosis: as the kids would say it’s bricked. In my experience that’s something that only ever happens after messing with things, but this happened completely on its own. I have not been to the dealership in the last five months (and they didn’t touch the infotainment then) nor have I done any mucking around with the car on my own. How MyLink went from working perfectly fine on my drive into work, to working itself into an inexplicable non-functional state by the evening is an X-Files worthy mystery to me.
Now the OnStar infotainment tech let me know he has received at least a handful of calls from owners of ’17 vehicles (he didn’t mention a particular model) in the past week or so with a similar problem. This is disconcerting—is there some Y2K17 bug I haven’t heard about? He also said in some cases it could potential resolve itself after leaving it for an hour-and-half. It was parked for over double that length for a celebratory dinner with friends and unfortunately and unsurprisingly it didn’t resolve itself.
But luckily, or at least so I thought, I had a scheduled appointment first thing in the morning at my dealer for the first maintenance on the car—the car has been into service for a couple check engine light’s within it’s first couple weeks, but this is its first scheduled maintenance. Car life lesson #167: when it comes to dealer service always assume the worst and you’ll only walk away in a small cloud of expletives moderately disappointed. I’m told that GM Canada in its infinite wisdom has subcontracted maintenance and service on its infotainment systems to York Electronics and it requires at least 24 hours notice to get them to a dealer for service. Plus naturally like anyone skilled and in-demand York only works Monday-Friday! Hopefully it works differently for you all down south 49th.
With infotainment being a key part of a modern car like the Volt’s functionality (it controls the charging schedule, navigation, radio, connectivity, enabling some safety features, back-up camera, etc.) I’m incredulous that a dealer’s service department doesn’t have the software and capability to service one. Let’s say your MyLink goes pear-snapped while you’re out to dinner on a Friday, with the way things are even in a major city in Canada you’re probably looking at a Tuesday repair at the earliest. Hopefully you don’t have an important business trip or meetings, let alone out of town weekend plans because otherwise you’re tackling them in a pretty gimped vehicle. If this is GM’s policy going forward I’m reconsidering buying another one of its vehicles and recommending them, because I can only foresee infotainment being more and more integral to the experience as it takes control of more and more of what we consider critical functions in our cars. Thankfully in the second generation Volt’s case GM was smart enough to go with physical climate controls and leave them out of the infotainment system unlike some other manufactures, but not being able to access something as basic as a radio or even a clock is not making for a pleasant driving experience.
As for my current situation: my dealer finally called me about three hours before closing and left me with the option of leaving the car with them so they could try and book an appointment with York for early next week. I’ve got weekend plans, piles of work at the office awaiting me next week and was not offered a courtesy car, so I opted to take it back instead and let the bricked MyLink be future The Fresh Young Balki B’s problem. The Volt can still get me from point A to point B, which is a car’s core purpose.
I also was able to get ahold of my Volt Customer Care Ambassador who let me know that he has heard that in some cases York has visited a customer’s home or workplace and fixed the vehicle’s infotainment system, without visiting the dealer and he would explore that option. Given the timing nothing will be sorted out until Monday, but this remote repair situation seems much more reasonable and logical if a dealer isn’t doing any of the servicing on the vehicle anyway.
Anyway I just wanted to share the story and see if anyone else has encountered a similar issue with a second generation Volt and happened upon a solution. Who am I kidding? I’m here to vent my frustrations.