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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, first a little recent history with the vehicle: I just bought my 2016 Volt w/ 46k mi around the beginning of November, and a few weeks ago the CEL lit up. I scanned for trouble codes with EngineLink + an LELink adaptor, and found P0401 (EGR flow insufficient). I spoke with CarMax, where I bought it, and they had me bring it in to check it out. They confirmed that it needed a new EGR valve, and EGR cooler. They didn't say anything about the car being unsafe to drive, and since I'd been using it for a few weeks at this point, I figured nothing of it. I drove home that day, on gas, without issue, but while cruising on the highway at ~80mph the next day, as soon as the engine got up to temp there was a TRAIL of smoke coming from the car, and when I pulled over, the whole cabin filled with smoke and me and my wife had to get out of the car. I let it cool down, and was able to make it back home, which was yesterday, and was able to get it to the dealer today where I've dropped it off until the part comes in (it's under 60k mi, so they're having Chevy do the repair under powertrain warranty).

Additional info that might help: the smoke was white/light-colored, and smelled strongly of burning plastic or rubber; my wife thought it was a tire based on the smell. During the whole ordeal(s), the car never actually seemed to RUN any differently/worse. From voltstats, the previous owner drove it nearly 100% on gasoline (go figure...), and their overall average was 40mpg. Since buying it on 10/28/18, it's now nearly at 59k mi, about 45-50% of those miles are EV, 100% have been HIGHLY enjoyable.

However, I'm worried about a few things: first, what do you think could be causing the car to run OK on gas if I'm cruising lightly between 25-65mph, but any faster and it works to hard and overheats (coolant temp in DIC jumps past 212F when problem starts), any slower and there's not enough airflow to cool it and it overheats (same jump in coolant temp seen)? I can easily replicate the stationary issue by running the car in Mountain Mode with the battery dead, to force the engine to "idle" while stationary. Second, do you think any long-lasting/other damage may have been done? I've emailed the service guys over there, who so far have been fantastic about fixing a few other little issues (missing wheel well liner, etc), but I haven't heard back since they're not open on the weekends. Any input is greatly appreciated!
 

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Sorry this happened to you, but it will be interesting to learn the outcome.

I just posted a thread about how the EGR valve may be more integrated into the Votec than I would have thought:

https://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?328621-Interesting-EGR-Valve-failure

I thought EGR coolers were more of a diesel thing (diesel exhaust is hotter than gas exhaust). In any event, I don't think that I've ever had an EGR cooler fail on a gas engine. On a diesel, if an EGR cooler gets clogged, then it can become a hot spot in an area that isn't designed to get that hot. In other words, designers keep plastic and rubber bits away from the exhaust manifold for a reason. The EGR cooler gets hot, but not "make sure nothing is near it" hot. You cod have seen smoke from plastic or rubber bits near a failed (i.e., very hot) EGR cooler.

That's just a shot in the dark obviously.

I wouldn't get too worried about damaging the engine due to high coolant temp. Something else would need to go wrong for the Volt to allow damage to its ICE due to high temp.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Sorry this happened to you, but it will be interesting to learn the outcome.

I just posted a thread about how the EGR valve may be more integrated into the Votec than I would have thought:

https://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?328621-Interesting-EGR-Valve-failure

I thought EGR coolers were more of a diesel thing (diesel exhaust is hotter than gas exhaust). In any event, I don't think that I've ever had an EGR cooler fail on a gas engine. On a diesel, if an EGR cooler gets clogged, then it can become a hot spot in an area that isn't designed to get that hot. In other words, designers keep plastic and metal bits away from the exhaust manifold for a reason. The EGR cooler get hot, but not "make sure nothing is near it" hot. You cod have seen smoke from plastic or rubber bits near a failed (i.e., very hot) EGR cooler.

That's just a shot in the dark obviously.

I wouldn't get too worried about damaging the engine due to high coolant temp. Something else would need to go wrong for the Volt to allow damage to its ICE due to high temp.
Thank you! Yeah, I was surprised there was a cooler for the EGR on this vehicle as well, especially since it's an N/A engine. Regardless, assuming I was burning up the EGR valve, or lines near it, I'm sure they'll see that when they take it apart (it was a 5.5-6hr quote) and replace any additional parts that may have been damaged. I know if there's no EGR gasses getting in, the combustion temps could get high, so that's more of what I was worried about: melting piston rings, burning oil, damaging the cats/headers/exhaust, etc; that's the type of stuff that could easily not be spotted until after my 60k mi is up.

Also, the tech I spoke to the day I brought it in was a Volt tech I'm pretty sure; they really wanted to make sure I brought it in at that specific time. Specially since after clearing the light once, I drove it mostly in EV-mode, and it wasn't till after a long gas road trip that it came back, I didn't think the issue mentioned in your thread applied here (although thank you for pointing it out, I found it on here tonight while looking up my issue). I think since yours SHORTED OUT, it was liable to damage/scramble just about anything electronic under the ECM's control; mine is showing insufficient flow, likely due to old-fashioned carbon build-up or other ICE problems, considering I bought it with nearly 50k gasoline miles on it.
 

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mine is showing insufficient flow, likely due to old-fashioned carbon build-up or other ICE problems, considering I bought it with nearly 50k gasoline miles on it.
It would be interesting to know the usage pattern on the ICE before you purchased it. I suppose a clogged EGR cooler could result from lots of short trips that don't sufficiently heat up the engine. Or it could be an exhaust leak or a coolant problem.
 

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Sounds to me like you may have had a coolant hose burst. Water/coolant on a hot engine would make a lot of white smoke. If the hose itself contacted the engine as well, that would account for the smell.
Since it came into the cabin, it seems like the smoke wasn't coming out the tailpipe.
 

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Water, coolant usually= white , whilst blue is usually oil , I would have the tech check for pressure , with a blown or slightly blowing head gasket in mind ( seeing as how you mentioned it might have overheated)
 

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Hello Nurv2600,

I am curious as to what state you are located in and how the repairs for your volt were coming along? Did you have troubles with the dealer refusing to do the repairs under warranty?

I have a 2017 volt that we bought brand new that on November 2017 went in for p0401 as well to replace the clogged cooler/valve. They replaced the items while under the bumper to bumper warranty, but fast forward to this month and the code came back. I took the car in (now with 55,000 mi) and to our surprise, they want about $1450 to replace the valve and cooler again and are claiming that the repair is not covered under the voltec nor the drive-train warranty since it is related to emissions. The cherry on top is that the replacement parts from the first time have a 1 year warranty which just expired in November of 2018.

Currently have a case open with Chevrolet Customer Service and I am waiting to hear back if they will fix this. Otherwise, I'll have to take a whack at replacing the cooler and valve myself. The first time this had happened the car had 25k miles with about 14k on ICE and now this second time the car has 55k with about 27k on ICE. With all those ICE miles mostly being long trips of at least 40 miles or more. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hello Nurv2600,

I am curious as to what state you are located in and how the repairs for your volt were coming along? Did you have troubles with the dealer refusing to do the repairs under warranty?

I have a 2017 volt that we bought brand new that on November 2017 went in for p0401 as well to replace the clogged cooler/valve. They replaced the items while under the bumper to bumper warranty, but fast forward to this month and the code came back. I took the car in (now with 55,000 mi) and to our surprise, they want about $1450 to replace the valve and cooler again and are claiming that the repair is not covered under the voltec nor the drive-train warranty since it is related to emissions. The cherry on top is that the replacement parts from the first time have a 1 year warranty which just expired in November of 2018.

Currently have a case open with Chevrolet Customer Service and I am waiting to hear back if they will fix this. Otherwise, I'll have to take a whack at replacing the cooler and valve myself. The first time this had happened the car had 25k miles with about 14k on ICE and now this second time the car has 55k with about 27k on ICE. With all those ICE miles mostly being long trips of at least 40 miles or more.
I'm in Massachusetts, which recently has made replicating the issue difficult because of the cold weather; if I drive like a mad man cycling between ~75mph-100mph to strain the engine, it'll start to smoke a little, and it can easily be smelled - although no longer seen - if you then get off the highway and let the engine idle at rest in Mountain Mode.

I bought my 2016 used from CarMax, and so far they've been great; however, I cannot say the same for the dealership they sent it to. Since it was under 60k, it was with them for a week (!) when it supposed to be 2-3 days, and when I got it back I noticed trim pieces missing under the hood, exposing some orange HV wires when the hood is open. CarMax is now letting me take it to my dealer of choice to get it fixed, and will still provide the loaner, but I just broke 60k mi today, so we'll see what happens when the bill inevitably comes. CarMax assured me that since the issue started, was documented, and repairs began BEFORE 60k, I should be all set. Since I WAS also still under CarMax's 90-day warranty, if Chevy won't pay for it, I'll demand that they cover it, but so far I have no reason to believe they won't make good on that.

It has gotten a little harder to replicate since the repair, but I think that might just be because of the cold weather. I'll definitely report what they say the problem is when I bring it in late next week, because my big fear is that I'm having to run the engine in a way that may be causing long-term damage, damage I won't see for another 10k+ mi...

Thanks for your replies everybody!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
mine is showing insufficient flow, likely due to old-fashioned carbon build-up or other ICE problems, considering I bought it with nearly 50k gasoline miles on it.
It would be interesting to know the usage pattern on the ICE before you purchased it. I suppose a clogged EGR cooler could result from lots of short trips that don't sufficiently heat up the engine. Or it could be an exhaust leak or a coolant problem.
Being that it was a company car in California, I imagine it was all road trips, so I'm guessing the EGR failure was a fluke, not caused by excessive build-up, which could have been burning off or otherwise causing the smoking issue. So, unfortunately, I think the smoking is a whole separate problem; plus, if it was excessive carbon build-up/blockage, I could imagine the added heat causing smoke/burn-off, but that should come out the tailpipe, not hood.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sounds to me like you may have had a coolant hose burst. Water/coolant on a hot engine would make a lot of white smoke. If the hose itself contacted the engine as well, that would account for the smell.
Since it came into the cabin, it seems like the smoke wasn't coming out the tailpipe.
Water, coolant usually= white , whilst blue is usually oil , I would have the tech check for pressure , with a blown or slightly blowing head gasket in mind ( seeing as how you mentioned it might have overheated)
I know, but this just didn't have that "coolant smell", it was very distinctly rubber/plastic smelling, some sort of petroleum product anyway. Coolant was my first thought because of the color, but I've been keeping an eye on the level and it hasn't changed a bit in weeks, either.
 

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Ah Massachusetts, the reason I asked is because California actually covers all emissions parts for like 8 years or 80,000 miles (maybe longer don't remember what number I saw.

I finally heard back from Chevrolet Customer Service after opening the case and them investigating. They basically apologized and said nothing could be done and that all repairs were on my dime since everything was out of warranty. Definitely left a bad taste in my mouth and has greatly ruined my trust and faith in Chevrolet taking care of us and our cars. I suspect as more high mileage volts start popping up we will see more of this issue. Best of luck in getting your's resolved!!
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
So I've arranged to drop off the car again on Monday; the CEL hasn't come back, and the car is running great every other way, but the smell is still there when the temps get up there. Interestingly, I seemingly CAN'T reproduce the visible smoke anymore, and the smell SEEMS to be getting better, even if it is still DISTINCTLY there when running the ICE hard, or at medium-low speed (low airflow for cooling).

Since the problems all started inside the warranty (both the 90 day CarMax and 60k mi Chevy), even though it's out of both warranties, CarMax said they'd honor the warranty till the issue is fixed. I can already tell it's gonna be a nightmare to get anybody to tear down the engine like they'd probably have to to find the cause, so I'm debating pushing to exchange the car with the dealership. I bought it before GM discontinued the Volt, and prices seem to have really fallen. I would ABSOLUTELY buy another from the same place, probably an identical 2017, but I can literally smell this is going to be something serious, and feel nobody is going to be able to tell me what it is till it's much later, on my dime, when it dies at exactly the wrong time. I have my first kid on the way, and all my money going to fix a deep-seated engine problem is not something I'm able or willing to do. Any thoughts on pushing to exchange it? What would you guys do if you had a car you LOVED, but once forced you out of the car when you thought it was ON FIRE from the smoke, all at the end of your warranty...and the problem has slowly gotten better without disappearing? Push for a new one? Push to fix it, AGAIN? Buy a different model (I'd hope not)? Hoping to hear all your input!
 

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In your shoes, I would push for a new one.
 

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I would either push to exchange it or have them turn over every last rock to make sure they have fixed the issue. Speaking from experience, whatever you don't take care of now will continue to nag you long after this incident has happened and can cause you more stress than is necessary.

I will say as a car enthusiast, the volt is one of the funnest economical cars I've had in a long time. It can handle well, it is fast where it matters in "city/backroads" driving, and it is full of useful tech. Outside of a Telsa there really isn't another EV I would consider at this point in time. With that being said, it pains me to say, but my Volt is going bye-bye. I simply cannot trust a vehicle that i bought brand new and babied that has had the re-occurring issues it has had and that GM refuses to even as much as give me a 10% discount for something they have already fixed under warranty. A vehicle centered around the "Electric Revolution" of green and EV vehicles should not have multiple EGR issues in an average Oklahoma climate with only 25k on ICE. That plus all the other issue's we had has convinced that at this time, the volt is not the right car for me and my wife.

With all that being said. I hope that they issue a fix for this issue and that in 3 years I can pick up a 2019 again that is truly trouble free.

My 2 cents at least.
 

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Thank you! Yeah, I was surprised there was a cooler for the EGR on this vehicle as well, especially since it's an N/A engine. Regardless, assuming I was burning up the EGR valve, or lines near it, I'm sure they'll see that when they take it apart (it was a 5.5-6hr quote) and replace any additional parts that may have been damaged. I know if there's no EGR gasses getting in, the combustion temps could get high, so that's more of what I was worried about: melting piston rings, burning oil, damaging the cats/headers/exhaust, etc; that's the type of stuff that could easily not be spotted until after my 60k mi is up.

Also, the tech I spoke to the day I brought it in was a Volt tech I'm pretty sure; they really wanted to make sure I brought it in at that specific time. Specially since after clearing the light once, I drove it mostly in EV-mode, and it wasn't till after a long gas road trip that it came back, I didn't think the issue mentioned in your thread applied here (although thank you for pointing it out, I found it on here tonight while looking up my issue). I think since yours SHORTED OUT, it was liable to damage/scramble just about anything electronic under the ECM's control; mine is showing insufficient flow, likely due to old-fashioned carbon build-up or other ICE problems, considering I bought it with nearly 50k gasoline miles on it.
Why clear the code? Make the techs life more difficult? All that does is erase any trail of a problem. If it’s gonna go to a shop, leave it alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Why clear the code? Make the techs life more difficult? All that does is erase any trail of a problem. If it’s gonna go to a shop, leave it alone.
Oh I agree, and probably didn't make it clear when I cleared it (the one time I did); it was right after the light first came on, I looked up the issue, spoke with the dealer who said it'd be ok to drive on lightly/occasionally (knowing I am/can be mostly electric), and decided to note everything (the codes, any other PIDs that looked "off") and clear it to get my remote start working again. When it came back (which took ~1k mi), I left it, and also occasionally scanned for other codes (in case something else happened; it's not like there's ANOTHER CEL) but none besides P0401. That code, by the way, was NEARLY always "active" and "pending", but once or twice in the week or two I was driving it, it showed as only "pending", if that means anything to anybody...
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Hello Nurv2600,

I am curious as to what state you are located in and how the repairs for your volt were coming along? Did you have troubles with the dealer refusing to do the repairs under warranty?

I have a 2017 volt that we bought brand new that on November 2017 went in for p0401 as well to replace the clogged cooler/valve. They replaced the items while under the bumper to bumper warranty, but fast forward to this month and the code came back. I took the car in (now with 55,000 mi) and to our surprise, they want about $1450 to replace the valve and cooler again and are claiming that the repair is not covered under the voltec nor the drive-train warranty since it is related to emissions. The cherry on top is that the replacement parts from the first time have a 1 year warranty which just expired in November of 2018.

Currently have a case open with Chevrolet Customer Service and I am waiting to hear back if they will fix this. Otherwise, I'll have to take a whack at replacing the cooler and valve myself. The first time this had happened the car had 25k miles with about 14k on ICE and now this second time the car has 55k with about 27k on ICE. With all those ICE miles mostly being long trips of at least 40 miles or more. :(
By the way, isn't there another dealer around you? Granted, being (more or less) right in Boston, I've always just gone to a different dealer if I've ever had warranty issues (mainly Hondas, but other makes as well) and had a different place do it; I really can't imagine how the EGR valve isn't covered under the drivetrain warranty. It's NOT an emissions thing when it failing to operate is not like a bad catalytic converter, you're not simply polluting more: your combustion temps are much higher, it has to compensate more to get a proper A/F ratio, and the added heat will accelerate wear on the piston rings/etc – at least, that's the (unrelenting) case I'd make if my car was under 60k and they wanted to charge ANYTHING to replace a critical part of the drivetrain.

On a separate note, the problem is absolutely getting better: no smoke anymore, and it only smells if the engine temp gets above 200°F (rare unless the engine is idling while stopped, so not often). However, I'm gonna have them check and try to fix it one more time. Since the lemon law in Mass specifies they have 3 tries or 15 days without my car to get it right, and they've already taken a week (5 business days) and one shot at it. My end-goal here is just to go for a replacement, so anybody who's had their Volt replaced, I'd love to hear how it happened! Also if you've ever had ANY vehicle taken back under the Lemon Law, I'd love to hear from you, thanks!
 

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I live in Oklahoma City so luckily there is a lot of dealers in the area. That has been my argument all along. Even in the press materials for the gen2 volt they talk about how integral the EGR valve is to the voltec system as a whole and have a few slides and paragraphs dedicated to it. Unfortunately, I've already taken this fight past the dealership level. I really thought "Corporate Chevrolet" would be my ace in the hole and they would come back and agree it was covered or pick up some of the cost and green-light a dealer to take care of it, but no luck. I'm starting to see more posts about the EGR issue so I'm hoping that as more of us start being vocal we'll get somewhere with it. Best of luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I live in Oklahoma City so luckily there is a lot of dealers in the area. That has been my argument all along. Even in the press materials for the gen2 volt they talk about how integral the EGR valve is to the voltec system as a whole and have a few slides and paragraphs dedicated to it. Unfortunately, I've already taken this fight past the dealership level. I really thought "Corporate Chevrolet" would be my ace in the hole and they would come back and agree it was covered or pick up some of the cost and green-light a dealer to take care of it, but no luck. I'm starting to see more posts about the EGR issue so I'm hoping that as more of us start being vocal we'll get somewhere with it. Best of luck!!
Wow... That certainly doesn't make me feel good about my first American (esp. GM) car, which I was LOATHED to do, but nobody else could build anything remotely close performance- and distance-wise; the Japanese know how to make a car last!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So, BAD UPDATE: it's an oil leak, they said it looks like it's coming from somewhere towards the front of the engine block... AND they say it's out of power train warranty now (they reduced it from 100k to 60k in 2015!?)! Needless to say I'm tearing them apart; I mentioned this issue earlier than 60k, they said they addressed it (and failed) before 60k, and they're also trying to weasel out of it by saying I said it was "smoking" earlier, but now it's "making a smell"..."two different issues, the smell occurred out of warranty". Total bull****. I'll let you know if Copeland Chevy of Bridgewater, MA or CarMax in Norwood actually do the right thing here. I just want it fixed at this point, I'm not even pushing for a new car.
 
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