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Hi all, I'm in the market for a used Gen 1 Volt but after driving a couple I have some reservations. Hopefully you guys can set me straight.

First, both used Volts I drove had a rather loud drivetrain noise, sort of a deep whirring mechanical drone with a pitch proportional to speed. The noise resonates in the cabin and is what I'd consider a dealbreaker. It's much lower in pitch than the table saw noise found on on Youtube videos. Switching between Normal and Hold mode in a fully charged Volt has no effect on the sound so I'm certain it isn't the ICE. I've asked the sellers about the noise and they seemed to be truly confused by the question so I suspect either my hearing is more sensitive or more likely the sound gradually developed and they're acclimatized to it.

I've driven my mother's 2017 Volt a few times and it's dead silent so I'm perplexed as to what the explanation is. Do they all sound like this after 30K miles?

The second issue is more personal preference: To me these first gen Volts handle like wet sponges. I've looked for suspension upgrades and all I can find are B&G lowering springs but I don't think 2 cm less clearance is a good idea for MI roads. Any other options? I really don't want to feel like I'm driving a geezer Buick.
 

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Hi all, I'm in the market for a used Gen 1 Volt but after driving a couple I have some reservations. Hopefully you guys can set me straight.

First, both used Volts I drove had a rather loud drivetrain noise, sort of a deep whirring mechanical drone with a pitch proportional to speed. The noise resonates in the cabin and is what I'd consider a dealbreaker. It's much lower in pitch than the table saw noise found on on Youtube videos. Switching between Normal and Hold mode in a fully charged Volt has no effect on the sound so I'm certain it isn't the ICE. I've asked the sellers about the noise and they seemed to be truly confused by the question so I suspect either my hearing is more sensitive or more likely the sound gradually developed and they're acclimatized to it.

I've driven my mother's 2017 Volt a few times and it's dead silent so I'm perplexed as to what the explanation is. Do they all sound like this after 30K miles?

The second issue is more personal preference: To me these first gen Volts handle like wet sponges. I've looked for suspension upgrades and all I can find are B&G lowering springs but I don't think 2 cm less clearance is a good idea for MI roads. Any other options? I really don't want to feel like I'm driving a geezer Buick.
I can hear the electric motor in mine when accelerating, it is a very high pitched sound, but it disappears when I am up to speed. I have 60k miles.


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Yeah I can hear that in the 2017 Volt but it's only during heavier acceleration and not very loud at all. Kind of a nice note to it IMO.

This noise I hear in the first Gens is different, more mechanical in nature and resonating. If the Volt I test drive later this week makes the noise I'll get a recording of it.
 

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I have a cracklings high pitch noise up to above 5mph above that I only hear the tires and a bitch of wine when heavy on the pedal
 

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None of the noise you're describing on our 2013 Volt. Just a faint high-pitch whine under heavy acceleration. 70K miles.

Suspension isn't like a race car, but it's far more responsive than a typical Buick.
 

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No noise like that in my 2011. With battery depleted and sitting at a stoplight, I hear ICE noise as the ICE generates electrons to put in the depleted battery. But that's not what it seems you are hearing.
 

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Tires and road surfaces are the most common source of noise. Try driving the 2017 down the same roads and listen for the noise. Also check the tires on these cars, they may be just some cheap off brand tire. Most dealers will put on the cheapest tires they can,
 

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My 2011 is at 96,500 on the odometer and it still sounds as quiet as the day it was delivered 5 years ago. As others have pointed out, road noise is the only audible at speed, and that's what the sound system is for. Crank up the Bose system and enjoy.
 

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My 2013 is nearly silent except when I stomp on it. As for the suspension, keep in mind the Volt is a heavy vehicle and it isn't intended to be a sports car. Having said that, mine is far better than any Buick I've ever driven.


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my 2014 Volt with 48K sounds like an electric forklift when stepping on it, otherwise a very low electric motor hum. The gasoline motor does add a bit of rumble (like any gasoline motor) and steering wheel vibration, but nothing like you have noted.
 

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That doesn't sound right to me, either. The sound should be pretty similar to the 2017 you are familiar with.

As for suspension, the stock tires are pretty bad and you may be feeling those, especially if they are at all soft. I had to air mine up to about 44 before they felt OK cornering. With better tires, my 2013 suspension feels great to me. Pretty sporty. But I am not accustomed to driving a Corvette, so your standards may vary.
 

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You did not mention the year of the Gen 1 you drove. I have two 2013s and do not have the noise. Perhaps tires or bearing failure.
 

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My 2015 runs just like other folks before me described. That noise does not sound right to me.
 

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If the place selling the volt can't fix it, run. There are plenty of other perfectly good used volts out there
 

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I had a 2013 Volt and traded it in on a 2016. The electric whine was not very noticeable in either one. The electric whirring noise is actually one of the cool things about electric cars. If it bothers you either you have very sensitive hearing or are driving an especially noisy Volt. Most Volts are very quiet. The ones you are driving would be the exception. Have you driven any other electric models, like a leaf?
 

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Was the ICE running?

It should show which one is running like if the gas graphic like a gas pump is bright blue then it's running. But if the green battery on the left is bright then it's just on battery.

It's pretty muted but I can tell it's running but if I push it I can hear it whining, I try and avoid that.

On battery mine is silent.
 

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IF this is the same issue I had fixed, it has to do with one of the covers in the rear hatch. There is electric noise that seeps out, depending on speed. It drove me nuts--but it's fixable. It wasn't present on all cars or model years.

I did two fixes which worked--the dealer replaced one of the covers and that helped (I think there is a TSB on it), PLUS, I put down a heavy weatherproof VOLT mat that covers the entire hatch area. This virtually eliminated it for me.

Regarding the handling--SPORT mode, sticky ties. Satisfied (enough).
 

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I have a higher mileage '13 (106K) and haven't experienced any mechanical sounds as you describe. For the most part it's pretty silent, although when creeping at low speed near a wall (think restaurant drive thru) I can hear an amplified whirring from the motor but that sounds more like a hum than something mechanical. The wall of the building of course making it more noticeable and with the window up not noticeable at all. Even though you've test driven two that you're interested in, perhaps find others that you're not necessarily interested in just to get a feel for what is "normal". It's unlikely, but possible that your hearing is more sensitive to certain frequencies that the Gen 1 produces that aren't present on the Gen 2. I believe there were some threads related to people complaining about certain frequencies that others could hear such as children or younger adults that haven't experienced loss of hearing for certain frequencies.
 

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I have a 2013, with relatively new Pirelli tires. I would make sure you are differentiating the tire noise from motor noise, by driving on different road surfaces. The stock Goodyears were awful - noisy and poor handling compared to the Pirellis.

The car suffers from poor noise isolation, particularly in the rear hatch area, where the poor sound isolation and angle of the glass seem to amplify sounds. This is noted by some other folks here and elsewhere. I too added a heavy cargo area mat to deaden that sound.

I too push up the tire pressure, but only to 41 lbs, cold. I have had several high performance cars and find the handling quite good for the type of car this is. It's not a high performance vehicle by any stretch of the imagination and suffers from heavy front-end weight (if I'm not mistaken, it's about 68% front-end weighted), but if you don't press it all the way to the limit, I find it handles quite well for a front wheel drive vehicle. In addition to being a front wheel drive vehicle it is also heavy, so it's not going to handle like a high performance rear wheel drive car. You could go for plus sized wheels and tires, but that is likely to compromise ride quality and efficiency. IMHO Chevy engineers struck a good balance between efficiency, handling and ride quality - I haven't messed with the setup, other than to increase the tire pressure and get better tires.
 

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The handling of my 2011 and 2014 Volts has been very good. GM and Goodyear worked together to make a great handeling package, just like they have done for several Corvette generations. The low center of gravity and 50/50 front/rear weight got distribution are great enablers of good chassis dynamics. Maybe check to see what tries the car has, and try test driving another gen1 Volt. Something is likely wrong with the car if the handeling is not good. Same for the noise. My Volts have been very quiet at city speeds, but at high speed there is quite a bit of wind and tire noise.

GSP
 
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