GM Volt Forum banner

1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
On my way to the office last Saturday, when entering mountain mode, my CEL began flashing. Once I reentered normal mode it went away. So I proceeded in normal mode and made it to the office with about 10 miles of range remaining.

On my way back, in the afternoon, I was definitely not going to make it home on electric. Before I hit the hills I entered mountain mode again. This time I was met with the following messages:

/!\ Mountain Mode not Available

followed by...

/!\ Engine Not Available, Service Soon
20141025_155929.jpg

...followed by the CEL coming on.

I called OnStar since I did not have enough range to make it home on electricity. They advised me to shut the car off, exit the car, close the door, then reenter and start it up. It worked and I made it to the dealer about 10 miles away -- CEL still illuminated.

This was last Saturday. Dealer promised an answer by Monday afternoon. Thursday evening I FINALLY got a call saying "they suspected a blown head gasket and needed to do more investigating and would have an answer tomorrow (Friday)."

As of 1:36PM today (Saturday) still no answer.

This, after the car was at another Chevy dealer (closer to our house) for almost 3 weeks for other related and unrelated issues. In fact today marks 24 total days in the dealer Since we dropped it off the first time on September 21st.

We've actually had loaner cars for about the same amount of days as we've had our Volt (bought it the beginning of September). And the loaner cars have been getting WORSE MPG than the car we replaced (my wife's 2004 Neon).

So much for saving money with the Volt (even though it's still under warranty).:mad:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,156 Posts
While GM will tell you all the dealers are great, some are and some aren't. Have you tried calling a Volt advisor? They usually help quite a bit in these circumstances.

Just based on probabilities a blown head gasket is not very likely. FYI you can get codes from OnStar which will help identify the problem. My wild guess is a coolant leak.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
8,680 Posts
Echoing what Don said, the most important thing to do in a situation like this is get the codes from OnStar and write them down. Without the codes, we can speculate, but that's about it.

With the codes... We have lots of members with access to the service manual, some with years of experience repairing the Volt, and a collective experience with most of the things that can go wrong. We even have a direct connection to GM's service/liaison group through one of our senior members. With the code we can probably tell you what's wrong better than the dealer can. :)

Second the suggestion about the Volt advisor. They've been very helpful to a number of members in your situation - some folks have gotten Volts as rental/loaners, or GM to pay for gas, in addition to priority repairs and technical help.

For my speculation, I have trouble believing the head gasket story, too. Every head gasket case I know of happened with the engine hot - most often overheating and/or detonating, but always at working temperature. Your description sounds like the car ran the engine normally last time, but either came up with a critical fault before cranking or in the first few second of operation this time around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
With the code we can probably tell you what's wrong better than the dealer can. :)
Unlikely, the code merely points in the direction of a fault. Its quite possible to be a head gasket issue bearing in mind this engine is used across the board, with exactly that, head gasket issues galore in various models.

With the volt, theres more and more suffering engine failures, so I wouldn't rule that out either.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
20,019 Posts
With the volt, theres more and more suffering engine failures, so I wouldn't rule that out either.
Maybe there are, but I haven't noticed an increase from postings here. In fact, I can't recall any engine failure. But maybe people are posting elsewhere. Can you cite the facts on the "more and more engine failures" for Volts?
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
8,680 Posts
Unlikely, the code merely points in the direction of a fault. Its quite possible to be a head gasket issue bearing in mind this engine is used across the board, with exactly that, head gasket issues galore in various models.

With the volt, theres more and more suffering engine failures, so I wouldn't rule that out either.
I don't know, Mike. The dealer has the advantage of having the car to look at, we have more experience and better technical data.

There's a lot of different between the turbo engine in the Cruze and the range extender in the Volt, both in parts and operating environment. I wouldn't assume that issues with one will definitely carry over to the other.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,125 Posts
Generally speaking, a solid Check Engine Light means "Hey buddy, might want to get this checked out" and a flashing Check Engine Light means "HEY YOU! SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG HERE. MIGHT WANT TO PULL OVER BEFORE YOUR ENGINE EXPLODES"

I'd probably be calling Onstar at the first sign of a blinking CEL instead of continuing along blindly. I'd wager that the Volt is actually one of the few vehicles that could allow you to keep driving with a flashing CEL, since a traditional ICE vehicle would probably die at the side of the road in short order.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
228 Posts
Generally speaking, a solid Check Engine Light means "Hey buddy, might want to get this checked out" and a flashing Check Engine Light means "HEY YOU! SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG HERE. MIGHT WANT TO PULL OVER BEFORE YOUR ENGINE EXPLODES"

I'd probably be calling Onstar at the first sign of a blinking CEL instead of continuing along blindly. I'd wager that the Volt is actually one of the few vehicles that could allow you to keep driving with a flashing CEL, since a traditional ICE vehicle would probably die at the side of the road in short order.
I don't know about that. Most ICE cars I've owned throw check engine lights for emissions issues: O2 sensors and the like. Often nothing you have to immediatley worry about. When I was a new driver, I had one come on and I immediatley pulled over. A helpful cop stopped to see what was wrong and told me it was probably just an emission issue. I didn't believe him and had the car towed to a mechanic, who informed me it was just a minor emissions issue (I don't even remember what now) and that for the most part, as long as the car isn't giving other obvious signs something major is wrong (misfiring, overheating, low oil pressure, etc) that I could safely continue to drive a car with the CEL illuminated until I could have it checked out.

I think the Volt might be unique in the fact that a CEL light is equivalent to the oil pressure light in a ICE. You had better pull over immediatley and stop driving and call Onstar. Unless this is normal behavior for other Chevys, the Volt is the first Chevy I have owned.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,396 Posts
The key is blinking. A solid light is often benign, a blinking light.. Probably going to explode :p
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
8,680 Posts
I don't know about that. Most ICE cars I've owned throw check engine lights for emissions issues: O2 sensors and the like. Often nothing you have to immediatley worry about. When I was a new driver, I had one come on and I immediatley pulled over. A helpful cop stopped to see what was wrong and told me it was probably just an emission issue. I didn't believe him and had the car towed to a mechanic, who informed me it was just a minor emissions issue (I don't even remember what now) and that for the most part, as long as the car isn't giving other obvious signs something major is wrong (misfiring, overheating, low oil pressure, etc) that I could safely continue to drive a car with the CEL illuminated until I could have it checked out.

I think the Volt might be unique in the fact that a CEL light is equivalent to the oil pressure light in a ICE. You had better pull over immediatley and stop driving and call Onstar. Unless this is normal behavior for other Chevys, the Volt is the first Chevy I have owned.
The Volt is just like all the others in this respect. It will set a CEL for little things and allow you to drive with it - it will shut down the engine (or refuse to start it ) for what it thinks are major issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
FWIW, in normal OBD2 cars a blinking CEL is indication of an active misfire. Thats it. The volt may command a flashing CEL for other things but on 99.9% of cars out there a blinking CEL means there is an active misfire on one or more cylinders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
228 Posts
The Volt is just like all the others in this respect. It will set a CEL for little things and allow you to drive with it - it will shut down the engine (or refuse to start it ) for what it thinks are major issues.
That is good to know. I thought I had read a thread once, though, where someone's Volt threw a CEL due to a rock damaging the battery radiator. They kept driving and took it to the mechanic the next day. They ended up having to do a fairly major repair and were pretty upset that a CEL was the only notification they got. Here is is: http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?10234-4100-repair-over-a-road-pebble&highlight=radiator

(Lots of people were blaming this person for not calling Onstar, but before I read that thread, I probably wouldn't have called either assuming a CEL was something driveable). Now if I get a CEL, I am pulling over and calling for the codes first.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,156 Posts
That is good to know. I thought I had read a thread once, though, where someone's Volt threw a CEL due to a rock damaging the battery radiator. They kept driving and took it to the mechanic the next day. They ended up having to do a fairly major repair and were pretty upset that a CEL was the only notification they got.
GM changed how it works. If the coolant drops the battery is locked out. That's the way it should work IMO.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,556 Posts
Solid vs flashing CEL observation... The OP’s problem description twice mentioned Mountain Mode, but left me wondering what use he expected to make of that mode. He switched into MM while going to work, the CEL started flashing, so he switched back to Normal and arrived with electric miles to spare - suggesting he normally puts the car in MM but is able to drive from home to work in Normal on battery power alone. When he started home he switched to MM "before he hit the hills" because he knew he could not make it home on electric power. It seemed unusual he switched to MM because of insufficient electric range, rather than to build the battery back up to MM-maintained soc levels before reaching "the hills." He bought the Volt in September - wonder if the dealer told him to put it into MM when driving through hills.

This brought my attention to the timing and use of MM, and Rampage Rick’s comments on flashing and solid check engine lights. If the OP switched to MM early in his drive to work he could have been still driving on battery power when he encountered the flashing CEL. The car was running on battery power (at a state of charge still above the MM-maintained level), but the ICE was not available if the battery should reach the depleted state. Hence a flashing CEL, indicating a serious problem needing immediate attention.

The OP reached work on battery power with few electric miles remaining, but the state of charge was now below the MM-maintained level. When he turned the car on for the drive home and tried to switch to MM, that mode was unavailable, the Engine Not Available message appeared on the display, and the CEL came on. Could it be the CEL was flashing on the way to work because the engine was even then not available (a serious problem), but the car was capable of proceeding on battery power and the battery state of charge was above a level that would have triggered the Engine Not Available display message?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Wow, quite a conversation.

The dealer still has had no communication with me regarding the issues today.

Just a bit of background on me. I have a degree in automotive sciences and am also an ASE certified master technician (A1-A8 and L1 certs) with 10 years in the industry -- 3 of those actually wrenching the rest managing, etc.

That being said, I was mostly posting this because it seemed to be a few faults that have not been reported (that I found) online and I thought it'd be good to add another account of a different issue to the archives.

Now all that being said, I'm probably going to be looking into lemon law arbitration soon if this isn't resolved properly. We can't keep making monthly payments on an expensive car and driving a rental that not only uses gas, but uses MORE gas than the car we replaced!
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
8,680 Posts
FWIW, in normal OBD2 cars a blinking CEL is indication of an active misfire. Thats it. The volt may command a flashing CEL for other things but on 99.9% of cars out there a blinking CEL means there is an active misfire on one or more cylinders.
This appears to be correct. (I hadn't realized it was only misfires - I thought it was any serious engine problem.)

The current version of the CARB 1968.2 ruling (which establishes the requirements for OBDII systems) requires the MIL to blink for misfires large enough to damage the catalytic converter, and does not require it to flash for any other purposes.

Searching through the Volt service manual for "flash" comes up with a section talking about the DTC types that suggests the Volt also only flashes the MIL for misfires and a detailed description of the misfire codes - but not any other DTCs that involve a flashing MIL.

Which implies that either the OP immediately began experiencing misfires each time the engine tried to start on this trip, or else that the car has some sort of sensor or connectivity failure which causes it to think it may be experiencing misfires (not sure what a car does when the knock sensor doesn't respond?)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
This appears to be correct. (I hadn't realized it was only misfires - I thought it was any serious engine problem.)

The current version of the CARB 1968.2 ruling (which establishes the requirements for OBDII systems) requires the MIL to blink for misfires large enough to damage the catalytic converter, and does not require it to flash for any other purposes.

Searching through the Volt service manual for "flash" comes up with a section talking about the DTC types that suggests the Volt also only flashes the MIL for misfires and a detailed description of the misfire codes - but not any other DTCs that involve a flashing MIL.

Which implies that either the OP immediately began experiencing misfires each time the engine tried to start on this trip, or else that the car has some sort of sensor or connectivity failure which causes it to think it may be experiencing misfires (not sure what a car does when the knock sensor doesn't respond?)

Typically the crank position sensor is used to monitor misfires. There may be some that use the cam sensor, and even some that monitor coil over plug ignition primary waveforms to detect a complete combustion. There is of course not one single "blanket statement" and I don't have the memory reserves to remember what vehicles use what. So I'll say most vehicles use the crank position sensor to count the time it takes for one crankshaft revolution or partial revolutuon, and can determine that a particular crankshaft revolution took longer, hence that cylinder is not contributing.

I did not know that it specifically meant a misfire serious enough to damage the catalyst. I wonder if the PCM is also monitoring upstream O2 sensors for a very rich condition to make that determination. If its soley a cylinder's contribution amount (crankshaft speed monitored by the CKP sensor) then it would stand to reason unplugging an injector or two would cause a flashing CEL. If it doesnt flash there must be something else monitored. There is no excess fuel, maybe some oil blow by. Hmm I might test that one day. Something like a completely disabled ignition coil could certainly be enough to damage the catalyst with all the excess fuel being dumped. A clogged or faulty injector likely wouldnt cause immediate or serious harm to the catalyst.

Now there are times you don't get a specific cylinder (P0302 for cyl 2, or P0307 for cyl 7 etc) and you get a P0300 "Random Multiple Misfire." I don't remember under what circumstances the PCM will throw a P0300 and not individual cylinders.
I've worked on vehicles (GM for example which has PIDs for individual cylinder misfires both current and history) where it may have 1500 misfires on cylinder 2 and 140 on cylinder 4 but it still throws a P0300. I've had other GM vehicles where the misfire history PIDs showed something very similar, but instead gave P0302 and P0304 for individual misfires. Either way, having a proper scan tool that can pull up cylinder misfire history really helps when all you have is a P0300. Or the ol cylinder contribution test either with a scan tool (disabling injectors) or the "analog" method of just unplugging an injector one at a time and observe RPM.

Seem to be getting a bit off topic OP, sorry :)
 
Joined
·
3,600 Posts
Originally Posted by aliveoutofhabitWow, quite a conversation.

The dealer still has had no communication with me regarding the issues today.

Just a bit of background on me. I have a degree in automotive sciences and am also an ASE certified master technician (A1-A8 and L1 certs) with 10 years in the industry -- 3 of those actually wrenching the rest managing, etc.

That being said, I was mostly posting this because it seemed to be a few faults that have not been reported (that I found) online and I thought it'd be good to add another account of a different issue to the archives.

Now all that being said, I'm probably going to be looking into lemon law arbitration soon if this isn't resolved properly. We can't keep making monthly payments on an expensive car and driving a rental that not only uses gas, but uses MORE gas than the car we replaced!
Good afternoon aliveoutofhabit,

I can see how frustrated you are with this situation and I truly apologize for the lack of communication on our part. I'm also sorry I did not reply to your original post sooner. Have you been in touch with your Volt Advisor since this happened? They are a fantastic resource to take advantage of while working with the dealership. They will check in with the dealership for you and be sure to get that pressing information to you as soon as possible. If this is something I can do for you please private message me your VIN and the servicing dealership. I'll be in the office today until 4:30 EST and wont return until Monday. If you see this after I've left the office, please contact your Volt Advisor by phone for assistance.


Katie O.
Chevrolet Customer Care
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Good afternoon aliveoutofhabit,

I can see how frustrated you are with this situation and I truly apologize for the lack of communication on our part. I'm also sorry I did not reply to your original post sooner. Have you been in touch with your Volt Advisor since this happened? They are a fantastic resource to take advantage of while working with the dealership. They will check in with the dealership for you and be sure to get that pressing information to you as soon as possible. If this is something I can do for you please private message me your VIN and the servicing dealership. I'll be in the office today until 4:30 EST and wont return until Monday. If you see this after I've left the office, please contact your Volt Advisor by phone for assistance.


Katie O.
Chevrolet Customer Care
Thanks. Yes I'm working with Robert. The EV Team is the only communication I've had since the car has been in the shop. The dealerships (Momentum and Fremont Chevrolet) have been totally and COMPLETELY unresponsive. I've never had a worse service experience than dealing with these two dealerships. I really hate that I'm probably going to need to utilize dealerships that are even FARTHER away than these two, which are both about 9 miles away.

In any case... update on the repairs. The head gasket was blown. As of yesterday the head was at the machine shop waiting to be pressure checked and decked if needed. Will have more updates if I get them.
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
Top