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Gas bars disappear despite showing ample gas range remaining

1854 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  canehdian
Technology Car Vehicle Family car Electronic device

Hi all,

I have a 2013 Volt Premium with 48k miles. Yesterday, I was running in charge sustaining mode (i.e. depleted battery) and I noticed the gas bars in the gas gauge disappear despite having over 100 miles remaining of gas. It was showing 3 gas bars or 1/4 tank when this happened. I will try to post a picture below. Once I got home and parked, I cut the car off, waited 10 seconds and started it back up and the bars were still gone. I plugged up and let it charge overnight. When I left in the morning the bars were back so all was good. Anyone else see this before?

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I had this happen to me a few weeks ago. I had about half a tank of gas (and also an empty battery) and was parked facing downhill at a rest area. When I turned the Volt back on, I saw no gas bars either although the miles remaining was still accurate and continued to update as I drove down the highway. In about 10 or 15 minutes, when it used another "bar" of gas, the blue bars came back and everything was fine. I thought it could be due to the fact that I was parked on a hill and it wasn't able to accurately measure the level of fuel in the tank without being stopped and level for a few seconds.
I think there are a few bugs in the software.

As far as reading the fuel level is concerned - a vehicle will often perform an average of the readings over a longer period of time if the vehicle is moving (several minutes), or if the vehicle is stopped on level ground for a shorter period (such as 10 or 15 seconds) the computer can be certain this is a more accurate reading and will update the level. I've specifically seen documentation that Chrysler does this, and if you'll notice very shortly after you exit a highway and come to a stop your estimated range remaining (gas) may drop by 5 miles or so as the fuel sensor is able to get a more timely and accurate reading than it was while you were moving (I've seen this behavior in several different brands of cars, including Chrysler, Acura, and the Volt). Although the issue we're seeing in the Volt could absolutely be a software display bug, as the computer should know the level of fuel that the vehicle last had and (especially in the Volt) that the fuel cap was not opened.

Some other bugs I've seen:

When I got the notice that I needed to run engine maintenance mode after 6 weeks of being solely on battery some of the text repeated itself many times in the message box.

And I think the delayed start charging time calculator has a bug in it. I set my Volt to charge from 9PM to 6AM (off-peak) and to attempt to fully charge for departure by 8AM. I generally charge at 120V, so the system defaults to 8 amp charging and calculates the time based on that. If I get home with an empty battery at a time like 5PM the car calculates (rightfully) that it should begin charging immediately so that it's full by 8AM at 8 amps. When I switch to 12 amps, the car still starts charging immediately, even though it could fully charge off-peak solely between the hours of 9PM and 6AM (or start at 9PM and definitely be full by 8AM).

Every once in a while upon a restart the radio will forget where it was on your playlist, and/or the source will reset to FM.

There are some interesting things I'd really like to see in the source code for the Volt, but I'm pretty certain GM is never going to release it to the public.
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My bet is that the OBD has the correct value of fuel reported, because otherwise I'd be getting all kinds of nastygrams from the car telling me to put fuel in and the gas engine wouldn't start up - plus the remaining range on gas was correct (and changing) as I drove. OBD probably wouldn't tell you exactly what the tank sensor is reading - it could be a filtered or stored value in the case of situations like this.
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