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My wife and I recently purchased a used 2013 Chevy Volt. We've owned a volt before but are by no means experts.

Initially we felt we'd gotten a great deal. The car was several thousand dollars below market value, and though it had been in a previous accident and had some unusual modifications, we felt we'd performed a thorough inspection and we asked for any damages we found to be repaired.

As regards the accident, it occurred in Hollywood, Florida, where the vehicle was purchased, when the vehicle had about 8,000 miles on it. Shortly thereafter it transferred ownership. We reached out to the police department where the accident occurred but were unable to gather any information beyond the fact that it was a multiple impact collision. The rear decal has some damage and the front shocks/struts have been replaced, so I suspect it was the middle car in a three-car rear-end collision.

As regards the modifications: here is a readout from the shop that performed the repairs:

Request: "Found someone has put a piece of metal over the hole then put bondo over it. Needs to go to a body shop."

Shop: "Installed 22769516 : N-BASE (09647-CK). "Installed 22783398 :N-Antenna (09647-BCKT)

Request: "Customer states to remove non-factory fans, hoses, etc. from the trunk and price rear panel replacement. Found lower compartment panel missing, upper trim panel cut and butchered along with rear panel."

Shop: "Replaced all the panels and the trim in the rear cargo."

Request: "Diagnose electrical system concern. Customer states there are some loose cut wires. Inspect what they go to."

Shop: "Removed the two wires hanging out of the top of the dash panel, reinstalled dash trim."

Quite the mystery. Can anyone suggest a reason for these modifications? I should mention that the owner had wired a solar panel into the 12-Volt battery in the back, probably to lighten the electrical load on the lithium-ion battery or the gas engine (not sure which one charges the 12-Volt).

Now that we've owned the car a while, we've discovered some more oddities. We found some fans installed in the back, near where the solar panel would have been. Perhaps to cool the panel/battery?

We've discovered that the parking brakes are disconnected. It doesn't seem to be much of a chore to reconnect them, but I'm afraid they'll seize up, which would likely be the reason for the disconnection in the first place.

The main image shows the hole cored in the steering column shroud, which I suppose was to mount some kind of apparatus. There were some electrical-taped wires in this location as well.

The Volt is a vehicle that can be attractive to DIY-ers because of that unique lithium-ion battery. I wonder if anyone on the forum has seen modifications like this before and can suggest a reason for them?

Check this link for some additional photos: https://imgur.com/gallery/Aq99ZGb
 

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Wondering why they would disconnect the. parking brake unless they were afraid it would seize at some point in the future. Problem is that if you need it in the mean time you are pretty much screwed.
The wires taped together? Trace them back and see where they go. I bet the black goes to a ground somewhere back there and the red goes to the fuse panel.
Disconnect them and call it a day. The previous owner obviously, as you stated, had some sort of electrical accessory down there. Radar detector maybe?
 

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Wires at the top of the dashboard are often used to power a dash cam or radar detector. Could also have been a gauge to monitor some kind driving parameter like voltage or efficiency, etc.

Apparently some kind of equipment was mounted in the cargo area. I could only guess at what it was, but that guess would be HAM radio equipment. That would explain needing to make a hole to mount an external antenna, needing solar for more power (probably keeping an accessory battery charged while parked), and maybe the cooling equipment for the amplifier. Also some wiring mods extending to the dashboard area for related equipment like a microphone, etc.

If you know the name of the previous owner, it might be possible to look up a HAM radio license registration. Not sure how public those records might be.
 

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I see a power inverter. Heavy guage wire, unit used to be mounted there. Probably battery power on those wires. Brake disconnected so car could be left on with the parking brake depressed so it wouldn't auto shut off. Brake peddle could be left engaged at all times witout actually use the brakes.
 

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I don't see how disconnecting the parking brake would be an advantage in any scenario. I suspect that was just an unfinished repair. Maybe the cable broke, so he cut it out and never got around to replacing it. Or maybe he did his own brake job and forgot to reconnect the parking brake.

I don't think that would pass the annual safety inspection in my state, so look out for that if it applies where you live.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all so much for the insight. I chased down those wires; as suggested, the black wire goes to a bolt next to the fuse panel, and the red wire goes to the back of the fuse panel. I'm going to guess one of you is right - radar detector, HAM radio, dashboard camera, something like that. I surely wish the previous owner hadn't cored a hole in the steering column shroud to hook up the accessory, but really, who's looking there? I can live with a near-invisible eyesore.

Theories abound on the parking brakes, but no one seems to be too concerned. I'm going to have a shop reconnect them (I'm going to try to get the dealer to do it, but he's balked at several of my complaints about the vehicle's condition) and we'll just have to see what happens. If they seize up, then it's a job for a proper GM dealership and potentially a decent chunk of change. Here's to hoping they work and that's the end of the story.

Thanks again to everyone for your time and consideration.
 
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