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I love(d?) my Chevy Volt. In 2012 I moved from Las Vegas to Pahrump. With a 130 mile commute 6 days a week, it quickly become evident that I would need a more fuel economical vehicle to make this move financially feasible. After a long look, I settled on a 2011 Chevrolet Volt that I discovered used at a California Hertz Sales location. Eager to join the electric car age, I flew to LA and picked up my new little beauty. It was love at first drive. I loved that instant torque and smooth ride. I named her Joule. Joule and I made my long commute so much more affordable and with all the bells and whistles too. Joule and I began racking up the miles. Initially only charging on 110 at home and making the whole trip on a single charge. Eventually they installed charging stations at work and we were able to charge up and only have to handle 65 miles on a full charge. People at work began to take notice and start asking about my Joule. I sang her graces and even inspired two co-workers to buy their own Volts.

It’s amazing how fast the miles added up. We began to approach the post-powertrain years. I thought, “We’ll be ok, 100,000 is just a number, she’s only had a couple major health problems.” Around 98,000 I noticed that the old girl wasn’t getting around like she used to. Her fuel economy, running on gas w/ no charge, dropped 25% over the course of a couple months. I observed this for another thousand miles or so and then got my first “Propulsion Power is Reduced” message while driving on flat ground. This began to happen a few times a day. I made a service appointment, but they didn’t have an opening with their Volt tech for 2 weeks. By the time of our appointment we had rolled the odometer past 100k. They were unable to find anything wrong and the only diagnosis they had was to recharge my A/C. Even though I was doubtful that this was going to have any affect I shelled out a few hundred to give it a try, anything for my baby and these are the professionals right? It didn’t work. Continued to get “Propulsion Reduced” messages. It was annoying, but didn’t ultimately impede my day to day. But I always worried that there was something more wrong with her.

Early 2017 after getting back from tour, I went out to discover that she wouldn’t take a charge anymore. And my worst fears came true, “I’m sorry sir, but we’re gonna have to replace your entire battery system!” At this point I had to decide if I could keep her. Four thousand dollars is a lot of money. But I reasoned that she’d be a brand new car, we could continue driving down the road together for another hundred thousand miles. So, for the first time in 41 years of life, I borrowed money from my parents to bring her back to life. I got back behind that wheel and discovered a car that was…still having the same problems it’d been having for the past two years. But according to every service visit, there was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong, even though my fuel economy was still reduced. Nothing wrong, even though the fastest I can drive up the grade on the 15 south out of Primm is 40mph(nothing unsafe about that). Nothing wrong, even though you can hear her poor fuel injected heart struggle and putter in a way that it never used to. We continued to drive, ignoring the problems that everyone claimed didn’t exist.

This Christmas I had an idea, I was going home for Christmas and wouldn’t need Joule for a few days. Let’s take her to the service center across town and get a second opinion. On the drive there we got our “Propulsion Reduced” message. Even though I don’t like to see her suffer, I was glad that the symptoms were there for others to see. I returned after Christmas, Nick informs that they were unable to re-create the problem. And that as far as they can tell, everything is fine. So, once again I go back to my normal routine. After one trip, as I’m heading home from work. I get a new even scarier message, “Engine Unavailable, service soon”! I realize by the lack of vibration that the only reason I am still driving is because I have a small amount of charge left and am running on only the electric engine. Luckily I was only a few miles from home. I get her home and see that I can’t even select mountain mode. I restart her and am able to select mountain mode to get the ICE running, it turns on, but is surging and backing off. I realize something is very wrong, so I call the service center and tell them I’m bringing her back. I charge overnight and am able to drive to the service center while the battery is charged. I drop her off on Friday morning and then I just wait to hear the news. Saturday afternoon rolls around and I’m still waiting. I call and leave a voicemail. I get a voicemail in return. “Her transmission has slipped in a big way, I have a quote for you.” After trying for several hours, I finally get Nick on the phone.
$7200 to replace her transmission.

RIP Joule

If anyone from GM is reading this and can explain to me how these two catastrophic failures have happened, I’d appreciate it. I have praised this car to everyone I know since I bought it. I don’t know if I can continue to do so.
 

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I love(d?) my Chevy Volt. In 2012 I moved from Las Vegas to Pahrump. With a 130 mile commute 6 days a week, it quickly become evident that I would need a more fuel economical vehicle to make this move financially feasible. After a long look, I settled on a 2011 Chevrolet Volt that I discovered used at a California Hertz Sales location. Eager to join the electric car age, I flew to LA and picked up my new little beauty. It was love at first drive. I loved that instant torque and smooth ride. I named her Joule. Joule and I made my long commute so much more affordable and with all the bells and whistles too. Joule and I began racking up the miles. Initially only charging on 110 at home and making the whole trip on a single charge. Eventually they installed charging stations at work and we were able to charge up and only have to handle 65 miles on a full charge. People at work began to take notice and start asking about my Joule. I sang her graces and even inspired two co-workers to buy their own Volts.

It’s amazing how fast the miles added up. We began to approach the post-powertrain years. I thought, “We’ll be ok, 100,000 is just a number, she’s only had a couple major health problems.” Around 98,000 I noticed that the old girl wasn’t getting around like she used to. Her fuel economy, running on gas w/ no charge, dropped 25% over the course of a couple months. I observed this for another thousand miles or so and then got my first “Propulsion Power is Reduced” message while driving on flat ground. This began to happen a few times a day. I made a service appointment, but they didn’t have an opening with their Volt tech for 2 weeks. By the time of our appointment we had rolled the odometer past 100k. They were unable to find anything wrong and the only diagnosis they had was to recharge my A/C. Even though I was doubtful that this was going to have any affect I shelled out a few hundred to give it a try, anything for my baby and these are the professionals right? It didn’t work. Continued to get “Propulsion Reduced” messages. It was annoying, but didn’t ultimately impede my day to day. But I always worried that there was something more wrong with her.

Early 2017 after getting back from tour, I went out to discover that she wouldn’t take a charge anymore. And my worst fears came true, “I’m sorry sir, but we’re gonna have to replace your entire battery system!” At this point I had to decide if I could keep her. Four thousand dollars is a lot of money. But I reasoned that she’d be a brand new car, we could continue driving down the road together for another hundred thousand miles. So, for the first time in 41 years of life, I borrowed money from my parents to bring her back to life. I got back behind that wheel and discovered a car that was…still having the same problems it’d been having for the past two years. But according to every service visit, there was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong, even though my fuel economy was still reduced. Nothing wrong, even though the fastest I can drive up the grade on the 15 south out of Primm is 40mph(nothing unsafe about that). Nothing wrong, even though you can hear her poor fuel injected heart struggle and putter in a way that it never used to. We continued to drive, ignoring the problems that everyone claimed didn’t exist.

This Christmas I had an idea, I was going home for Christmas and wouldn’t need Joule for a few days. Let’s take her to the service center across town and get a second opinion. On the drive there we got our “Propulsion Reduced” message. Even though I don’t like to see her suffer, I was glad that the symptoms were there for others to see. I returned after Christmas, Nick informs that they were unable to re-create the problem. And that as far as they can tell, everything is fine. So, once again I go back to my normal routine. After one trip, as I’m heading home from work. I get a new even scarier message, “Engine Unavailable, service soon”! I realize by the lack of vibration that the only reason I am still driving is because I have a small amount of charge left and am running on only the electric engine. Luckily I was only a few miles from home. I get her home and see that I can’t even select mountain mode. I restart her and am able to select mountain mode to get the ICE running, it turns on, but is surging and backing off. I realize something is very wrong, so I call the service center and tell them I’m bringing her back. I charge overnight and am able to drive to the service center while the battery is charged. I drop her off on Friday morning and then I just wait to hear the news. Saturday afternoon rolls around and I’m still waiting. I call and leave a voicemail. I get a voicemail in return. “Her transmission has slipped in a big way, I have a quote for you.” After trying for several hours, I finally get Nick on the phone.
$7200 to replace her transmission.

RIP Joule

If anyone from GM is reading this and can explain to me how these two catastrophic failures have happened, I’d appreciate it. I have praised this car to everyone I know since I bought it. I don’t know if I can continue to do so.
There was your first mistake...Continuing to drive your Volt past it's warranty range...:(
There was your second mistake...NOT getting a second opinion...:(
What codes did your Volt throw when you got "Propulsion Power is Reduced"...those should have pointed the techs in the right direction...:(
 

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Might've been helpful if you'd come here after the first place told you there was nothing wrong with the car.

Dealerships have a tendency to throw parts at problems when they don't understand them - and very few dealers have any real experience with the unique problems Voltec has.

It's possible that both your pack and your transmission really did fail - but that'd make you an extremely unusual case - in the 6+ years I've been coming to this site, I think I can count all the reported battery replacements I've read of one one hand - and I can only think of one other transmission replacement I've read of.

The Voltec transmission mostly doesn't do "slip" - it has three internal clutches, but they are never shifted under load, and I've never read of a failure of one. In normal driving, it "slips" electrically - either running in series, where all the engine power is converted to electricity first and then back to motion, or at higher speeds with a power split device more or less like a Prius does. I believe there is a spring loaded torque-limiter clutch disc on the input shaft like the Prius uses - possibly that's related to the "slipping"?

All first generation Volts use the same 4ET50 drive unit, so if yours really does need to be replaced there should be plenty of perfectly functional used units if you can find a mechanic you trust in your area.

Can you get the codes the car is reading now?

We seem to have misplaced our ultimate guru of late, but there are a lot of folks on the forum with experience and shop manuals that can probably give a better interpretation of what's going on with the car if we can get some information...
 

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I love(d?) my Chevy Volt. In 2012 I moved from Las Vegas to Pahrump. With a 130 mile commute 6 days a week, it quickly become evident that I would need a more fuel economical vehicle to make this move financially feasible. After a long look, I settled on a 2011 Chevrolet Volt that I discovered used at a California Hertz Sales location. Eager to join the electric car age, I flew to LA and picked up my new little beauty. It was love at first drive. I loved that instant torque and smooth ride. I named her Joule. Joule and I made my long commute so much more affordable and with all the bells and whistles too. Joule and I began racking up the miles. Initially only charging on 110 at home and making the whole trip on a single charge. Eventually they installed charging stations at work and we were able to charge up and only have to handle 65 miles on a full charge. People at work began to take notice and start asking about my Joule. I sang her graces and even inspired two co-workers to buy their own Volts. ...

...I returned after Christmas, Nick informs that they were unable to re-create the problem. And that as far as they can tell, everything is fine. So, once again I go back to my normal routine. After one trip, as I’m heading home from work. I get a new even scarier message, “Engine Unavailable, service soon”! I realize by the lack of vibration that the only reason I am still driving is because I have a small amount of charge left and am running on only the electric engine. Luckily I was only a few miles from home. I get her home and see that I can’t even select mountain mode. I restart her and am able to select mountain mode to get the ICE running, it turns on, but is surging and backing off. I realize something is very wrong, so I call the service center and tell them I’m bringing her back. I charge overnight and am able to drive to the service center while the battery is charged...
Your original posting needs some clarification. A 2011 Volt is not capable of making your 130 mile round trip commute "on a single charge." It can’t even make the 65 mile one-way drive on battery power alone. Your posting seems to suggest that you accomplished this daily commute without running out of battery power.

The 2011/2012 Volts had no Hold mode... you write that on your way home from work after Christmas you had a "engine unavailable, service soon" message. You then realized you were running on electricity, and luckily you were only a few miles from home and made it on the small amount of charge you had left. How is it possible that a small amount of charge was still remaining at the end portion of your 65 mile commute? Had the ICE been running before the error message appeared? If your car had switched to ICE at some point during the 65 mile drive home because the battery was depleted, how did you manage to have enough battery power remaining to make it home? Do you normally switch to Mountain Mode during your commute?

You comment a number of times on the rapid and continuing decline in fuel economy (gas) over time without mentioning any numbers (window sticker for the 2011 was 37 mpg), but I don’t see a single reference to your all-electric range or to any change in battery range over the years (the 2011 Volt had no kWh Used display on the energy usage screen). Are you still fully recharging the battery daily? Have you noticed any change over the years in the distance you can drive on a full charge or your Volt's performance in Electric Mode (other than Reduced Propulsion when the engine is not available), or are your problems mostly restricted to Extended Range Mode operations when the ICE is running?
 

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$4000 for a traction battery R&R?

Show us the bill for the traction battery repair if you don't mind. The battery alone is $9100 for the 2011, and there is labor.

Not getting hot climate fails like other EVs and hybrids with the Volt since it's actively thermal managed with good chemistry.
 

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$4000 for a traction battery R&R?

Show us the bill for the traction battery repair if you don't mind. The battery alone is $9100 for the 2011, and there is labor.
Reads like GM gives a generous exchange credit. If they didn't, the value of a used car with an expired Voltec warranty would be zilch. A car that can be traded in for more than salvage value helps both sides of a used car transaction.
The Bolt battery lists at around 16K. It's comforting to know (or hope) that if mine craps out somewhere past 100,000 miles I can exchange for 4-5 grand.
 

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The 2011/2012 Volts had no Hold mode... you write that on your way home from work after Christmas you had a "engine unavailable, service soon" message. You then realized you were running on electricity, and luckily you were only a few miles from home and made it on the small amount of charge you had left. How is it possible that a small amount of charge was still remaining at the end portion of your 65 mile commute?
Remember, the Volt never uses the bottom half of the battery buffer, part of why our batteries tend to last far longer than other vehicles without serious degradation. This buffer can also act as a small safety net to give some propulsion even after the engine is dead (out of gas, failure, etc). I believe it's only about 1kW but it's enough to get you a couple miles at least at reduced propulsion. There have been some youtube videos posted about this unique feature.
 

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Remember, the Volt never uses the bottom half of the battery buffer, part of why our batteries tend to last far longer than other vehicles without serious degradation. This buffer can also act as a small safety net to give some propulsion even after the engine is dead (out of gas, failure, etc). I believe it's only about 1kW but it's enough to get you a couple miles at least at reduced propulsion. There have been some youtube videos posted about this unique feature.
Mostly right. :)

It's actually the working buffer that the car does use that gives you this chance. With a 2011/12, the car turns the engine on when the absolute SoC falls to 22%, and then tries to keep it there using engine power, with fluctuations of a couple hundred watt hours above and below as convenient for conditions and efficiency.

The hard floor is at 15% SoC, where it load sheds and sets Propulsion Power Reduced with an otherwise intact powertrain. The car will not allow the pack to go below 15%, though it will pull just a little power to crank the engine again after running out of gas and battery and then being refueled.

Unless you've been running a hard mountain climb or coming off of max acceleration, the battery will be close to 22% when the engine dies - giving you about a kilowatt-hour down to 15% to drive on, good for almost four miles in typical conditions.

(Other years of Volt use the same strategy, but the percentages are a little different due to changes in battery size and programming.)
 

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If this happened to either of our Volts, I would be looking for used stuff. Today EBay has a battery for under $1500 and a transmission for less than $900. I might even do the work myself, just for grins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was making the majority of my commute in extended range since I was only able to charge at home.

Since the service center, after having my car for 8 days, told me everything was fine. So, on my commute home I decided to run a bit in mountain mode. This is why I had enough charge to get home.

Before I noticed the decline in fuel economy I used to average 42 mpg in extended range. When I noticed the decline I was now getting under 30 mpg. All my problems have been in extended range. My EV performance has never been an issue. Unfortunately, I've only run EV about 36% of my mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"The code(s) and explanation(s) associated with this issue is/are:

P0AB9 The engine is not performing as expected. If the problem is persistent service within 7 days

P1B03 The electric propulsion system is not performing as expected. Please service within 1 day"
 

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"The code(s) and explanation(s) associated with this issue is/are:

P0AB9 The engine is not performing as expected. If the problem is persistent service within 7 days

P1B03 The electric propulsion system is not performing as expected. Please service within 1 day"
DTC P0AB9: Hybrid/EV System Performance

Circuit/System Verification
1. Vehicle ON. Operate the hood release to open the hood. The engine should start and run.
If the engine fails to start, diagnose the engine system. Refer to Engine Cranks But Does Not Run .
2. If the engine starts, the problem is intermittent and not present at this time.
3. DTC is set, and the engine is running, program the T6 power inverter module.
If the DTC resets, replace the T6 power inverter module.



DTC P1B03: Drive Motor 1 Position Sensor Circuit Tracking Lost

Circuit/System Testing
Note: You must perform the Component Testing before proceeding with Circuit/System Testing.
1. Vehicle OFF, disconnect the X175 harness connector at the transmission.
2. Install the DT-44152 jumper harness to the vehicle harness side only.
3. Vehicle ON, test for 0.8-1.4 V between the terminals listed below and earth:
• Terminal U
• Terminal T
• Terminal L
• Terminal M
If greater than the specified range, test the signal circuit for a short-circuit to voltage, short-circuit to earth or an open circuit/high resistance. If the circuit tests normal replace the T6 power inverter module.
4. Vehicle ON, test for 6.5-7.5 V between the terminals listed below and earth:
• Terminal V
• Terminal W
If outside the specified range, test the signal circuits for a short-circuit to voltage, short-circuit to earth or an open-circuit/high resistance. If the circuits test normal replace the T6 power inverter module.


FWIW: Seems these specific DTCs on your Gen1 share the same T6 power inverter module as the possible failed component...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, it seems that GM is not gonna help me in any way. I got a hold of a GM factory assistance rep. After our first conversation, based on my odometer, she said they were gonna help me. 20 minutes later she called back and said there is nothing they can do because my powertrain warranty timed out in Nov 2015. I then asked if they could assist me in helping either selling/trading it and get into another vehicle. Cynthia’s response was, “That’s not my department.” No offer to direct me to the correct dept. I get it, technically they are correct, my warranty is expired. But this problem seems like it would warrant some extra consideration. No one has given me a reason yet for why my two largest and most expensive systems failed this soon. Maybe the Volt is just a 100k mile car. In the last 25k miles I’ve considered selling Joule, because the service dept was telling me there was nothing wrong. But I knew that I would be saddling someone with a car that was not working properly and I wouldn’t do that to a stranger even if it was a better course for me. This is my 4th GM vehicle and at this point I think it will be my last.
 

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Sorry to hear. Best luck on you next vehicle.
 
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