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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As we all know, the car market is ridiculous right now. Whatever the reasons, it's a terrible time to buy, new or used. I was all set on selling my 2012 as there seems to be a lot of mounting evidence that these things start having serious high voltage charging system problems at the 10 year mark. I'm only at 73k miles and this thing runs perfect, the interior is holding up perfect, I love driving it but I'm not able to use it as it is meant to be used. Due to covid, I'm working from home 90% of the time and cannot charge from home (I had been charging for free at work for years). The complex I live in is not set up for 240v, I'm not allowed to upgrade it to 240v and if I try to charge on 110v the plug would get so hot I needed gloves to unplug it after only a few minutes of charging. Dangerous to say the least. Nothing is "wrong" with my wiring, it's just not meant for that level of current.

So that's all mounted to the decision that I need something better suited for my situation. Part of me wants to just keep it and run it until it has problems and then fix it. ~$6k seems to be by far the cheapest replacement alternative and that only comes with an 18 month warranty. Other options are north of $10k. Then I'd be putting way more money into it than it's worth, which doesn't work for me. And that's IF there are even any replacement batteries out there when I need one (I'm sure there will be, but my luck doesn't work that way).

I guess the point of this thread is to gather input on the 10 battery life drop off. Am I wrong there? I know some Volts have gone 200k - 400k with minimal problems, but the 10 year seems to be the limit, regardless of mileage. I know everyone will say it's always cheapest to keep what you have, but I'm not worried about that.

I appreciate your thoughts.

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Age is always a factor for batteries. A well-maintained 10-year-old battery still on a store shelf isn't going to be in as good shape as a well-maintained 1-year-old battery still on a store shelf. Whether that makes it unfit, however, isn't a thing that age alone accounts for, and vice versa. My Volt is a decade old too, and conditions of use are having more of an effect on range than they used to, but it's still doing what I need and things aren't (currently?) changing rapidly enough that I need to consider replacing it.

The 110 charging plugs getting hot, though, is something that's fixable. At minimum, that receptacle needs replacing with something a little more "commercial grade"
 

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Re the age of batteries, I saw a package of AA lithium batteries at Walmart, can't remember the brand but on the package it said storage life was warrantied for 20 years. Is that the state of the art in battery chemistry these days?
 

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According to GM themselves, 10 years is the expected life under adverse conditions.

I don't think you will ever find a better time in terms of resale value to sell than now. Since you have no charging at home, and it's at 10 years, I'd make a change now.
 
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I don't think you will ever find a better time in terms of resale value to sell than now. Since you have no charging at home, and it's at 10 years, I'd make a change now.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. I will probably get rid of my 2015 at the end of next year when the warranty runs out.
 

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Get a new 110V outlet installed. If you need an extension cord, go to Lowes and buy a heavy contractor type. There is no reason you can’t charge this on 110V. You can reduce the charge rate to 8amps if needed. You and I (2011 with 175,000 miles) have the perfect car, why get rid of it?
 

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As we all know, the car market is ridiculous right now. Whatever the reasons, it's a terrible time to buy, new or used. I was all set on selling my 2012 as there seems to be a lot of mounting evidence that these things start having serious high voltage charging system problems at the 10 year mark. I'm only at 73k miles and this thing runs perfect, the interior is holding up perfect, I love driving it but I'm not able to use it as it is meant to be used. Due to covid, I'm working from home 90% of the time and cannot charge from home (I had been charging for free at work for years). The complex I live in is not set up for 240v, I'm not allowed to upgrade it to 240v and if I try to charge on 110v the plug would get so hot I needed gloves to unplug it after only a few minutes of charging. Dangerous to say the least. Nothing is "wrong" with my wiring, it's just not meant for that level of current.
Not sure what you mean by, "I love driving it but I'm not able to use it as it is meant to be used."

If you simply mean you can’t drive on battery power because you can’t recharge at home, consider this. The window sticker for the 2012 Volt says 35 ev miles per charge, 37 mpg. If you "drive on gas," that’s ~14 gas miles per ~0.4 gallons of gas. If you switch to Mountain Mode while parked (with a depleted battery), the system will recharge the battery to the ~4 bar level in ~15 minutes (Edit: the Gen 1 Volt uses ~0.4 gallons of gas for MM recharging). When you restart the Volt, that’ll give you ~14 ev miles of range. Perhaps that’s enough for your average daily driving in today’s routine (especially if the trip is a slow speed drive to a local store and back, not long enough for the ICE to warm up), and the few cents of extra cost was for recharging via generator gas instead of from the wall socket, but the distance is about the same.

Do you have the EVSE that came with your 2012 Volt? Have you tried charging your Volt at the lower 8 amp rate to see if the wall socket can handle that? The 2011/2012 Volts defaulted to 12 amp charging for L1 charging. The default changed to 8 amps in the 2013 model. If you don’t have the type of EVSE that came with your 2012 Volt, there likely is no way for you to choose 8 amp charging.

There are buttons on the EVSE for these two model years that allow you to choose between 12 amp (normal) and 8 amp (reduced) charging at 120 volts. The 8 amp charging, of course, takes longer. A quick recap from the 2012 owner manual:

Charge Level Button
Two charge levels are available by pressing the charge level button. Select reduced or normal level.

The charge level cannot be changed when the vehicle plug is plugged into the charge port on the vehicle. If the charge level button is pressed while the vehicle plug is plugged into the charge port on the vehicle, the charge level indicators will flash briefly.

To change the charge level, unplug the vehicle plug from the charge port on the vehicle and select the desired charge level.

Normal Level: This level is recommended. All four charge level indicators will be lit.
Reduced Level: Use when the electrical current is limited. Two charge level indicators will be lit.
 

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2012 Volt Premium (Cyber Gray Metallic) - Stock
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I was in the same boat as the OP and changed my HV battery when it failed after 9 years. I also had the OEM EVSE trip out my garage circuit and heated up the cheap GFCI outlet until I got a new outlet (also ran a new 20A circuit) and that solved the problem. I know the OP can’t modify the place he’s in, but it might be worth trying to obtain the right EVSE for the 2011/2012 models.

My 2012 is also on a 2013+ EVSE without the 8A/12A button so I have no choice but to charge at the full amperage. Really wish I had the ability to charge at 8A sometimes…
 

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One more opinion to the mix...

Your '12 appears to be worth $6K to $8K in todays market depending on how you sell it. A Volt with a broken traction battery has a scrap value of $1K-2K at a junk yard. Keeping the vehicle has a downside risk of $4K to $6K.

I agree with you on the theoretical concept of age-related battery life. It's still too early to tell exactly, but I do believe age to be more of a factor than milage. Nevertheless, no battery is going to last forever and I believe the early data points to age over use. I think we can anchor one point of the failure curve at 10 years. The unknown is how far the rest of the bell curve stretches and where your specific battery lies on that curve.

I agree that as is, you need something better suited for your situation. If you had your own garage with a plug, or if you have access to a charging station at your complex, or if you have access to a charging station at work that you actually went to, that would be be different. Swapping to an upgraded commercial plug would likely fix the heat issue but that might not be possible. I doubt management is going to allow you to string an extension cord across the yard and that's just clunky no matter how you do it.

Mountain mode is never a good substitute for charging. If you are going to burn gas for milage, it is FAR less expensive to just drive with a depleted battery. But then you are just using the vehicle as a "mild hybrid" ICE car. There are better cars for that that don't carry the risk of a $6K "mild hybrid" battery replacement.

I would either:
  1. Replace the plug with a commercial version and get another two or three years of life out of the Volt.
  2. Sell the Volt, buy a transitional vehicle that will get you two or three years down the road, and then reassess the purchase of a longer term vehicle once prices are back normal and when you have a better idea about going back to the office, etc.
In option 1 you run the risk of a $4K to $6K loss if the battery dies. Maybe you make it, maybe you don't.

In option 2 you will overpay $4K to $6K (or more) to get a reliable replacement in today's market that you will not get back when you sell the vehicle 3 or 4 years down the line and the market is back to normal.

To me, I'd do whatever you can to swap the plug and roll the dice by keeping the Volt over what feels like a guaranteed loss on overpaying for a replacement vehicle in today's market.
 

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In this overheated market I’d only sell it if you didn’t need to buy another car now. Otherwise you’re likely to lose out. If you can find a better way to charge at 8 amps I’d keep it.


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everyone. The point of this thread wasn't to figure out my charging issues - it was more to discuss the 10 battery life while considering the crazy seller's market. Yes, I can hire an electrician to swap out the plug, that's not the point. Even if I were able to charge 240v nightly I'd still have the same question.

I see no upside to keeping the Volt, considering I could easily get $10k out of it right now, which is crazy considering KBB is nearly half of that. It's just not worth it (to me) to keep it and replace the battery in the near future. Keeping it just isn't worth the peace of mind. I had the service high voltage system error pop up a couple months ago (due to low coolant levels) and it freaked me out. I'm not in the position to dump that kind of money into it when I can trade for a more reliable vehicle.
 

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Mountain mode is never a good substitute for charging. If you are going to burn gas for milage, it is FAR less expensive to just drive with a depleted battery. But then you are just using the vehicle as a "mild hybrid" ICE car. There are better cars for that that don't carry the risk of a $6K "mild hybrid" battery replacement.
As I wrote earlier in this thread, the OP’s 2012 Gen 1 Volt uses ~0.4 gallons of gas to recharge a depleted battery via Mountain Mode to the ~4 bar level. At window sticker ratings, the ~14 battery miles you can drive on that 4 bars of battery power is just about the same ~14 gas miles you can drive on 0.4 gallons of gas used in the normal manner. (Of course, it depends... stop and go driving is better for ev mileage and worse for gas mileage; freeway speed driving might be the opposite.)

Same amount of gas for those 14 miles = no difference in the cost of the gas you used... but yes, because you chose to use MM recharging to obtain ~14 miles of battery range NOW instead of waiting to recharge at the wall, you paid per mile gas prices instead of per mile ev prices for those 14 miles. If that difference is 7 cents per mile or less, it cost you less than $1 extra for those 14 miles of MM recharged battery power than you would have paid for residential recharging.

Mountain Mode is never a good substitute for charging from the wall for normal use (it CAN help if you have no place to charge or if your car is unable to charge from the wall), but the Gen 1 Volt purpose of MM is not to recharge the battery, it’s to sustain the state of charge at the 45% SOC level while the range is being extended, well above the "hard floor" level, so when the motor "borrows" power from the buffer to supplement what it gets from the generator output, the buffer doesn’t run out of borrowable power, and the system doesn’t trigger a PPR event. Nearly all the battery failures from older Gen 1 Volt batteries discussed in this forum seem to me to have occurred as the driver of the Gen 1 Volt was driving aggressively with a fully depleted battery (whose extended range battery buffer capacity had degraded over time). It seems possible that driving your Gen 1 Volt using MM to maintain the SOC at the higher level may avoid putting stress on the weaker battery cells by keeping the cell voltages well above the "hard floor" level. And this may prolong the useful life of the battery, even as the "all electric " range diminishes as the battery full capacity diminishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As I wrote earlier in this thread, the OP’s 2012 Gen 1 Volt uses ~0.4 gallons of gas to recharge a depleted battery via Mountain Mode to the ~4 bar level. At window sticker ratings, the ~14 battery miles you can drive on that 4 bars of battery power is just about the same ~14 gas miles you can drive on 0.4 gallons of gas used in the normal manner. (Of course, it depends... stop and go driving is better for ev mileage and worse for gas mileage; freeway speed driving might be the opposite.)

Same amount of gas for those 14 miles = no difference in the cost of the gas you used... but yes, because you chose to use MM recharging to obtain ~14 miles of battery range NOW instead of waiting to recharge at the wall, you paid per mile gas prices instead of per mile ev prices for those 14 miles. If that difference is 7 cents per mile or less, it cost you less than $1 extra for those 14 miles of MM recharged battery power than you would have paid for residential recharging.

Mountain Mode is never a good substitute for charging from the wall for normal use (it CAN help if you have no place to charge or if your car is unable to charge from the wall), but the Gen 1 Volt purpose of MM is not to recharge the battery, it’s to sustain the state of charge at the 45% SOC level while the range is being extended, well above the "hard floor" level, so when the motor "borrows" power from the buffer to supplement what it gets from the generator output, the buffer doesn’t run out of borrowable power, and the system doesn’t trigger a PPR event. Nearly all the battery failures from older Gen 1 Volt batteries discussed in this forum seem to me to have occurred as the driver of the Gen 1 Volt was driving aggressively with a fully depleted battery (whose extended range battery buffer capacity had degraded over time). It seems possible that driving your Gen 1 Volt using MM to maintain the SOC at the higher level may avoid putting stress on the weaker battery cells by keeping the cell voltages well above the "hard floor" level. And this may prolong the useful life of the battery, even as the "all electric " range diminishes as the battery full capacity diminishes.
I sincerely appreciate your input....BUT, I'm not arguing economy, charging issues, etc....I'm only trying to discuss the 10 year shelf life. Just trying to keep this thread on track.
 

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The thing is, I don't think there a ton to be discussed. How long batteries last can only be discussed in aggregate, and only lived individually, and the influence between the two is individual toward aggregate. If you want to sell, and move on, great! Do so. We won't even really try to talk you out of it. If you want to keep it for a while and see how things go, great! Do so. We're living that adventure with you. But there ain't much to discuss about it because there's very little to be done to influence the outcome, short of battery replacement, and ... that too is a personal decision that doesn't really brook much discussion. Someone's either going to wait for a battery replacement (because there don't seem to be a deep stock of replacements to draw from) and use another car in the meantime, or they're not and they're going to use another car instead.
 

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I sincerely appreciate your input....BUT, I'm not arguing economy, charging issues, etc....I'm only trying to discuss the 10 year shelf life. Just trying to keep this thread on track.
Thanks for the feedback. The above post was intended as a response to clarify that using Mountain Mode does not need to use any more gas than extending the range in the "normal" way (if you switch to MM before the charge drops that low), and that using gas to recharge the battery via MM gets you about the same amount of driving distance you could get from that amount of gas.

I do think my final paragraph speaks to your concerns, and it’s based on the experience I’ve gained from driving my 2012 Volt for the past 9+ years. I suggest that many Gen 1 Volt owners may not recognize the design of the Gen 1 Volt (electric propulsion ALL the time) created a limitation in the ability of the car to maintain performance when being driven aggressively in extended range mode. Unlike most PHEVs on the market, the Gen 1 Volt does NOT use an automobile engine for propulsion when the battery is depleted. The Gen 1 Volt is propelled 100% of the time by the larger motor MGB, and when the battery is depleted, the ICE cranks a generator to create gas-generated electricity as needed (and, when it can improve efficiency, the ICE/generator combo is clutched to the drivetrain to assist in propulsion).

To provide as much Electric Mode range as possible, the Gen 1 Volt pulls power from the battery until the state of charge drops to only ~5% above the "hard floor" level (to promote battery longevity, GM prevents the user from draining the battery charge below that level). That’s less than 1 kWh in the battery buffer for use when the range is being extended.

There are limits to how much gas-generated electricity can be supplied by the Gen 1 Volt’s "portable generator." When generator output can’t fill the demand in high torque conditions, the motor "borrows" from the buffer and when demand lessens, the buffer is recharged. If demand is too constant, the buffer may be drained (0.8 kWh goes fast), and the state of charge (or: the cell voltages of the weaker cells) drops too close to the minimum allowed. A PPR episode is triggered to reduce performance until the buffer can be recharged.

Over time, the buffer that is too small to handle the borrowing demands of a brand new Gen 1 Volt when driving fast up steep mountain roads (which is why GM equipped the car with a Mountain Mode) becomes too small for less demanding driving conditions. Drivers who don’t recognize this limitation start experiencing PPRs when driving aggressively, and consider these to be symptoms of battery failure. Driving around aggressively with the pack voltage near the bottom limit and draining the buffer ever lower is likely to stress those weaker battery cells. Eventually the cell fails, and so goes the battery.

I do not really know if maintaining more power in the extended range battery buffer would avoid these types of PPRs, or merely postpone battery problems. I cannot recall of anyone posting that the PPRs (the kind that don’t trigger a malfunction code) continued to plaque them even after they had adopted the habit of using Hold Mode or Mountain Mode before their battery was fully depleted to keep a larger buffer when driving beyond battery range. But as I wrote in the earlier post, the purpose of MM in the Gen 1 Volt is to sustain the state of charge at the 45% SOC level while the range is being extended. This keeps the state of charge well above the "hard floor" level, so when the motor "borrows" power from the buffer to supplement what it gets from the generator output, the buffer doesn’t run out of borrowable power, and the system doesn’t trigger a PPR event. It seems possible to me that driving a Gen 1 Volt using MM to maintain the SOC at the higher level may avoid putting stress on the weaker battery cells by keeping the cell voltages well above the "hard floor" level. And this may prolong the useful life of the battery, even as the "all electric " range diminishes as the battery full capacity diminishes.

My 2012 Volt battery is still going strong (my estimate: 90% of the original full capacity at 9+ years). Erick Belmer’s 2012 Volt Sparkie, with 488K miles on it now, had its motor/generator A replaced, but the people who bought the car did the battery degradation test and determined the car’s battery has a total 13.7kwh (~85% of new), and the cells are balanced at 5mv, in short very good news for long-term owners. I suggest that taking Gen 1 Volt preventative measures (i.e., switching to MM before the charge drops below 4 bars) whenever you anticipate driving beyond battery range may well help the battery in your Volt continue working beyond that 10 year "battery drop off" line.
 

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50k new for 5 years is 10k a year for ownership
if after 5 years you have to buy a battery for 10k
you drive it for another 5 years thats 2k per year that leaves 8k a year for repairs
what skewed all of this is the rebates that some of you received on the car new, devaluing it that way
but now you cant buy any of these new anymore
nothing compares with it , i drive 85% electric and drive 1200 miles in a blink of a eye with not worry about range
i will spend 10k to keep that
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
50k new for 5 years is 10k a year for ownership
if after 5 years you have to buy a battery for 10k
you drive it for another 5 years thats 2k per year that leaves 8k a year for repairs
what skewed all of this is the rebates that some of you received on the car new, devaluing it that way
but now you cant buy any of these new anymore
nothing compares with it , i drive 85% electric and drive 1200 miles in a blink of a eye with not worry about range
i will spend 10k to keep that
Great point, but I bought it used at $14k, so that is part of it. Had I invested the $47k in '12 it would be a much different story.

This thread didn't go the way I wanted it to. I meant for it to be discussion about the life expectancy in years, not miles, but it turned into a "sell it or don't" thread. Ah well, I appreciate everyone's input. It's going up for sale.
 

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My 2012 with 80K miles started to throw the dreaded high voltage issues in the DIC which I cleared until it wouldn't, I was surprised that the KBB deal for the sale was $8,100, dumped it and bought a 2022 Bolt before the stop sale, got a fair amount off the MSRP and had a GM friends and family to boot. Pretty sure it was a battery issue, I don't remember the codes. The 2011 we have seems solid so we will keep that one until it starts causing issues but it has less than 20K miles on it, garaged parked and always on a charger (but so was the 2012).
 

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Great point, but I bought it used at $14k, so that is part of it. Had I invested the $47k in '12 it would be a much different story.

This thread didn't go the way I wanted it to. I meant for it to be discussion about the life expectancy in years, not miles, but it turned into a "sell it or don't" thread. Ah well, I appreciate everyone's input. It's going up for sale.
Hey there, so whats yer asking price?
 
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