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My wife scraped the passenger side front fender of our 2013 Volt while backing out of a parking lot at ~5mph. The turn signal lamp got smashed, and the bumper came loose, but the inside didn't seem to have suffered any damage. That night however, the car didn't charge, and unfortunately the next morning, I had a dead battery (not sure why).

After getting jump from the GM roadside assistance, I drove to dealership service to have it inspected. They say the "battery charging module" (located behind right fender) is damaged and has to be replaced. According to the dealership, the part costs $1160. And it has to be replaced whole, not taken apart. I'm guessing it's this part (listed at $700 for the 2011 model).
http://parts.nalleygmc.com/products...e-Motor-Battery-Charger/2990148/22793073.html

I found it really hard to stomach the fact that an expensive part like this is not protected by the bumper, and is that vulnerable to damage from a scrape.

In addition, I am looking at a replacement bumper, turn signal lamp for about $900 and 8-9 hrs labor (electrical+bodywork) for $1000, a grand total upward of $3k. State Farm is really going to stick it to me next cycle.

I gave a call to get in touch with our Volt advisor but not sure how they would advise on damage without inspecting the vehicle. And I'm not sure if State Farm can assess damage to EV cars that well either. Is there a chance I am getting shafted w.r.t the damages incurred here?
 

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If you want to save State Farm some money, get it repaired at a body shop rather than the dealer. They can get the parts and install a charging module just as well as the dealer. Unfortunately, it won't change your deductible. It seems that taking it in the shorts is part of the hazard you risk when dealing with insurance companies.
 

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The charger is located under the right front bumper, and it's an important piece of liquid cooled high voltage electronics (this is where the A/C power from the wall is converted to ~400V DC to charge the battery.) If there's a chance it is damaged, you'll want it checked or replaced.

Yours is the first I've heard of being damaged in a minor incident, but I've wondered how much risk there is, because it does seem like it is hanging out there.
 

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Putting it behind the bumper was a bad idea as was the low-slung battery thermal management radiator. Lack of available space or perhaps a more rushed design may have led to this. There is room for the inverter in other areas but it is tight to try to make it fit other than tucked into typically empty space. This is why a larger Voltec vehicle would help hide these parts. Whether Equinox or Impala sized vehicle, these expensive parts should be tucked away behind bumpers and away from slow speed damage.
 

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I had to do some minor repair to my front end after a very low speed impact. I have some interesting pictures of what is behind the bumper that I was planning on posting some day. The whole front bumper can be removed with fairly simple tools.

The bumper is expensive. The blinker assembly is not (the blinker assembly is about $60). The headlight assembly costs a small fortune, so hopefully you didn't damage that. If you want to save some money, you might could consider reusing the existing bumper and just getting the blinker assembly replaced and touch ups done. That is what I ended up doing, as I had a very similar incident.

The power electronics behind the right front bumper are in a metal box. I'm surprised a minor impact affected it. Before they order a whole new unit, they should really check it to make sure it didn't just knock a connection loose.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi all,

Thanks for your valuable comments. It does sound like the charging module is located right behind the right fender as you guys point out.[1]

Skotty, I will have them check that a connection wasn't knocked loose - that's a great idea. I think they recommended painting the bumper, and maybe not have to replace it. Also, I think only the blinker was damaged, the headlights are OK.

Do you mind sharing your pictures of what's behind the bumper? I'd like to see some to get a good idea of the layout, and see what that protective metal box looks like.

My usual mechanic (pre-Volt) never shies from pointing out to me the parts of the car that need replacing - but dealerships prefer to do everything behind closed doors and hand you a bill for it.

[1] - http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1279627&page_number=2
"Al Steier found one puzzling feature with the charger configuration ..."
 

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My wife scraped the passenger side front fender of our 2013 Volt while backing out of a parking lot at ~5mph. The turn signal lamp got smashed, and the bumper came loose, but the inside didn't seem to have suffered any damage. That night however, the car didn't charge, and unfortunately the next morning, I had a dead battery (not sure why).

After getting jump from the GM roadside assistance, I drove to dealership service to have it inspected. They say the "battery charging module" (located behind right fender) is damaged and has to be replaced. According to the dealership, the part costs $1160. And it has to be replaced whole, not taken apart. I'm guessing it's this part (listed at $700 for the 2011 model).
http://parts.nalleygmc.com/products...e-Motor-Battery-Charger/2990148/22793073.html

I found it really hard to stomach the fact that an expensive part like this is not protected by the bumper, and is that vulnerable to damage from a scrape.

In addition, I am looking at a replacement bumper, turn signal lamp for about $900 and 8-9 hrs labor (electrical+bodywork) for $1000, a grand total upward of $3k. State Farm is really going to stick it to me next cycle.

I gave a call to get in touch with our Volt advisor but not sure how they would advise on damage without inspecting the vehicle. And I'm not sure if State Farm can assess damage to EV cars that well either. Is there a chance I am getting shafted w.r.t the damages incurred here?
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but a collision that's your fault with no drugs, alcohol, or personal injury involved is a single auto insurance incident regardless of the cost.

Also, the module involved works with higher voltages than most auto mechanics or body people are trained to deal with. Replacing it requires powering down the HV and verifying that it's safe. Powering up is equally interesting. Volt dealers have mechanics with the proper training.

Given the voltages involved, do you really want someone with undefined electronics experience taking the module apart, fixing it, testing it (how?), and putting it back in your car? Nowadays, many cars require the headlight assembly to be replaced as one unit.

Finally, my dealer lets me watch the tech work on my Volt all day if I want. I'm sure there is a dealer in SF that will do the same.
 

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Here's a look at what's behind the bumper on the right side. From the picture and your description of the accident, I would guess something happened to those protruding connections on the back side of the box. Just a guess.

 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here's a look at what's behind the bumper on the right side. From the picture and your description of the accident, I would guess something happened to those protruding connections on the back side of the box. Just a guess.

Thanks Skotty! Your guess is a good one, I think the green plastic connectors had cracked from what I remember. I will go back to the dealer and take another look.

@Mikeg3 - you're right, repairing EVs requires much harder skill, but I wonder if dealerships use it as leverage to over-estimate damages.

Also, I do believe the hike in insurance is correlated to how much they have to shell out. Replacing a totaled car would hike premiums far more than something under a 1000 bucks (that's what SF told me).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just wanted to follow up and mention that my car is back from the shop after ~3 weeks, cost me and my insurance $4.5K (parts 2.2K, labor 1.7K) The exact name of the part per the invoice is "Battery Charger Control Module".

Here are some pics of the damage that the insurance adjuster took.

The one good thing I got from the experience: my Volt needed some "recalls" fixed which I was never notified of by the dealer/volt adviser/myvolt forum. Makes you wonder what they think your email and phone is more useful for marketing purposes than for actually contacting you for things you care about. I say "recalls" because most of them were software updates, which they could not perform before they fixed the charger module.

Thanks for all the help and advice folks!
 

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I've pointed out that I think it's the dumbest thing GM did in the design to put that charger in that spot.. I've never seen an ICE vehicle with the fuel pump mounted right behind the bumper.... Only washer bottles and fuel vapor canisters have been that tight behind the bumper and your car will still operate if damaged. I'd rather have the wasted electronics of my dash NAV mounted behind the bumper and the charger inside behind the center display.. i know it has a fan and generates a lot of heat - but there?????
 

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If someone wants to disable a Volt, Kick as hard as you can just below passanger headlight, between turn signal lamp and wheel well.. that should about do it.. Wait until that shows up on youtube... I'm sure that will rub people the wrong way...but an engineer at GM did design it that way.
 

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If someone wants to disable a Volt, Kick as hard as you can just below passanger headlight, between turn signal lamp and wheel well.. that should about do it.. Wait until that shows up on youtube... I'm sure that will rub people the wrong way...but an engineer at GM did design it that way.
That would be an over $1k kick if you really put some muscle behind it!;)
 

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That is an amazing price.... I got hit by a shopping cart (hard) and it is going to be a grand. I did not see it happen so perhaps it was the wind.

My first wife would damage cars, scrape big gouges in brand new floors moving stuff, painted rooms and got paint on glass, carpet, trim; cause kitchen fires, broke expensive items, soiled expensive clothes, carpet, furniture. I think I could quickly come up with 100k in damaged, broken, ruined stuff; She wrecked things faster than I could pay for them. It cost a whole lot of money when she decided to cash in and file the big D. But at least I no longer have 90% of purchases destroyed before they show up on the credit card.


I only mention this because perhaps it was the first big damage your wife has cost you..... that would be good. If so, go easy on her and try not to mention the cost to her or her friends/family.
 

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Glad you got it fixed. The location of that module certainly doesn't look very safe for such a vital component. That said, i now see why insurance companies typically charge more for premium's on the Volt --- not only is it an expensive vehicle, but it's also expensive to repair.
 

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Wow, your wife sure did major damage your Volt. Looks like damage from a fender bender on the road than a parking lot accident. You should banish her to your other car for a month. Then she might appreciate the Volt more. :)
 

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Also, I do believe the hike in insurance is correlated to how much they have to shell out. Replacing a totaled car would hike premiums far more than something under a 1000 bucks (that's what SF told me).
Actually I totaled my car many years again with no others involved. It was the first generation Acura TL, so about $25k replacement. No injuries and no one else involved. I replaced it with a Volvo. My insurance rates actually went down. Reason given by the agent is that property damage has minimal impact on insurance rates. It's primarily medical injuries and personal liability claims that will drive your rates up.
 

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My wife scraped the passenger side front fender of our 2013 Volt while backing out of a parking lot at ~5mph.
I hope you learned your lesson. :)
 

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Actually I totaled my car many years again with no others involved. It was the first generation Acura TL, so about $25k replacement. No injuries and no one else involved. I replaced it with a Volvo. My insurance rates actually went down. Reason given by the agent is that property damage has minimal impact on insurance rates. It's primarily medical injuries and personal liability claims that will drive your rates up.
Makes sense to me, my insurance rates are as low as they were 22 years ago and I've gotten much higher value cars since then. I totaled my first Cadillac and walked away. I was smashed head-on on the freeway in my new sierra pickup truck and walked away - the dealer said 'this guy in the truck live?' as the only body panel they didn't replace was the passenger door and front passenger fender, I said 'Yep, that was me, the driver' the guy was amazed. My rates only went up $28/year from the 08 loaded Accord to the Volt (loaded) Very pleased. Oh- clean driving record as well.. I really believe they should have totaled the pickup - but it was brand new, I guess and they had it for 45 days.
 
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