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Discussion Starter #1
Just got word from the dealer which has had it for a week trying to diagnose it that the drive system batteries are down to 8% life and keep setting codes to service the high voltage charging system. They gave me a brief rundown of cost to replace the batteries in parts alone or over $10,000. So as of right now I owe them about $750 in diagnostics just to tell me that the batteries are shot. So to say the least I am completely disappointed in how this Chevy Volt held up and will never own another one again.
 

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So here’s my question. Can I keep driving it on the gas motor or will it leave me stranded at so point very soon?
 

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Tell us something about what it was doing before the dealership looked at it. And apparently there is an independent company now supplying rebuilt batteries for $4,995 or something like that.
 

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. . . I am completely disappointed in how this Chevy Volt held up . . .
So, at the avg number of miles per year of driving (12K), you only got 15 years worth or driving. And you are disappointed in that??? I doubt whether anybody here, short of perhaps our resident GM technician would have the experience to definitively state the likelihood of successfully driving for any period of time on gas alone with 8% of battery remaining. You might want to consider taking it to GreenTecAuto in Chicago for a $6K replacement.
 

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I drive around 30,000+ miles a year. Bought at 37,500 miles. Still owe $4,000. It is throwing SHVCS light and will not charge. They initially replace the coolant level sensor for $254 and the light came back on the next day. After a week of sitting at the local Gm dealer, rural Minnesota, they have no clue and were relying on the braintrust at Gm volt division for answers. They say it’s most likely the batteries and they are at 8 percent life left. I don’t exactly know what that means. I have had to replace the drive rotor bearing last year for $1100. My frustrations are that any gas money I did save doesn’t add up to what I now owe. I see others with great stories of excellent battery life and many more miles, but that is certainly not the case here. I wrench on my own stuff except for the electrical system here. It has milked me dry and left nothing but bitterness now. I wanted to like this EV but this is not even close to economical vs buying a economy car with a gas motor
 

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Perhaps I am not understanding the issue but you purchased a used car and drove it for approximately 140K miles and now you're unhappy that you have to perform some a repair?
 

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Perhaps I am not understanding the issue but you purchased a used car and drove it for approximately 140K miles and now you're unhappy that you have to perform some a repair?
You guys kill me, just wait until it happens to you....I have had plenty of repairs on this car, usual BS return repairs for the coolant sensor failure and getting raped for a computer reprogram each time, failed cabin heater and engine thermostat luckily under warranty, failed generator rotor bearing $1,100, and now the ultimate kick in the balls of a major battery failure with a $10,000 bill not including labor...Sure you can drive 8+ hours to Chicago one way for a $6500 replacement with 36 month warranty, are you kidding? We have been test dummies for Chevrolet. This car is now not worth the tires it’s sitting on. If this were a gas motor I guarantee it would still be on the road another 100,000 miles easy or drop a salvage motor in for under a grand, myself, worst case senario. I see I have struck a nerve with a few of you who are basking in denial of reality here in the absurdity of the cost of replacement. I researched before buying and saw all these glowing reviews of reliability of the Volt, thats a load of crap that nobody can sell me now, due to first hand experience... This car has now easily taken first place in lack of reliability and cost of ownership, and I have owned over 30 cars and trucks. My eyes are wide open to this fact.
 

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So here’s my question. Can I keep driving it on the gas motor or will it leave me stranded at so point very soon?
No, you can’t keep driving a Gen 1 Volt on the gas motor when the battery has serious issues.

Your 2012 Volt is powered by a battery (not normally described as a plural, "batteries"). When the usable portion of the battery is depleted (65% of the battery’s full capacity), the car runs on generator output. If a power request can’t be met by generator output (e.g., flooring the accelerator to pass someone while traveling at high speed), power is "borrowed" from what is remaining in the battery, and then replaced when demand lessens. IOW, a properly functioning battery is required for the propulsion system to work.

If some of the cells in the battery have developed problems significant enough to cause the battery to malfunction, you can’t just "unplug" the electric motor from the malfunctioning battery and expect it to run on generator output alone... among other issues, you would lose the regenerative braking system if there’s no battery available to be recharged by the regen...

Sounds like your dealer is not familiar with a Gen 1 Volt. You write, "They say it’s most likely the batteries and they are at 8 percent life left. I don’t exactly know what that means." Neither do I. The Volt doesn’t run on "batteries" (plural). It has a large main battery (some call it the "traction battery" as distinct from the 12-volt battery in the hatch area) in the floor of the car beneath the seats (Wikipedia describes the 2011 battery pack as consisting of "288 individual cells arranged into nine modules"). A 2012 Volt whose main battery had degraded 92% from 16 kWh to 1.2 kWh full rated capacity wouldn’t be able to power the car at all. The battery warranty suggests the battery is expected to lose no more than 30% of full capacity over the 8 year warranty, and that level of degradation tends to produce PPR errors when the engine is used. Were you experiencing any? Can you still drive it with the engine running? If you switch to Mountain Mode, will it recharge the battery to the ~4 bar level, and then run on battery power if you turn the car off and back on again?

Do you know if the cell balancing program has been performed on your 2012 Volt (GM program #N172130462)? It is possible your battery is having some serious issues at the battery cell level that prevent it from operating properly. Such issues might require replacing the battery.
 

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The battery warranty suggests the battery is expected to lose no more than 30% of full capacity over the 8 year warranty, and that level of degradation tends to produce PPR errors when the engine is used. Were you experiencing any? Can you still drive it with the engine running? If you switch to Mountain Mode, will it recharge the battery to the ~4 bar level, and then run on battery power if you turn the car off and back on again?

Do you know if the cell balancing program has been performed on your 2012 Volt (GM program #N172130462)? It is possible your battery is having some serious issues at the battery cell level that prevent it from operating properly. Such issues might require replacing the battery.
You guys kill me, just wait until it happens to you.... This car has now easily taken first place in lack of reliability and cost of ownership, and I have owned over 30 cars and trucks. My eyes are wide open to this fact.
I'm sorry for the trouble. I would be disappointed as well. That 8% doesn't make much sense unless then mean 78% (100-30+8). @wordptom asked some excellent questions. Maybe you can get some life out of it but it would need to be a different use case (low mileage around town car).

My kid is driving our 2011 and I worry about it once we move to our retirement location (diff state) and he is here. We did have one of the sections replaced under warranty 7 years after purchase (2018). We've spent like $2K-3K in maintenance. Luckily for them my kids use case is way different than yours.

Anyway here is a GM chart on their expectations.

 

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I understand your frustration.
But sumthin doesn't sound right with the battery situation.....
8% left??
What the heck happened to it?

Your thoughts on whether the extra complexities to then create efficiencies and not worth it if, when it breaks,
it costs more than the savings you had to fix it when it should otherwise be a serviceable issue.....are accurate.

I have had these thoughts myself, as I, like yourself, can do most gas-car things myself, but the Volt? Nope.

I would even prob be able to replace the traction battery myself, but it weighs like 600 pounds, would need a hydraulic lift for battery, need a special rack as to not flex it, and the whole car needs to be up off the ground as well.
Oh, and the battery cost at least $5000 bucks.
 
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The statement that you have to make "some sort of repair" surely diminishes the situation. It is a major repair! It’s not like you are needing to replace and alternator. I suspect a misdiagnosis personally. I had an issue recently at 140k where the I got reduced propulsion warning and the computer shut off the battery. My local repair guy found a bad ground under the car and reflashed the computer. I had zero confidence but it’s been about 5k since and no issues. One would hope to get at least 200-250k out of it like we would a typical engine. With that said it is relatively new technology and we should not expect 250k like an engine that has been improved for well over a century.
 

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I'm guessing from some of the responses that they are not used to putting a lot of miles on a car. Having a $10k repair on a 9 year old car with 180k miles is far outside the norm, for the regular ownership experience. The OP is also correct that if the cost of the repair exceeds the savings in fuel & maintenance compared to a regular car, then it was a financial failure.

IF the service light is being thrown at 30% degradation (would like clarity on that), then that would indicate those with Gen1's should be looking to unload their car before they hit the 150k mile mark from the graph above.

A couple questions for the OP. In addition to the failure to charge and service light, have you experienced any power reduction/propulsion reduction issues, and was the car charged to full somewhat regularly? If you aren't experiencing propulsion issues, then I would continue to drive it for now, but know that it's on borrowed time and start looking for a replacement. Once the battery is unable to deliver enough power to drive the electric motor normally, then you'll get stranded.
 

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I would have been way ahead financially if I had bought a Cruze instead of the Volt. But the Volt was cool so I leased it anyway. I say lease because there was no way I was going to own such a complex car past the warranty period.
As far as forums go, take what you read with a shaker full of salt.
 

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Having this happen when you still owe $4k on the car is rough. The dealership is telling you things in terms that we don't understand, in spite of there being some really good collective knowledge here, because we don't know what the dealership means when they say "down to 8%". I mean, we could GUESS at it and say they means "voltage reading shows a total voltage consistent with an 8% state of charge, which means there's some very weak cells in the pack, and we can't convince the HV Charging System to try to charge the pack under those conditions. We don't have the facility to refurbish the pack here, which means it needs replacement and we don't want to risk our insurance in using a not certified part for this." But that's literally a guess. And even if it were right, it doesn't leave you any closer to a happy resolution to your thorny circumstance.
 

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Look... I get it. I'd be upset too, and I agree that I don't think that battery replacement pricing can stay here if they think these things are EVER going to supplant ICE vehicles for everyone. BUT...that being said, everyone else has a point too. Vehicles are changing, consumer desires are changing, and in the end, what is "to be expected" out of a vehicle might be changing too....time and public perception will determine that. Also, I agree that the diagnosis description leaves a lot to be desired. I’d most certainly be looking for second opinions...and maybe third or fourth ones too.
 

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I don't know for sure but I saw a picture where it looked like the ultium battery was modules where you could replace a bad module, if access was available. We are still at the cusp of adoption. I don't know if solid state batteries will be more reliable over expected life, they will get rid of dentrites and the problem of bad quality separators. A crate motor in an ICE is between $2,000 and $8,000. With million mile batteries it may be less of a problem. We'll have to see how it shakes out.
 
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Look... I get it. I'd be upset too, and I agree that I don't think that battery replacement pricing can stay here if they think these things are EVER going to supplant ICE vehicles for everyone. BUT...that being said, everyone else has a point too. Vehicles are changing, consumer desires are changing, and in the end, what is "to be expected" out of a vehicle might be changing too....time and public perception will determine that. Also, I agree that the diagnosis description leaves a lot to be desired. I’d most certainly be looking for second opinions...and maybe third or fourth ones too.
Somehow, I think significantly more expensive and less longevity is not going to an acceptable direction for the average buyer. You can only go up in price if the reliability and longevity are increased, resulting in a lower TCO. The battery tech will need to be reliable before it's ready for the average buyer, and it needs to be proven in real world use and timelines. Simulations and cycle testing only gets you so far. Maybe the new Ultium battery will be the solution, or Tesla's million mile battery, and maybe it won't. We won't know for sure until there are some on the road for a while.
 

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Or another way to see it, you can buy a volt or a gas car for 20k...
what are they both worth at 200k miles?
about the same?

IF the volt car still run and drive at that point.

On another note, I hoped the Volt would be able to run on hte gas motor mostly even if, say, the battery degraded to 20%
capacity.....just drive it around on mostly gas.
(assuming the battery still has the 4kwh or whatever of its usual reserve...add 20% to that)

Kinda thought it was yet another advantage to the volt, but evidently that is not the case.
 

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I bought my 2011 new in April of 2012. It was a dealer demo so it had about 3,500 miles on it. Net cost after the Federal tax break was about $31,000. It now has 165,000 miles on it. I’m experiencing some quirks, seeing some battery degradation etc. When it’s time for battery change out, why not? I’ve saved about $15,000 on gasoline compared to the 3 series BMW it replaced. The front brakes are original pads and rotors, the rears are replaced because the pad fell off its backing! So spending $6,000 on the battery at that place in Chicago, I’m already money ahead compared to the ICE cars I’ve owned.
 

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Somehow, I think significantly more expensive and less longevity is not going to an acceptable direction for the average buyer. You can only go up in price if the reliability and longevity are increased, resulting in a lower TCO. The battery tech will need to be reliable before it's ready for the average buyer, and it needs to be proven in real world use and timelines. Simulations and cycle testing only gets you so far. Maybe the new Ultium battery will be the solution, or Tesla's million mile battery, and maybe it won't. We won't know for sure until there are some on the road for a while.
Meanwhile...folks regularly
Somehow, I think significantly more expensive and less longevity is not going to an acceptable direction for the average buyer. You can only go up in price if the reliability and longevity are increased, resulting in a lower TCO. The battery tech will need to be reliable before it's ready for the average buyer, and it needs to be proven in real world use and timelines. Simulations and cycle testing only gets you so far. Maybe the new Ultium battery will be the solution, or Tesla's million mile battery, and maybe it won't. We won't know for sure until there are some on the road for a while.
I don't know... We'll see. I think many folks never keep a car long enough to realize these situations and that's what "some" automakers who will not be named...might be banking on. Like I said, I still stand by my opinion that public desires and acceptance will decide the truth in the end. If it's SO bad as you say for most, then these manufacturers will be forced to change course, but if "most" succumb to the ever-increasing aspects of a throwaway society, then maybe they'll have made the right bet. I don't think there's anything "wrong" with current battery reliability personally, or at least I haven't seen enough to convince me there is any significant issue...but there IS something wrong with the market for refurbishment/replacement/upgrade of said batteries. It should NOT be a death sentence for a vehicle to need a replacement pack.
 
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