GM Volt Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Tonight I had a weird, and kinda troubling, experience with my (2013) Volt failing to start. (Yes, it was very, very cold out, but I didn't get any warnings or messages regarding temperature issues, and I had just driven it 10 minutes prior without issue. Read on for details...)

I left work around 9pm. I had driven to lunch earlier in the day, so my Volt had been cold-soaking in sub-zero temps for about 9 hours. It was -8F (-22C) by 9pm, so, not unexpectedly, when I started the car, it went straight into the "cold-battery" modified CS mode that happens when the internal battery pack temperature gets very low. There was no "reduced propulsion" or any other message. There was a ~2 second delay between hitting the Power button and the car/engine starting, during which the "Initializing... Wait To Shift" message displayed on the DIC, but in my experience this is normal when starting the car in ERDTT conditions.

I drove it without any problems a few miles across town to a restaurant to pick up some dinner. By the time I got there and turned off the car, it was still in the "cold-battery" CS mode (the gas range was still displayed prominently in the DIC with the electric range greyed out in the top-left corner), but the engine had warmed up sufficiently that ERDTT was no longer active. (The engine had turned off a couple times when coming to a stop, like it normally does in CS mode.)

I returned to the car approximately 10 minutes later after picking up my food. But when I got in and put my foot on the brake pedal and pressed the Power button to turn on the car, it didn't turn on. Instead, the usual "Initializing... Wait To Shift" screen displayed in the DIC, but it stayed on this screen for maybe 20 seconds without making ANY noises indicating that it was trying to start the engine. Eventually it apparently gave up on trying to start the car and the DIC switched to a screen that looked similar to when the car is on -- except it wasn't on: I couldn't shift out of park, the fan wasn't running, etc. Also, the CEL was solidly lit, but I wasn't sure if this meant that there were actual CEL error codes thrown, or if it was just because the CEL always lights up during startup.

I tried turning the car on a few more times without success before calling OnStar. I explained the situation about the car not starting and that the CEL was on and asked them to run diagnostics and give me any error codes. They did so, but found no problems from the diagnostic checks and no error codes to report. The (rather lame) excuse that I eventually got was that cold temperatures can cause problems with electrical components, and that might explain why the car wouldn't start.

After hanging up, I theorized that some 12V accessories that I had plugged in to the accessory outlets (~100W worth) might be messing with the 12V battery somehow and preventing the car from starting. So I unplugged everything and tried again, but no dice.

Finally, I tried leaving the car for a little over 30 seconds -- long enough for all of the interior and exterior lights to turn off -- before getting back in and trying one last time. (My thinking in doing so was similar to how unplugging and re-plugging in electronic devices in order to get them to reset sometimes mysteriously solves whatever problem there was.) This fortunately worked. It booted up just like normal, with the engine starting up normally.

So I'm glad I was eventually able to drive home, but the experience has left me more than a little baffled.

Any Volt experts out there know what could cause this odd behavior? (cough, WOT, cough) ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
562 Posts
My first guess would be that it somehow ended up in service mode, but it seems unlikely that this would be the problem for more than one attempt at starting the car...
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
8,680 Posts
Tonight I had a weird, and kinda troubling, experience with my (2013) Volt failing to start. (Yes, it was very, very cold out, but I didn't get any warnings or messages regarding temperature issues, and I had just driven it 10 minutes prior without issue. Read on for details...)

I left work around 9pm. I had driven to lunch earlier in the day, so my Volt had been cold-soaking in sub-zero temps for about 9 hours. It was -8F (-22C) by 9pm, so, not unexpectedly, when I started the car, it went straight into the "cold-battery" modified CS mode that happens when the internal battery pack temperature gets very low. There was no "reduced propulsion" or any other message. There was a ~2 second delay between hitting the Power button and the car/engine starting, during which the "Initializing... Wait To Shift" message displayed on the DIC, but in my experience this is normal when starting the car in ERDTT conditions.

I drove it without any problems a few miles across town to a restaurant to pick up some dinner. By the time I got there and turned off the car, it was still in the "cold-battery" CS mode (the gas range was still displayed prominently in the DIC with the electric range greyed out in the top-left corner), but the engine had warmed up sufficiently that ERDTT was no longer active. (The engine had turned off a couple times when coming to a stop, like it normally does in CS mode.)

I returned to the car approximately 10 minutes later after picking up my food. But when I got in and put my foot on the brake pedal and pressed the Power button to turn on the car, it didn't turn on. Instead, the usual "Initializing... Wait To Shift" screen displayed in the DIC, but it stayed on this screen for maybe 20 seconds without making ANY noises indicating that it was trying to start the engine. Eventually it apparently gave up on trying to start the car and the DIC switched to a screen that looked similar to when the car is on -- except it wasn't on: I couldn't shift out of park, the fan wasn't running, etc. Also, the CEL was solidly lit, but I wasn't sure if this meant that there were actual CEL error codes thrown, or if it was just because the CEL always lights up during startup.

I tried turning the car on a few more times without success before calling OnStar. I explained the situation about the car not starting and that the CEL was on and asked them to run diagnostics and give me any error codes. They did so, but found no problems from the diagnostic checks and no error codes to report. The (rather lame) excuse that I eventually got was that cold temperatures can cause problems with electrical components, and that might explain why the car wouldn't start.

After hanging up, I theorized that some 12V accessories that I had plugged in to the accessory outlets (~100W worth) might be messing with the 12V battery somehow and preventing the car from starting. So I unplugged everything and tried again, but no dice.

Finally, I tried leaving the car for a little over 30 seconds -- long enough for all of the interior and exterior lights to turn off -- before getting back in and trying one last time. (My thinking in doing so was similar to how unplugging and re-plugging in electronic devices in order to get them to reset sometimes mysteriously solves whatever problem there was.) This fortunately worked. It booted up just like normal, with the engine starting up normally.

So I'm glad I was eventually able to drive home, but the experience has left me more than a little baffled.

Any Volt experts out there know what could cause this odd behavior? (cough, WOT, cough) ;)
Sounds like a marginal 12V battery to me. The long hang on initializing generally means one of the computers isn't talking to the others. If the battery voltage gets marginally low, some things work fine, others don't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,782 Posts
I would have left the car 'on' a little longer in sub-zero conditions to normalize the system temps. Turning any car on/off several times in these temps can deplete the 12v battery. There needs to be time for the 12v to recharge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
867 Posts
I had a similar experience. I went to turn on my car and it just stayed at the 'Initializing' screen. No matter how many times I turned it off and on, stood on my head, lifted my left leg, the same thing--'Initializing'. I had it towed to the dealer and same thing although the mechanic did get it to go beyond the 'Initializing' screen, but it was inconsistent. Long story short, I was told it was the charge port.

It was not cold when it happened to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,623 Posts
I replaced the 12v battery in my 2012 at 36 months in order to avoid such problems. Custom design or not the EVLN2 is still an AGM lead acid battery.

KNS
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
360 Posts
Something similar happened to me in November while I was in New Jersey. It was raining, not at all cold. Same scenario - drive the car to a restaurant, get back in a while later, no start. Of course I had a passenger! I remembered a comment here about a "walk-away reboot" so I walked about 100 ft away from the car. It locked as programmed, I walked back and started as normal. It hasn't recurred.

I figure with so many computers talking to each other, sometimes you just need to reboot. If it happens again, I will be more observant and start getting concerned.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
66 Posts
Voltage drop during boot ?

After hanging up, I theorized that some 12V accessories that I had plugged in to the accessory outlets (~100W worth) might be messing with the 12V battery somehow and preventing the car from starting.
I think that was it. Drawing additional 100W or 8.3Amps from your 12V battery during car boot probably dropped it over the edge. The battery possibly had a core temperature below freezing and dropped the Voltage below critical level for the computers to start. The 12V battery below the trunk is not really getting any heating benefit from the cabin heat during driving and therefore was probably still cold despite the previous drive.

Would be interesting to know, how many amps the car draws from the 12V battery during boot process until it is getting connected to the DC-DC converter. Anybody has an idea?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,797 Posts
I had the same thing happen to me on a regular Summer day. Turns out disconnecting the 12V battery was the answer. As somebody else pointed out, the delay on the init screen means some computer on the canbus is not communicating. A good reboot is apparently necessary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Alright, so we've got three more data points:

I had a similar experience. [...] It was not cold when it happened to me.
Something similar happened to me in November while I was in New Jersey. It was raining, not at all cold. [...] I remembered a comment here about a "walk-away reboot" so I walked about 100 ft away from the car. It locked as programmed, I walked back and started as normal. It hasn't recurred.
I had the same thing happen to me on a regular Summer day. Turns out disconnecting the 12V battery was the answer.
So, ewiggins, MrDuck85, and adric22 all had similar issues when it was not cold. MrDuck85 eventually got his Volt to start just like I did by leaving the car for a short period and then trying again, and adric22 by actually disconnecting the 12V battery.

So it seems like this was just a fluke computer glitch thing, not related to temperature or the state of the 12V battery. That would suggest it was just an annoying coincidence that it would happen to me on the coldest day of the year. Lucky me. :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I would have left the car 'on' a little longer in sub-zero conditions to normalize the system temps. Turning any car on/off several times in these temps can deplete the 12v battery. There needs to be time for the 12v to recharge.
Since the 12V battery doesn't crank the engine in the Volt and only has to boot up the computer systems and other relatively-low-draw stuff (I'm assuming) during startup, I doubt any special precautions (like leaving the car on longer than needed) are needed for the 12V battery in cold temps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I think that was it. Drawing additional 100W or 8.3Amps from your 12V battery during car boot probably dropped it over the edge. The battery possibly had a core temperature below freezing and dropped the Voltage below critical level for the computers to start. The 12V battery below the trunk is not really getting any heating benefit from the cabin heat during driving and therefore was probably still cold despite the previous drive.
It's plausible, but I had the same accessories plugged in when I started the car ~20 minutes earlier without any issues.

And, more significantly, we now have 3 reports of similar failures of the Volt to turn on from folks in not-cold conditions, and who (presumably) didn't have similar accessories plugged in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
813 Posts
hmmm ... all this ( computer glitch) sounds a lot like Windows VISTA by our famous Microsoft :)

Im thinking, right along with my previous suggestion for GM to go to Apple to design the center stack interface, they probably should also ask them to develop the power train management software as well :) :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
360 Posts
... GM to go to Apple ...
I sure hope they never do that! Maybe for the interface, please not for the underlying OS. I use several Apple products, many Windows products, and 2 BlackBerry products. The BlackBerrys run QNX, and are rock-solid stable. The Apple products run iOS and OS-X, and the iOS ones are prone to hangs and app crashes. The OS-X MacBook Pro is getting slower as it ages (and it's definitely not my imagination!) The Windows 8.1 devices and apps so far have also been rock-stable. I don't know for sure, and a Google search has not revealed an answer, but I suspect the Volt's OS is QNX, at least in part.

I suspect that any individual subsystem in the Volt is stable, but when they try to communicate, sometimes things get lost. If it only happens once in 6 months and is recoverable, I can live with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
just replaced my 12v battery to fix similar problem. Had to jump it on a cold morning 2 weeks ago. it drove fine for 2 weeks until we had this latest cold snap. took out the battery and tried to charge it. it charged but the capacity was way diminished, the slightest load dropped the voltage too low, I would suggest anyone having this problem to fully charge and load test the battery. You can speculate all you want but without troubleshooting it might just happen again. Eliminate the obvious.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,156 Posts
And, more significantly, we now have 3 reports of similar failures of the Volt to turn on from folks in not-cold conditions, and who (presumably) didn't have similar accessories plugged in.
You can have similar symptoms from different root causes, especially, like here, where the resulting problem is fairly generic. I wouldn't dismiss Walter's suggestion that it might be a dying 12v. I'd definitely get the battery checked out to, as mentioned, eliminate an obvious possibility.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,620 Posts
I think we have been told before that part of a complete shutdown was to get out - shut the door and get the fob out of range of the volt for (a short time).

I have seen once the long startup on a very cold 25 f morning. I then did a too fast shutdown and start while in car and got a few codes.
Then did the "walk about" all started and been over 2 years and did not see this problem again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,150 Posts
Does/Did your 12V battery check out?

We are up in the cold now and the volt sat outside for 3 days straight in sub zero temps, cranked right up with a remote start (along with the ICE motor).

When we first had the car we had some similar issues and some tow ins to the dealer. A reflash and a module replacement and it has been fine ever since.

Batteries seem to die or go marginally below the starting threshold all at once. Had this happen in a diesel truck. And I could start it if I used the remote start on the key fob. But the extra couple hundred watts of things turning on with a key wouldn't allow it to start. No warning and it died after a long drive in decent weather. Shut it off and it wouldn't restart.

BTW - That reboot trick has worked for us too. Knock on wood the Volt has been decent in sub zero, cold, ice, and snow. Only issues being with frost/ice forming everywhere and making it hard to open up the doors.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,890 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Does/Did your 12V battery check out?
I let it sit off and unplugged for over 3 hrs in 10F temps, then measured the voltage at 12.4V. So I think that means it's a tad low, but still okay.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
211 Posts
The battery really can't be tested properly eith no load on it. Mine fully charged to over 12v but a load test caused a shorted cell to be revealed
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top