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$40,000, three weeks and 575 miles later, and I have nothing but regret.

Long story about Volt service - well, more accurately, no service - so breeze on by if you've heard this one before. Otherwise, grab a coffee and join me on a tale of misery…

I live in Texas, and three weeks ago I took delivery of a fully loaded 2018 from Rydell Chevrolet in Riverside, CA. (I couldn't find the car I wanted locally and no dealer in my area was interested in anything but list price if I ordered a car.)

Car arrives and right from the start it’s having trouble recognizing the keyfobs. Check the forums and the solution that pops up the most is dead batteries in the keyfobs. Makes sense, but it takes me a couple of days to get new batteries in, and in the interim sometimes one or the other fob actually works.

Install new batteries in both fobs expecting it to fix the problem. Go another day with everything working and I figure it’s resolved, but no, it starts happening again. Switch to the other fob (also has new batteries), works for half the day and then it’s not recognized anymore. Figure OK, maybe I got a bad batch of batteries so order more from another manufacturer. They arrive two days later, put the new batteries in both remotes and again, works for a day and then I’m back to finding the magic G-Spot in the console. Pressing the unlock button the remote always works to unlock the car. It’s just the fob detection that’s failing, but it’s a real pain having to play the console game every time it happens.

So two weeks after getting the car I still don’t have working fobs. Need to go out of town on a trip so I park the car for three days. When I get back the fobs are working again. Figure it won’t last, but then the next day they’re still working! Two days in a row – that’s a record so I’m starting to think something about the car not seeing the fobs for a while has fixed my issue. But no, the next morning I’m back to putting the key in the console. OK, enough of this. What else causes this?? Do some more internet digging and I find the TSB for this very issue. So the next day (last Friday) I start checking reviews of the service departments for the Chevy dealers in my area. Not many good ones, but the “least bad” seems to be AutoNation so I schedule a Saturday appointment to get the car fixed.

Saturday morning I get in the car to head to the dealership, and sure enough, the fob is working. Figures. Meet my service advisor Hal, really nice guy. Explain everything that’s going on, give him both fobs and head to the waiting room to get some work done. Hal comes to see me about an hour later to tell me “the computer to GM technical service is down” and they can’t do anything to diagnose my car. Show Hal the TSB that describes the exact problem I’m having, and then email him a copy. He thanks me, says that will help, and then goes back to the service department.

About 30 minutes later Hal comes back and says there’s really nothing they can do today to fix my car. They need to run “full diagnostics” and reproduce the problem before they can proceed. I ask about the TSB that describes my exact issue and again I get the explanation that they can’t perform the TSB without duplicating the problem. I explain to Hal that I don’t understand why they can’t do what the TSB says to do in this situation. He offers to get the service manager and five minutes later I’m having this same conversation all over again. Service manager insists there’s nothing they can do without “full diagnostics” and seeing the problem for themselves so they can troubleshoot. I asked him how they planned to find such an intermittent issue – were they planning to try the fob every hour to see if they could catch it misbehaving? He said they’d just keep the car until they could reproduce the problem. I point again to the TSB. Nope. No TSB for me until they see it happen. OK, fine, what about a loaner car? No loaners available for 10 days. So my option now is to make another appointment in 10 days, or find another dealer. I figure option two can’t be any worse than what I’ve just been through, so I tell them to just give my car back and I’d look for another solution.

Drive the car home from the dealership, park it in the garage at my apartment complex and then head out to the grocery store a few hours later. Keyfob not working. Figures. Shop for about 30 minutes, go back to the car, and now it’s really not happy. Doesn’t want to see the fob, and even with it in the console I just keep getting the “Initializing” message. After about five minutes of messing around I finally get it to see the fob and start.Drive back home, park the car again.

Sunday morning get up early to head to breakfast, walk up to the car and of course the door buttons don’t work, but this time neither does the unlock button on the fob. Head back to the apartment to get the other remote and try again. Same thing – won’t unlock. Try the phone app to do a remote unlock. Nothing. Pry the cover off the door handle and use the key to get in. Totally dead. No lights, no sounds. Dead battery. Luckily, I keep one of those small jumper packs in my car so I open the hood to find the jumper terminals. Odd – doesn’t look like the picture, and then I realize the plastic cover that’s supposed to be on the terminal block is missing. Look around in the engine compartment but it’s not there. Jump start the car and it starts up fine, but then as soon as I disconnect the jumper battery it dies again. Try it a second time. This time the engine starts right up – what I expected the first time since the hood was open. And bonus! I find the terminal cover in the windshield sill, but it’s been deformed by the hood closing on it and the little flap that covers the jumper terminal is almost torn off. Try a few times to put it back on but it's too damaged to fit.

Get back in the car and the check engine light is on. Call OnStar and have them run diagnostics. All kinds of error codes – three for the engine system, two for the hybrid control processor and three for the vehicle interrogation system. One of them is a “see dealer immediately” so I ask the OnStar rep if the car is safe to drive to the dealership. Of course they won’t answer that question, so I take the car for a short drive to see if I’m going to be comfortable driving the 15 miles back to the dealership on Monday morning. Seems to drive OK, but the CEL stays on and the AC isn’t working – just blowing warm air.

So much for breakfast. Park it back in the garage.

The more I think about it the more I really don’t want to go back to the same dealer (what did they do to my car??!!) but I also don’t want to get into a finger-pointing contest between dealer service departments if I take it somewhere else, so I reluctantly decide to take it back to AutoNation since they broke it.

Next morning I get up early and head back to the dealership. First one there at 7:00 and have to wait a few minutes to see Hal. Explain everything that happened, give him the deformed terminal cover and ask for a replacement. He apologizes and writes it all up. I ask about a loaner. 10 days until they have one. So now my little keyfob issue has become more than an annoyance. I now have no car. I ask Hal what I’m supposed to do. He says to leave the car and they’ll try to get to it as soon as they can. Take the dealer shuttle to work.

It’s now lunchtime Monday and I haven’t heard from Hal. I call him to get an update. He calls back a few minutes later to tell me they haven’t had a chance to look at my car yet and likely wouldn’t get to it today. I ask him what I’m supposed to do for a car as I have several out-of-office meetings scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday morning that I can’t miss. He suggests I call GM Customer Support and maybe they can hook me up with a car.

It’s now around 1:00 and I call GM. Speak to a nice lady (Candy) and after explaining everything that’s happened she puts me on hold to see about getting me a rental. Comes back on the line a couple of minutes later and says they’ll reimburse me for a rental for up to three days, but she needs to speak to the dealership first and I should wait on the line while she calls them. After about 20 minutes she comes back on the line and says there’s an Enterprise car rental near the dealership and I should rent a car there – but it has to be a GM car or they won’t reimburse me. I explain that I’m nowhere near that Enterprise and have no way to get there, but there are at least two Enterprise locations near me. She asks me to rent at the local Enterprise but to make sure it’s a GM car or no reimbursement. Candy says she’ll call me back in an hour to make sure everything is OK.

I call the Enterprise closest to me. Get a super helpful rep who says they have no GM cars, and none coming in. I ask him to check other nearby locations. Nothing, no GM cars, and in fact they’re really low on cars, period. I make a reservation for a car – just in case. Won’t be GM, but I HAVE to have a car for Tuesday.

Candy never calls me back. It’s now 4:30. I call GM back to see what they want me to do. Candy isn’t available so I speak with Angel. Explain everything that’s happened and no GM cars at Enterprise so what should I do? She suggests using another rental car company but she needs to contact the dealer first and will call me back. I explain to her that I’m out of time, that Enterprise wants to pick me up at 5:00 to get my reserved car, and if I don’t have another option before then I have to take the non-GM car. She promises to call me back before 5:00.
My phone never rings, but at 4:46 I have a voicemail from Angel saying she can’t get the dealership to pick up the phone and so there’s nothing she can do, but she’ll pass the info on to Candy. Good thing I made the reservation. Enterprise picks me up and I’m now driving a lovely Kia Soul. (You do not want a Kia Soul.)

Tuesday (yeah, that all happened on Monday) comes along – I’m in my meetings all morning and get back to the office around 2:00 – and unsurprisingly I have heard nothing from Hal. At 3:15 I call him for an update. Still haven’t gotten to my car and won’t get to it again today. Hal explains there “other cars in front of yours” and they only have one Volt tech and he’s working 8:00AM-8:00PM seven days a week. This is nuts. Why did they accept my Saturday appointment in the first place if they were this backed up?? They knew I was bringing in a Volt, and knew they had no one qualified with time available to work on it. Now the whole thing with refusing the to perform the TSB is starting to make sense. Why couldn’t they have just been honest about the backlog? I would have found another dealer.

So here I am, headed into Wednesday, with no assurance another day won’t go by with my brand-new Volt sitting at the dealership waiting for service. I guess the good news for AutoNation is I have to wait two days for my escalation request to go through at GM, so that gives the them two more days to do nothing.

Sorry for the novel, but this is a textbook example of how not to treat your customers. It’s becoming really clear why GM isn’t selling many Volts. From the dealership perspective this car is clearly a PITA for them. They don’t sell many, don’t have adequate support resources so the customer experience is awful, and word gets around so they don’t sell many. GM has managed to create a really efficient negative virtuous circle.

Pondering on how it can be this bad, I wonder if this is all just a CAFE play – that even GM isn’t serious about the car? Guess it doesn’t really matter. All I know right now is that I feel foolish for buying a Volt. A $40,000 car with 575 miles on it that’s in worse shape than it was before I took it in for service. A car that hasn’t even been looked at in two days, with no guarantee that won’t become three, four or five days, all while I pay for a rental car.

This is my first American car in 30 years. Unless something changes drastically and soon, it’s likely to be the last.
 

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Texx, I really sorry to hear about your problem, and I don't doubt a single word. However, it seems that the major issue is that there are no dealers in your area that know or care about Volts. I can't imagine having to go to CA to find a dealer willing to work with you. When I bought my 2017 volt over two years ago, there were three Chevy dealers within twenty miles of my home vying for the opportunity to sell me one and all were offering discounts. I picked the one that knew the most about the car and had the largest inventory, about fifteen new 2017 Volts.

I know this is your first post, but please know that there are hundreds of owners here that have had few if any problems. I for one have never had to visit my dealer for anything but an oil change [free], a quick charge, and occasionally a cup of coffee and some conversation.

Hopefully, your problems will soon be behind you.
 

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Wow. That's a miserable experience for a brand new car. It mostly sounds like a dealership problem - obviously whatever caused the fob recognition and check engine is GM's fault, but it was the dealer's handling of your problem that turned it into the mess it is.

Sadly, dealers have been a big problem for the Volt - and many other EVs. They don't want to sell them, and they don't know how to service them in many cases.

It seems like a fairly simple fix should get your car back, and fortunately the Volt is generally very reliable so with a little luck you won't need the dealer again until the two year oil change.
 

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Sorry to read about your problem...with the dealer, who is f...king you over. If I were you, I would send a letter to Mary Barra explaining how badly this dealer is treating you. It can't hurt to aim for the top in the hopes that SOMETHING will be done to mitigate your situation.

BTW, what does the TBS say to correct the problem. Others reading this post might have similar problems and might want this information.
 

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This forum or the chevybolt forum where someone said Autonation has the worst service departments. I've bought 4 Chevys since 2012, a Volt that needed a couple of software updates that basically reduced the number of transient CELs, a 2015 Silverado that had a recall (software update for the seat belts), a 2017 Silverado with zero issues so far, and a Bolt that's had 1 software update (there's an update to the update that can wait till the 7500 mile tire rotation).
Happens that this small town has an excellent dealership and sells a fair number of EVs, so they know how to service them. Henry Ford told his dealers that their signs read "Service and Sales", note the word order.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just a quick update.

Day four is here and the service department still hasn't had time to work on my car. GM escalation may actually get back to me before they even look at the car.

One positive note - the dealer called late yesterday and got me a loaner, so now I'm driving a Cruze while I wait.
 

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Call other dealerships ASAP and see if they have Volt techs. An AutoNation dealership spent three years trying to fix an ABS problem on my Pontiac Montana and even with GM's assistance they still didn't fix it right. It's not just Volts they can't seem to fix.
 

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Sounds like a typical GM dealer experience to me. Took me 5-6 visits to get the wind buffering kit installed correctly with the correct color paint.
 

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Texx, I really sorry to hear about your problem, and I don't doubt a single word. However, it seems that the major issue is that there are no dealers in your area that know or care about Volts. I can't imagine having to go to CA to find a dealer willing to work with you. When I bought my 2017 volt over two years ago, there were three Chevy dealers within twenty miles of my home vying for the opportunity to sell me one and all were offering discounts. I picked the one that knew the most about the car and had the largest inventory, about fifteen new 2017 Volts.

I know this is your first post, but please know that there are hundreds of owners here that have had few if any problems. I for one have never had to visit my dealer for anything but an oil change [free], a quick charge, and occasionally a cup of coffee and some conversation.

Hopefully, your problems will soon be behind you.
I agree. With the Volt, with brand new technology most service departments don’t understand, it is really critical to buy from a dealer that has enough experienced techs to support the car. In Northern Virginia where I live this is not as much an issue, there a lot of them around and it is not a problem getting the car serviced, but if you’re in an area without that it can be very hard. By the way I own two 2016s and aside from oil changes and software updates they’ve never been taken in for anything.... I really hope that this nightmare of a dealership experience ends. I definitely agree that this is a dealership problem not problem with the Volt per se.


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GM should demand an special "Electric Vehicle Certification" from the dealerships, and if you are NOT certified you should NOT even touch these electric cars...it will save pain and aggravation to the electric customers. I would try contact GM electric Advisor 1-800-2221020
 

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After reading your dissertation, I think all the time spent changing the FOB batteries were a red herring, it might have been a faulty 12V battery causing this. The car has a ton of computers on board, and if they don't have sufficient power, you'll have all sorts of problems like this. And since there isn't a traditional starter, you have no audible indicator as an ICE vehicle would when you turn the key and the starter struggles to crank the ICE engine.
 

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Sounds like a bad RCDLR. On the Gen1 it's cheap and easy to change. Not sure on the Gen2. Also understand you don't want to replace parts yourself on a brand new car.
 

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Texx, what city in Texas do you live in? I'm in Houston (Friendswood). I use Norman Frede in Clear Lake for service and know they have at least one Volt tech.

ALL of your issues might be caused by a low level of charge in the 12V battery, either due to a bad battery or loose connection (not too likely in a new vehicle) or just not enough time driving and/or charging to keep the 12V battery fully charged. You can get a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated faults from a bad 12V battery. I would have a dealer check that first thing to rule it out.
 

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How close is the place the fobs are stored to the parking spot? With my 2014 ELR, I have had to use the "sequester fobs in a Faraday cage" method to get everything working again. Zero fob issues since then. It wouldn't even unlock, but, it did recognize the fobs for start-up.

Some have mentioned the 12v as a possible cause. That is barely possible, but, I'd think you would see a bunch of CEL messages besides the fobs just not working.

It is interesting that the cover for the jump-start post was missing. Who had to jump-start the car previously?

I took my 2013 Volt to Autonation (where I leased it) and had similar run-arounds. I talked to the 'Volt tech' a couple times and he was a real loser. Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine is much better.

My Cadillac dealer is aces. No issues getting ELR serviced/repaired and no problem getting an XT5 as a loaner when needed.
 

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Car arrives and right from the start it’s having trouble recognizing the keyfobs. Check the forums and the solution that pops up the most is dead batteries in the keyfobs.
Did you read the Owners Manual? There are pages and pages there on these topics and fixing these situations.


After reading your dissertation, I think all the time spent changing the FOB batteries were a red herring, it might have been a faulty 12V battery causing this.
This was also my thought. It seems a lot like some of the other nightmare delivery stories we've seen posted where dealers, not knowing anything about this car, follow their "standard" self-made-up delivery procedures and do stupid stuff. We've seen some dealers disconnect the 12V AGM battery (this could mess stuff up in itself) and then charge it with a regular charger. (This could destroy it.)

If a fix is needed here, it may just be to put a new 12V AGM battery in the trunk. ...and not mess it up in the process.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Day five. Still nothing. Maybe today they'll look at the car or I'll hear back from GM escalation.

Answers to some questions asked above:

I'm in Austin, and yes, I've driven the car to/from Houston so I know it's been driven enough for the 12v battery to be fully charged.

I never expected the second set of fob batteries to do any good, but I wanted to eliminate that as an excuse when I took it to the dealer.

If anyone has any recommendations for a good Austin Volt service department, I'm ready to take it somewhere else.

Thanks.
 

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Day five. Still nothing. Maybe today they'll look at the car or I'll hear back from GM escalation.

Answers to some questions asked above:

I'm in Austin, and yes, I've driven the car to/from Houston so I know it's been driven enough for the 12v battery to be fully charged.

I never expected the second set of fob batteries to do any good, but I wanted to eliminate that as an excuse when I took it to the dealer.

If anyone has any recommendations for a good Austin Volt service department, I'm ready to take it somewhere else.

Thanks.
What dealership are you using? I've used Don Hewlett in Georgetown with good success, but I haven't had a need for service for a couple of years.
 

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Day five. Still nothing. Maybe today they'll look at the car or I'll hear back from GM escalation.

Answers to some questions asked above:

I'm in Austin, and yes, I've driven the car to/from Houston so I know it's been driven enough for the 12v battery to be fully charged.

I never expected the second set of fob batteries to do any good, but I wanted to eliminate that as an excuse when I took it to the dealer.

If anyone has any recommendations for a good Austin Volt service department, I'm ready to take it somewhere else.

Thanks.
If the battery is bad, or the battery charging circuitry isn't working right, it could still be the problem. At least get it properly tested by someone who knows how to test AGM batteries.

I'm nowhere near Austin, though 2 years ago I turned down an offer to relocate there walking away from the best job I've ever had. There was no way to remain whole with housing, horses, etc. The housing prices and traffic in Austin has become insane. The choices were:

A. Pay a fortune to live close to work
B. Have a really long commute

I chose C. Stay where I'm at
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I just moved to Austin from Houston about six months ago, and yes, it's expensive here and getting more crowded every day, but I lived on Long Island for 9 years, so it's all relative I guess.

I've started calling around to other Austin dealers to see if I can find someone with Volt tech time available. So far the fastest I've been promised is two days to look at it. Just amazing the dealers only have one Volt tech with this kind of backlog. I guess they just figure everyone will wait. Are Volt techs also Bolt techs? Could that be part of the problem?

If GM is serious about the whole mass-production electric car thing, where they're not just a novelty, they've got serious problems to solve with their dealer service network.
 

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I just moved to Austin from Houston about six months ago, and yes, it's expensive here and getting more crowded every day, but I lived on Long Island for 9 years, so it's all relative I guess.

I've started calling around to other Austin dealers to see if I can find someone with Volt tech time available. So far the fastest I've been promised is two days to look at it. Just amazing the dealers only have one Volt tech with this kind of backlog. I guess they just figure everyone will wait. Are Volt techs also Bolt techs? Could that be part of the problem?

If GM is serious about the whole mass-production electric car thing, where they're not just a novelty, they've got serious problems to solve with their dealer service network.
One volt tech is better than zero volt techs. My local dealership lost their volt tech due to health issues. They have all the special tools, and the service manuals, but the other guys aren't trained.
 
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