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On my way to work this morning I was approaching a red light and when I applied the brakes they initially felt normal, then there was nothing. I had the pedal to the floor and the car would not stop. Some dash lights came on and it began to "ding" but I wasn't paying attention to the dash lights because I was a little busy trying not to die instead...priorities. I swerved hard and the brakes kicked in. Everything seemed normal again. I planned to make a U-Turn and head back home since it was a few miles back. A few red lights later it happened again except this time the brakes did not return and the lights stayed on. I was able to pull it over and stop it very very slowly. The brake light it on, the ABS light is on, the traction light is on, and this is odd, the a message that says "Service Power Steering, Drive with Care". Power steering is fine. It helped my avoid an almost certain disaster. Luckily this failure occurred in light traffic. This is a 55mph zone and normally everyone is tailgating and slamming on their brakes. Not to mention this road is surrounded by forest preserves which those trees make terrible stopping cushions.

This is a 2014 with less than 20K miles which I bought new just over a year ago. I drive my 2 little kids around in this car and I am hoping when the dealer calls I hear something definitive and not the "Well we think it's this" diagnosis.

Has anyone else experienced this? Does anyone think this style of electronic vacuum pump braking is acceptable long term? Shouldn't there be redundancies in place? I figured if the pump lost power it wouldn't be any different than if you lost engine power. I've lost engine power in other cars and was able to stop fine with a little extra pressure on the pedal. I'll admit, I've lost a lot of confidence driving this car after this. This isn't a radio has static or cigarette lighter doesn't work kind of failure. I kinda like the whole stopping feature in a car.
 

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I am happy to hear, you came out of this unscathed with no accidents or injuries to you or anyone else. While I have not experienced the same thing you did, it has been noticed that there will be a momentary loss of braking if you hit a bump as the system thinks that tire that hit a bump is skidding, but it only brief in nature. I would not drive it at all and have it towed to the dealer. Did you happen to call OnStar and have any codes pulled from the car?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No I did not. I didn't even think to call onstar. I called the Chevy roadside assistance and they sent a tow truck which tore up the front air dam. Plus after losing something like brakes at 50 mph and shooken up from it, the tow service truck had no seatbelts!!
 

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Wow scary! Glad no one was hurt. Has not ever happen to my 2011 Volt. Details please. When it happened were you in D or L? What driving mode where you in? I assume the car was fully charged overnight based on "this morning". Does the car charge in a closed garage? I ask that because it's been mentioned here that critters will get under the car for warmth while charging. Where there any signs of leaking fluid under the car this morning?
 

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Sounds like a master cylinder epic fail. Nobody threatened your life lately, right?
 

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Sorry to hear about the scare. Glad you are Ok.

Loosing brake power assist is not the same thing as loosing your brakes. It just means you have to push the pedal a lot harder to stop. But it should still be able to stop with enough foot pressure.

There are indeed two separate hydraulic brake circuits. (It's required by law.) So if you cut a brake line you still have two diagonal wheels that should work. And the Volt does have redundant systems.

I have experienced a brief "surprise" when starting the car and quickly shifting into reverse before the system built up hydraulic accumulator pressure. When you power up the Volt it is important to wait several seconds before shifting into gear. The car needs a bit of time to initialize. But that's not even unique to the Volt. Many cars today need a bit of time to initialize the electronics.

I am NOT trying to say that you did not experience a very scary situation. You definitely should get your Volt TOWED to a dealer. Do not drive it until the issue is resolved.

I have been following this forum since 2011. I have not heard about many brake failures. (perhaps a few.)
 

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I was under the impression modern cars could not experience a "total brake failure".
 

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In a moment like this I'm sure it would have felt reassuring have a good old fashioned emergency brake pedal or handle mechanically connected to the rear brakes. Who would feel good about holding the parking brake switch in hopes that it helps?

Did you do the obvious when you got the car stopped and check the brake fluid?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow scary! Glad no one was hurt. Has not ever happen to my 2011 Volt. Details please. When it happened were you in D or L? What driving mode where you in? I assume the car was fully charged overnight based on "this morning". Does the car charge in a closed garage? I ask that because it's been mentioned here that critters will get under the car for warmth while charging. Where there any signs of leaking fluid under the car this morning?
Normal mode in drive. The car is parked outside on a 220 charger and was fully charged. I didn't notice any fluids on the driveway and it is a concrete driveway so it would probably stick out. I haven't been home yet so I am not 100% sure. I went from the dealer to work in a Volt loaner. Believe me I took extra caution when driving the loaner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I also want to mention when the tow truck drive tried to drive it up the ramps there was not enough brake force to stop the car from rolling backwards off the ramps.
 

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Seems like a case for WOT. Obviously a major system failure though the feeling of losing the brakes may have been regen kicking off. Being able to put your foot to the floor is usually a sign the brake cylinder is going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
In a moment like this I'm sure it would have felt reassuring have a good old fashioned emergency brake pedal or handle mechanically connected to the rear brakes. Who would feel good about holding the parking brake switch in hopes that it helps?

Did you do the obvious when you got the car stopped and check the brake fluid?
No. I was on the shoulder of a busy/fast road. I had to backup a little so the tow truck could pull in front of me and I did look for fluid and I couldn't see any. It was gravel so it may have been hard to tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Seems like a case for WOT. Obviously a major system failure though the feeling of losing the brakes may have been regen kicking off. Being able to put your foot to the floor is usually a sign the brake cylinder is going.
Here is what I don't get.... Brakes were fine the first few miles and then while braking and the brakes felt fine, they completely were lost and I had the pedal to the floor. It felt like a loss of pressure but it still took a good amount of force to push it to the floor and pumping did nothing. I swerved and they came back like normal. Then they were fine for a few more stops and then nothing again but this time they did not return. If you look at the picture a few posts back it says a power steering failure. Coincidence? Why would a brake failure post a power steering message? I swerved hard and they came back the first time. Is there something like a pump or controller that combines the brakes and steering? The power steering felt normal. When the dealer calls, I'll post the diagnosis. Better not be a "sorry we can't duplicate the problem". But even still, this should not happen on a 1 year old car!!!!!
 

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Here is what I don't get.... Brakes were fine the first few miles and then while braking and the brakes felt fine, they completely were lost and I had the pedal to the floor. It felt like a loss of pressure but it still took a good amount of force to push it to the floor and pumping did nothing. I swerved and they came back like normal. Then they were fine for a few more stops and then nothing again but this time they did not return. If you look at the picture a few posts back it says a power steering failure. Coincidence? Why would a brake failure post a power steering message? I swerved hard and they came back the first time. Is there something like a pump or controller that combines the brakes and steering? The power steering felt normal. When the dealer calls, I'll post the diagnosis. Better not be a "sorry we can't duplicate the problem". But even still, this should not happen on a 1 year old car!!!!!
Sounds more like an issue with the wheel sensors to me. The Stabilitrak (traction control) system uses wheel speeds and steering input information to control skidding. So this might explain why swerving brought the system back to "normal". You show brake, parking brake, ABS, and Stabilitrak warning lights all of which could be tied to the ABS sensors and controller. Maybe a loose connection.

VIN # B0985
 
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