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Discussion Starter #1
So I've been lurking your forum for a while, sorry my first post is asking for advice, but I'm in the market for a Chevy Volt. I found a 2012 Volt with 97k miles for $7,000 from a private seller. I looked up a bunch of guides on how to check out battery life, gas vs electric miles, etc, but when I went to test drive it the owner hadn't charged the battery at all, and said it hadn't been charged in a month (he moved to a small apartment with no garage and claims there's no place for him to charge it). I drove it around using the gas, but when I told him I wanted him to charge the battery so I could come see it again, he seemed really skiddish about it and insisted it couldn't be done. His cousin came along though and said it would be possible at their place of work. Anyway, I'm attaching a read-out of his energy efficiency screen, but what do you think? Maybe it's possible the battery doesn't work at all and he's trying to get rid of it quick? He works at a business that sells 18-wheelers so he might be handy enough to.... dismiss any "battery warnings" before I turned on the car.

Also he claimed the car would take 12 hours to charge and he said it would go roughly 30-35 miles on electricity before switching over, which doesn't seem consistent with what I've read online. Thoughts?
 

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Easiest way to tell is to put the car into Mountain Mode which will use the ICE to charge the battery up a few bars then you can drive on electric.

The numbers/range (12 hours - assuming L1) and 30-35 sound about right for a Gen 1. The skiddish-ness is probably due to some policy at the apartment which prohibits EV charging.

Me personally, I'd look for something with a little less mileage as you are pretty close to the 100k battery warranty being up. I'd look in the neighborhood of 85k miles so you'd have roughly a year of driving to see if any HV issues crop up.

[Edit] Looked at the energy display image. Definitely appears to be mostly ICE driving and at 30mpg the seller is a less than efficient driver (Gen 1 is rated at 38mpg on gas).
 

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10 to 12 hours is typical over standard outlet, with 30 - 35 mile range being normal for higher speeds or colder weather. 20 to 50 mile range might be typical range, 20 in bitter cold winter and 50 cruising at slower speeds without many stops.

I would avoid a car if they don't let you charge it fully.
 

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Drive it to a local public L2 charging station. Wait ~30 mins. See how many miles are added to the GOM.
(you may need to register at the local charging station infrastructure to get the RFID card to tap, or if registered, you can call in and get the station started.)

Plugshare is a great app to what is available locally.

This is away to get your feet wet....

Pace yourself.

Mountain Mode charging is another good idea to see if that function works correctly.

Pace yourself.

It appears the car has rolled over and is upside down.
I'd skip it. Where is this Volt located? $7k is a good price. I may have to take a look....
 

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Agreed, this car is RIGHT at the edge of the Voltec warranty. $7k is cheap--but not if you add in an expensive battery replacement a mere 3K miles from now.

If you're really, really interested for other reasons in the vehicle, definitely get to an L2 charger and see what happens. Ideally, you would would get a full charge bottom to top and then use up ALL the EV miles to make sure you get a ballpark expected EV range.

There may not be much battery degradation since it seems the seller has barely charged the battery at all, but if the car has been sitting around unplugged for long periods of time that also means it hasn't been doing some of the battery maintenance procedures while plugged in (such as cooling/heating) while the car has been sitting. Heat/cold can be detrimental to battery life.
 

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2011-12 are rated 35 EV miles.
2013-15 are rated 38 EV miles. But the 15 got a bump in Battery capacity, so it should technically be more than 38. More like 40-41

Depleted Battery charging

L1 (8 amps) 12 hours
L1 (12 amps) 8 hours
L2 (16amps) 3.5-4 hours

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I’ve been driving my 2012 Volt for over six years now (bought in April of 2012), and am intrigued by your energy usage screen picture. Plug-in vehicles aren’t popular with apartment dwellers because they often have no convenient place to recharge the car. It could be he really has no place to plug it in, since he hasn’t fully recharged the battery in a really long time. At 120 volts (12 amps is the default for the 2011/2012 Volts), it would take around 12 hours to fully recharge it (4 hours at 240 volts).

If the battery didn’t work at all, the car wouldn’t run.

As other have said, if you start the car and switch it into Mountain Mode (can be done while parked, or while taking a test drive), it will take about 15 minutes for the 2012 Volt’s engine to charge about 4 bars of power (4 green bars of the 10 bars showing on the battery icon on the driver’s display), using ~0.36 gallons of gas. That’s about 14 electric miles' worth of power give or take, so even five minutes of self charging will provide some battery for a test drive (you may need to turn the car off and back on again after charging like this to have the computer recognize and use the available battery power). It’s possible the owner wasn’t aware of this method of obtaining a partial charge.

Don’t know where the owner previously resided, but I don’t think this car has been fully recharged for a long time (could be he had no place to do it, or he found it easier to use gas - the window sticker for the 2012 Volt does rate it at 37 mpg when using gas).

The center display of the Gen 1 Volts have a limitation that freezes the distance driven numbers at 1,272 miles (something to do with the binary equivalent of that distance in metric terms), so when the gas miles hit that number, they stop increasing, and when the total miles hit that number, they stop increasing. The MPG numbers remain accurate. Because the trip MPG matches the lifetime MPG, it could be this car has never been fully recharged. (Some were not, but were used as company cars that included company gas cards, so the owners used them as 37 mpg gas cars.) It’s also possible that one of the two Trip Meters on the driver’s display have never been reset (total mileage = odometer reading), so that could tell you helpful info, too.

The energy usage screen gets reset to zeros following a full recharge, and the usable power window of the 2012 Volt’s 16 kWh full capacity battery usually shows about ~10 kWh when the battery is fully depleted. This screen shows 189.5 kWh Used, indicating it hasn’t been fully recharged in a long time, but it HAS been partially recharged quite a number of times. The window sticker rates the 2012 Volt at 35 ev miles, so 142.0 electric miles indicates quite a bit of additional ev driving after partial recharges (but 189.5 kWh Used suggests very inefficient driving). It’s odd that the "gallons used" display is blank, but perhaps it does that when the number of gallons used exceeds 99.9 gallons. You can calculate the total lifetime gallons used by dividing the odometer reading by the 30.8 lifetime MPG shown on the screen.

Can’t really say what shape that 2012 Volt is in. My 2012 Volt has nowhere near that many miles on the odometer (I’m retired, so don’t need to drive a whole bunch daily), but I continue to remain extremely pleased with its performance, and I have twice driven to my sister’s home in Michigan and back (4,000+ round trip miles) at gas-car refueling speeds (no recharging stops while underway). The window sticker rating is 35 ev miles for the 2011/2012 Volts. With my driving habits and the mild climate in Portland, Oregon, my battery range cycles from the mid- to upper-30s in the colder seasons of the year, up to the mid- to high-40s in the warmer seasons. My lifetime MPGcs (gas mileage when using gas) after six years is at the window sticker level, 37 mpg.
 

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California has a 10 year 150,000 mile battery warranty, so there could be a few years warranty left, we don't know where you are.
 

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As other have said, if you start the car and switch it into Mountain Mode (can be done while parked, or while taking a test drive), it will take about 15 minutes for the 2012 Volt’s engine to charge about 4 bars of power (4 green bars of the 10 bars showing on the battery icon on the driver’s display), using ~0.36 gallons of gas.
No, it will not show any bars because the vehicle has already depleted the battery. To show any battery bars he'd have to turn the car off, and then turn it back on, after letting mountain mode run for all that time.

Just wanted to mention the distinction in case the OP tries this approach and gets scared that there's still no battery bars. That would be expected.

To me, the best option (if the seller will let you) would be to bring the car with you, let it get charged up to full at a Level 2 charger over about 4 hours, and then ride around in it. That will give you piece of mind that the battery is working. Or to save some time, park somewhere near a Level 2 charger, let mountain mode run the engine until the engine stops (then it'll be at 40% charge) and then charge it for the remaining ~2 hours or so at a Level 2 charger.

Given he hasn't used the battery much, I'd say it's probably in pretty good shape. I'm not as concerned with thermal management of a battery if it's always sitting at the Volt's "empty" battery level, which is actually around a 20% state of charge on the battery given GM's very conservative battery implementation.
 

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California has a 10 year 150,000 mile battery warranty
I did not know that. Wait a minute! I'm in Galivornia!

Have to check that out.

It could be a good deal. Hard to know without investing time to take to L2 station, if he'd let you do that.

Is he driving it?

There's the old song, "let me take it to my mechanic to check it out and he would need to charge it overnight"
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hey, OP here, thank you for all the responses and insight! So we met at this guy's place of work, he sells trucks for a living so he has a giant parking lot and maybe a small garage or two on it, but he was insisting there was nowhere around the garages to charge the car, which sort of threw up a red flag. I figured there had to be a power outlet somewhere. But he did say he was going to find a way to charge it so I could come look at it this weekend.

I watched several youtube tutorials about what to look for with a used chevy volt, things like air dam scratches, checking the MPG over the life of the vehicle etc, but it seems like once I was in the car I forgot how to find some of the stuff on the main display. Did he reset his electric vs gas MPG? Cause that was my first thought when I saw the 30mpg.

When I was checking out the display behind the steering wheel he also insisted on pointing out that if I scroll over to "vehicle messages" that there were no vehicle messages on his vehicle. That wasn't even something I was on the lookout for.... but is that something you can clear?

I've also been looking at Nissan Leafs and they have an app called "LeafSpy" where your phone can interface with your car and see the overall battery health of the vehicle. Is there anything like that for a Chevy Volt? I feel like that would help a lot in this situation.
 

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Hey, OP here, thank you for all the responses and insight! So we met at this guy's place of work, he sells trucks for a living so he has a giant parking lot and maybe a small garage or two on it, but he was insisting there was nowhere around the garages to charge the car, which sort of threw up a red flag. I figured there had to be a power outlet somewhere. But he did say he was going to find a way to charge it so I could come look at it this weekend.

I watched several youtube tutorials about what to look for with a used chevy volt, things like air dam scratches, checking the MPG over the life of the vehicle etc, but it seems like once I was in the car I forgot how to find some of the stuff on the main display. Did he reset his electric vs gas MPG? Cause that was my first thought when I saw the 30mpg.

When I was checking out the display behind the steering wheel he also insisted on pointing out that if I scroll over to "vehicle messages" that there were no vehicle messages on his vehicle. That wasn't even something I was on the lookout for.... but is that something you can clear?

I've also been looking at Nissan Leafs and they have an app called "LeafSpy" where your phone can interface with your car and see the overall battery health of the vehicle. Is there anything like that for a Chevy Volt? I feel like that would help a lot in this situation.
If I were interested in purchasing this particular Volt I would verify that the Volt runs on the battery as well as on the gas engine even if that means placing the Volt in Mountain Mode for 20 minutes to put some charge on the battery. I would want to verify that the Volt can properly charge using the Level 1 EVSE that is hopefully still there, working and included in the purchase price. That will verify that charging at 120V is working and that the EVSE is not defective. If possible I would verify that the Volt can charge using a public Level 2 EVSE (download the Plug Share app on your phone to find local Level 2 charging locations or even a Chevrolet dealership that sells Volts.) Lastly, but not least, contact a Chevrolet dealer that sells and services Volts and ask them how much they would charge for a 24 point inspection of the vehicle. If at this point you are still serious about buying the Volt a few hundred dollars is worth spending to learn what might need fixing now or in the near term on the car. If the seller declines to let you have the vehicle inspected by a qualified Volt technician I would walk away from the car.
 

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Something that throws me off with that pic is the gas used number not displaying anything, with 1272 gas miles (reading limit) it should read something. Throwing the car into mountain mode should give you some charge in the battery, however if the car has a problem charging from an EVSE I don't know if running mountain mode would allow that to show up making it more ideal to actually charge the car properly to make sure it will charge. Although CA and I'm pretty sure all other CARB states do offer a 10/150K warranty on the Voltec system, it only applies (my understanding) to those models that are HOV eligible, '11's are not eligible, but some '12's are. As for testing that the car will operate on battery, I think that just having the car operating would indicate that it does since it always uses electricity to propel itself. Only under very specific conditions will the engine actually provide mechanical power to drive the vehicle. My concern would be the charging system being unable to charge the battery from an EVSE.
 

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The energy usage screen picture in the OP’s original posting is possibly a rarely observed item - what an energy usage screen of a "fleet Volt" (i.e., one of those driven solely as fairly efficient gas vehicles because the owners were issued gas cards by their company, and never bothered to recharge the battery) might look like. In this photo, the trip MPG = 30.8 and the Lifetime MPG = 30.8. You would expect them to be the same if the screen had never been zeroed out by fully recharging the battery (think of it as a Trip C counter that had never been reset).

How unfortunate it is that we have nothing but "gas car" terms to evaluate Volt performance. MPG (total ev miles + total gas miles/total gas used) is a rather meaningless number for a car that can move down the road using no gas at all (or in this case, using almost no grid electricity at all). MPGcs (total gas miles/total gas used), for the Gen 1 Volt, is really the distance you can travel on electricity created by burning one gallon of gas in the generator. Using the generic "mpg" leaves it uncertain if the subject includes ev miles, or only gas-specific mileage.

The Gas Used display shows amount used to 2 decimal places, so I suspect the display is limited to a total of 4 digits (XX.XX gallons used). The lifetime gas consumption of this 2012 Volt is ~97K+/30.8 = ~3,050+ gallons. It’s likely the displayed number disappeared when quantity used surpassed 99.99 gallons.

I would suggest to the OP he ask the owner if he had ever fully recharged the car. It doesn’t appear that he did. Since the guy sells trucks for a living, it could be the current owner got a "deal" somewhere on one of those fleet 2012 Volts, may not have used the car as a personal vehicle at all, and is now trying to resell it.

If the car has never been fully recharged, then all but 142.0 of the miles on the odometer are gas miles, and the MPGcs is nearly identical to the MPG. It would take 41+ gallons to drive far enough to hit the 1,272 gas mile display limit, so it’s definitely been that long since the battery was fully recharged.

There could be a problem with the car that is preventing it from recording any distance traveled as Electric Miles, but that’s unlikely, especially with a 2012 Volt that even records distance driven on Mountain Mode-recharged battery power as Electric Miles (without increasing kWh Used).

There could be a problem with the charging circuits that prevents the car from charging when plugged into the grid, so confirming that the Volt is capable of being charged from the wall is important. Seems to me though such a problem would have been noted long ago, i.e., it’s more likely the car hasn’t been fully recharged in a long time not because it can’t be, but because the owner never bothered to try.

Don’t know why the current owner would point to the absence of "vehicle messages" as significant. Most of the messages I’ve observed on my screen are informative and go away when conditions change (e.g., "Cruise Control is set at 40 mph," "Caution: Icy Conditions May Exist," etc.), as do the precautionary messages (e.g., "Propulsion Power Reduced") when conditions that triggered them are cleared up.
 

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Don't buy a Leaf - especially an older one. The lack of an active battery management system has doomed them to premature battery degradation. Unless an early Leaf had the battery replaced already, I'd steer clear regardless of how tempting the prices are.

Regarding telematics, the Volt has the OnStar RemoteLink app which can provide services like door locks, precondition (remote start) and location (OnStar service required). There are third-party Android apps which work using a Bluetooth OBDII interface like MyVoltHold which can show a wealth of information about the state of the battery.

Short answer - get some charge into the battery and see how the car drives. More than likely the battery is fine BUT being so close to the end of the Voltec warranty (unless you live in CA), you want to be certain the battery is good.
 

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The 120v EVSE could be defective. Plug the unit into an outlet to test it. Go for a test drive to your home and plug in.
That should confirm the charge capability.
I think if you pop the hood the engine will start and give you a high level of charge in a very short time.
Hope this works out.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ooooooh!!! Now I get it. I wasn't sure if bdw 8.0E was a very good figure. 30.8 mpg makes more sense.
Ha, just got it too, sorry about that everybody. The photo is right-side-up on my computer but somehow when I uploaded it the photo got flipped.

Thanks again to everyone for the input. I think I'm going to ask if we can take it to a dealership and I can pay for the 24 point inspection. Also the OBDII interface sounds intriguing, I already ordered a wifi/bluetooth one so I can go out hunting for Leafs as well (thanks for the heads up, yes I've read only the new ones from 2013 to present are worth it).

Sorry I didn't include this detail before but the truck salesman said he used to charge it everyday back when he had a garage (a few months ago). His commute was about 20 miles so he said he would charge at night, use electricity on the commute in, maybe run some errands during the day, and then have to use gas on the commute home, but apparently he used to charge it daily until he moved into a small apartment with no garage. He said it hasn't been charged in about a month, but that he used to charge it all the time.

I'm thinking the best way to proceed is start googling the MyVoltHold app and then also pay for a 24 point inspection on the vehicle. Thanks for all the input, guys! Any more suggestions would be appreciated, also any tips on how the MyVoltHold app works or where to get started with that. This forum is awesome!
 

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What I find odd is the lifetime MPG is the same as the trip MPG. I thought that was something only a dealer can reset as a request by the owner. So that tells me it was at the dealer recently.
 
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