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Should average Gen 1 owner (w/o time/money/capability to do a battery replacement) sell their car?

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First, let me say thank you to everyone who has put a lot of time and effort into making this site what it is. As someone still stuck in the days of carbs and points, it has made the experience of owning a first-gen Volt a lot easier and enjoyable. From diagnosis of the most trivial to most complicated of issues to the write-ups on DIY battery replacements, I never cease to be amazed by some of the posts.

BLUF (Bottom line up front): I have a 2013 with 55k miles (about to lose Voltec warranty) and am unsure about keeping the car.

1. Without a better technical understanding of lithium batteries, I'm having a hard time determining how long (time-wise) we can expect to maintain functioning cars before a failure. I'm not sure the answer definitively exists, seeing as so many of our cars are still on the road (to include early Teslas), but I don't have a good gauge as to whether the longevity of my pack will largely be determined by the number of cycles or just by time? Basically, if I were to keep it in my garage, drive it rather sparingly (which I already do), would simple time degradation lead to a failed section of the battery within the next X number of years?)

2. I've seen the answer as a "no" before, but it is completely out of the realm of possibility for someone smarter than me to hack the car into running on the ICE with either a compromised pack, a smaller battery altogether, or some kind of capacitor that would trick the car into running (even if it had to be in a reduced-power mode). Going back to the impressiveness of some of your technical abilities, it seems like someone could figure this out. Do I hear the need for a kickstarter? ;) (in all seriousness, I'd be happy to setup some kind of group-funding that somehow rewarded the research/solution), in addition to all the respect we would give :)

3. Some of the people who have brilliantly/courageously replaced their batteries with salvage units...but, in everyone's opinion, is that a very viable long-term solution given my perceived issues outlined in questions 1 and 2? I am not afraid of potentially doing the project myself following the steps of those who have gone before me to swap out a battery, but does it make a lot of sense if the replacement battery packs' lifespan is a giant unknown?

4. Almost a sub-question of question 1....should we be driving around on gas (when prices are low) to save cycles/lifespan of the battery? If so, is there a consensus on what % charge to leave the car at when doing such a thing or parking the car for an extended period of time.

Before I start rattling off more questions (that I'll probably bring to the replies), I just want to bring it back to the name of the post. Should we (or at least the poorer, less technical ones) stay or should we go now? With GM'sk killing of these cars, we can be sure that affordable support will only continue to dry up for us from the dealerships. The number of Voltec technicians will shrink rapidly and one can assume that new batteries will remain prohibitively expensive. Okay, here comes the hard part...is our love for these cars blinding us to a reality that these cars are destined to be severe money and time traps? (BTW, the Volt is my favorite car ever...and I've owned a lot of different things over the years). We all own these cars for different reasons, but I would say that near the top of everyone's list is owning a reliable and economical car. Yes, they are unique, fun to drive, etc., but to what end? I really want to rationalize holding on to this car for a long time, but I'm having a hard time deciding. I don't think I could get any more than $10k on a good day, and I also don't want to sell something to another person that is just going to be a headache for them (the car I had before the Volt was a BMW wagon that apparently sprung a bunch of problems a few months after I sold it...I felt horrible)...I know there is no perfect answer here. Anyway, I hope my post didn't fall into the "too long didn't read" realm, but my hopes are that it stimulates some good discussion. Thank you for your time, stay safe, stay informed, be happy :)
 

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I don't know.

However I do know that the moment I ran out of warranty (100k miles) I bought new rims and had 4-wheel alignment done for my Volt. I did take a quote for new 3008 PHEV but noticed that for that amount I can spend around 5000-9000$/year for the repairs on the existing one. That's like changing battery once per year. Car is not rusted and paint job is still decent so it should run next years just fine. I'd expect minor repairs are going to be needed in future anyway.

BTW: Average age of cars in Finland is 13 years, so my Volt will be just "average" in about 6 years. Only problem I'd see is that around 2026 GM would not required to provide parts for Gen 1 Volts (if the requirement is 10 years, hope it longer).
 

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Over 157,000 Volts were sold in the USA, according to wikipedia.

According to Mary Barra, there hasn’t been one battery replaced due to wearout.

Erick Belmer, aka “Sparkie”, drove 477,625 miles before he sold his Volt and the battery was still functioning properly.
The Volt was subsequently repaired and was (is) being used as a “loaner” in Canada.

I don’t think that battery wearout should be a concern at all. I would have a concern over finding a competent Volt Technician as the years pass. But, I have faith that my Volt, having been built by GM engineers who were not constrained by bean counters, will soldier on until I stop driving altogether.

This forum has a wealth of acqumulated knowledge from which I can draw if I ever have the need. I can point mechanics in the right direction from that.

As with any older car, availability of parts replacement could become a problem, requiring the use of parts from “junk yards”. Nothing lasts forevere so that, In the end, as with us all, the Volt will have to go.
 

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My 2013 has 82,000 miles and it’s Voltec warranty and extended warranty are both about to expire but I’m just going to keep driving it. I think I could only get about $6000 for it if I were to try and sell it and it is worth way more than that to me. It still looks like new and I have had no issues with the Voltec system at all. My extended warranty paid for itself through other issues (GPS/Nav system and heater core). It’s been the best car I have ever owned. I plan to keep driving it until it fails, hopefully that won’t be for a long time. If the battery fails shortly after the Warranty expires, c’est la vie.
 

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Replacement parts, at least for major components, should not be a problem to locate for your Volt. Small, one off trim pieces may not be available so you would have to modify a similar GM / Chevrolet part or settle for a replica or possibly a 3D printed replacement part. You may have to settle for a refurbished battery segment should your Volt's battery fail.

If the dealer sold Volt vehicles they probably also sold the Bolt. Although there are obvious differences between the Volt and the Bolt the technician certification to be qualified to work on the high voltage components of these vehicles is probably the same certification. So unless the dealer loses all of their Volt and Bolt certified technicians you should continue to be able to have your Volt serviced by the dealer.

One thing to consider is the time it may take for Chevrolet to be able to obtain any needed parts. If the Volt is your daily driver consider that you may have to wait up to a month for some parts. Could you deal with that? Also, if the dealer has one Volt/Bolt certified technician that individual may not be available when your Volt requires service. There are vacation days, sick days and training days even before the dealer backlog on Volt vehicles that require servicing by a certified technician. Certainly tires, brakes and oil changes do not require any special training to able to perform these services on a Volt. Realize that you may not be able to have your Volt looked at by the Volt/Bole technician as quickly as you would like and expect.
 

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I have a mint 2013 with 36K miles and a Voltec warranty that expires in 2 months. It looks, drives, and performs like new. It suits my current transportation needs - and I like the car. It's not the best car I've ever owned, but it sure is far from the worst!. I recognize that it could easily become a money pit, but I plan on keeping the car and driving it until there is some serious and very expensive failure. I doubt that I could get a reasonable trade-in value if I replaced it, so driving it seems to be the way to get the most value out of it. I discovered long ago that a car is an expense, not an investment - the only ones who gain in the transaction are the manufacturer and dealer, not the car owner.

In retrospect, although I like the car and the concept, if I had known that GM would cancel the car and leave me with an orphan I probably would not have purchased it. As other have stated, my biggest concern is a decreased level of support for the car - parts availability, competent techs, high parts prices, etc. From past experience I have no reason to place any great trust in GM.

So - I'll roll the dice. I'll drive it until it goes belly-up and then see what options I have. In the meantime I'll remember all the reasons why I bought it, and enjoy the ride.
 

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We have a 2013 with 160K miles and it's still looks and drives like new. Erick Belmer's 2012 (Sparkie) got to 477K miles before the first major issue. The one thing that is clear is the Gen 1 Volt is super reliable - especially the battery pack. A GM exec reflected on the Volt battery pack having "medical-grade" reliability of over 99.9%. That doesn't mean it won't have problems, but he changes are VERY small.

Related to your questions.

1. All batteries all degrade in the first few hundred cycles (~8%), then slow to almost nothing. With the way GM implemented the buffer on the Volt, you never see that degradation. Even in super high milage packs, you would likely never see the loss. GM does a EXCELLENT job protecting the pack to maximize life where as a Leaf, for example is just left to suffer and die premature death.

2. I think given the way the Volt operates, once the pack is compromised, it's not going to be easy to bypass. Given the low number of failures, it's not going to be profitable for anyone and would still be violating the GM license agreement (until right to repair laws are passed).

3. Used (salvage) packs are an option and appear to work great. I'd do this is I needed to and the price was right ($2,500).

4. I think the consensus is the EV is FAR more reliable and long-lasting than the ICE. Drive as many EV miles as you can.

Given where you are on the depreciation curve, every mile you drive from here on is practically free. Getting a newer car would be FAR more expensive from a depreciation point of view than getting even two replacement battery packs. Your car is still brand new. Id drive the hound out of it and never look back.
 

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Over 157,000 Volts were sold in the USA, according to wikipedia.

According to Mary Barra, there hasn’t been one battery replaced due to wearout.

Erick Belmer, aka “Sparkie”, drove 477,625 miles before he sold his Volt and the battery was still functioning properly.
The Volt was subsequently repaired and was (is) being used as a “loaner” in Canada.

I don’t think that battery wearout should be a concern at all. I would have a concern over finding a competent Volt Technician as the years pass. But, I have faith that my Volt, having been built by GM engineers who were not constrained by bean counters, will soldier on until I stop driving altogether.

This forum has a wealth of acqumulated knowledge from which I can draw if I ever have the need. I can point mechanics in the right direction from that.

As with any older car, availability of parts replacement could become a problem, requiring the use of parts from “junk yards”. Nothing lasts forevere so that, In the end, as with us all, the Volt will have to go.
Thanks for providing Erik’s last video telling us in his own words how his Volt came to the end of its days for him...

Here’s a follow-up of what happened to Sparkie. It appears that it was the generator motor, MGA, that failed after extending the car’s range by that many miles, whereas the battery continued on in good shape. I’m sorry I don’t have a link for this (I suspect it could be found by searching in the Chevy Volt Owner’s Facebook page), but this was posted in that Facebook forum on June 28, 2019:

Guillaume André is with Erick Belmer and Sylvain Belanger at Véhicules électriques Simon André.
June 28, 2019 · Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada

Sparkie is now with us!

477 625 The Volt with the most mileage in the world

We bought Sparkie a few weeks ago from Erick Belmer in Ohio. Eric had broken down and the dealer's diagnosis was to replace the battery, which was more expensive than the value of the vehicle.

Finally, she arrived at our shop this morning and we made the diagnosis. Instead, it is the electric motor of the generator that needs to be replaced, i.e. a repair of about $2500.

We also did the battery degradation test and it has a total 13.7kwh, so a degradation of about 20%. The battery seems to be in very good health, no humidity inside. The cells are balanced at 5mv, in short very good news for long-term owners.
 

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I said "Shake the 8 ball". The reason is simple - if you want a pure BEV then sell the Volt and get a Model 3 or Y. Otherwise keep the Volt as long as the ICE engine is in good shape.
 

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I couldn't disagree more with this post. I bought the Chevy Volt used out of warranty on purpose. Why? Because it's proven well engineered car. The batteries are great in this car! I have a 2011 with 125k and i can get 36 miles freeway no problem. They are cheap to maintain b/c not much mechanically goes wrong. Brakes are rarely used as I drive in L mode for regen the whole time. Car barely uses oil. Pretty solid for a daily driver! Bottom line - keep it. You don't need a new car right now, just save or invest the money into the stock market while we're low, and buy a nicer car later :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thank you so much to those of you who voted/replied. I should have prefaced that I was entertaining buying another used car (as opposed to new), so I wasn't looking at spending more for a new car. In fact, I was looking at the $5000 range, where I would get something decent and still not have to carry comprehensive....

Anyway, I've gone and looked at some Craigslist posts over the last week, and I'll just share my feelings of the last two. A third gen Forester...horribly under-powered to the point where the manual transmission was no fun at all. Build quality overall seemed so incredibly cheap compared to the Volt. Then I thought I would look at a first of the new-gen Mini Coopers (my wife has always wanted one of those). Before looking at it, I read up on common failures on these and almost scared myself away from looking at it altogether. I drove it and enjoyed it much more than the Subaru; however, it still wasn't as quick as my Volt, and I really didn't enjoy the shifting that much....something really clicked in my head and made me realize just how nice and smooth the acceleration is in an EV. I've always been one of those lamenting the disappearance of manual transmissions (and I still trust them more than an ICE automatic), but I'm okay with them slowly going the way of the Dodo. I'm a little sad that my children may never own a manual transmission car, but oh well....I'm over it. Back to the Mini; it's bumpy, rattly, noisy, and the layout of buttons/gauges makes even less sense than the Gen 1 Volt ;) Oh, and so incredibly small...I don't know what I was thinking when I thought an adult (let alone my kids) could ride for any amount of time in the back seat.

The Volt's supposed reliability was a big reason I bought the car in the first place, but it was kind of a mixed bag getting started with it. My 2013 was/is one of the ones with the heater issues, so that was a giant PITA (in and out of dealership...and I still don't think it is quite right), but I get by okay now just putting it to "high" whenever it is cold out. A couple of minor other things, but it has never left me stranded. The fact that there are cars out there like Sparky does say a lot about the car, and I still believe it to be "reliable."

In summary, the moment I got back into my car from driving the Mini, I had an almost euphoric realization that YES, I am going to keep (and keep enjoying) this car until something catastrophic happens to it...and who knows, I might even fix it then :) I love the looks/uniqueness of it, the way it drives, the lower operating cost, and the feeling that maybe I'm not contributing quite as much to the destruction of the planet as the average human.

Thank you again for the input, and I hope to contribute in some way to this page/forum in the future.

BB in Reno
 

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I decided to go last fall. Our 2013 still had low miles, but I wanted to experience the improvements in the Gen2. After a long search I found a babied 2018 Premier in CA with 14K miles and bought it. I really liked my Gen 1, but love the Gen2 even more. Just came back from a trip and averaged 50.2mpg. Electric range is now about 62 miles in local hilly driving.
 

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A Delphi buddy of mine who worked on the project said the car was "certified for 200k miles". What he was saying (after I pressed him) was the car was designed to have a very low MTF (mean time to failure) out to 200k miles with average normal driving at the center of the distribution curve of users (gas vs electric miles). He also said "quit worrying about the car and just drive it"). He said they got to set the bar really high for electronic component sourcing and LG did extensive studies on how to get the most life and reliability out of the lithium cells. Automotive electronics components are sourced in many ways at a higher qual then for space (satellite) use with the possible exceptions of RAD hardening and gas-out protection.

I have already lined up a small service shop in the area to help me drop the pack and and replace cell-banks if necessary. There are plenty of used packs coming on line and it would give me a good reason to retire my 10 type 31 AGM 12v batteries on my solar backup system (get the lead out).
As pointed out above it may get more difficult in the future finding a good dealer technician if you live in an area sparsely populated with Volts...that could be a problem. I think we should be good for quite a few more miles though.
 
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