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Unfortunately, my Volt ownership may only have lasted a week. Could use some advice from those more familiar with the engineering of the car.

I purchased a 2012 Volt from a local dealer here in Georgia. The car had a clean Car Fax report and 18k miles on it. It test drove well and I saw no signs of leaks, uneven tire wear or red flags with the car when I bought it. A few days after the purchase, I struck something lying in the road. My wife said it looked like a small cook pot. It went under the car with a thud. I was driving on battery at the time and saw no change in the way the car performed. When we got to a place where we could stop, I did a walk around on the car. No cosmetic damage, no signs of leaks. I drove the car the rest of the week, charging it each day at my workplace. That weekend we ate dinner downtown and the gas engine engaged for the first time since I bought the car. After maybe a mile the car overheated. We pulled immediately into a parking lot and I checked under the hood. The ICE coolant tank was empty. We couldn’t find Dexcool locally in the middle of the night, so I had the car towed to an all night auto store and bought some. It took about two hours for the tow and the engine had cooled, so I started the car. After running briefly, the service engine light came on and I was told engine wasn’t available. The reserve battery power was available, though, so I got the car to a charging station. The new coolant was leaking out as we waited for a Taxi. At this point I got it to the nearest Chevy dealership--NOT the place I bought it from. I had owned the car for a week at this point.

The dealership had to disassemble the car to find the issue, but it wasn't what I expected. The radiator had two holes in the top back side, under the core support. It’s a very inaccessible spot where you wouldn’t expect damage. The radiator needed to be replaced. Although the engine was shut down right away, it also showed signs of damage from running hot. The dealership thinks there was some undocumented repair work done to the vehicle, based on evidence that bolts had been taken out previously. The dealer I bought it from doesn’t buy this based on his inspection of the car and the Car Fax report. His warranty doesn’t cover punctured radiators (of course.) Georgia has no real used car consumer protection laws, so I’m very much out of luck at this moment.

The volt tech sent me two attached images of the right and left punctures in my radiator. My question is, what could have caused the damage? Is it possible that a blunt object striking the bottom of the radiator could force the top to be damaged in some way? This seems unlikely to me, but I have to check. If I didn’t cause the damage by striking the object in the road, I have no protection in this situation. The seller is adamant that the car ran fine in ICE mode when it was in his inventory and has stated he ran it past the battery charge himself a number of times. Could a car with pre existing damage like this have been run any distance without overheating?

The Chevy place can repair the damage with new parts for about 9k, which brings pretty close to the cost of a new volt after gov’t tax breaks. Also, I understand that the radiator sections cool the electric system, too. I don’t want to sink money into a repair if the other systems are going to fail.

Frustrated in GA
 

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$9k!? How is that added up?

For that I'd replace the rads myself, then take it to a dealer for them to fill up the coolant systems, pressure test them, and reset the systems. How expensive could that be?

Do the transmission and AC matrices need to be disconnected?

I can't say why FOD damage could cause that to the top of the radiator. But I am interested in asking what 'signs' of engine running hot were there?

PS - one way or other, you have my every sympathy, and hope it resolves OK without such expenses as that.
 

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Sorry to hear of the trouble. How many miles on it?

This issue may be covered under the Voltec 8 year 100,000 mile warranty. If not, I would certainly suspect that it would be covered under the 5 year 60,000 power train warranty. Unless of course they label it as an issue like you hit something, but even then, this kind of expense would likely be covered since it shouldn't fail so badly.

Also, call the Volt Advisor hotline and get them involved in helping you out.
 

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call your insurance company. if the dealer wants to stick with their observation and you stick with yours it's a comp claim.
 

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Although the engine was shut down right away, it also showed signs of damage from running hot.
What are these signs of damage? If you stopped immediately with the warning, I wouldn't expect damage to the engine. It sounds as if that estimate must include a new engine (or two). What is the cost of replacing the radiator alone and then seeing if the engine runs fine?

If you know the coolant level in the reservoir was good when you got the car and it now leaks when filled to the same level, that would indicate the damage occurred after you purchased it. Any indication of anything hitting the underside of the hood over there to point to the pot making it all the way up there?

Have you talked to your insurance company?

Edit: Looks like most points I made were covered by posters while I was typing and re-typing.
 

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We know that replacing the battery radiator is about $1500. A new engine is $3750 plus $3750 labor?

I doubt that the road debris would have flown UP between the radiator and the engine. There isn't a lot of room in there and it would have bounced back and forth like a pinball if it did, leaving a trail of marks at a minimum.

1. Are there marks/damage evident from something pin-balling it's way up?

Plus, it would have hit in an upward direction. You photo shows a downward gash.

So lets say the debris somehow flew straight up, missing everything, hit the hood an bounced down to damage the radiator. The hood is aluminum and dents.

2. Is there a dent? Or damage to the hood liner (which would have absorbed a lot of energy, lessening the radiator killing rebound).

It all sound improbable, but not impossible.

3. After you hit the debris, did you inspect your fluid levels?

4. What are "the signs of damage" the dealer is seeing in the engine?

5. What are the specific details of the repair estimate?
 

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If the photos are of the top rear of the radiator, the fan shroud should have stopped anything from the bottom going up.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Steverino -- Can't figure the downward part. This sits under the core support (they told me) so any damage to this area has to be weird. I have asked the volt tech to look for other signs of damage. Will know more Monday. After I hit the debris I did a visual inspection for dents or fluids, but I didn't think to check fluid levels. My mistake, but my last car was a Caddy DeVille and you could run it over a minefield and not worry about it.

The tech says the engine won't turn over now. Seems strange given that I pulled over right away and then tried to crank it two hours later after coolant had been added. The car briefly started, then the computer shut it down and gave me a service engine light. I would have hoped for it to hold up better than that.

The repair estimate is all ballpark numbers at this point. I'm waiting on the insurance adjuster to take a look. He might decide it's a total loss.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ampera_jed -- It's 1600 for a new radiator and another 7k+ for a new engine (it no longer cranks.)

ClarksonCote -- since this is caused by damage, it isn't covered under Warranty. I'll check into the Volt Advisor hotline. I can use all the advise I can get.

CMR -- I have called and I hope so, but the service guys are adamant that this doesn't look like road hazard damage. I'm afraid the Insurance adjuster will call it a pre existing flaw and leave me to hang.

Thanks for the replies!
 

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ampera_jed -- It's 1600 for a new radiator and another 7k+ for a new engine (it no longer cranks.)

ClarksonCote -- since this is caused by damage, it isn't covered under Warranty. I'll check into the Volt Advisor hotline. I can use all the advise I can get.

CMR -- I have called and I hope so, but the service guys are adamant that this doesn't look like road hazard damage. I'm afraid the Insurance adjuster will call it a pre existing flaw and leave me to hang.

Thanks for the replies!
then make them explain exactly what kind of damage it is, gm didn't put it together like that. it either had a clean carfax or it didn't.....
 

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One thing I definitely agree with the OP on - it's strange!!

I think this is the second post here where there is a suspicion that a coolant loss has caused an engine failure. I woudl regard this as a warranty issue - the engineering of an engine in this day and age should be such that it shuts itself down in a safe and non-damaging way, in the event of a loss of coolant. If it results in the destruction of the engine, then the conditions of such operation should be prohibited as part of its design.
 

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If this winds up being a cash job, I'd start with a used engine.
 

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ampera_jed -- It's 1600 for a new radiator and another 7k+ for a new engine (it no longer cranks.)

ClarksonCote -- since this is caused by damage, it isn't covered under Warranty. I'll check into the Volt Advisor hotline. I can use all the advise I can get.

CMR -- I have called and I hope so, but the service guys are adamant that this doesn't look like road hazard damage. I'm afraid the Insurance adjuster will call it a pre existing flaw and leave me to hang.

Thanks for the replies!
Cappel- I'm sorry about your troubles. It seems pretty odd, but odd stuff does happen. A friend of mine is a mechanic and he has some really strange stories.

Looking at the above pic, could the damage have been from a deflected fan blade or something caught between a fan blade and the radiator? I haven't looked at where the fan is positioned, so I don't know if that is even a possibility, but I figured I would throw it out there. For something to get in there and be going fast enough to do that seems odd. So could the fan have accelerated the object?
 

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A running cooling fan may have picked up the road debris and deposited it, in such a fashion onto the top of the radiator with a downward strike as shown. (this rad is right up against the fans) Seen it before. Will see it again...
WOT

 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone. I'll be asking the tech to look for other collateral damage to the fan blades or dents and ricochet marks. Maybe he'll turn something up.

WopOnTour -- interesting diagram. It raises a question: If the damage to the radiator is to the top BACK portion, shouldn't my electrical system have overheated instead of the ICE?

Oldertech -- Just learned about the Volt Advisor program on this thread. Couldn't get through Saturday afternoon for some reason, but I'll call when the offices reopen Monday morning. Hopefully they can offer some insights.

Cappel
 

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WopOnTour -- interesting diagram. It raises a question: If the damage to the radiator is to the top BACK portion, shouldn't my electrical system have overheated instead of the ICE?
Cappel
I thought you said the Engine cooling loop lost coolant and emptied the reservoir?
That IS the rad right next to the fan blades.
WOT
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That's what happened, but the Chevy guys are telling me the punctures are on the BACK of the radiator. Something doesn't make sense there.
 

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Cappel,

Yes the back of the radiator is on the fan side which is consistent with the damage. However, it sounds like there was pre-existing damage which was hidden by the prior owner. Shutting down the engine immediately after the temp alarm went off should not have resulted in any engine damage. However the prior owner may not have treated the engine as well. Was this this first time you had driven on the generator? (Edit: I saw from the initial post that is was.)

I feel really bad for you. This is also the reason I won't buy used cars. There are numerous posts here from owners who won't even spend the couple bucks to put in the proper fuel. I don't want to risk buying one of these.
 
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