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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was about to go to work yesterday, and went to to get into my Volt. Pushed the door lock button and....nothing. Took out the FOB and started pressing buttons....nothing. I quickly guessed somehow the 12V had died...decent guess as it was now over 5 years old.

After manually opening up the door and doing the FOB in the center dash storage trick, tried turning on the Volt and....nothing. It was completely dead. OK, I need to jump start the Volt, no problem. Ran to the hardware store in the Bolt, bought some jump starter kit, came back to jump start the Volt....and nothing. The stupid jump starter was telling me there was some "low voltage" error, so that was completely useless.

Went BACK to the hardware store and got some old fashioned jumper cables, came back home again, and hooked up my Volt to my Bolt. This time I was able to get the Volt powered on, but it still wasn't right. Besides throwing all kinds of error codes, I could put the Volt in Drive, Reverse, etc, but there was no power. At this point I was thinking I needed to get my Volt towed to a dealer to get a new 12v battery installed. Great pre-Black Friday shopping! :rolleyes:

After dropping the wife off at her work, I tried once more to jump the Volt. This time, the Volt actually started! ICE turned on, as that's the default for when the hood is up. Everything seemed to be back to normal, except for a battery MIL, but I think that'll go away after a few drives. This morning everything was fine.

So what exactly happened here? I noticed that when I got in the Volt for the first time, it was still in DRIVE! The wife had taken out the Volt a couple of days before, and it looks like she forgot to put it in P, and just set the ebrake and turned it "off". :rolleyes: When I got it turned on for the first time, the HV battery was still 80% charged. I'm guessing the Volt in "D", pressing the "off" button, then walking away puts the Volt into accessory mode or something? And that allowed the 12v to drain, while the HV battery remained charged?

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Mid-size car
 

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I think a tesla engineer reprogrammed your car,,they want you to jump ship,:)
glad you got it sorted out.
 

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And I still don't understand why we need a 12V battery?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

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As for leaving it in D while parked, I have not heard of that problem before, or exactly how it creates a no-start condition. Maybe you found a new way to create a failure mode. I think you are right about that being the likely cause of the battery drain.

The car does lightly protest being turned off in Drive, but it is pretty well known that a double press of the off button will turn the car "off" even while driving (maybe not completely off - still draining battery?). A double press is probably how she did it. You might want to re-enact that process with her so she will recognize the warning better next time and be less likely to make the same mistake again.

As for your difficulty jump starting, one of our Volt mechanic members posted that jump starting sometimes requires first disconnecting the 12V battery to clear the error codes before you can get a successful start up by jumping. That may explain the difficulty you had jumping. That raises the other problem of not being able to open the hatch from the outside with a dead battery, so be sure you know the alternate procedure for that and have a suitable tool handy.
 

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And I still don't understand why we need a 12V battery?
It's a safety thing. The 12 volt battery controls relays that turn on and off the current flow from the High Voltage traction battery. In the event of a crash, the High Voltage cables are safe for the emergency workers. It's required by ... uh either the DOT or NHTSA or whoever has jurisdiction over that sort of thing.
 

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My wife did the same thing years ago in her brand new CMax. Her previous car was 5 speed and she had a car full of kids who distracted her while getting out. At 5 years old, you should replace it now.

And I still don't understand why we need a 12V battery?
Basically because you need a subsystem to switch the HV battery relays on to bring the pack online. They have to be off by regulation for safety. And finally economics, since industry wide all the subsystems are designed and built for 12v use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
^ That should have worked as well as the cables you used, assuming it was charged and not defective.
Is it ok to "TEST" the jump starter on a healthy 12v battery? Or would that not be wise. To figure out if I got a defective unit.
 

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I don't know how one would go about testing it on a healthy battery, but a severe test might be to try it on an ICE vehicle with it's starting battery disconnected. It might not be up to that test (maybe on a motorcycle or ATV, etc), but that would certainly be a lot more power than the Volt needs to boot up.
 

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Is it ok to "TEST" the jump starter on a healthy 12v battery? Or would that not be wise. To figure out if I got a defective unit.
I would just return the jump starter and use the cables if you ever need it again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I would just return the jump starter and use the cables if you ever need it again.
Yes, there is that, but I'd like to have a way to start my Volt...or any car without relying on another vehicle being present too. Plus that thing could be useful while camping too...if it actually worked.
 

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Most jump starter need to sense 2 or 3 volts to utilize their correct connection circuit to protect from reverse connection. Most also have a button to bypass this feature if a battery is completely dead. This could be the cause of your failure. Check your instruction manual.
 

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Other brands won't do that reverse sensing if that turns out to be the problem. Wagan iOnBoost units, for example, the contacts inside the unit are unswitched and unregulated. Plugging in the clamp cable makes the clamps live. It's your own fault if you haven't made them safe, correctly positioned, not shorted, etc when you plug the cable in. It's a useful kind of living dangerously sometimes....
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Most jump starter need to sense 2 or 3 volts to utilize their correct connection circuit to protect from reverse connection. Most also have a button to bypass this feature if a battery is completely dead. This could be the cause of your failure. Check your instruction manual.
The status light on the jumper starter was blinking red 4 times. Manual says it is due to a "low voltage" condition....and that's it. That sure is helpful. :rolleyes:

So if the 12v battery is completely dead, the unit won't work to charge it....doesn't that defeat the purpose of a jumper kit??
 

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Yah, the Li-Ion jump pack I bought has that circuit protection also and wouldn't jump start a completely dead battery. The old fashioned lead acid gel cell power pack from Harbor Freight did the trick though.
 

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Just to cover a couple things I saw here

The car won't completely power down in Drive. If your wife hit the button a couple times to attempt to shut it off, it will turn off the HV system and powertrain, but the computers will remain on and the dashboard will constantly complain that the vehicle is not in Park. This won't shut off, and will drain the 12V battery.

Also, you said you had a red battery warning light. If you have a way of reading OBD codes, you may want to check that out. If there is an issue with the battery charging system, your 12V is going to die again. It may just be a residual code from having a low battery, but just be mindful. Having the 12V die while in motion is incredibly dangerous because you lose all propulsion, power steering, power brakes, the dashboard, and basically everything electronic in the car.
 

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...Having the 12V die while in motion is incredibly dangerous because you lose all propulsion, power steering, power brakes, the dashboard, and basically everything electronic in the car.
I didn't think that could happen. Someone on the forum verified that the car will run even with the 12V battery disconnected (once it has started up with 12V power connected).
 
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