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Or, The First Signs Of A Dying 12V Battery!!!

Our 2013 Volt was 3 weeks shy of it's 6th delivery date anniversary and still running on the OEM 12v battery. A few weeks ago, I had a couple of occurrences of the charging system not initializing after being plugged in.

The first few were vague in that unplugging and reinserting the EVSE cord quickly solved the issue. The last occurrence before things went south was me plugging in and walking away from the vehicle to check my mailbox without hearing the beep that things were working. When I returned, the dash indicator was flickering on amber. I unplugged it and reinserted the EVSE. I got the beep that time.

The next day, I pulled out of the garage but needed to go back inside for something I'd forgotten. When I came back to the vehicle, it wouldn't start... No Go!! Error messages about ABS Brake system, charging system, and several other systems that go through a boot sequence, popped up on the display. When I called OnStar, the rep put me on hold while she ran diagnostics. While on hold, the OnStar phone connection dropped. Tried the blue button again...nothing. So I called them back on my cell.

After going through the whole explanation again with the new person, they transferred me over to the Road Assistance folks to get a tow to my nearest dealer. In the meantime the vehicle would not completely turn on or off… taillights were on the whole time …able to move the shifter to any position… driver display is on the hold time… can’t open the trunk lid. Eventually, the display goes dark.

While waiting for a call from the tow driver to confirm what time he’d get to me, I got to thinking about how the vehicle boots up. If all subordinate systems don’t confirm their status, the car never completes a boot sequence and won’t move. So I got my VOM out, crawled in through the back seat to open the battery compartment (hard to do from the back seat, but it can be done) and discovered that the 12v battery was at 9.78 V.

Connected battery cables from my second vehicle (ICE) to the Volt battery and everything worked!! So while I had it jumped, I opened the trunk so that I could get to the battery the easy way. Pulled it out, cancelled the tow truck, then shopped online for a replacement. Replacement is ~30 min. ordeal because of all the things that have to be removed to get in the compartment and to remove the multi-cable array that attaches to the battery plus unbolting the tie-down strap between the battery and the sub-woofer. Without a 10 MM deep socket and a regular 13 MM socket, the job would have been impossible.

~$200 later, I was back on the road again, but the morning was shot to heck.

Bottom line: I believe that the failures to initialize charging (no beep) were warning signs that the 12v battery was dying.

Wait For The Beep before you walk away when charging!!!
 

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Thanks for the battery swap tip details, Norm51! I have battery replacement specs in the Newcomer's Forum FAQ's. https://gm-volt.com/forum/showthrea...y-Charging-amp-Battery-Managment-System-FAQ-s

Just a note, the lack of a beep can also simply be caused by the lack of a fully seated charge handle, listen for the click when the handle locks in. No click will likely mean no beep and no charge regardless of the 12V battery.
 

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~$200 later, I was back on the road again, but the morning was shot to heck.
I'm a firm believer in proactively replacing things I know have limited life remaining, because then I can do it at my leisure, shop around for the best deal on a replacement and I don't end up stranded when I least expect it . . . . and can least afford it

Sure, an OEM battery may last 6 or 7 years, maybe even 8 if you're really lucky, but changing it ahead of time before it causes problems could save you $50 on the cost of the battery (by shopping around and maybe ordering a new one online) and you can do the swap at home on a sunny day rather than needing a tow truck on a rainy day

Don
 

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Recently this 12V battery load tester came to my attention. Does anyone have any experience with this tester?
Amazon notes a later version of that, and the video in the the listing for the newer unit demos a couple of tests that the unit performs. None of them are applicable to the Volt. (Cold cranking amps, starting cranking time and voltage drop, and an alternator load voltage test)
 

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Amazon notes a later version of that, and the video in the the listing for the newer unit demos a couple of tests that the unit performs. None of them are applicable to the Volt. (Cold cranking amps, starting cranking time and voltage drop, and an alternator load voltage test)
I went ahead and ordered the battery tester (the one in the link.) I have a 12V jump starter pack (sealed lead-acid heavy MF) and also a 12V sealed battery for my home standby generator so hopefully I will be able to get some use out of this battery tester even if it can't tell me anything useful about the status of my Volt's 12V AGM battery.
 

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I went ahead and ordered the battery tester (the one in the link.) I have a 12V jump starter pack (sealed lead-acid heavy MF) and also a 12V sealed battery for my home standby generator so hopefully I will be able to get some use out of this battery tester even if it can't tell me anything useful about the status of my Volt's 12V AGM battery.
Any battery that doesn't pass the breakdown test is on it's way out even if the Volt would use it for a while longer, that's a good advance warning giving you time to find an inexpensive replacement. Not really inexpensive but cheaper than the Stealer.
 

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I went ahead and ordered the battery tester (the one in the link.) I have a 12V jump starter pack (sealed lead-acid heavy MF) and also a 12V sealed battery for my home standby generator so hopefully I will be able to get some use out of this battery tester even if it can't tell me anything useful about the status of my Volt's 12V AGM battery.
Well, best of luck to you. I'm 90% sure the tester will tell you that battery is fine, if you can even make the tests work on a Volt. That doesn't make the battery fine for the Volt either. I'd have spent the fifty bucks as part-payment for a new 12v instead.
 

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Well, best of luck to you. I'm 90% sure the tester will tell you that battery is fine, if you can even make the tests work on a Volt. That doesn't make the battery fine for the Volt either. I'd have spent the fifty bucks as part-payment for a new 12v instead.
If it was just the Volt's 12V AGM battery I was concerned about I would agree. I am also interested in the health of 2 other 12V sealed lead-acid batteries in my inventory. Plus, a friend recently gave me an Amazon gift card that covered the cost so I went ahead and purchased the tester.
 

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I do not know how common a problem a open cell is on the AGM battery but have observered a lot in the common flooded lead batteries.

Not hard to see that problem with only a volt meter and a small load on the battery.

Don't expect a tow service to EVEN have a volt meter handy
 
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