A long post, but I am describing in detail the situation where my Volt (#409) left me high and dry again yesterday in hopes that others in this forum can help trouble shoot the problem. I haven't had much luck to date with repair at my dealership:
Problem occurred when driving back from Bakersfield to Frazier Park, California. Outbound trip was mostly downhill and was entirely on battery. Return trip was entirely on ICE and coming up the Grape Vine (elevation gain of approx 3,000 feet) the reduced propulsion message came on (driving in normal mode…no A/C). Propulsion reduction did not seem apparent as I was traveling at only about 60mph, but could hear the engine working pretty hard.
At stop sign at base of freeway offramp to Frazier Park the engine made a clunk and turned off. Car would not move and efforts to restart were unsuccessful. Only “initializing…pleas wait” screen came on when trying to restart. Was in a dangerous location as a major truck stop is at this location and I was having to wave big rigs to go around as I attempted to restart.
OnStar reported error codes showing a problem with the lithium ion battery and the propulsion system.
OnStar offered to send CHP and a tow truck, but before CHP arrived, a motorist offered to push me beyond the stop sign to a frontage road. Tow truck tried jump start, but did not help immediately although a few minutes later I was able to start the engine briefly. I immediately put the car in Mountain Mode hoping to charge the battery. As soon as I put Volt in gear the engine stopped again and would not restart. The initialization screen came back with endless “please wait” message.
Volt…with my wife and I in truck…weas towed 35 miles to the nearest Chevy dealership. Service Department closed for weekend. Volt remains there. We rented car and returned to Frazier Park about 6 hours later than planned.
Interestingly when the tow truck driver took the car off his vehicle. He was able to start the engine and sales rep at dealership was able to move it to a parking spot. Had the engine cooled down enough to allow restarting?
Experienced a similar situation two months earlier…also resulting in being stranded far from home. Battery depleted, had driven the Volt using ICE from our hotel to neighboring city. It was a warm day and A/C was on. Stopped at McDonalds with no indication of any problem with Volt. Thirty minutes later came out to restart Volt and engine would not start. Car would not go in gear and just wanted to coast downhill from my slightly angled parking spot.
Got exact same error codes from OnStar (lithium ion battery and propulsion problems) and same screen as described earlier (initializing…please wait). While waiting for ONStar sent tow truck tried restarting many times without success. Tow truck driver tried jump start with portable device and the engine started, but check engine light remained on). Was able to return 20 miles to hotel and drive home the next day without incident although check engine light remained on.
Car was worked on at local Chevy dealer over several days, but discouragingly they could find nothing wrong and basically made no repairs. I told them and Volt Advisor I feared a repetition…and indeed it happened two months later in a far more dangerous situation
Common elements of two incidents: I don’t normally drive for long periods in ICE only. That only happens when I am far from home. In both cases problem occurred in ICE mode and only after working the engine fairly hard (prolonged uphill one time…hot day with A/C another). Yet the stress was nothing that a modern ICE shouldn’t be able to handle.
Layman’s gut feeling: some thermal interlock is activating and keeping the engine from restarting until sufficiently cooled. Even the successful jump start in first incident may have been just a coincidence in that an hour or so had passed at that point. A later battery check at dealership showed the 12 volt battery to be in excellent condition.