Some 2013 Chevy Volts Recalled For Low-Voltage Battery Cell Issue


A recent software update to the Volt is actually the root cause of this problem.

Last week, General Motors revealed that the company is set to issue a Chevrolet Volt recall. Affecting some 3,233 Chevrolet Volts from the 2013 model year, the recall will rectify a problem with the vehicle’s battery cell balancing, which could cause the Volt to shut down in traffic.

The issue is caused by a previous software update to the Vehicle Interface Control Module (VICM) which was installed to improve the car, but which may have disabled the cell balancing function, causing the Volt to enter a low-voltage condition. This puts the affected Volts into a situation where it would enter what is called a low-power “limp-home” mode, before shutting down completely.

This issue mimics two recall campaigns issued by General Motors, placed for the 2017 and 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EVs for similar battery related issues where a set of defective battery cells could warrant the vehicle to power down.

A statement from General Motors states:

“An error in the software update may prevent the batteries in these vehicles from balancing the voltage among individual battery cells, which under certain circumstances can result in a low-voltage condition in one or more battery cells. If the voltage in a given battery cell falls below a certain level, the vehicle may enter a reduced power mode and notify the driver that propulsion power is reduced. If the vehicle continues to be driven after the vehicle enters reduced power mode, the vehicle may lose propulsion.”

Currently, no accidents or injuries have been reported as a result of the affair. Furthermore, no timeline is set for when the owners will be notified or when the software update will be installed on the affected vehicles.

Source: Green Car Reports

Categories: Chevrolet

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18 Comments on "Some 2013 Chevy Volts Recalled For Low-Voltage Battery Cell Issue"

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Demonstrating the value of actual OTA updates.

Here’s how this would go down at GM. GM Sends OTA update to Volt to fix a problem. Dealers would scream and say you owe us $250 a car for those OTA updates since you aren’t allowed to repair your own vehicles. Just saying.

GM should spin off Cruise and an EV brand so that they can operate more like Tesla free of dealer networks.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

When Tesla does this via OTA, Tesla bashers scream “BETA SOFTWARE!!!, blah blah….”

Where are all the anti Beta peeps?!?!?!?!?!?

Looks like proper proactive use of recalls as the recall process is designed.

Nothing to see here. ..

There is no cell balancing on the low voltage batt.

The bug is the car doesn’t cell balance the HV battery, and having had an e-bike with a bad BMS not cell balancing, it means your capacity slowly dwindles down to that of your weakest cell. This means the car will quickly go from full charge to dead when the lowest cells reach the low voltage cutoff. Example, the car has 96 cells in series, those are something like 4.2 V each fully charged (not sure on Volts max voltage, just a typical value for Li-ion) and around 2.7 V dead. Pretend a few of those are only 4 V fully charged, balancing means it would bleed off charge from the others down to 4 V then charge again to 4.2 V making sure all the cells are 4.2 V. A bug like this would just be done charging with a few cells at lower voltage, as the battery drains, each cell has its own low voltage cutoff, so once that is hit, the battery is suddenly dead as it has to shut down to protect those cells (low voltages will destroy Li-ion). Those weaker cells will hit the shutoff sooner, and if the difference gets large (say fully charged… Read more »

PS For my bicycle BMS, I manually charged all the cell modules to about the same voltage then replaced the BMS (like $15 on ebay) and it restored all the “lost” battery capacity. It had slowly deteriorated from about 30 mile EV range (with assist) to about 1 as some cell modules were at 3 V and others around 4 V. Each charge-discharge cycle caused them to drift a little further apart. Now it is as good as new.

It had the same symptoms, where it would run fine have good power then suddenly dead with no warning.

This image may help with visualizing.

In this case they may have to hook up a cell balancer to get the battery back into spec so that the on-board BMS can maintain balance. *If* that is the case, then OTA updates would not help.

Sadly our 2013 volt was totaled recently when an f 150 plowed into it while driving on the freeway. My wife was ok and the car did well to keep her safe. We were able to replace it with a 2014 ELR. Which makes me smile everyday.

Now try a tesla model 3 and then you wont be able to wipe that grin of your face for a week.

That conversation went like this.
Her: Can I buy a Model 3 yet?
Me: How does 2019 sound?
Sometimes you need to buy a car unexpectedly and can’t wait 4-6 months in Tesla time. I’d love to have one, but I want a test drive and some configuration options first.

I have a 13 Volt but stopped letting them do updates because their updates did several things I do not like. The most annoying is: it honks several times loudly everytime I get out the car with it powered on. Before it was one soft beep.

I wonder if that is related to the recall the Volt had so that the ICE engine doesn’t come on and run in the garage and kill everyone in their sleep.

It is. Some customers were unaware that their car was still on when they parked and got out, so this update made it annoyingly clear when you got out of the car when it’s still on (or if you get out of the car and leave your keyfob in it).

Compounding the original issue is the fact that Gen1 Volts do not charge if you plug them in while the car is on. So if you got out of the car without turning it off and then plugged it in, the car would not pull any power from the EVSE and would sit “idling” until the battery drained, at which point the engine would turn on. From there, bad things happen.

Yeah my 2011 VOLT (and my current 2014 ELR) do some things that take getting used to.

Turning the car off first is no big deal since you see the dashboard light freeze on yellow – so you know the car is not charging. Turning the car off rectifies the trouble.

The only seemingly weird thing the car does is sometimes the car won’t charge until you open the driver’s door, and then close it – that resets something – or turns off ‘retained’ power, or whatever, but then the car charges normally. Not a biggie.

Yes that is it. But somehow the Camry hybrid, escape hybrid, fusion energy (RIP) and clarity cars I own(ed) did not have to give an anxious honk when I got out. One beep is enough. Total Overkill.

The thing I do not like about it is: when running errands with my wife, she likes to stay in the car while I get/return movies etc. The loud honks just draws attention and says look over here and carjack me! If I turn it off, she had no radio or AC. I really love the car. I just don’t like some of their updates.