Recall Affects All 2011-2013 Chevrolet Volts (Update)


The “R” word seems rather popular today.

General Motors has just made it known that it’s in the process of issuing the first official recall (affecting more than just a handful of vehicles) for the Chevrolet Volt.

The recall status is “incomplete:remedy not yet available,” meaning that General Motors is still working on a fix, but a formal recall issuance is forthcoming.  This recall affects all 2011-2013 Chevy Volts, about 64,000 units. 

UPDATE: GM says they are aware of 2 specific injuries related to the issue, both from carbon monoxide exposure.

Here are some details on the recall via Volt owner Javier Giraldez:

GM Recall #:N140617
NHTSA Recall #:
Awaiting# Date Issued:
Mar 10, 2015
Recall Title:

Shutdown Software

Recall Description:

General Motors has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in all 2011-2013 Volt vehicles. If a driver exits his/her vehicle and inadvertently leaves the vehicle “on” (because the driver fails to react to the cues and warning chimes emitted by the vehicle to alert the driver that the vehicle has not been turned off), after a period of time, the vehicle’s battery will drain and the vehicle’s gas engine will begin to run.

Safety Risk Description:

If the gas engine runs for long periods of time within an enclosed space, such as a garage, carbon monoxide could build up in the enclosed space and potentially cause injury.

Repair Description:

The vehicle’s software will be updated to limit the time that an idle vehicle can be left in the ON position free of charge.

There have been formal complaints filed with the NHTSA regarding this exact issue.  Here’s one such complaint:

Chevrolet Volt Complaint Filed With NHTSA

Chevrolet Volt Complaint Filed With NHTSA

Categories: Chevrolet

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143 Comments on "Recall Affects All 2011-2013 Chevrolet Volts (Update)"

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I had wondered about this scenario from day one. Fortunately, I guess it is a rare enough thing that it hasn’t been an issue so far.

Just added an NHTSA complaint into the post. I think it’s rather serious. Other such complaints exist.

Wow, the engine eventually runs if you don’t turn the car off. Better add a lot of recalls to a lot of vehicles.

This affects nearly every hybrid or even start/stop vehicle, does it not?

But it’s a Volt story, so let’s make sure we pile on to criticize it for all the people who hate GM.


It does not effect all cars – it is unique to/amplified in the PHEV situation.

The issue is that the car is operating in BEV mode, then is switching to gas mode while unattended and unoccupied – which happens at any length of time much later.

Normal clues that would alert the owner to a future danger in an enclosed area with ICE operation are not present (like engine noise), so “warning chimes” (which can be heard for any number of reasons) are not a sufficient deterent.

Hi Jay!

Well, I meant “all cars” in that any car that you walk away from without turning off will have its engine run. But fair that most people would hear the engine.

However, what about normal hybrids? The normal Toyota Prius doesn’t have its engine running when it comes to a stop. For that matter, how do start/stop assist vehicles behave when they are stopped? Granted, their engines may not take as long to turn off, but they could still remain off for long enough such that the same problem presents itself.

Well I can’t speak on how all start-stop hybrids operate, but I am pretty sure there are safeguards in place for most vehicle to prevent carbon monoxide (edit – not sure why I said CO2) poisoning.

I’m not sure how suggesting a potential flaw in other vehicles gives the car in question a pass though.

Personally, I think the recall is warranted and would be welcomed by owners of a 2011-2013 Volt. I know I would rather have it than not.

I know I have left my own BEVs operating accidently on numerous occasions in my garage. Only difference is I am annoyed the next day when I’m out of juice…as opposed to experiencing a garage/house full of carbon monoxide.

“Prevent CO2 Poisoning”.

Hehe you said that twice. Only on an Electric Car site. Please explain how the most delicate Orchid thrives in a CO2-Rich atmosphere.

I caught that too, Bill. I think you mean CO poisoning, Jay?

high CO2 concentrations are lethal too, you cant breathe in such atmosphere

Heeh, always dangerous CO2, lol. I meant carbon monoxide.


That is exactly like saying you can’t drink water since if you wait around on the Titanic eventually you might drink too much.

Of course I mean any reasonable amount, like 2 – 3 x the current atmospheric concentration, such as greenhouses pipe in for their most delicate plants.

I don’t think it gives the Volt a pass, and I don’t think the recall shouldn’t be implemented.

But I can’t stand the method they’re choosing to implement it. It’s as asinine as the whole engine running due to temperature regardless of all other conditions.

There is no safety concern with the Volt being on if the engine isn’t going to run. So it would be nice if they gave this a bit more thought and said, “Hey, let’s only turn the car off if the engine is about to run and it’s been a long time”

The engine running is the concern, it should exist somewhere in the conditional statement they choose to implement, in my opinion.

Also, my reference to other cars is simply that, at some level, it seems crazy that people always driving cars can forget to turn it off.

Though that doesn’t dismiss that the safety risk should be averted. I just wish they’d use more common sense in implementing the fix.

Turning off the Volt after some set time even if it has plenty of battery left is kind of pointless.

Turning if off after some set time if and only if the engine is about to run makes a lot more sense and doesn’t compromise vehicle utility for those that want to use that power for other reasons.

Jay, forgive all my replies, an edit button would serve me well today. 😉

You said, “Well I can’t speak on how all start-stop hybrids operate, but I am pretty sure there are safeguards in place for most vehicle to prevent CO2 [sic] poisoning.”

If that were true, wouldn’t it be impossible for people to take their own lives by staying in a closed garage with their vehicle left running?

Obviously, I meant in the context of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of a dual-propulsion system.

Ah, sorry Jay. It actually wasn’t obvious to me. 😉 I’m not aware of safeguards in other hybrids, but admittedly, I’ve never tried to research it either!

No worries, always good to be as clear as possible, (=

My wife’s Camry Hybrid would do the same thing if you ignore the chime. You can sit while parked and leave the car on with the ac running for sometimes 5 minutes before the engine automatically kicks on. The very same thing would happen if you left it on in the garage and walked inside. After a few minutes the engine would turn on.

And yet, news media outlets will get this info about a plug-in, further causing chaos and fear in the minds of those who don’t want to try a new technology, further putting them at a disadvantage.

Besides me, others have complained about the Obtuseness of GM. This recall is a prime example. They are not even addressing the Remote Start danger, they are acting like it doesn’t exist, when it should be by far the more common scenario. Of course, then we’ll need another few articles here, and another few recalls. Rather like my experience with the ‘second’ publically released version of the charger brick: Mine was too short to plug in after installing version one precisely according to the owner’s manual. My criticism of GM’s design team here illustrates the point. How many people ‘approved’ the design of the version 2 charger brick – I’d say anywhere between 10 and 20 people – the one with the all black cords – has a ridiculously long pigtail on it simply because my dealer (so he says) made 11 calls to detroit asking what to do. Now in a small firm, you could call the one guy who designed all of this, tell him on the phone he made a mistake, and he’d (hopefully) correct all of it cuz it doesn’t cost anything. Meanwhile GM has to have official inquiries that don’t fix much until the competition… Read more »

Ok some text disappeared – version 1 to 2 was the problem, (2 orange cords to blk/org), then finally fixed with a superlong pigtail (all black cords in publically released vers 3)

Bill, I’m not aware of any remote start danger?

Even if the engine runs for the full 10 minutes (which it won’t, it’ll turn off after about 3-4 minutes), it’s just not enough CO to cause any concern.

I may be missing a detail here though.

I hear the words but I’ll have to prove this to myself – 3 minutes just doesn’t sound right. I’ll try it out next January And in cold weather the 50,000 btu/hour water heater would quickly make the engine restart.

My house orientation is such that the garage provides its ‘fresh air’, and I would be directly impacted. And NYSERDA has come and said my house is sealed ‘EXACTLY as it should be’, with the pressure tests, etc. WHen the guys were here they didn’t do anything since they said my house was surprisingly, ‘Perfectly Compliant’.

IF it is of no concern I would guess you’d tell the 2 people who went to the hospital that they are hypocondriacs and have dreamt the whole thing, if this story (UPDATE) is to be believed.

They say don’t run a lawnmower sized engine anywhere NEAR the house, not even outside. A four cylinder engine running inside a building therefore is inconsequential? C’mon.

er… this case ‘water cooler’. I don’t know what size it is exactly, on reflection maybe 40,000 btu/hour in very cold weather.

I own a Prius as well as a Volt. The Prius has no such safeguard regarding carbon monoxide buildup. You can leave the prius running for hours/days until it runs out of gas.
The only safeguard to prevent this is that the Prius will beep several times if you walk away from it running and have the key in your pocket.
This proposed fix from GM is not required and I do not want it on my 2013 Volt. We use both Prius and Volt as a generator for our home when we lose power.

I can’t speak for all, but GM’s start/stops only shut down when the vehicle is in drive, the engine oil and transmission fluid have reached normal operating temperature,- the driver’s foot is on the brake and the vehicle is stopped for more than a set time – seems like about three seconds.

It starts if you take your foot off the brake, move it out of drive, or if the set time for battery backup to reach the minimal allowable charge level – typically longer than a red light lasts.

It will not shut off the engine, or start the engine unless all of these conditions are met.

Jay, not sure I agree on this. Lots of modern cars are quiet and owners may not even hear them running. If they get distracted by something such as getting kids out or whatever it can be an issue. This can happen with any car….. should something be done…yes. is it unique to the Volt? As I said I don’t think so.

I’ve not yet experienced a conventional internal combustion engine powered car which I can’t hear when running.

Are you thinking of some luxury car or something?

A Hybrid would shut down the engine in a similar manner. I don’t know if a hybrid would run the engine, on occasion, to refill the small battery on board or to occasionally charge the 12V.

Well, to be fair, the Volt presents a unique danger in this regard. It is the only car that can sit “on” silently for hours, and then fire up the gas engine much later, such as when the owner is asleep.

Frankly I would be very surprised if noone has done something similar with a Prius, but it would start idling much sooner. Maybe one would realize the car was on before it became an issue.

An aside – my Insight automatically idles the engine when you shift it to Park. It infuriates me that it will auto-stop, but then resume idling in park. But this issue makes it make sense.

Bottom line – we need the Volt to be idiot proof. It needs to go mainstream, and the mainstream users will occasionally doing stupid things like leaving the car on in their garage.

“Well, to be fair, the Volt presents a unique danger in this regard. It is the only car that can sit “on” silently for hours, and then fire up the gas engine much later, such as when the owner is asleep.”

Can you elaborate? What about a BMW i3 Rex? Or a Plug in Prius? A C-Max Energi, or a Fusion Energi? Are you saying those don’t operate similarly? They all have a sufficient battery to have their engine remain off for hours.

My C Max Energi honks the horn if I leave the vehicle and it is “on”. I noticed it when getting out to mail a letter. As soon as I closed the door it honked twice. If I leave the door open it doesn’t honk.

Volt does too- but not if the other key remains in the car- for example in wife’s purse.

The Energis will also shut off automatically after sitting idle for 30 minutes unless your turn off that feature, but it gets activated again automatically each time you start the vehicle.

“…Bottom line – we need the Volt to be idiot proof….” Actually, the only reason they are recalling this is because people are complaining about it, and since people are being taken to the hospital GM has been shocked into the realization this can be like the ignitions. There’s plenty of “WE GM ENGINEERS are smarter than you” in the car which have bad ramifications: If you operate the remote start, thinking the car is above 27 degrees fahrenheit, but if your garage is a bit colder, then the engine will start. Very dangerous. The reason for the danger is a typical everyday function the owner wants to do has been superceded by the vehicle, programmed to think it knows better than the owner, when all it will do is eventually lead GM to another lawsuit and another recall. Since the car is plugged in it is quite obvious the owner wanted to heat the car using the wall plug. The frustrating thing is there is NO WAY to disable it. But this attitude has been gradually forced on the car buying public, until it starts biting corporations in the can. Tesla’s doing similar things now, apparently ‘first-come, first-served’ is… Read more »

Bill if we engineer stupidity out of the car becasue we fear litigation no one will ever be able to afford the car.
Let Darwinism prevail……it’s good to cull the herd

That attitude is the problem. Some things do not need to be engineered, they need to be left alone. There were plenty of things to get right on my volt, like implementing the pedestrian warning with a non-maskable interrupt rather than a maskable one, since delaying the horn is brain dead. I’ve already run over the human before the horn beeps. Or, making it so the dopey heater controls don’t blank out. Of course, then you fiddle with them to try to get them to work, and then you get ANOTHER DOPEY screen telling you too much fiddling may take your eyes off the road. GENIUSES. With all the unfinished work released before the car was ready, they implemented all that ‘ We’re big shot enginneers stuff, and the jerk who plunked down $46K is too dumb to be able to drive the car the way he wants’. AS I always say, Cars are the only machinery you can buy where the manufacturer exists in a dichotomy: Buyer’s are smart enough to buy the second most pricey chevy brand new, but aren’t smart enough to be trusted. Actually, they are the idiots. Hopefully they are not so dumb this time… Read more »
I take it you have absolutely no knowledge of the vehicle development process, nor do you know any engineers, is that a true statement? I have been an engineer for over thirty years and know thousands of other engineers, the vast majority of whom are very intelligent and motivated to excel at everything they do. And I have never, ever seen an engineer who considers themselves to be a ‘big shot’, or who thinks the end users of their efforts are stupid. What you don’t seem to understand, is that there are government regulations, requirements and specifications for most parts of a vehicle, and virtually all systems. Vehicles are made up of thousands of different parts and systems, many of which are designed and manufactured by suppliers – HVAC controls and systems are ALWAYS designed and manufactured by suppliers, same with your infotainment system, etc., etc. NO ONE at an auto company is going to ‘ignore’ an issue – they are in an extremely competitive environment, sell the most technologically advanced and complex items available for sale to a consumer, and understand the need to provide the consumer a real reason to buy their product over someone else’s. Do they… Read more »

The only true statement in that long paragraph is that February around here was the coldest in 145 years at least. The fact you think I don’t know anything proves your arrogance and, along with a self-serving corporate board, sheds plenty of light as to why GM went bankrupt in the first place.

There are other companies going bankrupt soon enough… Stay tuned.

If youre asking for my personal assesment of engineers, that’s too broad a field to give a single comment. But a generalization would be that the younger ones, including Clarkson and Brian, seem reasonable.

I’m sure its just the luck of the draw, but for about the past 30 years, I’ve never met an engineer over 45 who wasn’t totally constipated.

In my younger years I’ve met some reasonable
‘older’ engineers, but they’re unfortunately gone. The ones I’ve met in the past 3 decades as I say mostly have been clowns.

Someone wise once said: “Just as soon as you make something idiot proof, someone goes and develops a better idiot.”

Since I do not have a garage this “recall” does not fix my car, it breaks my car. If I leave it on I want it to stay on and not assume intent on my part. GM should have a way to bypass this.

People die every year when they leave gas generators plugged into their home inside their garage, forgetting about carbon monoxide poisoning. How come that has been happening for decades, yet there is no safety mechanism there to sense concentrations of CO?

The concept of the CAR making the decision to POISON THE HOUSE, contrary to the wishes of its owner, and more importantly, UNKNOWN to the owner, is a brand new one, and I’m certain GM will hear from several law firms.

A fix should be implemented. The fix they are choosing is stupid and ignores owner satisfaction.

Are you suggesting the people that put a generator in their garage know that it will poison them?

3 guesses

Haha, you kill me Bill

We apparently have trouble communicating. I didn’t sense this when we were in person.

Me either, I think it’s a problem with written communication. 🙂

On a side note, ever since our last elongated thread on the Volt’s EREV status, whenever I see a post from you I think of your “Who knows… NOSE? ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT MY NOSE?!” comment and it makes me smile. 😉

Hope to see you in person soon, the snow is finally starting to melt.

Yeah, well let me know if you, or you and Brian feel like doing lunch. I don’t need much notice since I can fully charge overnight. Just find someplace where I can immediately plug in. My 2 rear tires have broken belts again, but I’ll chance it.

Good point. I would think a CO alarm would be a good item in the garage. You can pick one up at WalMart and they are not terribly expensive.

For a little money – the Volt could have an on-board CO sensor and then start beeping the horn if it senses too much CO and it is running but in “Park” while sensing CO.

I did forget, though, that some people are indeed deaf. So, you also need an OnStar email and even perhaps an OnStart phone call and/or text event.

Hehe, the more operative point here is something Upton Sinclair figured out 100 years ago: “‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’, …

Haha! Nice one Bill 🙂

Yea my sentiments exactly. This applies to any vehicle. If someone steps out and forgets to shut the car of it’ll run till it runs out of gas….duhhhhh

Wow, this owner complains to NHTSA like he’s an expert. He did “Data dumps”, and speciously takes a 3rd party tone, calling the engine “red hot”. His wife goes to the hospital for CO inhalation, but he’s pissed his hard drive somehow got wiped?

I don’t blame GM, like he does, but agree the Volt exists in a world of legal blood lust. For that reason, the car should make up for said negligent owners, and feature an auto-shutdown. Specifying “2011-2013” affected makes you wonder if it doesn’t already exist?

First off, is the problem that owners are leaving the key fob in the car and not turning it off? (also not noticing all the warnings beeping) If it is, then I guess their is no cure for stupid owners.

However, one solution is already working for Tesla. You would have to install a simple timed pressure sensor in the driver’s seat. I have a Tesla and the car will shut off after 25mins (I think) if ~90lbs isn’t sensed in the driver’s seat. This is how Tesla solves the same problem of depleting or “bricking” a battery if the owner leaves the car on all night in their garage. Of course leaving a Tesla on all night doesn’t have the potential to kill anyone, making the GM problem much more serious. I believe the materials for this solution is quite inexpensive, however installation via the awesome(lol) dealer network will probably be incredibly expensive.

First off, is the problem that owners are leaving the key fob in the car and not turning it off? (also not noticing all the warnings beeping) If it is, then I guess their is no cure for stupid owners.

However, one solution is already working for Tesla. You would have to install a simple timed pressure sensor in the driver’s seat. I have a Tesla and the car will shut off after 25mins (I think) if ~90lbs isn’t sensed in the driver’s seat. This is how Tesla solves the same problem of depleting or “bricking” a battery if the owner leaves the car on all night in their garage. Of course leaving a Tesla on all night doesn’t have the potential to kill anyone, making the GM problem much more serious. I believe the materials for this solution is quite inexpensive, however installation via the awesome(lol) dealer network will probably be incredibly expensive.

Learning curve. This is easier to overlook in an EV than an ICE, though instances exist for both. Ironically, the biggest danger sited is the gas engine running in a garage. To my knowledge, there is no such auto shut off in any ICE. Still, it is a feature that I certainly welcome and would want to see in any automobile.

Right. This seems to be a unique set of circumstances for an EREV. In an ICE, you can hear the engine humming when you walk away. In a BEV, there are no emissions to worry about. In an EREV, the emissions may come much later, like when the owner has fallen asleep.

I actually left my Leaf on once when I was at a ball game. We were tailgating before the game, and then I accidentally left the car on. Fortunately, the ball park is less than 10 miles from my home, so no issues with range. If I had done the same thing in my garage, I would have found a dead battery in the morning, but there would have been no dangerous emissions in the meantime.

Right on Brian! There are a number of ICE’s that idle at a very low decibel. And then there are cases where people do it anyway. And low mileage BEVs could use it too. To my knowledge, the Volt will be the only automobile out there with this feature and you get the recall/upgrade for free! I look forward to getting this capability added to my Volt.

“n an ICE, you can hear the engine humming when you walk away. ”

NOT true. PLenty of ICE today has start/stop system and some hybrids shuts off as well.

You can’t cure stupidity. But we will try…

“The vehicle’s software will be updated to limit the time that an idle vehicle can be left in the ON position free of charge.”

GM, come on. IF you’re going to do this recall, how about you limit the time the engine can run with the vehicle in the ON position free of charge??

There’s so many applications where people may want to have their vehicle left on and in electric mode. Police traffic detail, for example, or emergency back-up power for a home as another.

Don’t go for the easiest solution, go for the one that makes the most sense! Don’t turn off someone’s vehicle for them unless/until a running engine poses a problem!!

Exactly! I see this as a problem, not a solution. What if this “safety” malfunctions and the vehicle is actually moving, not idling?

And why would the engine be ”red hot” while the car is just sitting there. Even if the heater in the car was set to high, would that require the engine runing at high or full rpm?
Information is missing here but i’ve never seen my Volt running the engine that fast while parked and turned on with depletted battery. That’s weird!

I don’t know how hot “red hot” is, but the lack of air flow would prevent the engine from radiating heat as much as it would normally.

Also, the complain listed involves an instance where they did plug the Volt in after parking (as most people would do)… However, if the vehicle is left on, the Volt never charges. The light remains amber/off and a charge never starts.

It seems like that is one easy fix that GM could do; make it so that the engine never runs whenever a charge cord is plugged in. This setting exists, but I believe it only “works” if the charger gets plugged in when the vehicle is already turned off.

the engine should not be able to start if the vehicle is plugged into an evse.the engine run in park should be limited when not plugged into an evse with a warning before shutdown , simple for gm to make these 2 changes.

the engine was hot because it was running in an enclosed garage and starving of oxygen?

My engine starts all the time while plugged in when I do a remote start and its 15 degrees or less out.

+10. That fix makes a lot of sense, and doesn’t rob some owners of their desire to leave the Volt on for long periods of time for very relevant reasons.

One of the coolest things to me is that a Volt could reduce tons of gas usage for a police department. But not if they implement this fix the way they intend to, without thinking it through sufficiently.

What if the power goes out? What if you leave it on and forget to plug it in?

The car can detect the presence of a charging cable even if there is no power present.

If they didn’t plug in, GM could choose to shut the vehicle down just prior to the engine running, rather than an arbitrary time that ignores people who may want to leave their car on for perfectly legitimate reasons.

So does it monitor the butt sensor, or do they disregard if someone is sitting in the car or not? How far away was the keyfob? I didn’t think the car would stay on if the keyfob was out of range.

(Just a side thought but what about external carbon monoxide sensors on cars that would shut engines off if it was too high? I know, one more thing to go wrong or to be messed with.)

The car will remain on without the keyfob. that would be a good “key” for GM to use.

I’m sure some of us remember that particular incident playing out on Facebook last year. It’s a problem; it should be fixed. Agreed basically any other PHEV or vehicle with stop/start could have the same problem, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fixed with the Volt.

Notably GM already changed the software for 2014-15 so they aren’t included.

I don’t deny it should be fixed. However, I don’t think it should be fixed in a careless manner that detracts from the Volt’s functionality.

There are perfectly acceptable ways to implement a sufficient fix that also doesn’t compromise vehicle utility.
1) Force shut down of car when it gets plugged into charger, then allow it to charge.
2) Only shut down if the engine is about to run, if left unattended for a long time.

There’s no reason to turn off the vehicle after a period of time when the battery is still full and someone wants to use that capability.

My Spark EV honks the horn six times if I exit the car with the key fob while the car is on. Of course when I want to leave the car on and exit without the honking I leave the fob in the car so that feature alone would not prevent someone from parking a HEV in the garage and leaving their keys in the car and the car on.

My first thought at the appropriate solution would be that when the batteries gets close to the point where the car will need to start to recharge them the car should prompt the driver to confirm that they want the car to stay on. If the driver doesn’t confirm then the car turns off before the batteries get too low. There should be an override that you have to engage each time you want to leave the car on without the prompt safety feature. That would ensure that the car never turns on unintentionally. Just limiting the idle time seems like a poor solution.

It also seems odd to me that a car that is plugged in would need to start the engine to recharge the batteries…

The way it is currently implemented, when someone plugs into the Volt while it is still on, it will not charge. I’m not sure what causes this limitation.

It may have been below the ERDTT setting. Also, plugged in on 120V at 8 amps only equates to about ~700 watts getting to the DC buss. If the car was using 1kW (or anything more than 700 watts) to keep the cabin or batteries warm (or cool) then it would need additional power from the engine.

My sister-in-law left her Prius on all day once. I found a Lexus RX-450h left on in a parking lot once. It would be quiet for a while and the engine would cycle on for a while and then it would go off. Seems like this potential circumstance would apply to any car that is quiet when stopped paired with someone who maybe wasn’t used to it or is distracted.

GM is super-sensitive to recalls these days and issues them for most everything of significance. I do think it is an issue that should be addressed, and should apply to any hybrid that doesn’t already have some mechanism to prevent this.


I would go a step further and apply the recall to every car ever made. Modern gas cars idle at very low noise levels and there are a lot of people that can’t hear well (especially elderly people). Just search for “car idles in garage” and a bunch of near death incidents pop up.

Ah, Sweet Sweet Vindication… 😉


I’m ELATED the “New” GM is proactively addressing such a serious issue NOW, before their hardware accidentally kills even more people. I’m confident they’re making sure this issue won’t also occur with Gen2.

Volt owners now probably wish they had “Over the Air” updates, like some other EVs out there. 😉

We have OTA updates. They’re used for non-critical items.

By the way, nobody has been killed by this.

GM has 4G LTE in their cars now (actually for some time now). When will Tesla get this?

Um, we weren’t talking about data speeds or protocols. We were talking about software bugs GM can’t remotely fix, and are therefore forced to do physical recalls of every Volt that exists on the planet.

As for LTE: When will the rest of the planet implement it? The US isn’t Tesla’s only market… And like anything Tesla, the answer is always, “Soon”. 😉

I was talking about 4G LTE. That’s why I brought it up.

Well, yeah, more OTA updates (as ClarksonCote says we already get some) would be nice. I think the majority of Volt owners would agree with you. Tesla does a lot of things well.

Hardware killing more people? You mean the engine? Nobody died for one thing. And even Tesla uses engines.

Oh, I’m not saying anyone DID die from this particular defect. No no. But I *AM* glad they didn’t just sweep it under the rug, until folks did. Like those 53 people we know of, that DID die due to the decade + “Ignition-Gate”.

So I say for the record: Kudos to the new GM for being proactive concerning this issue.

Maybe if this does killl someone, we might have a cleaner gene pool..

These days we are designing things to make people stupid and evolution is proven wrong by the stupidity of human race…

Since GM has done some wireless updates of the Volt, why can’t this “recall” be done wirelessly? What’s the issue preventing that?

Dear GM. I’ll update my car IF you supply my 2012 Volt with HOLD mode.

+1 They should include it along with the update, and the ERDTT 15/35F options and no engine assisted heating when plugged in option

The complaining Volt owner is lucky he’s not a candidate for a Darwin Award. He could have taken some simple safety precautions.

If you have an enclosed garage, get a freaking carbon monoxide detector for your living area! Even if you don’t have an enclosed garage, get a CO detector. Every home should have one. In NYC, by law all apartments/homes must have CO detectors installed. This should probably be a federal law to cover the entire US. Businesses should also be required by law to install CO detectors. Just last year a dozen diners at a restaurant in Long Island, NY were overcome by CO when the kitchen ventilation system clogged up and failed.

How about just turning off the car?

Is this going to also be applied to the ELR, as I believe the same behavior exists.

Likely a shared code base. So, yeah…

I don’t think it is an ELR issue. Post 2014 Volts and ELR’s already handle this apparently. It only applies to pre 2014 model Volts.

On the bright side, maybe the press from this will let more people learn how the Volt actually works (“It has an engine?? I thought it was electric!”)

That’s as positive a spin I’ve ever heard for a GM issue. 😀

2014+ already has this, plus a very annoying honk if it’s still on and you exit (with fob).

Though the shutdown is 150 mins with no user input.
If you’re sitting in the car you’re probably going to touch something in that time.
Unwanted shutdown would usually only occur for inverter/backup power use, though other users have discovered it only requires you to depress the shift button (use a clamp, tie it, or whatever) and no more auto shutdown

This was my fear a couple of years ago… See this article where I was quoted:

When I buy a used ’13 Volt I’ll make sure it does not include this update. Because if the car shuts off some time after being left on, it can’t be easily used to power critical appliances in a house overnight in a power outage (via inverter hooked up to lead acid battery).
While they are at it though, they might as well throw in ERDTT 15/35F, hold mode, don’t start the engine when plugged in feature, for ’11-’12 models.
I may write an email to Chevy.

Does anybody know the timeout in minutes that the 2014+ Volt shuts itself off and does it also happen if plugged in/charging and the car is left on?

With 2013+ Volt with the ‘disable engine when plugged in’ feature, will the engine still come on if outside temperature still goes below 15″ (ERDTT threshold) or if the hood is opened?

I think you hook the inverter to the 12V lead acid battery for emergency power and the Volt is never “turned on”. The internal 12 VDC battery charger continues to pull power from the Volt’s high voltage LION traction battery to maintain the 12 VDC battery voltage until the traction battery shut down due to low charge. The engine would never turn on in that scenario, as the Volt is never “on”.

Do you want to also be able to run the inverter with the traction battery depleted and the ICE running? Just get a Honda generator in that case – more gas efficient than running a big ICE to power 1 kW of electric power.

The car must be ‘on’, the 12V charger/APM is not active if the car is off.
You’ll kill your tiny 12V in no time this way if you have high draw on it

See my post above. Others have found it only requires clamping the shifter button in place and it won’t shut off

Yep I found that thread “Disabling 2014+ auto-off feature. Can it be done?”.

I suppose the lead acid battery charger isn’t active if the car is in accessory mode? Does the timer eventually shut the car off when in just accessory mode to? I assume so, so the traction battery doesn’t run down.

Yea, a recall is necessary, this is a overlooked development issue. Having said that…..
So this guy screwed up not once, but twice… or more.. One, he forgot to shut off the car.. sure that’s easy to forget. Two, he plugged it in and didn’t realize the car DIDN’T honk at him to confirm charging. Well that was silly. Does TOU/delayed charging effect the plug in feedback?
I think he made another error too. I believe he should have smelled/heard something well before needing “medical attention” But i might be wrong. Maybe it sneaks up on you.
If this would have been me.. I would have gotten a notification as to my car NOT charging… and would have checked Onstar, or walked out to the car to see what the green light on dash was doing! I also might have glanced at the car once plugged in to see if it was charging.
But some people go thru this world wholely unaware of their surroundings, driving 10mph too slow on a back road for a hour with 100 cars backed up behind them.

Seems a shame that in the year 2015 an update can’t just be sent via the net. Tesla could do it!

No. I do not want this “fix”. If I go camping I will sleep in the Volt. I like the music and AC. Silly stupid update would prevent my Volt from being my Castle. Any other car can be left on. If you want to update, make it totally optional. This is as bad as the stupid Prius floor mat recall.

the car should flash its lights, chime like crazy, and then do a force-shut down if you plug it in to a charger with the keys in the ignition. geez…

You can’t cure stupidity.

Yes, now we are going to improve the car for the sake of stupid people in the world.

I am okay with GM fixing it. But now our gene pool just got dirtier…


So the ICE will turn on even if the charger is connected?

Yes. Its an irritating feature because it effectively prevents me prewarming the car. Even though the car is plugged in, you can’t turn the heater on even on low, without the engine running. Oh, I could get dressed, open the garage, pull the car out, and let it sit in the driveway, and then close the garage door. But If I’m going to do all that work I might as well just leave anyway. I can’t leave the garage door open because my hot tub heater will freeze. Now for the past few hours i’ve been a bit hard on the VOLT. I like the car alot, generically speaking, since it is the only vehicle which will not leave me stranded, and will (if its hot enough outside, another pet peeve) have a decent range since its the only plug-in hybrid that has to my mind a minimally sized battery… Other brands batteries are just too small for the complication and expense. Others here want more room, or a 6000 watt charger or whatever. To me, if the Volt just had a 1000 watt charger in it, I still would have bought it, even though I could make use out… Read more »

And during the last two months I couldn’t even do that if I wanted to since I would have to shovel out the space on the driveway first to even make room to pull the car out. Yes I have to do that anyway, but it would be nice to arrive into a nice preheated car to alleviate my shivering. But due to GM’s dopey engineering team that’s impossible.

Next year I’m going to get a steel stool and put it in the volt with a 1500 watt ceramic heater running so that I can preheat the car. I need to stool to prevent the car from catching on fire and burning down the garage.

Stupid me to think that I could actually use an electric heater supplied with the car to warm it up safely in the garage while I’m trying to clear up my drive way before heading out.

Bill, I’m genuinely curious about your heater effectiveness. My electric heater makes my Volt toasty warm even on the coldest of days when I remote start.

One of the tricks is making sure Fan Speed is set to “Auto” otherwise it will be limited to whatever Fan speed setting you have last selected.

The effectiveness is not the problem. You and others, have essentially said, reading between the lines, that the heater’s size is somewhere around 20,000 BTU/hour when electric. That’s ok.

The problem is I can’t use the electric heater in my garage in the winter time since it is an ATTACHED garage. The ‘smarter than Me’ volt won’t let me.

Why won’t the Volt let you? Oh, I think you’re referring to your engine running on the 2011-2012 models under 26F.

Well, with my 2011 I did it in my attached garage all the time. The 4 minutes the engine runs isn’t nearly enough to generate high CO levels, and plus once you open the garage door it nearly all dissipates.

At least for my situation and garage, it wasn’t a concern. I don’t have an air exchanger in my garage to blow air into my house or anything like that. 🙂

On my car under 27, and that 4 minute thing doesn’t seem long enough, but next cold snap i’ll time it.

Yeah, under 27F or at 26F. Can’t believe I’m being imprecise with these numbers.

Let me know what you find. Shouldn’t have to wait long for a sub-27F day. 😉 Even at 10 minutes though there’s not a lot of CO.

Guessing you have an 11 or 12?
13+ can disable the engine while plugged in.
(Has to be actively charging, though. from the sounds of this it won’t begin charging if the car is on already and you plug in. But if you plug in while it’s off and turn it on, the engine will not start for ERDTT – I’ve done this)

You mean after a few years they actually fixed something? Amazing.

That will limit the future recalls to only 11’s and 12’s.

Ok, a fine point here makes all the difference.

When you say on the 2015’s you can ‘disable engine while charging’, does that mean the remote start will STILL start the engine since it is finished charging?

Or is it ‘disable engine while plugged in’?

Some caveats to Bill’s comments, Cheryl: – 2011-2012 Volts: The engine will turn on even if plugged in to charge and a remote start is initiated, with temperature less than 25F. – 2011-2012 Volts: The engine will turn on if the car is left on for an extended period and eventually runs out of battery. – 2013-2015 Volts: The engine will NOT turn on if plugged in to charge and a remote start command is initiated, if the option “Disable Engine Assisted heating while plugged in”. Otherwise, it will turn on if temperatures are under 15F or 35F depending on setting. – 2013-2015 Volts: The engine will turn on if the car is left on for an extended period and eventually runs out of battery. – All Volts: If someone plugs in the Volt to charge while it is on, the car never starts charging, so this will not prevent the battery from draining and the engine will turn on. For 2013-2015 Volts, this is regardless of the “Disable Engine Assisted Heating when Plugged in” option, since the engine isn’t turning on for heating, it is turning on to make electricity. – All Volts have their engine turn on when… Read more »

Correction: 2011 is 2 degrees hotter. Which means non existant in the winter around here.

Not under 25, under 27.

You’re right Bill, under 27F. I’m actually surprised I said 25, because it annoys me when other people make that minor mistake. 😉

To be precise, the engine in the 2011-2012 turns off as the temperature turns to 26F. And in the 2013-2015, if on the “Very Cold” setting, the engine turns on as the temperature turns to 14F, whereas “Cold” tuns the engine on as the temperature turns to 24F.

Not on my 2011: the engine is running at 26 degrees.

Curiously, the volt and roadster are the only cars I’ve owned where the thermometers are somewhat accurate.

Other cars I’ve had had the thermometers constantly changed during warranty, and they still didn’t work.

Of course, as the volt ages the engine will probably run all the time , effectively killing the electric car function since it will constantly say its -60 or something like that.

“Not on my 2011: the engine is running at 26 degrees.”

Bill, that’s exactly what I said, “the engine in the 2011-2012 turns off as the temperature turns to 26F” The engine is not running at 27F, and is running at 26F.

What I wouldn’t give for an edit button. I had to read the statement 5 times before realizing I said turns off, even copying and pasting. I meant to say turns ON. 😉

how do you forget to turn the car off

I always remember a government safety inspector telling me that you can make things as safe as possible, but you can’t make them idiot proof.

If you leave the vehicle on and the genset turns on and you kill your family… then you probably should have turned off the car. I don’t see how this is the car manufacturers fault. To what extend can you idiot proof a car?

Seems like something of an exaggerated story at best. Putting aside the fact that the DIC tells you the car in ON or OFF, if the car is OFF there are no warning sounds and, when you plug the car in, the lights are blinking or solid green. If the car is OFF, you get the most annoying beeps and, when you plug the car in, the lights are yellow. Hard to believe he didn’t see anything to suggest the car was ON. Secondly the Volt doesn’t use that much power just sitting so the engine will cycle ON and OFF. Yes it could use 5 gallons over 16 hours but that’s not going to turn the car white hot. Just not enough energy. (It’s about what an ICE vehicle would use going six MPH). Third, when the engine runs the 12v battery is charged. Not really possible for the 12v battery to be flat. Moreover, if the 12v battery OR the HV battery was actually without charge, as claimed, then the engine could not have started. In fact it’s likely the engine would not have started if either the 12v or the HV battery was without charge. Then there… Read more »

Hi DonC,

I agree the issue is silly, but I don’t think this case is an exaageration.

The batteries being low could be a result of electrical failures following a substantial rise in heat given the small enclosure of a garage. As it warmed up, and the battery ran out of electricity, the vehicle would have just kept making electricity from the engine to run the A/C to cool the batteries, an endless loop of sorts resulting in more and more heat in the small volume of a garage.

Sounds like the idiot didn’t just leave the Volt on. It sounds like the idiot set the car to Max heat setting and that is why the battery is drained quickly.

Maybe she/he is trying to commit suicide and then changed their minds in the last sec since it took too long to do so in the Volt…

Yes, interesting set of circumstances.

Never a fan of the American method of building houses drawing air from a garage or basement level.

Software should fix it, I suspect no rush form most owners including myself.

Next they will be complaining that the car turned of allowing people / pets to overheat or freeze.

I don’t think a manufacture can win designing everything for the lowest common denominator and wacky scenarios.

I have a 2011 Volt, and I had a cooling failure which caused the car to overheat when it was idled for too long. (It happened when driving in bumper to bumper traffic on a mountain road). The chevy dealer tech was eventually able to reproduce the issue in the shop the same way (during normal operation it would not overheat). The cooling system was replaced and no problems for over a year.

Perhaps the owner making the complaint also had this failure, which would cause the engine to overheat or be very hot.

My 2011 Volt has 130,000 miles on it, minimum problems, and it’s the best and funnest car I’ve ever owned (I’m 70). I’d like to know if anyone else has an old Volt out there, like mine. As for the guy who left his Volt turned on in an enclosed garage at 7pm and didn’t find the problem until 11….that’s nuts and no reason for a recall in my humble opinion.

Agreed Mr. Moore, the Volt is a refreshing change of pace for detroit, when compared to say, the 1971 chevy Vega (45,000 miles tops) or that Chevette (Gas station attendents used to joke ‘Oh! they’re making these refillable now?’), and I think Bob Lutz should get alot of credit since I know he micromanaged and overroad some of the design team’s dopeyer decisions. Many say, compared to the plastic Prius, the Volt is a Tank. That is very rare in Detroit to put Money into something unseen, which of course is what all owners WANT detroit to do. We don’t want a car where the suspension falls out on the pavement after 3 years (this happened to my folks when I was a kid with a 1960 Rambler. Too bad, the rest of the car was great! – Only similarity to my Roadster is the push-button transmission controls). Its uncanny they are doing a recall on an engine left running, when the Remote Start issue I’ve mentioned (where some owners may not realize that the 2011-12 volts will start on them unknowingly when all they are trying to do is electrically preheat the cabin since it is plugged in) is… Read more »
The fun and educational thing about these blogs on electric car sites is that it gets you to thinking about stuff you normally would have forgotten. That 1960 rambler had the most comfortable seating in any economy car ever. Electrically, it had a whopping 25 amp generator (autolite – by FORD), since the only huge loads were the 4 headlights and the heater blower. The wiper was vacuum (electrics were an optional extra this one didn’t have), so you had to ‘cool it’ going up a hill in the rain because the wipers would stop if you floored it. I was scratching my head as to why the VOlt has a 175 amp alternator replacement, but then at the autoshow I saw the Chevy Silverado had 150 amp alt standardard, and if you bought the towing/plowing package (presumably to operate the 12 volt hyd jack) you get a 200 amp one. I’m used to getting along with less. Rather like all electricians saying all houses need a minimum of a 200 amp (48 kw) electric service with 300 and 400 prefered, when the house I grew up in had 3.6. It was tricky getting an electric dishwasher, washing machine, electric… Read more »

Wow!! If you leave your car on it keeps running?? Forrest Gump said “Stupid is as Stupid does” i own a Volt, if you cannot see the 2 giant LCD screens on as you are exiting the, the chimes that go off as you open the door, than you should not be allowed to own or operate a car.