Chevy Volt Has Bugs, But No Rats

Last Thursday, a check-engine icon illuminated in our long-term Chevy Volt’s instrument panel. This happened after two nights alone in our parking structure where the last time the car was left for two nights it fell victim to a vicious attack. We feared that Chilly the Rat had struck again.

We hit the OnStar button and were informed by the adviser of two diagnostic trouble codes regarding battery voltage sensing and electric propulsion control. We were instructed to take the car to the dealer. Last time we got warnings, they were “ABS” and “StabiliTrak,” not “Rat Attack,” so we didn’t know what the real problem might be. The car seemed to perform fine both times.

Thankfully, after a few days at the dealership, we know that the diagnostic trouble codes were false alarms.

The technicians performed software updates on nine electronic modules and noted that another update is in development for DTC P0D22. According to our Volt adviser, who made contact today, the fix won’t be ready until May. Should the check-engine light come on due to this code before May, the dealer said, OnStar will be able to wipe the code remotely.

Update: Today, a Volt adviser contacted us and said OnStar is not capable of wiping the code in question remotely. We would have to visit the dealership or wait a day or two to see if the light goes out on its own.

Online Volt forums are full of similar tales, citing overly conservative safeguards that trigger false readings. The software updates serve to bring the diagnostic systems more in line with real-world conditions.

We retrieved the car yesterday and all seems fine. We were without it over the weekend, but there was no charge for the service.



They are using onstar in a lot of interesting ways would be cool if other makes have similar systems I know toyota and Hyundai are planning for future vehicles. After the free 5 year period will these services/features end?

"no charge for the service" -- pun intended?

And in seriousness, do they charge the car for you when you take it in?


""Should the check-engine light come on due to this code before May, the dealer said, OnStar will be able to wipe the code remotely. ""

It sounds like that OnStar would be used to change or erase some data without owner's notice.


Ok so what's with the orange extension cord under the hood?


I guess the rule is still holding true. First year buyers are still the beta testers of the car industry.

Humm I guessing to .. what would that orange cable be ?

Troy S.

Random trouble codes and multi-day dealership visits doesn't inspire confidence in a vehicle or it's maker. Who could afford to lose their vehicle for days on end and who would feel secure about driving a vehicle that breaks down like this?

Brady: The first time it went in, after the rat attack, they started charging it almost immediately. This time they didn't bother. Also took more time for them to get to it. I guess the thrill is gone.

qdp: The update states that the code (at least this one) can't be wiped out, and frankly, it would be nice if OnStar could update the modules without requiring a trip to the dealer. For every [typically anti-GM] person who thinks this capability is sneaky, there are five owners who appreciate a positive ownership experience no matter how it's achieved. Systems like this are becoming the norm. It's 2011; privacy isn't what it used to be. We just have to accept it.

Nic: It looks like a coiled extension cord, but it's actually three separate high-voltage cables routing into and back out of the Voltec unit on the right. In EVs and hybrids, bright orange represents high voltage. There's an awful lot of slack in these lines, but I suspect it simplifies disassembly. If they were shorter, they'd have to be disconnected to move or remove components, and it's probably best that high-voltage cables remain connected. --JW

Amuro Ray

@ JW,

"it would be nice if OnStar could update the modules without requiring a trip to the dealer."

K, label me as an anti-GM, no, anti-domestics person. But from a software engineering point of view, a BIG no-no.

If it's so simple to hack into a fully-secured computer Operating System, think how much simpler to hack into a car's system. It can cause ur car to stop running in the middle of the fwy, or pop the airbag when u r driving, etc.

This is where convenience can have an adverse effect.



There are some legal issues in there. Besides, as a commonsense, just like computer software updates, it should be approved by owners befor automatic updates, isn't it?

I hope they will have better solutions next time.



Just as Windows constantly reminds you of updates, I think it'd be funny if your Volt did the same. "HEY! WE FIXED A BUG, TAKE ME IN! --remind me again in 4 hours"


typical GM vehicle. brand new, and already check engine light on, and in this case a false alarm. nothing new.

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