Experiences First Chevy Volt Defect

Volt_level1_plug1's Chevrolet Volt ownership hasn't exactly been uneventful, but now, seven months in, we came across our first actual defect and warranty claim. Our 120-volt charging apparatus — a controller box with a short plug on one end and a long cord and EV connector on the other — failed a few weeks ago.

Working away in one of our editors' garages, the unit overheated and stopped charging. The cord was hot to the touch, and the plug had softened and had begun to separate. I tried the unit again at my house, and it worked for about 40 minutes before failing. The indicator lights went out, and only after a long cooling-off period did the unit come back to life. I tried again, and this time it lasted only a few minutes.


Although it's likely Chicago's hot and humid summer temperatures had something to do with the timing, a Google search discovered tales of similar problems among the Volt's earliest owners, of whom is certainly one. Chevrolet confirmed that the controller box's internals have been revised, and later units have been performing as hoped. We received a replacement in six days, covered under warranty and with no paperwork. The unit worked when we hooked it up for the first time yesterday.

We'll continue to report on all aspects of our Volt and the Nissan Leaf at



I can't see how vehicles like the Leaf can make it with no redundant gas generator. Issues like this would strand someone, but with the Volt, you can at least get to back and forth to work.

Sure, folks will say that if Chevy didn't build inferior products, they wouldn't need the redundancy. Redundancy is simply smart and forward thinking.

Amuro Ray

"Issues like this (on the LEAF) would strand someone"

What an ignorant thought...

It NEEDS to have an issue to begin with. Testing and QA will prevent these sorts of issues from occurring. Quality of material use is also a key.

If using your logic, then why don't you just buy a pure ICE vehicle?

Seriously, redundancy is "smart & forward thinking?" If by your logic, we should all have sharp teeth and nails, be able to eat raw meat, or have computer that accepts cassette tape, 2 sizes of floppy disks, paper feeds and what not, now.

There is no excuse for providing the consumer an inferior product. PERIOD!


It looks like you have a dedicated outlet? Other posts indicate that in similar cases the circuts used were overloaded.
You have an interesting situation.


By your logic, cars with only internal combustion engines (i.e., almost every car on the road) are equally as flawed as the Leaf because they only have one power plant.


Simple solution to fix the leaf. Just haul around a portable generator and a few gallons of gas in the trunk.

You'll be back on the road in no time!


Amuro - Did someone pee in your Wheaties this morning?

Sure, I don't want people to supply inferior products, but thing happen, even to the best of products.

My point with having an ICE as a backup is that it's helpful when things go wrong. Maybe they should sell EV's with two chargers in case one dies.

Vehicles with such a short range, no ICE backup, and the American way of not giving heed to a warning light on the dash, to me, are a hard sell.

Now, if someone didn't pee on your lunch, feel free to comment.


Amuro: "Testing and QA will prevent these sorts of issues from occurring."

Really? how old are you to be so naive?


"Chevrolet confirmed that the controller box's internals have been revised, and later units have been performing as hoped."

That sentence right there shows me that Amuro is correct in his thinking. GM, which sells these cars at a premium, should not allow simple design defects like this to occur. But hey, fortunately they have that ICE strapped in there in case something happens.

Amuro Ray

Thanks Skankzilla.

I may be naive, but you can't proof my statement incorrect, 55, especially for a technology (charging equipment) that's out there for, oh, close to 100 years, if not more? So why don't you learn about how charging equipment works and what may have caused this failure, and finally do sthg beneficial to your brain, you know, rather than wasting it?

Bob has already schooled you, othree, and your 2nd response fell RIGHT INTO HIS "trap" - and you don't even know it. Boy, how the american school system has failed so miserably...

P.S. you don't need a second back up engine. Get a 2nd charging equipment just in case. They are much cheaper than strapping another engine to the vehicle.

Amuro Ray

I meant to say "You can get a 2nd charging your own expense."

It's not a charger as you've mentioned othree. The charger is inside the vehicle.


Bob, Amuro thinks very highly of you and I obviously have much to learn from Amuro and you.

If your Leaf is dead in your garage as you try to head to work, what do you do?

If your ICE car is dead in your garage in the morning as you try to head to work, what do you do?

I contend it is easier to remedy an empty gas tank than it is to get a Leaf charged and ready to head to work.

I don't think there's much argument there.

A spare "charging apparatus" (since it's not called a "charger" - whatever) would really lower your risk, much like a 5-gal can of gas in your garage will, too. The issue is that you can prepare with an ICE vehicle, meaning you can fill up before you get home. With an EV, your home is your fueling station.

It's like coasting into a gas station and then finding out the gas station is closed. Then what do you do?

That's why I'm saying that for most folks, a pure EV is a tough sell. It's not impossible, it's just tough. Commuters (especially in this job market) want reliability. I'm glad GM opted to put an ICE under the hood.

Amuro Ray

Ignorant is no excuse for stupidity.

You obviously don't own an EV or a PHEV, othree. In fact, you don't even know what Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, GM, etc. have done just to prevent the scenarios you've just mentioned.

Please, learn 'bou EVs and PHEVs, b4 commenting again.

Matt C.


Quit with the personal attacks and respond to what othree is saying. You're better than that.

His point is dead on. There is nowhere near enough infrastructure to keep a dying Leaf charged in a pinch. If you get stuck with a low battery and can't get home what do you do? EV vehicles aren't ready for the masses as currently produced without the ICE back-up and they are still entirely too expensive to be economical. Leaf is for a select few who live in areas with available charging stations outside your home, while Volt is more for the masses.

Amuro Ray

Matt C.,

Seems like you've your facts reversed about why EVs are actually for the masses, not ICE. Please, study the data before commenting. You can find such info easily, online. Open your mind and it'll do you good.

Stop wasting digital ink AR

How 'bou that.


You gotta love that GM quality!


Amuro, you sure know more than all of us. You've referenced that you've seen all sorts of data proving your point and that you own an EV or PHEV so you're obviously an expert. You've mentioned that you're a student of automotive history and you sure aren't shy about your automotive prowess.

I hope you've finally proved to your daddy how smart you are. YOUR DAD LOVES YOU, IT'S OK! You don't have to try to prove it to us.

For the rest of us, a healthy debate is fun. Guys like you, Amuro, don't enhance the experience.

michelle bunker, chevrolet communications

On behalf of Chevrolet,
there are two important issues that need to be explained as a result of the Volt 120V charge cord set based on the post above.

The first relates to strain relief – the part of the cable that connects the vehicle cord to the cord set control unit. Since introduction, GM has improved the durability of the Volt’s 120V charge cord. In particular, earlier this year, enhancements were made that reduced cracking of the strain relief between the cord that plugs into the car and the cord set control system.

We’re confident that all of our Volt 120V cord sets are safe. If any Volt customer has any questions or concerns they should contact their local Chevrolet Dealer or the Volt customer assistance center to have their cord replaced.

The changes we made to improve the durability of the cord set are unrelated to AC wall socket heating. There are many reasons why heat can be generated around the cord set, but not the cord set itself, since heat is generated in all charging scenarios, whether it’s your cell phone, laptop or electric vehicle. When using home electrical systems that comply with the latest construction codes, heating is managed effectively. Older electrical systems or wall sockets themselves may not be able to effectively manage the load placed on them by additional appliances that operate at higher power levels, like flat-screen HDTVs or electric vehicles.

That’s why we encourage Volt owners to have their home electrical systems inspected before they begin charging their Volts on their existing home electrical systems – this is true of charging any electric vehicle at home.

Volt customers should periodically check the temperature of their AC wall socket. If the AC wall socket is hot, they should unplug the charge cord and have their AC socket inspected by a certified electrician.

Here are some additional tips Volt owners should follow:

- The Volt 120V charge cord should not be used with extension cords, power strips or other similar devices between the charge cord and the AC wall socket.
- Consumers should make sure that the Volt has its own dedicated circuit. Additional electrical loads on the same circuit may increase the chances of electric circuit breaker being tripped
- Use a GFCI protected circuit
- Do not use a loose AC wall socket as a loose wall socket may mean that it is old and worn.
- Use a certified electrician to inspect your home’s electrical circuits.

Michelle Bunker
Chevrolet Communications

Amuro Ray

Oh boy, if it's a healthy debate for kindergarten's toddlers, then yeah, I'll leave you folks alone.

But seriously, dude, the thgs that you've stated - pee, daddy's love, oh yeah, that's REAL MATURE. Moreover, your posting indicates that you are justifying this equipment failure with the Volt, due to its ICE component...what gives? Strap a thousand of dollars component for sthg that is hundreds of dollars to buy (or replace for free)?

This post is all about the flaw of a charging mechanism (equipment); it's NOT about EV's usefulness. You folks started it. If you've read DT el al. posting on EVs, and the "debate" there were in the past, you should really know the who, what and why for EV. I'm not here to argue with Matt C or anyone 'bou PHEV vs EV; each have their own usefulness, but do suggest you to research 1st.

Bob's right on 1 thg - what happens if you've a, say, fuel pump failure on an ICE? The same scenarios as to unable to deliver fuel to the vehicle! Do you (a) pack extra parts in ur vehicle and fix it on the spot, or (b) call for a tow? Why an EV any different?

Most rational EV owners don't drive until all the charges are depleted (or close to depletion). Just like no one in the right mind will drive their ICE until there's only 1 drop of fuel left in the vehicle.

P.S. Now BACK to the discussion of the charging equipment, if there's more to say 'bou it, otherwise, back to your sandbox...

Matt C.


This started with your response to othree saying that having the back up motor in the Volt was a good idea and you responded by calling him ignorant. Electronics fail. Charging systems fail. Chevy purchased and sold a product that might have had a bad batch in it. Same thing could happen to Nissan. What worries me more is the lovely Michelle's post blaming a faulty product on the house it was plugged into.

EV Fan

Amuro Ray, your comments are not helpful nor are they informative. I suggest you provide information and facts but hold off on the angry condescending remarks.

Volt Flop

Signed: former owner of a Volt lemon that would not hold charge. Sold it and bought a new Honda Civic that gets 42mpg currently. ByeBYE Government MOTORS!

Mark Tilley

In reading all of the comments above no one has mentioned the fact that not all failures are found when testing brand new designs. strange things happen out there in the real world. Manufacturing defects in the internal areas of the moldings. Improper attachment to the outlet, Even "gasp" poor judgement in the cost to benefit ratio of the final approved Design. AR if you believe that every part that comes in the door of an assembly plant is checked you have another think coming. Unfortunately products fail. Even the almighty Nissian, and Toyota. If you actually do an apples to apples comparison between all brands you see that. Oh and also when testing is done on new designs it usually is accomplished in a laboratory under strict environmental control. And most times the same unit does not make it through all test's. Engineers have gotten much better through the years at eliminating defects. But until a few hundred/thousand units get out there and get abused by the end customer, You just don't get everything 100% rigth

Rick Karl

I have a small EV built in China. Bought it for $6000, and have put 950 miles on it since mid August, no problems at all. Only GM could put together an overpriced, underperforming vehicle as the Volt. I have been frankly surprised by the ignorance of the comments here. Good luck to you all.
Let the anti-Chinese EV comments begin, but I will continue to laugh at the overpriced Volt alternative.

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


I have purchased a Volt. I NEVER buy fuel unless I go to visit my dad in Tennessee. It fits my life perfectly. Life is not perfect. The fact that we all have opinions are based on our experience not known to the people across the street. This is America. They wouldnt care anyway...


I own a VOLT and love it. The style is great; the drive is great; love not using gas; love being able to take long trips.

All electrics CANNOT take long trips because the infrastructure is not there yet. So...we need the gas backup. That's not so hard to understand. Not sure what all the other confusing conversation is about.


I am not as informed as many of you, we have a volt that will now only charge to 24 miles each time. They tell us it is due to cold weather, am dealing with BBB hoping to resolve the issue. Do any of you have this issue.

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