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Servicing The Chevy Volt

The Chevy Volt is an increasingly popular hybrid choice. Here’s how to help your Volt customers keep them running at their peak.
Friday, January 2, 2015 - 09:00
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The Chevy Volt is an extended range vehicle that is similar to a hybrid vehicle since it also uses an internal combustion engine (ICE). Although the Volt’s ICE is not used in the same way as a conventional hybrid’s ICE, but rather uses the ICE as a generator to charge the HV battery. The Chevy Volt first model year was a 2011 model that was not properly portrayed to the motoring public. There were many that thought that the Volt was a fully electric vehicle that would run out of electricity and leave them stranded.

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The fact is that the Volt is a vehicle that can be charged up and driven on pure electricity up to 51 or so miles without using a drop of fuel. As a Volt owner, my first (a 2011 model) as well as my 2013 vehicle have provided 51 miles on pure electric after one full charge, depending on the outside temperature and road condition. My average fuel mileage for both vehicles has been about 127 mpg while driving the vehicles normally on roads in New York and along the East Coast. There are others that live in a friendlier climate that excludes cold weather and snow and having way better mpg results. My friend Scott Brown is one such person, living in sunny California. Scott, who owns a 2013 Chevy Volt, has achieved 276 mpg (Figure 1) as his lifetime average.

Take a look at the data from his Volt app that displays a total of 38,124 total electric (EV) miles out of the vehicle’s total miles of 43,868. Scott drives from his home to work which is about 50 miles away. When he arrives at work he plugs his Volt in a local parking garage where is able to fully recharge his Volt and drive back home on full electric power. Now not everyone is Scott, there are many Volt owners that run out of electricity and have to use the Volt’s gas engine. If a Volt owner needs or wants to drive further than the expected EV projected miles they can do so because the vehicle’s ICE will kick in and take over, recharging the HV (high voltage) battery as it moves the vehicle.

Service Opportunities
In order to recommend service to a Volt owner, you will need to be familiar with the vehicle along with understanding the dash and the center stack display (screen that is located in the middle of the dash, Figure 2) screen. Starting with the dash (Figure 3), there are many of the same symbols that you are already use to such as engine oil, engine coolant temperature, charging system (12-Volt), ABS, gas gauge, low fuel warning, speedometer, PRNDL, odometer, electric parking brake, TPMS warning, MIL, compass, door/ hood open, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, stabilitrak, seat belt, airbag, traction control, turn (directional) signal, high beams, cruise control and security. These are the ones that you may not be familiar with: HV battery gauge stack located under the fuel gauge (left side), total vehicle range (left side under HV battery stack), driver information center (lower middle under average miles).

There is a dash selector nob located to the left of the steering wheel that allows the driver to select information such as trip A, B, messages, vehicle tutorial, etc.), driver efficiency gauge (round ball/earth) that is green when you are driving efficiently and yellow when you’re not. Charge door open, charge cord connected, wait to refuel (this message displays when the fuel system is pressurized having you wait to refuel the vehicle by delaying the unlocking of the fuel door), ready to fuel (this message will display when the fuel system is depressurized and ready to refuel). There is a driving mode selector that is also indicated on the dash. The different modes are; Normal (the default drive mode that will use the vehicle’s battery power up first before switching to the ICE), Sport mode (used for responsive acceleration while reducing electric range), Mountain mode (used for climbing long or steep grades) and Hold mode (only available when the vehicle is being used on electric, this mode places the remaining battery charge into a reserve for the driver to use as desired). An example of when to use this mode is if the vehicle is going to be driven at high speed that will deplete the HV battery charge at a faster rate than lower speeds. If the hold mode is selected the vehicle’s HV battery power is held in reserve until the vehicle is being driven at lower speed where the HV battery power can be used more efficiently resulting in better mpg average.

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