My car has recently begun starting the motor any time I'm moving at low speeds and accelerate rapidly. It's as though it was trying to give me some extra power... but it's actually a bit of a nightmare.

The problem is that when you first start the engine on the volt it's useless for about 2 minutes while it warms up. Not only that but there is always a power drop as it starts, so while I'm trying to accelerate, it's actually slowing down.

The bigger problem, however, is when this happens it seems as though the clutches lock for about 10 seconds. What I mean by this is that the wheel speed is tied to the engine speed--and the engine is stuck at idle so the car absolutely refuses to accelerate at all--in fact it slows down more often than not.

I've been ignoring the problem thinking it was something simple and mostly harmless but this happened today while I was doing a U-Turn and since I was moving extremely slow and the engine was tied to the wheels it started making a bunch of not-good sounding noise. I put it in neutral and it calmed down, but since I was in the middle of the street I had to go, as soon as I put it back in gear it stalled the engine (More noise as it tried to restart it) until I went back into neutral. this happened a few times until I just sat and waited out the 10-20 seconds that the engine usually runs until it decides it's not really needed and shuts itself off again--After that I dropped it into gear and it happily drove off.

I haven't seen a dealer yet but I'm not sure how to describe this to one--I'm afraid they will say it's "Engine maintenance" or something. (I just tried calling Chevrolet's help line and, yeah, it's absolutely impossible to describe to someone who doesn't understand the volt)

Does anyone know the cause of this or how I should describe it to a tech who doesn't necessarily specialize in the volt?

  • Not the answer, therefore only a comment, but consider to join the EVDL (Electric vehicle discussion list) wherein you will find a plethora of EV owners, some of whom drive Volts. It won't be necessary to explain a Volt to a Volt owner! As a BEV owner, I'm familiar with the Volt power train, but don't have the extra challenge of an ICE in the mix.
    – fred_dot_u
    Nov 2, 2018 at 21:17
  • Isn't this covered under warranty? Your vehicle is at most 2 years old. Take it in to the dealer and tell them there's an issue with the engine start while driving. I'm not sure why the engine starting would have an issue on how well the electric motors run. My understanding is, the ICE runs a gennie which recharges the battery and has nothing to directly do with providing vehicle locomotion. What you're describing seems like there's a programming issue with the computers which control locomotion of the vehicle. Nov 3, 2018 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


Okay, for any future retro volt owners looking for the answer to this question...

I had to take it to the dealership twice (As I kind of expected). The problem was a broken "Transmission fluid" hose that caused the levels to get low.

They theorized that when I turned a corner the remaining fluid got low enough that the motor and engine connected and the engine started. At this point the electronics just thought the engine was running so the car reconfigured itself into the "Engine on" condition for 10 seconds at which point it decided it didn't really need the engine and shut itself off.

The rep claimed that nobody had ever seen this. The dealer had to call GM hq and work on it for a while before figuring it out.

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