2018 Chevrolet Volt Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, brakes, engine and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

When it comes to electric technology, the 2018 Chevrolet Volt was praised as a leader. Even the automaker labeled the lineup as “efficient and advanced,” but that fact that it was quickly discontinued proves how faulty this car actually was. From the electrical system to the powertrain and the engine to the service brakes, there isn’t a system on this car that runs as it should.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Chevrolet Volt

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Electrical System
Unknown Or Other
Fuel/propulsion System
Power Train:automatic Transmission:lever And Linkage:floor Shift
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical system in any vehicle is extensive, but even more so with a hybrid or EV. This model relied on a lot of electronic equipment to work properly, but it never lived up to the task.

One Edmunds review talks about numerous problems.“I Just leased brand new 2018 Volt and encountered serious problems with the car. (1) The battery could not be charged very first time. (2) Noticed some burning smell for the 1st couple of days after each drive (with no warning light on). (3) On the 3rd day, the check engine and battery lights came on. While driving the car to the dealer, it certainly stalled on the road (such a scary moment and so lucky not to have any accident or injury). So the car had to be towed to the dealer that day. The OnStar diagnostic codes showed, P0D4D (issue with the Litium-Ion Battery issue), P1F5A (issue with the Engine and Transmission System), P1F59 (issue with the Engine and Transmission System), P1EBD (issue with the Charging Cable System). (4) It took the Chevrolet dealer about a week to diagnose and repair (replaced the 12V battery). (5) A few days later the same symptom reappeared with almost identical OnStar diagnostic codes so the car was sent back to the dealer for the 2nd time in about two weeks. (6) This time it also took them about a week to diagnose and repair (replaced the switch and the cable). When doing research on line I found out other owners of 2018 Volt are having similar problems like mine. This car definitely has many serious issues including safety and therefore I strongly urge GM to launch an investigation or even recall to investigate these faulty or defective cars that may cause safety issues.”

With nearly 100 electrical system related communications, it’s clear that GM missed the boat on this vehicle. One such bulletin, labeled #18NA330, discusses how a no-start condition could trigger up to 96 separate DTCs being set, depending on what battery cells are involved in the incident. Talk about complicated and unnecessary. This alone proves that the Volt is anything but “efficient.”

Problems with the Transmission

The powertrain on a hybrid or electric vehicle isn’t that much different from standard cars. It’s still subject to powertrain issues.

One NHTSA complaint talks about some of the problems. “The contact owns a 2018 Chevrolet Volt. While driving 55 mph, the vehicle jerked forward violently, slowed down to 45 mph, and then stalled. Also, the Check Engine Warning Indicator illuminated. The contact immediately powered off the engine in the middle of traffic. The vehicle was pushed over to the side of the road by the police and towed to [dealer]. The dealer found several failure codes and the transmission fluid pump outlet seal, internal filter and spacer plate were all replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and provided [case number]. The approximate failure mileage was 12,125.”

What a crazy set of circumstances this owner ended up in. It turns out that there are numerous powertrain concerns that GM is happy to talk about. Even Service Bulletin #990420002K talks about a clunking noise from the driveline, except the automaker wants to find a way to convince customers that these noises are part of normal operations. Maybe part of this car being “advanced” is the new sounds that would typically be considered abnormal.  Clearly GM believes that car owners are ignorant and don’t know anything about cars.

Problems with the Engine

It goes even further to the engine. The Volt struggles to maintain any integrity with its parts.

Another NHTSA review states, “Car is constantly making a burning smell and the dealer is refusing to acknowledge it. I went there 2000 miles ago, they claimed it was a break-in smell. The smell is still there and once again they are calling it a break-in smell. I mean the car has 8,400 miles. How long does it have to break in for?”

Once again, the automaker wants people to believe that all of these malfunctions are normal. Yet, there’s no getting around Service Bulletin #PIP5163D, which talks about excessive oil consumption, misfiring, cylinder bore damage and blow-by. How does the company explain the issues created by its entire current engine lineup?

Problems with the Brakes

Finally, it’s vital to take a look at the brakes. After all, this is the system that needs to work the best when everything else starts to fail.

One last NHTSA review states, “Collision occurred on [highway] on a downhill slope in stop-and-go traffic after about 20 minutes of constant brake use to hold back the car. About 2/3 of the way downhill the brakes failed, no resistance whatsoever and the car rolled into the vehicle in front, a distance of about 15 feet. This was a one-off incident and did not recur so far. GM and 3rd party inspectors found no error codes, but the brakes indeed failed, which makes me suspect a design problem in the brake-by-wire system that controls the pedal pressure and modulated regenerative braking. It was like sliding on ice, no traction whatsoever.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this vehicle suffered from a massive brake system recall, affecting over 200,000 vehicles. According to NHTSA Campaign Number 18V576000, the insufficient coating put on the rear brake caliper pistons lead to a decreased braking performance and a higher chance of an accident. That’s not the worst of it. Over 15,000 vehicles faced a recall, labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 18V67300 that states the rear seatbelt retractor might not lock. If occupants aren’t secured when the brakes fail, there could be serious injuries or death. Instead of dealing with all of the issues, GM discontinued the Volt. Maybe it’s simply too “efficient and advanced” for the modern world.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Charlene F

    Currently I am servicing the 2018 volt for powertrain service, and a condition related to the battery that could loose ability to maintain voltage and lose propulsion mode, smoky aroma in the car, thick smoke coming from the emissions pipe. And I am having an issue in the electrical function of the car when I shift into park. It is not recognizing shifting in park.

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