Owner says critters keep munching on his Chevrolet Volt – USA TODAY
I’m a big fan of the Chevrolet Volt, having now leased two of the plug-in hybrid cars for my family. We like the ability to commute without using any gasoline and the convenience of charging it up at home. But apparently we’re not the only residents of our neighborhood who like our Volt.
Some small furry “friends” apparently like it a little more than we do. Specifically, they like moving in and munching on it.
This is not a new issue for us. Cars.com’s long-term Chevrolet Volt had a similar problem in 2011, when rats in our Chicago parking garage moved in to dine on the Volt’s wiring harnesses. That kind of repair isn’t covered under warranty, being a true act of nature in the most literal form, and it cost us $600 in parts and labor.
Two years later my personal 2013 Volt started throwing error codes and refused to charge on our home charger. A trip to the dealer found nothing wrong with the charger. The dealer did find two rodent nests in the fenders and some munching of the car’s wiring harnesses.
And now, last month, we experienced a repeat of the situation on our 2015 Volt — error codes and a message to take the car to the dealer, followed by the car suddenly shutting down its engine after its battery had been depleted on a longer voyage. That left my better half stranded on the side of the highway, on the phone with OnStar to try and figure out what to do. A trip to the dealer the next day revealed the issue: critters again. This time they chewed completely through a $160 wheel speed sensor harness.
Why does this keep happening to the Volt? Cars.com gets dozens of other cars a year and none of them get chewed up by varmints. We suspect the answer lies in the specifics of the Volt’s electric nature — it controls its battery temperature while charging through a liquid thermal management system. It takes three to eight hours to charge the battery as well, meaning that the car stays warm for a long while, usually overnight if the owner is charging at home.
This differs from someone who drives a traditional gasoline car home, parks it and lets it sit overnight — it will be cool in an hour or two. I suspect this is why all the cars I’ve parked next to our Volt have been untouched, whereas the Volt gets rodents’ attention. That radiant heat must be mighty tempting to critters trying to survive a cold Midwest night, so they crawl in there and enjoy a nice sauna experience — and since they’re there, why not have a snack of wiring harness insulation?
We reached out to Chevrolet to see what folks there know about this problem. It’s more than an inconvenience issue — there’s a safety element involved as well, not to mention significant potential cost to owners for repairs that aren’t covered under warranty. But according to a GM spokesperson, its warranty data doesn’t show any significant issue with critters munching Volt wiring harnesses, with only a handful of cases reported by dealers. Chevy says that the issue is no better or worse on the Volt than any other car in the industry.
“Volt’s battery is heavily insulated to maintain optimal temperature and prevent cold soak,” said Michelle Malcho of Chevrolet’s communications team. “This would ensure that there is very little radiant heat coming off the pack. Most likely, the heat is from the engine, which is nothing different than a conventional vehicle.”
So perhaps it’s just a coincidence that three Volts in our care have been eaten, but no other vehicles have? It seems unlikely.
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