Volt customer with near lethal transmission failure

Subject: Volt customer with near lethal transmission failure
From: Chelsea and Coleman Stecyk
Date: 5 Jun 2015

Dear Mary Barra,

My name is Chelsea Stecyk. My husband, Coleman, and I bought a 2014 Volt from the Dublin, CA Chevrolet in December of 2014. Up until this past weekend, I would have told you that the Volt has been great.

(VIN 1G1RE6E48EU173605)

Last weekend, my husband and I drove the Volt down to Los Angeles for a business trip. On Saturday, May 30, I was in the Volt by myself running some errands. As I turned left from an unprotected left turn, the Volt lurched forward and dropped in acceleration to 3mph. No matter how hard or far I pushed the gas pedal the car would not accelerate. I crawled through the intersection at 3mph with oncoming traffic going closer to 40 or 50 mph. as soon as I got to the other side of the intersection, I felt everything re-engage and the acceleration was normal.

Over the course of the weekend this continued to happen to both me and my husband. When we called OnStar, we were told the car passed diagnostic testing with flying colors and we were "perfectly safe to drive".

At one point my husband called GM customer service directly, and they arranged for a tow truck after the car almost caused multiple collisions on his way to work. GM promised a tow truck and text message updates of when the tow would arrive, in an estimated 10-50 minutes. When he walked to the parking lot 9 hours later after work, the car was right where he left it and he had received no update on the status of the promised tow. He ended up limping the car home.

My husband called Onstar on June 1 to have the car towed to Rydell Chevrolet after he was no longer able to drive the car. The error message on the dashboard read, "Reduced propulsion system. Engine not available"

At the dealer, we were told that a "line in the enclosed transmission was not seated properly and had caused the transmission fluid to leak out."

The service team had to add 5 quarts of transmission fluid. They also found that the bearing in the stator motor was damaged. Presumably, this is an unrelated issue. After doing some research, we have found that this is a common defect in this generation Volt. This defect causes loud siren like whining when accelerating or braking. We asked about this noise early on in the purchase of our vehicle and we were told, "Oh that is normal and is the sound of the regenerative breaking."

This Volt was purchased new 6 months ago, and it should not be having transmission issues to any degree. At this point, neither my husband nor I feel safe in this car. We have cousins under the age of 10 coming to visit for a few weeks this summer, and I can guarantee that they will not be riding in or even touching this vehicle.

I have no question that Volts are, in general, safe or dependable. However, this Volt is not. After so many life-threatening close calls and being told the car was not throwing error codes in any of the instances, there is a definite disconnect somewhere and we have lost all faith in the company.

Going through the proper channels (the dealer, the Volt advisory line, GM customer service) has not resulted in any level of acceptable problem-solving. We have requested that a buy-back investigation begin, and I am being passed between regional managers and being told that neither can help because the car doesn’t reside in their area, or because the "incident" did not happen in the respective manager’s area. After picking up the volt from the first round of repairs, it had substantial acceleration and engine noise issues and threw the same error code while driving the Volt back from LA to the San Francisco Bay Area (~400mi). My husband was turned away from a service appointment at our local dealer and is being told that he needs to continue driving this vehicle for additional 500-1000 miles while the engine recalibrates, even after explaining his concern for his safety and that of others on the road.

If you are able to help direct this process in any way, we would be very appreciative. Our case number numbers are: 71-1482866355 and 71-483657201. At this point we feel that our only recourse would be to go to the media about the customer service roadblocks we are hitting in this process, and lack of concern for our safety and those on the road if we continue driving this vehicle.

It should be noted that we have both video documentation of the vehicle stalling without throwing dashboard codes, of the stall with a dashboard code before the transmission service, and audio and video of OnStar running diagnostics after the transmission service and experiencing decreased acceleration.

Important Information:
Volt VIN: 1G1RE6E48EU173605
Case numbers: 71-482866355, and 71483657201

We are completely exasperated and feel that we have exhausted all proper channels of escalation and that our only resource is now going outside of GM.

Please respond by end of day Friday, June 5.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Chelsea Stecyk
Concerned customer, who is afraid of driving her Volt