2011 Chevy Volt: According to GM, It's a Creak
November 30, 2011
Just before the 2011 L.A. Auto Show, I got an email from General Motors about a blog I'd written on a squeak in our Chevy Volt. They read the blog and then scoured their web of Volt owners to see if anyone else was having a similar experience. They weren't. This made us feel special. It made GM even more determined to get to the bottom of it.
Well, it just so happened that Jim Federico, Executive Director of mini and small cars and electric vehicles, would be flying into town for the show and, with our permission, would like to take a look at the car. They knew our office was in between the airport and the LA Show and asked if Jim could stop by on his way from one to the other.
We told them we couldn't let them fix it, but we'd be happy to have him by the office to inspect our Volt. Federico has worked as an engineer and executive with GM for 30 years and is responsible for the Opel Insignia, Chevy Silverado and Cadillac CTS.
Federico showed up fresh off the flight dressed in a sharper looking suit than I'll likely wear to my wedding and spent no time before tossing his briefcase to the floor and crouching under the car. Engineers.
He then hopped in the passenger seat and asked me if I could replicate the squeak and, approximately, how far we'd have to go to hear it. Luckily, the shroud over the IP makes the super annoying noise as well at 0 mph as it does at 20 -- you just have to coax it a little. Pushing down extremely lightly on the left corner produces the sound every time and with almost the exact same frequency as it does if you let the car wiggle it on a rough road.
I got one light squeak out and Jim slid out of the passenger seat and over to the driver seat where I was sitting.
"It's not a squeak."
I'm sure at this point I'm going to get some crazy PR spin here.
"It's a creak," he says with a grin. "We call this a creak."
Jim then spent a few minutes examining the rest of the car taking down the VIN, examining the brakes, looking under the car and trying his luck to get a creak out of any other interior panel.
His conclusion? Our Volt is a very early build (one of the first couple hundred to hit private hands) and the IP cover wasn't secured properly. As he left he said he'd look into it further and asked if we would follow up if we bring it to a dealer for this issue. Likely he'll ask them for documentaion of what exactly was happening in there to make this car different than all of the others.
GM cares about the Volt. Executives don't make mid-route pit stops if there's no get and finding a cause of one creak is apparently enough of a get on this one.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line