Chevy Volt Reliability: Is Buying A Used Chevy Volt Worth It?

Chevy Volt Reliability: Is Buying A Used Chevy Volt Worth It?

When the Chevy Volt debuted in 2011, it was one of the first plug-in hybrid cars on the road. It was a bold move for GM, one that essentially tapped the auto conglomerate into a new market of buyers that would have perhaps previously overlooked the brand altogether. According to GM, in its first years on the market, the Chevy Volt received the highest satisfaction ratings among all GM cars.

After an eight-year run that earned it the title of best-selling electric car in the United States, in 2019 GM retired the Chevy Volt altogether to make way for its would-be successor, the more compact but fully electric Chevy Bolt, which can squeeze out an impressive 238 miles on a single charge.

Are used Chevy Volts reliable?

First-generation Chevy Volts – models manufactured between 2011 and 2016 – are able to travel 35-40 miles powered solely by the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery tucked under the central tunnel and back seats. Afterward, it dips into the gasoline reserve, allowing the journey to continue for up to another 400 miles. 

Second-generation Chevy Volts, those made between 2016 and 2019, received a slightly more potent battery that powers the car for a full 53 miles before needing to switch to gas. From there, it can run an additional 420 miles.

Two package options exist for the 2019 Chevy Volt. The LT base model includes push-button and remote start options, a rearview camera and a teen driver monitoring system. The upgraded Premier version of the Volt features leather heated seats, a heated steering wheel, automated parking assist, parking sensors and an eight-speaker Bose sound system. Standard on both models are a touchscreen infotainment system, dual USB ports, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

2011 Chevrolet Volt (from $11,350)

2011 Chevrolet Volt (from $11,350)
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2011 Chevrolet Volt (from $11,350)
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Shop Used 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Is Chevy Volt a good car?

Despite being able to hold only a short-lived charge – by today's standards at least – GM reports that the majority of distances traveled in Chevy Volts are entirely electrically powered. That's to say, the engine rarely needs to tap into the gas tank, given that the average American's typical daily commute is less than 40 miles. 

Despite the lithium battery's low mileage limit, the gasoline reserve allows it to recharge itself when needed, keeping the Chevy Volt running for up to four to five hours of freeway driving.

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Buying a used Chevy Volt

These days, used Chevy Volt prices tend to range from $16,000 to $21,000, roughly half of the original MSRP. There’s no doubt that electric vehicle technology will continue to evolve in the coming years, just as it has since the Volt’s debut, but that’s not to say that it isn’t worth considering if you’re in the market for a used car. In the lone decade that they’ve been on the road, Chevy Volts have proven to be long-lasting – some run up to more than 400,000 miles – and because of that longevity, they tend to maintain their value when compared to other hybrid vehicles

Actually, when compared to other plug-in hybrids, the Chevy Volt's resale value is significantly higher than that of its competitors. That’s much in part because its lithium battery, when compared to other plug-in hybrids like the Nissan Leaf, has proven to be more reliable as it ages. 

As is the case with any lithium battery, whether it's powering a cell phone or a car, the length of its lifespan is directly affected by how cool it's kept over time. Unlike other electric-powered cars, most of which are designed to be cooled by air, the Volt's battery utilizes liquid-cooling technology. This is a significant feature in prolonging battery life in general that also proves to be extremely beneficial in hotter climates such as Southern California, where electric cars are often more popular to begin with.

Also, when determining the resale value of the Chevy Volt, it's important to take into account the $7,500 federal tax credit that new electric hybrid vehicle buyers receive, which means the car technically cost that much less than the list price at the dealer.

2015 Chevrolet Volt (from $13,750)

2015 Chevrolet Volt (from $13,750)
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Shop Used 2015 Chevrolet Volt
2015 Chevrolet Volt (from $13,750)
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Shop Used 2015 Chevrolet Volt

Chevy Volt owners' reviews

Word has it that many first-generation Volt owners wind up enjoying the car so much that they trade it in for a second-generation model, which, according to the reviews, they wind up enjoying even more. Common praises for the Chevy Volt hail it for being a solid car that's more fun to drive than a Toyota Prius, sleeker than a Hyundai Sonata hybrid and for most in-town trips is able to run completely on electricity. And the perks of the Volt's fuel efficiency seem to make up for any snags in other departments. 

Coincidentally, most negative reviews of the Chevy Volt are related to electrical issues. Some owners of early models complained of the charging cables overheating, the instrument cluster flickering or blacking out altogether and faulty fuses causing the backup camera and reverse lights to fail. Later-model owners have also reported power steering system problems and skidding brakes.

GM has issued two recalls on both the 2018 and 2019 Volt, one for the seatbelts and another for the braking system. Neither recall is specific to the just Volt; both apply to a rather lengthy list of various models hailing from several different GM brands.

2018 Chevrolet Volt Premier (from $19,800)

 2018 Chevrolet Volt Premier (from $19,800)
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30-days warranty
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Shop Used 2018 Chevrolet Volt
 2018 Chevrolet Volt Premier (from $19,800)
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Shop Used 2018 Chevrolet Volt

Chevy Volt maintenance schedule

The Chevy Volt may be an electric vehicle, but it still has an internal combustion engine under the hood. That means it still requires the same sort of servicing as most every other car out on the road: oil changes, brake checks, tire rotations and so on. The Volt will need its air filter, spark plugs and engine coolant replaced after 50,000, 100,000 and 150,000 miles, respectively, too.

Electric vehicle battery warranties vary depending on the state in which you live. In some it's eight years or 100,000 miles; in others it's 10 years or 150,000 miles. The Volt comes equipped with software to limit the battery's minimum discharge and maximum charge, which also helps extend its life.

Given that the Chevy Volt is loaded with new technology that's still probably unfamiliar to most mechanics, GM recommends that when it comes time to service the Volt, it's best to take it to the dealer.

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Chevy Volt costs

While the first Chevy Volts retailed for more than $40,000 back in 2011 and 2012 (or around $33,000 if you take into consideration that cushy $7,500 federal tax credit), these days the average retail price for first-generation models range from $7,000 for a 2011 edition to $11,675 for a 2015 edition.

Second-generation Volt prices average $15,800-$18,225 for a 2016 model, $17,250-$19,950 for a 2017 model, $19,050-$22,000 for a 2018 model and $26,500-$29,960 for a 2019 model.

If you’re shopping around for a used Chevy Volt, then chances are you’re the sort of driver who cares about the environment. That’s because buying a used car is not only better for the planet in the long run, it’s easier on your wallet, too. And if it happens to be a used hybrid like the Chevy Volt, it’s a win-win situation all around. 

Thanks to Shift’s extensive 150-point inspection process, you can be certain that the Volt you choose will be one that’s as good as new. But if for any reason you’re not happy with your decision, Shift offers a 7-day/200-mile return policy on all its cars, too. 

Regardless of whichever comes first, when it comes to the Chevy Volt, chances you won’t even need to stop at a gas station.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team