Not charging anywhere near 238

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New member
Feb 16, 2020
I know to some extent this has been covered elsewhere, but we just bought a 2017 Bolt from a dealer, with about 29,000 miles. They "fast-charged" it at the dealership before we drove it off the lot, and the charge was about 125 mi. Brought it home and my wife (her car) used it for a week, assuming when we charged it at home, it would get up closer to the 238 range.

We are in a rental right now, so can't use our 240 charger until we move into our new house next week; we charged it using the 120 for about 60 hours and went out this morning and it said it was "fully charged" at 134 mi. (158 hi - 112 low)

We have had a Ford Focus for five years, so we know a bit how the whole "how you drive the vehicle affects the max charge" issue. When we first bought the Focus, it was charging to about 75-76. It dropped to about 60 after driving it for several months and it usually ended up in the low 60s. But that is still more than 80 percent of maximum. 134 is a far cry from 238!

We live in Northern California about halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco. My wife has a 28-mi commute each way, mostly freeway. She knows how to drive to maximize the battery range. I don't know how it was used by the previous owner, which of course may have affected the maximum range. But this is a huge gap.

My question: is something wrong with this particular vehicle? I would have been fine if the max charge would have been 200, figuring we could improve it over time by the way we drive. But how do you make up 100 mi?
I guess you understand cold weather and use of the heater really reduce range, as well as driving speed.

What is your average miles/kWh (shown on the "dash" behind the steering wheel) ? You can do a rough calculation by multiplying your miles/kWh by 60 (the battery capacity) to get total range when the battery is full.

If your calculated range isn't close to what's shown on the display, you may have a bad battery cell. It should be covered under warranty. You can have the dealer diagnose your battery "health" but a lot of dealers aren't interested in doing that and will brush you off (maybe not in CA where EV's are more prevalent). As a last resort, get Torque Pro and set it up to read the voltage of all the battery cells. If one is low, use that to convince the dealer to fix it.
Unless I missed it in your post, what are your average outside temps currently? FWIW, my 2017 (23K miles) is getting about 120 set to hilltop mode, and last time I went to full I got 140-something. But our temps are between 5 to upper 30's so far this winter. I got my Bolt last summer and then I was getting about 240 on hilltop and 293 miles full charge on the middle number. I was averaging about 4.7 to 5.0 then, and now it says 2.9 mi/kWh. I don't always drive for max efficiency but my 18 mile round trip daily is between 25-40 mph. So, I look forward to the summer again. Possibly the large summer/winter variation is just due to our battery chemistry. And we have the flat packs instead of the cylinder type if that would matter. You should check out "News Coulomb" on YouTube, I think he lives in norther Cali too and he posts a lot of videos on his statistics.

I haven't spoken with another local Bolt owner to know if we're normal but I assume it is. I got the Bolt specifically for the higher EPA range knowing it would drop during the winter. If I have to change jobs and drive 85 miles again like the old days at least I'm covered. I'm also now running Nokian all weather tires so that's probably reduced me a couple extra miles also from extra friction.
Thanks for both responses -- I will check the average miles/kWh. Also, our temps have ranged from 40-75 F the past few weeks, so pretty mild.

When you say you are getting 120, 140, 240 and 293 miles, are those different figures what the vehicle is showing after your full-charge, depending on the season?
Yes, now during winter when I charge at home (level 2) my middle number range estimation is around 120 miles on the 87% hilltop reserve setting, and just over 140 if I let it go to full. I also am not shy keeping the cabin temp about 75 degrees and I often precondition in the morning, sometimes twice. It also factors the most recent driving style and all that into the range estimation too.

Last summer it was around 240 and 293 miles. But my drive to the office is about 7 miles with suburban traffic so I can't really race around much. At 5.0 mi/kWh efficiency it just makes my numbers look good. If I had to commute to downtown Chicago every day on the interstate it'd be a fair bit lower. But Illinois is really flat and I suspect you have elevation changes in your area.

When you say "fully charged" is that with the Hilltop Reserve setting Off, so actually 100% instead of 87%? A week or so of your normal driving, and then some math should give you a better idea of how normal your car is if you can't find some other area Bolt owners to compare with. And it has the Energy display kind of showing how your driving technique, terrain, outside temp, etc. is affecting your overall efficiency/range. My battery usage at the moment shows 64% driving, 31% climate, and 5% battery conditioning.
also keep in mind that the range number is a "guess", an estimate of range based on past driving condition (hills, speed, temperature, AC/heat usage, hard acceleration etc....). I've learned to rely more on the number of bars on the gauge rather than the miles
I had my 2017 battery completely replaced after less than 6 months in June 2017 as part of the recall for "loss of power while driving." The replacement battery worked fine in winter and summer up until December 2020, when the range dropped drastically in a very short time. The battery on full charge went from 237 to 216 to 193 in about 3 weeks of warm winter weather, one of the warmest Decembers on record in North Carolina. I kept accurate readings of the KWh I added on each charge and the actual miles I got, and it soon became apparent that someone was wrong, I was actually only getting about 150 miles of range on a "full" charge, not 193.

I brought it to the dealer and after a week of discussions with GM, they agreed that the second battery had failed. But rather than replacing it, they insisted on repairing it, a process that took almost six weeks. I was lucky that the car was under full warranty and the dealer gave me a loaner ICE vehicle, but what happens when this car is 3 years and 1 day old and this happens again?

What is unacceptable is that during this time, the car was aware of how many KWh were used for driving and how many miles were actually travelled, but continued to output completely fictional numbers about range and efficiency. All I had to do was some odometer logs between charges to show that the numbers were fictional. The car has complete information on the voltage of every cell, which is how my first battery was flagged as bad. But in the second battery, with 40% of the cells compromised, no alarm from the car, from myChevrolet or Onstar. I called GM 3 times and asked them to repeat the remote test that identified the first battery as bad, and they refused, just told me to go to the dealer.

If you are not getting the range advertised by GM, bring the car to the dealer and insist on a full battery test.