Chevy Volt "starts to Lurch Forward, Like My Foot is on the Gas Peddle, Slammed to the Floor"
A post titled “Fix this before someone dies”causes concern at the Chevy Volt enthusiast forum GM-Volt.com. Poster Isteiner describes how he wanted to switch from one driving mode to the other without taking his eyes off the road. The poster says:
“I don’t know why but this time my hand was too low and instead of pressing the Drive mode button four times in succession to switch to ICE, I inadvertently press the Power button four times. By the way the ICE actually came on at that point. The front LCD screen goes nuts and the air conditioning goes off and heat at the highest temperature starts pouring out of the vents. The car starts to lurch forward, like my foot is on the gas peddle slammed to the floor. I put my foot on the brake but when I lift it off the car rushes forward again. Again, my foot IS NOT on the gas peddle! The ICE was revving at it highest point but I finally was able to get the car to the side of the road by slamming my foot on the brake and keep it there till I came to a stop. Then while keeping my foot on the brake, press the Start button again several times until the car finally resets and officially turns off.
I was really lucky that the freeway was light at this time and there was no other car close to me or I definitely would have smashed into it.”
A consultation of the 2013 Chevrolet Volt operating manual indeed shows the POWER button in close proximity to the DRIVE MODE button. The manual says that the Volt can be switched off while driving by either holding the POWER button pressed for more than two seconds, or by pressing the button twice in five seconds. The manual does not cover a behavior as above.
The NHTSA database has at least two complaints similar to the one described in the GM-Volt forum, however, in the cases described on the NHTSA database, the car shuts off.
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Ultimate blame lies with the driver for not looking at what button he was pressing, but GM deserves some blame as well. The power button is poorly placed. Most other cars have this button next to the steering column where the ignition normally is, not on a part of a center stack where you would normally find things like a heated driver seat control or a 12V outlet. Also, continuously pressing the power button while driving should cause the engine to shut off, not surge. Hopefully, this is just an isolated incident, or the driver is withholding info that can explain the strange behavior of the Volt.
Having recently purchased a Volt, I've been following that thread on the gm-volt forum. A few comments: 1) The driver was dumb for doing that. 2) The driver was dumb for not shifting into neutral. 3) Others have not been able to duplicate his reported problem in their own cars. 4) If GM covered the power button, people would complain/sue for not being able to shut off the car in an emergency without opening the cover. 5) My 1987 Audi 5000S had a throttle that would indeed stick. There was a pivot point on the side of the auto tranny which would rust and/or get gummed up with dirt. Fortunately, even my room-temperature IQ was sufficient to shift into neutral and turn off the engine while braking.