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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After nearly 4 years of driving the Ampera, having previously only ever needing to replace the charge door solenoid and the 12v battery, this weekend I was beset with a rake of seemingly random, unconnected and intermittent issues. So far these have evaded my attempts to resolve them, so I'm posting my tale to this fine group of greater wisdom, to figure out how best to get to the bottom if it. I've annotated with pictures which I've taken as I've investigated the issues.

It started with an "Engine Not Available, Service Soon" message. The battery icon present, but the engine running (despite the message suggesting otherwise). Not the fuel showing 2/3rds, but the indicator showing "LOW"



The car drives (on engine), but seems limp. Powered off, waited a few seconds, powered on, same message. Powered off a 2nd time, waited a few seconds, powered on, same message. Powered off 3rd time, waited a few seconds, powered on and everything back to normal again.



Engine now not running, and note the fuel gauge now showing a mileage figure. Drove home and everything was as it should be.
At home I started investigating, the only amiss was the engine coolant was low.



I duly topped it up back to the level indicator



Used Dexcool as recommended in the manual



Next morning, same message "Engine Not Available, Service Soon" again



Only this time an additional message, "Propulsion Power is Reduced"



Powered off, waited a few seconds, powered on, same message
Repeated, with same results.
Powered off 3rd time, waited few seconds, powered on, everything back to normal again. So it seems 3 power cycles gets back to a normal condition, bar the EML being lit.

Next morning I wake to a notification from my OVMS module around 2am reporting the 12v batter critically low at 11.2v



The 12v history shows a rapid decline through the night (The yellow line & RHS scale)



And sure enough, the 12v is now being reported at 8.1v



A failing 12v battery would explain all of the above randomness. I ordered a Bosch S5 005 battery to replace the one I fitted 2 years ago. Today the car was completely dead. Having kept up to date with these forums, I knoew exactly what to do. Open the drivers door with the key. Checked to see if it'll power on with the key in the emergency key hole under the mat in the centre dash compartment - no joy. Climed into the back, dropped the seats, removed the cover on the inside of the boot lid, and opened the boot with a screwdriver in the square hole.
Took about 20 mins to swap the battery in the boot, and greeted with the alarm & horn blasting. Keyfob unlock to stop it. Car powers up fine, but same messages present. I'm guessing they're still there from before the battery change, so I pull out my ODBII dongle, and read the codes. I'm greeted with 27 of them!







So I clear them all, which also clears the EML too as expected. Powering on and off again brings up 4 faults



Ignore B2AAA, which is a bogus message from the cheap ODBII dongle. If I clear these fault, power on and off again, I get another 17 faults





All this aside, every time I startup I get "Engine Not Available" and "Reduced Propulsion".
Still, 3 power cycles clears this and the car performs as normal, other than the EML and collection of faults

Having spent hours googling these codes, there seems to be no common factor, other than one site suggested conductivity of the coolant (unclear which coolant, battery or engine - relevant as I topped up the engine coolant), or a failing battery coolant heater.

I'm relatively unfazed by all this, but want to get it resolved naturally. I can drive the car, but am conscious that it might not be doing it much good doing so. I still need to get around, as I work every day at different locations, but have other cars I can borrow. It comes at a naff time, our Kangoo ZE van has thrown an electrical error and is unavailable, our washing machine stopped spinning yesterday, and out central heating has spring a leak, on top of that we've got the builder in re-doing the damp proofing in our 150 year old house, so things are a bit upside down right now



So any help would be very welcomed
 

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Ampera aka IGOR
Tesla Model 3 P
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My first thought would be the 12v failing but you've now replaced that. I think the 'Reduced Propulsion Power' could be down to the engine not running and therefore no additional power if needed for climbing long steep hills. 'Engine not available...' could be due to the 12v being low. Has this error now gone? Will the car charge okay?
 

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I got 'Engine Not Available' and 'Reduced Propulsion Power' 3/4 months ago, I think they go hand in hand although I also had 'Service Stabilitrak' so I expect my issue was different to yours, it also showed LOW on the fuel gauge and wouldn't let me select any other mode from 'Normal'. A 12v battery disconnect and reconnect sorted mine fortunately and I traced it to being my OBD gauge freaking out an ECU somewhere. Do you drive with an ODB connected all the time?
 

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I only ever had the low-power reduced propulsion engine not available stuff once, about 4 years ago, and I was running with OBDII dongle to watch interesting stuff. Pulled over into a service station & cadged a 10A charge for a couple of hours as didn't have enough leccy to get home and assumed engine was kaput. When I restarted, all was fine, engine ok, petrol available! I never drove with a dongle active in it since, and never got a repeat of this problem. I can't prove the dongle caused the canbus glitch/whatever, but I have my suspicions...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very interesting, yes I drive with the OVMS plugged into the ODB port, it gives me remote visibility of charge state and GPS location, it's been plugged in permanently since shortly after I got the car, so nearly 4 years.

I've previously had reduced propulsion during sustained climbing running on engine only with depleted traction battery. That goes away if you back off a bit and let the buffer charge recover. This reduced propulsion seems to be related to the engine not being available, despite it actually running.

Today I tried to drive during this state, to see what effect it had. The first attempt the car was rather limp, struggling to reach 19 mph before I aborted and pulled over. A couple of power cycles gave me normal driving. Later this morning I tried driving again with the 2 faults showing, this time I was able to drive more reasonably, but the power meter wouldn't go over 80kW which made acceleration feel limited. A single power cycle this time gave me normal driving.

I'll be heading out again shortly on a multi leg trip, and will try the journey with nothing in the ODB port, to see if that is the cause, and report back later. Thanks for your suggestions.
 

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Ampera aka IGOR
Tesla Model 3 P
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I had a relatively cheap BlueTooth dongle plugged into my car for over 6 years. I might have just been lucky. I could never get the OVMS to work as expected due to a poor phone signal and filed it away in a box somewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Having nothing in the ODB port made no difference.
Just to be sure, I connected the ODBII dongle one last time and cleared all the fault codes, then removed it before heading out again.
When I returned and powered on, the faults were back and I had to power cycle to get it to run normally. For the remaining 2 legs of the journey this happened every time I started the car. The only variation is sometimes it takes 2 power cycles to get to normal running, and sometimes just the one. Not once will it start normally first time, always displaying the Engine Not Available & Reduced Propulsion messages.

Tomorrow for every trip I plan to record all the fault codes in a spreadsheet, then clear them before driving off.
I can then see if there's any consistency in the codes, as at present they seem to vary with each journey. That should give me a starting point on where to investigate next. At least the car is usable to a point, so far anyway.
 

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Ampera aka IGOR
Tesla Model 3 P
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Hope it's something simple and straightforward, keep us posted. I take it you have checked the 12v battery terminals are tight and no sign of corrosion?
 

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Have you checked out these error codes in the Volt Service Manual? Ignore P1E00. The U things are pretty unimportant I think, e.g. comms error could be anything.
P0AC4 is "Hybrid Powertrain Control Module has set an emission relates powertrain DTC."
P0700 is a similar emission generic message.
Maybe the engine does need servicing, catalytic converter clogged? crankshaft timing going wrong? Oxygen sensor or similar playing up? New spark plugs needed? I have no idea, really...
 

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If its emissions related might be worth checking this thread failed mot

A known weak point with this engine
 
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Electron Summit White NK13...110k 92.7 and rising
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Given the raft of DTCs you are still getting, I wonder whether this is not still a 12v problem. Have you measured the voltage you are getting from the new battery? Not just at the battery terminals but elsewhere in or on the car. I'm thinking that it may have developed a bad earth connection somewhere - that might have even been a partial cause of the original battery failure.

Other than that, the pair of messages you mention only appear twice together in the manual - once relating to crankshaft position sensor and the other relating to fuel pressure or even frozen water in the fuel system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I came out to the car this morning to find it completely dead again. The new Bosch battery completely flat. I climbed in the boot again and the battery has been on charge all day.
It now looks like I've got something draining the battery which will need diagnosing first, and could well be the cause of all the errors.
I'll post an update when I get it reconnected tomorrow and have done some diy diagnostics
 

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I think you are getting closer to the answer. I'm assuming from what you say that the battery really was flat and it wasn't just not registering no voltage (measured via the the diagnostic dongle?) because of a bad earth connection somewhere.

The car actually monitors itself for parasitic loads - but not in the circumstances you are experiencing.
DTC B1527: Parasitic Load
Circuit/System Description
The body control module (BCM) monitors the state of charge of the electrical system. If the BCM senses that the state of charge at Vehicle in Service Mode is 30% lower than
what it was when the engine was running.

There is a recent post of a similar situation to yours on the Volt forum that pointed towards the Bluetooth connection failing to disconnect. Apparently that will create the necessary draw. What you are looking for normally when everything has gone to sleep is 30-40 mA.

I would try it overnight again, but this time removing any aftermarket equipment you may have fitted - including your diagnostic dongle. After that you really need current measuring equipment at the battery to then work through each circuit in turn (ie pull the fuse) to try and locate the problem. The manual has the following advice for that procedure:

Circuit/System Testing
Note:
• Removing or installing a fuse, relay, or connector, to determine the area causing high parasitic draw may wake up control modules. You must wait for the control modules to go back to sleep before retesting. It is best to install any removed or disconnected components after the diagnosis is completed.
• Fuses for power mode master components such as the BCM should be removed last to avoid misdiagnosis.
• If a scan tool is connected to the DLC, either disconnect it or subtract the scan tool current draw from the DMM reading to get the actual vehicle parasitic current draw.
If the vehicle has an unacceptable amount of parasitic current draw, remove each fuse one at a time until the current draw falls to an acceptable level. A drop of more than 10-
20 mA, when disabling a single system or circuit, is an indication of an overly high current draw that could be causing the battery drain. Refer to Power Distribution
Schematics to diagnose exactly which circuit of the suspect system is causing the high parasitic drain. The follow is a list of common components that could cause a high
current draw:
• Stuck switch
• Stuck relay
• Control module

EDIT 31.01.21 If you do decide to start pulling fuses, this might be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks @Spindrift for the useful post

Yesterday i popped the battery back on the car and moved it closer to home (terraced house, no off street parking, difficult to park near your house sometimes). I got distracted with some one else's catastrophe for a couple of hours. Then when I went to the car it was once again dead. Now I'm getting quicker at climbing over the seats into the boot. This time I was close enough to run an extension cable and charge the battery without removing it, although I did disconnect the negative terminal.
An hour later I reconnected and powered the car on. I monitored the battery voltage over 40 minutes, and it remained steady at 15.1V suggesting it was in need of more charge. I also disconnected everything, even my cigarette lighter to USB charger and Aux cable, as well as turning off bluetooth in the car setting as suggested by @Spindrift. On powering off, within 15 minutes it had tapered down to 13.2V, but was logarithmic (dropping at an increasingly slower rate). I took a gamble and went to bed.

Today the car was unlocked and was registering 12.7V. Remarkably, I've done 6 trips in it and with the exception of the dirst one, the car has started fine each time, and now the EML has gone out of it's own accord. I dare say it's behaving normally again. At this stage it's looking like all the error codes are related to low 12V battery caused by a rogue accessory, but only time will conclude if this is actually the case.

I'll now plug back in 1 accessory each day until I find which one has been draining the battery, as well as seeing if the car will continue to start normally each time. I tend to do multiple journeys every day in the car, so it's well used, and is charged at work between every return trip, so nearly all journeys are on electric, with the exception of my return trip home, as I have no home charging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As an update to this post:

I've carried on plugging things back in one at a time, and running for 2-3 days to check all is well before adding in another accessory. I now have everything plugged back in with the exception of the dashcam, and the bluetooth is still disabled. So far the car is working perfectly.

Next I'll turn the bluetooth back on and most likely chuck the dashcam in the bin as I suspect that is what's at fault.
 

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FWIW all the fuses in the boot section are permanently live, fed from the 12V nearby. I was looking for something in there that got switched on/off along with the car, so I could use that to disable the horn circuit when car was powered off, which was the only way I could find to stop the d*mn beep-beep everytime I started a charge. No dice. So everything that's powered from those fuses, is potentially permanently on the whole time. The only wire I could find in there that did get switched off properly was the 5V inside the DAB tuner box, so I grabbed that & wired in a mosfet + relay to finally give me a proper 12V that switched off when the car was off. So there's lots of scope for Vampire drain when things are done this way!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The dashcam was plugged into the top centre 12v socket, so in theory should come on and off when the car is powered.
So far everything else is plugged back in and the bluetooth back on, with the exception of the dashcam.
It doesn't seem logical that it would be the dashcam, and it could have just been the car misbehaving during the unusually cold and wet weather. It almost impossible to know.

I may try plugging the dashcam back in again, or I may just replace it with a better one. It's a Nextbase 612GW, but [email protected] not a fan of the mounting arrangement - it tends to wobble after a few days, and fall off when the sun's on the window.

Otherwise, the car is starting and running perfectly normal with no sign of the EML since. Weird Ampera gremlins!
 
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