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Vauxhall Ampera

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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭gunnerfitzy


    Thinking about my next car after my Fiat Bravo and this has caught my eye. This seems like a perfect car at the prices right now. From what I can see the VRT is very low, plus the prices in the UK are reasonable. Depending on mileage, but this could pay back in 4 years +. Are there any catches? Does the battery degrade much?

    It's a super car. Love mine. Biggest worry is availability of spare parts. But there is a good community of Ampera owners online that are very happy to help.

    Battery is bullet-proof. Massive buffers were built in so very little degradation. When little does happen the buffer takes it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 64,315 ✭✭✭✭unkel


    The usable capacity of the Ampera battery is relatively low compared to its total capacity, more so than with any other EV / PHEV afaik. There should be no noticeable battery degradation for the life of the car. Keep a lithium battery between 25% and 75% at around 21C and it will still work fine after 50 years.


  • Registered Users Posts: 20,978 ✭✭✭✭ELM327


    unkel wrote: »
    The usable capacity of the Ampera battery is relatively low compared to its total capacity, more so than with any other EV / PHEV afaik. There should be no noticeable battery degradation for the life of the car. Keep a lithium battery between 25% and 75% at around 21C and it will still work fine after 50 years.
    ~9.8kWh available energy from ~16.5kWh pack
    Perfect.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    So, I have gotten the dreaded "Service High Voltage Charging System" error on our car, which is related to several possible faults. Car will not charge although is driving fine and regen or mountain mode will still charge the battery so knew it wasn't a massive issue. Main concern was a potential leak in the battery coolant system but checked the reservoir and level was fine so ruled that out (which is an expensive repair). If you haven't installed some protective mesh behind the front bumper, would recommend you do so.

    Tried clearing faults myself with a bluetooth OBD dongle but they kept re-appearing instantly.

    Dropped the car up to BMG in Lucan (was due annual service in any case) who have been excellent and traced the fault to a faulty coolant level sensor in the battery coolant reservoir, which is a bit of a known issue. The problem is that once the car throws up this "latched" error code, you need a trip to a Vauxhall dealer to clear the error, even if you replace the sensor.

    I have been in contact with Charles Hurst in Belfast but their next available appointment is July 17 which means taking time off work, just to get them to clear the error code but I will get the sensor replaced also, even though many people who have it replaced, experience the same thing again a few months later.

    I have also ordered a sensor defeat kit from the US (where there are a lot of volts), which I will install once the error has been cleared by the dealer and the new sensor installed. I would recommend that you install one of these on your Ampera before this error appears, as a preventative measure. This means that you will need to manually keep an eye on the battery coolant level (this is recommended to be done monthly in any case). This isn't too much of a risk to take as there are other sensors which will detect if for example the battery overheats and throw an error in the car in any case so you won't do any damage. If you wait until the error appears you will need to make a trip to Belfast.

    https://canbustools.com/products/chevy-volt-2011-2015-shvcs-defeat-plug


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭gunnerfitzy


    Thanks for sharing your experience. I ordered the sensor defeat kit. A journey from Cork to Belfast to clear an error code wouldn't go down well!



    Alkers wrote: »
    So, I have gotten the dreaded "Service High Voltage Charging System" error on our car, which is related to several possible faults. Car will not charge although is driving fine and regen or mountain mode will still charge the battery so knew it wasn't a massive issue. Main concern was a potential leak in the battery coolant system but checked the reservoir and level was fine so ruled that out (which is an expensive repair). If you haven't installed some protective mesh behind the rear bumper, would recommend you do so.

    Tried clearing faults myself with a bluetooth OBD dongle but they kept re-appearing instantly.

    Dropped the car up to BMG in Lucan (was due annual service in any case) who have been excellent and traced the fault to a faulty coolant level sensor in the battery coolant reservoir, which is a bit of a known issue. The problem is that once the car throws up this "latched" error code, you need a trip to a Vauxhall dealer to clear the error, even if you replace the sensor.

    I have been in contact with Charles Hurst in Belfast but their next available appointment is July 17 which means taking time off work, just to get them to clear the error code but I will get the sensor replaced also, even though many people who have it replaced, experience the same thing again a few months later.

    I have also ordered a sensor defeat kit from the US (where there are a lot of volts), which I will install once the error has been cleared by the dealer and the new sensor installed. I would recommend that you install one of these on your Ampera before this error appears, as a preventative measure. This means that you will need to manually keep an eye on the battery coolant level (this is recommended to be done monthly in any case). This isn't too much of a risk to take as there are other sensors which will detect if for example the battery overheats and throw an error in the car in any case so you won't do any damage. If you wait until the error appears you will need to make a trip to Belfast.

    https://canbustools.com/products/chevy-volt-2011-2015-shvcs-defeat-plug


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  • Registered Users Posts: 244 ✭✭handofdog


    Thanks for the info!

    Does anyone know if the Ampera can be serviced anywhere near Louth?

    I know there's the Belfast option but I'm wondering if there's anywhere closer.

    Thanks in advance. Cheers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    For the ICE side of things any independent garage should be ok but the only EV-capable garages I could find were BMG in Dublin and another outfit down in Wexford.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭gunnerfitzy


    handofdog wrote: »
    Thanks for the info!

    Does anyone know if the Ampera can be serviced anywhere near Louth?

    I know there's the Belfast option but I'm wondering if there's anywhere closer.

    Thanks in advance. Cheers.

    James Golden services mine in Cork, but Belfast is considerably closer!


  • Registered Users Posts: 244 ✭✭handofdog


    Thanks for the responses regarding servicing.

    So, if I were to buy an Ampera and then take it to BMG in Dublin for a thorough service (all fluids etc.) then would the next 4-5 years be ok for just a "regular" mechanic?

    I really like the look and reputation of the car but I'm just looking for re-assurance in terms of the convenience (or inconvenience!) of regular maintenance.

    Really appreciate any feedback - cheers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,295 ✭✭✭n97 mini


    Alkers wrote: »
    Tried clearing faults myself with a bluetooth OBD dongle but they kept re-appearing instantly.

    Dropped the car up to BMG in Lucan (was due annual service in any case) who have been excellent and traced the fault to a faulty coolant level sensor in the battery coolant reservoir, which is a bit of a known issue. The problem is that once the car throws up this "latched" error code, you need a trip to a Vauxhall dealer to clear the error, even if you replace the sensor.

    You probably can't clear it because the sensor is still bad. What are the error codes? P1FFF, P1FFE and P1E00 can be cleared by the owner.

    This guy cleared it after he topped up his coolant reservoir.



    EDIT: From further reading the Actron OBD II pocketscan (which he is using) can definitely clear them. There may be others that can too.

    EDIT2: From this thread:
    Exactly the same happened to my Opel Ampera (European version of the Volt). Fault codes were the same. Fortunately I was able to clear them but only when the battery was empty (0km battery range). When the battery still had some charge the message »Service High Voltage Charging System« appeared again after resetting and restarting the car.

    My procedure:
    1. Make sure the battery is empty (0km electric range).
    2. Put in the OBD adapter (I have ELM327).
    3. Turn on the car.
    4. Run TORQUE software on your Android phone (I am using Torque version 1.8.1), search for fault codes and then clear all 3 of them – the message »Service High Voltage Charging System« shall disappear immediately.
    5. Plug-in charging cord (the car won't charge because it's still running).
    6. Turn off the car and charging shall start.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭gunnerfitzy


    handofdog wrote: »
    Thanks for the responses regarding servicing.

    So, if I were to buy an Ampera and then take it to BMG in Dublin for a thorough service (all fluids etc.) then would the next 4-5 years be ok for just a "regular" mechanic?

    I really like the look and reputation of the car but I'm just looking for re-assurance in terms of the convenience (or inconvenience!) of regular maintenance.

    Really appreciate any feedback - cheers.

    Mechanically, I can't see any reason why you couldn't do what you suggest. However, some non-EV mechanics/garages will not work on EVs. It may affect any warranty remaining as Vauxhall require the maintenance to be carried out according to specification and schedule. But I think with the exception of the HV coolant change all the regular servicing is as for an ICE car.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    Alkers wrote: »
    I have been in contact with Charles Hurst in Belfast but their next available appointment is July 17 which means taking time off work, just to get them to clear the error code but I will get the sensor replaced also, even though many people who have it replaced, experience the same thing again a few months later.

    Very impressed with Charles Hurst so far, following making the booking, I ordered the replacement sensor from them and they called me back to let me know as soon as they had it. Then they rang yesterday to confirm today's appointment and now I can track the cars progress like a dominoes.

    I asked them to update the hpcm2 but not the becm as a lot of people online report a notable reduction in usable battery capacity after that update. Fingers crossed all back in order today and I can fit the sensor bypass once it arrives to prevent this happening again.

    So far, apart from the distance involved, a good experience with a main dealer.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    Alkers wrote: »
    Very impressed with Charles Hurst so far, following making the booking, I ordered the replacement sensor from them and they called me back to let me know as soon as they had it. Then they rang yesterday to confirm today's appointment and now I can track the cars progress like a dominoes.

    Yeah, so things went rapidly downhill from here...

    Got a call from the service manager that they didn't have that "technical ability" to fix the issue, that the only Ampera trained technician they have works at their Lisburn branch and he wouldn't be available until next Friday. This is after me specifically booking in an Ampera three weeks ago, explaining the exact problem I had, ordering the spare part I wanted fitted, getting a confirmation that said part had arrived a few days ago and confirming the booking yesterday. When I arrived this morning, they were expecting me and they confirmed to me that it was an Ampera I had with me. After all that, they had the car for four hours before I got a call with the bad news. I am absolutely seething, left Dublin at 6.30 to be there for 8.30 so they'd have the full day with the car if needed.

    The prospect of having to do similar again next week is giving me shudders.

    At least I have the replacement sensor now so I may have a go at fitting it myself and trying different obd scanners to clear the error once it's installed, on advance of the defeat arriving.

    What a disaster!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,791 ✭✭✭coolisin


    What an absolute mess that all sucks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,423 ✭✭✭zg3409


    Alkers wrote: »
    At least I have the replacement sensor now so I may have a go at fitting it myself and trying different obd scanners to clear the error once it's installed, on advance of the defeat arriving.

    What a disaster!

    Looking at the install manual for the defeat,

    https://cdn2.shopify.com/s/files/1/2327/7983/files/wuser_manual_volt_r2.pdf?5

    It says, disconnect 12v battery, unplug old sensor, plug in simulation sensor and job done. However if you want to remove the old sensor from the car and refit the good dealer sensor you may need to drain the coolant to below the level of the sensor and it might not be easy removing the old sensor. If it was me I would wait until you had the simulation sensor and hang on to the new sensor and not fit it.

    In that document they mention a specific scan tool to reset, which it might be worth pricing in case an odb scanner with torque app does not work.

    I would be quite hesitant to make the trip up north again particularly if the error does not affect vehicle performance while you wait for parts to arrive. You could let a local garage replace the coolant sensor for fear you might need to remove bottles and drain fully to get it replaced properly, or as I suggest wait for the simulation bypass and try Diy the reset.

    Let us know how you get on. I know the ampera are highly regarded.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    So my defeat sensor arrived today, installed it fairly handy but still can't get the error to clear. I also tried the replacement sensor and same issue - sensor is easy to replace, does not penetrate tank, it's just the clearing of the fault codes that's not working. Have tried almost every android app and two Bluetooth obd readers, codes reappear instantly.
    Chasing down one possible way for a specific obd reader with laptop connection to allow me reprogram the modules but it's about £75 for the reader then £40 for a two hour pass with the reprogramming software

    https://youtu.be/xz7SXXPIC9U


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,393 ✭✭✭SteM


    My brother-in-law is over from the UK in his ampera and is going to drop in to visit us before he gets the ferry back. Will our charger for our leaf for his ampera? Would be handy for him to charge while he's here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 822 ✭✭✭Round Cable


    SteM wrote: »
    Will our charger for our leaf for his ampera? Would be handy for him to charge while he's here.

    The ampera uses the same type 1 charging connector as the first generation Leaf (2012 - 2017).


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    To finally bring a conclusion to the long saga, I managed to get the car charging again last night.
    There were numerous volt-specific guides online but not many for Amperas and I had quite a lot of hoops to jump through.

    The coolant sensor defeat plug is a straightforward replacement, can be a bit tricky getting the faulty sensor out but after that no issues.

    This is the link I used to buy the VCX Nano: https://www.vxdiagshop.com/wholesale/vxdiag-vcx-nano-for-gm-opel-wifi-version.html

    You then need to install VX Manager from here: https://www.allscanner.com/?page_id=8967&lang=en and then use this to update the firmware on the VCX Nano, I think it was version 1.6.6 in the end. Without this firmware update, the Nano won't act as a J2534 programmer and won't be detected by the programming software. This is a bit clunky as the software isn't too intuitive and is obviously not designed by native English speakers.

    https://www.gm-volt.com/threads/reflashing-hpcm2-module-tis2web.289449/ - It turns out that Vauxhall was sold by GM a while back, so I ended up wasting a lot of time, effort and some money trying to use the Atdelco website. This was compounded by their website selling me an EU subscription as we're in Ireland, and our car being from the UK. The EU subscription doesn't have an option for a Chevy Volt so I hopefully will get refunded for this but I still spent two hours attempting to use it and about an hour on the phone to the US.

    Instead of Atdelco, you need to instead use http://public.servicebox.peugeot.com/do/inscription which will enable you to buy two hours subscription to the same programming software but for Opel / Vauxhall. This is also a fairly buggy site, we had lots of problems trying to log in, eventually finding it easier to make a new account if a previous log in gave issues.

    I tried this first two days ago but ended up using the full two hours without actually getting the car programmed. I was at a friends house using their laptop on a 4G connection and the software took so long to install and download that we only had a few minutes of tinkering left. This was down to slow internet, not having Java installed on a laptop and the software eventually only working on Internet Explorer (after trying for some time on Chrome and Microsoft Edge). If you're in the same boat, make sure you have a fully updated windows, that you have internet explorer and the latest version of java installed before you buy the subscription and start the downloads etc. And make sure you have a good internet connection when installing and downloading, you don't actually need to connect to the vehicle until the very last step. Tried again last night, using this guide: https://chevy.solarsocket.net/threads/guide-clear-p1fff-with-tis2web-and-sps.722/
    Again ran into problems when trying to connect with the car. Out of frustration, tried it with the car turned off and it finally worked, the actually reprogramming took about 15 minutes.

    If I had to do it again, I could probably get it done in 30 minutes but the clumsiness off all the software and lack of a clear guide were really frustrating.

    Ended up costing me €90ish for the VCX Nano and €100 for four hours of subscription to the programming website, plus another €50 to the GM version which I will hopefully get refunded. That's on top of the wasted trip to Belfast, €50 for the defeat plug and a few hours labour in BMG.

    In the meantime, the car has averaged 6.5l/100km as a "self charging" hybrid and where we would typically spend €40 per month on petrol or even every second month, we've been spending double that and tripple that as my OH has been back to work since the lockdown.

    If this happens to anyone else, they are welcome to borrow the Nano from me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,412 ✭✭✭gunnerfitzy


    Thanks so much for the detailed explanation and guide around this issue and fix.

    I ordered the sensor defeat device from the US which arrived yesterday but with a customs charge.

    I hope to install it in the coming days.



    Alkers wrote: »
    To finally bring a conclusion to the long saga, I managed to get the car charging again last night.
    There were numerous volt-specific guides online but not many for Amperas and I had quite a lot of hoops to jump through.

    ...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    First refuel in a good few weeks, over 2,500km

    https://www.fuelly.com/car/vauxhall/ampera/2012/alkers/877577

    You can really see the difference when our SHVCS error was preventing us from charging!

    532806.JPG


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    Two of these on donedeal at the moment if anyone is considering one, both priced a bit steep for me but normally some wiggle room.


  • Registered Users Posts: 307 ✭✭JP 1800


    After the update have you noticed a drop in your available kWh used per charge? I have the same error on my Ampera and I am concerned about loosing available battery capacity after updating the battery management modules in order to clear the error code.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    JP 1800 wrote: »
    After the update have you noticed a drop in your available kWh used per charge? I have the same error on my Ampera and I am concerned about loosing available battery capacity after updating the battery management modules in order to clear the error code.

    Hi there, yeah we did notice in fairness, we're showing 9.5kWh used when the battery is empty nearly every time now, whereas previously it would have been above 10. If you have the SHVCS error, you don't have much choice though!


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    Alkers wrote: »
    We are well into our second year of ownership now, almost 13,000km tracked for just over €500 worth of petrol at an overall fuel economy of 2.6l/100km or over 100mpg in old money.

    http://www.fuelly.com/car/vauxhall/ampera/2012/alkers/877577

    Over 95% of fuel used has been on long-distance trips where it returns about 5.5l/100km on the motorway when the battery is empty. This is definitely worth it to us considering what BEV's we could have afforded on our budget at the time.

    Best from one tank (which is small - circa €40 to fill) is over 2,000km.

    Interestingly, we have never undertaken a journey which was long enough to require stopping for fuel more than once. Typical GOM range from a full fuel tank is 500km + whatever battery range at the time.

    And well into the third year of ownership now with over 36,000km tracked at an average of 2.7l/100km and averaging over 1,000km per fuel-up.

    Car has about 235k km on it now and still going great.


  • Registered Users Posts: 307 ✭✭JP 1800


    Alkers wrote: »
    Hi there, yeah we did notice in fairness, we're showing 9.5kWh used when the battery is empty nearly every time now, whereas previously it would have been above 10. If you have the SHVCS error, you don't have much choice though!

    That seems to be the concensus then, its a bit of a pain as they have done this to give the battery a higher buffer at the expense of usable charge. I wonder if there is a way to reset without refreshing the battery modules. I will let the dealer take care of this as the car is still under warranty. Thanks for the information


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    JP 1800 wrote: »
    That seems to be the concensus then, its a bit of a pain as they have done this to give the battery a higher buffer at the expense of usable charge. I wonder if there is a way to reset without refreshing the battery modules. I will let the dealer take care of this as the car is still under warranty. Thanks for the information

    Yeah, the less mileage / use on your battery the more of a negative it is.

    I didn't realise you were under warranty, in that case I'd still go with CH but prepare to leave the car with them and come back for it another day - hopefully they can give you a vehicle in the meantime


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,799 ✭✭✭KELTICKNIGHTT


    Was looking at buying ampera 142 reg when converted from UK to Irish plates.
    I have work round trip of 70 Kms per day to work.
    Currently I spend 45 euros on petrol per week for work
    70% motorway driving to work
    Trying to figure out how much I save with ampera.
    What to expect with Ampera with 70% motorway and 30 % non motorway from tank in Ampera.
    Contacted few garages around 1 in cork where I live and couple outside of cork.
    Parts a issue .have to come from UK
    Does the electronics and electric parts give much issue.
    When needed. How hard or easy to get parts for electrical side
    Cheers


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,768 ✭✭✭Alkers


    Was looking at buying ampera 142 reg when converted from UK to Irish plates.
    I have work round trip of 70 Kms per day to work.
    Currently I spend 45 euros on petrol per week for work
    70% motorway driving to work
    Trying to figure out how much I save with ampera.
    What to expect with Ampera with 70% motorway and 30 % non motorway from tank in Ampera.
    Contacted few garages around 1 in cork where I live and couple outside of cork.
    Parts a issue .have to come from UK
    Does the electronics and electric parts give much issue.
    When needed. How hard or easy to get parts for electrical side
    Cheers

    I would say you'll get 40km in winter and 55km in summer reliably - not enough to cover your commute without using some petrol unless you can charge in work too?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,799 ✭✭✭KELTICKNIGHTT


    Alkers wrote: »
    I would say you'll get 40km in winter and 55km in summer reliably - not enough to cover your commute without using some petrol unless you can charge in work too?

    Anything to look out for when buying


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