Chemical smell after charging - Chevy Bolt EV Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 06:22 AM Thread Starter
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Chemical smell after charging

Hi- I’ve had my 2017 Bolt for 2 years. As far as I know it wasn’t part of the recall. Anyway, I’ve never had any weird smells after charging, in 2 years.

Tonight, however, I took it off a public, level 2 charger, after it fully charged, and the inside of my car reeked like chemicals. It gave me a major headache that still hasn’t gone away, and made my lungs feel irritated.The only thing I did differently, this time, that I’ve never done before, was let it get scary low on charge, before charging. In 2 years of having this car, I’ve never let it get below 20 miles left, minimum, before charging. Usually I charge when it has WAY more than that, left.

This time, I was in a real scrape, and only made it to a charger by the skin of my teeth. It was flashing orange and “low” with no estimated miles anymore, and saying “reduced propulsion.” I did get to a charger before it stalled. I plugged it in and waited with it for the first 20 miles of charge, until it came out of the orange zone. I then left and did other things for hours, and came back when the chargepoint app notified me that it was done (this was in a place with many chargers, at this location. Not keeping others from charging.)

Anyway, I didn’t notice a weird smell while it was so low, and I was driving to the charger, and I didn’t notice a weird smell while I sat with my car during the first 20 miles of charge. It was only in coming back to my car, hours later, at full charge, that I noticed the smell. It was also in the 90s where I live, today, but I’ve charged in high heat temps in the past, and no smells ever happened.

I’m afraid the letting it get so low, damaged the battery somehow. Could it be leaking? If not, what else could cause this smell? No indicator warnings are on for the car, all battery monitoring appears normal.

Any info on what might be wrong?

Thanks
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 09:25 AM
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Can't imagine that anything happened to the battery. If it did, it should be acting in a weird way soon (mysterious loss of range in the next few weeks). All 2017's had a recall to reprogram the propulsion module to prevent sudden loss of propulsion if a cell was going bad.

The smell is mysterious indeed. Wonder if it is a Freon or antifreeze leak from the cooling loop. With temps and full charge the Bolt would have done a battery conditioning cycle at the end of the charge. May want to monitor coolant level and watch to see if the air conditioning starts acting up. Possible that you've never experienced getting into the car immediately after the car conditioned the battery. But it shouldn't smell funny after doing that. My car took almost 30 minutes the other day to condition and level the cells at the end of a charge.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 10:16 AM
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Every smell is a chemical smell. Can you be more precise? An out-gassing lithium ion battery smells like pears. It is a sweet smell, but a different sweet smell than antifreeze.

http://learningrc.com/puffed-lipos/

http://file.scirp.org/Html/1-1840138_56064.htm

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 10:41 AM
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Frankly, I would be amazed if you had an out-gassing cell. That would mean that GM has completely failed in the design of their battery management system. This is the kind of problem you would expect to see in cheap Chinese electric skateboards, not an OEM car. The original software in the Bolt had the car shutting down on the highway, if any cell got within a country mile of fully discharged. The new software starts warning you even sooner. I don't believe GM will let any cell discharge lower than 3.20 volts, which is at least a volt above where you could experience out-gassing.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 12:04 PM
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Garage
It could be there was a chemical used in the area when the car was being charged, then the cars ventilation system sucked it in.

My mowers carburetor float stuck just last week making my garage smell of raw gas, when I got in the car I could smell it(windows were up)

Later that day after the car sat in the sun a good part of the day, I could still smell gas.

I think the smells were absorbed in the material inside the car, that was why I could smell gas the next day

I decided to leave open the hatch while it was parked all night in my garage, the smell was gone, the next morning.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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I hope it was a smell in the area I charged, that will clear. That would be the least scary option, for sure.

Glad to hear you all don’t think the battery is leaking. That’s good to hear.

I can’t pinpoint the chemical smell, but it doesn’t smell sweet or pear like. It doesn’t smell exactly like acetone, but that’s more the neighborhood of what it smells like
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 01:24 PM
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It doesnít smell exactly like acetone, but thatís more the neighborhood of what it smells like
Have you ever smelled burnt electrical insulation? Does it smell anything like that?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 02:34 PM
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Have you ever smelled burnt electrical insulation? Does it smell anything like that?
or ozone smell from arcing is pretty distinct.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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I don’t know what ozone smells like. This sounds more likely than electrical to me, though, based on what it doesn’t smell like. How would I know if it is Ozone?

I know electrical smells from home appliances or home wiring that have had problems. Not sure I know it as distinct to a car. It didn’t smell like burning or like home electrical burning, to me, if that helps.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-13-2019, 08:26 PM
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I donít know what ozone smells like. This sounds more likely than electrical to me, though, based on what it doesnít smell like. How would I know if it is Ozone?

I know electrical smells from home appliances or home wiring that have had problems. Not sure I know it as distinct to a car. It didnít smell like burning or like home electrical burning, to me, if that helps.
if you've ever sniffed an electric drill motor as the brushes arc, then you'll get an idea how it smells. Or if you've ever noticed "it smells like rain" then you might be smelling ozone from lightning. Although a quick google search doesn't list headache as a symptom.
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