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Discussion Starter #1
Last week, I accidently ran over a large rock which dented the bottom of my 17 Bolt. It put an approximately 1-inch deep dent into the bottom of the car, just to the left of center but behind the plastic aero cover. It completely punctured the outer layer of sheet metal (~1/10-inch) and when I first looked at the damage, the lighting wasn't very good and it looked like I was peering into the totally dark battery compartment. I wasn't, but I took it to my Chevy dealer and asked them how much it would cost to repair. I was prepared for "That Genuine GM Feeling from Mr. Goodwrench" and I expected they would want $2,000 or $3,000 to repair the dent. The estimate was for a cool $31,000! Yes, you read that right, $31,000 - for a new battery. Further inspection on my part revealed that the rock had only punctured the outer layer of metal and that there were two additional layers above that. The rock had impacted where the fore-and-aft and lateral brace structures intersected hence the three layers of steel: one, the bottom of the battery compartment, two, the lateral support and three, the now punctured fore-and-aft support intersect.


Two days later, my insurance company called and said the car was totaled! Next, I went and picked up the car - which drives fine and does not exhibit any coolant leakage. I talked to the Mechanic and he said that GM is deeply concerned about battery fires and is afraid that the dent could have compressed the battery structure which would raise the risk of fire. Remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7's? You don't even want to imagine what scaling those fires up by a factor of 4,000 would be like.

When I queried the mechanic further, he had just received a return call from someone else in the Bolt program who said that unless it's leaking coolant, no worries. This fellow stated that there is a layer of coolant "tubing" (actually a stamped water-to-air heat-exchange panel that is 5/8th of an inch thick, under the battery. He stated that if you didn't puncture that heat-exchanger, your Bolt is still functional and perfectly safe to drive. Indeed, it still drives just as nicely as it always has. No change in battery performance.

Has anyone else run into a similar problem?
 

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Can you fill in the gaps a little? You stated that the insurance company totalled it. I assume they wrote you a check for it's value, correct and then you bought it back as a salvage title? Or ???
 

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They wrote me a chack for approximatly 40% of the pre-accident value of the car with the understanding that if I turned the car in, I would get the other 60%. OR, I could choose to keep the car and obtain a Salvage Title from my State DMV. If I choose that option, I get to keep the check for 40% of the car's value, but now my car will no longer be insured for collision damage - only liability. So if I total the car next week, I would be only have received 40% of its value and I would be not be remibursed for the other 60% of its value. It's not an entirely straight forward decision.
 

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They wrote me a check for approximately 40% of the pre-accident value of the car with the understanding that if I turned the car in, I would get the other 60%. OR, I could choose to keep the car and obtain a Salvage Title from my State DMV. If I choose that option, I get to keep the check for 40% of the car's value, but now my car will no longer be insured for collision damage - only liability. So if I total the car next week, I would be only have received 40% of its value and I would be not be reimbursed for the other 60% of its value. It's not an entirely straight forward decision.
Gad! I am sorry for your problem. I completely agree with the second GM guy. If the rock didn't cause the beer can aluminum coolant plate to leak, the battery is fine. I'd probably invest the check and keep the car. But only you can answer for yourself.

 

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You don't have to imagine. There are plenty of Tesla fires that started in the batteries. Ol' Elon took some risks with battery chemistry. I, for one, am glad that Chevy is conservative on that front.
 

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But if someone “T-Bones” you tomorrow you’d still get the 60% remaining value ... correct? In other words ... an accident that isn’t your fault.

If you subtract your check amount from your original purchase price and divide by months of ownership to-date, what’s that number?
 

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...
I was prepared for "That Genuine GM Feeling from Mr. Goodwrench" and I expected they would want $2,000 or $3,000 to repair the dent. The estimate was for a cool $31,000! Yes, you read that right, $31,000 - for a new battery.
...
A new battery is not even worth half this price...
This leaves another $15,000 for work itself? Doesn't seems right as the replacement is a few hours job.
 

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They wrote me a chack for approximatly 40% of the pre-accident value of the car with the understanding that if I turned the car in, I would get the other 60%. OR, I could choose to keep the car and obtain a Salvage Title from my State DMV. If I choose that option, I get to keep the check for 40% of the car's value, but now my car will no longer be insured for collision damage - only liability. So if I total the car next week, I would be only have received 40% of its value and I would be not be remibursed for the other 60% of its value. It's not an entirely straight forward decision.
Also, you need to factor in that if you choose to NOT drive it into the ground and you choose at a later date to try to sell it ..... a salvage title vehicle sells for 'less.' than you might imagine in your wildest dreams.
 

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A new battery is not even worth half this price...
This leaves another $15,000 for work itself? Doesn't seems right as the replacement is a few hours job.
I think it's more than a few hours labor. Just the coolant flush portion, getting the air out and that process I watched on the video takes an hour by itself. I'd say to get a reputable shop to do the work and take on the liability for their portion could cost a lot. Not $15,000 but I didn't see the entire itemized parts list either.
 

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I'd be tempted to let them total it and get another one. Salvage titles can be a hassle. Plus, I doubt they are right but what if they are? Not worth risking your garage, house, and even life. And what if something does happen, it catches fire, and burns your house down. Would your homeowner's insurance pay for that given that they discover you were keeping a "dangerous" car in your garage? I say not worth it.

Mike
 

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You may want to take some immediate steps based on Weber Automotive as well as your state's salvage laws to protect your investment.

Step 1: Seal the hole in the battery tray

The BOLT battery, BMS, connecting electronics are placed in a nitrogen purged sealed battery container to protect electronics from degradation. Water, dust, and road garbage can enter if the battery tray is punctured. Please see the Weber Automotive video on pressure testing the battery pack. https://youtu.be/ZBzRKglr95U

For expediency, just use Bondo mask or other surface seal and worry about nitrogen purging later.

Step 2: Verify your state's laws on salvage title
In Maine, salvage is a 'no-fault' statute. It just says your insurance determined the cost to repair was 75% or more than the fair market value--damage could be from any source, even those not safety related. Maine also allows you to repair the vehicle at your own cost and receive a rebuilt title. After that, it's what your insurance carrier will accept.

In terms of urgency, look at the Weber Automotive title on Bolt Battery Reassembly
(at 9:30). From outside-in, a puncture has to break through:
  • The battery tray
  • Insulating pads that protect the cooling plate from the battery tray
  • The liquid filled cooling plate
  • Thermal pads to bond the cooling plate to the battery
  • The battery cells
Without seeing your damage, it seems you may have only a puncture on the outermost battery tray. That most likely did not do anything to the active cells (and is clearly much less than $31,000 to repair).

Step 3. Make a personal decision on how far you want to go with the vehicle

  • You can most likely drive your BOLT to the end of its useful life with a patched battery tray under a salvage title.
  • You can find a more reasonable mechanic and use auction salvage parts and get a rebuilt title. I have been looking for project parts and have found body totalled BOLTs go for $4,000 with an intact battery.
  • Fire, the car blowing up, batteries swelling into the passenger compartment and crushing the driver etc. are canards that are not supported by fact.
    • Out of 63,889 BOLTs sold since 2017 (www.nhtsa.gov), there are no complaints of vehicle fires.
    • Reviewing IAAI insurance salvage auction databases (IAA - Insurance Auto Auctions - Salvage Cars for Sale Online.) there are no BOLT salvages related to fire burn out, even when the vehicle and battery damage is extensive. Even Teslas M3s have only two battery burns out of approximately 300,000 sold. The rate is similar to gasoline underhood fires in the IAAI database.
    • Get used to fear tactics from dealers and shops when there is a vested interest to sell you something more. I have heard the OEM Michelins cannot be repaired and I would take a personal risk by plugging them (of course, the tire shop has a special on buying four new tires...). Yet, there are no good reports of plugged tires failing. You get the idea.
Realize much of your situation is due to low familiarity with EVs in general and fear of the unknown. Your insurance would not total an ICE with a punctured and patched oil pan. Your insurance company would probably direct you to a network garage in your area that could replace the pan if Mr. Goodwrench got too pricey. We are not there yet with EVs.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You may want to take some immediate steps based on Weber Automotive as well as your state's salvage laws to protect your investment.

Step 1: Seal the hole in the battery tray
The BOLT battery, BMS, connecting electronics are placed in a nitrogen purged sealed battery container to protect electronics from degradation. Water, dust, and road garbage can enter if the battery tray is punctured. Please see the Weber Automotive video on pressure testing the battery pack.

For expediency, just use Bondo mask or other surface seal and worry about nitrogen purging later.

Step 2: Verify your state's laws on salvage title
In Maine, salvage is a 'no-fault' statute. It just says your insurance determined the cost to repair was 75% or more than the fair market value--damage could be from any source, even those not safety related. Maine also allows you to repair the vehicle at your own cost and receive a rebuilt title. After that, it's what your insurance carrier will accept.

In terms of urgency, look at the Weber Automotive title on Bolt Battery Reassembly
(at 9:30). From outside-in, a puncture has to break through:
  • The battery tray
  • Insulating pads that protect the cooling plate from the battery tray
  • The liquid filled cooling plate
  • Thermal pads to bond the cooling plate to the battery
  • The battery cells
Without seeing your damage, it seems you may have only a puncture on the outermost battery tray. That most likely did not do anything to the active cells (and is clearly much less than $31,000 to repair).

Step 3. Make a personal decision on how far you want to go with the vehicle
  • You can most likely drive your BOLT to the end of its useful life with a patched battery tray under a salvage title.
  • You can find a more reasonable mechanic and use auction salvage parts and get a rebuilt title. I have been looking for project parts and have found body totalled BOLTs go for $4,000 with an intact battery.
  • Fire, the car blowing up, batteries swelling into the passenger compartment and crushing the driver etc. are canards that are not supported by fact.
    • Out of 63,889 BOLTs sold since 2017 (www.nhtsa.gov), there are no complaints of vehicle fires.
    • Reviewing IAAI insurance salvage auction databases (IAA - Insurance Auto Auctions - Salvage Cars for Sale Online.) there are no BOLT salvages related to fire burn out, even when the vehicle and battery damage is extensive. Even Teslas M3s have only two battery burns out of approximately 300,000 sold. The rate is similar to gasoline underhood fires in the IAAI database.
    • Get used to fear tactics from dealers and shops when there is a vested interest to sell you something more. I have heard the OEM Michelins cannot be repaired and I would take a personal risk by plugging them (of course, the tire shop has a special on buying four new tires...). Yet, there are no good reports of plugged tires failing. You get the idea.
Realize much of your situation is due to low familiarity with EVs in general and fear of the unknown. Your insurance would not total an ICE with a punctured and patched oil pan. Your insurance company would probably direct you to a network garage in your area that could replace the pan if Mr. Goodwrench got too pricey. We are not there yet with EVs.

Good luck
Thank you! Your advice is well thought out and comprehensive. Also, I'm a fan of your videos! In order to satisfy myself that the vehicle is not a danger to me or my houshold, I just took it on a 200 mile trip including a fast-charge session from 20% to 83% charge. It was 85 degrees and the asphalt parking area was quite hot but the recharge went off with not a hitch. It was my first fast-charge since the rock incident. The first 120 miles were all in mid 80 degree weather and at full highway speeds using energy at the rate of between 15 and 58 kW - no issues. I had previously sealed the outer-most layer of sturctural steel that was torn but I don't think that was entirely necessary because the two layers above it were not punctured, just pushed up slightly.

In my opinion, GM is being extremely conservative in de-facto totaling my car by quoting an exorbinent repair cost without the benefit of any dissassembly. As one of the other commenters pointed out, we'll all pay the price for that conservative approach.

In general, to give credit where credit is due, GM produced an excellent product, but I had already decided to never purchace another GM product due to GM siding with the Trump administration in their lawsuit against California's fuel efficiency requirements. That act, in-and-of itself is inexcuseable. Still, I plan to keep this car as long as long I am competent to drive - I'm a retired engineer and I'm 67.
 

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Your detailed description of the damage was perfect but I've not been under the car enough to be familiar with the parts you described. Did the rock actually damage the battery tray: the part that Weber Auto shows has to be smoke tested to prove that it is air sealed? If so, I'd be worried about that. If not, just patch the hole in the outer part so water/debris doesn't get in there.

Mike
 

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You might want to take a straight edge and see if the pan is still flat. I could see that if it were pushed out of flat there might be an issue with how well the cooling plate is mated to the battery cooling plates themselves. There could be some local heating if things were distorted too much.

I would also keep an eye on the battery coolant level. If the cooling plate has an internal leak it may leak within the battery housing and might not be evident from outside.

In any event, it might not be a bad idea to drop the pack and internally inspect it in the area that was damaged.
 

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They wrote me a chack for approximatly 40% of the pre-accident value of the car with the understanding that if I turned the car in, I would get the other 60%. OR, I could choose to keep the car and obtain a Salvage Title from my State DMV. If I choose that option, I get to keep the check for 40% of the car's value, but now my car will no longer be insured for collision damage - only liability. So if I total the car next week, I would be only have received 40% of its value and I would be not be remibursed for the other 60% of its value. It's not an entirely straight forward decision.
Abe, please let us know what You decided and how the car is faring after years if You decide to keep it? Without photos my disposition would be to keep the car and save / invest the spare $ knowing in the future it might need a new pack either due to damage or just simply age. I would think in the future it would cost under $10k for a 66 KWH pack but this is just speculation on my part (assume decreasing pack and labor costs). I agree with all others that $33k for a replacement seems an exorbitant repair estimate! Good luck.
PS little did I know I am now at post 800 - too much time on the net!!
 

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I haven't seen the damage but the insurance company gave you a check for 40% of the value and it's not leaking fluids? I'd take that money and smile all the way to the bank. No one is going to see that dent and that car could easily be sold 7 times to sunday and no one will ever see that dent but the Valvoline guy doing oil changes.....oh wait. Scratch that. The Valvoline part.
 

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I would also keep an eye on the battery coolant level. If the cooling plate has an internal leak it may leak within the battery housing and might not be evident from outside.

In any event, it might not be a bad idea to drop the pack and internally inspect it in the area that was damaged.
There is a coolant level sensor on the battery coolant circuit reservoir.


The written description is wrong. It is not for the drive motor/power electronics coolant circuit. You can see the AC chiller, numbered 16 in the schematic. I just went out to the garage to make sure. The battery coolant reservoir has a sensor. Interestingly, the motor/power electronics coolant reservoir, and the heater coolant reservoir do not.

I don't see any point in pulling the battery pack, if the rock didn't pierce the coolant plate.
 
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