April 15

2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So a fresh electric car, 2017 Chevy Bolt that had a blind spot lane warning repair. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: Yeah, so the owner came to us. They apparently hit their back bumper on something and the blind spot warning and lane changing warning system stopped working in the vehicle. So they brought it to us to look at and see what we could do to repair it.

Mark: Now this is electric, so what kind of testing and diagnosis did you do? And was it any different than normal? The way you start. 

Bernie: For something like this? No, we basically hook up our trusty Snap-on scan tool, which has all the software for GM vehicles, including the Chevy Bolt. Do we say Bolt or Volt? It's funny how you can get confused with that. Anyways we hooked up our scan tool and interrogated the body system and found a store trouble code, which kept repeating for a communication error with the rear vehicle modules. So I can't remember the exact description of the code, but it kind of confirmed what we figured might be going on with the vehicle. So that was basically what we found through the scan tool part of it, which is again, as the initial part of the diagnosis. It's the basic starting point of the diagnostic. 

Mark: Gives you a general area where the problem probably lays basically. 

Bernie: Exactly. There's something communicating. There's a computer in the front or body control computer somewhere that's not communicating with the computer's in the rear of the vehicle related to the lane keeping system and blind spot warning. 

Mark: So what were your next steps? 

Bernie: Next step, pull the rear bumper, inspect the wiring. Now I'd mentioned they'd hit something. It was very subtle because the bumper wasn't crushed or cracked. There's a little tiny mark where it hits something. But we pulled the bumper off and we found a wiring connector that was just munched with all the wires you know, crushed and you know, popped apart, so we found the problem is pretty evident right then and there.

And I should probably just get into some pictures right now because that's where the interesting stuff lies. So there's our 2017 Chevy Bolt.

2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair

So this is a little bit of damage on the bumper. You can barely see it. There's a tiny little crease right there and a little mark there. You know very minimal amount of damage.  Fortunately didn't damage, these are parking sensors, these round dots didn't damage any of those, didn't damage any lights. It kinda makes you wonder what with all these controls, why did he even hit something? But you know, I've got vehicles that have those and it's, I don't know, you can still hit stuff, it still happens. 

Broken wiring connector.  There's basically what we found.  So this is like a two in one connector. These pins and pieces are all popped apart. You can see this is like the weather seal. Very important to have these sealed, obviously because they're in the outdoor environment. And there's another picture here this shows another piece of the connector that's all munched. So you can kind of see what we're up against. 

Mark: Okay. So let me ask you a little bit of question. Perhaps we haven't prepared for, which is why in the heck did this happened from such a small little bump. 

Bernie: Well, what we believe happened and I'm not sure if I have a picture. Well, you know what, I'm going to jump ahead. This is the repaired connector, but this big aluminum plate here, this is the actual bumper. That other piece that has a little crease, is the plastic cover. And there's some foam in there. Behind this piece, there's a clip where the wiring connectors, this wiring connector that's all munched up is supposed to go. And it basically hooks in behind there. So it shouldn't ever get hit by anything, it's protected. But for some reason, what we conclude happen is as the person's backed up, this wiring connector was in behind in between the bumper, that metal piece and the plastic and just got crushed.

So bit of crappy luck for these people, because you know, this is only in one location. Had they backed up even a few inches over it wouldn't have cracked this, but for some reason it did. So that's basically why it happened. And when we repair it, of course, we ensured that everything was on the proper side.

So if something like this were to happen again, the wiring connectors out of harm's way. Now, why it was like that, it's hard to know. Was it a sloppy installation at the factory? Was this bumper off previously for some other repair or did somehow when it hit pull the thing apart and in a sort of two-part process of creasing in it it pulled the wiring connector apart and crushed it. It's kind of hard to know. Nonetheless, it was broken. So bit of crappy luck for the owners of this vehicle is what I can say.  

So as for repairs. Yes. There was a couple of options. One was to get new wiring harnesses from GM. I believe it was over $1,800 for the, they don't sell the connectors or plugs. You have to basically buy the whole wiring harness. So the wiring harness...

Mark: Wait a minute, wait a sec, $1,800 for a wiring harness?

Bernie: Yes. It's not an outlandish price but that's only one end of it. The one in the back bumper was I believe about $300. So the back bumper is complicated because it's got two radar sensors. I should have taken some more pictures, but it's got two radar sensors on the corner of the rear bumpers.

Plus it's got the parking sensors and of course it's got a light, so there's quite a few items as you can see. This is the body side of the wiring that we repaired. But you know, of course it's way too much money, but the $1,800 wiring harness, is a very, very complex piece of wiring. It's obviously not just a few wires. It's this plus it goes through the whole vehicle. We figured a much better, faster, and way more, way more cost effective way would be to put new wiring connectors, not an easy job, but we used these Deutsch connectors. These are a really high quality connector. They use a special crimper to crimp the wires on much like you get in a factory. I mean, it's OEM factory quality. All weather sealed. Available in a variety of sizes for different wire gauges and yeah, it's a great quality repair. 

So quite a few hours worth of work to take everything apart and do it right. But you know, the amount of time it took us to do that would probably less time than changing the wiring harness to the front of the vehicle. The only downside of course, if the back bumper ever got, you know, really destroyed whoever would be doing the future repairs would have to customize the wiring harness, but that's not a big deal in the greater scheme of things. 

Mark: So with all these electronic fanciness in there, that adds a tremendous amount of complexity, but in this case, because a lot of that stuff wasn't damaged particularly, it's just the wiring end of things that you're having to repair.

Bernie: Yeah, exactly. But there's a lot in there. I don't know the price of these radar sensors, but I mean, there's a lot to them. I bought a new GM truck recently.  It's a nice for trailer towing. It's got all sorts of cameras and sensors and warning lights, and led lights to shine down the back to look at your cargo when it's dark out and just all sorts of stuff. But I cringe to think how much this mirror would cost to fix you know, oh and it tilts in, it's a little fancier. 

So I read an article just recently about, you know a Subaru that had a headlight problem and it was like $6,000 for a new headlight for a Subaru. I mean, that's, you know, we just don't expect those kinds of things out of an average kind of car that was $6,000, maybe on a Mercedes, but not a Subaru. And, you know, there's, if you get the Mercedes and BMW, it gets even worse. So, you know, with all these fancy features that we have on cars, there's a price to be paid and trying to avoid hitting something is really important. Of course, these things are supposed to prevent you from doing it, but it's, I don't know.

Mark: We can keep out smart anything.

Bernie:  Exactly. You know, it's not hard to do sometimes, so they help out. So yeah there's a lot of added complexity for sure. 

Mark: So the Chevy Bolt is a fully electric vehicle. What do you think of them? Are they reliable? 

Bernie: Yeah, I think they're really awesome. I mean, there are fairly new, so, I mean, there's not many repairs that we do on these kinds of things at this point in time. I would say though, there probably will be very little as there's not much in the way maintenance. And that's what kind of brings people back often, other than repairs or things breaking.

 We'll just look at some more pictures of the vehicle. Some under hood shots because I find it always interesting and looking at these things. There's a good under hood view.

2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair
2017 Chevy Bolt, Blind Spot Warning Repair

This is what you find in the engine compartment. I guess it's the motor compartment now of the Chevy Bolt.

So what's familiar. Well there's brake fluid here, the brake master cylinder, but a lot of this is all electronically controlled now. You've got computer modules here that you'd find. There's the 12 volt battery there which powers and runs all the other accessories. I believe this is an inverter I be wrong here. I didn't really research enough of what all the bits and pieces are under the hood of this vehicle. But everything with orange cables is high voltage, and this is all high voltage cabling.

The electric drive motor and unit will be down below here. You can see there's two coolant reservoirs here as well. There's some AC or heating pipes here. So again, I'm not sure how the system works and a lot of these things I tend to learn on an as needed basis. So I can definitely see an AC fitting here.

So a lot of electric vehicles will use the AC system for heat and cooling as well. So you know, there's some stuff that looks the same and a lot of stuff that's different. And then of course, repairs will be substantially different to do than you would normally do. As a matter of fact, I could see three coolant reservoirs here. So interesting.

The other thing I found interesting is this is the radiator cap. The radiator cap is like, there isn't even really a radiator there. They're so small. But what's interesting, it's only five PSI pressure, very low pressure. I mean, most internal combustion engines are up around the 15, some of this highest 18 PSI range because there's a lot of heat and pressure.

So again, these are very low pressure systems. So leaks, they won't occur as easily as they would on an internal combustion engine. They just don't have the same amount of heat generated as you would. 

Mark: Is there any other maintenance other than just maybe topping up fluids and brakes and suspension systems on an electric vehicle? 

Bernie: It's pretty much it. They have tire pressure warning, so. You know, I don't like to recommend that people just drive a car without having it inspected every once in a while. But when a car is brand new, you know, you can probably honestly drive one of these cars for a couple of years without even taking it in for service. You can top up your washer fluid, it'll have a cabin air filter that needs to be changed. I mean, there's no engine air filter anymore. The cabin air filter if you're a somewhat handy, is probably not difficult to do yourself. Rotating tires is an important thing to keep the wear even. 

And I think, you know, once the car gets a few years old, having an annual inspection will be an important thing because you never know, things do start to where at that point. You've got weather issues, road salt and that kind of thing. If you live in that kind of climate, getting it on your brakes. So brakes will need service from time to time, even though they will last a long time. Having service on brakes depending on where you live is going to be an important thing to do once every year, once every couple of years. Rotating your tires on a regular basis and just inspecting the steering and suspension, make sure there's no loose parts. It might be computer monitoring for all your fluids and tire pressures, but it doesn't monitor things like ball joints. 

There might be some kind of technology around that with nanotechnology in the future where everything will be told to you. But I think that's a little ways out. Give it five years. Yeah. But I think the key thing is when a warning light comes on, there's something that's going to need to be addressed. And that's when something will need to be repaired. I think it's hard to know what electric vehicles, what the issues are, because they're pretty new. You know, in Teslas, I mean, they've been around for over 10 years and they kind of keep to themselves. There's not so much published information out there. You know, but things like bad connections and corrosion will certainly be an issue, especially in areas where there's a lot of harsh winters and road salt. I think those things will start causing problems. Places like Arizona, where you got none of that, maybe nothing, hard to know.

Mark: If you need some service on your electric vehicle. They've actually serviced quite a few. The guys to call are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, (604) 327-7112. They've worked on Teslas. They've worked on pretty much all the electric vehicles. Not a ton of them, because they're not a lot of them on the road, but they have worked on them. They're trained up. They're up to speed. They're experts in these vehicles. They've worked on a lot of them. Give them a call (604) 327-7112. To book your appointment. You have to book ahead they're busy. Or you can go to the website pawlikautomotive.com. You can book your appointment on there. They will call you back, find out what exactly what's going on with your vehicle. You can also look at over, I don't know, 500, 600 videos on there of all makes and models and types of repairs, including electric vehicles. Check out the YouTube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair. Thank you so much for watching and listening. We really appreciate it. Thank you Bernie. 

Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching and listening.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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