How Much More Does It Cost To Repair A Crashed Chevy Volt?

2011 Chevrolet Volt in IIHS crash test

2011 Chevrolet Volt in IIHS crash test

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Extended range electric automobiles like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt are at the cutting edge of automotive technology. When something goes wrong, there are often twice as many systems to consider, which can make repairs more complex than with a conventional gasoline powered or or a battery-electric car.

Take crash repairs for example. As Kicking Tires recently found out, the cost to repair a crash-damaged 2011 Chevrolet Volt can be considerably higher than the cost to repair a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu with the same amount of damage.

In May, a 2011 Chevrolet Volt owned by (parent to Kicking Tires) was involved in a frontal collision. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the impact, which was severe enough to trigger steering wheel and knee airbags.

Initial written estimates quoted a repair price of $11,588. By the time the car was completed, however, the cost had risen to $14,187, thanks to additional repair parts being required. Furthermore, a coolant leak was discovered after the car was reassembled, prompting the need for a replacement cooling pump.

Since the Volt uses separate cooling systems for its batteries and gasoline engine, there are five heat exchangers (or radiators, in more common terms) used in the Volt, compared to two or three in an average automobile. The Volt also has a significant number of computerized systems that require reprogramming after a serious crash, adding to the expense of repairs.

If the Volt cost $14,187 to repair, you'd assume that a comparable repair on a 2011 Chevy Malibu would be far less. The difference, however, is less significant than you probably think: the same damage on the Malibu would have cost the insurance company $12,006, a difference of $2,181. Given the Malibu’s lower purchase price, that amount of damage probably would have led the insurance company to declare the Malibu totaled.

To give you an idea how focused General Motors is on ensuring customer satisfaction with the Volt, a dedicated Volt adviser checked in with the repair shop several times per week. A single Volt representative handled the incident from start to finish, and GM was quick to point out that no special treatment was given because the car was owned by

While we hope none of our readers crash their own cars, we’d love to hear from any Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf owners requiring body work on their cars. What was your repair experience like?

[Kicking Tires]


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Comments (34)
  1. Of course, this accident did not encounter the portion of the Volt most costly - the battery pack. Nevertheless, packing two complete power trains into a single small vehicle isn't the ideal method of avoiding either expensive collision repairs, or high initial costs : the Volt has both. Yipee.

  2. With the battery pack in the Volt mounted under the passenger compartment, I should think in any accident bad enough to damage the battery, and therefore significantly intrude into the passenger cell, the cost of battery replacement would be the least of your worries.

  3. @fb_61206378, I'm inclined to agree with you on this. If you were in an accident severe enough to cause damage to the well-protected battery pack, the cost of repair would be the last thing on your mind.

  4. Yeah if the battery were compromised the frame would probably be compromised, the car would most likely be declared a total loss.

  5. To who ever gave me a -1, total loss is an insurance term. When a car's frame is damaged it becomes weak at that point and can be a safety hazard if another accident should occur. So your insurance company will usually declare a car with frame damage a "total loss" and replace your car with a new one. My comment was aimed at being factual not negativity toward the Volt.

  6. sorry. it was me

  7. I see there is no bias at this mag, even though GM bought you off with a new car, which is not unusual for a mag of your recognition, and it helps to pay the bills, but you shouldn't allow that to influence how you write your articles about GM. People can tell that you are favoring GM because they gave you a new car and the others have not.

    The Volt is not a good vehicle and no matter how many times you say that it is, that will not make it true. The Volt is an unusually expensive vehicle to buy and maintain and the common class cannot afford it, and if GM doesn't change their pattern of greed and stupidity soon, that vehicle will bankrupt them...again

  8. @James: I don't personally know the circumstances under which got its Volt. But you may not be aware that it's standard practice for automakers to maintain large media fleets spread across the country to let hundreds of media outlets drive the cars over time. A smaller set of larger and more influential media outlets gets loaners for longer periods of three months to a year. I believe, although I may be mistaken, that Consumer Reports is the sole large publication that buys all its test cars anonymously. Your charge that "GM bought [] off with a new car" seems a bit harsh.

  9. It is not a bit harsh when you think about it John. Before GM gave you the car to test, most of your articles told the truth about the Volt. One of your articles actually said that the electric motor could only take you one mile at 25 MPH. After GM gave you the car to drive, that gave them the power to dictate how you are to write your articles about them and the car. Your articles now proclaim that the Volt is the greatest thing since sliced bread. One of your advertisements even proclaimed that the Volt was elected car of the year for 2011 and JD Powell had nothing to do with that vote. So who voted the Volt car of the year for 2011 or GM?

  10. it was motor trend

  11. Telsa claim that one of their batteries can get about 350 miles between charges and their top speed is over 100 MPH, yet, since GM gave you the car, you have only written one low key article about Telsa and, I believe, one about Ford's FEV. Ford is on its 2nd gen battery that comes fairly close to Telsa's family car battery, yet, I have read no article on your mag about the range of Ford's 2nd gen battery. Is that because the Volt is still using the same old crummy battery?

    So, John, am I being harsh or realistic?

  12. @James: (1) We are not They are an independent media outlet. GreenCarReports *reported on* the experience that *they* had with their long-term Volt test car. We do NOT have a long-term Volt test car! Please re-read the article carefully. (2) Please provide me a link to the article in which you claim we "said that the [Volt's] electric motor could only take you one mile at 25 MPH." That is incorrect and would most likely apply to a standard, non-plug-in hybrid, not to the Volt. (3) Our editors have no idea what ads will appear next to our content at any given time. (4) It's "JD Power" not "JD Powell." (5) It's "Tesla" not "Telsa."

  13. (6) The Best Car To Buy for 2011 was NOT the Volt but the Nissan Leaf:
    (7) Your cynicism about automotive media--that any carmaker that provides test cars can then "dictate how you are to write articles about them and the car"--is not something I can do anything about. It's inaccurate, and mildly insulting, but you're welcome to your beliefs. However, please base your criticisms on actual facts, backed up with links, rather than misrepresenting what this site has actually said and published. Thank you.

  14. John, it is as difficult for me to base my cynicism on facts as it is for you to base your articles on facts. My cynicisms are based on the facts your mag and other car mags base their facts on; most of which is based on what the automaker tells you and what you tell me. Cynicisms are not meant to insult you but to encourage you to keep writing better and better articles. When a reporter gets lazy and fails to do proper research, then it comes back to you in people's comments. That shouldn't insult you, it should tell you that people are actually reading your articles...and that's a complement.

  15. I am a little confused. Do you like any of these vehicles? Volt, Tesla Roadster, LEAF, Focus EV?

    If you don't like the Volt because it is too expensive, the Tesla vehicles are probably not your cup of tea either.

    The main weakness of EVs is battery and its cost. GM has shown real leadership in trying something different in the Volt. Their small battery keeps the costs lower than Tesla's approach, even if the gasoline engine adds complexity.

    I appreciate the interest in "pure" EVs but it will be nice to have hybrids and E-REVs available as well to see what technology works in the real world.

  16. GM small battery doesn't keep the cost lower than the Nissan Leaf. And the Tesla is nowhere near the same class of car as the Volt, it being a high performance 2 seater sports car. Comparing GM's choices to the Tesla are pointless.

  17. @eletruk, I was responding to an earlier post that Tesla has a 350 mile battery whereas the Volt is a piece of junk (not my opinion but the commenters opinion).
    So there is a point to comparing GM's choices versus Tesla. Tesla got range by spending $30,000 on a battery, GM did it using a ICE generator.

  18. There is no doubt that Automotive Journalists have biases (they are people after all). There is also little doubt that journalists that are too tough in their reviews may be cut off from future access to corporate executives, test fleets, and press events. This, in turn, may create reviews that are biased to being slightly more positive than they would otherwise be. But I don't know how you would measure that.

    On the other hand, I love the fact that automotive journalists are "given" cars for extended testing. Despite whatever biasing impact that might have, the journalists get real world experience with the vehicle and can report knowledgeably about the vehicle.

  19. @James Davis, I have one question: have you actually driven a Chevy Volt, or is your opinion formed from what you've read on other media outlets?

  20. You already know the answer to that question "fb". My knowledge of the Volt is based on what I read on the blogs and does probably 90 to 97% of everyone's opinion, and after about a week or so these mags file their articles and it becomes almost impossible to go back and find the article again to present links to people like John V who request them., and it is very difficult to remember exactly which mag you actually read the article on. I even read two or three articles about the Volt on Scientific American, and just try to find something on Scientific American.

  21. Perhaps you should read Consumer Reports. They are much tougher on the Volt and the LEAF.

  22. John, some people are kinda like Mules. They are much closer to being a "Jack-ass" than they are a horse. I suspect James is just either misinformed or hates GM products.

  23. Right. Well I have my own concerns about GM and the Volt. But I am grateful for GM introducing the E-REV technology, I think it may well work out to be a better answer than the plug-in Prius or the BEVs (e.g. LEAF).

  24. Again, James, what publications can't you seem to find links to? Hilarious, you attack others for bias, yet can't even seem to grasp that you're confusing different web sites, have claimed things that were never published here or elsewhere, and refuse to support any of your ridiculous claims.
    There are actually intelligent, rational arguments against EVs, not that you or Kent B would know... Now, please, for your #1 lie, stop w/ your excuses and show anyone where any magazine claimed a 1 mile EV limit for the Volt at 25 MPH.
    We're waiting...

  25. Again, James, what publications can't you seem to find links to? Hilarious, you attack others for bias, yet can't even seem to grasp that you're confusing different web sites, have claimed things that were never published here or elsewhere, and refuse to support any of your ridiculous claims.
    There are actually intelligent, rational arguments against EVs, not that you or Kent B would know... Now, please, for your #1 lie, stop w/ your excuses and show anyone where any magazine claimed a 1 mile EV limit for the Volt at 25 MPH.
    We're waiting...

  26. You say that I am suffering from confusion and dementia and lies. You cannot even remember what you read in one article to the other without having a link to refer back to.

    I know John remembers the article I refer to (and probably even the reporter who said it and the mag the reporter was with) when I said that during the performance test on the Volt, the reporter said that the electric motor could only take you one mile at 25 MPH. A lot of the comments said that isn't even enough distance to get you past your neighbors drive way.

    The Volt is the worst of the worst of both ICE and EV and GM is the worst of all the American automakers. All the other hybrids puts the Volt to shame in...

  27. Agvain, James, everyone but you seems to be able to support their claims, but Google is apparently too difficult for you to back up your false claims. But, you cleverly made it about memory, which is bizarre since I didn't claim to remember anything, simply asked you to support your usual BS.
    Again, the can't go over 25 in EV mode for more than a mile has been completely discredited since people drive them at highway speeds for miles...
    The Volt is meant for people who can drive mostly in electric mode. Again, everyone but you seems to get this.
    So which is it, are you wrong or are people imagining driving their Volts 30+ miles on electricity alone? I just drove 6-7 miles on a test drive, want to contradict that?
    Volt 80% gas...Dumb.

  28. MPG and MPC. This mag and all the other mags use to compare the Volt with the Leaf when the Leaf is an all electric and the Volt is 80% gas...what a fair comparison that was. A hybrid should only be compared with another hybrid and when the Volt is compared with another hybrid, it still fails miserably in MPG and MPC. So take some medicine for the convenient memory loss you suffer from and remember the articles you read, or you will never learn anything.

  29. You did prompt me to wonder if the Volt did have the lowest efficiency of all EVs. Well that honor seems to go to the SMART Ed.

    39 KWH/100 miles SMART Ed
    36 KWH/100 miles Chevy Volt
    34 KWH/100 miles Nissan LEAF
    30 KWH/100 miles Mitsubishi i MIEV
    30 KWH/100 miles Tesla Roadster

    So the Volt is a bit of a pig for electricity, but not much worse than the LEAF.

    As for the Volt being the least efficient hybrid, at 37 MPG combined, the Volt is a bit of a gas guzzler, but far from the worst. The 2011 Camry hybrid only gets 33 MPG combined, for example (the 2012 is better at 39).

    But that misses the point. If you are going to buy a Volt, make sure that you are able to mostly drive on electricity.

  30. I'ts 80% electric and 20% gas, Stupid! one more hate and you're Shrimp toast!

  31. @James: What is this word "mag"? Last time I looked, this was a website ...

  32. There are more comments in this thread
  33. Our beautiful Crystal Red 2011 Volt has another week to go before it returns from the body shop. It will have been a month from the time it went in, but at LEAST a week of the "delay in recovery" has been due to the slow response by GEICO in first making and approving the repair and then in getting back to the shop to review and approve additional costs when the damaged area was torn down and further replacement parts were found to be needed. About a week of the actual repair time appears to be due to the delay in getting some parts which had to come to Sacramento from DETROIT, as the local sources did not carry those in inventory. Total repair costs almost $7000, as I was hit by an errant bicyclist.

  34. In terms of actual operating efficiency. We had both the 2006 Prius (60,000 miles averaging 50 mpg) and the 2007 Camry hybrid (39,000 miles averaging 37 mpg). In almost 7000 miles on our 2011 Volt, we are averaging...105 mpg. And it is MUCH more fun-to-drive than even the Camry hybrid...MUCH.

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