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Old 11-19-2014, 08:38 PM   #1
Hornblower
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Default Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

I am an owner of a 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid that has 110,000 miles. It is now out of warranty and my financial responsibility to pay for the hybrid and gasoline repairs. It has always been my priority to fix my own cars if it can be done without any special tools or equipment I will do it. I enjoy learning about cars and how they work. I am a retired electronic engineer.

During the warranty period (8 years, 100K miles) the dealership replaced four hybrid batteries and the Generator Battery Disconnect Control Module (BDCM). The 2.4L engine has performed well except for probably normal repairs . In my case replacement of a Throttle Position Switch, Drive Belt tensioner assembly and 12 volt battery. What appeared unusual to me was the failure of my 12 volt battery while I was driving the car on a long trip. My check engine light and battery charge light came on and after about 40-60 minutes of freeway driving all the 12 volts operations stopped working. I was near a dealership so it worked OK and got a relative to pick my wife and I up. I read a blog that mentioned that if I had stopped the car sooner after I got the check engine and no battery charge indication and restarted it then the system would have reset itself and allowing the battery to recharge. All I know is that the battery was replaced and everything started working again.

So here is my question, if the hybrid battery fails due to a temperature issue, battery voltage imbalance between battery cells or other failure issues will the car continue to run in gasoline mode? In this scenario I am assuming that the Starter Generator and Starter Generator Control Module (SGCM) is still operational. From my research and analysis, I can see from the schematics that the SGCM provides the 12 volts to charge the 12 battery via a DC to DC converter. But in cause of the hybrid battery failure, will the BDCM communicates with the SGCM (on High Speed Data Bus GMLAN) and disable the recharging of the 12 V battery?

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Old 11-20-2014, 01:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

You present some interesting long term ownership issues never brought up here unless I missed it and maybe another view and comments from a non hybrid vehicle owner may give you some perspective about your concerns.

In general, its my presumption that any vehicle that has a gas engine running as main power and auxiliary battery for hybrid operation tells me the gas engine has priority over the hybrid battery and ancillary circuits supporting it. Using this reasoning, if the hybrid battery fails then circuitry detects this to disable support and reduces or eliminates circuits that need hybrid battery operation without affecting main power, the gas engine and its electrical generator to supply all electrical power. If priority is designed into hybrid systems like yours, a cut off is established to separate hybrid functions from interfering with normal gas engine operations. At the least, it's what I would expect from common sense and some logic. With this in mind, your engine and electrical system is isolated from the hybrid electrical system. While I cannot prove this, there are the inevitable facts that as every vehicle ages, components fail. Sometimes without warning. Real world tests to prove anyone's guess whether or not it fits actual operating parameters.

I find fault with with hearsay without facts. If you found it true that a generator light turning on at random requires stopping and restarting to reset whatever and regain the charging system then every vehicle on the road with this scenario should have died. The truth is that there are no resets to alternators requiring an engine restart to resume power generation. If your 12v battery is the original one, 7 years is longer than average battery life and it was simply on its last legs. The battery indicator was already warning you either battery voltage, alternator output or drive belt failed.

Four hybrid batteries replaced under the warranty period? That seems way off compared to (one?) 12v battery replaced in seven years. While Optima car batteries have the record for longevity, I have a Duralast Gold(?) battery that's going on its 6th year of an 8yr warranty. I would think hybrid batteries would last longer than car batteries. Are they nickel metal hydride or lithium? Perhaps these batteries are first generation types with unanticipated wear or the hybrid circuits aren't holding up and allowing these batteries to fail prematurely? What, if any, lifetime was given for them?

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Old 11-20-2014, 12:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Four hybrid batteries replaced under the warranty period? That seems way off compared to (one?) 12v battery replaced in seven years. While Optima car batteries have the record for longevity, I have a Duralast Gold(?) battery that's going on its 6th year of an 8yr warranty. I would think hybrid batteries would last longer than car batteries. Are they nickel metal hydride or lithium? Perhaps these batteries are first generation types with unanticipated wear or the hybrid circuits aren't holding up and allowing these batteries to fail prematurely? What, if any, lifetime was given for them?
Batteries are Nickel type but defect in design made for about 3 recalls so I can see why he would have had 3-4 batteries replaced.

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Old 11-20-2014, 12:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

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Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
So here is my question, if the hybrid battery fails due to a temperature issue, battery voltage imbalance between battery cells or other failure issues will the car continue to run in gasoline mode? In this scenario I am assuming that the Starter Generator and Starter Generator Control Module (SGCM) is still operational. From my research and analysis, I can see from the schematics that the SGCM provides the 12 volts to charge the 12 battery via a DC to DC converter. But in cause of the hybrid battery failure, will the BDCM communicates with the SGCM (on High Speed Data Bus GMLAN) and disable the recharging of the 12 V battery?
Since you had a check engine light, your car must have had codes. Codes are what is needed in a situation like this. There are many reasons the system would stop charging.
Main battery pack failure, ($2500) another, the generator module is defective ($1200), one is Battery Disconnect module is defective ($900) another is a resistor in the cable between the generator module and the computer is the front ($250) and of course another is a bad battery ($100).
With out the code, it is hard to even guesstimate why.
In my case it was BDCM, in yours, I'd not even venture to guess unless you can provide what the car has told you.
The systems seems to disable 12v battery charging if it detects hybrid issues. So although the car is suppose to run on gas only, it will only do so till the 12v battery is depleted.

GM says that if the difference in voltage between the 3 hybrid batteries is more then 0.6v the hybrid system will shut down. They also warn that if you let your car sit for longer then 3 month the hybrid battery pack can become permanently damaged and will require replacement.

Last edited by vasy; 11-20-2014 at 12:33 PM..

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Old 11-20-2014, 03:07 PM   #5
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Roll Eyes Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

Unfortunately when my 12 volt battery died the dealership provided no indication that the problem was due to the hybrid system. So it was probably due to the old age of the battery. I would still like to know the impact of a failed BDCM on the SGCM and potential to disable the 12V battery.

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Old 11-20-2014, 05:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

Yes, I've also had 3 battery replacements, but all were related to recalls. Now at about 116k miles.

I agree with vasy's take on the depletion of the 12VDC battery. The DC motor that replaces the alternator is driven by the 36V battery but is also responsible for charging the 12V battery. It sounds like you may have a similar issue, which turned out to be the BDCM. The codes should provide insight.

When we experienced a battery issue related to one of the recalls (leaking cells), the hybrid system was inop but the car carried on with just the gas engine. The charge indicator stayed centered and the MIL was illuminated, but otherwise it functioned as normal. So, whether or not the car will carry on with just the gas engine is dependent on the nature of the hybrid system failure.

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Current: 2008 Astra XE

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Old 11-24-2014, 11:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

Regarding charging the 12 V battery I would expect if the alternator generator failed then its DC to DC inverter in the ASCM module (or ASCM itself) would not generate the 12 volt to recharge battery. So can we then state if the BDCM failed than the car would continue to operate in gasoline mode indefinitely? Of course, the check engine lit would be lit but it would continue to operate OK, right?

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Old 11-25-2014, 01:30 AM   #8
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

I just found a pdf file addressing the Saturn Hybrid features. It stated when the hybrid battery pack gets too hot, the BECM will shut down the system. Consequently, any problems with the temperature sensors or cooling fan can cause a complete hybrid system shutdown.The vehicle can still be driven — at least for a while — but without hybrid start/stop or electronic power assist modes, and without any 12-volt or 36-volt charging output from the BAS unit. That’s bad news because it means the vehicle will be running on the regular 12-volt battery until it saps all the juice from the battery. With luck, the vehicle might continue to run for 30 to 60 minutes on the 12-volt battery before it dies and everything shuts down.
At that point, a tow truck will have to be called because the engine won’t start. A jump-start won’t help either because there’s no charging output from the BAS unit to keep the engine running with a dead battery.
To get the vehicle back on the road, you’ll have to find out what failed (and why), and then fix the fault to get the hybrid system up and running again. If you’re lucky, the Check Engine light will be on and you’ll find one or more diagnostic trouble codes with your scan tool to help guide your diagnosis. The hybrid-related fault codes display as P1AXX, where the X’s are numbers or letters that correspond to particular faults. Most battery-related faults will set
codes ranging from P1A22 to P1A59."

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Old 11-26-2014, 12:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

If what you found and interpreted is true, it appears that hybrid battery and its circuit failure will affect normal engine electrical system power and 12v battery charging? If so, this is disappointing, not separating normal electrical demands of the engine and (12v) battery charging...............

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Old 12-07-2014, 09:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

So I have got the conclusion that anything that fails in the hybrid system on the Vue will kill the 12 volt battery with a short time since it cannot be charged. That could ruin a great vacation!!

So if anyone has an idea how to bypass a failed BECM and keep the car running I would very appreciative and I am sure other Saturn Vue Hybrid owners would like to know.

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Old 12-07-2014, 11:17 PM   #11
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

sorry bud, I have no idea on the electronics behind it. Probably be cheaper to fix computer then to reprogram an rewire the car.

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Old 12-08-2014, 06:11 AM   #12
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Default Re: Running my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid in gasoline mode only

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So I have got the conclusion that anything that fails in the hybrid system on the Vue will kill the 12 volt battery with a short time since it cannot be charged. That could ruin a great vacation!!

So if anyone has an idea how to bypass a failed BECM and keep the car running I would very appreciative and I am sure other Saturn Vue Hybrid owners would like to know.
Have you considered contacting GM for technical advice?

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