Hybrid CVT issues down hill? - Chevy Malibu Forum: Chevrolet Malibu Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

I have a 2016 Malibu Hybrid. I bought it used last April and have put nearly 27K miles on it over the last 11 months. My average commute is 3 hours a day where I see all kinds of traffic from stop and go to 70+ highway. One particular spot is usually stop and go while going down a small hill. If it is slow enough, I will put the transmission into L1 which works great for these sorts of situations.... if you have not tried it I suggest you do. It is great to not have to hit the brake pedal when in bumper to bumper traffic.

What is really odd is that I think the fact that I am going down a hill confuses the car. About 3/4 down the hill the transmission will stop providing the "braking effect" and feels like it kicks into neutral. As I starts rolling freely down the hill the gas engine will kick on and rev to what sounds like 3K or 4K RPM. As soon as I hit the brake pedal the engine speed slows down but it still feels like it is in neutral. It is really hard to describe. If I put it back into normal drive, it works exactly as expected.

Anybody else experience this before? It seems like a programming issue where a sensor is reading out of range and getting into a mode where it does not know what to do. I do have a video of it I will try and post here in a bit. I hesitate to bring it to a dealer just because it is such a pain to schedule, drop off and pick up. Especially considering the loaners are never available.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

The car is so quiet, it is hard to hear and see what is going on. In the video, I am literally rolling down a hill only using the gas pedal in L1. I only have to apply the brakes when it goes into its runaway condition not to hit the person in front of me.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 01:23 PM
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

It sounds like you've fully charged the high voltage battery. At that point, regen won't occur to prevent overcharging the battery. The engine should kick in to slow the car. Switch on your energy display on the dash to see the charge level. I've never been at full charge long enough to get into this state and I rarely use L, so I don't know exactly how it feels when the engine takes over to slow down the car.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 03:24 PM
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

I love the non-information from the "tachometer". No numbers, just markers on a line that is green, white, and yellow ...

I'm sorry that I can't offer anything constructive.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 06:35 PM
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

I noticed in your video that you state the battery is fully charged, but you didn't know why. When you are in low, the energy captured during coasting is from the electric motors spinning to generate electricity to charge the batteries. This is true of coasting in drive, but at a much lower rate. So as stated earlier, the engine is engaged to slow the car to prevent overcharging the battery. It doesn't take too long to fully charge a 1.5kW battery pack. This is normal operation.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 08:32 PM
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

I posted on this last year. In my car, I often go up and over a 800 foot hill on my commute. I also almost always drive in L1. On the way down, if I don't shift to D then the emgkne braking will kick in. I just make sure I put it out of L1 - no biggie.


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

Thanks for the responses. I tried to reply last week but it would not allow me to log in. It all makes sense but I am bummed the engine braking with the motor running does not work at all when dealing with slow speeds. So far this is the only annoying aspect of the car I have found. I am really happy owning my Malibu Hybrid and feel I made the correct choice!!
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 06:54 PM
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

What everyone has said here is true: this is normal operation. Everyone freaks out the first time they experience it (I sure did), but it's fine. When running downhill in L1, or even L2, once the HV battery is fully charged, the ECU will mechanically engage the ICE as a braking device (if it isn't already engaged). When running in this mode, I assume the ECU diddles the cam phasing to maximize the braking effect of the otherwise-dead (no spark, fuel, etc.) engine, and it's just going to sound and feel differently because the wheels are spinning the engine (at 2.6 times wheel speed) instead of the engine running normally and spinning the wheels as usual.

Oh, and just FYI, this car doesn't have a CVT. The electric motors and the ICE provide the variable speeds of the car, not the transmission(which only has one fixed ratio).

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

Interesting.. I thought it has a CVT - sure felt like one but your explanation makes sense. As you describe the car using the engine to apply braking force, my car is definitely not doing that. I can hear it start up and the RPM's climb quite high (not at all related or correlated to vehicle speed). The car is in a literal neutral gear because I pick up speed just as if I had the clutch pushed in when driving a manual car. The top speed I am reaching is maybe 6-8 mph. As I come to a stop, the engine shuts off abruptly. What you are describing does not match what I am experiencing.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 06:51 AM
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Re: Hybrid CVT issues down hill?

The L1 mode produces very aggressive regeneration and you'll frequently hear the engine rev up when the battery is charged. Have you tried just using D or L2 drive modes?

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