Battery Saver Active Causes and Fixes (Chevrolet and GM)

By | April 8, 2023

Battery Saver Active Causes and Fixes
If you have Chevrolet or GM vehicle and see a battery saver active message on the dashboard, there may be an issue with the charging system.

While there can be other causes, the message has come on since the onboard computer no longer sees the vehicle battery being charged.

There are other possible causes than the charging system, with the most common ones listed below.

What Is Battery Saver Active?

Battery Saver Active
Battery Saver Active is a smart system developed by GM/Chevy to get the most driving time from the battery when the charging system is failing.

The onboard computer (ECM) detects the voltage from the charging system, which is determined by a battery current sensor.

The smart system was created to get the most battery life and operating time when the vehicle is no longer receiving a charge.

When the sensor detects a problem, it will shut down nonessential items such as the air conditioning system.

This allows the vehicle to have more driving time and to get the vehicle off the road and be repaired.

How to Diagnose a Battery Saver Active Error?

How to Diagnose Battery Saver Active
To diagnose the error the charging system needs to be tested to see if it is working.

The simplest way to check this is to use a voltmeter and read the voltage while the vehicle is running.
Alternator Test

  • If the voltage is above 13.5 volts, the system is charging and working.
  • If the voltage is below 13 volts, the charging system is likely not working.

The reason for this test is a 12-volt car battery will not go above 12-volts unless it is being charged.

If the car is running and the voltage is around 12-volts or lower, the charging system is not working.

Keep in mind Chevy and GM vehicles can have different operating voltages, with most roughly at 13.5-14.5 volts DC when running.

5 Causes and Fixes for a Battery Saver Active (Chevy and GM)

  • Battery Current Sensor
  • Battery Saver Active Causes and Fixes Sensor
    The battery current sensor informs the onboard computer (ECM), that there is more current flowing out of the battery than in.

    When more amps are flowing out, the ECM sees a charging issue and goes into battery saver active mode.

    If the sensor goes bad or does not have a good connection, it will give an error.

    Test the vehicle while running with a meter to see what the volts are.

    It is above 13.5-volts while running the charging system is usually good, and there is likely a problem with the sensor.

    If the voltage is lower than 13-volts DC, there is likely a problem with the charging system.

  • Alternator
  • Battery Saver Active Failed Alternator
    If the alternator goes bad and stops charging, it will cause a battery saver active message.

    The alternator can be tested with a meter while running for voltage.

    If the voltage is lower than 13.5-volts, there is a problem with the alternator charging.

    Be sure to look at the belt that drives the alternator as it can break and not spin the unit.

    Once removed, an alternator can also be tested at many auto parts stores.

    Be sure to call around first to see which store one can test it for you.

  • Alternator Belt
  • Alternator Belt
    The alternator belt spins the battery, which allows it to charge the battery.

    If the belt breaks or fails, it will not spin the alternator, which will cause it not to work.

    Check the belt and be sure it is tight on the alternator and not loose.

    If it is loose, it may need o to be replaced.

  • Battery Cable Terminals
  • Battery Cable Terminals 777
    Bad or loose battery terminals can cause issues even if they look good.

    Take them off and examine them to be sure they are good or need to be replaced.

    Often they can be cleaned with a wire brush to get a good contact on a terminal.

  • Bad Battery
  • Bad Battery
    Usually, the problem is something else, but a bad battery can cause problems with the charging system.

    A battery can be put in a charger to see if it holds a charge, or can be taken to an auto parts store which will charge and test it.

Is it Safe to Drive with a Battery Saver Active Error

No, it is not safe to drive with a “Battery Saver Active” error since the vehicle can break down and leave the driver stranded.

If the alternator has failed, the engine may be running from the battery power that, once drained, will shut the engine off.

It is best to get off the road and get it checked out.

I Have a Battery Saver Active Error and the Car Wont Start

If your vehicle will not start and has battery saver active displayed on the dashboard there is an issue with the current sensor, charging system, or battery.

Often there will be a clicking sound which is the starter trying to get power from the battery to turn the engine on.

The first step would be to charge the battery and check the terminal connections.

Once the battery is charged and connections are good, test the alternator to be sure it is charging.

If the alternator is not charging, it will need to be troubleshot and likely replaced.

Check each of the causes and fixes above for common solutions to a “Battery Saver Active” error message.

How Do I Turn Off Battery Saver Active Message?

The Battery Saver, Active error message, can not be turned off until the problem is fixed.

There is an issue with the vehicle charging system, that once fixed the light will go off.

How Long Does Battery Active Saver Mode Last?

How long a battery last without being charged will depend on how much is being drained and the condition of the battery.

A fully charged new battery with minimal electronics on, can drive for roughly 30-45 minutes before shutting down.

A battery with less than ideal charge could shut down at any time.

A Battery Saver Active issue is usually easy to troubleshoot and fix.

The main causes are the charging system and the current sensor.

The charging system can be checked with a multi-meter to see if the alternator is putting out more than 13-volts DC.

If the alternator is not charging, the alternator may be bad, or the belt may have gone failed.

If the vehicle is charging, the current sensor has likely gone bad and needs to be replaced.

Have you had issues with a Chevy and GM vehicle with a Battery Saver Active issue? Let us know in the comments below.

Category: General Automotive Repair

About Bob Thomas

Bob Thomas is an automotive mechanic with 30 plus years experience. He is a contributor to several publications and has written many articles on automotive maintenance and repairs. He also has created many auto repair videos on YouTube.

10 thoughts on “Battery Saver Active Causes and Fixes (Chevrolet and GM)

  1. Teresa

    Battery saver active popped up on 2011 Chevy Traverse. Battery is taking a charge. Ordered new sensor waiting for it to come in.

  2. Dennis

    I had my 2012 Chevy Impala throw up a “battery saver active” code. It would not start and also would not release the ignition key.
    I removed and tested the battery. It was shorted and was replaced with a new battery.
    It now starts and runs fine but is still posting a red battery symbal on the dash. I was able to drive it over an hour (60 miles) to get it back home and it still starts fine.
    What is my next test to repair this issue?

    1. Don

      The charging system need to be tested to see if it is working and the battery current sensor needs to be checked.

  3. William

    The battery saver active has been on my 2017 Chevy Malibu I’ve replaced the battery I’ve replaced the alternator I’ll replace the belt tensioner I’ve replaced and I’ve replaced the current the battery current sensor it’ll last about 3 weeks or so and then the light comes back on again

    1. Duane Allen

      My 2018 terrain goes into battery save active only periodically when temperatures go below 18 degrees Celsius? Why only when it’s cold. If block heater is plugged in there are no problems even at minus 30 Celsius??

  4. Haseeb

    Once we figure out the problem let say it was battery after putting the new battery do we need to disable the battery saver mode or it get reset on it on

  5. Andrea Garrett

    Why do my battery saver keep popping on at night, ands it’s at a 11.9 ? What does this mean and I just bought a new battery ?

  6. Phyllis

    2019 Chevy Malibu. Sat for 3 days . No driving. Keyless ignition. Tried starting car. Won’t start. Radio was working ok. Then battery saver active came on. ESC Service popped up on dash. Click on battery voltage showed 14.6. Car started. Let run for over 20 minutes. Turned car off, then on again. Drove to destination. After 2 hrs. Started car, ok. Battery voltage indicated 13.9. Should I have car checked? Concerned about the ESC service light. Drove car again, no problem. Battery voltage showed 13.9 then 13.6.

  7. Daniel Harris

    Thank you for such a helpful guide, Bob! Just wondering is it safe to drive with battery saver active warning? And How long can we drive with it?
    Looking forward to your advice. TIA.

  8. YesNoSpin

    This is a great post! I have a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and I have been struggling with battery life lately. I have been reading a lot of your posts and I think I have found the cause. I have been using the battery sa


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