Battery Saver Active Causes and Fixes (Chevrolet and GM)

By | August 24, 2022

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.

This is not always the case, but the message is there 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 A/C system.

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

How to Diagnose Battery Saver Active

How to Diagnose Battery Saver Active
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.

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

The reason for this test is a car battery is 12-volts and will not go above this 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 all vehicles have a different operating voltage, with most roughly at 14-volts DC when running.

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.

    Example Battery Current Sensor on Amazon
    GM Genuine Parts 13505369 Battery Current Sensor

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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.

Battery Saver Active Car Wont Start

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

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.

Summary
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 bad.

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.

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

  1. 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?

    Reply
    1. Don

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

      Reply

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