Warren, MI – September 9, 2021 – General Motors (NYSE:GM) has recalled 52,403 2020 – 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and 2022 Bolt EUV cars whose batteries may catch fire, increasing the risk of death or injury for the car occupants and people around them.
This recall is a result of an ongoing U.S. government investigation, which so far has resulted in three recalls, including this one, and is an expansion of a previous recall conducted in July. There have been multiple fires and at least one injury associated with this recall.
The recall concerns the “High Voltage Battery Pack” with multiple part numbers, including 24042761, 24044172 and 24044527.
These Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles contain defective high-voltage LG batteries that may catch fire when they are charged to “charged to full, or very close to full, capacity.” In fact, the recall is being conducted on the back of a recent car fire in the recalled population.
The cause of the fire is the presence of “two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell” but it is not clear what these defects are.
Previous recalls and an investigation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates vehicle safety in the U.S., opened an investigation in October after receiving two owner complaints alleging that their vehicles “caught fire under the rear seat while parked and unattended.” The investigation resulted in the first recall which was conducted in November 2020 and included over 50,000 2019, 2018 and 2017 Chevrolet Volt EVs. The cars were outfitted with “diagnostic software” and also received new battery modules. The repair, however, may have been insufficient as the same vehicles were again recalled in July of this year.
Battery fires are serious: One of the Chevrolet Bolt fires reported to NHTSA took three hours for the fire department to put out, and reportedly caused owners smoke inhalation injuries from the “thick and noxious” fumes it produced. Car battery fires pose a number of risks to vehicle occupants and people nearby, and require specialized firefighting techniques to extinguish. For tips on what to do in the event of a fire, please visit this article about battery fires in BMW hybrids.
Before the Chevy Bolt fire, owners may notice that the battery emits “smoke or heat” or see the battery or “ other vehicle components” melt or become damaged.
Dealers will eventually replace defective battery modules for free, but this repair is not yet available.
You can do the following while waiting for the final repair:
- Activate the Target Charge Level (referred to as the Hilltop Reserve mode on the 2017-2018 Bolts) feature to limit the battery charge level to 90% full. If you are unable to adjust these settings yourself, visit your dealer for help.
- Charge the vehicle after each use.
- Do NOT deplete the battery further than 70 miles of range remaining.
- Park the vehicle outside and away from structures after charging.
- Do NOT charge the vehicle overnight.
- If you own a 2017, 2018 or 2019 model-year, visit your nearest Chevrolet dealer to get an important software update, which includes a diagnostic check on the health of the Bolt’s battery system. This service is provided free of charge.
Letters with these instructions will be sent out to owners on October 4, 2021. Owners will receive a second letter when the final repair is available.
Is your vehicle part of this recall?
Over 50,000 vehicles are included in GM’s Chevrolet recall. To do a Chevrolet recall check, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.