By on July 21, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

General Motors is taking the slow and steady approach when it comes to sales of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, which might be the right path for a highly complex new car. Reviews show it to be a well-composed vehicle with decent fit and finish but, like any new car, there are some teething issues.

Like many of the other models in its class, the Bolt’s windshield is shaped and angled to maximize the vehicle’s efficiency. It works well in most regards, but one aspect has proven troubling. In top-line Premier trim, the Bolt comes with an interior trimmed in what GM calls Light Ash Gray and Ceramic White, paired with a dashboard that is also (very) light gray in color. Due to the dash’s relatively smooth surface, this color combination causes significant glare on sunny days — to the point where certain owners don’t feel safe driving it.

We were tipped off to the issue by a couple of complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and decided to check out some forums and owner groups to see how prevalent the problem really is.

This nine-page thread on ChevyBolt.org details the discovery of the issue in January of this year, along with some troubleshooting and various fixes attempted by owners. All of the reported cases appear to be Premer-trim cars with the same interior combination. Models with darker dashboards are not showing any issues.

chevy-bolt-dash-glare

The examples with corresponding photographs shot at eye level show just how bad the issue can be. In response, some owners have designed makeshift fixes to help reduce the glare. Some have resorted to placing black cloths or matte black decals on the dash while others turn to cheesy dash carpets made just to make their drives bearable. One owner even went as far as replacing the whole dashboard with a dark gray unit — a decision that ended up costing $2,500 at the dealer.

glarecomplaintThe two NHTSA complaints mirror the descriptions on the forum and request a new, darker dash. Some of the forum users speculate that the issue was missed during testing because the mules had a cover on the dash to hide the vehicle’s details.

All of the fixes so far have been completed by owners. We reached out to GM for comment, but the automaker has not yet issued a response.

[Image: General Motors]

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53 Comments on “The Chevrolet Bolt Has a Glaring Problem...”


  • avatar
    IBx1

    Polarized sunglasses.

  • avatar
    blackEldo

    It’s amazing to me that they’d miss this in testing, even considering the “camo” explanation above.

    Mary Walton’s “Car” describes how much effort and detail went into the dashboard colors/materials/textures during the design process for the 96 Taurus. Here we are 20+ years later and GM somehow managed to drop the ball.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      The (light grey) dash in my 1995 Taurus is glary. I put something up there to block it.

      I can see how the much more upper surface area of the third gen Taurus would be FAR worse without measures taken to reduce it. I remember my mom asking why it wasn’t shiny up there like the rest of the dash on her just-purchased 1997 Sable. Without knowing the story (and I only just now have heard of that book, the car was nearly new at the time), I said “to reduce glare”. Ha

      But, looking at it, it’s pretty obvious. Why would they do that? Only one reason comes to mind. It sure isn’t for decoration, it damn sure isn’t for holding/storing things, its gotta be to reduce glare.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I remember reading that in “Car” as well. The book also detailed how despite all the efforts from the factory, the owners often chose to slather the dash with products to make them shiny, thereby negating all that design effort. One thing that the book made quite apparent is that there is a huge amount of effort that goes into designing a car. Things that the vast majority of motorists never consider.

      GM made an error and the solution is simple. Abandon that color and change out the dashes on the cars already made with that color. Even a seemingly obvious blunder can be negated if handled properly. And that means prying out the corporate wallet.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Best option for GM: discontinue the light colored dash (but the rest of the package could stay so long as it doesn’t pose the same issue), replace the light colored dashes on Bolts new on the lot, and offer (and recomend) to replace those already sold.

    Quick, positive action on this matter would keep this vehicle’s image positive and show GM’s commitment those who have put faith in their version of the affordable small EV.

    $2500/ea, minus dealer markup, isn’t that much to pay since not too many of them have been sold yet, especially to avoid a bad reputation early in the car’s life.

    Also better than the publicity and possible payout after the Waltons sue because Mary Ellen crashed her snazzy new Bolt going the wrong way on I-5 on a sunny California day.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This. Two issues:

      1) Beancounters (reference Fight Club math)

      2) If they replace the ones not sold yet, it opens up a legal avenue for any person who got in an accident with ones in the wild to go, “see they should have known better!”

      Doesn’t matter if that person was drunk, driving 100 MPH into the sun in moderate traffic, coming back from an eye doctor appointment where they got dilated, playing Clash of Clans on their cellphone and getting a handy from the passenger at the same time. It is GM’s fault!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Ltd1983

        2) Is not true.

        Tort law in the US protects these after-the-fact safety fixes, they are known as Subsequent Remedial Measures:

        “When measures are taken that would have made an earlier injury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove: (1) negligence; (2) culpable conduct; (3) a defect in a product or its design; or (4) a need for a warning or instruction.”

        It’s pretty obvious why this is the case, it encourages companies to fix actual safety issues without fear of that fix being used against them.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “It’s pretty obvious why this is the case, it encourages companies to fix actual safety issues without fear of it being used against them.”

          —- … And yet it is used against them time after time… forcing recalls on vehicles that in some cases aren’t even under production any more and are over 10 years old themselves. Why?

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd1983

            Two entirely different issues.

            He stated that a manufacturer wouldn’t fix an issue for fear of a known fix (which would be the recall) being used as evidence against them in any suits where that issue caused an injury.

            This principle prevents a recall itself from being used as evidence of negligent design, etc in any suits arising from injuries before the recall was issued.

            A manufacturer of a recalled vehicle can still be sued, and evidence of injuries, testimony of experts etc. could still be entered against them, but not the evidence of the voluntary recall done after the injury.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Whatever. The fact that cars honestly too old to matter any more are FORCED to undergo a recall that can be prohibitively expensive to the OEM suggests that people will screw other people any way they can. Really, a trailer hitch can prevent a fire in a rear-end collision? Replacing an airbag in a 20-year-old pickup truck that’s by now falling apart in most cases? Where is the logic in these? The model that requires the trailer hitch is no longer in production. The pickup truck is no longer in production and hasn’t been for at least 13 years. I could understand the later model, but why the older one? Better to disable the airbag entirely than to re-start production on an obsolete component like the airbag cover on the steering wheel.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …The fact that cars honestly too old to matter any more are FORCED to undergo a recall that can be prohibitively expensive to the OEM…

            What does “to old to matter” mean? I have two “old” cars that are old in age, not condition. Does that mean I have to be subjected to a risk that I would not be subject to if the car was only five years old?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Note that an OEM only needs to keep parts for discontinued cars in stock for seven (7) years. So once a model gets past that seven year age mark it’s effectively abandoned by the OEM and should be ‘forgotten’ as far as any recalls are concerned. Forcing an OEM to recall a car they haven’t built for ten years or longer becomes prohibitively expensive unless they can find an acceptable manner through which they can resolve the recall issue without having to re-build the dies for the replacement parts. Ford, GM and FCA have all been hit by such obsolete-car/truck recalls.

          • 0 avatar

            @golden2husky

            There has to be some statute of limitation, it seems unreasonable to hold auto manufacturers liable indefinitely. At some point financial liability should transfer to whomever owns the car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    1) Real issue

    2) GM should have caught this

    3) Does this mean TTAC will now write stories on every other automotive issue on the NHTSA portal with 2 or more issues or is this more of the usual fare?

    FCA cars recalled because of fire hazard, BIG STORY! Almost 2X Honda Accords recalled the same week for an electrical fire hazard and…no story.

    Call it as I see it.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Hypnotoad: +1

      Back in the Farago days, the mission of this site was to espouse the truth about cars. However, it eventually devolved into a GM hatefest and has remained that way. Whether or not other companies have equally dangerous issues/flaws, seems irrelevant. Here, you can count on rolling out the whipping boy to get some clicks.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Need to rename the website to “The (half) truth about cars – we only report on stories that advance our narrative (and cash flow)”.

      At least in the past the writers had pride in their work, the lack of willingness to step up and discuss the issues with the readers is downright embarrassing given the sites history. Even the Hentai tentacle banhammer EIC made attempt to put soul into his writing. I mean we have a couple writers left with personality greater than a soda machine but that’s not enough to stave off the site from its current projectory.

      Irrelevant to this article of course…

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Windshield glare like that has been a common problem for a long time. It has gotten worse with the more sloped windshields we get today but the light colors and relatively smooth textures (even on the old, all-metal dashboards–who remembers those?) made seeing out when the sun was directly overhead or coming in from either side very difficult. Yes, polarized sunglasses do help but at one time the glass itself used to be polarized to help reduce this effect. And yes, those dash carpets, towels and other makeshifts have always been common sights.

    How to fix? Well, ever notice how almost every car today has a black or dark grey interior? I’m not a fan, I prefer some color, but in the area under the glass something is needed that eliminates color, whether we like it or not. BUT… then you gain an issue with the electronics as that dash simply absorbs too much heat. Best fix? UV- and IR-blocking film on the glass. That’s now available for aftermarket but could be a very easy factory option or even standard for minimal cost ($200 or so at most window-tinting shops.) Would also help to keep the interior cooler as I discovered when having something similar put on the back glass of my truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Oh, and that IR blocker film itself is not tinted or at most marginally tinted, so would be legal in almost any state.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      Exactly. A negative result of the quest for mileage is windshields increasingly tilted back. More and more of what you see is a reflection of the top of the dashboard. As this has gradually happened, drivers sort of adjust to it without noticing it.

      But try driving an old car with a more upright windshield, or a Toyota FJ Cruiser. Suddenly you can SEE. Then you realize how much your vision is restricted in new cars. No doubt there is eyestrain from this and probably a few crashes also. My older Escape has annoying beige trim atop the dash that reflects in the windshield.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Again, BL, I’ve seen this in nearly every car I’ve owned under exactly similar conditions as shown in the photograph. At least part of the issue is the depth of the dashboard itself because the front of the glass is pushed forward rather than the top of the glass moved back. A dashboard with less depth would limit the glare, but even then not eliminate it UNLESS it’s a dark color and heavily textured (or using a glare-blocking coating on the glass itself.) Even my Jeep Wrangler, one of the most upright windshields made up to now, had that issue at the bottom of the glass, right where you most need visibility. It is on days like those that polarized sunglasses are a necessity and for most are cheap enough that demanding a potential expensive fix by the OEM could be a waste of money. But how many people think about doing anything for themselves any more?

        Yes, things can be done. Some can be done by the owner for marginal cost. Others can be done by the OEM for a significantly higher cost Anyone who has to wear corrective lenses understands the added costs of adding a glare-reducing coating to their lens. It works and works well, but it’s not cheap.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    The Cayenne has had this issue for years.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    GM is still having this issue? I knew for many many years that light color dashes reflect in windshield. I always look for black on top. And GM didn’t know?

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    Similar problem on my Impala. Winter months sunlight hits the chrome trim and bounces directly into the eyes.

  • avatar
    crispin001

    I hate all-black interiors so much (lately even the gray interiors have black dashboards — thx bean counters!!) that I’d actually put up with the glare in the Bolt. All three of my cars have gray dashboards and a recent family purchase of a Parchment interior ES 350 was specifically to avoid a black dashboard.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Covercraft better get on it. My father had to get a DashMat from them for his Cutlass convertible for this reason.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    A cheap dash mat, very thin and flexible and designed to be attractive, should be easy for GM to get out to owners. The solution is $15 not $2500.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather have a black dashboard than have the glare but I do agree after having a black interior I do not want another–black is much too hot during the Summer. Why not offer a flat finish mid-gray dashboard which would not glare. I don’t like the trend toward all black interiors at least offer a tan and mid-gray as options.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      The problem is, any color that reflects the sun’s heat will tend to also reflect visible light, increasing glare.

      My favorite dash was in my SAAB 9000. Its height perfectly matched the hood line, creating the impression of a fuselage with a canopy on top, aircraft-style. But it was medium brown, and there was considerable glare in sunlight. Good thing that the dash top was a simple, flat surface, devoid of any ornamentation except for a thin defroster vent running the width of the car.

      Polarized sunglasses are no solution. When I’ve worn them in various cars, they’ve created rainbow patterns in already-polarized side windows and interfered with dash displays. Better to have a deep black dash top, and throw a cover over it when parked in the sun. That can be as simple as a white bath towel.

  • avatar

    My LEAF has a light interior including dash. Glare is not an issue. The dash material has an uneven surface which I’m sure is to combat reflected light glare.

    Faulty ignition switches and now this.

    This does underscore the need to test drive a vehicle you intend to buy (in the daytime) prior to purchase.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It is extremely common in Australia to use dashmats. These are formed to suite your vehicle, most any vehicle.

    We use them to protect the dash from the harsh Aussie sun and reduce glare.

    Simple fix.

    http://www.nobullaccessories.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/dash-mats7.jpg

    https://cloudmall-webassets.s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/fitmycar/images/product-images/5974/5974_1478756948438_generic-dash-mats-thumb.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Those are somewhat common on older SUVs and trucks in the US Southwest, as well. Definitely an easy fix, and the look has a certain nostalgic aesthetic, too, especially if it’s fitted.

  • avatar
    MLS

    Chrysler’s LH cars featured steeply raked windshields and correspondingly deep dashes decades ago. They avoided the glare problem by coloring the forward upper portion of the dash black, even with otherwise light interior schemes.

    https://www.theautochannel.com/media/photos/chrysler/1998/98_chrysler_concorde_lxi_int.jpg

    As for the Volt, I doubt the glare is truly a significant problem.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The right thing to do would be to recall and install a cover or even a new dash. The GM thing to do will be to deny the issue and fight doing anything tooth and nail.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Anybody who has built software knows that no matter how incredible the amount of testing you may do something occasionally gets through. Frustratingly, it is sometimes something glaringly obvious which somehow got missed. So, I’ll forgive them but I expect them to fix the problem for the afflicted owners.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      But this wasn’t some typo hidden in a million lines of code. It was a square yard-sized mistake, all in plan sight. GM “tampered with the Laws of the Universe,” breaking from universal best practice, for no particular reason. Sometimes I wonder if the people who design cars actually drive cars themselves.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Shag carpet on the dash and fuzzy dice on the review mirror will take the glare away.

  • avatar

    GM is the Devil. GM takes fall for everything that is wrong in America. Enough said.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Highly sloped windshields are a pain.

    Besides glare . . . .

    1. Greatly increases heat load on AC in hot sunny weather. Here in Arizona the car’s AC is like Sisyphus, using car’s power to push out large thermal load from hot dashboard.

    2. Hard to clean: really a pain to get these large windshields clean.

    3. Poor visibility from surface films: besides glare, a low angle windshield will have worse visibility under same dirtiness.

    CAFE means we have to compromise car design to squeeze out every last mpg, I’d rather have more reasonable angle on windshield.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So would a bordello red dashboard glare like that? What about avocado green? How about medium blue?

    Bring back malaise colored interiors!!!

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