Chevrolet Recalling 140,000 Bolt EVs Over Fire Risk

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
chevrolet recalling 110 000 bolt evs over fire risk

The Chevrolet Bolt is under recall for another defect that reportedly poses a fire risk. However, it’s got nothing to do with the battery this time around. Instead, the automaker has all-new concerns about seat belt pretensioners venting hot exhaust gasses that could ignite interior carpet. In response, General Motors will be recalling 140,000 examples of the Bolt produced for the North American market.

Chevy explained that the recall involves specific vehicles from the 2017-2023 model year and only covers the Bolt EV – presumably meaning the EUV crossover has been spared the embarrassment of another recall. In 2021, the company asked literally every single Bolt owner in existence to bring their EVs in for battery replacement because units were under a fire-related recall. The situation undermined people’s confidence in battery tech and cost the manufacturer billions of dollars.

This new recall is smaller in scope, thus far, and has a much more cost-effective fix. General Motors said it would be installing covers for some vehicles and adding a piece of metal foil on all Bolt models to protect the carpet edge from being burned by any hot gasses coming out of the pretensioner. Though it seems like a chewing-gum solution to an issue that sounds like it could be extremely dangerous to occupants.

Since seatbelt pretensioners only activate when an accident is imminent to help secure occupants in anticipation of the crash, having a unit that runs the risk of igniting the cabin feels like a massive safety hazard. Individuals will already be dazed or incapacitated by the initial impact, making it that much more difficult to exit a burning vehicle. A better solution seems to be swapping the existing carpet out with more flame-retardant materials or simply redesigning the tensioners to vent gasses in a safer manner.

Though, according to CBS News, GM has said it believes the fire risk is quite rare and has only managed to find three reports of fires that could have been caused by the problem. That may indeed be the case, with the assumed pretensioner fires being a legitimate fluke. But it’s not something you’d want to leave alone until it becomes a massive scandal and public outrage forces more compressive (see: expensive) recall measures. GM has already spent a fortune developing and then fixing the Bolt and likely doesn’t want to spend any more time fussing with it than is absolutely necessary.

[Image: Tricky_Shark/Shutterstock]

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5 of 9 comments
  • ScarecrowRepair ScarecrowRepair on Dec 21, 2022

    Why does a seat belt pretensioner need to vent exhaust gasses hot enough to ignite carpet? What exhaust gasses exist in an EV?

    • See 1 previous
    • 285exp 285exp on Dec 22, 2022

      A seatbelt pretensioner uses an explosive charge to tighten the seatbelt during an accident to help restrain the occupant during the crash. It has sensors that detect enough deceleration to indicate a crash and in order to be of any help it has to act instantly and with considerable force, so it needs a pretty hefty charge and therefore significant hot exhaust.

  • from the same company that brought you ''Ignitiongate'' ... who is surprised by gms complete lack of quality ?

  • Jeff S I rented a 2012 Chrysler 200 with the 4 cylinder from Enterprise for business travel and it was not a bad car but I would not buy one. I would have picked a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, or a Ford Fusion over a Chrysler 200. I have known people that bought Chrysler 200s that had nothing but problems with them. I appreciate these old reviews and miss the old TTAC before it became what it is now with many articles that are slanted toward politics. Don't have to agree with everything but it is good to read an honest review of a car.
  • Jeff S The Cybertruck was first unveiled and announced on Nov. 21, 2019. For over 3 years Tesla has been saying that this truck was going to be released soon. The mystique and surprise is no longer there. I think the Cybertruck is hideous but then I am not the target for this. Since its initial unveiling there has been the introduction of the Lightning, Hummer, and the Rivian truck. The anticipation of this truck and the mystique has faded. There will be a few that will buy this because they are hard core Tesla fans and some because it is different but Tesla should have been the first to market an EV pickup. GM is planning a compact EV pickup under the GMC brand starting at 25 MSRP. This should have been Tesla and Tesla could have downsized the Cybertruck to either a midsize or compact truck and been first. Tesla should have been first at the very least to release a smaller EV truck.
  • Bloke Wow, this should make a big difference, to those catalytic converter thieves who don't have tools like 'angle grinders' with them.
  • Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
  • Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.