Chevrolet Recalling 140,000 Bolt EVs Over Fire Risk

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
chevrolet recalling 140 000 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]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Join the conversation
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 ?

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.