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GM Recalls 2017-2019 Chevy Bolts Over Fire Risk

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  July 15, 2021

First Recall Issued

In November 2020, GM issued a recall for certain Chevy Bolt EV vehicle models citing a potential fire risk associated with the vehicles’ battery. The recall was specifically associated with 2017-2018 Bolts, as well as some 2019 Bolts. The problematic battery cells were from design level N2.1 and produced in LG Chem’s Ochang, Korea plant. When fully charged (or nearly fully charged), the high voltage batteries pose a fire risk. The recall also cited that the battery “may emit smoke or heat” and that this may “melt or damage the battery and other vehicle components.” The original recall report from the NHTSA cited that there were potentially 50,932 vehicles affected.

The initial solution to the problem was a software update that capped the affected batteries’ charging capacity at 90%. However, according to a recall update from Chevy, there have been two reports of subsequent battery fires in vehicles that received this remedy.

Because of the fire risk, the NHTSA recommends that owners of 2017-2019 Chevy Bolts park their vehicles outside and away from their homes after charging. They are also advising that owners not leave their batteries charging overnight.

Current Recall Update

GM now has a more permanent fix for the battery problem in 2017-2019 Chevy Bolts. Using a GM-developed diagnostic tool, dealerships can identify which batteries have the identified manufacturing defect and replace them as necessary. According to the Chevrolet recall update linked above, this remedy also includes the installation of onboard diagnostic software designed to detect potential battery issues in the future.

While dealerships are working to notify owners, if you have not yet been contacted but have a Bolt from 2017-2019 that has not received this recall remedy, you should visit your neared dealer to have the recall remedy performed. To find out if your vehicle is affected by this recall, you can use this NHTSA recall tool.

Chevrolet will also be making the onboard diagnostic software available to other model year Bolt EV owners in the near future.

Common Recall Issues & Your Options

When a car is recalled, the manufacturer typically has a fix for the identified problem in place, and they will provide that repair to the vehicle owner free of charge. However, as was the case with the Chevy Bolt recall, the initial recall fix was only a temporary measure until GM and Chevrolet developed a more permanent fix.

In cases where there is a remedy, but your closest dealership doesn’t have the parts, you have the option to go to a different dealership or to ask for a rental or loaner car. It is not uncommon for a major recall to overwhelm a dealership’s resources and cause a delay in getting your vehicle repaired.

When a manufacturer doesn’t yet have a remedy for a serious safety recall, the manufacturer still has a responsibility to the vehicle owner and is encouraged to provide vehicle owners with loaner or rental cars. Depending on the nature of the recall, manufacturers may also provide owners with workarounds for the issue until a remedy is available (such as capping charging at 90% for the Chevy Bolt).

What Happens When a Recall Repair Doesn’t Work?

It is rare, but there are situations in which a recall repair does not work. It can be very frustrating when there is a recall remedy in place, but it doesn’t work on your car. When this happens, the vehicle owner should reach out to the car manufacturer or dealer right away. You should also keep detailed records of all repair attempts. If the car manufacturer cannot fix your car, you may have grounds to file a lemon law claim. Reach out to one of our experienced attorneys at Norman Taylor & Associates to discuss your case.

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