Own a 2017-2019 model? You need to read this.
The Chevrolet Bolt has been on sale since the 2017 model year and, unfortunately, is now being recalled due to a fire risk following an investigation. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Chevy has just issued a recall for over 68,677 Bolts (50,900 in the US) built from 2017 through 2019 because of a problem in the high-voltage battery pack.
These batteries, produced by LG Chem in South Korea, are located under the rear passenger seats and could potentially catch fire. GM has confirmed it found five incidents of battery fires when the batteries were either fully charged or almost fully charged. Three of those incidents happened in October and there are two reports of smoke-inhalation. Unfortunately, GM still does not know the exact cause of the battery fires.
"The affected vehicles' cell packs have the potential to smoke and ignite internally, which could spread to the rest of the vehicle and cause a structure fire if parked inside a garage or near a house," the agency's announcement said. Bolt owners are now instructed to keep their cars parked outside and not in their garages.
As the investigation continues, GM has developed software that will limit vehicle charging to 90 percent to hopefully prevent future incidents. Chevy dealerships will begin doing this software update starting on November 17. "We believe this action will reduce the risk of battery fire while we work to identify the issue, and determine the appropriate final repair," said a Chevy spokesperson.
Until the update is complete, the automaker is asking 2017 and 2018 owners to charge their vehicles' setting to "hilltop reserve" while 2019 Bolt owners are instructed to use the target charge-level option and set the maximum capacity to 90 percent. In October, the NHTSA officially began looking into the matter following two reports it received over the summer regarding fires in 2018 and 2019 model year Bolts. The investigation revealed 2017 models are also susceptible. Even 2020 Bolts haven't been ruled out. However, the NHTSA states that 2020 models use "a different battery-cell design than the vehicles affected by this recall."