Chevy Bolt Owners Face Battery Woes, Recalls, and Fire Risk
GM has been unable to fix battery issues with Chevrolet Bolts, and some customers have demanded a better solution. According to CNN Business, GM recalled Chevy Bolts twice for battery problems that have caused at least 12 fires and issued a long list of safety recommendations for Bolt owners.
Frustrated and afraid, some Bolt owners have asked GM for a better solution. Because the company has not yet resolved problems with Bolt batteries, it has offered trade-ins and buy-backs on a case-by-case basis.
Why Do Electric Cars Catch Fire?
If one battery cell in an electric car battery has a defect, it can release stored energy that can damage other nearby cells, causing the whole battery to heat up, and in some cases, catch fire. This chain reaction is known as “thermal runaway.”
Although electric vehicles do not catch fire as often as gasoline-powered vehicles, electrical fires can be much harder for authorities to put out.
Details About the Recalls
In November 2020, GM recalled Chevy Bolts due to fire risk without an immediate fix. In May 2021, the company announced a software repair that failed to solve the problem. After two “repaired” vehicles caught fire, GM recalled 70,000 Bolts in July, and one month later, the company recalled another 70,000 cars.
A GM spokesman told CNN Business that the company will start replacing batteries once it is confident that LG Energy Solution is producing defect-free batteries. LG said it did not have “clear solutions” yet. At the time of writing, there was no timeline for when Bolt owners could expect a fix.
Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the cause of Chevy Bolt fires, and consumers are feeling more and more uncomfortable owning the vehicles.
What Do Bolt Owners Need to Do?
GM has advised Chevrolet Bolt owners to use their vehicles with battery stress in mind. Bolt owners should not charge the battery more than 90%, let the battery get below 70 miles of range, or charge their cars indoors overnight. The company also recommended storing the car outdoors and parking it away from homes. If you have to park your Bolt in a garage, park on the top floor or an open deck and park at least 50 feet away from other cars.
Many people are upset by these precautions because they make owning a Bolt “more trouble than it is worth.” One owner described waking up in the middle of the night to unplug his car from the charger, and being careful with the battery means the car can only travel for about 163 miles at a time – unlike the 259 mile-range GM advertised.
When customers are upset, GM handles each situation individually, which can lead to large wait times. Most often, GM offers to exchange the Bolt with another GM vehicle, but GM does not have other fully electric vehicles. Some Bolt owners who have declined a trade-in have successfully sold their Bolts back to Chevy – sometimes for more than $10,000 over market value.
Are Electric Cars Safe?
Due to the potential for car accidents, no car is truly “safe.” Even cars parked outside can become dangerous due to defective batteries. That being said, manufacturers are responsible for defective vehicles and can face liability for putting you at risk.
Similarly, negligent drivers can be held liable for causing accidents.
If you have been harmed by defective cars or auto parts or injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC can help.
We are available 24/7 to discuss your case, and we have recovered over $200 million for clients like you.