GM and Chevrolet have decided to voluntarily recall nearly 140,000 2017-2023 Chevrolet Bolt EVs after three separate minor fires were reported. 111,242 of the vehicles were sold in the U.S., most of the others are in Canada. A problem with the seatbelt pretensioner after a crash triggered a carpet fire.
“This issue was submitted to GM’s Speak Up For Safety (SUFS) program on September 15, 2022, following a report of a 2018 model year Chevrolet Bolt EV in Korea that experienced a fire appearing to have originated in the right-side lower B-pillar area. GM opened an investigation on October 24, 2022.
GM’s investigation identified a total of three potentially relevant field incidents in the subject vehicles involving exhaust from a deployed pretensioner igniting carpet fibers near the B-pillar.”
What is a Pretensioner
A seatbelt pretensioner is the mechanism that ignites a tiny explosion to tighten your seatbelt after a crash. The idea is that the seatbelt will help hold you in place and the airbag will also help prevent you from hitting the dash.
Unfortunately, in three cases, the little pretensioner explosion was hot enough to start the carpet on fire. GM estimates that this defect occurs in less than 1 percent of the Bolt vehicles.
How GM and Chevrolet Will Fix the Problem
The recall affects Bolt vehicles that were built from July 26, 2016, to Oct. 25, 2022. Dealers are being notified about the repairs now and owners should receive recall letters starting next month.
According to the paperwork filed with NHTSA,
“Dealers will install metal foil at the carpet near the pretensioner exhaust. Certain vehicles will also need a pretensioner cover installed. Added metal foil between the carpet and pretensioner, along with the pretensioner thermal cover, prevents ignition of carpet material from pretensioner exhaust.”
All of the repair work will be done free of charge and should not take very long. Again, owners will start receiving letters next month.
Mary Conway is a professional automotive journalist and has decades of experience specializing in automotive news analysis. She covered the Detroit Three for more than twenty years for the ABC affiliate, in Detroit. Her affection for the Motor City comes naturally. Her father ran a gas station while Mary was growing up, in Wisconsin.
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