A major recall by General Motors (GM) affecting about 140,000 Chevrolet Bolts was announced in late December. GM is recalling the 2017-2023 model year Chevy Bolt EVs after determining that the vehicles pose a significant fire risk during crashes. The recall does not affect Chevy Bolt EUVs.
According to reports, the vehicles impacted by the recall may have a defect that leads to the floor carpets catching on fire when the seatbelt pretensioners deploy. These pretensioners are responsible for tightening the seatbelts in a crash, securing occupants, and preventing injuries. However, at least three vehicles have experienced fires in the passenger cabin, apparently caused by these pretensions igniting the fibers of the carpets.
The manufacturer has not announced what specifically causes these fires. However, a previous recall for a similar issue affected more than 550,000 GM trucks and determined that the pretensioners were releasing superheated gas, causing the carpets to ignite. This may be the case in the Bolt EV recall as well.
The manufacturer will not be replacing the pretensioners or carpets on recalled vehicles. Instead, it will be placing foil tape underneath the carpet around the pretensioners and potentially taping the pretensioners as well. This is intended to prevent the surfaces from growing hot enough to ignite. While GM believes that this will be enough to reduce the risk of fires, the impact in real-world crashes has yet to be seen.
If you own an affected Chevy Bolt EV, you should be cautious driving your car until you have received the recall notice and the repair has been made. In the meantime, you can educate yourself about the risks posed by car fires, how to protect yourself from fires, and what you can do if Chevy cannot permanently repair manufacturing defects that pose serious risks.
The Dangers of Car Fires
Car fires can be more deadly than the accidents that cause them. Modern cars are designed to provide as many protections as possible to their passengers, making crashes less dangerous than ever before. Furthermore, crashes are over quickly, while fires grow over time.
A fire isn’t necessarily life-threatening if you can get out of your car. You may suffer burns, but you will be able to get away. The problem occurs if you cannot leave your vehicle. For example, you will be trapped if you are knocked unconscious, or the crash jams the car door. This is particularly dangerous when fires occur inside the passenger cabin instead of in the engine.
Considering that the pretensioner fires occur only in accidents bad enough to trigger seatbelt protections, this is a particularly dangerous defect. These accidents are more likely to cause loss of consciousness than minor fender-benders. In short, Chevrolet bolt carpet fires are likely to occur in the worst possible circumstances.
How to Protect Yourself From Chevy Carpet Fires
The only way to completely avoid the risk of pretensioner fires is to drive a vehicle without this defect. However, that isn’t an option for most people unless they file a successful lemon law claim against GM. In the meantime, you can take steps such as:
- Keep Your Floors Clear: The pretensioners directly ignite the vehicle’s carpet. While you can’t remove the carpet entirely, you can remove other flammable items. Keep your vehicle’s floors clear of debris to give the fire as little fuel as possible.
- Avoid Risky Driving: These fires have all occurred due to significant crashes. While you can’t control other drivers’ behavior, you can take care to drive yourself safely and reduce the risk of an accident.
- Keep a Fire-Prevention Kit: There are fire safety kits specifically designed to keep in your vehicle. Even having a small fire extinguisher or fire blanket in your glovebox is better than nothing. These tools can help extinguish flames even if you can’t get out of your vehicle.
Lemon Claims for Chevy Bolt Manufacturing Defects
This recall is just one issue among many that Chevy Bolt owners have had to face in the past several years. For some, the risk of carpet fires is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. You may have the right to file a lemon claim for Chevy cars like the Bolt if you meet California’s lemon law criteria.
To be eligible, your vehicle must:
- Be covered by a warranty.
- Have a manufacturing defect that was discovered in the 18 months or 18,000 miles after purchase
- Have spent 30 or more days in the shop for manufacturing defects or still have the defect after the manufacturer has made a reasonable number of attempts to fix it.
If you bought your car new, it likely has a warranty for car fires caused by manufacturer defects. That means that if you purchased or leased your vehicle in the last year and a half, you could be eligible to file a lemon claim. If so, you could receive a full refund for your faulty vehicle.
Get in Touch to Find Out If Your Chevy Bolt Is Eligible for Lemon Law Claims
If you own a 2021-2023 Chevy Bolt that has faced multiple recalls or has a recurring manufacturing flaw, you may have grounds for a lemon law claim in California. That would allow you to pursue a complete refund of your car and buy a different, safer vehicle.
At Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys, we specialize in helping car owners like you file warranty claims against big manufacturers like General Motors. We will advocate on your behalf to help you achieve your preferred outcome. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling your consultation with our skilled California lemon law lawyers today.