Electric cars may be the future, but they’re nowhere near perfect. For example, the popular Chevy Volt electric vehicle (EV) faced so many recalls and lawsuits regarding its performance that Chevrolet pulled it from the market in 2020.
However, just because a model is no longer in production doesn’t mean that the manufacturer is off the hook for defective construction. That’s why Chevrolet is facing a major class action lawsuit regarding the Volt’s battery energy control module.
According to the lawsuit, 2016-2019 Chevy Volts have a faulty battery energy control module that may cause potentially serious failures. This module is responsible for keeping the battery charged, maintaining its function, and preventing it from freezing or overheating. Should this module fail, the battery will not work as efficiently as intended and may even fail entirely.
This can be both dangerous to drivers and expensive to fix. Battery failures can lead to cars refusing to start, dying at intersections, or shutting down while operating at highway speeds. Even if the faulty module doesn’t directly cause the battery to fail, the reduced efficiency will likely require the owner to replace it sooner than necessary.
That’s a problem because batteries are by far the most expensive part of most EVs. The materials and precision required to produce them can make the cost of replacing batteries higher than simply buying a new car. Owners report that replacing Chevy Volt batteries can cost anywhere from $3400 to $35,000, depending on the issue. This range is standard for most EVs, so anything that might reduce a battery’s life should be considered a serious issue by owners.
The lawsuit against Chevrolet alleges that the manufacturer knew about the problems with the module but did not warn owners. It also claims that Chevy refuses to compensate owners forced to make repairs or replace batteries due to the module’s failure. While it is yet to be seen how the lawsuit will play out, it shows exactly how much of a problem faulty EV batteries can be.
Risks of Faulty Electric Vehicle Batteries
Whether you own a Volt or another EV, the battery should be your top maintenance priority. Problems like failing to start or shutting down are just the tip of the iceberg regarding these failures. Faulty batteries pose a significant fire risk, whether the car is in use or parked.
The lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles must be carefully maintained by owners and in-car software, or they may receive too much or too little electricity. If these batteries fail, the chemical reactions that generate electricity can snowball out of control, causing them to ignite. When this happens, it is notoriously difficult to put out the flames due to the chemicals involved.
Furthermore, it often takes minutes to hours for batteries to ignite after a fault develops, making it more likely that owners have reached highway speeds or parked their cars and walked away. As a result, EV battery fires are more likely to strand drivers on the road or cause severe property damage if parked next to something flammable.
How to Tell If Your EV Battery Is Failing
Not every EV battery failure will lead to fires or dangerous shutoffs on the highway. However, keeping an eye on your new EV’s performance is essential to ensure the battery is living up to its expected lifespan. If your battery is failing before the standard 8-10-year lifecycle is over, it may be a sign of a manufacturing defect that could put you in danger. Watch for signs of a failing EV battery, such as:
- Reduced range: If your EV or hybrid car used to be able to go 300 miles without a charge and now it needs recharging every 200 miles, it may be starting to fail.
- Rapid battery drain: Similarly, if your battery is full when you leave home and twenty minutes later it already reports being down to a half charge, it is likely nearing the end of its lifespan.
- Low battery despite charging: Batteries that can’t get to a full charge anymore or that lose significant charge while parked overnight are often failing.
- Constantly running fans: If you hear loud, constant fan noises from your engine during operation, it is likely overheating and may be about to fail.
If you notice any of these issues, take your car to a registered EV mechanic immediately to check the problem out.
How Lemon Law May Help You Get Your Chevy Volt Battery Replaced
If you discover your Chevy Volt battery is failing before it should, you don’t have to file a class action lawsuit just to get it fixed. If your car is still under warranty, you should be able to have the manufacturer repair or replace it for you.
But what if the manufacturer refuses? Or they try to fix the problem, and it comes back? That’s when it is time to consult with an experienced lemon law attorney.
In California, manufacturers must repair, replace, or refund vehicles with manufacturing defects like faulty batteries. If they cannot fix the problem in a reasonable number of attempts, you have the right to file a lemon law claim to pursue a full refund for your vehicle. At Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys, we specialize in helping car owners hold manufacturers accountable for their flawed vehicles. We will work with you to determine if your car is eligible for a lemon claim, help you file the claim, and advocate on your behalf through the entire process. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling your free consultation today.