The Chevrolet Bolt Has a New Fire-Related Recall, But It's Not What You Think

The seat belt pretensioner could ignite the compact EV's carpets in 140,000 vehicles across every model year.

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Chevrolet Bolt exterior, on road
Image: General Motors

Recalls and the Chevrolet Bolt know each other well. So when a new Bolt recall is announced — like the one on Tuesday covering 140,000 vehicles — it kind of makes you stand up and take notice. General Motors asked every single Bolt owner worldwide to bring their EVs in for battery replacement in 2021; after a campaign of that magnitude, one that cost GM and LG billions of dollars, you kind of wonder what else could possibly go wrong with the car.

The carpets, apparently. Courtesy CBS News:

GM said in a statement Tuesday that in rare cases, exhaust gases from the front seat belt pretensioners can come in contact with carpet fibers after a crash, potentially causing a fire. The company found three reports of fires that could have been caused by the problem. The severity of those was unknown.


To fix it, GM will install metal foil along the edge of the carpet nearest to the pretensioner exhaust. Certain models will have pretensioner covers installed, the article adds. You’ve got to wonder how the “fixed” carpets will look; personally I think all affected Bolts should receive fresh, new fire-retardant carpets. Metal foil in the interior sound like it’ll look terrible, and haven’t Bolt owners suffered enough already?

Chevrolet Bolt interior
Image: General Motors

At least this recall doesn’t affect every Bolt on the road. The EUV model is spared, as are the Bolts in Cruise’s fleet. (Good for Cruise; they could use that.) Some hatchbacks across all model years — from 2017 to 2023 — are subject to the campaign. You can check the status of your Bolt by inputting its VIN into the NHTSA’s recall lookup tool.

This isn’t the first time seat belt pretensioners, which lock the belts in preparation for a crash, have come under the transportation department’s scrutiny. Earlier this year, 230,000 Hyundai and Kia models were recalled for pretensioners exploding in much the same way Takata airbags have been known to, sending shrapnel into the cabin.