— A Chevy Bolt fire hazard has caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to warn owners to park the 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolts outside and away from homes and anything that can catch fire.
Safety regulators made the announcement as they continue to analyze Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle fires in an investigation opened in October 2020.
NHTSA says 2017-2019 Bolt EV owners must park outside and away from structures immediately after charging the batteries, and the government and General Motors are warning owners they should never let their cars charge overnight.
The announcement comes as safety regulators learned of two recent Chevy Bolt EV fires in cars that had been "repaired" during a GM recall of the electric vehicles.
NHTSA opened its October 2020 investigation into 2017-2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV cars after three reports of fires located under the rear seats. The cars were parked when the fires occurred and owners said they believed the fires originated in the battery compartments.
In November 2020, General Motors announced a recall of more than 68,000 Bolt EV cars worldwide after reports of at least five fires and two injuries. Nearly 51,000 of the electric vehicles were recalled in the U.S., and all were equipped with lithium-ion batteries built by LG Chem of Korea.
Although the NHTSA investigation includes model year 2020 Bolts, GM said those weren't included in the recall because the battery cells are different.
However, the automaker hadn't determined how dealers were going to repair the cars, so GM created an interim solution to limit the battery charge capacity to 90% because the fires seemed to occur in Bolt cars that were fully charged.
Owners of 2017-2018 Bolt EVs were told to change the battery charge settings to "Hill Top Reserve" and 2019 Bolt owners were told to change the setting to "Target Charge Level" at 90%.
Engineers still had no clue what the root cause of the fires was or how to permanently repair the electric vehicles, but in April 2021 GM announced how the Bolts would be repaired.
"As part of the service procedure, dealers will utilize GM-developed diagnostic tools to identify potential battery anomalies and replace battery module assemblies as necessary. The remedy will also include the installation of advanced onboard diagnostic software into these vehicles that, among other things, has the ability to detect potential issues related to changes in battery module performance before problems can develop." — General Motors
When dealers performed the alleged repairs the battery charge limitation was removed. However, the two recent fire reports indicate the final recall repairs may not protect the cars from going up in flames.
Even if your Chevy Bolt EV has received the final repair, NHTSA and GM says to park outside, at least until GM says otherwise.