Car Recall

Chevrolet Announces Fixes to Stop Volt Fires

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer January 2012
  • Chevrolet announced several revisions designed to decrease the Volt's fire risk after an accident.
  • The automaker will install the enhancements in customer vehicles for free, but stresses the action isn't a recall.
  • The safety improvements came after a well-publicized fire that engulfed a Volt damaged in government crash tests.

After a highly publicized fire affecting Chevrolet's plug-in hybrid Volt hatchback, the automaker recently announced a series of fixes designed to quell consumer worries about the car's safety.

Chevrolet says it will modify all new Volts to include several new safety enhancements, which will also be provided in any model currently on the road. Although the new parts will be installed free of charge, Chevrolet stresses the campaign is officially a voluntary "customer satisfaction program," rather than a full-scale recall.

According to the automaker, revisions include a strengthened safety structure around the Volt's battery pack designed to provide extra protection during a side impact collision, a tamper-resistant bracket mounted on the battery coolant reservoir that will prevent coolant from overfilling, and a sensor that monitors battery coolant levels to detect for potentially flammable leaks.

The revisions come on the heels of considerable negative publicity after a fire started in a Volt that was used in government crash tests. The government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the Volt was damaged in the tests and caught fire after sitting untouched for more than two weeks. Subsequent investigations traced the cause of the fire to the Volt's batteries, which were damaged in the impact and leaked flammable coolant into the battery pack's electronics.

But despite the apparent fire risk, Chevrolet maintains the Volt is safe, noting the length of time between the crash and the resulting fire.

"The Volt has always been safe to drive," said Mary Barra, General Motors' senior vice president of Global Product Development. "Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers' peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash.

General Motors says it's performed four separate crash tests using the Volt's new safety enhancements, and none of them resulted in coolant leaks or battery pack punctures. An NHTSA investigation of the fires is still ongoing.

What it means to you: The Volt's fire danger was likely minimal in the past, but it's an even bigger non-issue after the automaker's newest safety enhancements.

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Chevrolet Announces Fixes to Stop Volt Fires - Autotrader