2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Top Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, brake and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

EV models have come a long way in recent years, with the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt gaining a lot of popularity. The manufacturer claims that this vehicle is “road trip ready,” but many people are scared to drive it anywhere. With reports of fire, defective service brakes and issues with the powertrain, this car is shaping up to be a lemon.

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Problems with the Electrical System and Battery Fires

Even without the vehicle being an EV, owners would rely on the electrical system. However, the fact that this is electric-powered should make the automaker even more conscious of how it is built, but it didn’t.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The first year of the lease, the main computer began to fail and the entire screen would become black, with the entire car intermittently losing power on the freeway. The computer was replaced. Later on, the blind spot sensors became erratic, but this is likely due to a shoddy repair by the dealership after someone rear-ended the car.”

It turns out that something much more dangerous is occurring. In fact, the NHTSA has an open investigation. NHTSA Action Number PE20016 states that vehicles are catching on fire under the rear seat while the car is parked and unattended. At this time, it’s unclear why the EV battery compartment is bursting into flames, especially while the vehicle is not in use. Do owners want to be the test dummies to see if this car blows up or not? Probably not.

Problems with the Brakes

Many EVs also have a unique braking system that is supposed to be efficient and reliable, but that’s not what is happening with the Bolt.

One NHTSA user stated, “The Bolt EV has a steering-wheel mounted regenerative braking paddle, which applies the regenerative braking, slowing the vehicle. However, when the battery is fully charged, this paddle does nothing, which has resulted in some near misses. A warning indicator should be present, or the documentation should suggest enabling ‘Hilltop Reserve’ to prevent this from occurring. I have reported this to Chevy, but no responses were received.”

There are a lot of people paying attention to this braking system, mainly because there is also a recall. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V675000 states that more than 200,000 vehicles contain rear brake caliper pistons with an insufficient amount of coating, which creates gas pockets. When these form, drivers struggle to get the stopping power needed, which can increase the chance of an accident. While having a vehicle that can burst into flames is scary, thinking about this ball of fire heading down the road with non-functioning brakes is even worse. The Chevy Bolt is surely going down in a blaze of glory.

Problems with the Transmission

Even as an electric vehicle, the Bolt contains a powertrain that must be dependable, but it’s not.

Here is one Cars.com review to read. “The mileage has been extremely disappointing and have a quality issue. I drive 200 miles every weekend and have only been able to make that drive a few times without charging. In the winter in California I often get under 170 miles. Chevy should also invest in a mileage estimator that learns from previous drives.”

It turns out the GM is fully aware of many issues happening with the Bolt’s powertrain; that’s why there are so many communications between the automaker and technicians. One in particular, Service Bulletin #19NA220, says that the engine wiring harness might be damaged, requiring a replacement. This defect can cause service lights to come on, as well as a loss of propulsion. It’s simply not something that should be occurring in a well-made vehicle. Bottom line – this electric car is not “road trip ready” at all. In fact, it’s not safe to drive out of the driveway.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Chevrolet pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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