The Chevy Bolt is a small hatchback EV that’s known for its affordability and practicality.
Despite its low price and small size, it packs a lot of usable power and range.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the Bolt’s common problems to get a better idea of its overall reliability.
Table of Contents
1. Battery Defects
The biggest problem of the Chevy Bolt has been the widely reported battery defect that has caused multiple car fires.
So far, car fires have only been reported for the 2017 to 2020 model years of the Chevy Bolt.
After GM investigated the defective vehicles, it was discovered that the fires were caused by the batteries overheating due to either a ‘torn anode tab’ or a ‘folded separator’.
Fires typically occurred when the batteries were fully charged or close to fully charged.
Most of the reported fires occurred while the car was parked and left to charge overnight. In one instance, the car started to smoke after the owner pulled over because the car suddenly lost power.
Since most of the cars were parked, the resulting fire often caused significant damage to the garage and the house.
Many owners also reported hearing a loud bang before they discovered that the car started to smoke.
It’s worth noting that the Chevy Bolt isn’t the first EV to spontaneously catch fire.
Several other vehicles from other manufacturers have also had fire issues due to battery defects.
GM has issued multiple recalls to address the Chevy Bolt’s battery fire issue.
Initially, the recall was only intended for all 2017 to 2019 model years and involved updating the software to keep the batteries from charging to full capacity.
Later on, GM finally decided to completely replace the battery packs and also expanded the recall to include the 2020 to 2022 model years of the Bolt EV and the Bolt EUV.
Existing Bolt owners were also offered a $6,000 rebate in exchange for waiving the right to sue the company in case their vehicles caught fire in the future.
Fortunately, there haven’t been any major fires reported after GM started looking further into the problem.
2. Charging Problems
Several Bolt owners who recently had their high voltage batteries replaced reported that they had issues charging their cars because the metal latch that’s supposed to hold on to the charge plug was stuck in the locked position.
This issue only seems to affect the 2019 model year of the Chevy Bolt.
The metal latch is only usually used when the car is hooked up to a DC fast charger.
Due to the higher voltages involved, the latch keeps the charging plug locked in place and prevents the possibility of sparks or electrical arcs.
Unfortunately, when the latch is stuck in the locked position, it also obstructs Level 1 and Level 2 charging plugs.
Here is how some Bolt owners described their issue:
“I can’t plug my car into any kind of charging cable, as the chrome latch is affixed in the wrong position.”
“Had this issue probably 8-10 times since the battery was replaced.”
“My dealer had to fix this twice but it never lasted longer than a week and I did not get a clear look at what the tech did to fix it.”
GM eventually released a software update to keep the metal latch from getting stuck in the locked position.
Prior to the update, many owners were able to release the latch by disconnecting the negative terminal of the 12-volt battery for a minute or two.
When the battery was reconnected the latch would move out of the way on its own.
Another solution is to simply use a screwdriver to push back the pin behind the latch that’s keeping it from moving back up.
Other charging issues might be caused by either a defective charge port, which only costs a couple of hundred dollars to replace, or an issue with the charger or the electrical circuit it’s connected to.
3. High Voltage Relay Failure
Older Chevy Bolts can suddenly lose power or throw error messages on the dash when the battery relay fails.
Relay failures typically affect the 2017 to 2019 model years of the Chevy Bolt the most.
The high voltage battery disconnect relay assembly connects the positive and negative terminals of the high voltage battery to the high voltage wires.
Unlike the small relays you’ll find in gas-powered vehicles, the Bolt’s high voltage relay is a large assembly that contains several electrical components.
If one of these components fails or if the computer detects that there’s a delay when the relay activates, the car will start reporting errors.
Symptoms of a faulty high-voltage relay include:
- Sudden loss of power
- ‘Service Vehicle’ or similar error messages
- Car won’t charge
Here is how some owners described their issues:
“Bought my used Chevy Bolt 2017 in July, and have since had the high voltage battery relay part replaced two times”
“The ‘Service Vehicle’ light was going on and off in my 2019 Bolt. Brought it to the dealer to have it diagnosed. Took almost a week to get the diagnosis, which came back as a faulty relay.”
“My 2017 Bolt Premier has been at the dealer for 4 months now with a bad relay, and no replacements in sight for 24298579 according to the dealer.”
Replacing the battery relay should be covered by the Bolt’s extended EV powertrain warranty which lasts 8 to 10 years depending on which state you’re in.
However, many owners report that it can take several weeks for the replacement part to arrive.
Replacing the relay also isn’t as simple as it sounds because the tech has to drain the coolant, disconnect all the wires, and drop the entire battery.
In some cases, the relay error is caused by a software issue and goes away once the codes have been cleared.
4. Squeaking Steering Wheel
Lots of Chevy Bolt owners have complained about the loud squeaking noise that the steering wheel makes when the weather is cold.
This is a fairly common issue for all model years of the Chevy Bolt from 2017 up to 2022, as well as the newer and larger Bolt EUV.
Fortunately, there haven’t been any reports of drivability or safety issues caused by this squeaking. But it can be quite annoying, especially since it also affects brand-new vehicles.
Here is how some owners described their experience:
“My ’19 Bolt with just 1400 miles on it started squeaking in cold weather when turning the steering wheel and also in the front suspension when going over a bump.”
“My 2022 EUV has been squeaking pretty much since day 1. It’s worse in the rain and during the colder mornings.”
“After selling our ‘17 and ‘19 Bolts to GM, we bought a new ‘21 Bolt. It started making the exact same noise at about 900 miles. Neither of the first two did this.”
Some dealers have blamed the noise on the tires while others replaced different suspension and steering components to try and fix the issue.
Owners who have dealt with the squeaking steering and suspension report that replacing the tie rods fixed the issue completely. Although, in some cases, the squeaking returns after a year or two.
If the vehicle is still under warranty, replacing the tie rods should be free of charge.
Replacing the tie rods isn’t a complicated job, so it should be pretty cheap to fix even if the warranty has already expired. A competent mechanic should be able to do the job fairly quickly as long as they have the correct parts.
5. Pinging or Clunking Noise from Rear
There have been numerous reports of strange noises coming from the Chevy Bolt’s rear suspension when turning at low speeds or driving over bumps.
In a lot of cases, it sounds like an empty can rattling and can often be replicated if you rock the car side to side while the car is parked.
The 2017 to 2020 model years are more prone to this issue and it can start happening after just a few thousand miles.
Here is how a few owners described the issue:
“Our 2020 makes a creaking sound when the rear axle twists. I first heard it when exiting a circular driveway. We just turned 3,000 miles and have noticed this creak for about the last 1,000.”
“The ping/creak was occurring at lower speeds (and usually in warmer weather) when there was differential stress on the rear suspension — bump on one side, not on the other.”
The pinging sound is caused by a broken rear compound crank axle, more commonly known as a torsion beam. To fix it, you’ll have to replace the entire rear suspension assembly which costs around $1,000.
The noise is generated when the rear suspension’s torsion beam flexes due to one wheel spinning faster or moving up higher than the other.
It’s not supposed to make any sound at all, so the noise is likely caused by broken welds or a loose piece of metal inside the torsion beam.
There haven’t been any reports of torsion beams fracturing or completely breaking apart, so aside from the noise, there shouldn’t be any issues with the car’s drivability or safety.
6. Clunk or Creak When Accelerating or Decelerating
Many Chevy Bolt owners have also complained of clunking and creaking noises coming from the front end at low speeds whenever they accelerate lightly or as they come to a stop.
Depending on the sound, it could either be caused by:
- Bent sway bar
- Broken front axle washer
- Loose axle nut
None of these noises cause drivability or safety issues, but they can become pretty noticeable as time goes by.
Here is how one Chevy Bolt owner described their problem:
“My ‘17 Bolt developed a creaking sound. Over the next 20k miles it became quite pronounced when accelerating 0 to 5 mph, as well as decelerating in ‘L’ mode from 5 to 0 mph.”
The Chevy Bolt can make lots of strange noises as it ages and parts wear out. It also doesn’t help that the car is nearly silent and doesn’t have much sound dampening.
Lots of older Chevy Bolts had sway bars that would get deformed and rub on the frame which resulted in a creaking sound when the car shifted its weight while accelerating or slowing down.
Replacing a faulty sway bar in a Chevy Bolt is a pretty big job since it requires dropping the front subframe and drive unit. Although the sway bar itself only costs a few hundred, the labor cost can be pretty expensive if the car doesn’t have a warranty.
If it clunks or clicks, it’s usually caused by a loose axle nut which just needs to be tightened.
Another common cause is a broken front axle washer, which is just behind the axle nut.
When this anti-click washer breaks, it’s usually accompanied by errors for the ABS, traction control and stability control systems.
If the car is constantly making clunking noises while driving at a constant speed, it could be caused by a broken sway bar link, also known as a stabilizer link, which is pretty cheap and easy to replace.
7. Trouble Shifting Into Gear
Another common issue with the Chevy Bolt is that the car will suddenly display a “Conditions Not Correct for Shift” error and won’t go into gear.
In some cases, the car can’t be powered off when this message appears.
Here is how one Chevy Bolt owner describes the issue:
“When I turned on the car and attempted to shift into reverse, I was given the message “Conditions Not Correct for Shift”. I noticed the “Service Vehicle Soon” light was on. I decided to try to shut the vehicle down and restart it. The control screen went black briefly, but then the car immediately powered up again.”
Some brand new 2022 Chevy Bolts also have an issue where it will display a “Service Transmission Now, Unable to Shift Soon” error message.
Despite the error message, it can still be driven normally, but it will eventually stop shifting out of Park after 100 power cycles.
These shifting errors are usually caused by a software issue or some type of glitch.
The “Conditions Not Correct for Shift” error can be caused by the following:
- Faulty 12-volt battery
- Open door or hatch
- Shifting gears before the car is fully initialized
To get the car to work properly again, here are a few things you can try:
- Check that all the doors are closed
- Place the key fob far away, then turn off the car
- Disconnect the 12-volt battery’s negative terminal for a couple of minutes
If the car can’t detect the key fob, it won’t power back up on its own when you try to power down.
If that doesn’t work, disconnecting the battery allows the car’s computers to fully reset and can eliminate a lot of software errors.
For the 2022 Bolts that get the “Service Transmission Now” error, GM eventually released a software update to take care of the issue.
Some owners also report that clearing the codes using an OBD scanner got rid of the message and they haven’t seen it since even after 100 power cycles.
Chevrolet Bolt Model Years With the Most Problems
Source: Car Problem Zoo
Chevrolet Bolt Pros and Cons
If you’re considering a Chevrolet Bolt as your next car you might be wondering what its strengths and weaknesses are…
- Great value for money
- Great electric range
- Reasonably spacious
- Futuristic styling
- Lacks refinement
- Has a history of issues
- Mediocre comfort levels and ride quality
Chevrolet Bolt Reliability Compared to Similar Cars
Consumer Reports ranks the Chevrolet Bolt in 3rd place with a score of 34/100.
|Make & Model||Consumer ReportsReliability Score|
|Kia Niro Electric||95|
|Chevrolet Bolt EUV||34|
|Hyundai Kona Electric||33|
Source: Consumer Reports
Chevrolet Bolt Used Value
We’ve taken a look on Car Gurus to gauge the resale value of a Chevrolet Bolt, below are typical asking prices for each model year.
According to Car Edge, a Chevrolet Bolt will depreciate 27% after 5 years and have a 5 year resale value of $24,683.
Note: Used model prices will vary depending on trim level.
|Model Year||Mileage (miles)||Resale Price|
Source: Car Gurus
What Do Owners Like and Dislike About the Chevrolet Bolt?
Based on owner feedback from the Kelley Blue Book site here are what real-life owners love and hate about the Chevrolet Bolt.
- Quick acceleration
- Good torque
- Fun to drive
- Relatively slow charging
- Poor range in cold weather
- Tires wear out fast
“The Bolt is a great car with next to no maintenance and you save thousands on gas.”
Source: Kelley Blue Book
“Earlier Bolts were criticized for having poor headlights, GM must have listened. These 2019 lights are the best I’ve ever experienced in almost 60 years of driving. I also love the auto-dimming feature. I don’t typically drive more than 50 miles a day and on just household current the car fully charges overnight with time to spare — you don’t need to bother with a 240 volt installation unless you drive a whole lot more than I do.”
“Our new 2022 Bolt EV is solid, gets good range, has comfortable seats, handles well (I like to drive), is quiet, has plenty of passenger room, and its Regen function often adds miles to the range unless going uphill…”
How Reliable Are Chevrolet Cars?
According to a recent report from Consumer Reports, Chevrolet are ranked the 14th most reliable car manufacturer out of 28 brands, with a score of 48/100.
Source: Consumer Reports