Expert Insights

Why You Should Pay Attention to Recall Notices

Dave Nichols
June 26, 2023
If you’ve purchased an EV, or if you are investigating one, it is worth checking to ensure that the vehicle in question doesn't have any open recalls. We explain how - and what to look out for.
man driving ev

Electric Vehicle Recall Notices

With all of the technology in new vehicles, complicated supply chains, and the unpredictable use cases once they are in owners’ hands, it’s no surprise that owners sometimes encounter problems that the manufacturer didn’t predict. That, combined with the increased pressure – particularly in the EV space – to get new products to market quickly, means that sometimes vehicle manufacturers need to recall a vehicle to perform updates to ensure it performs safely under all circumstances. That’s where the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) comes in.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives NHTSA the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet Federal safety standards. Since the Act was enacted in 1966, NHTSA has recalled more than 390 million vehicles due to safety defects.

Manufacturers voluntarily initiate many of these recalls. If a safety defect is discovered, the manufacturer notifies NHTSA, as well as vehicle owners, dealers, and distributors. The manufacturer is then required to remedy the problem at no charge to the owner.

If you’ve purchased an EV, or if you are investigating one, it is worth checking NHTSA’s recall listing to ensure that the vehicle in question is 100% up to date. Below, you’ll find examples of some recent EV recalls, and the corrective action taken.

2020 Red Chevy Bolt in front of building
Chevrolet Bolt

Chevy Bolt: Batteries

One of the biggest recalls in the EV world was the recall of thousands of Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUVs for faulty batteries, which had manufacturing defects that could cause fires under certain circumstances. A torn anode and folded separator could interact and cause a fire if the battery was manufactured incorrectly. The recall, which appears to be one of the costliest in GM’s history, will result in GM replacing all of the battery cells and modules in almost 80,000 2017-2019 Bolt EVs in the U.S. and Canada. In the interim, software updates limit the batteries’ maximum state of charge to limit the risk of a fire. The upside if you have a vehicle that has been recalled: the new battery modules will boost EPA-estimated range significantly, from 238 to 259 miles – and they will come with an eight-year, 100,000-mile limited warranty. As of early May 2022, about half of the Chevy Bolts requiring a new battery had been fixed.

2022  white Ford Mustang Mach-e in front of brick wall
Ford Mustang Mach E

Ford Mustang Mach-E: Dual Motor Glitch

Ford recalled just under 500 dual-motor all-wheel drive Mustang Mach-E electric SUVs from the 2021 model year for a software issue that could cause it to enter a “speed limited state,” limiting performance and potentially causing an unsafe situation. Ford says it’s unaware of accidents related to the issue. A software update will cure the problem – and the best part is, Ford says that the update to the Mach-E can be performed over the air, without having to visit a dealer – meaning that by the time the recall notice arrives in the mail, the car may already be fixed!

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 in front of hill
Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6

In May, Hyundai and Kia recalled a total of almost 20,000 Ioniq 5 and EV6 electric vehicles (they are based on the same set of components) over concerns they could roll away when parked. A software error in the shifter control unit might let the vehicles disengage park, allowing the vehicles to roll away if they are not parked on level ground. Unlike gasoline vehicles, placing the EV6 or Ioniq 5 in park is an electronic function, and a voltage fluctuation could interrupt the signal from the shifter control unit to the parking mechanism. (The 2023 Genesis GV6 and GV80 are both based on the same platform as well, but have not yet arrived in the United States; they will be fixed before they are delivered to customers.) A software update performed at the dealer free of charge will cure this issue.

2022 Blue Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model 3

Tesla: Brake Issues

In 2021, Tesla recalled nearly 6,000 Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs for potentially having loose brake caliper bolts. They could allow the brake caliper to separate and hit the inner surface of the wheel rim, preventing the rim from freely rotating and causing a loss of tire pressure. Tesla service centers will tighten the loose caliper bolts free of charge; or, if damage is caused by loose caliper bolts, the company says it will arrange a tow to the nearest service center for repair.

Woman in home looking at mail

Stay Informed on Recall Notices

When a recall is issued, the vehicle manufacturer has to get in touch with you, the owner, to inform you of the recall and next steps. This will typically be done by mail in addition to electronic forms of communication. The manufacturer must repair the vehicle at no charge – or has the option of replacing or refunding, minus a reasonable allowance for depreciation.

You can get an updated list of recalls, or look up recalls on your vehicle, at the NHTSA website.