Chevy Bolt fire recall reality check: Millions of gas cars recalled for fire danger

A Chevy Bolt fire.

blog logoOne of the most irritating things about the current Chevy Bolt fire danger recall — approximately six Bolts out of 140,000 produced have burned — is the general public’s ignorance and lack of knowledge vis-a-vis a basic fact: Gas cars — millions of them across just the last several years — have been recalled for fire danger.

This number includes recalls of countless ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles for which the fire danger existed even for ICEs that were standing and not on, and for which recommendations were similar to what GM is recommending for the Bolt: Whenever possible, park your car outside, not in a garage.

Yet almost no one appears to actually be aware of the fact that there is a near constant string of automotive recalls for ICE fire danger, with everyone seemingly zooming in on EVs and their alleged “greater” fire danger. In fact that “greater” fire danger — it really is NOT greater, but probably a lot less — is attributable to two things ==>

  1. Media news values: The rule in media coverage is that it is the exception to the rule that gets covered. The more novel something is, the more rare it is, the MORE coverage it gets.
  2. Ignorant/uncritical media consumers: Far too many news consumers fail to grasp or appreciate the fact that the rule in media coverage is the fact that it is the exception to the rule that gets covered. They then mistake the exception to the rule for the rule. OMG 🙄😖🙄. Consumers’ uncritical media coverage reading error leads to all sorts of issues. Most broadly, and most often, uncritical media consumption leads to a sense of fear and risk that is way out of proportion to the actual risk of an event occuring, whether that is becoming a victim of a crime, dying in a plane crash, or your neighbors’ Chevy Bolt going up in flames and their car fire destroying your HOA townhome.

To put things in perspective in terms of the Chevy Bolt fire recall, which is garnering much more news coverage and getting much higher play in the news than ICE fire recalls precisely because EVs are novel/new (novelty is a dominant news value, though negativity is THE single most overarching news value), below is a sampling list — complete with links and dates — of just some of the countless ICE fire recalls that have occurred over the past five years in the United States.

The recalls cover millions of gas cars and include multiple instances of ICE fire danger that occurred when the cars were NOT on, and include recommendations by car makers — to cover their legal asses — not to park fire risk ICEs inside in garages. The recalls cover essentially every single major brand of automaker, from Audi to Volkswagen, or A to V!

A Kia Soul burning. Every year, there are nearly 200,000 gas car fires in the United States and hundreds of thousands, often millions, of gas cars are recalled each year in the United States due to fire danger.

In other words, the current Chevy Bolt fire danger recall is nothing particularly new.

It makes it to the top of the news, where uncritical and non-media savvy people, which probably describes most average Americans, mistake this news as being something new for cars in general because gas vehicle recalls have not been played as high in the news as EV fire recalls and/or potential dangers.

This is because ICE fires and fire recalls are much more routine and gas cars much more average and therefore less interesting, from a news values perspective — as a long-time journalism professor and former journalist, I know more than a few things about news values ;-).

No, fire recalls of vehicles — INCLUDING fire danger recalls of MILLIONS OF GAS CARS in the United States — are, in fact, very common and quite routine.

Wake up, America, learn just a tiny bit about news values, PLEASE!, and take a bit of time to become more critical, and smart, and informed media consumers!

Start by clicking on some of the links below!

Thank you!

An incomplete list of the MANY gas car fire danger recalls in the United States over the last 5 years==>

  1. May 2021 –> Hyundai Recalls Another 390,000 Vehicles Because of Potential Engine Fires
  2. March 2021 ==> Fiat-Chrysler recalls trucks over fire hazard, suggests owners park outside
  3. March 2021 ==> Kia Recalls 308,000 Vehicles for Fire Risk, Tells Owners to Park Outside
  4. December 2020 ==> Honda Recalls Nearly 1.8 Million Cars Over Flaming Window Switches and Corroding Driveshafts
  5. November 2019 ==> Nissan Is Recalling Nearly 400,000 Vehicles Over Potential Fire Hazard
  6. April 2019 ==> BMW adds nearly 185,000 vehicles to recall over fire risk
  7. March 2019 ==> Audi Recalls Nearly 75,000 Vehicles Due to Fire Risk
  8. December 2018 ==> Ford is recalling 874,000 pickup trucks in North America for fire risks
  9. March 2017 ==> Mercedes recalling 300,000 cars due to fire hazard
  10. August 2016 ==> Mitsubishi Recalls 45K Outlander Sports Over Fire Concerns