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What Does an EV Battery Recall Mean?

What Does an EV Battery Recall Mean?

What Is an Electric Vehicle Battery Recall?

Electric vehicles are becoming more commonplace, but they are still only a fraction of daily commuter vehicles. Yet, as EV ownership grows, so does the likelihood of vehicle recalls for automotive parts specific to these makes and models. Getting a main high-voltage battery recall notice could mean a major or minor issue was found that must get addressed. If you saw something on the news or got a letter in the mail from the manufacturer about your EV battery needing attention, it is best to take it seriously. Here’s what it means to have an EV battery recall.

What is a Recall on a Car?

First, we need to define a recall. When a manufacturer discovers a problem or safety issue with a product (in this case an electric vehicle battery), the manufacturer can perform a recall of that product. Vehicle recalls happen all the time, and you can check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS) at any time if your vehicle is affected. For an automotive recall, a vehicle owner is usually asked to visit their local automotive dealership service department for a repair or part replacement. The owner is typically notified via mail, but might also find out through online or broadcast media. Once the vehicle is back at the dealership service department, the recall procedure (repair, replacement or reprogramming) is performed free of charge to the vehicle owner. When the recall service is completed, the VIN (vehicle identification number) is marked off in the manufacturer’s recall database as completed. 

In the case of an electric vehicle, it is possible that a manufacturing defect or engineering fault affects how the battery operates. On the simple end, maybe the battery isn’t delivering the advertised range. On the more dramatic end, there is possible risk of damage to the vehicle (like fire). An electric car recall on a battery doesn’t automatically mean the car will burst into flames. It just means a repair is necessary to deliver the experience the owner expects. 

How to Get a Recall Fixed on a Car

Once you are notified that your vehicle is eligible for a recall, you will need to contact the local dealership that specializes in your vehicle make. In some cases, your recall notice may include the contact information for your local dealership. Contact the dealership service department to let them know you have a vehicle that is part of a recall. They will ask for your VIN to verify if your vehicle is part of the recall, as well as any additional recalls.

Once your vehicle’s recall status is verified, the service department schedules the recall service. If your vehicle is subject to multiple recalls, it is possibly worth scheduling them together on the same visit to save time. Remain patient as sometimes recalls involve parts that are in short supply. Your recall service date may get scheduled days or even months away, depending on the vehicle. Even a software recall may still require specialty equipment to interface with the onboard computer systems.

How Is an EV Battery Recall Done?Carlyle insulated wrenches

For an electric car recall on a battery, the EV will likely get placed on a lift and the battery lowered down using a specialized table lift designed to cradle and hold the extreme weight. Special tools designed for working around high-voltage systems are used to disconnect the old battery and install the new battery. Onboard modules may need programmed or software updated to work with the new battery or recognize any differences in the new battery. Once the new battery is installed, its function is verified and all associated systems are checked. 

In some cases, having your EV battery replaced can actually yield more benefits than just having a new unit. Chevrolet Bolt owners who had their batteries replaced found that the new battery actually had more range capacity than their original battery. A new battery almost resets the clock on an electric vehicle as it is the most expensive part to replace. Having a brand-new battery is akin to replacing the engine on a gas or diesel vehicle. So, owners of 2017 Chevrolet Bolts effectively had tens of thousands of miles of battery wear erased instantly, giving them a mostly new car! This can also benefit those selling a vehicle on the used car market, as a used EV with a new battery can potentially yield a high sales price.

EV Battery Replacement Alternatives

Not every EV battery recall means a complete replacement of the main high-voltage battery pack. In some cases, the manufacturer can issue a software update that changes how the battery pack operates or the charging process works. For example, the Jaguar I-Pace received a software update to prevent overload in the battery energy control module, with some modules getting replaced that were discovered as bad. Most recently Ford issued a recall for their 2021-2022 Mustang Mach-E vehicles that involves the high voltage battery contactor overheating.

Tesla has also updated battery software after vehicles caught fire. Tweaking the vehicle software can help alleviate or prevent future issues from cropping up, while also helping keep the battery healthy. Considering how high-tech modern vehicles have become, it is no shock that even your car sometimes needs a software update.

NAPA Knows Your EV

While only a dealership can handle an electric vehicle recall, your local NAPA Auto Care can handle keeping your Tesla Model Y or Kia Soul EV rolling. With more than 17,000 NAPA Auto Care locations across the country, your local center can help make sense of your EV recall. Not only can their ASE-certified technicians handle maintaining your electric vehicle, but they can also help you keep track of important paperwork like maintenance records and recall alerts. 

Already have your EV recall handled? Why not treat your Ford Mach-E or Nissan LEAF to a few new accessories. NAPA carries a wide variety of vehicle accessories so you can trick out your frunk, spruce up your interior or keep your green machine shining. Finding the parts, accessories and supplies you need is easy with NAPA. Simply shop NAPAonline or head over to your local NAPA Auto Parts store. Sign up for NAPA Rewards to start earning Points toward your next purchase. Once you earn 100 Points, you get $5 off your next purchase automatically!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Brian Medford View All

With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.

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