General Motors has announced a recall of the 2011-2013 Chevrolet Volt. As our colleagues at Green Car Reports note, the recall is intended to upgrade the car's software and ensure that it shuts off when the vehicle isn't being used.
The recall stems from a relatively new problem, but one that's going to become more prevalent over time: drivers accidentally walking away from their vehicles without turning them off. With gas-powered vehicles, that's typically been hard to do -- even if you've accidentally left your keys in the ignition, you've probably heard the telltale rumble of the engine as you've stepped toward your home or office.
With electric vehicles -- or in the Volt's case, an extended-range electric vehicle -- it's a different story. When the car is in electric mode, it's very, very quiet, and it's possible to think that you've turned it off when it's still active. (The Volt honks and sounds alerts to ensure this doesn't happen, but every so often, it does.)
If the Volt were a fully electric car, this wouldn't be much of a safety concern. Forgetful owners would simply come out to their vehicle to find that their battery had been drained. But in the Volt's case, when the battery peters out, a gas generator kicks in, and in at least two cases, that has cause injuries due to carbon monoxide build-up.
Software on later versions of the Volt includes a safety feature that turns the car off after it's idled for 90 minutes. Now, 2011-2013 models will work the same.
The recall affects 64,186 vehicles, 50,249 of which are registered in the U.S. After owners receive a recall notice in the mail, they'll be able to take their Volt to a Chevrolet dealer, who will perform the software upgrade at no charge.
If you own one of these cars and have further questions, you're encouraged to contact Chevrolet customer service at 800-222-1020.