General Motors is recalling nearly 20,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric cars in Canada and another 120,000 in the United States to fix a seatbelt problem that can cause fires.

The recall covers certain Bolt hatchbacks from the 2017 to 2023 model years, but does not include Bolt utility vehicles or Bolts made for Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle unit.

In a statement Tuesday, GM said that in rare cases, exhaust gases from the front seatbelt pretensioners could come in contact with carpet fibres following a crash, potentially causing a fire.

Pretensioners have sensors that determine a crash is imminent, and they pull a passenger into the proper seating position before a crash, slowing the passenger’s speed.

The company found three reports of fires that could have been caused by the problem. The severity of those is unknown.

General Motors said it would notify affected Canadian owners by mail, with instructions to take their vehicle to a dealership to install foil tape under the carpet near the pretensioner exhaust. Some vehicles would also need pretensioner covers.

CBC News has reached out to General Motors for more information.

Two men stand either side of a partially-assembled car, which is raised into the air, inside a factory.
General Motors says it will contact affected Canadian owners by mail with instructions on what to do. In this photo, GM workers assemble a 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicle at a plant in Lake Orion, Mich., on March 19, 2018. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)



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