Safety Concerns Force Tesla's Largest-ever Recall

Nearly a half-million cars need to go back.
Grant Currin
A Tesla model SUpsplash / Beat Jau

Tesla owners should keep an eye out for recall letters.

Electric car manufacturer Tesla Inc. recently alerted government regulators that it had identified problems with its Model 3 and Model S vehicles that increased the risk of crashes, Reuters reported earlier today. The move will affect more than 350,000 Model 3s and nearly 120,000 Model Ss, according to separate reports filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) on December 21. 

Worn wires and faulty latches are to blame

The Model 3 recall, which affects model years 2017 to 2020, concerns a cable that connects the rearview camera to the dashboard display. According to its NHTSA filing, "repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid may cause excessive wear" that "causes the core of the coaxial cable to separate," cutting the connection between camera and screen. The company first became aware of the problem in June 2021 and has addressed approximately 2,300 warranty claims related to this issue. The company says it isn't aware of any crashes, injuries, or deaths that resulted from the problem.

The Model S recall affects some vehicles from model years 2014 to 2021. The problem concerns a secondary latch that keeps the storage space under the hood (i.e. the frunk) from opening unexpectedly. According to the filing, "the latch assembly may be aligned too far rearward [and] may prevent latching of the secondary latch." The company says that could cause "the frunk [to] open without warning and obstruct the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash." Tesla became aware of the problem in January 2021, when the frunk of a 2018 Model S opened while the car was in drive. Just four warranty claims have been filed, and the company says it's unaware of any crashes, injuries, or deaths that have resulted from the issue.

Tesla has had a tough December

This news comes less than a week after the company announced it would disable a feature that allowed riders to play games on touch screens while the car was in motion. The NHTSA had been investigating the “passenger play” feature, which had been available since December 2020 on a range of models, including some that are implicated in the latest recall. The passenger play problem was fixed with a software update, the company said.

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Tesla is no stranger to recalls. In November 2020, the company recalled almost 10,000 vehicles due to issues concerning the roof trim and the steering apparatus. In January 2021, Tesla issued a larger recall — more than 150,000 vehicles, which apparently included some of the Model S units implicated in today’s disclosure — due to problems with the touchscreen. While today’s news isn’t good for the company, Tesla isn’t alone in issuing large recalls. In 2019, GM recalled 3.5 million vehicles. The same year, Subaru said 1.3 million cars and SUVs had problems that needed to be addressed.

Fortunately, the problems that sparked today’s recalls don’t appear to have caused serious problems — at least not yet.

This was a breaking news story that was updated throughout the day.

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