Tesla is famous for its unconventionality in the automobile industry; this reputation also applies to recalls.
In recent times, the automaker has had its fair share of surplus recalls because of several, quite interesting reasons.
We’ve explored several infamous Tesla recalls, including some that people think could’ve been avoided.
Table of Contents
1. Boombox Feature Interferes With Fake Engine Noise
Let’s start with the controversial Boombox feature.
Recalls often come about because of errors during or after production. However, some of them show up because of deliberate actions and the Tesla boombox feature is a typical example.
It allowed drivers to play sounds through car external speakers.
With this feature, drivers could do many “cool” stuff like speak through the speakers and play music. They could also customize car horn sounds to play different sounds.
However, the bad news was that these sounds could overshadow the Pedestrian Warning System (PWS) sounds. The PWS is a compulsory feature in electric cars that ensures they’re loud enough for pedestrians to hear them coming.
EVs require it because they do not have engines that make a lot of noise. Instead, they have silent motors that would normally allow them to move around stealthily. As you’d guess, overly silent vehicles are like moving accidents waiting to happen.
Since the Boombox feature had the potential to hinder the PWS, it violated federal safety laws. Tesla recalled almost 580,000 vehicles because of this problem. Thankfully, they didn’t have to disable the feature entirely.
This problem mostly affects the 2020 to 2022 models of the Model X, Y, and S.
The solution involved a software update that disabled the boombox when the car was in drive, reverse, or neutral. So, drivers still get to enjoy flexing their external audio while parked.
2. Mandatory Seatbelt Reminder Alert Does Not Go Off
This is another Tesla recall with a large magnitude. Tesla recalled 817,143 vehicles because the seatbelt chime needed to warn drivers could fail to go off.
In their defense, they still displayed a visual seatbelt reminder for the driver to see.
This recall made it to the top of our list mostly for its magnitude and because it violates federal laws. While some people may not consider it a serious issue, it could potentially contribute to serious injuries if a car is involved in an accident.
The reason is that the driver might make an honest mistake and forget to buckle the seatbelts.
This problem occurs “if the driver left the vehicle in the previous drive cycle while the chime was sounding.” This implies that the chime wouldn’t always fail to go off.
From this information, we can deduce that drivers who had adhered to the warning before wouldn’t encounter this problem.
Also, the alert might still come on if the affected vehicles attain a certain speed (typically 14 miles per hour). These exceptions prove the chime doesn’t always fail. You should know that recalls rarely mean all affected models will react in the same way.
Some of them may even function optimally sometimes. So bear this in mind in case your vehicle is ever involved in a recall.
The 2021 and 2022 Model X and S, along with the 2020 to 2022 Model Y, were affected. Model years spanning the last 5 years for the Model 3 were affected too.
Like the Boombox feature, they fixed the problem with a software update.
3. Rear-view Camera Can Fail Because of the Trunk
The backup camera failure is yet another problem that violates safety standards when it occurs. Thankfully, it doesn’t occur by default in all affected cars. Instead, it usually shows up with time.
This means that many owners of the affected vehicles never had to witness it first-hand.
Tesla recalled about 356,300 cars for backup camera failure. In these vehicles, the backup camera’s wiring may get damaged because of the consistent opening and closing of the trunk. When this occurs, backup footage from the camera wouldn’t be transmitted to the touch screen and this makes reversing difficult.
Hence, we can say this problem would affect drivers differently based on different driving habits. This is because there’s an obvious cause for it and some drivers may spend months without opening their trunks.
Nevertheless, recalls are also issued to address problems that are likely going to happen in the future. Hence, whether or not a car has backup camera problems, it’d be fixed if it’s listed among the affected vehicles.
Tesla’s method of fixing the problem is by installing a protective covering over the wiring harness. If the damage is already done, they’d have to replace the harness instead.
Backup camera failure might affect Tesla Model 3 vehicles from the 2017 to 2020 models. So if you own an affected Model 3, please take your car to a Tesla service center.
4. A Faulty Hood Latch May Cause the Hood to Open Unexpectedly (In-Your-Face)
This problem is specific to the Model S, which is the flagship Tesla sedan and the company recalled over 119,000 units. In affected vehicles, the hood may flip open while driving, and if this happens, it would affect driver visibility.
The potential accidents that this problem could’ve caused are very scary. Few things are as dangerous as not being able to see the road while driving at a high speed. Also, it may affect a large range of models from the 2014 to 2021 model years.
Of course, this problem is quite serious, especially for a flagship vehicle. Good thing is, there have been no reports of actual accidents or injuries resulting from the issue.
The source of the recall lies with the hood latch assembly, which can be misaligned. Here, the secondary latch may not engage, leaving all the work to the primary one.
Hence, if the primary latch disengages (this is more probable under high speeds), the hood doesn’t hesitate to fling open.
The major service included in the recall is a latch assembly realignment process.
5. Software Problem May Prevent Heat From Defrosting Windshield
The windshield defroster software in the affected models may malfunction. The recall states that this reduces visibility and increases the risk of a crash. It becomes even riskier when the summer months are long gone.
What happens is that the error may cause a heat pump valve to open up inadvertently. This action can trap the refrigerant inside the evaporator.
The software issue affects some 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model X, S, Y, and 3. This means it practically affects every model. Some 2020 Model Ys may also be affected. Additionally, this recall affects about 26,700 vehicles.
Thankfully, it’s only a software problem and no physical components are affected. This makes the recall process even more convenient as owners don’t need to spend hours getting new parts installed.
Instead, since it’s a software problem, a software update would fix it. For affected vehicles, an OTA software update is all that’s needed to get optimal operating capacity.
6. FSD Software May Give the Car Too Much Autonomy
Don’t panic, it may not be as dramatic as it sounds. However, we’ll let you be the judge of that after the short story below.
The most recent Tesla vehicles offered an optional Full Self Driving (FSD) software package to drivers for an additional $12,000.
However, not all drivers could get this feature as an option. This is mostly because it was only a beta feature, so it didn’t have optimum working efficiency.
The Full Self-Driving option gave drivers the luxury of partial relaxation while the car drove itself to a predefined destination. “Partial” here because the driver needed to be alert to take control at any time. One couldn’t just sleep off while in motion.
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
The problem here is that the FSD package wasn’t smart enough to handle all sorts of driving conditions. Or to be fair, it isn’t smart enough yet. Nevertheless, this leads us to our main point.
It allowed cars to drive past all-way stop signs without stopping, albeit it did this slowly. This is perhaps one of the most basic forms of safety hazards we know (a car that wouldn’t stop). It is infamously known as the “rolling stop” feature.
The problem affects the 2016 to 2022 model years of the Model X and Model S (Tesla’s flagship vehicles). It also affects the 2017 to 2022 model years of the Model 3.
Lastly, the Model Y only has its 2020 to 2022 models affected. This is based on its shorter time in the market. Ultimately, about 53,800 vehicles were recalled.
7. Airbags on Some Flagship Models Could Tear
A popular fact is that the Model X and Model S are Tesla’s most expensive cars. That’s why it’s weird that these names keep coming up the more we talk about Tesla recalls.
On the other hand, a recall because of airbags is not news at all. Airbags are among the most recalled components in the automobile industry (it’s pretty much tradition at this point).
The recall states that the “driver airbag could tear if deployed”. Still, it’s narrowed down because only the 2021 Tesla Model X and Model S models can have this problem.
The issue also affects only about 7,600 cars and that’s little relative to other recalls they’ve had in recent times.
Thankfully, only about 1% of the 7,600 recalled vehicles are thought to have the problem. This is another good instance of a recall that is issued not for curative measures only but preventive ones.
8. False Alarm Leading to Dangerous Brake Application
In summary, a ‘false’ forward-collision warning may occur and this might cause the car’s ‘true’ automatic emergency brake to activate.
Try not to get distracted by the wordplay.
We’re only trying to say the fault doesn’t lie with the automatic emergency brake. This is because it’ll only act based on the signal it has received.
This is a perfect example of how chain events can occur in cars and lead to unexpected hazards. It’s like how a fluid leak problem in a gas-powered car can lead to engine overheating and then failure.
As you may have predicted by now, the issue is also because of a software error. This error causes the forward-collision warning to emit a false alarm. The effect (emergency brake activation) of this error may be a terrible and unexpected rear-end collision on the road.
Many 2017 to 2021 vehicles were affected by this problem and it affects Models X, Y, 3, and S. A total of about 11,704 cars were affected.
The complications originated because of a software update that Tesla had to cancel to fix the problem.
9. Brake Caliper Bolts Might Loosen and Affect Drivability
In affected cars, the brake caliper bolts can loosen and even come off. When this happens, it causes the caliper to have direct contact with the wheel.
The result of these unfortunate events is low tire pressure. This occurs because the caliper’s contact with the wheel restricts it (the wheel) from rolling freely. Since the tires are attached to the wheels, affected wheels inevitably cause the tires to drag.
Under calm conditions, drivers may even hear how the caliper(s) makes contact with the wheel(s).
This recall affects almost 6,000 vehicles from the 2019 to 2021 Model 3 and the 2020 to 2021 Model Y.
10. Suspension Bolts Might Loosen and Cause Instability
Last on our list is the recall for loose suspension bolts. It would seem the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y both have a thing for loose bolts.
Strangely enough, this also applies to the 2019 to 2021 Model 3 and the 2020 to 2021 Model Y.
If you recall, these exact model years are the same models with brake caliper issues. We wouldn’t want to imply that it’s because these models are Tesla’s ‘more affordable’ models, but it’s a possibility.
However, the recall affects only 2,822 cars, which is the lowest for any recall we’ve mentioned so far.
The loose suspension bolts can cause instability while driving. It may also lead to loss of control or swaying. So although we’re talking about this problem last, it is serious.
You should handle with alacrity any problem that has the potential to make drivers lose control of their cars. Still, it’s not expected that the bolts would become loose overnight. Instead, it’ll probably happen over time.
Problems like this may also be common in models without a recall. So if your car emits an “abnormal noise” from the front suspension, you should have it checked.
Thankfully, the fixing process only requires that they tighten or replace the bolts.
Most Tesla recalls are because of software updates. This might be a hidden testament to the quality of their hardware components.
It also means they may get to spend less on recalls, so they’ll usually be quick to issue needed recalls.
Nevertheless, the company has seen its fair share of recalls in the past two years. Granted, some recalls are end products of their various experiments. However, their experimental nature has always put them at the front of innovation.
So if you’re going for a Tesla, be careful, as they are considered to be pretty wild. Thankfully, wild isn’t always bad.