Tesla's recalls keep piling up. No one's sure what happens next.

Federal regulators are keeping a close eye on Tesla.

Tesla workers on the line in Fremont, California

Though NHTSA continues to chastise Tesla, the company hasn’t gotten any serious financial penalties for its continued recalls.

Photo: David Butow/Getty Images

Tesla’s back at it again with another recall. The nation’s largest EV manufacturer has had repeated run-ins with federal safety regulators recently, and has issued at least 10 recalls in the last four months, including four in the past few weeks alone, due to several risky features in its recent software updates. Of those four, two were due to Tesla making software decisions that violate federal safety standards.

The recent uptick in recalls could be a sign that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is keeping a closer eye on Tesla as the company continues to add controversial features in its software updates that have pushed the agency’s safety limits. While NHTSA is upping its scrutiny of Tesla’s releases, the company continues to “play a little fast and loose” with the safety of its features, said Michael Brooks, acting executive director for The Center for Auto Safety.

“They seem to like to ask for forgiveness rather than permission a lot,” Brooks said.

Though the agency continues to chastise Tesla, the company hasn’t gotten any serious financial penalties for the continued recalls, Brooks said. The NHTSA didn’t respond to Protocol’s request for comment. Tesla, of course, famously disbanded its communications department in 2020.

“I hope Tesla gets its act together,” Brooks said. “We think Tesla needs to do a little more due diligence.”

Here’s a rundown of all of Tesla’s recalls in the past four months.

Feb. 8: Windshield Defrosting

Tesla recalled nearly 27,000 U.S. vehicles over software that affects windshield visibility in cold temperatures. The software issue could allow the heat to stop working in cold conditions, affecting the defrosting capabilities, but Tesla said it isn’t aware of any collisions related to the problem. The recall affects some 2021-2022 Model 3, Model S, Model X and 2020-2022 Model Y cars, and Tesla said it will issue an over-the-air software update to fix it.

Feb. 4: Novelty “Boombox” software

Nearly 580,000 Teslas were recalled due to its “Boombox,” a music feature which allows drivers to play external sounds while in motion, potentially obscuring Pedestrian Warning System sounds. The company said it will update its software to disable the feature while the car is in drive, reverse or neutral. The recall affects certain 2020–2022 Tesla Model S, X and Y vehicles, as well as some 2017–2022 Tesla Model 3s that have the pedestrian warning system.

Feb. 1: Seat belt reminders

817,000 Teslas were recalled because the required sound alert for when the vehicle starts and the driver hasn’t buckled their seat belt did not go off. Tesla Model S and Model X from 2021-2022, Model 3 from 2017-2022 and Model Y from 2020-2022 were affected by the recall, as they don’t adhere to federal safety standards on crash protection. Tesla said it would fix the issue with a software update.

Jan. 27: Rolling stops

Nearly 54,000 Teslas were recalled because the car’s Full Self-Driving software allowed cars to pass stop signs without coming to a complete stop. Tesla said there haven’t been any known crashes due to this feature. The recall affects Model S sedans, X SUVs from 2016 through 2022, Model 3 sedans from 2017 to 2022 and 2020 through 2022 Model Y SUVs. The company said it plans to disable the rolling stop software in these vehicles.

Dec. 21: Rearview camera and hood latch

Tesla recalled 475,000 cars for two separate issues. Approximately 119,000 of the 2014 to 2021 Model S Teslas were recalled for issues with the hood latch, which could open without warning while driving and “obstruct the driver's visibility.” The other issue, affecting more than 356,000 Model 3 cars from 2017 to 2020, caused the rearview camera to not be visible on the car's display due to "repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid.” Owners were allowed to bring their vehicles in for repair, free of charge.

Nov. 21: Suspension knuckle fractures

In one of the smaller recent recalls, 826 Tesla Model Y vehicles from 2020 to 2022 were recalled for possible weak suspension knuckles, causing the suspension links to separate and increasing chances of collision. Owners were notified by Jan. 18, 2022, and can bring the cars in for repair free of charge.

Nov. 9: Airbag tears

7,600 Teslas were recalled because the airbags could tear when used. The issue affects some 2021 Model X and Model S Teslas.

Oct. 29: False forward-collision warning

Tesla recalled close to 12,000 cars due to false warnings of a possible forward collision, unexpectedly triggering the emergency brakes. Models S, X, 3 and Y sold from 2017 to 2021 were affected by the recall. Tesla uninstalled the version of the software that had this issue, which was available to a limited number of customers in beta.

Oct. 25: Loose suspension bolts

Over 2,800 Tesla Model 3 vehicles released between 2019 and 2021 and Model Y vehicles released between 2020 and 2021 were recalled due to loose front suspension bolts, an issue which could cause instability and “adversely impact vehicle controllability,” according to the NHTSA report.

Workplace

What the economic downturn means for pay packages

The war for talent rages on, but dynamics are shifting back to the employers.

Compensation packages could start to look different as companies reshuffle the balance of cash and equity.

Illustration: Nuthawut Somsuk/Getty Images

The market is turning. Tech stocks are slumping — which is bad news for employees — and even industry powerhouses are slowing hiring and laying people off. Tech talent is still in high demand, but compensation packages could start to look different as companies recruit.

“It’s a little bit like whiplash,” compensation consultant Ashish Raina said of the downturn. Raina, who mainly works with startups that have 200 to 800 employees, previously worked as the director of Talent at Index Ventures and head of Compensation and Talent Analytics at Box. “I do think there’s going to be an interesting reckoning in terms of pay increases going forward, how that pay is delivered.”

Keep Reading Show less
Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.
Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Policy

How 'Zuck Bucks' saved the 2020 election — and fueled the Big Lie

The true story of how Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $419 million donation became the 2020 election’s most enduring conspiracy theory.

Mark Zuckerberg is smack in the center of one of the 2020 election’s multitudinous conspiracies.

Illustration: Mike McQuade; Photos: Getty Images

If Mark Zuckerberg could have imagined the worst possible outcome of his decision to insert himself into the 2020 election, it might have looked something like the scene that unfolded inside Mar-a-Lago on a steamy evening in early April.

There in a gilded ballroom-turned-theater, MAGA world icons including Kellyanne Conway, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks and former president Donald Trump himself were gathered for the premiere of “Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump.”

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Fintech

From frenzy to fear: Trading apps grapple with anxious investors

After riding the stock-trading wave last year, trading apps like Robinhood have disenchanted customers and jittery investors.

Retail stock trading is still an attractive business, as shown by the news that crypto exchange FTX is dipping its toes in the market by letting some U.S. customers trade stocks.

Photo: Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For a brief moment, last year’s GameStop craze made buying and selling stocks cool, even exciting, for a new generation of young investors. Now, that frenzy has turned to fear.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev pointed to “a challenging macro environment” marked by rising prices and interest rates and a slumping market in a call with analysts explaining his company’s lackluster results. The downturn, he said, was something “most of our customers have never experienced in their lifetimes.”

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Enterprise

Broadcom is reportedly in talks to acquire VMware

It hasn't been long since it left the ownership of Dell Technologies.

Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Broadcom is said to be in discussions with VMware to buy the cloud computing company for as much as $50 billion.

Keep Reading Show less
Jamie Condliffe

Jamie Condliffe ( @jme_c) is the executive editor at Protocol, based in London. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, he worked on the business desk at The New York Times, where he edited the DealBook newsletter and wrote Bits, the weekly tech newsletter. He has previously worked at MIT Technology Review, Gizmodo, and New Scientist, and has held lectureships at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. He also holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Oxford.

Latest Stories
Bulletins