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.


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