Tesla asked to recall Model X and S vehicles over potential loss of essential functions

Palo Alto, CA – January 19, 2021 – A U.S. government agency has asked Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) to recall 158,716 Model S and Model X cars over its faulty main display screens, also known as the media control units (MCU). Software issues may cause the screens to turn off, resulting in the driver losing access to essential safety-related  information.

The ask is not an order and gives Tesla the opportunity to conduct a voluntary recall before the agency pursues further action.

The letter and the loss of essential features

On January 13, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter to Tesla asking it to recall 2012-2018 Tesla Model S sedans and 2016-2018 Tesla Model X SUVs. The move was precipitated by a NHTSA investigation sparked by several thousands of complaints submitted to both the manufacturer and NHTSA directly, alleging issues with the screens.

In conversations with NHTSA the automaker acknowledged that all of the main display screens  were expected to fail eventually because the flash memory devices – that power the screens – wear out after a certain number of on-off cycles.  NHTSA found that their useful life is about five to six years, which is “insufficient” from the safety standpoint.

When the screens crash, they rob the driver of access to vital safety features, like defrosting, defogging and the backup camera. Other essential features, such as “audible chimes” that alert drivers to changes in the vehicle, may also disappear.

‘Huge negligence on the part of Tesla’

A lawsuit alleging that the screens fail  “after only a few years of normal use” was filed in May of last year and included 2014-2016 Model S and 2015-2016 Model X. In response, In November, Tesla expanded warranties to cover this defect and swerve away from a recall.  

A complaint filed in late December by the owner of a 2012 Tesla Model S alleged that the car’s heater and defroster stopped working right after a Tesla service center supposedly resolved the touchscreen issue, resulting in limited visibility while driving in the rain. The driver called the issue “a huge negligence on the part of Tesla.

Safety concerns

NHTSA’s letter highlighted three main safety concerns that arise when the media control units in these Tesla vehicles crash.

Drivers cannot see the backup camera

New laws require cars built starting in May 2018 (and a certain percentage of cars starting in May 2016) must include a functioning backup camera. NHTSA asserts that if no backup camera feed is visible to the driver, the risk of a crash increases, “potentially causing injury or death.”

Drivers cannot control defogging or defrosting systems

These systems are considered essential to driver visibility. According to  NHTSA’s letter to Tesla, “the lack of a functioning windshield defogging and defrosting system may decrease the driver’s visibility in inclement weather, increasing the risk of crash.”

Drivers cannot hear alert chimes, such as turn signal “blinker sounds”

The car may no longer make clicking sounds that audibly remind the driver that the turn signal is engaged. Inability to receive these alerts compromises the safety of the driver and other motorists on the road.

Recent Tesla recalls

In November, Tesla Model X recall was launched for the 2016 model years because of pieces of the roof potentially flying off and striking other drivers.

Is your Model X or S affected?

It is possible that Tesla will recall these cars to resolve the MCU issue. At the moment, however, the number of potentially affected cars and the timeline of any corrective action are unknown. Bookmark MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool to check if your car is affected when details surrounding this potential recall become available. 

Rebecca RandTesla asked to recall Model X and S vehicles over potential loss of essential functions

Tesla recalls 2016 Model X over reports of roof pieces flying off

Pleasanton, CA – December, 8 2020 – Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has recalled 9,136 2016 Tesla Model X SUVs whose roof panels may detach from the car while it is driving, leaving obstacles in the road and possibly endangering other drivers. This recall was announced alongside a Tesla steering bolt recall of 2020 Model Y.

Recall summary  

The  recall concerns two panels, or “appliques,” on the roof of the Model X—one behind the windshield and the other between the falcon doors—that may fall off while the car is in motion. The panels are attached to the SUV using urethane adhesive. With many strong glues, it is important to use a primer to make sure the glue sticks to the surfaces it’s joining. Tesla believes its applique supplier was inconsistent in how it primed the panels, and that this is why some of them are falling off. 

Tesla said it first became aware of the issue on September 21, 2020, but owners have been posting images of their detached Model X roof panels on Tesla forums since at least June 2019. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received four driver complaints, starting in August 2017, of roof panels detaching from the 2016 Model X.


In its filing with NHTSA, Tesla admits that “if the applique separates from the vehicle while in drive, it could create a road hazard for following motorists and increase their risk of injury or a crash.” Tesla has received no reports of injuries or accidents caused by fly-away appliques, but the danger was obvious to one driver of a 2016 Model X who reported seeing a “top glass piece” (actually shiny plastic) that flew off the car “at freeway speeds. Not good.” The report, filed with the NHTSA, added that the piece  “could easily have killed someone in another car.” 

The dangers of road debris

Road debris is one of the top causes of injuries and deaths. For our previous reporting on the topic, please check out this page.

The repair

Owners may be able to see these panels separating from the roof, or they may hear a noise as wind causes the panel to vibrate against the car. Even if there are no signs of detachment, owners should take recalled vehicles to a dealer, who will test whether the panels in question are firmly attached. If they fail the test, the dealer will apply primer and attach the panels to the car properly, free of charge. 

Tesla has not yet reported to NHTSA when they expect this recall to begin.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 9,000 vehicles are included in this Tesla recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandTesla recalls 2016 Model X over reports of roof pieces flying off

Tesla recalls 2020 Model Y SUV for trailer brake lights glitch

Pleasanton, CA – November 18, 2020 – Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has recalled  2,567 luxury SUVs that may not light up the brake lights on a connected trailer. The recall includes 2020 Tesla Model Y SUVs “with a global rear lamp and tow package,” equipped with the following parts:

  • 1502086-00-A
  • 1502087-00-A
  • 1502088-00-A
  • 1502089-00-A

Recall summary  

This particular configuration of the Model Y – which was released on the heels of customer feedback just seven months ago – allows the driver to tow a boat or a trailer if they so wish. Due to a firmware issue that emerged in August, the brake lights on a connected trailer may not illuminate when the driver hits the brakes. 


Brake lights serve the important function of letting cars behind you know when you are stopping or slowing down to prevent accidents. The lights help drivers respond faster than if they had to rely only on depth perception. Having non-functional lights may create a higher risk of an accident, especially at high speeds.

The repair

Tesla has developed a software update, which they beamed to cars remotely on September 23. Within a week, 97% of the recalled cars were up-to-date. To ensure updates are installed on your Tesla, make sure your car is connected to your home WiFi network. Those who have issues are encouraged to contact Tesla customer service.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Over 2,500 vehicles are included in this Tesla recall. To see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Rebecca RandTesla recalls 2020 Model Y SUV for trailer brake lights glitch

Tesla Recalls Certain Model S Vehicles as Part of Takata Air Bag Recall


Laguna Hills, Calif. – January 27, 2019 – Tesla is recalling close to 14,000 Model S vehicles as part of the global Takata air bag recall. Affected vehicles are part of a worldwide recall that impacted millions of vehicles from different manufacturers. The recall involves Model S cars manufactured between February 2014 and December 2016, according to TechCrunch, but does not affect the Roadster, Model X, Model 3, or later Model S vehicles.

The Defect

The Takata air bag inflators in question contain a propellant material that can decompose over time, leading to risk of explosion on impact and flying shards of debris. The explosion of an air bag and resulting impact of debris could cause serious injury or death to a driver or passenger. The recall has been ongoing and is taking place worldwide.

Timeline of Events

According to Tesla, the company has been adhering to a schedule previously determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recall of the front passenger air bags in 2012 Model S vehicles, which began in January 2017, has now been extended to 2013 Model S vehicles in January 2018, and is also being extended to 2014-2016 Model S vehicles in January 2019.

Tesla remedied nearly 90 percent of all affected 2012 and 2013 Model S vehicles within one year after announcing its recall, and is now moving on to address the 2014-2016 models. Tesla has stated that owners do not need to be concerned if they have not been contacted yet: There is a schedule set in place for notifications to keep repairs moving smoothly, and most vehicles are not in the range of danger yet, as the air bags only become dangerous after a certain amount of time has passed since their manufacture.

The Solution

Tesla is currently continuing to contact customers to complete their air bag replacements. Owners of 2012-2013 Model S vehicles who have not yet received this replacement should schedule a service appointment. For 2014-2016 Model S, replacement parts are expected to be available by the spring of 2019, and Tesla will contact owners when the parts are ready.

Tesla is encouraging the use of their Mobile Service for customers to have the airbag replaced in the convenience of their home, office or other location. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sean ReyesTesla Recalls Certain Model S Vehicles as Part of Takata Air Bag Recall

Tesla recalls SUVs with defective rear seats

Palo Alto, Calif. – Oct. 13, 2017 – Tesla Inc. has recalled approximately 11,000 vehicles with defective backseat assemblies, The Associated Press reported. The campaign affects 2017 Tesla Model X sport utility vehicles with production dates ranging from Oct. 28, 2016 to Aug. 16, 2017. The automaker suspects 3 percent of the vehicles referenced in the recall contain the defective components.

The Defect

Affected models are equipped with backseat assemblies with improperly installed seat cables. These fixtures prevent the left seat from locking when upright, which poses a serious safety hazard, as the seat may move forward suddenly during a collision. However, Tesla has yet to receive field reports connecting the defect to any accidents or injuries.

Timeline of Events

The automaker discovered the defect during recent internal testing, TechCrunch reported. Tesla launched a voluntary safety recall as a result.

The Solution

The car company has directed dealers to replace the seat cables in affected models free of charge. Owners received notification via email Oct. 12. Those with vehicles included in the recall will be able to schedule service via the Tesla mobile application, which the automaker has employed to great effect recently.

“In the past two months, we have conducted roughly 40 percent of the Takata air bag recall repairs via mobile service, and customer satisfaction results for our mobile service offering are consistently above 97 percent,” a Tesla spokesperson told TechCrunch.

MotorSafety.orgTesla recalls SUVs with defective rear seats

Tesla Recalls Charging Adapters

Palo Alto, Calif. – Dec. 13, 2016 – In response to an overheating issue, Tesla has announced the recall of a small number of charging adapter connectors commonly used by owners of the Model S or X.

The Defect

Tesla announced on its website that the recall will affect about 2,000 NEMA 14-30, 10-30 and 6-50 adapters due to the possibility of overheating. This was in response to two separate customer complaints of overheating, which Tesla claimed did not result in injury or property damage. The recall was taken “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the post on the company website.

The company noted that the affected adapters are not standard pieces of equipment that come with every vehicle, but are instead sold separately to those who want to connect their charging cables to 240-volt outlets.

Timeline of Events

January 2015 – Tesla stopped selling NEMA 14-30 adapters.

August 2016 – Tesla re-released the NEMA 14-30 adapter due to increased demand.

November 2016 – Two customers reported NEMA 14-30 adapters overheating during use, prompting the recall. The recall also affected the 10-30 and 6-50 adapters, as they share some elements with the 14-30. No incidents involving those two models have been reported, according to Tesla.


Users of the NEMA 14-30 can expect to receive a replacement from Tesla within the next few weeks. Users of the 10-30 and 6-50 may have to wait about three months for the company to develop and manufacture alternatives. However, Tesla told customers that since these two models have not exhibited any problems, they may be used to charge vehicles if no other option is available.

MotorSafety.orgTesla Recalls Charging Adapters

Tesla Recalls Model X Vehicles

Palo Alto, CA — May 12, 2016 — Weak seating in around 2,700 Model X vehicles have led to a Tesla recall. According to Forbes, the affected vehicles contain lackluster seats that could fold in on themselves in the event of a crash.

This represents a possible safety risk, so the company is conducting a voluntary action to address the problem quickly. The source adds that Tesla hopes to complete the recall-related repairs within five weeks, during which time vehicle owners should avoid using their third row seats. The recall will address Model X vehicles that were specifically built before March 26.

The Los Angeles Times published part of the email sent to Model X owners regarding the issue and what the manufacturer has done about it so far.

“We are emailing to inform you of a proactive action Tesla is taking to ensure your safety as a Model X owner,” the message reportedly says. “Tesla’s internally conducted crash testing demonstrates that Model X will be the first SUV to receive the highest safety rating in every category, and we are committed to ensuring that it remains the safest SUV in the world.”

The Times also quoted Tesla’s sales head John McNeil, who said that there were no reported issues connected to his company’s vehicles. He stressed the voluntary nature of the recalls, intended to show the business’ interest in better safety.

A pair of complaints listed with the National Highway Traffic safety Administration noted other issues related to the 2016 Model X, particularly claims of “faulty latches” that allow the doors to spring open unexpectedly. One complaint filed on March 17 lists “rear seats not in place” as one of many problems, such as a depression in the rear seat.

adminTesla Recalls Model X Vehicles

Tesla Motors Recalls Model S Sedan

Fremont, CA – December 15, 2015 – Although no related injuries have yet been reported, Tesla Motors is spearheading an all-encompassing recall for every Model S sedan due to a faulty seat belt. Owners will be able to schedule a repair appointment to fix possible seat belt problems.

This voluntary action concerns 90,000 vehicles and is the largest Tesla Motors recall so far, according to USA Today. As of November 20, Tesla’s investigations had only discovered one vehicle with seat belt issues, the model in Europe that sparked concerns over these systems in the first place. Owners were notified via email earlier this month.

Owners could also test for the problem themselves by pulling lap portions of seatbelts with at least 80 pounds of force, although this isn’t a substitute for an official inspection, the source said. This inspection is expected to only take six minutes.

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Sean ReyesTesla Motors Recalls Model S Sedan