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

General Motors ordered to recall 5.9 million cars equipped with Takata airbags

Pleasanton, CA – December, 3 2020 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered General Motors (NYSE:GM) to recall 5,888,421 pickup trucks and SUVs built with potentially dangerous Takata airbag inflators, which could explode and fling deadly shrapnel into vehicle occupants. The infamous airbag inflators have already killed 27 people and injured at least 250 more, and are part of the largest auto recall in history. The latest installment of the recall – which already encompasses 19 car manufacturers and “tens of millions” of cars – includes the following GM models on the GMT900 platform: 

  • 2007-2014 Cadillac Escalade ESV and EXT SUVs
  • 2007-2014 Chevrolet Avalanche pickups
  • 2007-2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2500/3500 pickups
  • 2007-2014 Chevrolet Suburban SUVs
  • 2007-2014 Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs
  • 2007-2014 GMC Sierra 1500 and 2500/3500 pickups
  • 2007-2014 GMC Yukon XL SUVs

Recall summary

The recall concerns the vehicles’ passenger-side airbag inflators. The inflators use ammonium nitrate to generate a small explosion to inflate the airbags. If this volatile chemical is exposed to heat and humidity, it becomes porous. The extra surface area in this microscopic swiss-cheese allows the ammonium nitrate to burn faster, thus causing a much stronger explosion than intended. This explosion can blow up the inflator and send bits of shrapnel flying into vehicle occupants at high speeds, potentially maiming or killing them.

NHTSA first ordered GM to recall the affected cars in 2016. The company had recalled 330,198 vehicles on the GMT900 platform in May 2015, but argued that the rest of vehicles that are now being recalled should be excluded because the airbag defect was “inconsequential.” This argument was rejected by NHTSA on November 23. Despite disagreeing with the decision,  GM said it would not appeal.

‘Almost no data’ to back up claims

NHTSA consulted air-bag chemical expert Harold Blomquist regarding these findings, who rebutted GM’s many claims that unique design features could prevent their inflators from exploding. “GM expended little effort over the last two years to methodically study the claimed features in order to substantiate their effectiveness,” he said in his 75-page review of GM’s petition. As a result, Blomquist said, GM had “almost no data” to back up their claims that their Takata airbags were somehow less dangerous.

Previous Takata airbag recalls

Automakers have been issuing ever-expanding recalls of Takata airbags for seven years, with 100 million inflators recalled worldwide. Volkswagen, BMW and Honda all recalled cars this and past year because of the airbag issue.


GM will replace the Takata airbags with a different model, free of charge. More information about the recall schedule should be released by December 24. 

What to do if you own a recalled vehicle

NHTSA has issued a few broad recommendations for drivers in the Takata recall population:

  1. Don’t have your dealer disable your airbags. “It is much more likely that your airbag will perform properly and protect you in a crash than cause harm,” NHTSA says.
  2. “If you feel uncomfortable continuing to drive your vehicle before it is repaired, you should contact your dealer to see if they will provide a loaner until the repair is completed,” NHTSA says. Dealers and manufacturers aren’t required to provide loaners, but it can’t hurt to ask. 
  3. If you’re offered an interim repair, take it. Some automakers will offer to replace the old Takatas with newer ones, which are safer. “It is an inconvenience to have your vehicle serviced twice and to wait for a final repair,” NHTSA says, “But rejecting an interim replacement air bag is not worth the continued higher risk of injury or even death to you, your family, and your friends while waiting for the final repair.”

Some automakers have advised riders not to sit in the front passenger seat. 

Here is the list of vehicles that NHTSA says should NOT be driven.

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

Nearly 6 million vehicles are included in this GM Takata Airbag recall. Use MotorSafety’s free lookup tool to see if your vehicle is affected. 

Rebecca RandGeneral Motors ordered to recall 5.9 million cars equipped with Takata airbags