US government takes Tesla autopilot investigation to the next level

Washington, D.C. – June 19, 2022 – The U.S. government auto safety regulator took their investigation of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) collisions with emergency vehicles to the next level.

This investigation may result in a Tesla recall, which may affect an estimated 830,000 vehicles, including: 

  • 2018 – 2021 Tesla Model 3
  • 2014 – 2021 Tesla Model S
  • 2015 –2021 Tesla Model X
  • 2020 – 2021 Tesla Model Y

Investigation summary  

The regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), opened the preliminary investigation on August 13, 2021, following a total of 14 Tesla crashes with first responders.

In each event, the electric car, driving autonomously on the autopilot, would crash into a first-responder vehicle, which had stopped on the road to assist on a previous, unrelated accident. These accidents resulted in at least one fatality and several injuries. 

On June 8, 2022, the investigation was upgraded to the so-called engineering analysis. The upgrade means that NHTSA will dig deeper into the issues to understand if the potential safety defect that exists in connections with these collisions warrants a recall.

Why is the investigation being upgraded?

The investigation is now being upgraded on the back of the analysis of other crashes involving Telsa autopilots “not limited to first responder scenes”, as well as the discovery of additional crashes with first responder and “road maintenance” vehicles.

During this leg of the investigation,  NHTSA will continue to evaluate this crash data, examine a larger subset of Tesla vehicles and will focus on “driver behavior and associated system performance.” 

The goal is to determine if Teslas’ methods of ensuring drivers’ constant attention while the vehicle is on autopilot are sufficient.  The vehicles currently use 12 sensors and eight cameras to monitor the road but do not have anything that is ensuring that the driver is keeping their eyes on the road, as reported.

What has been found so far?

Between the time the original investigation was open and this next stage, the regulator discovered 16 additional first responder crashes and found that drivers were warned of the impending collision by the vehicle Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system “immediately prior to impact.”  Despite having their hands on the steering wheel and being able to see the first responder – at least in theory – around 8 seconds in advance, drivers did nothing to prevent the crash.

For more background on the investigation, please visit this article about the first stage of the investigation.


Collisions with civilian vehicles are one of the major causes of first responder deaths and are unfortunately becoming more widespread given the level of driver distraction and the fact that cars are soundproof. In addition to that, the drivers that collide with emergency vehicles – especially fire trucks – are also at a high risk of an injury because the size of the former.

Safety tips

To minimize distraction on the road, keep multitasking  – such as playing with the radio or car controls, listening to loud music, consuming food or beverages – to a minimum. If you see flashing lights behind you or come across an emergency scene, slow down and move over to give first responders space to work and protect them and yourself.

Other Tesla recalls 

Just recently, there was a Tesla software recall, which rectified the issue of vehicles’ failure to warn the pedestrians about their approach. In addition, there was a Tesla Model S recall in November 2021, caused by sudden and unwanted braking.  

Is your vehicle part of a recall?

This investigation may eventually lead to a Tesla autopilot recall, possibly affecting over 800,000 vehicles. To do a Tesla model recall check for your vehicle, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Bojan PopicUS government takes Tesla autopilot investigation to the next level

Tesla recalls Model S vehicles with in-your-face hoods

Palo Alto, CA – January 9, 2022 – Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is recalling 119,009 vehicles whose hoods may open while driving. This increases the risk of a crash and injury. Affected vehicles include:

  • 2014 Tesla Model S
  • 2015 Tesla Model S
  • 2016 Tesla Model S
  • 2017 Tesla Model S
  • 2018 Tesla Model S
  • 2019 Tesla Model S
  • 2020 Tesla Model S
  • 2021 Tesla Model S

Recall summary  

When closed, the recalled vehicles’ hood – called “frunk,” or front trunk in Tesla speak –  is secured in place with a latch. This is a mechanism with two separate latching assemblies. – The primary latch locks the hood, while the secondary one serves as a backup. In affected sedans, the secondary latch mechanism may be “misaligned,” which prevents it from locking the hood if needed

The component in question is the “Hood Latch” with part number 1033011-00-A. 

Recall risks

If the driver accidentally releases the main hood latch while driving, the hood may open unexpectedly. This will obstruct the driver’s view and may result in a crash, increasing the risk of an injury for the car occupants and other motorists.   

Warning signs

Releasing the primary hood latch triggers an alert on the dashboard. 

Other Tesla Model S recalls 

In addition to this Tesla Model S trunk issue, there were several other recalls concerning these vehicles recently. The latest one among them was in November and it was caused by airbags that may rupture during deployment.  

Separately, over 350,000 Model 3 sedans were recalled just last month due to malfunctioning rearview cameras which may fail to display an image when backing up, upping the risk of a backover crash.

The repair

Tesla service centers will fix the issue by inspecting the latch assembly. If needed, they will realign the latch components so it operates as designed. All repairs are free of charge and owners who paid out of pocket may be eligible for reimbursement. Notifications about this replacement will be sent to vehicle owners by mail on February 18, 2022. 

Is your vehicle part of this recall?

This recall caused by Tesla trunk issues includes more than 110,000 vehicles. To do a Tesla recall check and see if your car is one of them, use MotorSafety’s free vehicle lookup tool.

Bojan PopicTesla recalls Model S vehicles with in-your-face hoods

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