Tesla infotainment system recall extended to UK cars

Customers are reportedly being prevented from using certain safety features, leading regulators to push for Tesla recall

Tesla recall

Tesla has issued a recall for almost 135,000 Model S and Model Xs in the United States, following disclosure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that infotainment displays are at risk of failing. 

Originally, the recall only affected US cars built before 2018 – but Tesla has since expanded the programme’s reach to UK cars of the same age. The firm says the recall is voluntary and is only required if the owner’s infotainment system is exhibiting signs of failure. The number of affected cars in the UK is as-yet unknown.

Teslas are reliant on their infotainment systems for key vehicle functions – and the faulty units in these earlier cars have reportedly prevented owners from using safety features such as the car’s rear view camera, and essentials like the indicators. A failure also means that drivers cannot access the windscreen defrost function, which the NHTSA said could pose a significant safety concern in adverse weather.

The inquiry has been ongoing since June of last year, and initially, Tesla tried to remedy the issue with over-the-air software updates and targeted repairs. However, NHTSA wasn’t satisfied with the quick fix and has requested an organised recall.

NHTSA has narrowed the issue down to a memory device. The infotainment hardware is only rated for 3,000 program-erase cycles before wearing out – after which it struggles to prevent the data it stores from becoming corrupted. This means the infotainment screen doesn’t have access to all of its software, which causes the loss of functions.

Tesla says it will upgrade its old 8GB memory device with a new 64GB unit as part of the recall. However, Al Prescot, Vice President of Tesla’s legal department, said the hardware troubles demonstrated the problem of “electronic components becoming increasingly more complex, while the expected useful life of vehicles has grown substantially.”

Prescot also said that Tesla’s first-generation infotainment system was only expected to last between five and six years under average daily usage conditions, due to the finite capacity of the unit’s storage hardware. 

Tesla is keen to stress that it was aware of the problem and has already updated the storage devices in some of its older cars. However, the affected owners paid to have the issue resolved – and now that the problem has been flagged as an official recall Tesla says it will refund the relevant customers.

Tesla has had some further struggles – the launch of the new Roadster has been pushed back to 2022. Read all the latest news here… 

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