Story at a glance

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requested Tesla recall Model S cars built between 2012 and 2018 and Model X SUVs made from 2016 through 2018 because the vehicle’s touch screens can fail after several years.
  • Regulators say the failure affects backup cameras and air conditioning systems that defog the windows.
  • It’s not clear if Tesla will issue a recall for the vehicles.

Federal regulators are asking electric-car company Tesla to recall about 158,000 vehicles due to concerns the vehicles’ touch screen displays could fail, increasing the risk of crashes. 

In a letter Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requested Tesla recall Model S cars built between 2012 and 2018 and Model X SUVs made from 2016 through 2018 because the touch screens can fail after several years, affecting the backup cameras and air conditioning systems that defog the windows. NHTSA said the failure also affects the vehicles’ “Autopilot advanced driver assistance system (ADAS)” and turn signal functionality. 


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The NHTSA said the car’s console touch screen can lose its functionality when its memory chip runs out of storage capacity. Regulators determined it would take about five to six years on average for this to occur. 

“During our review of the data, Tesla provided confirmation that all units will inevitably fail given the memory device’s finite storage capacity,” Stephen Ridella, director of the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation, said in the letter. 

The agency said Tesla also provided a statistical model showing projected weekly repairs lasting from 2020 to 2028, with the most chip failures happening in 2022. 

Tesla tried to resolve the issue with over-the-air software updates, but the agency said those efforts were insufficient, noting that vehicle manufacturers are required to conduct recalls to remedy safety-related defects. 

NHTSA opened a formal investigation into the problem in June and said Wednesday the investigation is ongoing despite its request that Tesla recall the cars. The agency asked Tesla either to recall the vehicles and notify owners about the issue or explain why a recall isn’t necessary. 

The carmaker has until Jan. 27 to respond. 

It’s not clear if Tesla will issue a recall for the vehicles. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Changing America. 


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Published on Jan 14, 2021