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Tesla recalls — everything you need to know

 An all electric Tesla Model 3 in white on cement road with trees in background on sunny day.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The number of Tesla recalls has risen dramatically in recent months. While the majority of those issues are software based and can be fixed with an over-the-air update, it's not been a particularly good look for the automaker.

No car company is stranger to recalls, but the increasing number of Tesla recalls is catching peoples' attention. Especially when the automaker has to pull features from the Full Self Driving beta, which itself is pretty controversial for handing over the usually-stringent safety testing to the general public.

Here are all the latest Tesla recalls, and everything you need to know.

September 23: Tesla recalls 1 million cars due to glitchy windows

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (opens in new tab) (NHTSA) has revealed Tesla recalled at least 1,096,762 over a software bug that prevents the windows from detecting obstructions.  The agency said that this issue "may increase the risk of a pinching injury to the occupant.”

The recall affects all four Tesla models from various years. 2017-2022 Model 3s, 202-2021 Model Ys, as well as 2021-2022 Model S and Model X cars. Tesla says it's unaware of injuries, crashes or deaths relating to the issue, but will be releasing an over-the-air update to all affected cars.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has since criticized (opens in new tab) the NHTSA's use of the term "recall" for issues that are fixed with over-the-air software updates. "The terminology is outdated & inaccurate." Musk said, "This is a tiny over-the-air software update. To the best of our knowledge, there have been no injuries."

I'm inclined to agree with him there. Like many recent Tesla recalls, the cars themselves do not have to go back to Tesla for for a physical repair or replacement. This isn't like Chevrolet's recent recall of Chevy Bolt batteries, it's a simple software update most drivers won't even notice.

Tesla says it will be notifying owners by letter from November 15, but in the meantime be sure to keep your Tesla's windows free from obstructions — lest you injure yourself.

May 12: Tesla recalls 130,000 cars over touchscreen malfunctions

According to the NHTSA, around 130,000 Teslas have been recalled in the United States. According to the report an issue with overheating can cause the cars' center touchscreen to malfunction.

According to the report from the NHTSA (opens in new tab), the overheating can prevent the screen showing images from the rear-view camera, warning lights and other unspecified information. Tesla has almost all its essential features in the touchscreen display, including the speedometer, so any issues with it have to be taken very seriously.

The recall involves 2021 and 2022 Model S and Model X cars, as well as 2022 Model 3 and Model Ys. The issue is set to be solved with an over-the-air update.

May 4: Tesla recalls a single Model X over missing hardware

Believe it or not, a recall doesn't have to be a widespread thing. Tesla has just recalled a single Model X, thanks an issue with missing hardware. According to the NHTSA's recall report, (opens in new tab) this car lacked a bracket that provides reinforcement to the body structure at the second row seat. Without it, any collisions would increase the risk of injury to rear seat occupants.

According to Tesla this model was a pre-production trial unit, made with older design specs. The specs were then updated, and affected vehicles were scheduled to have the bracket installed before leaving the factory. An oversight meant the now-recalled car did leave, and was delivered to a customer on March 31. Upon discovery tesla contacted the customer and had the car replaced at no additional cost.

Feb 10: Tesla recalls 'Boombox' feature on 579,000 cars

Cars affected: 579,000
Models affected: Model S, X, Y (2020-2022), 3 (2017-2022)

Tesla is having to recall the 'Boombox' function on almost 579,000 cars because it's capable of obscuring aural safety warnings for pedestrians.

Boombox launched in 2020 and allowed Tesla owners to play a bunch of sounds outside the car, including "funny" things like goat bleating and fart noises. But according to the NHTSA, this violates U.S. federal EV safety standards — specifically those that mandate warning noises for pedestrians. Because EVs are much quieter, on account of them not having a noisy internal combustion engine.

The recall doesn't disable Boombox permanently. Instead an upcoming update will prevent drivers from using the feature while the car is in drive, reverse or neutral. Musk has blamed the incident on the "fun police," presumably because of how hilarious it is to play fart sounds from your car while you're driving.

See more

tesla model s plaid

(Image credit: Tesla)

Feb 9: Windshield defrosting issue

Cars affected: 26,681
Models affected: Model S, X, 3 (2021-2022), Y (2020-2022)

A software error in some Tesla cars has caused problems in windshield defrosting, leading to a recall being filed with the NHTSA. According to Tesla, an error can cause a valve in the car's heat pump to open at the wrong time, trapping refrigerant in the evaporator. 

The problem is set to be fixed with an over-the-air update.

Feb 4: Faulty seatbelt chimes

Cars affected: 817,143
Models affected: Model S, X, 3 and Y (2021-2022)

The seatbelt chime is a feature you will find in every single new car out on the road. In fact, it's a federal requirement for the car to chime annoyingly if the driver's seatbelt is not buckled when the car is in motion.

Unfortunately, Tesla Model S, X, 3 and Y cars from 2021 and 2022 had a fault in this system — leading to a software recall for some 817,143 vehicles.

Apparently the fault occurred if the driver exited the vehicle while the chime was sounding, and then re-entered the car. The visual alert of an unbuckled seatbelt was not affected, and Tesla said the problem would not occur if the car exceeded 13.7 MPH. A software update has already started rolling out, according to the NHTSA (opens in new tab).

Feb 3: More phantom braking issues

Cars affected: 416,000
Models affected: Model 3, Y (221-2022)

After being forced to recall a Full Self Driving software update back in October, it appears Tesla owners are still having problems with "phantom braking." In other words, Teslas are hitting the brakes for no discernable reason.

The Washington Post (opens in new tab) reports that the NHTSA has had 107 complaints over the past three months. The previous 22 months had just 34 complaints.

Some owners complained that Teslas are overly sensitive to trucks in the opposite lane, while others claim their Teslas hit the brakes despite there being no other cars on the road. Obviously that poses a serious dangers to Tesla drivers, and other cars on the road.

The NHTSA hasn't verified the reports, but a spokesperson said that the agency is "engaging in a dialogue" with Tesla over the incidents.

tesla model x plaid

(Image credit: Tesla)

Feb 1: Tesla recalls FSD's 'Assertive Mode' feature. Again

Cars affected: 53,822
Models affected: Model S, X, 3, Y (Firmware 2020.40.1.10)

Tesla's Full Self Driving beta has just had to recall yet another update. Assertive Mode originally launched back in December, only to be recalled two days later (opens in new tab) after drivers experienced issues with traffic light left turns and unexpected stopping. 

Assertive Mode returned in January, with Tesla promising cars would "have a smaller follow distance, perform more frequent speed lane changes, will not exit passing lanes and may perform rolling stops." 

A rolling stop is where the driver treats an intersection stop sign as a yield sign, slowing down instead of coming to a complete stop. According to ABC News (opens in new tab) the FSD software allowed the car to roll through stop signs at up to 5.6 MPH. The problem is, rolling stops are illegal in many U.S. states, causing regulators to get involved.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials met with Tesla, who reportedly agreed to the recall (opens in new tab). While the automaker says it doesn't know if the feature caused any injuries or crashes, the NHTSA says that failure to stop can increase the risk of a crash. 

So an OTA update has been released to the 54,0000 affected Teslas, recalling the update, and putting an end to Assertive Mode for the second time.

Dec 30: Tesla issues recall for most Model 3 and Model S vehicles

Cars affected: 475,000
Models affected: Model 3 (2017-2020), Model S (2014 and newer)

Tesla issued a massive 475,000 vehicle recall for the Model 3 and Model S. It affects Model 3 units made between 2017-2020 and Model S units made from 2014 onwards. 

For the Model 3, the issue comes down to the rear-view camera harness which may become damaged from opening and closing the rear trunk. This could leave drivers without access to rear-view camera footage. 

On the Model S, a faulty front trunk latch may lead to the "frunk" opening suddenly, which could be especially dangerous while driving.

Cars affected: 11,704
Models affected: Model S, X, 3, Y

Tesla had to roll back an update of its full self driving beta thanks to a communications breakdown between two chips. This issue led to problems known as 'phantom braking' where Autopilot would suddenly hit the brakes for seemingly no reason.

Tesla issued a recall of almost 12,000 cars, according to AP (opens in new tab), after the NHTSA questioned Tesla about why it hadn't already done it. The NHTSA opened an investigation into Autopilot back in August, and Elektrek (opens in new tab) notes there has been a major uptick in the number of complaints related to phantom braking in recent weeks.

tesla model 3 in red

(Image credit: Telsa)

Oct 29: Suspension fault in Model 3 and Model Y

Cars affected: 2,791
Models affected: Model 3 (2019-2021), Model Y (2021)

Tesla issued a recall (opens in new tab) on almost 3,000 Model 3 and Model Y cars over concerns that the front lateral suspension link fasteners might loosen. That could affect wheel alignment, and increase the risk of a crash.

The recall affects 2019-2021 Model 3 cars and 2020 and 2021 Model Ys. Affected owners will apparently be notified by mail before December 24, and the fix will be free of charge.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.