Tesla recalls — everything you need to know

tesla model s plaid
(Image credit: Tesla)

The number of Tesla recalls has risen dramatically in recent times, but as bad as that might look it's not as concerning as you might think. Few of these problems are related to hardware, and can be fixed with an over-the-air software update. 

No car company is stranger to recalls, but the increasing number of Tesla recalls is catching peoples' attention. CEO Elon Musk has been critical of this, because the issues aren't recalls in the truest sense, and are typically fixed over the air without any physical work. But he doesn't make the rules. Still, when the automaker has to pull features from the already-controversial Full Self Driving beta, it makes a bad problem look even worse.

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 "The terminology is outdated & inaccurate."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.

tesla model 3 in red

(Image credit: Telsa)

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.

tesla model x plaid

(Image credit: Tesla)

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).

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.