Tesla Motors is recalling just over 40,000 electric vehicles in the United States amid concerns that the cars might lose power steering assist while on rough roadways or traveling over potholes.
The Killino Firm’s Auto Defect Injury Lawyers have successfully represented clients harmed by recalled products, including defective vehicles and components. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a recalled Tesla EV, and you suspect the loss of power steering assist caused or contributed to the crash, please call our law firm toll-free at 877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
What to Know About This Latest Tesla Recall
This latest Tesla recall involves 2017-2021 Model S and Model X vehicles.
According to a notice posted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the loss of power steering assist can require greater steering effort, especially at low speeds, increasing the potential for a crash.
Texas-based Tesla has received 314 vehicle alerts for this issue in the United States that may be related to the recall. However, the automaker said it was unaware of any injuries or deaths associated with the loss of power steering assist.
To remedy the problem, Tesla is releasing an Over-the-Air software update to recalibrate the system. As of November 1st, more than 97% of the recalled vehicles had installed an update addressing the recall issue, the company said.
19 Tesla Recalls So Far in 2022
Recalls are not at all usual for Tesla.
In fact, the electric vehicle manufacturer has issued 20 recalls this year alone. The majority involved various problems — windshield defrosting issues, rolling stops for Full Self-Driving, backup camera delays, taillamps that might fail to illuminate, etc. – that could also be rectified through Over-the-Air software updates.
However, six Tesla recalls have required physical repairs.
The most recent of those was announced in October when Tesla recalled just over 24,000 Model 3 vehicles built since 2017 to correct a seat belt problem. According to the NHTSA, that problem may have resulted from a service issue rather than a manufacturing defect. At least 105 reports of service repairs and warranty claims might be related to the seat belt problem. So far, no injuries have been linked to the defect.
Tesla Autopilot Faces Scrutiny on Multiple Fronts
Safety controversies are also nothing new for Tesla.
In October, Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had launched a previously undisclosed criminal probe of Tesla last year, following around a dozen crashes, some fatal, involving the company’s Autopilot driver assistance system.
Apparently, the investigation is focused on claims suggesting Autopilot allows Tesla vehicles to drive themselves. According to Reuters, Tesla’s marketing materials have touted Autopilot’s capabilities since 2016. On a conference call that year, CEO Elon Musk described the system as “probably better” than a human driver.
On another call this past October, Musk promised that Tesla would soon release an upgraded version of “Full Self-Driving” software that would allow vehicle owners to travel “to your work, your friend’s house, to the grocery store without you touching the wheel.” Reuters also noted that a video on the Tesla website stated, “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”
On the other hand, Tesla’s website also states that Autopilot is designed to assist with steering, braking, speed, and lane changes, but its features “do not make the vehicle autonomous.” Moreover, the company explicitly warns drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicles while using the feature.
According to a Wall Street Journal, Tesla’s various Autopilot claims also have attracted the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which recently opted to launch a civil investigation into the matter. As the report noted, the SEC has the authority to enforce investor protection laws on a civil basis.
Is an Autopilot Recall in Tesla’s Future?
Last June, the NHTSA also announced that it had upgraded a safety probe of 830,000 Tesla vehicles to an Engineering Analysis. The upgrade came amid a growing list of incidents in which Tesla EVs struck emergency response vehicles while Autopilot was engaged.
Since then, that probe has come to encompass even more Tesla vehicles and now includes 2014-2022 Tesla Model Y, Model 3, Model S, and Model X vehicles, all of which are equipped with the Autopilot system, including Navigate on Autopilot.
An Engineering Analysis is the final required step before the NHTSA can request that an automaker conduct a recall. The process involves additional tests and crash analyses “to explore the degree to which Autopilot and associated Tesla systems may exacerbate human factors or behavioral safety risks by undermining the effectiveness of the driver’s supervision.”
So far, the NHTSA has not indicated any timeline for bringing its Tesla Autopilot probe to a conclusion.
Our Defective Product Lawyers have helped many victims of recalled vehicles and automotive components obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated damages. If you believe a Tesla safety issue was responsible for your own injury or the wrongful death of a loved one, and you’d like to speak with an experienced attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Killino Law Firm at 1-877-875-2927.