Despite Tesla’s 5-star safety achievements for its Model Y SUV from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the U.S. regulator has now asked the automaker to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles, reports Reuters.
The issue at stake is related to media control unit (MCU) failures, which are seen as safety risks.
The NHTSA formally requested Tesla to recall its vehicles in a letter and has until January 27, 2021 to respond. In November, the U.S. agency’s safety probe concluded 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles “contain a defect related to motor vehicle safety.”
The letter details “during our review of the data, Tesla provided confirmation that all units will inevitably fail given the memory device’s finite storage capacity.”
The problem with the touchscreen failure is it also renders backup cameras useless, as they cannot be viewed on the failed screens.
“NHTSA notes that Tesla has implemented several over-the-air updates in an attempt to mitigate some of the issues described in this letter, but tentatively believes these updates are procedurally and substantively insufficient. As a matter of Federal law, vehicle manufacturers are required to conduct recalls to remedy safety-related defects,” explains the letter.
Should touchscreens fail, affected Model S and Model X owners would also be unable to access climate controls when defrosting is needed, thus increasing chances of a crash.
In November, the NHTSA said it reviewed 12,523 claims and complaints about this touchscreen failure, expected to affect nearly 8% of the cars mentioned in the investigation.
The NHTSA letter is addressed to Al Prescott, Tesla’s Vice President of Legal, dated January 13, 2021.