Tesla Recalls More Than 130,000 Vehicles Over Safety Concerns

In early February 2021, Tesla announced a safety recall impacting nearly 135,000 vehicles. Several touchscreen failures may jeopardize the vehicle’s safety, increasing the risk of collision. The announcement arrived after mounting pressure from U.S. regulators, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), urging Tesla to recall the affected vehicles. Although Tesla continues to deny these defects, the company is participating voluntarily in the recall effort.

How the Defect Poses a Safety Risk

The core issue stems from media control unit failures that have become more common among older Tesla vehicles. According to an NHTSA representative, “The eMMC controller wear-out condition can cause the loss of the rearview camera display, defrost/defog control settings, and exterior turn signal lighting, reducing visibility and increasing the risk of crash.” Some of the affected consumers have already sought replacement parts, such as a new 64 GB eMMC or an upgraded touchscreen.

Tesla Complies But Downplays the Defect

On January 13, 2021, the NHTSA urged Tesla to recall these affected vehicles. Tesla took some time to respond formally to this request, ultimately announcing its participation a few weeks later. However, in a letter from Tesla to the NHTSA, the company stated, “Tesla respectfully disagrees that the eMMC wear-out condition constitutes a defect in the subject vehicles.” Although Tesla will offer the recall, the automaker maintains that the “NHTSA’s anachronistic regulations” make it difficult to distinguish between a natural consequence of aging and a legitimate defect.

Affected Tesla Models

Vehicles manufactured at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California between 2012 and 2018 are included in this recall. Model S sedans manufactured between 2012 and 2018 are affected, as are 2016-2018 Model X SUVs. Tesla intends to notify affected customers by March 30, 2021. If you’ve already paid out of pocket for a replacement part, you may be eligible for reimbursement.


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