WASHINGTON — Tesla Inc has agreed to recall 134,951 Model S and Model X vehicles with touchscreen displays that could fail after U.S. auto safety regulators sought the recall last month, according to a recall posted on a government website Tuesday.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made the unusual recall request in a formal Jan. 13 letter to Tesla, saying it had tentatively concluded the 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles pose a safety issue.
The agency said touchscreen failures pose significant safety issues, including the loss of rearview/backup camera images and windshield defogging and defrosting systems that “may decrease the driver’s visibility in inclement weather.”
Tesla said in its filing with NHTSA that “in the interest of bringing administrative closure to the investigation and to ensure the best ownership experience for our customers” it agreed to a voluntary recall.
NHTSA opened a probe in June 2020 into complaints that media control unit (MCU) failures led to touchscreen displays not working.
NHTSA said other automakers issued numerous recalls for similar safety issues.
NHTSA said in November when it upgraded its probe that it reviewed 12,523 claims and complaints about the issue.
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Many complaints said Tesla requires owners to pay to replace the unit once warranties expire.
Tesla acknowledged the problem but said if the display was not working, “the driver can perform a shoulder check and use the mirrors. If the screen is not visible to control the climate control and defroster settings, the driver will be able to manually clear the windshield.”
The recall will begin March 30. NHTSA had sought a recall of 158,000 vehicles but Tesla said the recall does not include some vehicles that had an upgraded processor.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Bernadette Baum)