- Tesla has issued its largest recall to date, involving the Model S luxury sedan’s power-steering system.
- Five bolts holding the power-steering motor in place can corrode and either come loose or break, possibly causing a loss of power steering. Manual steering would still work, however.
- The recall affects some 123,000 Model S vehicles worldwide that were built before April 2016.
Tesla has issued a worldwide recall related to the power-steering systems in 123,000 of its electric Model S vehicles.
Five bolts holding the power-steering motor in place can corrode and either come loose or break, possibly causing a loss of power steering, the company said in an emailed statement on Thursday. Manual steering would be unaffected in such a case.
According to Tesla, the problem is infrequent and typically occurs in cold-weather regions where a particular kind of salt is used to clear snow and ice on the road. No accidents or injuries have been reported, Tesla said.
The voluntary recall is specific to Model S cars that were built before April 2016, but the problem has so far affected only 0.02% of the Model S vehicles in the US that fall under the recall’s guidelines, according to the automaker.
The recall adds to a tumultuous run for Tesla of late. Here’s a portion of what’s happened so far:
- Federal investigators are looking into a fatal crash involving a Model X SUV that hit a highway barrier in Northern California last week.
- Moody’s downgraded Tesla’s corporate credit rating because of multiple concerns, including production troubles surrounding the Model 3 entry-level sedan.
- Tesla’s stock has fallen about 25% over the past 12 trading days.
- And a Delaware judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss a shareholder class-action lawsuit against CEO Elon Musk and Tesla’s board over the company’s multibillion 2016 acquisition of the energy company SolarCity.
There’s also the matter of Tesla’s balance sheet, which has been looking morbid ahead of the car company’s first-quarter earnings report, which is expected in a few weeks.
Tesla is also set to update shareholders on Model 3 production, which got off to a crawling start last July, and hasn’t yet touched the company’s original target of 5,000 units a week. Tesla slashed that target by half in January, promising to crank out 2,500 a week by the end of March.
But it looks as if Tesla is climbing to just over 1,000 Model 3 units a week, according to unofficial data from Bloomberg.
Last fall, Tesla said it could produce 1,500 Model 3s in September alone and 20,000 of the cars a month by December that year.
The most recent major voluntary Model S recall occurred in 2015, when the company summoned the entire fleet over a single Model S vehicle that experienced a seat-belt malfunction.
Read the recall notification Tesla sent to affected owners:
“In order to ensure your safety, Tesla will proactively retrofit a power steering component in all Model S vehicles built before April 2016. (No other Tesla vehicles are affected.) There have been no injuries or accidents due to this component, despite accumulating more than a billion miles of driving.
“To be clear, this recall does not apply to any Model X or Model 3 vehicles, only to Model S vehicles built before April 2016.
“We have observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts, though only in very cold climates, particularly those that frequently use calcium or magnesium road salts, rather than sodium chloride (table salt). Nonetheless, Tesla plans to replace all early Model S power steering bolts in all climates worldwide to account for the possibility that the vehicle may later be used in a highly corrosive environment.
“If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist. This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed.
“Our records show that you own a Model S affected by this voluntary recall. At this time there is no immediate action you need to take and you may continue to drive your Model S. Tesla will contact you to schedule an appointment when parts are available in your region. The retrofit will typically take around an hour.”
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