Tesla has detailed a wide-reaching recall programme for certain Model S and Model X cars to fix software faults with the potential to cause an accident, and guidance will now be issued to UK owners of the affected models.
The recall was issued yesterday (2 February) for more than 130,000 cars in the US. It is unknown how many cars are affected in the UK, but owners will begin receiving the recall notice later this week.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first flagged the fault to Tesla in the US on 13 January, requesting the firm to issue a recall after it was found that the affected models could encounter problems with their rear-view and reversing camera displays, indicators and windscreen demister.
Affected cars are the Model S produced from 2012 to 2018 and the Model X from 2016 to 2018. The fault stems from a centre display memory device - more specifically the "8GB embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) in the media control unit (MCU)" - which wears over time, resulting in "a persistent blank centre display that does not recover after restarting the touchscreen, loss of certain functionalities, and/or a vehicle alert signalling memory storage device degradation".
Symptoms of the component's failure include extended power-up times, the display freezing or the screen failing to function at all. Tesla cars running software older than the 2020.48.12 version are susceptible to further problems in this instance, including loss of demisting controls, indicators and digital rear camera.
US owners have been contacted to make them aware of the recall after an over-the-air fix issued by Tesla was deemed "insufficient" by the NHTSA. The affected component will now be replaced free of charge with an enhanced unit, starting from 30 March. In the meantime, Tesla said "there is no risk to vehicle drivability" in the event of a device failure, and if the rear-view camera does become unusable, drivers should "perform a shoulder check and use your rear-view and side mirrors".
In its letter to UK owners, Tesla said: "If you are the registered owner, the only action you need to take at this time is to confirm that your vehicle is running software release 2020.48.12 or a newer release and, if it is not, to install the newest available release.
"There is no other immediate action that you need to take at this time, and you may continue to drive your vehicle. We will notify you when replacement parts are available.
"Until then, please do not schedule a Tesla service appointment unless you receive a vehicle alert signalling memory storage device degradation or are actively experiencing a persistent blank centre display that does not recover after restarting the touchscreen."
Drivers who have already paid for repairs will be reimbursed.