What You should know about Tesla’s giant recall

Tesla recall

Tesla is issuing a recall for over 2 million vehicles in the United States to address a system intended to ensure driver attention while utilizing Autopilot, Tesla’s driving assistance feature. U.S. safety regulators revealed documents on Wednesday detailing the update, which includes enhanced warnings and alerts to drivers, along with restrictions on the operational areas for basic Autopilot functions. Tesla anticipates releasing a software fix that allows drivers to address the issues without requiring a visit to a dealership.

This recall follows a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of accidents involving the use of Autopilot, some of which were fatal.

Tesla recall

Key points to consider:

1. Impact on Washington Drivers:

  • Washington state currently has 150,000 registered electric vehicles (EVs), marking a sixfold increase over the past five years.
  • The concentration of EV ownership in Washington is primarily west of the Cascades, with approximately half of the state’s EVs registered in King County. Snohomish and Pierce counties are the next in line, as per public records from the Washington State Department of Licensing.

2. Prevalence of Tesla in Washington:

  • Tesla continues to dominate as the most popular EV brand in Washington, showcasing its significant presence in the state’s electric vehicle market.

Is your Tesla vehicle deemed safe for driving?

The Autopilot system, a standard feature on all new Tesla models, incorporates automatic steering assistance and cruise control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall highlights that when the Autosteer system is engaged, and the driver is unprepared to intervene or fails to recognize when the system is deactivated or not in use, there is a heightened risk of a potential crash.

“The recall highlights concerns that the controls of the Autosteer feature may lack the prominence and scope necessary to prevent driver misuse,” the statement continued.

Although Tesla asserts on its website that their vehicles are safe to drive, there is an acknowledgment of an increased collision risk if drivers misapply the Autopilot system.

What’s included in the recall?

The recall encompasses an over-the-air software update for the Autopilot system in Y, S, 3, and X models manufactured between October 5, 2012, and December 7 of the current year, as outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The update rollout was expected to commence on or shortly after Tuesday, with certain affected vehicles slated to receive the update at a later date, as stated by the agency.

Tesla assures that the software fix will be delivered over-the-air, allowing customers to install it at their convenience without the need for scheduling a service appointment.

This update introduces additional controls and alerts to encourage drivers to uphold their continuous driving responsibility when Autosteer is engaged. The enhancements encompass directives to keep hands on the steering wheel and remain attentive to the road, according to the recall.

Autosteer: What is it exactly?

Autosteer, a component of Tesla’s Autopilot system, provides steering, braking, and acceleration support to drivers.

Tesla’s website emphasizes that the system is intended for use with a fully attentive driver who has hands on the wheel and is ready to take control at any moment. It is designed for use on controlled-access highways and only when not operating in conjunction with the Autosteer on City Streets feature.

It’s crucial to note that when Autosteer is in use, it does not render the vehicle autonomous. The driver remains the operator, responsible for the vehicle’s movement, and is required to stay attentive to road conditions, intervening as necessary to ensure safe operation, as detailed in the NHTSA recall.

Why is it termed a recall if I don’t need to bring my car to a service center for a resolution?

As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a recall is declared when either the manufacturer or the NHTSA identifies that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire poses an unreasonable safety risk or does not comply with federal safety standards.

Following this determination, NHTSA mandates the manufacturer to take corrective action by publicly announcing and addressing the defects, which can involve repairs, replacements, or refunds.

The remedy for Tesla’s recall involves an automatic software update.

What prompted the recall?

The recall was initiated following a comprehensive two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into the safety of Tesla’s driver assistance systems.

During this investigation, 956 crashes initially believed to involve Autopilot were scrutinized, and the focus later narrowed down to 322 crashes specifically related to Autopilot use, as detailed in the recall.

Regrettably, these crashes resulted in a minimum of 17 fatalities.

The agency’s findings revealed shortcomings in Autopilot’s method of ensuring driver attentiveness, indicating potential inadequacies that could contribute to the “foreseeable misuse of the system”.

How do I find out if my Tesla is included in the recall?

Drivers can use the company’s VIN Recall Search tool at tesla.com/vin-recall-search to check if their car has been affected by a recall, Tesla says on its site.

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