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Tesla to Recall 135,000 Vehicles Over Faulty Touchscreen Display Under Pressure from Safety Regulators

US Safety Regulators Review 23 Tesla Crashes, Several Involving Autopilot System

Tesla Inc. has agreed to recall 134,951 Model S and Model X vehicles with touchscreen displays that could fail and increase the risk of a crash after U.S. auto safety regulators sought the recall last month. According to a Reuters news report, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made the unusual recall request in a formal letter on Jan. 13 to Tesla saying it had concluded tentatively that the 2012-2018 Model S and 2016-2018 Mode X vehicles pose a safety problem.

How the Recall Came About

Typically, automakers agree to voluntary fixes before NHTSA formally seeks a recall. The agency said touchscreen failures posed significant safety issues including the loss of rearview or backup camera images, exterior turn-signal lighting and windshield defogging and defrosting systems that may hamper the driver’s visibility, especially in inclement weather. NHTSA had required Tesla to respond to its recall demand by Jan. 27 and Tesla agreed to the recall the same day.

Tesla said in its filing with NHTSA that it issued the recall to bring an end to the investigation and “to ensure the best ownership experience for our customers.” NHTSA opened an investigation in June 2020 into complaints that media control unit failures caused the touchscreen displays to fail. In November, NHTSA noted that it reviewed 12,523 claims and complaints about this issue.

Officials said Tesla confirmed to them that all units would inevitably fail given the memory device’s finite storage capacity. Many consumers who complained to NHTSA said Tesla required owners to pay to replace the unit once warranties expired. The recall is set to begin on March 30. Tesla said 88% of U.S. vehicle owners have received over-the-air updates to some functionalities, which may be lost if displays fail.

Auto Product Liability Issues

We are pleased that Tesla bowed to NHTSA’s request to recall these defective vehicles, which pose a number of safety-related issues. Loss of rearview camera images and issues with turn signals and windshield defogging systems can potentially cause a major injury crash or even a fatality.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective auto, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. Injured victims can seek compensation for losses such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Families that have lost loved ones due to defective autos can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for their damages and losses as well. An experienced auto defect attorney will help injured victims and families better understand their legal rights and options.


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California Personal Injury Blog