The huge, vertical touchscreen that gives Tesla’s Model S sedan and Model X SUV such a distinctive interior has come under fire from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which says that a storage capacity issue can lock drivers out of certain essential functions.
As a result, NHTSA has asked Tesla to recall around 135,000 vehicles to address the issue, which could potentially not allow drivers to access features such as the turn signal lighting, the rear window defroster, and other important features.
Operability of certain equipment such as rear defrosters is a federal requirement. The flaw can take a few years to manifest as storage capacity fills up and chips age. NHTSA said that nearly 13,000 touchscreen failures have been reported to Tesla already, and the automaker admitted that the issue is likely to affect every vehicle as their hardware ages.
Attention Tesla Model S, Model X owners
The affected vehicles include Model S sedans built between 2012 and early 2018, as well as Model Xs built between 2016 through early 2018. As Tesla doesn’t follow conventional model year changes like other automakers, owners should plan to contact Tesla to confirm whether their cars will be recalled.
Tesla said in its response to NHTSA that it doesn’t agree with the findings but that it will comply with the recall request regardless. Federally-mandated recalls are paid for by automakers; Tesla owners will not be on the hook for any charges. The automaker has not said when the recall will begin, though supply restraints due to a global computer chip shortage mean the replacement parts may be fitted in waves.
Previously, Tesla upgraded around 25,000 vehicles with a larger memory chip; those are not affected by the recall.