Tesla recalls 135,000 cars over failing touch screens

Tesla is recalling 135,000 older Model S and Model X cars for defective touch screens that fail due to hardware problems with a flash memory device. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

Feb. 2 (UPI) — Tesla will recall about 135,000 vehicles for failing touch screens after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pressured the company, saying failing backup cameras and other safety features posed risks of accidents.

The company will replace media control unit screens in Model S sedans manufactured between 2012 through 2018 and Model X vehicles made in 2016 through 2018.

The Office of Defects Investigation reviewed 12,588 incidents where the screens failed due to the cell hardware failure of a built-in flash memory device in the computer’s processor. The board notified Tesla in a letter Jan. 13 and asked the company to recall the cars and replace the screens.

The letter called the failure of the screens “a clear, identified failure mode that leads to an unrecoverable status for the media control unit” which “adversely affects vehicle safety functions.”

The highway safety board said that more than 158,000 vehicles were affected and more were likely to fail as cars got older.

When the screens fail, the car’s “backup camera” image no longer is visible to the driver, and other features such as the windshield defogger and turn-signal driver alerts no longer function after about five or six years.

“During our review of the data, Tesla provided confirmation that all units will inevitably fail given the memory device’s finite storage capacity,” the letter said. “ODI believes failure rates will continue to accelerate, as shown in Tesla’s projection models.”

The safety board said failure rates were as high as 17% in older Tesla Model S vehicles made between 2012 and 2015 and as high as 4% for cars made later between 2016 to 2018.

Tesla had previously included repair of the screens in a warranty adjustment program in November.

Owners can return affected vehicles to a Tesla dealership to replace the touch screens.

Tesla founder Elon Musk, who has complained about recalls previously on Twitter, tweeted Tuesday that he was “off Twitter for awhile,” and did not respond to the recall announcement.



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