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Tesla Recall Affects 475,000 Model 3 & Model S Cars

Tesla has begun a voluntary recall campaign to fix minor issues with its Model 3 and Model S sedans.

The big, scary headline of the day is that Tesla is recalling every Model 3 sedan manufactured between 2017 and the end of 2020 — a total of 356,309 cars — because of a defect in the wiring harness that may affect the operation of the rearview camera. If the camera malfunctions, people behind the cars could be injured when the cars are backing up if the drivers are not able to back up well without cameras.

In addition, 119,009 Model S sedans manufactured from 2014 to 2021 are being recalled to fix a misalignment of the locking mechanism for the frunk that could allow the lid covering the forward cargo compartment to open unexpectedly and block the driver’s view of the road ahead.

According to the BBC, Tesla voluntarily reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on December 21 that about 1% of all Model 3s manufactured from 2017 through 2020 could have a the rear camera issue. It said “repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid” may cause excessive wear to a cable that provides the rear-view camera feed. If the cable becomes worn to the point that its core is damaged, “the rear view camera feed is not visible on the center display.”

In fact, this is exactly what happened to the Model 3 owned by CleanTechnica’s own Zachary Shahan. The repair to his car had to be performed at a Tesla service center, but that was a few months ago. The bigger issue for Zach was that the fault in the wiring harness made it that he couldn’t open the trunk via the app, touchscreen, or handle. The only way to open it — for a month until it was fixed — was by putting the back seat down and squeezing through the trunk and anything in it to reach a manual latch on the trunk door. The rearview camera only went black a handful of times in that time period.

Regarding the recall, here is an email from Tesla that Zachary received today with more information from the company:

As usual, Tesla has declined to comment, but owners can call customer service at 1-877-798-3752. An official notice from Tesla will be mailed to owners in February.

There are those who will celebrate any black eye that comes Tesla’s way. But maybe they should cover there smug smirks. According to Statista, there were more than 53 million vehicles involved in recalls in the US in 2019. These recalls are annoying but not as deadly as the defective ignition switches that General Motors refused to acknowledge for years.

To be fair, having the hood open and smash back into the windshield while driving is guaranteed to lead to a Code Brown moment. At least Tesla has had the grace to self-report the defects and step up to the plate to address them. If only every manufacturer would adopt a similarly proactive attitude.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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