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Tesla recalls 475,000 Model 3 and Model S cars – here’s why

Published Dec 30th, 2021 2:37PM EST
Tesla's full lineup of cars.
Image: Tesla

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Tesla is voluntarily recalling hundreds of thousands of Model 3 and Model S cars due to trunk issues. The recall affects every Model 3 vehicle sold between 2017-2020, as well as certain 2014-2021 Model S vehicles. Documents posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website show that the Tesla recall includes 356,309 Model 3 units and 119,009 Model S units

Tesla recalls 500,000 Model 3 and Model S cars

Tesla Model S on the open road.
Tesla Model S on the open road. Image source: Tesla

The issues affecting the Model 3 and the Model S units are different, but both are related to the trunk. Tesla says on affected Model 3s, “the rearview camera cable harness may be damaged by the opening and closing of the trunk lid, preventing the rearview camera image from displaying.” This impacts the driver’s ability to see behind the car. As such, it’s serious enough to warrant a widescale recall.

In response, Tesla will inspect and install a guide protector and a new cable harness for free. Model 3 owners will need to take the cars to a Tesla Service Center for an inspection. Tesla says it will mail out notification letters to the owners of affected cars on February 18, 2022.

While the Tesla Model S recall affects fewer vehicles, the issue appears to be even more concerning. According to the NHTSA recall notice, “the front trunk latch assembly may be misaligned, preventing the secondary hood latch from engaging” on some Model S units. Therefore, affected vehicles don’t comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 113, “Hood Latch System.”

As with the Model 3 issue, Tesla will offer a fix free of charge to affected Model S owners. If you take your Model S to a Tesla Service Center, technicians will inspect and reposition the latch system. Once again, Tesla plans to mail letters to Model S owners on February 22, 2022.

Tesla estimates that the cable harness issues affect only 1% of 350,000+ Model 3 cars that it recalled. Meanwhile, the front truck latch problem on the Model S could affect around 14% of all recalled cars. There have been thousands of warranty claims and reports, but Tesla says that it isn’t aware of any crashes, injuries, or deaths in relation to either of the recalls.

Other recent issues with Tesla cars

These recalls come right on the heels of another recent run-in between Tesla and the NHTSA. With a software update, Tesla made it possible to play a selection of games in Tesla Arcade while the car was in motion. This feature, dubbed “Passenger Play,” prompted the US Department of Transportation to open a preliminary evaluation. Rather than wait for the investigation to commence, Tesla announced that it would make Passenger Play unusable when the car was moving.

“Following the opening of a preliminary evaluation of Tesla’s ‘Passenger Play,’ Tesla informed the agency that it is changing the functionality of this feature,” said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a statement last week. “In a new software update, ‘Passenger Play’ will now be locked and unusable when the vehicle is in motion.”

Weeks earlier, Tesla recalled over 11,000 vehicles due to a Full Self-Driving bug.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.