Tesla has recalled just over 24,000 Model 3 vehicles due to a seat belt issue. It’s a rare true “physical” recall for an automaker after many “recalls” that were just software updates.
Earlier this year, NHTSA issued a series of recalls for Tesla vehicles that received a lot of media coverage.
What’s less reported, however, is that almost all of these recalls were fairly simple software issues that Tesla has been able to fix through software updates.
Whenever there is a safety issue, the NHTSA has to do a “safety recall,” even though the automaker doesn’t have to physically recall any vehicle, leading to confusion.
Again last month, Tesla’s “million vehicle” recall made a lot of headlines when the recall simply consisted of Tesla changing the way its software handles window functions.
These incidents have prompted Tesla CEO Elon Musk to complain about the term “recall” and how the media is using it against Tesla.
But to be fair, Tesla sometimes still has “real recalls” where vehicles have to be physically returned to a service center.
We have another example today as Tesla began sending emails to Model 3 customers about a new recall:
Tesla has decided to proactively recall certain Model 3 vehicles manufactured between 2017 and 2022 to inspect the second-row left seat belt buckle and center seat belt anchor assembly to ensure that the components are secured as specified. To our knowledge, your vehicles may be affected by this recall, 5YJ3E1EA8JF0XXXXX.
According to NHTSA documents, the recall affects 24,064 Model 3 vehicles manufactured since 2017.
NHTSA describes the problem in the failure notice, which appears to be a service problem rather than a manufacturing one:
Servicing certain parts on Model 3 vehicles requires removing the second-row left seat belt buckle and center seat belt anchor, both of which are attached with the same bolt. Both parts may have been assembled incorrectly after being disassembled during a maintenance procedure.
Tesla described the chronology of events that led to the voluntary recall:
- In August 2022, Tesla investigated cases in which customers or service technicians discovered that the second-row center seat belt anchor was not secured after service repairs that required disassembly and reassembly of the component.
- Between August 15 and September 30, 2022, Tesla investigated repair orders and repair codes related to maintenance procedures that required disassembly and reassembly of that joint. Based on this review, 105 cases of faulty reassembly were confirmed in the United States.
- From October 3 to October 13, 2022, Tesla Service and Engineering will jointly analyze the acquired data set, the affected service centers and the related repair codes.
- On October 14, 2022, Tesla completed its investigation and confirmed the suspected root cause, risk assessment, and fleet of affected vehicles. The return decision was made on the same day.
- As of October 19, 2022, Tesla has identified 105 service repairs, including warranty claims, and no field reports of US vehicles that are or may be related to this condition. Tesla is not aware of any crashes, injuries, or fatalities related to this condition. this condition.
The good news is that the fix is pretty simple, as described in the announcement:
Tesla will check the installation of the second row left seat belt buckle and center seat belt anchor and, if necessary, adjust the parts to the correct specifications. The repair is offered free of charge.
Additionally, some customers may have already paid to have this problem fixed, and now that it has been determined to be a manufacturer’s fault, these Tesla owners are entitled to a refund.
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