Tesla recalls 123,000 Model S cars; its electric cars built before 2016 to repair a bolt defect in the power steering.
The company on Thursday issued a recall notice to the vehicle owners, Model S cars built before April 2016 which is about 123,000 cars. Tesla noted that the recall for an upgrade, which is, voluntary, "not ordered by a regulator”, is only out of an "abundance of caution", as the company had “not received any reports of accidents or injuries relating to the issue”.
"We have observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts, though only in very cold climates, particularly those that frequently use calcium or magnesium road salts, rather than sodium chloride (table salt). Tesla wrote in an e-mail to Tesla S car owners. "Nonetheless, Tesla plans to replace all early Model S power steering bolts in all climates worldwide to account for the possibility that the vehicle may later be used in a highly corrosive environment."
According to Financial Times, the defect was confirmed by a Tesla spokesperson who said that the problem is from a design in its power steering component provided by a supplier.
The National Transportation Safety Board had earlier this week thrown Tesla onto defensive after announcing its investigation into the company's Model X SUV ghastly accident which claimed the driver's life. It is not yet clear if the crashed vehicle was on Autopilot before the crash as Tesla did not say, but have defended its autonomous driving technology rather. Since the launch of autopilot in 2015, "cars with Autopilot turned on have passed the same section of highway in the San Francisco Bay area 85,000 times without incident," said Tesla earlier this week.
The U.S. electric carmaker had generally received high remarks from buyers according to surveys on the Model S reviews, but many think the results have proven otherwise in quality. At first, Consumer Reports rated Tesla cars as "average," and later on moved the rating to "above average." But last year, the organization rated Tesla Model X the "least reliable car" it tested.
JD Power, a market research company last year criticized Tesla Model X and Model S cars, warning that buyers are spending so much on vehicles with many quality issues. “Tesla owners see themselves as pioneers who enjoy being early adopters of new technology,” said Kathleen Rizk of J.D. Power. “Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception. Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers.”
Tesla assured owners of Model S cars that the vehicles have no issue even if they decide not to return them for the bolt upgrade. They can continue to drive the Model, with a potential (likely) problem being a stiffer steering if the bolt fails, which does not affect the car's control.
"If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but the increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist." Tesla writes. "This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed."