Tesla Recalls Nearly 27,000 Vehicles Over Windshield Defrost Issues That Raise Risk of Crash

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
February 9, 2022 Updated: February 9, 2022

Tesla is recalling 26,681 vehicles in the United States due to a software error that could cause windshields not to defrost properly, raising the risk of a crash, U.S. road safety authorities said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a Feb. 8 letter (pdf) that Tesla is recalling certain 2021–2022 Model 3, Model S, Model X, and 2020–2022 Model Y vehicles due to windshield defrosting issues that run afoul of federal safety regulations.

A software glitch could cause a heat pump valve to open unintentionally, trapping refrigerant inside the evaporator unit, reducing defrosting performance, the agency said.

“Decreased defrosting performance may reduce the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash,” NHTSA said in the letter.

Tesla was cited by Reuters as saying it was not aware of any injuries or crashes related to recall, with the company adding that it was made aware of the issue after customers complained in December over loss of performance in extreme cold weather.

Tesla will fix the problem with a free-of-charge over-the-air software update. The recall number is SB-22-18-002.

Other Tesla recalls that have been issued in recent months include air bag cushions potentially tearing during deployment, software allowing some models to make rolling stops at intersections, a defect that causes seatbelt chimes to go silent under certain circumstances, and issues relating to the safety of touchscreen displays.

Last summer, NHTSA launched a probe into why Teslas using the company’s “Autopilot” driver-assist system have repeatedly crashed into emergency vehicles parked on roadways. At the time, the agency said it had identified 11 crashes in which various Tesla models approached locations where emergency crews were responding to incidents and struck one or more vehicles at the scene. A total of 17 people were injured in the crashes and one person was killed.

The autopilot-linked crash investigation drew scrutiny from some lawmakers, who called on the Federal Trade Commission to probe Tesla, alleging that the company exaggerated the capability of its vehicles’ self-driving features and so put the public in danger.

Last week, Tesla said in its earnings release that the newest version of the software running the company’s “Full Self-Driving” system was now being tested by owners in nearly 60,000 vehicles in the United States.

“The team continued to iterate on FSD Beta software, releasing seven updates throughout the quarter. We successfully increased the number of FSD Beta vehicles from a couple of thousand in Q3 to nearly 60,000 vehicles in the U.S. today,” Tesla’s shareholder deck document said.

During the earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’d be “shocked” if the “Full Self-Driving” software can’t drive more safely than humans this year.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'