In September 2019, the NHTSA was asked to initiate an investigation into certain Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles that received a revised battery management software update in one or more over-the-air updates from Tesla, beginning in May 2019. The petitioner based his request on vehicle fires that took place worldwide and over the air software updates Tesla made to the Battery Management System (BMS) of certain Tesla vehicles that resulted in loss of available vehicle mileage range and increased charging duration’s.

The five non-crash fires referenced in the petition include two fires that occurred in China in early 2019 involving vehicles that:

  • Had recently completed Supercharging sessions.
  • Were at a high state-of-charge (SOC) of the HV battery.
  • Were parked with the battery cooling system shutoff.
  • Had histories of high-stress usage for the HV batteries.

The three fires that occurred outside China did not involve the same patterns regarding vehicle state and charging history. The two fires that occurred in the United States include one involving a vehicle with no Supercharging history that was driving when the fire occurred and another in which the origin of the fire was external to the HV battery. The fifth fire, which also originated external to the HV battery, involved a vehicle in Germany that had been parked at a low SOC for an extended period. To date, incidents of fires involving parked vehicles with recent Supercharging and histories of high-stress use have only been observed in China, where high-stress use factors appear to be more common.

Given the absence of any incidents in the United States related to fast charging, and the absence of any such incidents globally since May 2019, the petition has been denied. The denial of this petition does not stop the Agency from taking further action if future findings find that a safety defect exists based on additional information received. NHTSA could initiate a recall if they find a defect in the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle that presents an unreasonable risk to safety.

The Office of Defects Investigation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have opened an investigation (PE21-020) into crashes involving first responder scenes and vehicles manufactured by Tesla. The vehicles involved were operating in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control prior to the accident.

The Vehicles Affected Include:
2017-2021 Tesla Model 3
2014-2021 Tesla Model S
2015-2021 Tesla Model X
2019-2021 Tesla Model Y

Since January 2018, the NHTSA has identified twelve crashes in which Tesla models of various configurations, encountered first responder scenes and preceded to crash into one or more vehicles involved with those scenes. Most incidents took place after dark and included traffic control measures such as first responder vehicle lights, flares, an illuminated arrow board and road cones. The involved vehicles were all engaged in either Autopilot or Traffic Aware Cruise Control during the approach to the crashes.

Autopilot is an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) in which the vehicle maintains its speed and lane centring. With the ADAS active, the driver still holds primary responsibility for Object and Event Detection and Response (OEDR), e.g., identification of obstacles in the roadway or adverse maneuvers by other vehicles during the Dynamic Driving Task (DDT).

The NHTSA have opened a Preliminary Evaluation of the SAE Level 2 ADAS system (Autopilot) in the Tesla 3, S, X, and Y models. The investigation will evaluate the methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation. The investigation will also assess the OEDR by vehicles when engaged in Autopilot mode and ODD in which the Autopilot mode is functional. The investigation will also include examination of the contributing circumstances for the confirmed crashes listed below and other similar crashes.

Our client bought a 2014 Tesla Model S and was thrilled.

Their first visit for servicing was on December 7, 2017. There was a 12 volt alert present. The headlights were aimed too high and would not adjust. The windshield washer jets were misaligned. The firmware was not installing. The A/C was not working. The vehicle would not charge with the customer’s cable. The vehicle was pulling slightly to the right. Car uses more energy on short drives than the range estimates.

The next visit was on December 11th as the floor mats were folding over.

The Tesla was brought in again on March 8, 2018 because the universal mobile connector would not light up and the vehicle would not charge. Key FOB is not recognized when inside the vehicle. The charge port door will not open with touchscreen or charge cable. The exterior door handle is poorly aligned.

April 10th the vehicle was back for servicing because there was no sound coming from the speakers. There was a problem with the windows not rolling up all the way.

It was back for service on April 24th because the charge port was not functioning.

September 6th it was back for servicing due to the fact that the charge port door would not stay closed and the light does not illuminate when charging. Per bulletin need to replace the bolts in steering rack housing. There was a humming sound coming from the front of the vehicle.

The next visit was on September 17th because the humming sound was still coming from the front of the vehicle. When the parking sensor was pushed in there was a problem. The alert was on for car needs service and the steering assist was reduced. The charge port door magnet was detached from the charge port.

The last visit was on December 10th as the vehicle was towed in for “power reduced” alert.

At this point our client was frustrated and contacted our firm to see what the attorney thought about his Tesla being a lemon.

We filed a demand letter with Tesla that they repurchase his defective vehicle under the California Lemon Law. They agreed to repurchase the vehicle, pay off the balance, reimburse him for any down payment and payments made, pay off the balance less a mileage fee allowed under the California Lemon Law.

Our client was very happy with the buyback of his vehicle. If you think you might be driving a lemon please contact The Law Office of Barry L. Edzant at 888-395-3666 for a free consultation.

In December 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) received a petition that requested an investigation into alleged sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) in certain 2017-2019 Tesla Model 3, 2013-2019 Tesla Model S and 2016-2019 Tesla Model X vehicles. The petition cited 127 consumer complaints including 110 crashes and 52 injuries.

On January 13, 2020, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened a Defect Petition (DP20-001) to assess the request. The investigation included reviews of all complaints and supporting information, as well as an additional 14 complaints that were either not included in the petition or were submitted after the petitioner’s submission. The review also included analyses of available crash data (EDR, Tesla log data, and/or video data) the NHTSA acquired from Tesla, as part of the investigation.

After reviewing the data, ODI has not identified evidence that would support a defect investigation into SUA in the subject vehicles. According to the NHTSA, “In every instance in which event data was available for review by ODI, the evidence shows that SUA crashes in the complaints have been caused by pedal misapplication. There is no evidence of any fault in the accelerator pedal assemblies, motor control systems, or brake systems that has contributed to any of the incidents. There is no evidence of a design factor contributing to increased likelihood of pedal misapplication. The theory provided of a potential electronic cause of SUA in the subject vehicles is based upon inaccurate assumptions about system design and log data.”

“NHTSA is authorized to issue an order requiring the remedy of a defect if the Agency’s investigation shows a defect in design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle that presents an unreasonable risk to safety. Since the information is not indicative of a vehicle based defect, it is unlikely that any investigation opened because of granting this petition would result in an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-related defect. Therefore, upon full consideration of the information presented in the petition and the potential risks to safety, the petition is denied. The denial of this petition does not foreclose the Agency from taking further action if warranted or the potential for a future finding that a safety-related defect exists based upon additional information the agency may receive.”

Tesla will be contacting the owners of certain 2016 Model S and Model X sports cars about a manufacturing problem affecting the braking system. According to the defect report, the Brembo electric parking brake calipers on some Tesla vehicles may have been improperly manufactured and could fracture. If this gear fractures, the electric motor will be unable to move the brake pad and the parking brake caliber will not release. When attempting to release the parking brake, an alert will appear that reads “Parking Brake Did Not Release – Contact Tesla Service.” When applying the brake, an alert will appear that reads “Parking Brake Needs Service – Car May Be Free Rolling.”

Those receiving notices can return to their Tesla service center to have the electric parking brake calipers replaced. Owners wanting more information about the problem are asked to contact Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752. Tesla’s number for this recall is SB-17-33-002 and the NHTSA campaign number is 170-260.

Tesla has identified a problem affecting certain Universal Mobile Connector (UMC) adapters and will notify customers to get a replacement. The affected units may have an insufficiently welded electrical connection that could exhibit increased electrical resistance. The vehicle may detect a fault and interrupt charging or the adapter could become hot to the touch.

The charging adapter affected include:

Tesla will notify owners and will provide them with a replacement adapter. Owners wanting more information about the problem are asked to contact Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752. The NHTSA campaign number for this recall is 16E-091.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have opened an investigation into a May 7th fatal crash involving a Tesla electric car. At the time of the accident, it is believed that the “Autopilot” was controlling the vehicle while the driver was distracted. Witnessed say the driver of the car may have been watching a movie when the collision happened. Continue reading

Tesla will be contacting the owners of certain 2016 Model X crossover SUVs about a safety problem affecting the third row seating. According to the defect report, variations in recliner manufacturing could lead to insufficient tooth engagement and failure to meet the required holding torque specification. In a severe collision the seat could exhibit excessive forward movement, increasing the chance of injury to occupants. Continue reading