Tesla Recalls 817,000 Vehicles Over Seatbelt Reminder

The Tesla Model X. Image credit: Tesla

Why no recalls elsewhere? Tesla is recalling more than 817,000 vehicles in the United States – this time concerning a seatbelt chime failure

Electric vehicle (EV) giant Tesla is issuing another safety recall in the United States – this time associated with its seat belts.

But this recall is huge, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that Tesla will recall more than 817,000 vehicles in the United States.

The problem stems from a seatbelt reminder chime alert, which may not activate when the EV starts and the driver has not buckled the seat belt.

Tesla's Model Y. Image credit: Tesla
Tesla’s Model Y. Image credit: Tesla

Seatbelt Chime

The NHTSA said on Thursday the affected vehicles include:

  • 2021-2022 Model S and Model X,
  • 2017-2022 Model 3,
  • 2020-2022 Model Y

The good news for Tesla, is that in order to fix this issue, it will just perform an over-the-air (OTA) software update.

The world’s most valuable car maker told NHTSA that as of 31 January it was unaware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue.

Tesla said the problem had been brought to its attention on 6 January by South Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute (KATRI).

The software problem seems to occur when the chime fails to activate when the EV is started under certain circumstances.

It seems only to occur if the seatbelt chime was interrupted in the preceding drive cycle and the seat belt was not buckled subsequent to that interruption.

“However, if the drive cycle state changes (e.g., driver exits the vehicle) during this reminder, the software erroneously stays in the state where it has already warned the driver, and does not reset its state to prepare for the next warning,” said Telsa.

“Therefore, the next time the vehicle is started without the driver buckling their seat belt first, the driver is not warned by the chime, but instead only receives the accompanying visual telltale.”

Tesla added the issue does not affect the audible seat belt reminder chime from activating when the vehicle exceeds 22 km/h and the driver seat belt is not detected as buckled.

And the issue does not impact the accuracy of the accompanying visual seat belt reminder.

Previous recalls

Tesla is coming increasing scrutiny from US regulators and issued a number of recalls over the past year.

Last month the NHTSA said it is discussing “potential safety concerns” with Tesla after vehicle owners complained heat pumps were failing in extreme cold temperatures.

Its remarks came after the Canadian regulator Transport Canada said last week it was concerned malfunctioning heating and air-conditioning systems “may affect windshield defogging/defrosting and therefore driver visibility”.

In February 2021 the NHTSA asked Tesla to recall 135,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over faulty touchscreen displays.

In June last year Tesla issued a recall for nearly 6,000 cars in the United States over concerns about potentially loose brake caliper bolts.

Last November Tesla recalled 12,000 vehicles in the US over a ‘software communication error’ involving its FSD beta program.

Then in December Tesla issued a recall for more than 475,000 of its Model 3 and Model S electric cars to address a couple of safety issues associated with the rearview camera and front trunk (frunk) with the Model 3 and Model S.

Earlier this week Tesla said it was recalling 53,822 US vehicles with the company’s Full Self-Driving (Beta) software that may allow some models to conduct “rolling stops” and not come to a complete stop at intersections posing a safety risk.