The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tesla announces major recall affecting 123,000 cars around the world

A Tesla Model S is displayed in February at a store in Brussels. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

In an email sent to tens of thousands of customers, Tesla announced a massive recall Thursday of all Model S sedans built before April 2016.

The voluntary recall — which affects 123,000 vehicles around the world — was set in motion to fix a problem with the vehicles’ power steering and affects nearly half of the cars Tesla has put on the road in the company’s history.

“There have been no injuries or accidents due to this component, despite accumulating more than a billion miles of driving,” the email sent to customers said. The company estimates less than 0.02 percent of vehicles in the United States exhibit this issue.

Elon Musk: Dealing with China’s trade policy is ‘like competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes’

The company said the recall issue stems from excessive corrosion in the power-steering bolts, which can loosen or break. If the bolts are compromised, the company said, the driver is still able to steer the car manually but could experience a loss or reduction of power steering.

“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,” the email said.

Tesla said the power-steering problem is limited to “very cold winter climates where roads are frequently salted.”

The company said Model S owners do not need to stop driving their cars. Tesla said it plans to contact affected vehicle owners and schedule an appointment when replacement parts are available in their region.

The retrofit typically takes about an hour, the company said.

This is not the first time Tesla owners have faced a recall. In 2015, Tesla recalled 90,000 Model S vehicles because of a seat-belt issue, and last year problems with parking brakes led to more than 50,000 Model S and X recalls, according to the Los Angeles Times.

More recently, the company has faced increasing scrutiny after the slow rollout of the Model 3, the company’s first mass-market sedan. That rollout — which Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has labeled “production hell” — has been delayed by numerous challenges in recent months, including faulty assembly-line robots and battery packs at Tesla’s sprawling Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

The company is also facing a National Transportation Safety Board investigation after a fatal crash on U.S. 101 in California, where a Model X driver was recently killed.

Tesla’s stock dropped nearly 3 percent in after-hours trading.


‘We understand what needs to be fixed,’ Tesla says after missing Model 3 production goals

Sleepless nights, broken robots and mounting pressure: Musk offers rare glimpse inside Tesla’s ‘production hell’

‘Looks lame anyway’: Elon Musk just deleted Facebook pages of Tesla, SpaceX — on a dare.