“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.
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.