June 12, 2021

Tesla recalls nearly 135,000 Model S and X cars because of failing touchscreens

Tesla is releasing a revamped version of its original Model S and X electric cars with a new touchscreen in the coming weeks, but until then, thousands of the cars already on the street are part of a recall because of display issues.

On Monday, a letter to Tesla from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially announced a recall on 134,951 cars because of potential touchscreen display failure. The Model X and S use a center screen to control car functions like defrosting and defogging, and to display camera views, including from a rearview camera. 

NHTSA had been looking into the failing screens,  which go blank when a computer memory unit fills up, since last June, after several consumer complaints were filed. Drivers reported the screen dying with no way to turn it back on and no way to access climate, camera, and other controls. (The car was still operational, but with limited capabilities.) 

In January the agency asked Tesla to recall potentially affected cars, which include the Model S from 2012 to 2018 and the Model X SUV from 2016 to 2018. 

Tesla will notify owners about software problems with the processor that can lead to a blacked-out screen. It’ll replace the faulty screen controller part for free. The recall will officially begin on March 30. For owners with qualifying vehicles, there’s a Tesla customer service line to call at 1-877-798-3752.

NHTSA had originally asked for 158,000 cars to be recalled, but Tesla says that includes some cars that were already upgraded with new processors, according to Reuters.

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