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NHTSA Alleges Tesla Touchscreen Failures Pose Safety Concerns

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  March 8, 2021

Tesla is one of the latest automakers on the radar of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The government agency, which regulates the safety of American roads and automobiles, is alleging that certain Tesla models are equipped with faulty touchscreen displays that could reduce safety.

A Safety Concern for Tesla Drivers

The vehicles in question are 2012-2018 Tesla Model S and 2016-2018 Tesla Model X. According to a letter sent by the NHTSA to the automaker, preliminary findings from the agency showed that the affected vehicles are equipped with an 8GB flash memory device that stores information each time the vehicles are started.

Once the storage capacity is reached, however, the hardware system fails, resulting in failure of the MCU (media control unit). The MCU includes the vehicle’s display screen, which gives the driver:

  • Use of the rearview camera
  • Control of the window defroster
  • Access to cellular devices
  • Use of navigational functions

Additionally, the MCU failure can affect the use of other safety-related functions, including audible indicators related to the turn signal and electronic driver aid systems (part of the Tesla Autopilot system).

The NHTSA concluded that such a failure constitutes a “defect related to motor vehicle safety” and has requested that the company issue a recall to notify all owners, purchasers, and dealers of the defect and have the touchscreen replaced.

Thus far, the agency has received 11 complaints about the MCU system in Tesla Model S vehicles, which includes approximately 63,000 vehicles. However, it is known that the same system is used in 159,000 total Tesla vehicles, including 2012-2018 Model S and X cars. Tesla has yet to release a statement on the matter, but we will keep updated with this situation as it happens.

If you believe your Tesla is equipped with a faulty touchscreen, you may have legal rights under California lemon laws. Find out more about your options moving forward by calling Norman Taylor & Associates at (818) 244-3905. We offer free, no-obligation consultations!

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