Tesla 'software communication error' prompts recall of nearly 12,000 US vehicles

Recall covers Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles sold in the US since 2017, which received limited early access to the 10.3 version of the Full-Self Driving Beta

Tesla is recalling 11,704 of its Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles sold in the United States since 2017 due to a "software communication error" that may cause a false forward-collision warning (FCW) or an unexpected activation of the car's automatic emergency braking (AEB) system. 

"If the AEB system unexpectedly activates while driving, the risk of a rear-end collision from a following vehicle may increase," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a recall notice posted on the agency's website on Tuesday. "We are not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue." 

Tesla stores and service centers received notification of the recall on or shortly after Nov. 1 and impacted owners will be notified by mail on Dec. 28. 


The issue was found in an over-the-air software update released by Tesla on Oct. 23 for vehicles that received limited early access to the 10.3 version of Tesla's Full-Self Driving (FSD) Beta. FSD is an advanced driving system that allows Teslas to virtually drive themselves under certain circumstances. However, the company emphasizes it does not make the vehicles fully autonomous and still requires direct supervision from drivers.

The next morning, the electric vehicle maker received reports of false FCW and AEB events. Tesla said it immediately took action to mitigate safety risks by cancelling the software update for vehicles that had not installed it, temporarily disabling its FCW and AEB features in the impacted vehicles and rolling back the vehicle software to its 10.2 version. 

Tesla later determined that a software communication disconnect between two onboard chips could produce "negative object velocity detections when other vehicles are present." The company proceeded to release another over-the-air software update to rectify the issue and re-enabled the FCW and AEB features for vehicles that installed it. 

As of the NHTSA's filing, more than 99.8% of the vehicles - all but 17 - installed the update and no further action is necessary. 


The recall comes after NHTSA regulators sent a letter to Tesla on Oct. 12 asking why the company didn’t recall its vehicles when it sent a software update in late September to fix a problem with its Autopilot system. The update addressed detection of emergency vehicles parked on roads while crews responded to crashes.

The NHTSA opened an investigation of Autopilot in August after getting reports of a dozen crashes into emergency vehicles. The investigation covers 765,000 vehicles, almost everything that Tesla has sold in the U.S. since the start of the 2014 model year. Of the dozen crashes that are part of the probe, 17 people were injured and one was killed.

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Tesla had until Monday to explain why it didn’t issue a recall for the Autopilot update. As of early Tuesday, NHTSA had not posted any documents detailing Tesla’s response.

The agency said conversations with Tesla continue "to ensure that any safety defect is promptly acknowledged and addressed according to the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act." The statement didn’t say if Tesla responded to the agency’s questions on the Autopilot software update.

A representative for Tesla did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report