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article imageTesla recalls 123,000 older Model S vehicles

By Ken Hanly     Apr 1, 2018 in Business
Tesla, the electric car maker. announced in an email to customers on Thursday that it was recalling 123,000 of its Model S vehicles built before April 2016 but that it was a proactive move and no other Tesla vehicles were affected.
Past recalls
This was the largest recall of the Model S since 90,000 of the vehicles were recalled in 2015 for faulty seat belts.
In 2017, 53,000 Model S and Model X were recalled over a parking break fault.
The problem
The Tesla email said that the company had "observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts" but that the problem was more prevalent in colder climates and where road salt was used. There have been no accidents or injury caused by the problem so far.
Tesla said in the email: “If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist. 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.”
Tesla said that if owners can still drive the cars if they haven't experienced problems. The company said it would inform owners when a retrofit would be ready in their area. It is estimated to take about an hour to install the retrofit.
Tesla has another fatality while autopilot was engaged
The recall occurs shortly after a fatal crash of a Model X SUV that slammed into a concrete highway divider and burst into flames in California on Friday March 23rd. The company said that the autopilot was on. The driver died shortly after the accident in the hospital. This is the second fatal crash in the US in which the autopilot was controlling the EV.
The car was on adaptive cruise control in which the vehicle is to stay in its lane and at a fixed distance from the vehicle ahead. However, the driver is supposed to keep hands on the wheel and monitor the road as well. If you take your hands off for long, a warning signal comes on the dash and if that is ignored a beep. If you continue to ignore the warnings the car will turn on the flashers and slow to a stop.
The company says that the driver had about five seconds to correct the situation and he had about 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete barrier. The driver had ignored both multiple visual warning and an audible beep as well to put his hands back on the wheel.
The Tesla manual warns drivers that the Autopilot is an assist not a driver replacement. It is not meant to be a fully autonomous vehicle. Critics warn that the ease with which the system works on regular freeway driving can give drivers a sense the system is safer than it is allowing them to become distracted and take their eyes off the road.
Tesla is facing many difficulties. It has problems producing enough Model 3s for the many customers waiting for delivery. It is also burning through cash. Its shares have recently suffered significant price declines.
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