Tesla Recalls Nearly 55,000 Model X Vehicles Over Brake Fluid Sensor Issue

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The U.S. auto regulator on Tuesday said Tesla will recall 54,676 Model X vehicles manufactured between 2021-2023 because the vehicle controller will likely fail to detect low brake fluid and not display a warning light. Tesla has released an over-the-air (OTA) software update, free of charge, to fix the issue, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration said. The electric vehicle maker is unaware of any crashes, injuries, or deaths that may be related to this condition, it added.

This is the latest controversy surrounding Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, including the infamous ‘batterygate’ lawsuit last year. But it also highlights the pitfalls when companies try to innovate with automated updates.

OTA updates can be great for improving vehicle features or fixing bugs, but they can have unintended consequences. Several customers have reported that their E.V.s lost functionality, such as backup cameras, climate control settings, windshield defrosting, and turn signal functions. These are all features that many customers rely on to make the most out of their new car’s capabilities.

Some OTA updates have been for minor changes, such as more phone controls at the steering wheel or text size options, while others have been for significant improvements, such as a new navigation system with 3D maps or improved air conditioning performance. However, some OTA updates have been for more serious issues that can be potentially life-threatening, such as the case of a Tesla owner who died after his vehicle’s battery exploded while he was driving it on a highway.

In addition to the alleged fatal accident, some owners complained that their OTA updates decreased their driving range without being warned about the negative consequences. Some have even had to pay third parties to reverse the software updates. One lawsuit against Tesla claims that it violated California law by reducing the driving range of its customers’ cars without their knowledge or consent and that they should be compensated for their losses.

A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit. The company has a long history of dealing with government regulators and navigating complex regulations for the manufacture and sale of vehicles. It recalled 137 of its Model Y E.V.s in the U.S. in June over a fastener problem.

This is the second time NHTSA has asked Tesla to conduct a recall this year. The agency previously asked the company to recall nearly 158,716 Model S and Model X sedans and SUVs from 2012 to 2019 after finding that touchscreen glitches were causing them to lose some safety-related features.

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