Tesla to release OTA update to disable Boombox features that may violate pedestrian warning standards

(Credit: Teslascope/Twitter)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently posted a new Safety Recall Notice for 578,607 Teslas over a potential issue with the vehicles’ Boombox feature. As per the document, some of Boombox’s capabilities may result in vehicles not being compliant with pedestrian warning standards. 

The recent “recall” currently affects 2020-2022 Tesla Model S, 2020-2022 Tesla Model X, 2017-2022 Tesla Model 3, and 2020-2022 Tesla Model Y. The affected vehicles are equipped with external speakers that allow them to play varying sounds when they are in motion. Tesla’s Boombox feature is also played through the vehicles’ external speakers. 

According to the NHTSA’s document, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141 (FMVSS 141) outlines performance requirements for pedestrian alert sounds for hybrid and electric vehicles. It should be noted that the standard also prohibits manufacturers from altering or modifying the sounds emitting capability of a vehicle’s pedestrian warning system (PWS). 

Teslas operating with firmware version 2020.48.25 and later are able to play custom sounds through their PWS speaker when they are parked or in motion using Boombox. Unfortunately, while Boombox and Tesla’s PWS system are mutually exclusive sounds, sounds emitted using Boombox — which are customizable — could be construed to obscure or prevent the PWS from complying with FMVSS 141 when the vehicle is in motion. 

Boombox has been in Tesla’s vehicles since December 24, 2020, when the feature was rolled out as part of the 2020 Holiday Update. On January 15, 2021, the NHTSA issued an information request to investigate the feature’s compliance with FMVSS 141. Tesla responded to this information request on February 5, 2021, with the company explaining the feature’s performance and demonstrating its compliance with FMVSS 141

Tesla continued to respond to additional information requests from the NHTSA about Boombox over the next several months. The company also participated in a number of virtual meetings with the agency. By September 9, 2021, the NHTSA “upgraded the investigation to a Preliminary Evaluation (PE-141-210104) and requested additional information from Tesla relating to Boombox’s compliance with FMVSS 141.” Tesla responded to the NHTSA’s request on October 18, 2021. 

More discussions about Boombox’s compliance with FMVSS 141 were conducted by Tesla and the NHTSA on January 27 and 28, 2022. Ultimately, Tesla decided to initiate a voluntary “recall” on 578,607 vehicles on January 29, 2022, which would disable Boombox functionality in Drive, Neutral, and Reverse. The company would roll out the fix for the issue using an over-the-air software update. 

This was outlined in the NHTSA Safety Recall Report’s section on the issue’s Remedy. 

“Tesla will deploy an OTA firmware release to affected vehicles that will disable the Boombox functionality when the vehicle is in Drive, Neutral and Reverse modes. Firmware release 2021.43.101.2, which includes this remedy, was introduced in production on February 3, 2022. Firmware release 2022.8, which also includes this remedy, will deploy OTA to delivered vehicles in February 2022. No further action is necessary from owners whose vehicles are equipped with firmware release 2021.43.101.2 or 2022.8 or a later release. Undelivered vehicles will not be delivered to customers without 2021.43.101.2 or 2022.8 or a later release installed,” the document read. 

The NHTSA’s Safety Recall Report on Tesla’s Boombox “recall” can be accessed below. 

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Tesla to release OTA update to disable Boombox features that may violate pedestrian warning standards
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