Tesla’s Boombox feature triggers “recall” from the NHTSA — again

Tesla Smart Summon in action. (Credit: Rody Davis/YouTube)

It appears that Tesla’s Boombox function has caught the ire of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) again. In a new Safety Recall Report, the NHTSA set its sights on Tesla’s Boombox once more, this time focusing on the risks of the function when the company’s vehicles are using their Summon or Smart Summon feature. 

According to the NHTSA, current standards establish requirements for pedestrian alert sounds for electric vehicles like Teslas. These standards prohibit manufacturers from altering or modifying the sounds emitted by their cars’ pedestrian warning systems (PWS), which are designed to make a vehicle’s presence more evident. In affected Tesla vehicles — of which the NHTSA estimate number about 594,717 Model 3, Model Y, Model S, and Model X — Boombox may allow users to play custom sounds while Summon or Smart Summon is engaged. 

While the NHTSA notes that Tesla’s Boombox and the company’s pedestrian alert sounds are mutually exclusive, the agency noted that sounds emitted from the Boombox feature could be construed to obscure or prevent the PWS from complying with FMVSS 141. This could then cause an increased risk of collision. Tesla, however, is not aware of any crashes, injuries, or fatalities that are related to the NHTSA’s Boombox complaints. 

“On affected vehicles, the Boombox functionality allows a customer to play preset or custom sounds through the PWS external speaker when the vehicle is parked or in motion, including if Summon or Smart Summon is in use. While Boombox and the pedestrian alert sound are mutually exclusive sounds, sounds emitted using Boombox could be construed to obscure or prevent the PWS from complying with FMVSS 141 when the vehicle is in Drive, Neutral or Reverse, including if Summon or Smart Summon is in use. This recall supersedes Recall No. 22V-063,” the NHTSA’s Safety Recall Report read. 

In the Safety Recall Notice’s Description of Remedy Program, the NHTSA clarified that Tesla had already issued an over-the-air software update to disable Boombox when its vehicles are in Drive, Neutral, or Reverse. However, not all vehicles that received this update were subscribed to the company’s Full Self-Driving suite, which opens access to features like Summon and Smart Summon. The new Boombox recall could then be seen as a way for Tesla to be extra cautious, as it would ensure that its vehicles will have Boombox disabled even if their owners opt to purchase FSD in the future. 

“In Recall No. 22V-063, which is superseded by this recall, Tesla issued an OTA firmware update to disable the use of Boombox when the vehicle is in Drive, Neutral, or Reverse. Vehicles that received the OTA firmware update under 22V-063 and are currently configured without Summon or Smart Summon no longer contain the noncompliance condition. However, owners of these vehicles may elect to purchase or subscribe to use Summon or Smart Summon in the future. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, Tesla will also deploy to these vehicles the same firmware update that will disable Boombox functionality while using Summon or Smart Summon if those functionalities are later enabled,” the notice read.  

The NHTSA’s new Boombox recall notice can be viewed below. 

RCLRPT-22V235-8842 by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

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Tesla’s Boombox feature triggers “recall” from the NHTSA — again
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