Tesla is recalling 159 Model S and Model X over an airbag issue. Vehicles affected by the recall were part of the 2021 to 2023 model year. The issue is partly due to the fact that the Model S and Model X are offered with both a yoke and a traditional round steering wheel.
As could be seen in the NHTSA’s Safety Recall Report, the Model S and Model X should be equipped with a different driver airbag depending on whether the vehicles are equipped with a steering yoke or a round steering wheel. During the servicing of certain vehicles to retrofit a steering wheel according to customer orders, however, airbags for yoke steering wheels may have been installed with round steering wheels, and vice versa.
“During vehicle servicing of certain vehicles to retrofit the vehicle with the alternate steering wheel per the customer’s request, a round steering wheel may have been equipped with a driver airbag variant designed for the yoke steering wheel airbag, and a yoke steering wheel may have been equipped with a driver airbag variant designed for the round steering wheel,” the NHTSA’s Safety Recall Report read.
While the issue may sound minor, a steering wheel that’s been fitted with a driver airbag that’s designed for another steering wheel variant may decrease airbag performance during deployment. This could present risks of injury to occupants, especially during a collision. So far, however, Tesla is not aware of any injuries or fatalities that may be related to the issue.
The Model S and Model X’s airbag issue was escalated on October 9, 2023, when Tesla Service in Europe reported 12 instances when round steering wheels were equipped with airbags that were designed for the yoke. An engineering study was promptly initiated to inspect the 12 vehicles that received a yoke steering wheel retrofit, and by October 27, Tesla opted to voluntarily initiate a recall about the issue.
This recall is quite different from Tesla’s typical recalls because the issue needs to be physically addressed by the electric vehicle maker. As noted in the NHTSA’s Safety Recall Report, Tesla would be inspecting the driver airbag on all affected vehicles, and if an incorrect airbag is identified, the correct airbag would be installed at no charge to the customer.
The NHTSA’s Safety Recall Report can be viewed below.
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