Tesla has deployed a software update to a number of its Model S, X, and Y vehicles to fix a backup cam issue, as detailed in a recall notice shared by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last week.
The NHTSA detailed the issue in a recall letter on Tuesday, noting that certain Model S, X, and Y vehicles with the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) computer Hardware 4.0 (HW4) would not correctly display a rearview image while in reverse. The recall applies to 199,575 vehicles with the 2023 model year that are running software versions 2023.44.30 to 2023.44.30.6, according to the notice.
Tesla immediately shared a software update to fix the issue, and the letter says the NHTSA will mail owner notification letters on March 22. The NHTSA recall number for the problem is 24V-035, while the manufacturer recall number is SB-24-00-002. The report also says that Tesla introduced the software update version 2023.44.100.1 earlier this month, after assessing the condition of the affected vehicle and software versions.
The latest recall comes as many Tesla and electric vehicle (EV) owners have criticized the use of the term “recall” for issues that can be fixed with an immediate over-the-air (OTA) software update—rather than needing to be serviced by the OEM.
Last month, it was widely publicized that 2 million Tesla vehicles were involved in a recall due to issues with Autopilot’s Autosteer system not providing enough safety checks for drivers. In response, Tesla deployed software version 2023.44.30, which fixed the issues by increasing driver attentiveness monitoring measures and by making warning labels clearer.
Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself has commented on the use of the term recall in the past, last February calling it “anachronistic and just flat wrong” to use the word when referring to a software update.
Definitely. The word “recall” for an over-the-air software update is anachronistic and just flat wrong!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 16, 2023
Musk pointed out in 2022 that many of these issues haven’t caused any injuries, adding that the term was outdated and inaccurate. Most automakers in the industry are also following Tesla into offering software updates to their vehicles because of their convenience, and some of them have also faced recalls on easy OTA fixes.
Despite the criticism, the NHTSA currently still defines these kinds of issues as recalls, even if they don’t need to be physically serviced.
“NHTSA is empowered with robust tools and authorities to protect the public, to investigate potential safety issues, and to compel recalls when it finds evidence of noncompliance or an unreasonable risk to safety,” said an NHTSA spokesperson to Teslarati in an emailed response on whether the agency was considering new terminology for software-based recalls.
“Manufacturers are required to initiate a recall for any repair, including a software update, that remedies an unreasonable risk to safety. NHTSA recalls can include any required repair, which includes a software update, to remedy a potential safety risk. Manufacturers are also required to submit any communications to owners, dealers, and others about any software updates that address a defect, whether it is safety related or not.”
Updated 1/29/24: Added quote from the NHTSA.