Tesla recall affects millions of cars but there could be an easy fix

Tesla has been forced to recall all car models released in the US since 2015 over Autopilot safety fears

Tesla Model S Plaid
(Image credit: Tesla)

Tesla has recalled all car models released in the US for almost a decade, after a two-year investigation found the current Autopilot self-driving system could present a serious risk to driver safety.

It is estimated that more than two million Tesla electric vehicles are affected, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finding that the system "may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse".

It is not the Autopilot technology itself that is an issue, but the messaging around it.

The cars do not make it clear enough that drivers should not rely on the automated driving assistant alone, and are required to be alert while it is engaged: "Tesla's unique design of its Autopilot system can provide inadequate driver engagement and usage controls that can lead to foreseeable misuse of the system," said the NHTSA (via Reuters) after the investigation was complete.

It also revealed that it reviewed 956 crashes in total, with 322 of them being related to Autopilot use.

Tesla hasn't confirmed whether the recall will also occur outside the US, but Tesla owners shouldn't be too alarmed – they might not even need to take their car to a service centre.

Elon Musk's company claims it can send a possible fix as an over-the-air update.

It says the patch will "incorporate additional controls and alerts to those already existing on affected vehicles to further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility whenever Autosteer is engaged."

This, it believes, will satisfy the safety recommendations made.

The Tesla Autopilot system was one of the first automated driving aids to make it onto US roads. Once engaged, it can take over steering, acceleration and braking, using technologies such as Autosteer to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles.

However, it is claimed that some drivers believe it to be the same as fully autonomous technology and have reduced their focus on the road and surrounding traffic.

The recall will hopefully remind them that it is an aid for their own driving exploits, rather than replacement.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.