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Tesla has been in the middle of many record-shattering displays bolstering its standing in the automotive field. But this shattered record is probably not one to add to the trophy case. The company has, so far in 2022, had 19 recalls issued. Some media outlets have attacked Tesla over the number of recalls it has racked up, while others tend to downplay them as “mostly over-the-air updates.” So let’s review them to see what has been fouling up its reputation as the king of EV carmakers. 

Why did Tesla have so many recalls in 2022?

A red Tesla Model X, similar to the Model X stuck in a parking garage with the 'Always Sunny in Philadelphia' star
A red Tesla Model X | Qilai Shen via Getty Images

Mostly, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalls are over safety issues. So any recall, whether OTA or a mechanical defect, is serious. Because of Tesla’s sophisticated electronics, a lot of these recalls were OTA in nature. 12 of the 19 recalls were corrected with an OTA update. 

These fixes included issues with windshield defrosting, the automatic window reversal system (yes, there is such a thing), and the like. So hooray for the owner and lucky Tesla. The costs to Tesla are far cheaper than physical repairs, and owners get the problem fixed fast.

Still, 19 recalls do leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. Its most recent recall affected over 300,000 Teslas with taillight issues. So the size and scope are in a league with all of the other manufacturers, though nowhere near the amount companies like Ford, Mercedes-Benz, or Volkswagen have issued.

How many Tesla recalls were physical recalls?

A red Tesla logo, maker of the Tesla ATV.
Tesla logo | Getty Images

Ford leads the pack in 2022 recalls with 63 so far. It made almost four million cars in 2021, as opposed to Tesla, which is around 900,000. But at Tesla’s ratio, hypothetically, it would easily add 10 more recalls to Ford’s 63. Volkswagen comes in number two for recalls at 42, but it made over eight million vehicles last year. 

For Tesla, its physical recalls amount to six so far this year. Just this week the EV manufacturer issued two separate recalls, including just yesterday. This was for an issue with the taillights on the 2023 Model 3 sedans and the 2020 to 2023 Model Y models. The recall involved over 300,000 Teslas. 

Should an OTA recall qualify as a real recall?

A white Tesla Model Y parked indoors.
Tesla Model Y | Getty Images

And earlier, it announced a problem with the front passenger airbags in its Model X SUV. It affects 30,000 cars. This follows a Model X recall earlier this month over potholes affecting the power steering on 53 vehicles. Finally, there was another recall that involved a single Model X for adding a body bracket left off during assembly.

Finally, those Tesla fanboy sites that dismiss an OTA recall as not really being a recall at all, the NHTSA begs to differ. It says that manufacturers must fix “unreasonable safety risks to consumers” once discovered. No matter how it is fixed, whether OTA updates or some other means, correcting an issue means it is a recall. 


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