Recall Alert: Tesla Finally Caves to the Pressure and Recalls More than 130,000 Vehicles

It was just last month when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publicly called on Tesla to recall 158,716 of its electric vehicles. Now, Tesla is finally recalling 134,951 Model S and Model X vehicles for some serious touchscreen display issues that could reportedly result in the loss of several key features.

Select Tesla Model X vehicles have been recalled.
Select Tesla Model X vehicles have been recalled. | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)

Why are certain Tesla models being recalled?

This Tesla recall didn’t come out of nowhere. In fact, The Verge reports that the NHTSA asked Tesla to recall more than 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles back in January. According to a letter published by the NHTSA, the touchscreen display in some Tesla models may fail once the display’s memory chip runs out of storage capacity, which could prevent the owner from accessing vital features, including their vehicle’s backup camera, climate controls, and Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system. Per the NHTSA, such a disconnect could also increase the risk of a crash.

But that’s really simplifying the issue. According to The Verge, at the heart of the Tesla recall is the company’s 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device. This device was used in most 2012–2018 Model S sedans and 2016–2018 Model X SUVs. Unfortunately, this device isn’t meant to last forever. Once it fails, The Verge says that it basically bricks the entire display. That means no access to the vehicle’s backup camera, its HVAC controls, and everything else that Tesla has so conveniently routed through the touchscreen display. 

It’s worth noting that the NHTSA started its investigation last year too. Tesla eventually told the NHTSA that it expected every car equipped with the chip to “inevitably fail.” As you can imagine, the NHTSA wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear that.

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Which Tesla models are impacted by the recall?

Fortunately, Tesla is now committed to the recall. On February 1st, the NHTSA even sent a letter confirming that Tesla would begin the recall on March 30th. According to the letter, the recall will include an estimated 134,591 vehicles.

“Tesla, Inc. (Tesla) is recalling certain 2012-2018 Tesla Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles with a center display equipped with a NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor. When the 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory device for the center display reaches lifetime wear, the eMMC controller will no longer be able to maintain the integrity of the filesystem, causing a failure in some of the center display functions,” the NHTSA explained in the letter.

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Here’s what the next steps for Tesla owners will look like

Tesla says it will upgrade the eMMC chip with an “enhanced 64GB eMMC” at no cost to owners. Until then, Tesla asks that owners not schedule a service appointment unless they get an alert about memory storage or begin having problems with their vehicle’s display. In the meantime, Tesla says that owners should upgrade their vehicle’s software to version 2020.48.12.

Of course, owners can also reach out to Tesla customer service at 1-877-798-3752 for more information. They can also give the NHTSA’s “Vehicle Safety Hotline” a ring at 1-888-327-4236 or visit