The move comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requested a recall last month, saying the touch screen in some models can fail when a memory chip runs out of storage capacity, affecting functions such as defrosting, turn-signal functionality and driver assistance.
The NHTSA began investigating the issue in June and, in November, it said it had it reviewed 12,523 claims and complaints about the issue.
At the time, Tesla acknowledged the issue but said if the display was not working, “the driver can perform a shoulder check and use the mirrors” before adding: “If the screen is not visible to control the climate control and defroster settings, the driver will be able to manually clear the windshield.”
However, now drivers of affected cars – Model S sedans built between 2012 and 2018 and Model X SUVs from 2016 to 2018 – have started receiving emails about what to do next. The email says Tesla will now offer to reimburse those who have already paid for repairs.
The company also indicated that affected customers in other countries will also receive an email later this week but it is unclear whether any cars outside the US will be included in the recall.
Speaking last month Natalie Hitchins, Head of Home Products and Services at consumer watchdog Which? said:
“These latest reports about a fault that prevents some Tesla owners from defrosting or de-fogging their windscreens, as well as the possibility of drivers not hearing warning chimes if something is wrong, are concerning.
“Tesla must urgently clarify if UK-owned vehicles are also affected by this fault, and if so issue a recall. If it fails to do this, we’d expect the DVSA to step in and force a recall.”
Which? research also revealed Tesla has one of the highest fault rates – see details here.