Tesla has recalled 40,168 vehicles due to a software issue that could cause loss of power steering assist, but the automaker says it's already released an over-the-air (OTA) update to address the problem.
In certain 2017-2021 Model S and Model X vehicles that received the 2022.36 firmware release, changes to the "calibration values" for the electric power steering could result in external forces, such as impacts from pot holes or bumps, being interpreted as unexpected steering assist torque, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall report.
2017 Tesla Model S
Such incorrect interpretation could lead to a reduction in power assist, increasing the effort needed to steer, particularly at lower speeds, the report said. Loss of assist will trigger audio and visual alerts.
Tesla has released an OTA update to recalibrate the power steering system. While Tesla generally pushes these updates straight to customer vehicles, the automaker is also going through the mandated recall procedure and mailing letters to owners confirming the fix. Those are expected to go out December 31.
It's the latest of many recalls over the past couple of years issued with an easy OTA fix—quite different than those recalls that require in-person parts replacement.
2021 Tesla Model X
In September, Tesla recalled over 1 million vehicles for a power-window issue that could have pinched fingers. Prior to that, it recalled 26,681 vehicles for "decreased defrosting performance." Both issues were fixed with OTA updates that didn't require service-center visits.
But Tesla has still had to deal with a few large recalls that do require in-person service visits. A recall of 356,309 Model 3 sedans earlier this year included inspection and, if necessary, replacement of rearview camera wiring harnesses, while another involving the Model S required the same for frunk latch assemblies.
If the ongoing federal probe over Autopilot safety is escalated to a recall, it's unclear what kind of fix might be required.