99 problems

Tesla recalls half a million vehicles due to production errors

SHANGHAI, CHINA - AUGUST 23: A car owner places commodities for sale in the trunk of a Tesla vehicle...


Combined Model 3 and Model S units recalled.

China News Service/China News Service/Getty Images

Tesla has been raking in the big bucks this year, and it hasn’t done so by taking the time to carefully craft every one of its vehicles. Which is why the company is now recalling just under half a million of its all-electric vehicles for trunk-latching issues, of all things.

The voluntary recall applies to all Model 3 units made between 2017 and 2020 (approximately 356,309 of them), as well as to some Model S units produced between 2014 and 2021 (about 119,109 of those). Both vehicle malfunctions center on the vehicles’ trunks, though for slightly different reasons.

The Model S defect is a bit more pressing, if only because Tesla estimates that 14 percent of owners will actually encounter the issue at some point or another. Only 1 percent of Model 3s in the recall are actually expected to malfunction.

Tesla’s public image has had a rough year. Yet another recall — even one that’s not life-threatening, really — certainly won’t help that.

Trunk problems — The Model 3 recall is more of a proactive move than anything else. The problem, as reported by Tesla to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is that opening and closing the trunk can damage the cable running to the rearview camera. This could present a safety issue.

The Model S recall is more dangerous. The front trunk latch is misaligned in some units, so it isn’t great at keeping the trunk shut... which means it could flip open at any time, while you’re speeding down a highway on Autopilot, perhaps.

About 2,300 warranty claims have been linked to these two defects. Tesla says it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by them.

Tesla’s down bad — Automobile recalls are not unusual at all. Many are far more dangerous than this one — like when thousands of Mustang Mach-E units were recalled because the roof might just fly off. Or the 82,000 Hyundais recalled for battery fire concerns.

This recall is more concerning in the context of the myriad other issues Tesla vehicles have faced in 2021. Like the overwhelmingly dangerous rollout of the Full Self-Driving beta, which has at times been so disastrous Tesla’s had to retract updates. This is on top of scandals on the factory floor, Elon Musk’s ridiculous tweets, and failing displays.

Tesla’s legion of megafans won’t let a trunk recall get them down. For the rest of us it’s just another addition to the ever-growing list of the company’s problems.