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Tesla heeds feds' warning, recalls Model S over touchscreen failures

NHTSA said if Tesla did not initiate a recall, it would face penalties. Late last month, the company officially filed one.

Recall alert.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Tesla has obliged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on Jan. 29 filing to recall 134,951 Model S electric sedans over failing touchscreens. The filing comes after NHTSA requested Tesla initiate a voluntary recall over the problem or face penalties.

According to Tesla's filing, the recall covers 2012-2018 Model S sedans and 2016-2018 Model X SUVs with a center display running an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Once its onboard flash memory reaches the end of its life, the center screen may no longer display crucial functions, including the backup camera and other safety related functions. The ability to defrost windows may be affected, and owners could also notice turn signals no longer operating as well.

A NHTSA investigation last month concluded past over-the-air updates from Tesla to fix this problem were "substantively insufficient."

Now, Tesla will notify owners of the affected vehicles and replace the flash memory device in each car to remedy the failing displays and associated safety problems free of charge. According to the filing, Tesla plans to begin the recall on March 30.

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