Tesla is recalling about 2.2 million vehicles because the font on the warning lights panel was too small to comply with safety standards, U.S. regulators said on Friday.
“Warning lights with a smaller font size can make critical safety information on the instrument panel difficult to read, increasing the risk of a crash,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice.
The recall is one of several that Tesla has made in recent years, a setback for the company, the dominant maker of electric vehicles in the United States. In another hurdle for Tesla, the safety administration said in a separate notice that a U.S. government investigation into steering issues that may have affected 334,000 Tesla vehicles was escalated to an engineering analysis.
The probe, which was opened in July, reviewed more than 2,000 complaints about loss of steering control in the 2023 Model Y and Model 3 vehicles. Tesla drivers who made complaints said they had been unable to turn the steering wheel, or that turning it required increased effort. A majority of people who complained about this issue reported seeing a warning message, “Steering assist reduced,” either before, during or after they had experienced a loss of steering control.
“A portion of drivers described their steering begin to feel ‘notchy’ or ‘clicky’ either prior to or just after the incident,” the agency said. The regulator added that its office of defects investigation was aware of more than 50 vehicles that were towed from places including driveways, parking lots, roadsides and intersections, apparently because of steering-related issues.
Tesla is releasing a software update that will fix the issue free of charge, the safety administration said. The models affected include the 2012 to 2023 Model S, the 2016 to 2024 Model X, the 2017 to 2023 Model 3, 2019 to 2024 Model Y and 2024 Cybertruck vehicles.
In December, the company recalled more than two million vehicles, including its most popular, the Model Y sport-utility vehicle, after federal officials said that it had not done enough to ensure that drivers remained attentive when using a system that can steer, accelerate and brake cars automatically. That recall covered nearly all cars the company had manufactured in the United States since 2012.
In January, the Chinese government announced that Tesla would recall nearly all the 1.6 million cars it had sold in the country to adjust their assisted-driving systems. It was a stumbling block for the company, which has emerged as the only Western automaker that can compete with Chinese manufacturers in the global electric car sector. China is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets for electric cars.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters reported in December that tens of thousands of Tesla customers had complained to the company about failures of suspension or steering parts. Tesla blamed drivers, even though it had been tracking the issues for years and knew more about them than it disclosed to regulators, Reuters found.