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Tesla has to ‘recall’ 817,143 vehicles due to seat belt reminder problem, fix is an over-the-air software update

Tesla has to ‘recall’ 817,000 vehicles, but fortunately for the company, the problem is another one that can simply be fixed with an over-the-air software update.

The problem is the seat belt reminder alert can fail to activate under some conditions.

NHTSA issued an official safety recall notice over the issue and it apparently affects “certain model year (“MY”) 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles, and all Model 3 and Model Y vehicles” in the US.

The problem is the chime for reminding occupants to buckle their seatbelts can fail to activate under some very specific circumstances.

NHTSA explains in the recall notice:

“FMVSS 208, S7.3 (a)-(1), requires the audible seat belt reminder chime to activate upon vehicle start (i.e., driver presses the brake pedal after entering the vehicle) if the driver seat belt is not detected as buckled. On certain MY 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles and on all MY Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, a software error may prevent the chime from activating upon vehicle start under certain circumstances. This condition is limited to circumstances where the chime was interrupted in the preceding drive cycle and the seat belt was not buckled subsequent to that interruption (e.g., the driver exited the vehicle in the preceding drive cycle while the chime was active and later returned to the vehicle, creating a new drive cycle).”

Other alerts, including the one that activates at 22 km/h if some seat belts are unbuckled, are not affected nor is the visual reminder.

Since NHTSA considers a missing seat belt chime reminder a safety risk, Tesla couldn’t just push a software update to fix the issue and it had to be made into an official safety recall.

NHTSA explains the risk in the notice:

“If the audible seat belt reminder chime does not activate at the start of a new drive cycle and the driver does not notice the accompanying visual seat belt telltale, the driver may not be reminded to buckle their seat belt and may begin operating the vehicle in an unbuckled state, which could increase the risk of injury. Tesla is not aware of any injuries or fatalities related to this condition.”

The people at the South Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute (KATRI) are the ones who found the issue and brought it to Tesla’s attention last month.

Tesla already started pushing the software update to fix the program to the fleet last week.

Here’s the full recall notice from NHTSA:

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