Tesla Recalls All 90,000 Model S Sedans Over Possible Seatbelt Issue

2 years ago by Eric Loveday 61

Tesla Model S Interior

Tesla Model S Interior

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors is conducting a voluntary recall of every Model S it ever made.

The recall is linked to one report of a front seat belt not being properly connected.

Tesla issued this statement in an email earlier today:

“Tesla recently found a Model S in Europe with a front seat belt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner.

“This vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries. However, in the event of a crash, a seat belt in this condition would not provide full protection. First and foremost, we care about your safety.”

Tesla became aware of the possible problem just two weeks ago when a Model S owner in Europe discovered that as she turned to speak to a rear-seat passenger, her seatbelt became disconnected.

Tesla immediately inspected thousands of vehicle and must have found fault with at least some of them, so the automaker issued the recall.

Anchor Bolt In Tesla Model S Seating Was Not Properly Assembled

Seat Belt Anchor Bolt In Tesla Model S Safety Incident Was Not Properly Assembled – All Cars Now To Be Checked Out

The chain of events is described as follows by a Tesla rep:

“In early November, a customer sitting in the front passenger seat turned to speak with occupants in the rear and the seat belt became disconnected. The seat belt is anchored to the outboard lap pretensioner through two anchor plates that are bolted together. The bolt that was supposed to tie the two anchors together wasn’t properly assembled.”

All Model S owners/lessees are being advised to bring their cars in for inspection.

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61 responses to "Tesla Recalls All 90,000 Model S Sedans Over Possible Seatbelt Issue"

  1. jelloslug says:

    See this GM? This is how you handle a problem.

    1. bro1999 says:

      …or Toyota, or VW, or Honda, or Chysler. GM isn’t alone on having recall issues.

    2. Breezy says:

      Give it a rest.

      1. Chris O says:

        Yeah, there were only one hundred or so fatalities in the ignition switch case so why even mention it? GM has done far worse in the past.

        1. Breezy says:

          Right. While the ignition switch was a problem, it’s a much more complex issue than is commonly presented. The Valukas report covers the history. NHTSA knew about it and is wasn’t even recognized as a safety problem initially.

          GM also solved many other problems proactively, and continues to do so.

          But this is about a problem with a Tesla. Why wasn’t that seatbelt properly anchored, anyway? How could that happen with seatbelts of all things?

          1. MDEV says:

            Are you serious? Perhaps is a conspiracy from Elon agaist Tesla customers. I guess you watched too much FOX news.

            1. Breezy says:

              Am I serious about what? The facts behind the ignition switch issue? Yes, they’re all available to the public. Read the Valukas Report.

              No idea what you’re talking about with the Fox news reference.

      2. Anon says:

        As in, “Rest In Peace”?

    3. Mister G says:

      Nailed it

    4. ClarksonCote says:

      Haha! GM would have better QC procedures preventing it from needing to recall every single model made.

      Elon must be raging. They apparently had never sampled any of these during QC so they can’t narrow down when the problem manifested.

    5. ModernMarvelFan says:

      GM did exactly that in the Volt with all the recalls.

      Maybe GM really hate cars without plugs so it doesn’t treat them equally…

      LOL.

  2. 2013VOLT says:

    GM will never learn.

  3. Benz says:

    Safety first

  4. mhpr262 says:

    Uh-oh, Elon must be a sparking ball of white-hot rage right now. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who messed up the assembly …

    1. Brian says:

      Or the QC team or the testers or the thousands of miles Tesla employees have put on the cars. If Tesla pins this only on one person (production line?) that would be a huge shame on them.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Hear, hear! One thing I find unfortunate about our American culture is the obsessive need to find a scapegoat whenever something bad happens.

        I think the Japanese have it right in this regard: When something goes wrong at a company, the default assumption should be an 80/20 split; 80% a fault with the process, and only a 20% fault by the actual people involved.

        It’s too bad that we in our culture spend so much time obsessively identifying and punishing or ostracizing a scapegoat, because that only wastes time. After we’ve done that, we still have to identify and fix the actual problem.

        Even if the actual cause was a single Tesla employee deliberately shirking his duties, which seems unlikely, why wasn’t the problem caught by quality control? That’s where the actual process needs to be changed.

    2. This likely not an issue created by any one individual; rather a process issue related to assembly and verification.

      What Tesla is doing is adding that missing verification checkpoint for all existing vehicles. The recall is many to inspect assembly, unlike say Tata airbag recalls that require mandatory replacement of components.

      Unfortunately there is no distinction in “Recall” process language between a preventative recall action and a safety critical replacement re-action.

      Historically, NHTSA recalls have been of a reactive nature … after multiple injuries or deaths have occurred!

  5. Trollnonymous says:

    Let’s see.
    Get the VIN, derive the production date code on when it left the plant.
    Step back chronologically through the process to find the date and time of each point of the manufacturing process till you get to the point where the worker logged completion of the installment of the belt bolt anchor and assemblies.
    Narrow down the employee number that logged it and cross reference with the employees work schedule to show required presence. Get the badge log in/out to validate.

    Get the security goons from the Gigafactory to escort employee out of plant.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Apparently Tesla has no traceability to do that. Hence recalling every. single. copy.

      1. Roy LeMeur says:

        I also suspect this is due to one problem employee. And yes… they may actually be able to track it to him or her. But it makes all kinds of sense to recall all when something like this happens. Unless, of course, you are GM.

        1. Trollnonymous says:

          I recall stories of GM employees, disgruntled, putting loose nuts in cavities of cars so it rattles when it’s driven.

          I’ve even heard some purposely did not insert the stereo consoles rear connectors to locking positions so they go out eventually. They said it was more effective when they did that on 4WD vehicles…….lol
          Since this was not a safety issue, it would have never been a recall.
          That one was at a Toyota plant.

          This crap can happen anywhere to anyone. Tesla is not immune to it.

          It’ll probably cause the Model 3 to be late though……lol

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Trollnonymous said:

            “I recall stories of GM employees, disgruntled, putting loose nuts in cavities of cars so it rattles when it’s driven.”

            You’re citing urban myths which are merely an expression of our American cultural obsession with finding someone to blame when something goes wrong. Yet in the real world, entropy usually has some cause other than misbehavior by a human being.

            http://www.snopes.com/autos/grace/rattle.asp

            1. ClarksonCote says:

              It seems we’re agreeing more and more lately, which is somewhat scary. 😉

              However, to play devil’s advocate, some of these kinds of things have happened, though I wouldn’t ascribe it to malice on the part of assemblers.

              For example, a Volt owner found a gas cap in his door. But that was a one-off incident. Of course, I can’t find the link now! 🙂

        2. sven says:

          Is Tesla still making their factory workers work 10-hour shifts? Maybe during those mandatory two extra hours, the assembly workers aren’t paying as much attention to detail as they do earlier in their shifts.

          If they’re still working 10 hour shifts, do they have a 40-hour work week or a 50-hour work week?

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            10 hrs x 4 days = 40 hours.

            Dunno if they’re still using that schedule or not. With continual ramping up of production, at some point they’re likely go to two shifts?

    2. Someone out there says:

      Yeah, blame the little guy. That’s how you handle problems and create a welcoming and appreciative atmosphere at the workplace.

      1. mhpr262 says:

        Well, at least one little guy DID, in fact, fuck up. The atmosphere needs to be one of individual responsibility and diligence too, not just welcome and appreciation.

  6. GasKilla says:

    Everyone who has a Tesla on order or in production had their delivery date pushed back one month, could this be the reason? Safety first and now some folks might not get their Christmas present on time ….

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Seems very unlikely that checking seat belt anchors would add an entire month to the delay between order and delivery. It should only take a few minutes per car to check them, even if they all have to be checked by hand. Hopefully an automated inspection process can be installed, which should both speed up the process and also eliminate the problem with the human quality checker getting tired or distracted.

  7. Londo Bell says:

    This is the 1st real test against Tesla – the financial side of things.

  8. Mister G says:

    GO TESLA GO…safety first will get you loyal long term customers.

  9. Koenigsegg says:

    Seatbelt issue in every Model S yet there hasn’t been anyone seriously injured or have died in a Model S from an accident

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Actually there have been at least two fatalities among Model S drivers. One drove his car off a cliff at high speed; the other was a car thief who received mortal injuries during a high-speed chase with police, when the stolen Model S became airborne then was cut in half when it impacted a metal pole at 100+ MPH.

      I rather doubt either fatality was the result of an improperly functioning seat belt!

      1. sven says:

        At least three. You’re forgetting about the Model S that missed a turn and drove off a canyon road (cliff), broke into pieces, and caught fire.

        http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20150623/man-who-died-in-fiery-malibu-canyon-crash-of-tesla-is-53-year-old-from-calabasas

        1. ffbj says:

          That was one of the two he mentioned, unless there was another person who drove off a cliff.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            2 Model S owners drove off the cliff..

            1 in the link from Malibu Canyon in LA county in Southern California, the other off the hwy 1 in Sonoma County in Northern California.

            Combined with the thief, 3 death in total so far.

      2. Yeah but now you’re just grasping at straws. All that matters pivotal to this discussion is accidents due to seat belt failure, which stands at nil. If this were GM they wouldn’t bother recalling at this stage.

        I think if I were a Tesla owner I would be happy that they were taking it seriously, even if its inconvenient to take your car in!

    2. Joel says:

      That they recall all car does not mean that all cars have a bad seat belt; it only means that they do not know the extent of the problem.
      I would guess that this part is only incorrectly done sometimes, with some low-ish but not minuscule probability.

      (There must have been a number of accidents by now, and not only have only 2 of them been lethal, but this error has not been recognized before — so the fraction of cars with the defect must be fairly low.
      On the other hand, they did issue a recall, so the fraction can’t be extremely low.)

  10. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Kudos to Tesla for being proactive about a serious, altho hopefully rare, safety issue.

    GM and Toyota should take note.

    1. Paul Stoller says:

      Likewise Tesla should be taking notes about QC procedures, there shouldn’t be a need to recall every example of the car.

      It really seems like there QC processes are lacking, I doubt any of the major manufacturers would be missing this traceability data.

      1. ffbj says:

        No, that’s true. They usually know how many tens of thousands or millions of cars they need to recall. They know they will have multiple recalls on many of their vehicles so they have these procedures in place.

        Of course if they just make the cars correctly in the first place that would not be necessary.

        1. ffbj says:

          Though I doubt will be recalling 11 million vehicles like VW. Of course that was not a quality control issue, but a fraudulent attempt to beat the emission systems test.
          But it was useful to have complete records so they, VW, could actually point to all the models that were so engineered to cheat.
          Apparently that one slipped through the cracks of their quality control system.

          I suppose one type of recall Tesla will never face, since they produce no emissions.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Paul Stoller said:

        “It really seems like there QC processes are lacking, I doubt any of the major manufacturers would be missing this traceability data.”

        I agree that Tesla has a significant problem with overall quality control, as highlighted by a recent Consumer Reports article. Perhaps this newly discovered problem is another symptom of inadequate control… and perhaps not.

        However, you seem to be assuming that this specific problem can be traced to one single employee or one single change in assembly line procedure. That’s not necessarily the case.

        I remember one post on the Tesla Motors Club forum, where there was a rattle inside a Model S rear bumper*. When the Tesla service center removed it, they found a half-dozen loose nuts which should have been attached to bolts in the area. They reported this to quality control at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant, and the problem was investigated, but they couldn’t identify the cause, and spot-checking other assembled cars didn’t find any other cases of loose nuts in the same place.

        Some mysteries are never solved.

        *(Well actually there isn’t a separate rear bumper, so I suppose they meant the rear body piece which includes the integrated “bumper”.)

  11. kosee says:

    Seeing this in regular news headlines all over the place. Press found something to kick against. Very very bad for tesla….

    1. jelloslug says:

      I don’t think it’s bad at all. People are used to seeing recalls and how the car companies only do it after x number of people died.

      1. ffbj says:

        Right. Just go in for regular service and have them look at it then. Also no one maimed, blinded, with metal shards exploding in their faces.

  12. Joshua Burstyn says:

    We had ours checked on the way home. Took five mins and involved a visual inspection and tug test. No issues on ours. Great service as always.

  13. Marc Talloen says:

    Eric, when you quote parts of the email that we received from Tesla, may I suggest you also add the section below so that the article contents are more balanced and reflect the reality?
    “This is the only customer vehicle we know of with this condition. Even though we have since inspected the seat belts in over 3,000 vehicles spanning the entire range of Model S production and found no issues, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall as a proactive and precautionary measure to inspect all front Model S seat belts and make absolutely sure that they are properly connected. (We have no concerns regarding seat belts in the rear of Model S.) “

    1. MikeNickerson says:

      Completely agree. Actually, the author did something even worse than leaving out that paragraph. He conjectured that the facts were opposite what Tesla specifically stated in that paragraph.

  14. martinwinlow says:

    Perhaps I’m the only person in the world who tests the seatbelt connection by pushing the diagonal belt away from my chest with gusto immediately after putting it on (thereby tensioning the lap belt and putting some strain on the buckle).

    I’ll be checking mine and if I can’t find an issue, I for one, won’t be bothering Tesla with my MS until it needs a service. MW

  15. Anon says:

    Glad Tesla’s not yet big enough to harbor a murderous corporate culture by hiding deadly defects in their vehicles yet. 😉

    That said…

    This is a good way to generate additional revenue for the Company. Get everyone to come in to have a single bolt checked, go over the entire vehicle, present a list of additional work that needs done.

    If the drivetrain and other reliability issues have indeed been improved by 50%, then there are likely service centers with more idle time available. Why pay people to sit around?

    1. If the drivetrain reliability was improved by 50% it won’t manifest overnight; there are still a GREAT many drivers driving around in the earlier production vehicles that still have the early teething problems.

      Plus, they may have been exaggerating.

    2. MikeNickerson says:

      Actually, every Tesla Model S ever sold is still under warranty, so that list of needed repairs would cost Tesla money, rather than gaining revenue.

      The appointments for the check are only 15 minutes. As others have said, they are just inspecting for that issue.

  16. Tesla is trying something very innovative as they are sending repair technicians to a few highly used Super Chargers and testing and repairing as needed. So many never have to call or go to a service center. A very forward thinking approach.

  17. Loek says:

    I just had my car checked last night at the local service center. There was a line of four cars in front of me, they had two techs going car to car. I was in, checked in, belts checked, singed the paperwork, and back out in 10 minutes. No looking for other work to do, so sales pitch for anything else. In check out.

  18. James says:

    I don’t see any scenario wherein a complex manufactured product like an automobile – no matter where it’s made, or who makes it — will not have recalls or issues pop up that need inspection or a re-work.

    Think about how many thousands of man hours are involved in testing and vetting a new model, and then give it to consumers who nearly always find ways to abuse or misuse said product.

    As long as fallible humans are on automotive production lines, I can see where a guy/gal has a rough weekend, maybe binge drinking, or what have you— Comes to work with the wrong mindset ( attention to detail, will to fix something that doesn’t look right )…And bango! That production line can produce a string of bad apples. Checks and balances ( inspections ) along the way – and test drives afterward will never catch everything. These liabilities must scare the heck out of new car companies! Established car brands factor in the losses involved in recalls and try to mitigate all potential issues they can.

    Enter cars like BMW i3… While I can say BMW was very open to the SAE about the i Series production line being designed to have as few humans as possible — And that more for money savings than anything else, I can say this means a more precise manufacturing process. But for humans monitoring the robots, and mechanical failures plus software glitches….Machines do wear out…and again, you’re faced with a load of recalls to fix whatever they screwed up.

    Sure hope Tesla can keep the number of these possible design niggles and potential recalls at bay long enough to become an established car company. By “established” I mean Musk’s goal of 500,000 units sold/yr.

  19. James says:

    Addendum to above comments: Perhaps that’s the mentality behind Japanese car companies that have workers dress in uniform at their locker, then proceed to a physical calisthenics routine before they start their work on the production line? Do American-based foreign auto plants do this also? I don’t know… But it is a way to clear that worker’s mind, and set him up at the assembly line with a clear(er) head…

    Ever notice in videos done at GM plants…Like Hamtramck in Michigan…The cradles, robots and fixtures seem worn, with scratched paint that looks like it has seen some good wear and tear…the ceilings look straight 1940s factory…the floors, worn and while not “dirty”…just industrially showing years of use… Then there are the workers themselves. If you read the horror stories of the GM/Toyota NUMMI plant before Toyota showed up — If you don’t know, that is the Fremont, CA plant now owned and operated by Tesla —- GM UAW workers would show up drunk and were even known to have put the wrong engine into the wrong car!!! Quality was job #37…lol. Detroit stories from the 1980s were similar…I remember a magazine article in Sports Illustrated wherein then Oklahoma superstar Brain Bosworth had a summer job at an Oklahoma GM plant making…Citations, I believe…Where he joked about placing bolts and nuts inside the body panels on the assembly line – with bubble gum…and lauging with coworkers about how some unknowing car buyer would hear these phantom rattles deep inside the car and wonder, “WTF?!”…. So GM has nearly gone bankrupt, and had to get their stuff together to compete with foreign brands…They have done this – GM and Ford quality seem equal if not close to their foreign competitors….Yet video from inside some of those Detroit-area plants still slay me with workers wearing street clothes of all sorts…blue jeans with holes in the knees and Detroit Tiger hoodies…as they assemble the cars. To me – that still sends a message of a certain mindset that is different than that of the foreign brands.

    What do you think?

  20. James says:

    Compare those visuals with that of say – a random Toyota Camry plant…anywhere in the world. Workers wearing clean uniforms with safety shoes and clean gloves…Shiny white floors – robot carts whizzing to-and-fro with fresh part supplies for the workers… Some auto plants ( Ferrari… ) even have set up living trees and plants inside to help improve worker’s mindsets…and give them a fresh environment to work in….Lots of skylights and natural light. Remember, a happy, healthy worker makes a much better automobile… Detroit car plants still seem to have that old industrial prison feel to them…

  21. James says:

    I don’t know – paint a robot and a body-cradle on the assembly line – some fresh paint on the floor, or some nice uniforms for the workers…does that add a noticeable cost to the end result car? Not sure, as Toyota, Nissan and Mercedes seem able to pull it off without seeming to price themselves out of each car category…some food for thought ….

  22. James says:

    By the way, don’t remind me of how the Fremont plant is shiny, bright, modern and the workers are mainly in some form of Tesla garb…I know….This is a big sign to me that Musk is on the right track…

    His anal personality – attention to detail…in my mind, should result in less niggles like the seatbelt one.