The NHTSA has issued an official safety recall notice for more than 817,000 Tesla vehicles over a seat belt reminder alert that can fail to activate in certain conditions.
More specifically, the audible chime may not activate when the vehicle starts and the driver has not buckled their seat belt. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."
According to the official recall notice, the issue affects certain 2021-2022 Model S and Model X, 2017-2022 Model 3, and 2020-2022 Model Y vehicles—basically, all Model 3 and Model Y vehicles sold so far in the US. In total, 817,143 Tesla EVs are included in the recall.
Fortunately for Tesla and owners of affected models, the remedy is a firmware release that will correct the software error, so that the audible seat reminder chime will reset if it’s interrupted while chiming.
Tesla will push firmware release 2022.4.5 over-the-air via a software update the automaker will perform free of charge in early February.
In the NHTSA Safety Recall Report, Tesla notes that firmware release 2021.43.101.1, which includes the remedy, has already been introduced in Model Y and Model 3 production on January 27, 2022, and in Model S and Model X production on January 28, 2021.
It's worth noting that NHTSA still treats this as a recall, even though this particular issue is resolved with an over-the-air update and doesn't require owners to take their cars to dealers.
Interestingly, this problem was first brought to Tesla's attention by the South Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute (KATRI) on January 6, 2022.
From January 10 to January 22, Tesla's vehicle software and homologation teams investigated the condition and scope of vehicles that were potentially impacted by it. On January 25, the company reviewed the findings and determined that the condition is a noncompliance, voluntarily making a recall determination the same day.
Tesla says that as of January 31, 2022 it is not aware of any warranty claims, field reports, crashes, injuries or fatalities related to the condition.