Tesla Model S Gets Official Recall For Possibility of Fire Associated With Charging Adapter


NHTSA Model S Recall Notice

NHTSA Model S Recall Notice

Back on January 10, Tesla Motors issued a statement on the Model S charging adapter.  At the time, Tesla did not suggest there would be an official recall.

That’s changed now as the NHTSA has listed the Model S for recall on its website due to the possibility that “An overheated adapter, cord, or wall receptacle, increases the risk of burn injury and/or fire.”

Of note is that the NHTSA lists that 29,222 units are potentially affected by this recall.

Immediately upon news of this “recall,” Tesla Motors issued this statement:

“The term “recall” is outdated. No vehicles are being physically recalled by Tesla. We issued a software update in December 2013 and as an additional measure will be sending an upgraded NEMA 14-50 adapter by mail to customers.”

“As a result, Tesla owners do not need to physically come to a Tesla store or service center.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to fire off some Tweets:

Elon Musk Tweets

Elon Musk Tweets

Official NHTSA documentation below:

Recall Notice Page 1

Recall Notice Page 1

Recall Notice Page 2

Recall Notice Page 2

Tesla documentation sent to NHTSA below:

Tesla Page 1

Tesla Page 1

Tesla Page 2

Tesla Page 2

Tesla Page 3

Tesla Page 3

Categories: Tesla

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46 Comments on "Tesla Model S Gets Official Recall For Possibility of Fire Associated With Charging Adapter"

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At least Tesla was on the ball by getting out the replacement parts and updates before this came out. Also the worst thing they can do right now is ague with them which they are not doing at this point.

“Come ahn, don’t booshit me.”

This issue has been brewing for months with pictures of melted adapters posted last spring. I know that internal Tesla people monitor the TMC board but there didn’t seem to be internal communications to raise the issue. I hope Tesla learned something from this.

Yes is not a recall, I don’t have to go to the service center for this issue. The update was done to all Model S 3 weeks ago. The new adapter is on the way via mail.

Vindicated at last. Of course, Tesla isn’t spending any of their own money to speak of, nor even improving the ‘quality’ of the attachment plug. The “thermal fuse” is the most proactive thing they’ve done so far.

2.7% isn’t a small percentage, regardless of what apologists say.

If it wasn’t a very serious matter, I’d chuckle a bit at the response. It will be interesting if in the fullness of time if Tesla eventually includes a plug worth $10 more (more robust, or ‘spec grade’) than the current offering. You have to read between the lines a little, but I’m assuming this attachment plug is the same quality as the one before, just now that it hopefully shuts down before people burn themselves.

According to Tesla the original plug isn’t faulty, the new plug is just more abuse proof in case of problems at the receptacle end. This is just Tesla making it’s product more a-hole proof. Of course there is not such a thing as making a car a-hole proof publicity wise but Tesla is doing what it can.

Of course not. The only thing they didn’t do this time is jump up and down.


You misread the info in the Tesla letter regarding what the 2.7% actually refers to. The 2.7% refers to UMCs that stopped working because they were defective, but not thermally damaged (ie showed signs of melting). Tesla conveniently doesn’t mention the percentage of UMCs that melted (ie showed signs of external thermal damage)!!!

2.7% = the “number of returned UMCs that showed signs of INTERNAL DAMAGE ONLY and stopped charging”

UNKNOWN = the number of returned UMCs that showed signs of “THERMAL DAMAGE EXTERNAL to the UMC” without regard to whether they stopped charging or continued charging.

No I misread anything. Sorry, but Internal damage is not a normal occurance.

The very convenient fact is of course a cheap plug will cause a perfectly fine recepticle to overheat. Since the recepticle has overheated, everyone says the licensed electrician is at fault.

Except that has not been the way the wind is blowing lately. Read my other responses here, since its boring for other readers to constantly read what I’ve already rehashed.

Guess we need to decide who to believe Tesla’s claim of receptacle failure or some armchair warrior’s claims of cheap plugs. Hmm. that is a toughy…

No armchair here… Ive seen it and felt it with my own hands. At a Tesla Service Center.

Difference is is I’ve been certified as a Master Licensed Electrician. So I’ve been certified to have a certain amount of intelligent evaluation experience.

It is rather rude to constantly criticize someone who has proven ability when You don’t mention your own credentials and state why your opinion should be listened to above all others.

I wonder whether you constantly tell the licensed plumber who works in your house, the licensed electrician, or the licensed mechanic who worked on your former gas powered cars that they have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Or do you bite your tongue and pay them because you want the get the job done?

Chris, I hold a MS in electrical engineering. I agree with Bill’s assessment here.

Some of the claims Tesla and Musk make, on the other hand, seem only meant to distract from the actual issue and are either irrelevant or downright disingenuous.

E.g., their insistence that the car wasn’t involved in the garage fire: undisputed, only the UMC was, and still is, suspected to be the cause.
Or, from their previous press release, regarding the 5.8.4 software update: “This fully addresses the issue”.
Or, speaking of the revised adapter: “Even if the circuit breakers on the house side and car side don’t trip, the thermal fuse will prevent current from flowing if the wall socket region heats up”. As I don’t think they’re that clueless about how breakers operate, it must be deliberate misinformation.

Thanks IO, it was getting lonely here for a bit 🙂

What I meant to say is that the percentage of damaged TMCs is greater than 2.7%, since Tesla didn’t reveal how many melted TMCs were returned. Tesla only revealed how many TMCs with “internal damage only” were returned (2.75%).

Elon again with the semantics. A part, included with the Model S and necessary to its operation, had to be recalled due to a fire risk.

Glad for Tesla owners and their neighbors that it was addressed.

“…and their neighbors” (!!!!). I’m sure all the insurance companies thank them too.

Notice what has not happened. The NFPA hasn’t issued an emergency recall of all licensed electricians since “obviously” they suddenly have become dumb or careless as to how to install and wire recepticles.

Did you notice that the stock has skyrocketed (+12.49%) today on good news? Model S’s are selling like hot-cakes!

Elon can stop taking Rolaids now for the moment. I’m thinking about purchasing a Model S also, and, since I don’t want the UMC really, I thought about a fullproof way of making it safe.

I’ll purchase a 6 ft plug and whip that plugs into my 14-50 outlet, then I’ll attach a recepticle at the end of the cord. The Tesla stuff will plug into this outlet. Since I’ll have a spec grade plug at my wall, I won’t have to worry about leaving the thing unattended since any overheating will be taking place 6 feet away at the end of my “extension cord”. The extra length will be a benefit should I have to occassionally charge the thing in the driveway.

Using an extension cable is expressly discouraged by Tesla. People do it anyways.

If you cared enough, you can get an EVSE instead and hardwire it. Either Tesla’s HWPC or a J1772 EVSE. Some J1772 EVSE’s come with more robust plugs like the L6-30 instead of hardwiring.

Problem is, at my house, I installed a 14-50 by the garage doors since the S has the socket at the rear of the car, not the front where it should be.

My EVSE is 30 amps, which while ok, I plan on using on my Roadster, since, if I purchase the S, I’ll then have 3 -ev’s.

The point of the homemade extension cord is to avoid the problems of a potential fire, not cause one. Granted, its uncanny that one has to proactively use an extension cord to avoid a potential problem.

Bill, spend the money and buy the HPWC. it is your safest bet as it only has one set of contacts – at the car and that has proven to be reliable. The UMC (the cord at the heart of this issue) has 3 sets of contacts. Note that even people who never unplugged their UMC from the wall experienced heat related damage. You could cut the adapter end and connect it with a male 14-50 but that will have 2 sets of contacts. Even if you only have a 40A service, the HPWC is going to be safer. The fewer contacts, the better. Saving a few bucks is on something like this is foolish economy.

My assessment of the situation STG, is that the extension cord is the safest way. I’m sorry: Tesla products just seem to have a propensity to overheat lately. Think Rav4EV with tesla electrics, all the Model S news (the explosions in mexico really scare me – interestingly there are TWO videos of the same thing, one of which has the explosions curiously toned down). My Roadster engineers (may these rest in peace) followed a different design guideline and did things a bit more conservatively, although as mentioned Tesla had trouble with the (now discontinued) 30 amp mobile connector, and the current 40 amp Universal Mobiile Connector, my friend’s roadster being on his third one. You must not be reading my posts, I already have a fine EVSE. Tesla’s HPWC was initially downgraded by Tesla to 60 amps due to an overheating issue, but I’m not sure of the particulars. It may have been that the rectifier fuses were blowing at 80 amps, but I’m not sure. Supposedly this has been increased back to 80 amps with a software fix, the only fix possible if software fixed it would be an overshoot problem by the dual chargers. To reiterate, I haven’t… Read more »

I’ve never used the NEMA 14-50 plug. A lot of owners have never used it. If you feel insecure about it, you use always use a hardwired Tesla’s HPWC or a J1772 EVSE.

Still waiting for the articles on the 370,000 Ford truck recalls two days ago—these will actually have to go to the dealership for a potential engine fire problem. Waiting….Waiting….

Found on Road Dead.
Fix OR Repair Daily
Fudged over road disaster.

It’s not a Ford recall. The 370,000 fiery trucks are from GM: http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/10/autos/gm-truck-recall/

Except if you read the comments on the money article, they’re saying the fords are the products with the most problems.

Admittedly, the Colorado 5 cyl engine (made in my home town I’m sorry to say) is a piece of junk since I’ve heard of too many people having trouble with it. Apparently, the worst GM product in a decade.

They call them growing pains, for a reason.

This should be a lesson for all L1 proponents as well. A cruddy wall receptacle, especially one located outdoors is not a good charging station. There is a reason why special plugs/receptacles had to be developed for automotive use.

Do tell. Please list the special plugs. Hopefully you don’t mean those inferior quality J1772 things that have also melted.

The GE Durastation and Schneider EVLink run stone cold. The Heating problem with the EVLink I took care of by putting box lugs in the unit itself.

Care to elaborate and show us some melted J1772 inferior quality things?

Or are you just arguing as usual for the sake of it?

Excuse me VDIV that was a silly comment. There have been articles here refering to Honda Fit’s overheating, and Blink’s overheating, both at the j1772 connector. Plus Toyota Rav4EVs (with Tesla hardware), that have overheated at the car connection.

Most of the people on here are very nice, but then there are some who just want to constantly argue with other people for no reason, and provide no enlightening information to the discussion.

Please try to include some factual non-ad-hominem information in your posts from now on.

I am good at silly comments. But so are you. :p

Plugs designed in the early 1900’s, at various age and state, exposed to the elements and physical abuse, and often poorly or not protected at all are a bad idea to be used at close to their intended ampacity for hours at a time.

That was my point.

Yeah but my rare tongue in cheek comment is not done to disparage someone else.

The concept of a continuous load is apparently unknown here.. I’ve gone over this time and time again, but its fallen on deaf ears.

Suffice it to say that commercial and industrial electricians, architects and engineers run into them all the time and successfully, safely handle them.


Sure, but not with a $0.87 NEMA 5-15 receptacle. Running a constant 12A every day may be too much. I would at least get a very high quality 5-15.

I am starting to think that a hard wired EVSE is the way to go for a robust home installation for 40 A charging.


Even a contractor can’t get a spec grade nema 5-15 for 87 cents.

GM in my view held itself harmless right in the owner’s manual by stating their voltec is a ‘high power device’, and the outlet intended to be used must be certified by a qualified electrician to be capable of 12 amps continuous loading.

IF GM is to blame at all, its by not insisting that the orange AWG #16 cord be fully unreeled each and every time to prevent its overheating, something that would happen to any wound-up heavily loaded cord.

Apparently, to your point, the Leviton 400 is a good unit: Cheap plastic case, but good innards. Anyone have any experience with this unit? Unfortunately, you still have to deal with the Tesla J1772 adapter, but since this thing is rated at 80 amps, you would think 40 amps (1/4 the heat) would be ok.

They’ve already replaced the j1772 adapter once. The first model would shrink when its cold and couldn’t be used.

Not wanting to step into your guy’s little love fest but the wall receptical issue is an important point. There are a number of NEMA locking connectors/receptacles – twist to lock. I wish this what Tesla had required for their wall connector. Also Tesla screwed up by not designing their UMC cable with a similar “twist to lock” mechanism. When you are flowing 10KW of power through a friction fit connector (there are 3 of these on the UMC), misalignment is a potential fire hazard. As you insert/remove a connector, wear occurs and over time you can get a loose fit. When you have less contact surface area, contact resistance increases and thus heating.

As to the J1772 problems, Blink had to derate a significant number of their stations because of this problem. It was due to poor J1772 connector design.

Yeah, well, when I was at the Tesla Store in Toronto it was my first good look at the UMC that is included with the S. (Replacement cost has been put at $500 for the S versus $1500 for the Roadster (used to be $1200)).

I wanted them to deduct the price of the unit from the car since I took one look at the thing and said you’ve got to be kidding thinking this thing will take 40 amps day in and day out. That said, I have no idea if the ‘UMC CAR” heats badly or not… I just didn’t like the look of that ’40 amp’ connector (too little surface area on the contacts for too much current), or in other words the current density is too high..

And please don’t criticize me for being personally critical of a Tesla Design. If other people love these umc’s then thats fine. I however reserve the right to evaluate everything running in my garage unattended.

Glad you saw it was Chevy as I was reading about the latest Ford recalls as well, also in the thousands.

Ford recently recalled over 150,000 Escapes in November 2013 for fire risks….

Maybe most of these problems will go away when we go to wireless charging 🙂

Poor Popcorn Cats, sitting under the EV, wirelessly recharging… *POP*

If you are using one of our JESLA 40 amp portable charging solution J1772 conversions of the Tesla UMC, please get you NEMA 14-50 exchanged per the government recall.