Tesla Recalls Model X For Rear Seat Safety Issues

APR 11 2016 BY JAY COLE 47

Tesla Asks You To Not Sit In The Back (3rd Row) While The Model X Is In Motion Until A Seat Replacement Is Made

lTesla Asks You To Not Sit In The Back (3rd Row) While The Model X Is In Motion Until A Seat Replacement Is Made

Tesla sent out an email today to the first ~2,700 or so buyers of the Model X, stating that a recall was in place for all of its SUVs delivered before March 26th, 2016.

The Tesla Model X Defect(seen here in Geneva) Was Discovered While Testing The Vehicle For European Release

The Tesla Model X Defect(seen here in Geneva) Was Discovered While Testing The Vehicle For European Release

The issue is specific to the locking hinge that enables the 3rd row seats to fold flat.  Tesla stated in its email to customers today (full text below) that 15-odd tests had been done on the mechanism without failure prior to launch in North America.

However as sometimes happens, when the all-electric SUV was to head to Europe, and a subsequent and in this case more-stringent) 16th test was made…and an issue arose.

The Model X “as is” is still technically a compliant/safe vehicle for North America, but Tesla still asks those receiving notification of the issue to “temporarily not have anyone sit in the third row seats while the car is in use”

As a result, a voluntary recall has been instituted by the company, and a fix already determined.

The recall will see the deficient 3rd row seat removed and the back portion replaced (with new units in production now).  Fortunately for Tesla, fault lies with the supplier Futuris, and they will be picking up the expense for the repair.

No live/on-road incidents have resulted/been reported due to this defect to date.  Jon McNeil, Tesla President of Sales and Service, expects the repair to take about 2 hours and he expects it will take the company about 5 weeks to complete the repairs to all 2,700 affected Xs.

“It’s actually with the leverage of weight in the seat pulling it forward. So this would be an example of a front crash where the weight of the passenger seat belted to that seat could cause that latch to fail.” – McNeil via CNBC

Tesla Model X 3rd Row Seats Latching Mechanism Found Not Suitable For Europe

Tesla Model X 3rd Row Seats Latching Mechanism Found Not Suitable For Europe

Here is that email to current Model X owners on the dedect in it’s entirety:

model x on reoad with header recallWe are emailing to inform you of a proactive action Tesla is taking to ensure your safety as a Model X owner. Tesla’s internally conducted crash testing demonstrates that Model X will be the first SUV to receive the highest safety rating in every category, and we are committed to ensuring that it remains the safest SUV in the world.

Once At The Shop, Repair/Replacement Of The 3rd Row Seat Should Take About 2 Hours

Once At The Shop, Repair/Replacement Of The 3rd Row Seat Should Take About 2 Hours

Recently, during an internal seat strength test that was conducted prior to the start of Model X deliveries in Europe, the recliner in a third row Model X seat unexpectedly slipped. The recliner, which is provided to us by an outside supplier, is the locking hinge that allows the third row seat back to fold forward, and if a recliner were to slip during a crash, the seat back could move forward. Similar testing was conducted before the start of deliveries in North America, with 15 confirmation tests having been conducted without a single recliner failure. Despite these prior successful tests and no reports of a third row seat slipping in any customer vehicles, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure and will be replacing all affected third row seat backs.

Our records show that you own a Model X affected by this voluntary recall. We will shortly send you an official recall notice by mail, but we wanted to alert you to this action as soon as possible.

A fix to this issue is already in place. We have worked with our supplier to develop a new recliner design with improved quality that resolved the issue. We are now constructing new third row seat backs to match all affected vehicles. Your service center will contact you to schedule the installation of your replacement seat backs as soon as they are available. Based on current production rates, we expect all replacements to be completed on a rolling basis over the next five weeks. We will accelerate this timing if possible.

Until the recall is performed, you may make full use of your Model X, although we ask that you temporarily not have anyone sit in the third row seats while the car is in use. We recognize that not having the use of your third row seats for the next few weeks will be an inconvenience, but your safety is our primary concern. We assure you that we are building your new seat backs as fast as we can.

Thank you for being a Tesla customer. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone at 844-248-3752 or by email at ServiceHelpNA@teslamotors.com. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Tesla Motors | 3500 Deer Creek Road | Palo Alto, CA 94304
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For future owners of the Model X who currently are awaiting their new Tesla from the company’s Fremont assembly facility, Tesla has sent out a similar notice acknowledging the issue, but also assuring customers that their Model X will not affected, stating:

“We want you to know that the Model X you configured is not affected by this issue. It is being built with updated third row seats that have the improved recliner design.”

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47 Comments on "Tesla Recalls Model X For Rear Seat Safety Issues"

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There are a couple of versions of the email–folks that are not affected get a slightly different version telling them their vehicle is not affected.

And this is why the will want most of the early Model 3 cars to be sold in California . . . hopefully close to the Fremont factory. That will make rework much easier until the design is stable.


It was done on purpose.

Also, existing Tesla model S/X owners get them too as they are familiar with where their local service centers are or the employee of Tesla. Those groups will be more forgiving of Tesla while Tesla works out all the quality bugs…

Makes sense…..

And also why we don’t want Tesla to rush it. Not only would that increase the likelihood of problems but also the cost of fixing them with more cars on the road early.

yup one nice aspect of living in a RHD country; most cars, by the time they reach us, have already gone through various iterations and upgrades

I like how quickly Tesla reacts to identified safety issues. Much better than other Automakers…

To a certain a certain extent I agree with you, but Tesla really needs to improve on their validation work, the excuse that it’s the suppliers fault will only work so many times.

This is especially true as the move into higher and higher production volumes.

Well, it did pass all the required US safety validations. Apparently the Euro validation is more strict and it did not pass that. There is actually no requirement for Tesla to do anything.

Not quite.
They would certainly need the fix to sell in Europe, and I expect there’s no significant cost difference between the new and old latches, so they’d be using the same new design for all markets anyway.

1) If they hadn’t done a retrofit on the already-sold cars in the US, you can bet owners would have found out and complained, very loudly. These are $100K+ cars…

2) I’m pretty sure the difference between the US and EU test is arbitrary (crash at slightly higher speed / somewhat more force applied on the latch); all it would have taken is a couple of incidents of the latch actually releasing in the US in a moderate crash 6-12 months from now for a mandatory recall to happen… By that time 10x Model X’s would have been sold, which would have cost a lot more, in both recall costs & goodwill, not to mention actual lawsuits if anybody got hurt.

The plus side to not having sold very many vehicles.

Yes and relatively small customer base helps too.

Are GM and VW paying attention? Why can’t they admit to mistakes and fix them fast like Tesla, before people are killed in accidents? They have the auto talent in the world; but just lack one thing at the top: Simple Honesty.

Did you NOT read this line before commenting?

“Fortunately for Tesla, fault lies with the supplier Futuris, and they will be picking up the expense for the repair.”

When GM does that, the supplier goes bankrupt… So, GM typically picks up the tab.

Also, fixing few hundreds of cars are different from fixing millions of cars in terms of cost and logistics.

Don’t forget Toyota and Ford and Honda (Takata airbags), they all had large recalls that runs in the millions.

People have to understand that Tesla service will not remain the same when they Scale up the production numbers and price down the vehicle units. You will see GM-lite once Tesla reaches that scale. For now, enjoy the ride, and pretend Tesla drives on Water.

Considering that none of the gloom and doom that has been predicted to happen to Telsa has actually ever come true, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Quite a few bits of “gloom and doom” have come to pass:

– the decline in availability at Tesla’s service centers as ownership increases
– Superchargers changing from “as much as you want” to “for long-distance trips only” due to congestion
– all the growing pains in new product rollout that any other startup would be expected to have

The difference is that the Reality Distortion Field convinces large numbers of observers that none of the above matters, and certainly should not be responded to the way you would respond if it happened to another startup (or, god forbid, an established automaker).

None of those issues are surprises. That’s not the point.

The point is skeptics using those issues to predict ultimate failure of Tesla and/or their business model – neither of which have happened, and there is no reason to expect that it will happen.

Knock that nonsense off. Superchargers were never meant to be ‘as much as you want’. They were and are, meant to facilitate long distance travel. Now, that being said, Tesla is willing to work with locals who have limited means to charge their cars.

“As much as you want” is a direct quote from the old Supercharger web page. It has since been changed to reflect Tesla’s new policy.

Cute, you’re taking it out of context. The “as much as you want” is meant in the context of ‘long distance travel’. There is no ‘new’ policy.
It was NEVER meant for local use to avoid paying for your own fuel.

“As much as you want” means as much as you want.

If IHOP sells me a Lifetime Pancake Card that allows me to eat “as many pancakes as I want, for free, forever” and accompanies it with the tagline, “Now you can have breakfast for dinner every night!”, that doesn’t mean I can only eat pancakes for dinner; it means that dinner is one of the many times that I can enjoy eating as many pancakes as I want, for free, forever.

Furthermore, in such a scenario, if I tried to hand my Pancake Card to a friend and have them eat their fill, it would be clearly spelled out that only the buyer may use the card. So, tell me: exactly where in the Supercharger policy did it say that non-trip-charging is forbidden?

You can’t, because it wasn’t intended to be; “as much as you want, for free, forever” was a key selling point.

But coming along years later is a kind of re-write: In our legalese laden society, they Should have written a BOLD DISCLAIMER as you have in your post Dan, but there were 1000 customers at the time and it simply didn’t seem Likely that anyone would Want to us the SC all the time, IF they had a convenient way to charge – the ever-unfortunate “why would you Want to” (caveat words, how phargn Cheap can you Be when you just spent $100k on a car). Bold Disclaimer could have been ‘when you cannot charge at home’, well, that doesn’t quite fit, ‘when you’re away from home’ self-evident’ when you’re X miles from homne – how Many? etc. So Tesla, unable to Perfect the disclaimer, ASSumed that most owners would get the (legal term?) need-basis intention and be pleased that it was available forever. lo and behold, 90+% Did get it, and the argument is academic. I think the ‘refresh’ oughta’ have a tiny LED on the front bumper that glows slowly brighter as your SC usage mounts – at 1000 (?) SC uses it glows brightly -alla time- for instance. Anyone that must wait for this owner at an… Read more »

Tesla hasn’t closed any service centers that I’m aware of. Unless you actually meant to say something else?

I didn’t say they were “closed.” I said there was a decline in availability, referring to the much increased waits for service; e.g. a 2 month wait for 36K service at the Fremont service facility:


And in Norway, 4-5 months:


I doubt most buyers of $90,000 cars expected that kind of wait time for service appointments (to say nothing of when problems are actually fixed).

It was your wording that threw me.
You’re referring to ‘a decline in availability of service in a timely fashion'(long wait times for service or parts) as opposed to a decline in whether or not service is ACTUALLY available.(service was available before but for some reason is no longer available)

I am going to guess you did not read that entire thread before linking to it. 🙂

I just re-read it to try to figure out what you were referring to. My only guess is that you’re pointing out that the wait times weren’t terrible everywhere?

I don’t see volume production changing Tesla’s mission of safety and sustainability…

No, particularly if they are proactive – whether it 10 fixes or 10 million fixes, there is no excuse. And, the sooner a given company provides a culture of flagging potential problems and taking them seriously, then it is more likely that your fixes will never get anywhere near the millions of vehicles.

Tesla motors does not treat safety as a ledger decision, where it’s cheaper to pay the wrongful death lawsuits rather than taking the responsibility of fixing their deathtraps. There is no reason for that to change with volume.

TomArt said: “Tesla motors does not treat safety as a ledger decision, where it’s cheaper to pay the wrongful death lawsuits rather than taking the responsibility of fixing their deathtraps.” Tesla added a safety feature to it’s app by changing the software to make it into a dead-man switch when using the Summon feature, because it recognized the danger that the car could inadvertently run over a small child, pet, or favorite duffel-bag. But Tesla said it could not reprogram the key fob button to act as a dead-man switch while using Summon, because of a hardware limitation. Tesla decided NOT to replace their key fobs with new ones that have hardware that would allow a dead-man switch while using the Summon feature. With regards to the Summon feature on the key fob, Tesla treated safety as a “ledger decision” where it decided it was cheaper to pay damages for the low probability of personal injuries caused by the Summon feature on the key fob, rather than replacing all the existing key fobs with an improved version that had a dead-man switch. Every car company makes these “ledger decisions,” the only difference is the threshold where they take corrective action.… Read more »

I wonder if some of that is not self-fulfilling–if they jumped on things sooner, the population of vehicles that need to be fixed would be smaller.

You mean this couldn’t be fixed OTA?


Rarely anyone sits in the passenger seat, let alone the 2nd row seats… and then 3rd row seats? lol

My smart car has more seats than I need.

Sounds like you should have saved yourself several thousand dollars and bought a Model S instead.

It sounds like you don’t have any kids.

On second thought: you’re technically not saying you have a MX. So, reworded: any MX owner who doesn’t care about the 3rd row seating should have bought an MS instead.

“My smart car has more seats than I need.”

Smart cars have two seats. Perhaps the one seat Faraday Future FFZERO1 better suits your needs.

Too many seats not enough people …LOL ..They should build a sporty 2 seater Model 3 with ajump seat on the same platform, for guys like me that rarely ever use the rear seat…Now that would be very interesting …Something like the Mercedes SL..But without The “ICE” of corse!!!

You see this GM? This is how it is done.

Lol, they are still dickering around with the ignition switch problem….

Exec’s at GM need to go to jail for murder…

There was another person killed by shrapnel from a Takata airbag just a few weeks ago.

You clearly are a misguided Tesla fanatic. Do you even know what qualifies for murder, or you just spread attacks on anything and anyone who tries to tell you that Tesla is no different than any other vehicle manufacturer …. Problems will happen, design flaws will happen and already happened …. So be ready before you start worshipping Elon and his band of musicians.

I like Musk’s proactive stance on these types of things. Don’t GIVE the naysayers any ammunition, let them make their own.