It's been a bad week for Tesla. Their stock is tumbling, Moody's downgraded their credit rating, and they are under investigation by the NTSB. To make matters worse, they have just issued a massive recall for 123,000 Model S vehicles built before April 2016. The issue is with corrosion in the bolts that hold the power steering system together. Tesla issued the following statement:
We have observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts, though only in very cold climates, particularly those that frequently use calcium or magnesium road salts, rather than sodium chloride (table salt). Nonetheless, Tesla plans to replace all early Model S power steering bolts in all climates worldwide to account for the possibility that the vehicle may later be used in a highly corrosive environment.
If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist. This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed.
The company sent out e-mails to all registered owners that are affected by the recall and estimates that replacing the bolts will only take about an hour.
This is the largest recall to date for Tesla and covers roughly half of all the Model S cars they have ever sold. Although it's unlikely that this bolt will corrode and could cause harm to the driver, Tesla is taking the responsible and legally required steps by issuing the recall.
A Tesla spokesman was quick to point out that the Model S was previously found to have the lowest probability of injury of any car the US government has ever tested. The spokesman also said Tesla has not received any reports of injuries relating to this bolt issue.
With investors worried about Model 3 production numbers, Tesla's stock is down more than 25 percent in the past month. It also fell four percent as a result of this recall.