Tesla is recalling some 2017-2021 Model S and Model X vehicles due to the potential for loss of power steering assist. According to documents posted by the National Highway Safety Administration, “the electronic power assist steering (EPAS) system may experience a loss of power steering assist when driving on rough roads or after hitting a pothole.” The issue doesn’t necessarily remove all power steering assist or render the vehicle inoperable. NHTSA’s description says “Reduced or lost power steering assist does not affect steering control, but could require greater steering effort from the driver, particularly at low speeds.”
Owners will be alerted of the problem by an audio alert along with a visual alert that will appear on the instrument cluster. As is the case for many (but not all) recalls performed by Tesla, the issue will be rectified via an over-the-air software update. That means owners of affected vehicles won’t need to take their Teslas into the dealership for repair. In fact, Tesla says 97% of vehicles on the road that could have been affected have already been updated with the latest software that rectifies the problem.
Interestingly, the problem is the result of an over-the-air firmware update that was released on October 11, 2022 that recalibrated “values for the electronic power assist steering (EPAS) system to better detect unexpected steering assist torque.” A week later, “Tesla identified an increasing rate of alerts related to the updated EPAS calibration values,” which is how they knew there was a problem. The company rolled back the software update on October 19. In total, between October 11 and November 1, Tesla says it identified 314 vehicle alerts in the United States for this condition.