Tesla is issuing a recall on close to 30,000 Model S and Model X vehicles made for the China market, with the bulk of those models already exported to the country, over an issue with its suspension.
China’s State Administration for Market Regulation made the announcement earlier today.
The government says that it affects 29,193 vehicles produced by Tesla:
Part of the imported Model S and Model X vehicles with a production date between September 17, 2013 and August 16, 2017 will be recalled, a total of 29,193 vehicles.
The problem is being described as a weakness in the Model S and Model X suspension that can lead to a cracked linkage after an impact.
Here Tesla describes the problem with the front suspension (translated from Chinese):
When some vehicles within the scope of this recall are subjected to a large external impact, the ball studs of the rear connecting rod of the front suspension will have an initial crack. When the vehicle continues to be used, the crack may extend and cause the ball stud to break. In extreme cases, the ball-end cone seat may come out of the steering knuckle, affecting the control of the vehicle, increasing the risk of accidents, and posing safety hazards.
But according to the report, there’s also a similar problem with the rear suspension, and some vehicles in the recall are affected by both.
The problem with the rear suspension is described (translated from Chinese):
When some vehicles within the scope of this recall are subjected to a large external impact, the upper connecting rod of the rear suspension may be deformed. When the vehicle is continued to be used, the component will be further weakened. In extreme cases, it may break and affect the control of the vehicle. Increase the risk of accidents, and there are potential safety hazards.
According to the recall, Tesla is going to have to replace the “front suspension rear link and the rear suspension upper link” for free for the affected owners.
Tesla Beijing is going to notify all affected owners that they can still drive their vehicles, although carefully, until they have changed the parts.
Update: Tesla argues no defect on suspension, says China is forcing the recall
These Model S and Model X vehicles were built in the US, and I am pretty sure Tesla uses the same suspension for all Model S and Model X cars, regardless of whether or not they would be exported to China.
Therefore, I would think that if Model S and Model X vehicles exported to China are being recalled, Tesla would also need to recall all other Model S and Model X vehicles built during this period.
Interestingly, NHTSA did investigate a very similarly described alleged defect in the Model S suspension in 2016, but the government agency determined that there was no defect at the time.
Now it definitely raises an eyebrow following this news out of China.
The whole thing is kind of strange since they say that the problem only occurs after “a large external impact.”
Suspension systems do tend to break after “large impact.” That makes it sound hardly like a defect. However, the fact that they are only recalling vehicles up to 2017 makes it seems that Tesla did change some parts in the suspension that do fix the problem, and therefore, it means that there was indeed a weakness in the suspension prior to this update.
Either way, we will follow any development on that front to see if it leads to other Model S and Model X recall.
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