Explained: Tesla recalling 15,000 Model X SUVs over power steering bolts

Tesla has issued a “voluntary” recall of 15,000 Model X SUVs (built before mid-October 2016) due to a potential issue in the power steering mechanism. The issue could cause a loss in the assistive mechanism that would suddenly make steering the vehicle harder, increasing the risk of a crash. The recall was first reported by Reuters.

The risk lies with the bolts that attach the power steering component to the steering gear. Tesla has observed corrosion in said bolts “primarily in very cold climates that use calcium or magnesium road salts rather than sodium chloride (table salt).” If corrosion causes the bolt to fracture, “the driver may lose power steering assist.” Tesla notes that the driver would still be able to steer the vehicle, but it would be noticeably harder to turn the steering wheel.

Power steering in the Model X

Power steering is used to reduce the human effort required to steer the vehicle, especially at low speeds. Power steering assist is usually at its peak during parking maneuvers or taking U-turns at intersections. As Tesla notes, “Power steering assist decreases with increasing speed, so the driver may not notice a need for more steering force at highway speeds.”

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Model X Steering Wheel
Tesla Model X steering wheel. | Image: Tesla

The risk of the corroded bolts comes into picture especially when power steering is engaged. If you regularly experience the weather conditions mentioned above by Tesla, then the bolts holding the power steering mechanism together may be corroded. If the bolts fail while you are using power steering, the sudden effort required to turn the steering wheel (mid-turn) might confuse the driver, causing a potential accident.

Is my vehicle at risk?

The recall only applies to Model X vehicles built before mid-October 2016. The recall is for 14,193 U.S. vehicles and 843 in Canada. There is no imminent danger, especially if you do not experience the aforementioned weather conditions that may lead to corrosion.

Tesla’s website says, “If you own a Model X affected by this voluntary recall, there is no immediate action you need to take at this time, and you may continue to drive your car. Tesla will replace the bolts and apply a corrosion-preventative sealer in all affected Model X vehicles to account for the possibility that any vehicle may later be used in a cold, highly corrosive environment. The service will be free of charge. If any bolts are found broken on your vehicle or break during removal and cannot be removed, we will also replace your steering gear, again free of charge. Tesla will contact you to schedule a service appointment when parts become available in your region.”

2016 Tesla Model X
Tesla Model X (2016). | Image: Green Car Reports

If you own a Tesla Model X affected by the recall, there is no immediate steps that you need to take. There have been no reported injuries or collisions that Tesla is aware of – so that probably means that probably no one has experienced power steering bolt failures. This recall is still much smaller than the 123,000 Model S worldwide recall for the same reason in March 2018.

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