2013 Tesla Model S Charging Equipment Recalled


  • 2013 Tesla Model S Picture

    2013 Tesla Model S Picture

    Tesla has issued a recall action over charging concerns in 29,222 2013 Tesla Model S sedans that could pose a potential fire hazard. | January 15, 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Tesla has issued a recall action over charging concerns in 29,222 2013 Tesla Model S sedans that could pose a potential fire hazard, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • "During charging, the adapter, cord or wall outlet could overheat," said NHTSA in its summary of the problem.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that "no Tesla vehicles are being physically recalled by Tesla."

WASHINGTON — Tesla has issued a recall action over charging concerns in 29,222 2013 Tesla Model S sedans that could pose a potential fire hazard, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Tesla is recalling certain model year 2013 Model S vehicles equipped for, and delivered with, certain NEMA 14-50 Universal Mobile Connector adapters," said NHTSA in its summary of the problem. "During charging, the adapter, cord or wall outlet could overheat. An overheated adapter, cord or wall receptacle increases the risk of burn injury and/or fire."

The adapter connects the car's charging plug to a 240-volt household outlet.

In a January 12 letter to NHTSA, Tesla said electrical resistance heating in the adapter or at the interface to the wall socket "may lead to melting of the adapter, cord or wall receptacle and possible electrical arcing that could lead to fire."

Tesla said it has developed an improved NEMA 14-50 adapter "to provide a higher level of assurance to customers in Tesla products."

The California automaker told federal safety regulators that since late 2012, about 2.7 percent of returned adapters showed signs of internal damage only and stopped charging. But more recently, Tesla said it became aware of "several external damage incidents, including a highly publicized event that took place in Irvine, California." The event was a garage fire.

"Initial analysis demonstrated that defective or improperly installed wall receptacles that the NEMA 14-50 adapter plugged into could cause problems including melted adapters and, in a worst-case scenario, fire," Tesla said in its letter to NHTSA.

But Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that "no Tesla vehicles are being physically recalled by Tesla," despite the formal wording of the action by NHTSA, which oversees vehicle recalls in the U.S.

He added: "The word 'recall' needs to be recalled."

Tesla said it will notify Model S owners and provide an "over-the-air" software update. The update allows the Model S onboard charging system to detect any unexpected fluctuations in the input power or higher-resistance connections to the vehicle.

If detected, the onboard charging system will automatically reduce the charging current by 25 percent.

In addition, Tesla will mail owners a replacement NEMA 14-50 adapter that is equipped with an internal thermal fuse.

A date has not been set for the recall. Owners can contact Tesla at (877) 798-3752.

Edmunds says: Tesla owners can verify that they have received the updated software by viewing the vehicle's center information screen. But there is no need to physically take the car in for service.

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