Silent seatbelt chimes cause Tesla to issue recall for 817,143 cars

Enlarge / South Korean safety researchers discovered a bug that can prevent a Tesla’s seatbelt chimes from chiming.

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Tesla has issued a new recall this week. On Tuesday it notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that some new Models S and X, as well as potentially any Models 3 or Y, might not sound the required chimes if the vehicle starts and the driver is not buckled up. The problem affects 817,143 vehicles and will be fixed by a software update.

Federal motor vehicle safety standards require that our cars make an annoying noise if they are started by a driver who is not wearing a seat belt.

However, according to the NHTSA Part 573 Safety Recall Report, if “the chime was interrupted in the preceding drive cycle and the seat belt was not buckled subsequent to that interruption (e.g., the driver exited the vehicle in the preceding drive cycle while the chime was active and later returned to the vehicle, creating a new drive cycle),” then the chime won’t sound.

The safety recall report notes that this does not prevent the chime from chiming if the vehicle is traveling faster than 13.7 mph (22 km/h) with an unbuckled driver.

Interestingly, according to the safety recall report submitted by Tesla to NHTSA this week, the bug was discovered by the South Korea Automobile Testing & Research Institute, which notified the carmaker of its findings at the beginning of January. Tesla confirmed those findings and made the decision to initiate the recall shortly thereafter.

As with the fix to prevent some Teslas from deciding to run stop signs, the remedy for this bug is a software update. Tesla has already rolled out the fix to Models 3, Y, S, and X on its production lines, and in February it will send out an OTA update for vehicles already on the road.

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