Tesla recalls 363,000 cars to fix ‘self-driving’ issues

Tom Barnard

17 Feb 2023

Tesla has been forced to ‘recall’ almost 363,000 of its cars in the US to update the software which controls the ‘beta’ version of its Full Self Driving (FSD) systems.

FSD is a US$15,000 (£12,500) option in America, and costs £6,800 for a less sophisticated version in the UK. It covers certain Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built between September 2016 and January 2023.

The recall was forced on Tesla by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which said in a statement: “In certain rare circumstances……the feature could potentially infringe upon local traffic laws or customs while executing certain driving manoeuvres…..before some drivers may intervene.” These included turning through intersections when a yellow traffic light was showing, halting at stop signs, adjusting speed while traveling through variable speed zones, and negotiating a lane change to continue traveling straight when there are split lanes.

The NHTSA’s statement continued: “….when a Tesla vehicle is operating……with FSD Beta engaged, certain driving manoeuvres could…..increase the risk of a collision if the driver does not intervene.”


Tesla disagreed with the agency's conclusions but decided to issue a recall "out of an abundance of caution". However, the company’s CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to point out that the use of the wording was not appropriate, saying: “The word “recall” for an over-the-air software update is anachronistic and just flat wrong!” Unlike traditional recalls, where the car is taken to a dealer to be fixed, Tesla customers will find the new software is updated automatically by April 15th.

Last year, Tesla had to issue a similar recall for 54,000 vehicles because the FSD system was reported to let cars drive through stop signs.

The recall covers certain Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built between September 2016 and January 2023

Despite this, Musk claimed that Tesla was “actually quite close to achieving self-driving at a safety level that is better than human” while speaking at a Financial Times event last year.

Reacting to the latest recall news, U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey and Richard Blumenthal issued a joint statement saying: “We have long warned that there are critical flaws with Tesla’s software, including the rolling stops feature, which puts the public at grave risk. While a critical step, this recall is long overdue and was clearly needed, as we explained when we raised alarm about Tesla’s features. We strongly urge NHTSA to swiftly require recalls for safety risks it finds during its ongoing investigations, and Tesla must finally stop overstating the real capabilities of its vehicles.”

News of the latest recall comes after a turbulent time for Tesla’s FSD. The boss of the team in charge of the programme, Andrej Karpathy, left last year and the company was fighting claims this week that it had fired employees from the department for trying to form a union. The claims were strenuously denied by Tesla, who said the staff were fired for poor performance.

Ginny won't be able to let the car do the driving just yet

Tesla Recall Q&A 

What is the Tesla recall for? 

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concerns about the ability of Tesla’s FSD system to cope with certain road situations, which it thinks could be dangerous if the driver doesn’t intervene in time. 

How many cars does the Tesla recall affect? 

Almost 363,000 cars in US with the ‘beta’ version of Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) systems. It covers certain Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built between September 2016 and January 2023. 

Does the Tesla recall affect cars in the UK? 

Not directly, no. As the UK (and Europe) have stricter rules around autonomous driving technology, the FSD option here is much less sophisticated in its abilities. 

How long before Tesla’s FSD is offered in the UK? 

Much of this will depend on legislators, but Tesla claims it is almost ready. In a Tweet, Elon Musk said: “v11.3 (single stack) goes to limited beta this week. Probably 11.3.2 before wide release in North America. Then we adapt for EU roads & submit to regulators. 90% of what we’ve done so far for NA applies WW [worldwide].” 

How does the Tesla recall work? 

As part of the official process, all of the owners have to be notified by the middle of April, but the cars will receive the software update over the air for free, with no visit to a dealer being necessary.​

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