Tesla malfunctions: From recalls to car fires, a look back at Tesla’s 2022 woes

A row of Tesla Motors Model S electric sedans are shown during a demonstration on Oct. 31 at Crissy Field in San Francisco. Tesla Motors, the California-based maker of the Model S electric sedan, has completed the West Coast Supercharger route enabling Tesla owners to travel free between San Diego and Vancouver, BC. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) Eric Risberg

Tesla malfunctions: From recalls to car fires, a look back at Tesla’s 2022 woes

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This year started with some difficulty for the electric car maker Tesla, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announcing in February that it launched an investigation into more than 400,000 Teslas after receiving 354 complaints about phantom braking.

Its investigation, which would later grow to eight total investigations, resulted in 14 recalls for Tesla’s latest 2021 Model Y and 13 recalls for its 2021 Model 3. Combined, the two models received nearly 1,000 complaints stemming from the tail lights not working, the windows pinching passengers, and the seat belts being incorrectly reassembled.

Green Hills Software CEO Dan O’Dowd went on to announce his California Senate bid as a Democrat in April, citing Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the announcement, promising to engage Musk’s “reckless deployment of unsafe Tesla Full Self-Driving cars on our roads.”

O’Dowd referenced a study that said a self-driving car is involved in a traffic citation-worthy error every eight minutes. It referred to Tesla’s fully self-driving cars as “software at its most dangerous.” He ultimately lost the race in the primary election, with only about 1% of the vote.


Musk hasn’t slowed down his self-driving software, instead announcing in November that the 11th version of the Full Self-Driving software was completed. This latest version, which allows for more capabilities for autonomous driving than its previous iterations, is expected to be available in all of Tesla’s 2023 models.

Tesla-involved crashes occasionally evolved into fires, which are notoriously difficult to put out, according to paramedic and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Capt. Parker Wilbourn. In his first firefight against the electric vehicle, it took 4,500 gallons of water to extinguish.

Tesla is clear in its emergency response guide that a fire could require anywhere between 3,000 to 8,000 gallons of water to extinguish. In reality, it is more like 20,000 gallons, according to Wilbourn’s conversations with other fire representatives who have extinguished Tesla-involved fires.

However, the 2023 Model 3 will continue to produce its engine without a cooling system, going as far as removing the grill from the exterior, which previously allowed for ventilation. A website dedicated to Tesla fires found 143 cases, 44 of which resulted in fatalities, in 2022 alone.

Some Tesla owners went viral on social media by going public with issues they had with their cars. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia actor Glenn Howerton complained about his faulty Tesla in a rant on his podcast, sharing a story about having to leave his car in a Los Angeles parking garage overnight because the car’s keyless entry system and key fob were malfunctioning.

Howerton had been a Tesla customer for 10 years but vowed never to buy another again. TikTok user Mario Zelaya garnered 34,000 followers after he made a similar commitment. Zelaya documented his 2013 Series S battery dying after only 75,000 miles on the odometer.

Despite the mishaps, business magnate Warren Buffett lauded the electric car company for its successes in the 12th year since its initial public offering.

“Elon is taking on General Motors, Ford, Toyota, all these people, who’ve got all this stuff, and he’s got an idea,” Buffett said. “And he’s winning. That’s America. You can’t dream it up. It’s astounding.”


Tesla did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s requests for comment.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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