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PSA: If you have a pre-2016 Model S, Get the Steering Recall Work Done

Had my 2015 Model S towed to the service center last night after the power steering died about 15 minutes away from the house. It was terrifying right at the moment that it happened, and it took a lot of muscle to get it home. Decided to call for a tow instead of muscling it to the SC.

This morning, the service center calls and said "this should only take an hour, there was a recall about this. Not sure why you weren't notified before." Apparently the grounding bolt corrodes and the power steering becomes electrically disconnected. After speaking with him I googled it and sure enough, there was a recall for this. Tesla issues a voluntary recall for power-steering bolts in all 123,000 pre-April 2016 Model S vehicles

Mine is still under warranty for another 1.5 years thanks to the 4 year warranty when I bought it in 2019, so nothing out of pocket. But sure was frustrating to have to deal with this when Tesla knew about it. Even more frustrating that my car has been at the service center a couple times in the past couple years; they could have done it at any time when it was there. Maybe the recall came out a few months before I owned the car, but still- you'd think they would tie it to the VIN and just perform the work the next time it shows up at an SC.

Anyway, if you have a pre-2016 Model S, go get this recall done as it sure beats driving off the road if your power steering dies unexpectedly in the middle of a turn.
 

GazMav

Member
May 19, 2021
61
33
UK
Same thing happened with Land Rover as Tesla used their rack (flipped backwards).
The bolts corrode due to mixing of different metals, easy enough to swap the bolts yourself if for some reason Tesla won't do it.
There is a massive thread on here about it.
 

David29

Active Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
2,418
2,071
DEDHAM, MA
As I recall, the recall letter I got way back when said that the cars subject to the recall were those in climates where road salt was used, which could promote the corrosion. So, at least initially, it may not have been issued to all owners in the affected years.
In my case, my car had a failure exactly as you describe, before my car was called in for repair, despite being eligible due to both the vintage and my location. Parts not coming in fast enough or something. But like you, mine was repaired under warranty, and since it was "back in the day," I got a nice Model S loaner so I did not mind that the car had to sit for a week or more, waiting for parts. I was lucky that the abrupt failure occurred just down the street from my house, so I could walk home after wrestling the thing to the curb. I'd have hated to deal with that kind of failure far from home...never saw so many warning lights come on at once, scary!
 
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I remember when that recall occurred, we actually were contacted by Tesla to bring our cars to a nearby parking lot where they spent a couple of minutes inspecting them for potential corrosion, it was sort of a "Tesla party/meet up" it was a Saturday morning and in those days there were probably less than 100 Teslas in all of Tucson, I can't recall how they contacted us, but I think it was by phone a few days prior to the event. Also, in those days Tucson had no service center, all work was either done by the rangers or you had to go to Scottsdale for service. It's quite a different company now
 
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David29

Active Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
2,418
2,071
DEDHAM, MA
I remember when that recall occurred, we actually were contacted by Tesla to bring our cars to a nearby parking lot where they spent a couple of minutes inspecting them for potential corrosion, it was sort of a "Tesla party/meet up" it was a Saturday morning and in those days there were probably less than 100 Teslas in all of Tucson, I can't recall how they contacted us, but I think it was by phone a few days prior to the event. Also, in those days Tucson had no service center, all work was either done by the rangers or you had to go to Scottsdale for service. It's quite a different company now
Again going by memory, so possibly inaccurate -- If I recall, their original recall notice said they would replace just the parts (bolts or screws) that had been supplied in the wrong material and were prone to corrosion, so a quick parking lot check might have sufficed to find those. But in my case, and apparently in the OP's, once the bolts failed, the rack suffered substantial damage that required replacement of the entire rack.
 
Again going by memory, so possibly inaccurate -- If I recall, their original recall notice said they would replace just the parts (bolts or screws) that had been supplied in the wrong material and were prone to corrosion, so a quick parking lot check might have sufficed to find those. But in my case, and apparently in the OP's, once the bolts failed, the rack suffered substantial damage that required replacement of the entire rack.
Actually somehow mine wasn't so bad- the bolt corroded causing the ground wire to become disconnected, so the power steering stopped assisting. But in my case, luckily, the rack mechanically stayed intact so they were able to just replace the broken bolt and everything came back to life.

I think it's a matter of luck as to which bolt snaps first- if it was one of the bolts performing a mechanical function, instead of just holding the ground wire on, it could have been much worse in my case.
 

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