Tesla recalls 90,000 Model S cars due to single faulty seatbelt

A photo taken at the Tesla Motors Model S delivery ceremony event.
A Tesla Model S nears the end of the production line.

Tesla Motors is recalling its entire Model S fleet after a broken seat belt was discovered by a European owner in one of the models earlier this month.

The electric car company has issued a worldwide voluntary recall to every one of its Model S sedans on the road, a precaution taken due to the single report from Europe that a seatbelt wasn’t assembled properly.

The European owner of the Model S sedan discovered the faulty seatbelt after the person sitting in the front passenger seat turned to talk to other passengers in the rear seats, and their seatbelt became disconnected.

Tesla said the vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries, but stated that “however, in the event of a crash, a seatbelt in this condition would not provide full protection.”

In reaction to the discovery of the faulty seatbelt, Tesla sent an email to all 90,000 Model S owners worldwide urging them to visit one of the company’s service centres for a safety inspection.

Tesla said it had not found the same seatbelt problem in any of the 3000 vehicles it has inspected, but despite this assurance the mass recall was conducted as a “proactive and cautionary measure”.

The 90,000 vehicle recall is the largest undertaken by Tesla, which last called back the Model S in January 2014 when the company discovered that faulty home wiring could cause its chargers to overheat and cause a fire.

To prevent this problem, Tesla installed a battery shield on the Model S in 2014 but didn’t issue a formal recall.

Model S seatbelt issue explained

In regards to the faulty seatbelt found in Europe, Tesla said in an official statement that “a bolt that connects the outboard lap pretensioner, which pulls the seatbelt tight in the event of an accident, wasn’t assembled properly.”

Tesla were taking no chances by undertaking the massive recall of its Model S sedans.

“We expect the vast majority of seat belts to be fine, but out of an abundance of caution, we want to take a look,” a Tesla spokesman said.

“This is above and beyond what is traditional in the industry, but everyone from Elon Musk (Tesla CEO) on down agrees  that the fact this appeared on even a single vehicle is unacceptable to Tesla.”

Tesla has taken its own lead in regards to its recall announcement, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was notified of the Europe incident, but didn’t order Tesla to issue a recall as the company had done it themselves.

The conviction of Tesla to issue a recall as a result of just one incident goes against the grain of the auto industry.

While vehicle recalls are extremely common, it sometimes takes hundreds of complaints for other car companies to be prompted into action.

Tesla’s joins fellow car companies such as Hyundai and Toyota in having to recently recall problem models.

Hyundai had to recently recall 304,900 Sonatas to fix a problem with the brake lights, while Toyota recalled more than 30,000 Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Lexus ES350 and ES300h  vehicles because the collision avoidance system can wrongly activate when the radar picks up a steel joint or plate in the roadway and can slam on the brakes.

And Ford this week announced it is recalling nearly 452,000 midsize cars because of a potential fuel tank leak. The recall covers certain 2010 to 2011 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans built in Mexico from July 21, 2008 through March 4, 2011.