The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has asked Tesla to recall nearly 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over failing display consoles.
The agency is investigating a potential safety-related defect concerning incidents of media control unit (MCU) failures resulting in loss of rearview camera and other safety related vehicle functions in certain Tesla models.
It has found that the problem lies with worn-out flash memory chips used in the displays of 2012-2018 Model S sedans and 2016-2018 Model X SUVs.
"Part of this 8GB storage capacity is used each time the vehicle is started. The eMMC NAND cell hardware fails when the storage capacity is reached, resulting in failure of the MCU," the agency said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Specifically, failure of the MCU results in loss of the rearview/backup camera and loss of HVAC (defogging and defrosting setting controls.
"The failure also has an adverse impact on the Autopilot advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), as well as turn signal functionality due to the possible loss of audible chimes, driver sensing, and alerts associated with these vehicle functions," the NHTSA wrote in a letter to Tesla.
The NHTSA opened a formal investigation into the problem in June last year.
Tesla confirmed to the agency that all units with this chip "will inevitably fail".
The US agency has now asked Tesla to initiate a recall to notify all owners, purchasers, and dealers of the subject vehicles of this safety defect and provide a remedy.