Tesla Recall Disables Boombox Feature, Which Doesn't Meet Pedestrian Safety Standards

The novelty feature, which allows drivers to play sounds and music through external speakers, can obscure mandatory pedestrian warning sounds

Tesla Model 3 Photo: Tesla

Tesla issued a recall and a software update for nearly 595,000 Model S, X, Y, and 3 vehicles because a novelty function may drown out or interrupt pedestrian warning sounds that are required by federal regulations.

The recalled vehicles are equipped with Tesla’s Boombox function, which the automaker’s website advertises as allowing drivers to “delight pedestrians with a variety of sounds from your vehicle’s external speaker.” Tesla’s website also warns drivers that they should check local laws before using this function.

However, since 2018 federal safety regulations have required that hybrid and electric vehicles play warning sounds at low speeds to alert pedestrians to their presence. If the sounds a driver chooses to play through the Tesla’s external speaker do not meet standards set forth by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Boombox feature would be in violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 141.

NHTSA investigated the Boombox feature starting in January 2021—shortly after its debut, according to documents provided by the agency. The automaker and the safety regulator argued over the feature’s compliance for several months until Tesla decided to voluntarily recall the feature in January.

In February, firmware update 2021.43.101.2 prohibited drivers from using the Boombox feature when the vehicle is in Drive, Neutral, or Reverse. A new recall issued on April 12, 2022 includes certain 2022 model year vehicles with Summon or Smart Summon features.

Like other Tesla recalls for faulty heat pumps, cars rolling through stop signs while Full Self-Driving software is active, and seat belt chimes that may not sound, this recall will also be addressed through over-the-air updates, which are becoming more common as new vehicles increasingly feature built-in wireless connections. In addition to Tesla, GM and Mercedes-Benz have previously used over-the-air updates to address product recalls.

The Details

Vehicles recalled: 2020-2022 Tesla Model S sedans, 2020-2022 Model X and Model Y SUVs, and 2017-2022 Tesla Model 3 sedans, including certain 2022 model year vehicles with Summon or Smart Summon that were manufactured before a production change went into effect on March 31, 2022.

The problem: The vehicles’ Boombox feature may be used in violation of federal safety standards around pedestrian warnings.

The fix: An initial software update, sent in February, will disable the Boombox feature when the vehicle is in Drive, Neutral, or Reverse. A new software update will disable Boombox when Summon and Smart Summon are in use. Vehicles with Summon or Smart Summon that already got the February recall will need another software update.

How to contact the manufacturer: Owners may call Tesla at 877-798-3752.

NHTSA campaign number: 22V235. The number for the original recall was 22V063. Tesla’s number for this recall is still SB-22-00-003.

Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.

If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 14, 2022 to include new information from NHTSA and Tesla about a new recall that supersedes the initial recall.

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Head shot photo of CRO Cars CIA editor Keith Barry

Keith Barry

Despite my love for quirky, old European sedans like the Renault Medallion, it's my passion to help others find a safe, reliable car that still puts a smile on their face—even if they're stuck in traffic. When I'm not behind the wheel or the keyboard, you can find me exploring a new city on foot or planning my next trip.