Tesla has been asked to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over an issue with failing touchscreens, which could increase the risk of crashes.
The problem involves the memory chips used in the displays of cars made between 2012 and 2018, which wear out, causing the screen to stop working.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent Tesla a formal letter requesting the recall.
It has until 27 January to respond.
Tesla has implemented some over-the-air updates to mitigate some of the issues – but the NHTSA said they were insufficient to address it concerns.
It said the failure of the media-console units (MCU) was “a defect related to motor-vehicle safety” because of a range of safety issues, including:
the loss of rear-view camera images and controls for heating, air conditioning and defrosting
the potential loss of audible chimes and alerts associated with indicators and the driver-assistance Autopilot feature
And it requested “Tesla initiate a recall to notify all owners, purchasers and dealers of the subject vehicles of this safety defect and provide a remedy”.
The cars in question – Model S sedans built between 2012 and 2018 as well as Model X SUVs from 2016 to 2018 – are fitted with a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor with an integrated flash memory device.
Part of the storage is used every time the vehicle is started.
And when capacity is reached, the MCU will fail.
All MCUs fitted with this chip will eventually stop working, with most having a lifespan of 10 years.
The NHTSA opened an investigation into the vehicles in June, considering information provided by Tesla and consumers.
Included in it were complaints Tesla required owners to pay to replace the units once warranties expired.