Tesla Model S Fire: Recall Issue or Lemon?

Battery Fire Issues

The Washington Post recently reported that a San Ramon couple's Tesla Model S sedan might be responsible for a garage fire that destroyed a substantial portion of their home. According to the fire inspector, the fire potentially started because of the thermal management system in one of the homeowner's two Model S's.

This fire is the latest in a series of electric vehicle battery fires that have been reported in the news, raising concerns among consumers. For example, GM recently recalled several models of the Chevy Bolt EV, and Hyundai recalled the Kona EV in March. While electric vehicle fires are less common than those in gas-powered vehicles, battery fires are particularly difficult to deal with because they tend to burn longer and hotter. According to Tesla's own Model S Emergency Response Guide, a battery fire can take up to 24 hours to extinguish and fully cool. There is also a possibility of reignition.

According to research completed by the Washington Post, numerous fires have been reported by Tesla owners, and the Washington Post alone "documented at least five fires involving the Model S." There have been several other high profile fire issues with Tesla vehicles. Despite these recent issues with battery fires, Tesla's overall safety ratings as a manufacturer remain high.

Tesla's Vehicle Recall History

You may be wondering if these battery fires have resulted in a recall of Tesla vehicles or the Model S specifically. While Tesla has issued recalls for various issues with their vehicles, currently, there are no battery recalls directly related to battery fires. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Tesla's battery management system.

Recent Tesla recalls and safety updates include those for:

  • Model S steering assist motor bolts
  • Electronic parking brakes
  • Model S airbag inflators
  • Charging adaptors

To view Tesla's full list of current recalls, visit their website here.

Tesla's Class-Action Lawsuit Over Battery Throttling

Recently, Tesla agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over a software update that reduced charging capacity and range for certain Model S vehicles through battery throttling (reducing maximum battery voltage). This software update was problematic because it reduced vehicle performance, impacting battery charging speeds and the vehicle's range.

The battery throttling started in May 2019 and was ended with a subsequent update in March 2020. While most vehicles' full battery charging capacity has been restored, 57 cars received battery replacements, and a few are still in the process of being restored.

This settlement is meant to cover:

  • Attorney fees & associated costs
  • A $625 payment to vehicle owners

What to Do If Your Tesla Is a Lemon

Despite recalls and repair efforts, there are situations in which a car is just a vehicle. Tesla is not immune to this. If you are having issues with your Tesla and it is still under its original manufacturer's warranty, you may be entitled to a refund or a replacement from Tesla. Reach out to the attorneys at Norman Taylor & Associates to find out if you are eligible to file a Lemon Law claim.

Review our blog to learn more about filing a Lemon Law or breach of warranty claim in California.