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Noise Complaint: Tesla ‘Boombox’ Causes Recall of 595,000 Cars

The ‘Boombox’ feature allows drivers to broadcast audio outside of the vehicle, which federal officials deem dangerous to pedestrians.

Tesla recalled nearly 595,000 vehicles in the U.S. on Thursday — most for a second time. The measure closely follows a smaller-volume recall for a potential airbag malfunction (more on that later).

According to the company, drivers can use the “Boombox” function to play audio through the car’s Pedestrian Warning System (PWS).

As of 2010, the PWS is a federal requirement on all-electric cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported the regulation — which seeks to help keep pedestrians safe near quietly moving electric cars — became law in 2010. It forbids manufacturers from allowing anyone other than an automaker or dealer to modify the audible alert.

Boombox, federal officials found, violated the regulations because drivers can play anything they want through it in certain situations when the car is moving.

Tesla has stated that the new recall will disable a setting that allows Boombox mode when owners “summon” their vehicles at low speeds, the Associated Press reports. An earlier recall issued in February 2022 only disabled Boombox mode while the cars were in drive, neutral, or reverse.

Online software updates will remediate the issue. Drivers will still be able to use the feature when their car is parked.

Tesla includes Boombox as part of its “Toybox” electronics suite.

“Joy to the world!” the company exclaims. “[W]ith a Pedestrian Warning System, delight pedestrians with a variety of sounds from your vehicle’s external speaker while in Park.”

The new recall covers select 2020-2022 Model Y, X, and S vehicles, as well as 2017-2022 Model 3s.


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Airbag Recall

The Boombox announcement follows another safety recall, which the NHTSA reported on April 8. The documents show that Tesla is also poised to recall more than 7,000 Model X SUVs from 2021 and 2022.

The NHTSA reports indicate that the side curtain airbags may not inflate in a crash when the windows are down.

Reporting Information for Affected Customers

Tesla plans to notify affected vehicle owners in early June, and service centers will replace the right and left front-row side airbags. As previously noted, the Boombox fix will occur over the air.

Owners can contact Tesla customer service at +1 (877) 798-3752 to inquire about their vehicle. Note the following reference numbers when calling in.

Tesla Recall Numbers

  • Boombox Recall No.: SB-22-00-003
  • Airbag Recall No.: SB-22-20-003

You can also enter your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the NHTSA’s website to see if your car is affected by any recalls.

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.