Tesla issues Model S and Model X airbag recall that has implications for owners with aftermarket yokes

Tesla has issued a new recall for the Model S and Model X over concerns they may have had the incorrect type of airbag installed during a steering wheel retrofit. While the recall impacts just 159 units of the 2021 to 2023 Model S/X, it is also a reminder of the safety concerns with adding an aftermarket yoke steering wheel to your Tesla.

According to the recall document posted to the NHTSA website, which you can find below, the problem stems from when retrofitting round steering wheels with yoke steering wheels or vice versa. In some of these instances the incorrect airbag was installed.

Tesla became aware of the issue on October 9, 2023 after identifying instances where round steering wheels were retrofitted with yoke steering wheels without the corresponding driver airbag variant. An engineering study initiated on October 11, 2023, expanded to include 10 vehicles in the US. By October 27, a voluntary decision was made to recall certain vehicles that underwent steering wheel retrofits.

The safety concern lies in the potential decrease in airbag performance during deployment, heightening the risk of injury in a collision. As of November 3, 2023, no injuries or deaths related to this issue have been reported.

If your vehicle is part of the recall you will have to visit a Tesla Service Center, or schedule a Mobile Service Appointment to have a free inspection performed, with a replacement of the incorrect airbag free of charge.

The recall only impacts a small number of Model S and Model X vehicles, but it also has implications if you are a Tesla owner that has added an aftermarket yoke steering wheel. You might be saying to yourself an airbag is an airbag, but this recall shows it is not. In the case of the round steering wheel, the airbag is designed in a way to have the upper section of the steering wheel support it when deployed. Since a yoke doesn’t have an upper section, the airbag had to be specifically designed to prevent it from collapsing over the top part of the yoke and still provide the same level of safety and support.

By adding an aftermarket yoke and simply using the airbag from your round steering wheel, you are potentially placing yourself in danger during an accident. This may also lead to complications when dealing with insurance if they notice you have an aftermarket yoke.

Do you have an aftermarket yoke? Does this recall change your mind about using it? Let us know in the comments below.

Here is the full NHTSA recall document. No similar recall has been posted by Transport Canada.

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