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Tesla Recalling Virtually All Cybertrucks Because Sticky Pedals Could Cause Runaway Acceleration

by | April 19, 2024

Tesla on Friday ordered the recall of nearly all of its Cybertrucks because their throttle pedals could stick when fully depressed, leading to potential runaway acceleration. The recall comes about three weeks after the automaker first received notice of the defect which, so far, has not been blamed for any crashes.

Musk and First Tesla Cybertruck Buyer

Tesla CEO Elon Musk handed over the keys to the first dozen Cybertrucks during a ceremony last month.

In all, about 3,878 of Tesla’s new Cybertrucks will need to go in for repairs. The recall order covers versions of the electric pickup built between November 13, 2023 – when saleable production began at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Texas – and April 4,2024. That covers the vast majority of the Cybertrucks produced to date.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the problem is that the accelerator pedals on these Cybertrucks could partially dislodge “when high force is applied,: If that were to happen, the pedal could “become trapped in the interior trim” on the underside of the instrument panel. If that were to happen it might become difficult for a motorist to readily slow the truck down.

Wrong lubricant

The problem was first reported on March 31, 2024, with a second owner filing a report days later. It quickly became a topic of concern highlighted on social media and in Tesla discussion group. The automaker subsequential began an investigation while NHTSA also began looking into the problem.

Tesla Giga Austin pre-production Oct. 2021

The problem was caused by the use of soap as a lubricant on the accelerator assembly during production at Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory.

The safety agency determined that the problem was the result of “an unapproved change (which) introduced lubricant (soap) to aid in the component assembly of the pad onto the accelerator pedal.” As a result, “Residual lubricant reduced the retention of the pad to the pedal.

Tesla said that it so far knows of no “collisions, injuries or deaths” caused by the accelerator pedal defect.

Unintended acceleration

The Texas-based EV manufacturer is the latest in a list of manufacturers linked to sticky throttles that could cause vehicles to accelerate uncontrollably. In the 1980s, sales of Audis all but collapsed following reports – including one on the CBS 60 Minutes news magazine – claiming its 5000 sedan suffered from “unintended acceleration.” The automaker ultimately was cleared by federal investigators, the vast majority of incidents determined to be caused by driver error. Audi still made changes to reduce such risks but it took years to regain its sales momentum.

Toyota’s premium Lexus brand also faced claims of sticky throttles and some technical issues did need to be resolved though, again, most of the claims were the result of driver error, NHTSA ruled.

It is unclear just how often the new Cybertruck is experiencing problems with its throttle though relatively few of the vehicles are yet on the road, Tesla only speeding up production.

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Cybertruck troubles

Tesla CEO Musk at semi delivery event

Tesla CEO Elon Musk lost his perch as the world’s richest man when the pay package was overturned by a Delaware judge.

The new recall adds to the troubles Tesla has faced since even before it delivered the first Cybertruck to a retail customer last November.

There have been numerous reports of trouble, among other things, owners claiming Cybertruck can readily get trapped when driven on snow or sand. That’s been embarrassing for a vehicle that Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed would be able to survive “the apocalypse.”

There have been some owner reports of rust appearing on the truck’s stainless steel body, while other buyers have complained about the challenges of keeping Cybertruck clean and smudge free. Meanwhile, some owners have reported having their vehicles fail when taken through carwashes. Tesla requires drivers to activate a special carwash mode.

A bad moment for Tesla

The electric pickup’s problems come at a tough time for Tesla, in general. The company just began a round of cutbacks that will result in the elimination of 10% of its worldwide workforce.

Tesla’s stock, traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker TSLA, has also been struggling in recent months, a situation worsened by first-quarter sales that fell short of the consensus Wall Street forecast.

At the same time, Tesla is asking shareholders to give their approval – again – to a $56 billion pay package for CEO Musk. In January, a Delaware court threw the deal out as a result of a dissident shareholder’s lawsuit. The Tesla board of directors is also asking investors to approve moving the company’s legal base to Texas, where it is considered less likely to face such legal problems.

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