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[flagged] Tesla recalls 53,000 cars over brake issue (bbc.com)
48 points by 101km on Apr 21, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

I...okay, that headline is just bad.

Core issue: "A small gear may be defective in some cars; you should come into the service center and get it checked. If it breaks, you may be unable to disengage the parking brake."

Headline: "Massive recall over brake issue!"

It's not technically wrong. But it misleads more than it informs.

I don't think you could write the headline any less sensational and more informative. Tesla has to repair 53.000 cars, this is in itself newsworthy as it becomes clear that they are struggling with the same issues as any other car manufacturer and it should be a challenge to their operational logistics.

Sure you could, just add "parking" before "brake." A brake issue is serious when it prevents a car from stopping -- not so much when it keeps a car stopped.

> Tesla has to repair 53.000 cars, this is in itself newsworthy

You're right, that would be very newsworthy! Of course, it's not true, which I think rather supports my point about the headline.

(If you read the article, the number of repairs needed is actually only ~1k, because only 2% of the 53k cars actually has a faulty gear that needs replacement. The recall is for 53k cars because they don't know which 2% has the issue, so the headline is technically true, but there's a big difference between "Tesla shipped 53k defective cars" and "Tesla shipped 1k defective cars". The former is much more newsworthy! But also false.)

Until I read the parent comment, I was thinking that the issue was with cars being unable to stop. The omission of “parking” from the headline is not an accident.

"Tesla Recommends Parking Break Update"

I would hope that the BBC had better spelling than that!

Haha yes... I'll leave editing for others amusement.

No. It's false. Tesla has to repair the 2% of 53k car produced (that is ~1k) for a minor problem that if occurs can make the car stuck with the parking brake engaged. Reading just the headline everyone would think that the owners of 53k are in immediate danger because the brakes are broken. If you still can't see the humongous difference then I have no idea what else to say.

Except if they wrote a good headline, it would not be upvoted to the front page. Such is the value system we have created.

What? It's "Tesla recalls 53,000 cars over brake issue" which is the same as the headline on the HN post.

I'm pretty used to the Tesla/Elon sycophants on HN (and Reddit and Twitter for that matter) but fabricating a headline to knock down is pretty brazen.

The BBC headline is sensationalist and deserves being critiqued for being click-bait. Makes it sound like tens of thousands of people could potentially drive around with not-working brakes, while the actual issue is pretty minor and just related to the parking brake.

> fabricating a headline to knock down is pretty brazen.

Parent's "quote" was just a paraphrase. Calling it a fabrication is a bit much, don't you think?

Anyway, it deserves a knock down, IMO, because the first instinct when reading it is that there is an issue with the breaks that people most commonly use. Using the parking break isn't nearly as common or frequent as the regular breaks. Simply adding "parking" into the headline would have made it far less sensational and far more accurate.

In my experience journalists often have the headline they WANT to write in their head prior to the unfolding of the real story.

To the contrary, I think journalists often only get to advise on the headline, and the editors then choose/override one to their liking.

A very sensational title. One of their suppliers F'ed up, and now Tesla needs to check and replace a small part in some of their cars. All that's required is a visit to a service centre. Doesn't seem like a big deal.

This can be said about any problem in any car, "one of their suppliers f'ed up" because most things in a car are manufactured by suppliers today. Car manufacturers only assemble sub systems from 3rd parties.

How comes if Ford f'ed up, it's Ford. If Toyota f'ed up, it's Toyota. If Tesla f'ed up (doors, brakes) it's a supplier?

Ford and Toyota have recalls on this scale and of this severity every couple months, and nobody notices. Tesla deserves a defence here because if it were any other automaker, the story wouldn't be "ford f'ed up", it wouldn't be news at all.

As a fun example, my ford was recalled last year because the windshield wipers might be flammable. Did you read about that in the news?

Tesla doesn't have anywhere near the scale, history or number of product lines to make this a valid comparison.

People have been more tolerant of Tesla issues because of attachment to the mission/Elon and their role as early adopters. Now as Tesla moves toward the mainstream greater scrutiny, such as recall notices, should be given to them.

If the issue were the brakes not engaging, sure, I'd blame Tesla. When the issue is "the parking brake may not disengage and then you'll have to call AAA and your ice cream will melt," I'm okay with blaming the supplier.

Tesla is still responsible for picking the right supplier & some degree of quality control even on components they didn't manufacture themselves. Perfectly OK to hold them responsible as well.

I've seen a v-long once from a guy in UK whose breaks had this problem (in retrospect) and he couldn't move his car outside of the parking area; they couldn't even tow it at first, because the towing company didn't know how to get an immovable object out of its space.

Granted, from what I understand Tesla paid for everything and fixed his car; it's only his time that was spent on this, but every car breaks down at some point too.

Oh, and they were able to eventually move his car by elevating it onto a set of rolling beds, and then rolling it onto a truck that way. It looked pretty funny :)

> All that's required is a visit to a service centre. Doesn't seem like a big deal.

This is probably true for now when the Teslas in production are mostly in the hands of people who can work out time and have a job secure enough to allow for that kind of thing.

Tesla keeps having issues like this - and if they don't fix it by the time the Model 3 hits, this kind of thing could be their killer. They're basically throwing money at the problem right now - and I could be wrong, but that probably won't scale so well. They really need to up the ante on their quality control.

EDIT: Wow, some serious Tesla fan boys around here... should have expected that I guess.

Very true, but we're talking about here and now, and given the near-future, and not the time when Tesla hits a billion cars on the road. It's a good concern though, and I am sure they are well aware.

Anecdotally, our Camry broke down today, and sucked up hours of our time, and still isn't fixed. No magical genie appeared to take it to service for me, so time sucked up on my end is just as much as any other service. At least Tesla requires virtually no maintenance, outside of occasional bugs and tires.

Well, I think the parent comment was more about the relatievly limited number of certified repair centers that Tesla has and the numerous stories about extremely long delays for repairs and part shipping that have been covered in major news and media. No one is expecting it to be fixed immediately without having to go to a service center, but the idea of 50,000+ Tesla cars having to suddenly go in for service when service centers are limited and have a history of slow repair times certainly would give me pause too - the difference between your Camry and a Tesla is that you could take your Camry to any of dozens of service centers or mechanics in your area. Even rural towns will likely have multiple garages that can work on most vehicles. This isn't the case with Tesla, even in heavily populated areas.

> I could be wrong, but that probably won't scale so well.

This is an extremely common, routine even, thing that happens in the automotive industry. Every make and model of car has recalls from time to time, for issues just as minor as this. It scales.

Most of those manufacturers don't have to ship a car out-of-country to get it serviced though. Which - at least in my country is what Tesla has been doing.

Ok, that wouldn’t scale at all! But I imagine that if sales of that car increase in your country, then Tesla would build a service center there to save money. At this (small) scale, it’s probably cheaper to ship and fix than it is to staff up a service center.

Are they planning to build out a full dealership network for their more consumer oriented stuff or are they still sticking with their direct-to-consumer model?

I don’t know the answer to that. All signs point toward maintaining the direct-to-consumer model. But that doesn’t preclude them building out a service-center network. The sales can be direct, but the service can be local.

Regarding your edit. I imagine the downvotes are in response to the hand-wringing statement about people who don’t have secure jobs being unable to get their cars fixed. This isn’t different from any other car that gets recalled. And recalls happen all the time across the industry.

If you have to go without your car for several days at a time - unlike other manufacturers - that's common for Tesla right now, that'd be a bigger problem for people who don't have access to a car otherwise. Or for Tesla to buy everyone rentals every time a situation like that happens.

Just speaking based on 3rd party hearings about Tesla service.

Details surrounding the issue in question:

In a statement the firm said the electric parking brakes installed on Model S and Model X "may contain a small gear that could have been manufactured improperly by our third-party supplier".

If the gear were to break, the parking brake would continue to keep the car from moving, but the parking brake would be stuck in place, it added.

So this is a matter of brakes being unable to be _disengaged_ from standing rather than engaged at speed?

Yup, and specifically the _parking_ brake not the normal brakes used when driving.

But now all the people using their parking brake while moving will be performing a possibly unsafe action!

The thing I haven't figured out yet is whether this is the brake engaged when you shift an automatic transmission into park, or if it is the emergency brake. If the latter, I'm not sure what the big deal is, since you should almost never use the e-brake.

It's the parking brake, not the transmission in park.

Though commonly called an e-brake, the parking brake is actually intended to be used when parking, especially when parking on a hill.


Ah, I see. I was always taught not to use the parking brake. If not used regularly, it has a tendency to seize up, particularly in cold conditions. On all but the steepest slopes, park in an automatic is sufficient. With a manual transmission, I'd either put it in gear in 1st or reverse, depending on the orientation.

IIRC Teslas only have a simple single gear transmission, so I suspect the parking brake is mechanically more similar to the e-brake on a car with an automatic transmission.

> The electric car maker said about 2% of the 53,000 vehicles built from February to October 2016 were affected, but all of those cars are being recalled

That's 1,060 cars altogether are affected.

That's misleading. All 53,000 vehicles need to be inspected, but Tesla expects ~1000 vehicles to have problem.

Source: I received recall notice.

They know the size of the affected batch (translated: their supplier knows), but have to recall nearly a year of production because they have absolutely no idea which cars the parts ended up in? Sound kind of disorganized, good luck at scaling.

That's more than they produce in a year, right?

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