2021 Tesla Model 3: 11 recalls, 4 investigations and 357 consumer complaints – NHTSA

Hundreds of 2021 Tesla Model 3 owners are complaining to federal safety regulators about glitches in the forward collision avoidance system or sudden braking.

Indeed, there are 11 recalls, 357 complaints and four investigations for the 2021 Tesla Model 3, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The majority of the complaints involve a dangerous issue known as phantom braking or sudden deceleration. It appears to happen while the vehicle is on Tesla Autopilot or cruise control. The system is designed to avoid forward collisions. The auto-pilot feature is meant to stop the car if there is a hazard or another motorist in the way, but it’s doing it when there is no threat at all, owners say.

Those experiencing the sudden braking, now fear they will be rear-ended. One driver told the NHTSA that their Tesla Model 3 suddenly braked as a large truck traveling in the opposite direction passed them on a two-lane roadway. Others say there is nothing ahead of them when it happens. Some have deactivated the system to prevent it from happening. Some drivers noticed it happened as they crested a hill with no vehicles visible or drove underneath an overpass with slower-moving traffic.

Tesla first learned about the issue in fall 2021. It rolled back version 10.3 of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software due to forward collision warnings and unexpected braking. But unfortunately, it got even worse and the NHTSA got even more complaints from owners, according to the Washington Post.

The issue began surfacing after Tesla modified its Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) safety features in the 2021 Model 3. The new Tesla Vision technology changed from using radar sensors to reliance only on its camera technology. These Tesla vehicles come equipped with eight surround-view cameras. They are supposed to provide a 360 degrees view around the car and have up to 250 meters of range. Additionally, there are a dozen ultrasonic sensors that detect objects around the vehicle.

Blind Spot Camera

This feature comes standard on the Tesla Model 3. It also activates automatically when the turn-signal is active on the appropriate side and the camera feed from each side appears on the center screen. However, since the side turn-signal is mounted right above the same blind-spot cameras, the light from the turn-signal often ‘bleeds’ into the camera feed. It is confusing and difficult to determine if the appropriate lane is clear. The situation can be especially problematic at night.

Tesla Model 3 Has No Metal Key

Unlike most vehicles, Tesla Model 3 does not have a key to open the doors. Owners use an app to connect to the Bluetooth in the car to open the doors. If a person’s phone is dead and they don’t have a Tesla key card with them, they can potentially get locked out of their vehicle. Certainly, a driver could borrow another person’s phone and download the app, log into their account and open the doors. A person could also call roadside assistance for help.

Console Screen

There are owner complaints that without warning, the main screen on the center console has frozen and all electronic functions of the car stopped. This can happen at freeway speeds and render the turn signals non-operational. One owner says they could not get the vehicle into park so they could not perform a manual reboot. However, after about ten minutes, the screen rebooted itself. Similar to the phantom braking, the driver is put in a dangerous situation that could lead to a collision.

Driver’s Seat Profile

The Tesla Model 3 features a driver’s seat profile that automatically stores a person’s seat configuration. However, some owners say the seat adjusted to another driver’s profile while driving.

Tesla Searching for Charging Station

Additionally, some drivers say their center display began searching for a charging station while the vehicle was fully charged.


The high and low beam headlights may stop functioning. Tesla service technicians have informed motorists that their vehicle just needs a software update. However, owners say it only temporarily alleviates the problem and have asked Tesla to replace the unit completely. These are not standard headlights and therefore it’s difficult for a consumer replace them. Most certainly, this could be a safety risk if the headlights go out.

California Lemon Law Attorney James Johnson

Did you purchase a Tesla Model 3 or any vehicle with a major safety issue? If so, you may need help. Also, vehicles in the shop for 30 days or more may have a cause for legal action.

California Lemon Law Attorney James Johnson will review your case and let you know if it qualifies as a lemon.

Also, we recommend that you obtain an invoice for all repairs and recall visits from the dealership. These documents will support your potential case. Should the vehicle experience repeated issues or become a safety risk, these documents support the Lemon Law Claim. Contact us for a free case review at 1-800-235-6801.

James Johnson ESQ