Tesla’s latest screwup involves making the font size of its braking system too small

Tesla Model 3 screen
Image: Umar Shakir / The Verge

Tesla’s latest massive recall is a weird one. It’s not about reported problems with sudden braking or driver monitoring alerts or seat belts. Nope, this one is all about font size.

It turns out that the font size for Tesla’s brake warning system is a bit too small. How small? Smaller than 3.2 millimeters, or one-eighth of an inch, as prescribed by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). So the company has to recall all 2.19 million vehicles it has on the road today — again.

It may seem minor, but font size can correlate to safety when all your vehicle’s controls are ported through a touchscreen. According to the recall notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), visual warning indicators that are smaller than the prescribed size “could reduce the driver’s detection of it when illuminated, increasing the risk of a collision.”

According to the recall notice:

An incorrect font size is displayed on the instrument panel for the Brake, Park, and Antilock Brake System (ABS) warning lights. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 105, “Hydraulic and Electric Brake Systems” and 135, “Light Vehicle Brake Systems.”

The recall applies to the following vehicles:

  • Tesla Model 3 2017-2023
  • Tesla Model S 2012-2023
  • Tesla Model X 2016-2024
  • Tesla Model Y 2019-2024
  • Tesla Cybertruck 2024

As per usual, this is not a recall in the traditional sense. Tesla says it will push out an over-the-air software update to correct the font size to comply with FMVSS, which is how it typically corrects these mistakes.

This is the second time Tesla has had to issue a software fix to its entire fleet in recent months. Last December, the company was forced to push an update to fix a number of issues with its Autopilot system, including a lack of adequate warnings.

And more recalls may be to come! Reuters reported this morning that NHTSA has upgraded its probe into Tesla’s power steering loss issues to an engineering analysis — which is the step that comes right before a recall. A number of Tesla owners have posted complaints to Reddit and other message boards in recent months about power steering loss, often while driving.