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Tesla OTA Update to Fix Heat Pump Issues (Predictably) Didn't Work

On February 7, 2022, Tesla warned NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) that it would release an OTA (over-the-air) update to fix heat pump issues. At the time, we warned that the repair did not seem enough to prevent the problem given all the cases we had seen until then. New ones confirm the OTA update made no difference.
Tesla recall did not solve heat pump issue 16 photos
Tesla recall did not solve heat pump issueTesla recall did not solve heat pump issueTesla recall did not solve heat pump issueTesla recall did not solve heat pump issueTesla recall did not solve heat pump issueTesla contacts customer and confirms a firmware issue caused heating problems in vehicles with heat pumpsTesla contacts customer and confirms a firmware issue caused heating problems in vehicles with heat pumpsTesla contacts customer and confirms a firmware issue caused heating problems in vehicles with heat pumpsTesla Model Y heating system fails at freezing temperatures and puts family in real dangerTesla Model Y heating system fails at freezing temperatures and puts family in real dangerLauri Orrainen said he could not recommend Tesla anymore with his Model 3 presenting heat pump problemsTesla Model Y heating system fails at freezing temperatures and puts family in real dangerTesla Model Y heating system fails at freezing temperatures and puts family in real dangerTesla Model Y heating system fails at freezing temperatures and puts family in real dangerLauri Orrainen said he could not recommend Tesla anymore with his Model 3 presenting heat pump problems
So far, 26,047 vehicles are involved with the issue in China, and 26,681 have the problem in the U.S. That’s 52,728 EVs with a life-threatening defect should these owners live in cold-weather environments. We are still waiting to learn the numbers of Chinese and American Tesla vehicles sold in other countries with this problem. At this point, we’d assume any Tesla car with a heat pump can present it.

According to Tesla, the defect’s cause was “controller communication interruptions” caused by “firmware release 2021.44 through 2021.44.30.6.” These interruptions interfered with the EXV (Electronic Expansion Valve), eventually making it get completely open.

Below -10ºC (14ºF), that could “trap refrigerant inside the evaporator and may deplete the refrigerant from the active components in the system. The depletion may result in fail-safe compressor stoppage, and cause loss of cabin heating.

Still, according to the Part 573 Safety Recall Report Tesla sent to NHTSA, “firmware release 2021.44.30.7 and later releases remedy the condition by reintroducing a software command to close the EXV.” That did not solve the issue.

On TMC, several owners are sharing their issues with their cars. The user Elenath shared that he had the problem in January, shortly before getting the update. On February 14, while trying to heat his vehicle, he got this message: “Climate keeper unavailable due to system fault.” He immediately got in touch with Transport Canada to report the problem. The Canadian department is investigating the defect.

The user michaelnorbert said that his Model Y bought new in November 2020 presented the problem on February 15, 2022. He had already updated the software to the 2021.44.30.7 version on January 13, 2022, and replaced PT (platinum resistance thermometer) sensors before that.

According to him, the heat pump sounded like a lawnmower for 15 minutes before it stopped working for good. You can see what that looks like in the first tweet we embedded below. It belongs to another person complaining about the problem. Brandon said his Model S Plaid failed and presented a video.

To get his issue fixed, michaelnorbert ended up with a loaner for one week. Curiously, the repair only took 90 minutes once his car got into the service bay, which shows another chronic problem with the EV maker: crowded Tesla Service Centers. The PT sensors and the heat pump were replaced. The TMC user filed a report to Transport Canada as well.

The user akhnoukh then wrote that he had the same issue and that the Tesla Service Center could only fix it on April 7. Another one, Ther0ck, stated that he took delivery of his white 2022 Model 3 Standard Range Plus with an LFP battery pack on February 17. After using it for only 349 kilometers (216.9 miles), the heating failed. He just dropped his car at the Tesla Service Center and heard it would be ready by March 17. He also reported the problem to Transport Canada.

Those three cases are only the ones we found on a single TMC thread. There are more complaints coming from people that should have already updated their cars. The other tweet below, from @TweetSoCrazy, dates from February 26. Her car’s heating also stopped working, but she seems happy that it only took the North York service center one day to fix it. She’s also glad that it was covered under warranty.

The last two cases we heard about came from the Facebook group Tesla Owners Northeast. Ryan Medeiros said he had to drive his 2022 Model 3 SR+ for two hours in -20ºC on a trip when the heating failed halfway to his destination. Alan Stinchfield commented and said he had the same problem but was glad that his loaner was a Model S.

We’re sure more cases will emerge apart from these ones. As we mentioned when we told you about the recall, it was disappointing because it was almost sure not to work. Not that we are confident about that, we’ll have to see what NHTSA and Tesla have to say about that. People are still driving with the risk of a life-threatening defect, and they need more than a fast response: they need it to be effective.




 
 
 
 
 

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