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Tesla Recalls 127,785 Model 3s in China Due to Rear Motor Inverter Defect

Tesla disclosed a new recall in China. According to the company, it will have to repair 127,785 units of the Model 3 due to a rear motor inverter defect. That raises two relevant aspects immediately. The first is that the faults with rear motors in the Model Y can be due to this inverter defect. The second is that American Model 3 cars are also affected.
Tesla Model 3 rear motor inverter has a massive recall in China that explains a lot 24 photos
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Of these 127,785 EVs, 34,207 were imported from Fremont, and 93,578 were made at Giga Shanghai. According to Tesla, they were produced from January 11, 2019, until January 25, 2022.

The fact that they were made both in China and in the U.S. shows it was a design flaw, not simply something related to a manufacturing process. If that were the case, it would interfere only with the cars made in one of Tesla’s factories, not with both of the ones it had until very recently.

We have already checked the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) page for the same recall in the U.S. Unfortunately, it has not been updated yet. That shows Tesla warned the Chinese market about the defect before contacting American authorities. That may simply have to do with time zones. It may also be a matter of priority.

Our readers will remember that ConsumerAffairs noticed that the Model Y has been having many rear motor failure cases. The Model Y shares the platform and major components, such as the motors, with the Model 3. If the sedan presents any defect in its rear motor inverter, the SUV must also have them.

According to what Tesla reported to SAMR (State Administration for Market Regulation), the problem relates to “slight manufacturing differences in the power semiconductor components of the rear motor inverters.” These differences – which Tesla does not detail – may cause the rear inverter to fail, “causing the inverter not to be able to control the current properly.” That may damage the motor.

In the defect description, Tesla states that if it fails while the vehicle is parked, the driver will not be able to start the car. If it happens when it is moving, the Model 3 will lose its driving power. Such a description is very close to that offered by Model Y owners affected by rear motor failures. They also mention hearing a thunk before the EV stops, followed by error messages.

Disappointingly, Tesla said it would fix that with an OTA (over-the-air) update, which will deal with the motor control software. The new firmware should monitor the rear inverter more closely. Tesla promises to replace those with “related faults” free of charge.

All the owners affected by rear motor failures in Tesla vehicles in the past should take notes. If Tesla charged them to replace these motors, they are probably entitled to refunds now that the company realized it was a manufacturing defect covered by warranty.

We’ll get back to you when we hear about the recall for Model 3 units sold in the U.S. As we mentioned before, it would be strange if the Model Y were not included in the repairs – especially considering we learned about the rear motor issues thanks to Model Y owners.

Editor's note: The gallery presents images of the Tesla Model 3 for illustration purposes.

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