Tesla to Silence its Boombox

Tesla to Silence its Boombox

Because it interferes with federally regulated pedestrian warning noises, Tesla has issued a recall to partially deactivate its Boombox feature, which was implemented in late 2020. Boombox mode, released in December 2020 as part of a software upgrade, allows drivers to play sounds outside of their vehicles. It has a goat bleating, ice cream truck music, applause, and fart sounds instead of a standard automobile horn.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered that this might cause cars to fail to comply with federal "silent car" regulations, which require EVs and hybrids to emit pedestrian warning sounds at low speeds. According to the NHTSA recall notice, the Boombox and pedestrian warning noises are independent, but because both play through exterior speakers, the Boombox sounds may drown out the pedestrian alarms.

The partial feature recall affects 578,607 cars that got the Tesla firmware update 2020.48.25. It includes 2020-2022 Model S, Model X, and Model Y EVs, as well as 2017-2022 Model 3 sedans.

Tesla firmware update 2020.48.26 introduced Boombox mode, as well as modifications to the display for Supercharger DC fast charging and the scheduled-departure feature, as well as three new video games to play while the car is parked: The Battle of Polytopia, Cat Quest, and Solitaire.

Boombox mode will be disabled while the vehicle is in drive, neutral, or reverse, according to an over-the-air software update from Tesla. The carmaker has used its over-the-air update to quickly resolve recalls, including one for a heat-pump problem that occurred recently. 

A related Tesla feature that complies with federal regulations is the ability to play music in Sentry mode. This is likely due to the fact that cars are stationary in Sentry mode, which could explain why the recall notice made no mention of the requirement to disengage Boombox function while in park.

Tesla's Security Sentry Mode System Activated

Electrified vehicles must produce noises at speeds of up to 18.6 mph, according to federal standards. At low speeds, the lack of exhaust noise makes these automobiles difficult to hear, but tire noise, wind buffeting, and other sounds pick up beyond that, according to authorities. The guidelines took more than a decade to enact when they were initially introduced in 2010.

Tesla isn't the only automaker to experiment with electric vehicle sounds. Several manufacturers have used the framework to create sounds with interesting backstories, ranging from sci-fi to nature inspired. Karma Automotive has announced it will utilize artificially created noises to establish a distinctive corporate identity for its future electric cars, while Ford enlisted electronic musician Matthew Dear to remix sounds from its Mustang Mach-E electric SUV into a song.

Tesla drivers do have more control over the sounds their cars emit. Owners can add up to five additional sounds via USB drive in addition to the pre-programmed sounds.

Heat Pump Issue Recall

Tesla has issued a recall for 26,681 vehicles from the 2020 to 2022 model years due to a problem with a heat-pump valve that isn't working properly—a problem that can be rectified with an over-the-air upgrade.

Documents that were filed by Tesla outline the issue saying, “it may trap refrigerant inside the evaporator and may deplete the refrigerant from the active components in the system.” This could lead to a loss of cabin heating, especially in temperatures of -10 degrees C and colder, but the windshield defroster system would still continue to operate.

This particular recall affects the 2021-2022 Tesla Model 3, 2021-2022 Model S, 2021-2022 Model X, and 2020-2022 Model Y.

The heat pump's Electronic Expansion Valve didn't stay closed in vehicles with specific firmware updates, resulting in refrigerant depletion and a "fail-safe compressor shutdown," according to the automaker. Because the vehicles failed to meet federal criteria for windshield defrosting and defogging, a federal recall has been issued.