The risk you take in buying any brand new vehicle is that it’s so new that there are gremlins that don’t appear until after its wheels hit the road. Such is the case with the 2023 Tesla Semi, Tesla’s first heavy duty, Class Eight semi truck. It’s an amazing vehicle full of interesting technology and software from such a young automotive manufacturer, but it’s still prone to issues with hardware. Now, less than three months after Pepsico took delivery, a recall has been issued related to its parking brake.
The bad news is that this recall can’t be done with an Over-the-Air (OTA) update, which Tesla has been able to utilize for recalls on its more “pedestrian” models previously. It boils down to a part supplied by Bendix called the “Intellipark Valve Module,” an electronically controlled parking brake system not too dissimilar from what road vehicles use today. It’s just adapted to work with the air brake system of these large trucks and designed to monitor things like when the driver’s door is open, a seat belt isn’t clicked in, and anything else that shows that the driver isn’t ready to drive away. Also, unlike traditional air brake parking systems, it’s not just a valve mounted in the cab and plumbed into the air line system, but an electronic push—or pull, as is the case in the Tesla Semi—button control that controls the valve module.
The issue is that the module Bendix sent to Tesla may allow excessive internal leakage and the parking brake won’t engage. Since there isn’t anything holding the truck still, it might roll away when the service brake—the brake operated by the driver’s foot—is released. Fortunately, there is an indicator that shows when the parking brake isn’t engaged, an LED beside the switch on the console will not light up. Something that can be easily missed if the driver is in a hurry and has gotten used assuming that the Intellipark parking system is operating normally. Replacement of that module is the only fix due to that design flaw and can’t be overcome by software adjustments.
The good news is that any Semi built after March 14, 2023 already has this improved valve module installed, so only trucks produced between November 30, 2022 and February 28, 2023—35 Semis, according to the NHTSA recall summary—are affected. Which means the fleet that Pepsico started receiving back in December are all a part of this recall. Looks like your chips will be a little late, Reno.
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