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Hot wheels: Overheating electric Tesla cars prompt charger update

Tesla Motors has issued an over-the-air update to fix an overheating problem with the Tesla Model S charging adapter. But for those who want it, Tesla is also offering an improved wall adapter with a thermal fuse.

That updated adapter will "provide another layer of assurance to Model S customers," though "Tesla believes that [its] software update fully addresses any potential risks."

In a statement, Tesla said that factors like corrosion, physical damage to receptacles, or inappropriate wiring or installation of electrical outlets can result in "higher than normal electrical resistance" with the Tesla Model S adapters when charging. That, in turn, could cause excessive heating of the adapter.

To fix the problem, Tesla released at OTA update back in December that lets the onboard charging system in the Model S automatically reduce the charging current by 25 per cent if it detects unexpected power fluctuations.

"This fully addresses the issue by substantially reducing the heat generated in any high resistance connections outside the vehicle," Tesla said. "This update increases robustness and safety considerably in the unlikely event that a home wiring system, receptacle, adapter or cord is unable to meet its rated current capacity."

To make sure your Model S got the update, tap the vehicle's touch screen and verify that the car is running version 5.8.4 or later. Those who can't connect their Model S for whatever reason can bring it into a Tesla service center for the update.

If you're still worried about overheating, though, you can equip your car with the new thermal fuse-enhanced adapter. "Even if the circuit breakers on the house side and car side don't trip, the thermal fuse will prevent current from flowing if the wall socket region heats up for any reason," Tesla said.

Tesla, however, said the move is not a traditional recall. "The term 'recall' is outdated. No vehicles are being physically recalled by Tesla," the company tweeted.