Tesla squashes Dog Mode bug that could have let cars get too hot

Tesla has acted fast to fix a dangerous software bug with its Dog Mode.

The feature launched for Tesla cars in February as a way to keep pets cool in hot weather should the driver have to briefly leave the vehicle with the animal still inside. In Dog Mode, the air conditioner regulates the temperature, and a message displays on the car’s center console that reads: “My owner will be back soon.” For peace of mind, the owner can also monitor the temperature remotely via a smartphone app.

It sounds like a great idea, but dog-owning Tesla drivers had a fright last week when they learned that Dog Mode could malfunction in certain conditions, allowing the car’s interior to heat up to levels that could threaten a dog’s life.

Rahul Sood, boss of esports betting and news media company Unikrn, noticed that the feature stopped working if you made any adjustments to the vehicle’s fan settings after turning on Dog Mode.

He stumbled across the flaw when his own Tesla started to get a little too toasty for his pet dog, Enzo.

In a tweet intended to highlight the issue, Sood described how — in a “hot as hell” Seattle last week — he had to leave Enzo in the car while he attended a meeting. Despite turning on Dog Mode, he saw on his phone during the meeting that the car’s interior was soon approaching 85 degrees Fahrenheit (almost 30 degrees Celsius). Alarmed, he rushed out to his car to check on Enzo and to reset Dog Mode, after which everything was fine.

Within 30 seconds of tweeting his story, Elon Musk fired back a one-word reply: “Fixing …” A couple of days later, the company pushed out an over-the-air update to fully resolve the troubling issue.

If you didn’t already know, Dog Mode can be accessed by tapping the fan icon at the bottom of a Tesla’s touchscreen. Running the cooler system reduces the battery charge, but you’ll receive a notification to your smartphone should power levels fall below 20%.

A recent test by Consumer Reports demonstrated that even when the outside temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a closed car can increase to a dangerous 105 degrees Fahrenheit (or higher) in the space of just one hour if the windows stay closed and the cooler is off.

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