U.S. safety regulators, amongst them the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced an investigation into 280 000 new Tesla Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers after receiving a dozen complaints about steering failures from 2023 Model Y and Model 3 owners, the news agency Reuters reports.
According to the NTSA, one issue has resulted in a crash. That Model 3 driver reported that the “car steering felt stuck, and the car slid off the road, which resulted in crashing into a tree,” according to the outlet.
Another driver, in June, noted that their two-week-old Model Y was leaving a shopping center when “suddenly the steering wheel did not steer. It went hard, and I saw the alert. I went very close to the opposite side of traffic and somehow made it across the road and inside the shopping center.”
No power steering
Another complaint alleged that a Tesla Model Y that was less than a month old turned on, and the “wheel jerked hard right and made a thud.” A warning popped up on the screen that said “Steering Assist Reduced,” along with an error code.
This owner said the power steering was disabled and reportedly told NHTSA it felt unsafe to steer. He added, “Tesla has moved my service visit from May 2 to May 25 due to a backlog of parts. They confirmed this is a recently known issue and noted the steering rack may be replaced entirely.”
A fourth driver in Hawaii will also be waiting a few weeks for its Tesla to be repaired, reporting that just a week after purchasing the car, the steering wheel began locking up randomly. He said it occurred six times on different dates before he was able to get it to a Tesla service center, where it remains, waiting for parts.
Not the first time
According to Reuters, this probe is the first step of a formal investigation by NHTSA to figure out if the issue poses an “unreasonable safety risk”. After this, it would become an engineering analysis before it could demand that Tesla recall the vehicles.
It’s not the first time the NHTSA is starting an inquiry into Tesla cars. Earlier on, there were investigations concerning problems with the safety belts, the steering wheels, and the driving aids in Teslas.
Earlier this year, an inquiry started into 120 000 Model Y Teslas while two steering wheels got loose while their owners were driving the car. In February, the company called back some 360 000 Teslas for a software update after the NHTSA had concluded that Tesla’s autonomous driving aids enhanced the risk of accidents.
Tesla didn’t react yet to the allegations and inquiries. Even when the news agency Bloomberg asked for a reaction, they didn’t get any answer.