Steering Issues Prompt Investigation Into 280,000 New Tesla Vehicles

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
August 1, 2023Businessshare
Steering Issues Prompt Investigation Into 280,000 New Tesla Vehicles
A Tesla Model S car is displayed at a Tesla showroom on November 5, 2013 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

U.S. auto safety regulators said Tuesday they have opened an investigation into 280,000 new Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles over reports of the loss of power steering and steering control.

12 complaints from owners of 2023 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a preliminary investigation.

One complaint came from a Model 3 driver, who reported in May that the “car steering felt stuck and [the car] slid off the road which resulted in crashing into a tree.”

A driver from Alpharetta, Georgia, encountered problems when leaving a shopping center in June, when their two-week-old Tesla Model Y’s steering wheel suddenly “did not steer.”

“Went to very close to opposite side of traffic and somehow made it to across the road inside the shopping center,” the complaint read.

The NHTSA measure is the first step of a formal investigation to determine if the issue poses an unreasonable safety risk. Regulators would need to upgrade the probe to an engineering analysis before the body could demand a recall.

In one of the complaints, Tesla’s service department referred to the steering problem in question as a “recently known issue.”

The complaint pertained to a Tesla Model Y malfunctioning while stationed. When the car—reported to be less than a month old—was turned on, the “wheel jerked hard right and made a thud.” The car’s screen flashed a warning that said “Steering Assist Reduced” and displayed an error code.

The driver said power steering was disabled, and told the NHTSA it felt unsafe to steer. The driver was later contacted by the Tesla service department to postpone the initial appointment.

“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 might be replaced entirely.”

Another driver from Virginia mentioned a similar alert in a Model 3: “Vehicle steering gets locked, and once you get out and get back in, the car code disappears; however, after driving a mile or 2 the code reappears, and the steering gets very stiff, making it almost impossible to turn in either direction.”

A driver in Honolulu said the steering wheel began locking up randomly one week after purchasing a new Tesla vehicle. The driver said it “occurred six times on different dates before we were able to get it to the Tesla service department.”

According to the driver, the car “currently remains at Tesla for the next 3 weeks while we await a new steering rack/motor.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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