Tesla Investigated Over Steering Problems

Tesla's Model 3. Image credit: Tesla

New federal investigation by US safety regulator over loss of steering control in Model 3 and Model Y vehicles

Tesla is facing a new safety probe after complaints over loss of steering control in Model 3 and Y vehicles.

This investigation of the steering flaw, according to a notice on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), could impact an estimated 280,000 Tesla vehicles in the United States.

Tesla has faced numerous safety probes in recent years, but a lot of them have centred around its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta features, but sometimes other features have been investigated such as its touchscreen, which has previously led to official ‘recalls.’

Tesla's Model Y. Image credit: Tesla
Tesla’s Model Y. Image credit: Tesla

Steering problem

But now according to media reports, a dozen drivers experienced steering problems in their Teslas, including one who alleged it had caused a crash.

Seven of the complaints indicated that steering became harder, but five mentioned a complete inability to steer.

The complaints centre over steering control problems and loss of power steering in 2023 Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover utility vehicles.

Under the problem description section, the NHTSA document noted “steering wheel detachment from the steering column due to the absence of the retaining bolt.”

The notice alleges that there had been two reports of “complete detachment of the steering wheel from the steering column while driving in 2023 Model Year Tesla Model Y vehicles.”

The Model Y became the world’s best-selling car in the first quarter of 2023, surpassing the Toyota Corolla and others, CNBC reported.

Tesla's Model Y. Image credit: Tesla
Tesla’s Model Y. Image credit: Tesla

Tesla’s Model 3 meanwhile is the company’s entry-level vehicle and the most affordable electric car from the Elon Musk venture.

Autopilot, FSD probe

One of the longest running investigations concerns the Autopilot and FSD self-driving technology.

It was back in August 2021 when the NHTSA had launched a formal investigation of Tesla’s Autopilot, after a series of high profile fatal crashes.

Then in June 2022, the NHTSA announced it was upgrading its preliminary investigation of the Autopilot driving assistance system, to an “engineering analysis”, which is the step taken before the agency determines a recall.

Fast forward a couple of months, and in October 2022 reports emerged that the US Department of Justice had also launched a previously undisclosed criminal investigation back in 2021 over Tesla’s alleged claims that its electric vehicles (EVs) can drive themselves.

Last month, in July 2023, the NHTSA warned Telsa that if it fails to supply the federal agency with information about its advanced driver assistance systems, it faces “civil penalties of up to $26,315 per violation per day, with a maximum of $131,564,183996 for a related series of daily violations.”