The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a formal investigation into approximately 280,000 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles following numerous complaints from owners regarding steering issues. The NHTSA’s preliminary evaluation was triggered by 12 reported incidents, where drivers experienced loss of steering control and power steering problems in their 2023 Tesla vehicles.
One disturbing incident involved a Model 3 driver who reported that the car’s steering felt stuck, resulting in the vehicle sliding off the road and colliding with a tree. In another case in Alpharetta, Georgia, a driver of a two-week-old Tesla Model Y encountered a sudden loss of steering control while exiting a shopping center, narrowly avoiding a collision with oncoming traffic.
Tesla has not yet provided a public response to the investigation. However, one of the complaints mentioned that Tesla acknowledged the issue and informed the owner about a potential replacement of the steering rack, but due to a backlog of parts, the service visit was rescheduled to a later date.
The seriousness of these incidents prompted the NHTSA to initiate a formal investigation to determine whether there is an unreasonable safety risk associated with the steering problems. If the investigation uncovers a significant safety concern, the NHTSA may escalate the probe to an engineering analysis and potentially demand a recall of the affected vehicles.
One additional complaint reported a Tesla Model Y experiencing a sudden jerk to the right upon startup, with the screen displaying a “Steering Assist Reduced” warning and an error code. In this instance, the driver reported that the power steering was disabled, making it unsafe to steer the vehicle.
Similarly, another Tesla owner from Honolulu experienced the steering wheel locking up randomly within a week of purchasing their vehicle. This issue recurred on six different occasions, leading to the vehicle being taken to the Tesla service department for a replacement of the steering rack/motor.
The investigation is critical in ensuring the safety of Tesla drivers and other road users. It remains to be seen how Tesla will address the reported steering problems and if a recall will be required to rectify the issue. Until the NHTSA’s investigation is concluded, owners of these Tesla vehicles may need to exercise caution and be aware of any potential steering-related problems while driving.