NHTSA launches probe into Tesla Model 3 and Model Y steering issues

Shawn Knight

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In brief: The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a preliminary investigation into newer Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles following reports of steering issues.

According to the report summary, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received a dozen complaints related to a loss of steering control and power steering functionality in 2023 model year Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. Among them, five reports alleged an inability to steer the vehicle while seven reports reference a loss of power steering functionality, making the vehicle more difficult to steer.

The preliminary evaluation is designed to assess the scope, frequency, severity, and manufacturing processes associated with the alleged issues. According to the report, the probe could impact as many as 280,000 vehicles. As Electrek notes, a preliminary evaluation is an early step that can sometimes lead to a recall but other times, nothing happens at all.

One driver said their Model Y lost all steering capabilities and the wheel became locked in place. Turning the car off and back on did not help, and the user had to have it towed to a Tesla service center. Another Model Y driver noted an error code (ui_a020) that accompanied the loss of power steering. They were able to limp the vehicle home without incident.

In May, a Model 3 owner claimed their steering "felt stuck" and resulted in the car sliding off the road and striking a tree. In the complaint, the driver noted the vehicle's lane keep feature was no help, nor was the emergency braking system.

Only one of the 12 incidents involved a crash, the NHTSA noted.

Tesla's Model 3 and Model Y lines are among its most popular. According to the company's Q2 report published on July 19, the automaker delivered a combined 446,915 Model 3 / Model Y vehicles during the quarter. An additional 19,225 Model S / Model X vehicles were also delivered during the same period.

Image credit: Vladimir Srajeber, Roberto Nickson

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