The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into 280,000 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles over complaints about sudden loss of steering control. The probe covers 2023 model year vehicles after the agency received 12 complaints from owners reporting incidents where steering wheels locked up or the vehicles lost power steering assist.
According to Reuters, one driver said their Model 3 slid off the road and hit a tree after the steering wheel felt stuck. Another Model Y owner reported their steering wheel jerked hard to the right and displayed a warning about reduced steering assist.
The investigation is in the preliminary evaluation stage as NHTSA determines if the issue poses an unreasonable safety risk that could lead to a recall. It is worth noting that the probe focuses on Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs from the 2023 model year, around 280,000 vehicles.
Tesla has faced recent scrutiny over safety issues, including complaints about its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system. The new steering probe adds to quality control problems Tesla has seen with high-profile recalls over touchscreen failures and battery fires.
The company did not respond to Reuters' request for comment on the steering investigation. However, some drivers reported waiting weeks for Tesla service appointments and parts delays related to their steering complaints.
The NHTSA has opened more than three dozen Tesla special crash investigations since 2016, with 20 crash deaths reported. The agency is also conducting a comprehensive review of Tesla's ADAS systems. With the latest one, NHTSA launched its fifth investigation for Tesla in the past three years.
In July, we reported that the agency investigated the fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot in California. The crash, which resulted in the tragic loss of life, has raised concerns regarding the safety and autonomous driving capabilities of Tesla EVs.
On the other hand, Tesla's misleading Autopilot safety ads are recently under investigation by the California Attorney General.