Tesla Under NHTSA Investigation for Steering Wheel Defects
Tesla, the electric vehicle maker known for its innovative technology and futuristic design, is facing a new challenge from federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on March 8 that it is opening a preliminary investigation into 120,000 2023 Tesla Model Y vehicles after receiving two complaints that steering wheels detached while driving.
According to NHTSA, one complaint alleged that the steering wheel separated from the steering column when the driver attempted to turn into a parking space at low speed. The other complaint claimed that the steering wheel came off when the driver was driving on a highway at about 65 mph. Both incidents occurred in February 2023 and resulted in no injuries or crashes.
NHTSA said it would evaluate the alleged defect’s scope, frequency, and safety consequences. The agency also requested Tesla to provide information on how it monitors, analyzes, and responds to customer complaints, reports, or field incidents related to steering wheel separation.
Tesla has not yet commented on the investigation publicly. The company has faced several previous probes by NHTSA over its Autopilot system, which partially allows drivers to automate some driving tasks. In January 2021, Tesla recalled about 135,000 vehicles due to touchscreen failures that could affect some safety features.
The investigation comes at a time when Tesla is facing increasing competition from other automakers in the electric vehicle market. The company recently reported its first annual profit in 2020 and delivered nearly half a million vehicles worldwide. However, it also faced production delays, quality issues, and legal challenges that could affect its future growth.
Tesla’s stock price dropped by about 2% after the news of the investigation broke on Wednesday morning. The company’s market value is still above $600 billion, making it one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Tesla Class Action Lawsuit over Suspension Defects
This news follows the filing of a class action lawsuit against Tesla for allegedly concealing a defect in the suspension components of its Model S and Model X vehicles. Consumers filed the class action lawsuit late last year.
The Tesla class action claims that Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles, with a production date between September 17, 2013, and October 15, 2018, suffer from defects in their suspension system. The lawsuit alleges the suspension defect may cause the front and rear suspension control arm assembly components to prematurely loosen, wear, crack, or break.
The class action alleges this suspension defect can cause a sudden and unexpected loss of steering control, posing a serious safety risk. The class lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California and is captioned Williams v. Tesla, Inc., 4:20-cv-08208.