In a potentially concerning development for Tesla owners and fans alike, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating claims about 2023 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles experiencing steering control loss. The investigation, first reported by CNBC, could influence around 280,000 vehicles, depending on the findings.
The NHTSA reports it has received a dozen complaints concerning loss of steering control and power steering in these vehicles. Five of these complaints feature drivers claiming an inability to steer their Tesla, while seven additional drivers reported that power loss resulted in steering difficulties.
An excerpt from one such complaint:
"Steering power was lost while driving, leaving the vehicle stuck in a straight position. The vehicle can only move forward or backward in a straight line and turning is impossible. Powering off and on didn't resolve the issue, leaving no option but to tow the car to Tesla service."
Several defect investigations currently involve Tesla, including a probe into allegations of Model Y SUVs' steering wheels detaching while being driven. In addition, NHTSA has received over 800 reports of "phantom braking" issues where Teslas have braked unexpectedly due to perceived, yet non-existent, hazards. As a result, Tesla had to issue a software update for 1.1 million vehicles in China to fix a braking and acceleration problem.
Tesla is also facing the possibility of recalling its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features due to numerous incidents involving stationary emergency vehicles. Investigations from various law enforcement agencies are ongoing, examining Tesla's safety and marketing practices.
While it's not unusual for car manufacturers to face defect investigations and recalls, Tesla has had a unique ability to address some defects via software updates. However, Tesla also has a higher number of recalls than other automakers. Out of the 400 recalls impacting over 25 million vehicles in 2022, Tesla occupied four of the top five spots on a list compiled by research firm iSeeCars.com.