Home News NHTSA Seeks Records from Tesla in Power Steering Loss Probe

NHTSA Seeks Records from Tesla in Power Steering Loss Probe

NHTSA Seeks Records from Tesla in Power Steering Loss Probe

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has intensified its investigation into Tesla’s potential power steering issues, seeking detailed records from the automaker. This probe, which began with a preliminary evaluation in July 2023, has now escalated to an engineering analysis, the final step before a potential recall.

Background and Scope of the Investigation

The investigation initially focused on 280,000 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles from the 2023 model year, following 12 complaints regarding a loss of steering control. Since then, the number of complaints has surged to over 2,191 incidents, with drivers reporting problems such as the inability to turn the steering wheel and increased effort required for steering. Some drivers also described the steering as feeling “notchy” or “clicky” before or after experiencing a loss of power steering​​.

The NHTSA’s investigation revealed that these power steering failures occurred at various speeds and locations, both at startup and during operation. Notably, there have been multiple instances where drivers reported seeing a warning message stating “Steering assist reduced” either before, during, or after the loss of steering control. This issue has led to at least one crash and over 50 incidents where vehicles had to be towed from locations such as driveways, parking lots, and intersections​.

Potential Consequences and Next Steps

The NHTSA’s upgrade to an engineering analysis means that Tesla must now provide more comprehensive data and documentation about the affected vehicles. This includes details on the steering rack components, as two specific steering rack part numbers have been identified in the majority of the complaints. The agency is also examining whether the problem can be resolved through software updates or if physical parts need to be repaired or replaced​.

If the engineering analysis concludes that the issues require physical fixes, Tesla could face a significant recall, potentially affecting 334,569 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. Such a recall would be more costly and complex than previous software-based solutions​​.

Implications for Tesla and Its Customers

This investigation is part of a broader scrutiny of Tesla’s safety practices and product reliability. In recent years, Tesla has issued multiple recalls and faced numerous investigations related to various vehicle components and systems. The current probe into power steering issues underscores the importance of robust safety measures and the challenges of managing advanced automotive technologies.

For Tesla owners, particularly those with 2023 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, staying informed about the progress of this investigation and any forthcoming recalls is crucial. Ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained and addressing any warning signs immediately can help mitigate potential risks associated with these power steering issues.



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