Steering failures are Tesla’s new federal safety worry

Tesla Model Y full electric crossover SUV on dsipaly at Brussels Expo on January 13, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.

Enlarge / There’s already one open federal safety probe into whether or not these steering wheels can detach. Now a new investigation concerns reports of steering failures. (credit: Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)

Federal vehicle safety regulators are investigating a potential problem with the power steering in some Tesla electric vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation has opened a preliminary evaluation to determine if there’s a problem with the power steering in model-year 2023 Tesla Models 3 and Y.

The investigation, sparked by a dozen customer complaints, is one of a number of open safety investigations into Tesla’s EVs. Just this year NHTSA’s ODI also opened probes into complaints of sudden unintended acceleration, and another is looking at the propensity for steering wheels to detach.

In this case, NHTSA received 12 complaints alleging steering failure in three Model 3s and nine Model Ys. Some complaints describe the steering suddenly and randomly locking in place; others relate power steering failures that required heavy effort to remain in control of the car.

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