NHTSA opens investigation into Tesla Model Y steering wheels falling off

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on Wednesday it has launched a new investigation into Tesla, this time related to the Model Y and the potential for the steering wheel to fall off.

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) was launched following two reports of the steering wheel in new Model Ys becoming detached shortly after delivery. According to the safety agency the two electric SUVs were delivered without the retaining bolt that attaches the steering wheel to the steering column.

Based on what the NHTSA knows so far the two impacted vehicles received end of line repairs that appear to have been the cause.

“Both vehicles received an end of line repair requiring removal and re-installation of the steering wheel. A friction fit maintained the connection between the steering wheel and the column splines during operation until separation. Sudden separation occurred when the force exerted on the steering wheel overcame the resistance of the friction fit while the vehicles were in motion. Both known incidents occurred at low vehicle mileage.”

The NHTSA will continue their preliminary evaluation to determine the “scope, frequency, and manufacturing processes associated with this condition.” The investigation covers a potential 120,089 2023 Model Y SUVs. Depending on the results of their investigation the NHTSA could initiate a recall.

Although the exact incidents are not detailed in the report one of them occurred on January 24, 2023 to Prerak and Neha Patel. The couple were driving on the highway after taking delivery when they reported the steering wheel suddenly became detached. Fortunately they were able to maintain control of the vehicle and pull over.

Tesla eventually decided to provide the Patel’s with a brand new Model Y.

You can read the full report from the NHTSA below. (via Reuters)

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