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NHTSA Looking into Steering Wheel that Could Fall Off in Tesla Model Y

Steering wheel, dashboard of the Tesla Model Y | Photo: Tesla
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Daniel Rufiange
If the agency finds that the problem is widespread, it could order a recall of the model

•    The NHTSA has launched an investigation into the Tesla Model Y.

•    The agency is aware of two cases where a Model Y’s steering wheel came off while the vehicle was being driven.

•    A total of 120,089 vehicles are included in the investigation.

•    If the problem is found to be frequent enough, the NHTSA could order a recall.

Tesla's Model Y SUV is being investigated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a unique and obviously dangerous potential problem: the steering wheel could come off while the vehicle is being driven.

The preliminary investigation will focus on 2023 versions of the model. According to the NHTSA, 120,089 units are currently affected.

Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model Y | Photo: Tesla

At the time of writing, NHTSA is aware of two incidents in which, shortly after the delivery of a new Model Y, the steering wheel came off while the vehicle was being driven.

The two incidents appear to have one thing in common. Neither Model Y was equipped with the retaining bolt that secures the steering wheel to the steering column. Without it, the only thing holding it in place is friction between the steering wheel and the column splines. When enough force is applied, the steering wheels can come off.

Both vehicles, it turns out, were the subject to a repair at the end of the assembly line – one that involved the removal and reinstallation of the steering wheel. The investigation will need to identify “the extent, frequency and manufacturing processes associated with the situation”. If it finds that the problem could be widespread, the NHTSA could order a recall of the models.

Stay tuned.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists