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Tesla under investigation for Model 3 and Model Y steering wheels that freeze up

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is probing reports that 2023 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles lose their steering control while driving. Approximately 280,000 vehicles could be affected by the results of the investigation, the agency reports. The news was first reported by CNBC.

NHTSA says it has received 12 complaints alleging loss of steering control and power steering in the vehicles. Five people filed complaints alleging an inability to steer the vehicle, while an additional seven people said a loss of power resulted in steering difficulties.

One complaint reads:

Vehicle steering lost power steering and the steering is stuck in straight position only while driving. Vehicle can travel only straight line forward or backward and cannot turn. Powering off and on did not help resolve the issue. Had to get the car towed to Tesla service.

Tesla is currently subject to several defect investigations, including one looking into reports that steering wheels on Model Y SUVs have fallen off while the vehicle was being driven. NHTSA has also received over 800 reports of “phantom braking” problems in which Tesla vehicles suddenly braked in response to invisible hazards. The company was forced to issue an over-the-air software update to 1.1 million vehicles in China in response to a braking and acceleration problem. The company is also being sued by some owners over the issue.

“The steering is stuck in straight position only while driving”

The company is also facing a potential recall of its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving products for over a dozen incidents in which Tesla vehicles using the driver-assist features have crashed into stationary emergency vehicles. Numerous law enforcement agencies, from the California attorney general to the US Department of Justice, are also probing issues related to Tesla’s safety and marketing practices.

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All automakers face defect investigations and recalls — today, Ford was forced to recall nearly 900,000 F-150 trucks over emergency brakes that could activate while driving — but Tesla is unique in its ability to address some defects with software updates. It’s also the case that Tesla faces more recalls than other automakers. Of the 400 recalls issued in 2022 impacting more than 25 million vehicles, Tesla held four of the top five spots on a list compiled by research firm iSeeCars.com.

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