The US road safety regulator is delving deeper into reports of multiple Tesla electric vehicles (EV) losing power steering assistance, after receiving more than 2400 complaints about the alleged fault.
In July 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into the Tesla Model Y electric SUV and Model 3 sedan, following 12 complaints from owners of 2023 model year vehicles.
At the time, it was reported approximately 280,000 EVs were impacted by the fault which owners said would cause their power steering system to stop working – leading to drivers having to exert more force to turn the steering wheel, or being unable to due to the extra weight.
As reported by Reuters this week, NHTSA has now expanded its probe, having received 2388 official complaints about the fault.
NHTSA says its engineering analysis covers more than 330,000 Tesla Model Ys and Model 3s sold in the US last year. An engineering analysis is a required step before a recall can be issued.
The road safety authority has said more than 50 Tesla EVs were allegedly towed off the road after experiencing the fault.
It’s not yet clear whether Tesla will be forced to recall the circa-330,000 affected models, and if the fault can be repaired via an over-the-air software update or if physical parts need to be replaced.
According to NHTSA, owners of affected Tesla models have reported the power steering fault would persist even after having their steering racks replaced.
It’s unclear if this issue has affected Model Ys and Model 3s built outside of the US.
Australian-market Teslas are sourced from China, while the company also produces its Model Y in Germany for the European market.
Last week, the facelifted 2024 Tesla Model 3 was recalled in Australia due to a compliance breach, after it was discovered the electric sedan didn’t have an accessible top-tether anchor point for its rear-middle seat.