The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the steering wheel of the Tesla 2023 Model Y.
The federal agency, part of the Department of Transportation, had been made aware of two reports from Tesla drivers of steering wheels falling off the column while the car was being driven.
While one complaint was made directly to Tesla, the other was made to NHTSA.
In the latter complaint, Prerak Patel said the wheel fell off on Jan. 29, just five days after the vehicle was purchased. Mr. Patel also provided a tweet he had sent describing the harrowing incident.
“Was driving on highway and all the sudden steering wheel fall off, was lucky enough there was no car behind and I was able to pull” out of traffic lanes, Mr. Patel tweeted.
Mr. Patel, a Tesla fan and stockholder, would receive a replacement vehicle from the company on Feb. 23.
Neither incident resulted in a crash, fire or injury to occupants, NHTSA said.
Both vehicles were missing a retaining bolt that keeps the wheel connected to the steering column. Instead, friction had kept the two items together until the force of steering eventually separated the wheels from the columns entirely.
The drivers also both noted that the wheel separation occurred when the Tesla was low on juice and had low vehicle mileage.
The NHTSA will now investigate the 120,089 or so extant 2023 Model Y vehicles to see how many of the cars were shipped to their owners without said retaining bolts.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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