The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a probe into Tesla’s 2023 Model 3 and Model Y after several complaints about the vehicle’s steering controls.
A “preliminary evaluation” of the problem began on July 28, according to a filing on the administration’s website. Model 3 and Model Y owners have submitted a dozen complaints related to loss of steering control and power steering, with five reports indicating an inability to steer the car.
The investigation will look into the issue and determine if it affects the estimated 280,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. Both models are entry-level EVs, with the Model 3 starting off at a little more than $40,000 and the Model Y starting at just over $47,000.
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the investigation.
This isn’t the first inquiry the NHTSA has launched into Tesla. The agency has opened more than 40 special crash investigations into accidents suspected of being linked to the carmaker’s self-driving software, Autopilot, with the latest crash happening in mid-July. Last year, the NHTSA upgraded its investigation into Autopilot, moving a step closer to launching a recall, and the agency is waiting for updated answers from Tesla. The NHTSA last year also looked into reports of “phantom braking” — Tesla vehicles randomly slamming on the brakes when Autopilot was engaged. The agency has yet to publish results from that investigation.
Tesla continues to dominate the EV car market in the US. However, the company has been accused of overestimating its vehicles’ driving ranges and of hiding complaints about the ranges. A Reuters investigation found that the company has used algorithms to display an aggressive number of miles a car can drive on a single battery charge, while also having an internal team dedicated to canceling service requests by car owners who had complaints.