Tesla is being investigated over steering wheels falling off mid-drive

Two people have complained of 2023 Model Ys delivered with a missing bolt that holds the wheel to the steering column. (Picture: AP)

You never expect your car’s steering wheel fall off while driving, especially on a £44,000 Tesla but at least two people have complained of it.

US safety regulators are turning up the heat on Elon Musk’s electric car company, Tesla, announcing investigations into steering wheels coming off some SUVs.

On Wednesday, the agency posted documents revealing that it is investigating steering wheels that can detach from the steering column on as many as 120,000 Model Y SUVs.

The agency said it received two complaints in which 2023 Model Ys were delivered to customers with a missing bolt that holds the wheel to the steering column. A friction fit held the steering wheels on, but they separated when force was exerted while the SUVs were being driven.

The agency says that both incidents happened while the SUVs had low mileage on them.

An 8-car pileup after a Tesla allegedly using Full Self-Driving stopped in a highway tunnel (Picture: California Highway Patrol)

In one complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an owner said he was driving with his family in New Jersey, when the steering wheel suddenly came off on January 29, five days after the vehicle was purchased.

The owner wrote that there were no cars behind him, and he was able to pull toward the road divider and there were no injuries.

It was a ‘horrible experience’, the car’s owner, Prerak Patel, told The Associated Press. He said he was in the freeway’s left lane when the steering wheel came off and was lucky the road was straight and he was able to stop the car at the divider.

The NHTSA is also investigating a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S suspected of using an automated driving system when it crashed into a parked fire engine in California.

The probe is part of a larger investigation by the agency into multiple instances of Teslas using the autopilot system crashing into parked emergency vehicles that are tending to other crashes.

NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas in the past year, announcing multiple recalls and investigations.

The driver of the 2014 Tesla Model S was killed in the crash and a passenger critically injured. Four firefighters were treated for minor injuries, and the 1.4 million dollar fire engine was damaged.

Messages were left seeking comment from Tesla, which is based in Austin, Texas, and has disbanded its media relations department.

MORE : Tesla recalls thousands of cars because of issues with their seatbelts

MORE : Tesla recalls 362,000 cars over self-driving flaw that could lead to crashes


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