Tesla Model Y is now under NHTSA investigation over steering wheels falling off

The NHTSA announced that it is investigating the Tesla Model Y over a potential issue after two vehicles had their steering wheels fall off.

In a new report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wrote that it is aware of two reports of steering wheels completely falling off on 2023 Model Y vehicles:

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) is aware of two reports of complete detachment of the steering wheel from the steering column while driving in 2023 Model Year Tesla Model Y vehicles. Both vehicles were delivered to the owners missing the retaining bolt (P/N1036655-00-A) which attaches the steering wheel to the steering column.

The NHTSA has been in communication with Tesla, and it has found out that both affected vehicles had an “end-of-line repair” that required the removal of the steering wheel.

The NHTSA wrote in the report:

Both vehicles received an end of line repair requiring removal and re-installation of the steering wheel. A friction fit maintained the connection between the steering wheel and the column splines during operation until separation. Sudden separation occurred when the force exerted on the steering wheel overcame the resistance of the friction fit while the vehicles were in motion. Both known incidents occurred at low vehicle mileage.

The agency is still working with Tesla to determine the scope of the manufacturing issue to see if it affects more vehicles and therefore could need a safety recall.

Over the last year, Tesla was hit by many recalls from the NHTSA, but most of them have been fixed with over-the-air software updates – leading Tesla fans to complain about the use of the word “recall” in those cases.

But in this case, it would be a manufacturing issue that would require a physical recall. However, it’s still not clear if more vehicles are affected beyond the two incidents reported to the NHTSA.