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Investigations into falling steering wheels and autopilot problems

Tesla electric cars are among the best-selling models on the market. With the Model Y, Tesla’s e-SUV even made it the best-selling e-car of 2022 on the German market. However, the US Federal Highway and Vehicle Safety Administration has now published documents that assume a potential of 120,000 vehicles of this type in which the steering wheel could fall off.

Tesla steering wheel fell off while driving

Like the US news agency Associated Press reports, there have been two complaints that newly delivered vehicles are missing a screw that attaches the wheel to the steering column. With more vigorous movements while driving, the steering wheel could easily fall off. Publicly viewable Documents of the US authorities show that the relevant incidents occurred when the vehicles still had a low mileage.

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We had already reported on one of the incidents in January. Here the driver explained that the steering wheel had simply fallen off while driving at full speed, but that he was able to stop the vehicle because the road was straight and there was no car driving behind him.

Dropping steering wheels: Not only a problem at Tesla

The lack of a steering wheel bolt seems to be an easily avoidable problem. Nevertheless, Tesla is not alone with this problem. are also publicly viewable US agency documents, showing similar problems on new Nissan Ariya vehicles. Here, too, the steering wheel can easily fall off, since a corresponding screw was not installed on some cars.

Nissan has initiated a recall of the affected vehicle series. How Auto-Motor-Sport reportedNissan Ariya sold in Germany are not affected.

Tesla in the sights of the investigators several times

However, the sloping steering wheels are not the only reason why Tesla currently has to deal with US authorities. On February 18, a Tesla driver died after his car crashed into a parked fire truck. According to the Associated Press, the Tesla Model S was part of a series of over 300,000 vehicles being recalled due to problems with Tesla Autopilot.

Authorities are now investigating a number of cases in which vehicles with autopilot function rammed parked emergency vehicles at emergency scenes. In February, Tesla had to provide 360,000 vehicles with an update for the full self-driving function under pressure from the safety authorities. The Full Self-Driving Beta rollout has stopped. According to the AP, the federal agency for road and vehicle safety has so far sent investigators to 35 accident sites involving Tesla vehicles that may have been using (partially) automated systems at the time of the accident. These accidents resulted in a total of 19 fatalities.

The US Department of Justice has also requested documentation from the carmaker about the autopilot functions. However, Tesla has announced that even cars with a full self-driving function cannot drive completely independently and drivers must always be able to react. A problem, because many Tesla owners seem to rely too much on the functionality of the driver assistance systems and overestimate their possibilities.

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