Missing Model Y steering wheel bolts prompt federal investigation into Tesla production practices
The two incidents of detached steering wheel while driving recently delivered Tesla Model Y vehicles were due to missing bolts, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation that just launched. The cars were apparently delivered like that and "when the force exerted on the steering wheel overcame the resistance of the friction fit while the vehicles were in motion," the wheel fell off.
In one case this happened during highway traffic, but the driver was lucky there was no car behind so they were somehow able to stop into the divider and then towed. At one point Tesla wanted to charge him for the service fix, but then it became clear that this might be a factory error, so they replaced the Model Y altogether.
The NHTSA investigation will now focus on assessing "the scope, frequency and manufacturing processes associated with this condition" that resulted in Tesla delivering vehicles with no steering wheel bolt fastened. The government agency says that the evaluation will probe about 120,000 Tesla Model Y vehicles of the current model year.
That's not the only investigation into Tesla's cars that the NHTSA has opened, as another deals with their autonomous driving systems. It recently resulted into a recall of more than 360,000 Tesla cars on the grounds that the self-driving software can run stop signs or cause speeding in certain situations. Tesla was forced to alter the legal language of its autonomous driving system terms to make it seem stuck permanently at Level 2 - needing driver's attention at all times - and is preparing to address the recall in substance.