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U.S. regulators open investigation into Tesla after steering wheels detached from two moving vehicles

A employee inspects Tesla Model Y electric vehicles loaded onto a cargo trailer at Gigafactory Tesla Inc. in Gruenheide, Germany, Saturday, January 21, 2023. Tesla CEO Elon Musk downplays the impact of his tweets on the corporate’s share price as he defended himself in a San Francisco federal court hearing on Friday over a 2018 tweet about banning a personal manufacturer of electrical cars. Photographer: Liesa Johannssen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into Tesla after receiving two complaints that the steering wheels became detached on 2023 Model Y vehicles while people were driving.

The initial assessment covers over 120,000 vehicles, in accordance with the act of the agency.

Tesla shares fell 3% in Wednesday’s pre-market trading.

Both incidents occurred at low mileage and each cars underwent final repairs requiring removal and re-installation of the steering wheel. Regulators found that the steering wheels fell off when the force applied to them overcame the friction fit resistance while the cars were in motion.

“Both vehicles were delivered to owners without the locking screw that secures the steering wheel to the steering column,” NHTSA said.

The investigation will assess “the extent, frequency and manufacturing processes related to this condition,” the agency said.

Tesla didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

In one grievance filed with the NHTSA, the driving force said he bought his Model Y on January 24 and that the steering wheel fell off while he was driving it together with his family in Woodbridge, New Jersey on January 29.

He said he was “lucky” that there was no automobile behind him and that he was in a position to pull the distributor, in keeping with a tweet he attached to the grievance.

In a follow-up tweet, the driving force said he had “lost confidence” in Tesla and didn’t feel secure driving the automobile home. He later said the Tesla dealer called him and apologized to the driving force as well shared a photograph of the substitute Model Y, which received on February 23.

The Tesla investigation is step one before NHTSA can request a vehicle recall.

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