June 21, 2024 3:32 am

National News

Over 750 Complaints About Tesla Malfunctions Triggers Investigation

Credit: iStock

Reinette LeJeune

Reports continue coming in each day of new Tesla vehicles either breaking down or catching fire without reason. As of June 2022, more than 750 complaints to U.S. safety regulators have been filed due toTeslas stopping on roadways for no apparent reason while using the automaker’s partially automated driving systems. Equally confusing is the ever-increasing number of Tesla vehicles randomly catching fire – and in some cases locking drivers inside with no choice but to kick windows out in order to escape. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a 14-page letter dated May 4th asking the automaker for all consumer and field reports about false braking, crashes, injuries, deaths and property damage claims. It also asks whether the company’s “Full Self Driving” and automatic emergency braking systems were active at the time of any incident. The letter gives Tesla a deadline of June 20 to respond to the information request but says the company can ask for an extension.

Last February, the NHTSA launched an investigation into “phantom braking” in Tesla’s Models 3 and Y was launched after getting 354 complaints. In opening the investigation, the agency said it was looking into vehicles equipped with automated driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise control and “Autopilot,” which allows them to automatically brake and steer within their lanes. “Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, and often repeatedly during a single drive cycle,” the agency stated. Many owners expressed that they feared a rear-end crash on the freeway. The investigation covered an estimated 416,000 vehicles from the 2021 and 2022 model years, concluding with the agency saying there were no reports of crashes or injuries. 

This marks the fourth formal investigation into Tesla in the past three years, along with NHTSA’s supervising of 23 Tesla recalls since January of 2021. In their recent letter, NHTSA asked for the initial speed of when the cars began to brake, the final speed, and the average deceleration, while also asking if the automated systems detected a target obstacle, and whether Tesla has any video of the braking incidents. The agency is asking that Tesla detail its assessment of the “alleged defect” in the automated systems, including what caused the unnecessary braking, what failed, and the risk to motor vehicle safety that the problem poses. 

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, has been fighting against both  U.S. and California government agencies for years, repeatedly expressing concern about how much the government spends and the many rules and regulations it places on companies, regardless of the fact that Musk’s company very much relies on the subsidies he claims to be against. It also poses the question of how safe Musk is willing to be when so many instances of unexplainable malfunctions come from Tesla vehicles. If regulations were to be weakened to the level Musk wished, how many more injuries or deaths would occur along our roadways? Perhaps the Twitter drama should take a backseat to the more pressing and immediate problems plaguing the automaker.