"Very unsafe and unreliable to drive on highways at high speeds."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is officially investigating reports of Tesla drivers losing steering control and power steering while driving, a terrifying malfunction that could put drivers in danger.
The investigation involves 280,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built this year, according to CNBC. The regulator has received a total of 12 complaints from Tesla owners over the mishap.
While we still don't know the cause behind the reports, it's yet another incident at the Elon Musk-led company related to apparent slip-ups in quality — a poor look for a carmaker whose reputation has traditionally been staked on the quality of its vehicles.
One driver was unable to take control of their vehicle while making a turn.
"Today while driving and making a left turn, the steering wheel locked up while showing an error code UI_a020 stating steering assist is disabled," one Virginia-based driver wrote in a complaint, as quoted by TechCrunch.
"Vehicle steering gets locked, and once you get out and get back in, the car code disappears," the complaint reads. "However after driving a mile or 2 code reappears, and the steering gets very stiff, making it almost impossible to turn in either direction. Very unsafe and unreliable to drive on highways at high speeds. Please investigate this matter, as I am not the only one with this issue."
As CNBC points out, it's not even Tesla's first run-in with steering problems. Last year, Telsa recalled some of its Model S and Model X vehicles, citing steering problems triggered by a buggy software update. The issue was remedied by a subsequent update.
It's unclear whether the latest mishaps are related to a recent software update as well — or whether the issue can be fixed via software update at all.
Outside of being investigated for locking up steering wheels, Tesla is facing a potentially massive recall of its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving driver assistance features.
The company is already under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over more than a dozen crashes involving Tesla's notorious driver assistance feature, some fatal.
Predictably, Tesla has yet to comment on the latest matter.
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