The 2023 Tesla Model Y is officially under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due to steering wheels falling off while owners are driving. The preliminary investigation will specifically look into 2023 model year Model Ys, and NHTSA suggests the population number is approximately 120,089 vehicles
As of now, NHTSA says it’s aware of two incidents wherein shortly after the delivery of a new Model Y, the steering wheel fell off while driving. Both incidents appear to have the same backstory. Neither of the Model Ys with steering wheels that fell off had the retaining bolt installed that attaches the steering wheel to the steering column. Without the bolt, the only thing holding those steering wheels on was a friction fit between the steering wheel and column splines. When a significant enough force was applied to overcome the friction fit, the steering wheels detached.
Another factor that both Model Ys had in common was that both models were subject to an “end of line repair” that involved removal and reinstallation of the steering wheel. This investigation will initially aim to identify the “scope, frequency, and manufacturing processes associated with this condition.” If the NHTSA deems it necessary after the investigation, it could order a recall of affected products.