Tesla is being investigated for steering wheel falling off Model Y

New York (CNN) Federal safety regulators are investigating Tesla’s Model Y SUV after at least two cases in which owners said their steering wheels came loose while the vehicle was being driven.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking at the 2023 model year. It said in the two cases where the steering wheel came off, the cars were delivered to buyers without the retaining bolt that secures the steering wheel to the steering column.

The report from the agency did not say whether there were any accidents or injuries as a result of the problem.

NHTSA said about 120,000 vehicles on US roads could be affected by the problem. This is an investigation, a step the agency takes before ordering a recall.

Tesla isn’t the only company facing safety questions about its steering wheel. Nissan also just disclosed to the NHTSA that it is recalling about 1,100 Nissan Ariyas, its electric SUV, because it may be missing a bolt required on the steering wheel.

Three vehicles were found in the dealer’s inventory with excessive play in the steering wheels and upon inspection it was discovered that the bolts were missing from each. But in none of those cases did the steering wheel come off while the cars were being driven, and there were no reports of accidents or injuries caused by the missing bolts.

In February, Tesla was required to issue a recall of nearly 363,000 vehicles equipped with what it calls its “Full Self Driving” software after NHTSA determined that it “resulted in an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety based on inadequate compliance of road safety legislation.”

Among the traffic rules the cars violated in FSD mode were “driving straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, entering a stop-sign-controlled intersection without coming to a complete stop, or continuing into at an intersection under a steady yellow traffic signal without due caution.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk objected to calling it a “recall,” saying it involved only an over-the-air software update that did not require the owner to bring the cars to service centers for repairs.

But Tesla ordered a recall last month of 3,470 2022-2023 Model Y cars because bolts in the second-row seatback frames were not properly attached, which could cause the seat belts in those seats to malfunction in a crash.

Tesla hasn’t had a public relations officer in years, and email inquiries to its press office are no longer accepted.

CNN’s Ramishah Maruf contributed to this report.

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