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U.S. senators call on Tesla to recall steering, suspension components

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Two U.S. senators have written Elon Musk demanding a recall of steering control and suspension components following the results of a recent Reuters investigation.

According to Reuters, Tesla has known about existing flaws in its vehicles that have led to component failures but has hidden the causes and blamed customers instead. Tesla has countered the company is “truthful and transparent” and the article is “erroneous.”

Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote Musk asking for the recall.

“We write with extreme concern following recent reporting about Tesla’s knowledge of safety flaws in its vehicles and concealment of the causes of these flaws from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),” they wrote. “This reporting puts your statement from January that ‘Teslas are the safest car on the road’ at stark contrast with reality. We call on you to swiftly recall all Tesla components that pose a safety risk and correct the record with NHTSA to ensure it can properly do its job.”

NHTSA is currently conducting investigations on Tesla’s suspension connection point, the fore link, and power steering following failures of each.

In 2020, Tesla recalled the front suspension aft link and rear suspension upper link in China, suggesting the company is aware of these flaws in its vehicles, but no recall has yet taken place in the U.S. or other countries, the letter states.

“[W]e are disturbed that you would blame your customers for these failures. Reporting notes that Tesla repeatedly attributed the suspension failures to ‘vehicle misuse’ or ‘driver abuse,’ including when justifying to NHTSA why it was not pursuing the aforementioned suspension recall in the United States. It is unacceptable that Tesla would not only attempt to shift the responsibility for the substandard quality of its vehicles to the people purchasing them but also make that same flawed argument to NHTSA.”

In August 2021, the senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling for the agency to launch an investigation into Tesla’s advertising of driving automation systems. Tesla has been accused of falsely advertising its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features in California. NHTSA considers Teslas to be SAE Level 2, which means the person in the driver’s seat must at all times supervise steering, braking, and acceleration and be prepared to take over.

In February 2022, Markey and Blumenthal sent a letter to Musk following numerous reports of dangerous braking flaws in Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving systems amid several federal safety investigations. The letter voiced concerns with the implementation of the company’s technology.

In June 2022, the two lawmakers issued a joint statement applauding NHTSA for upgrading its investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot system from a preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis after identifying additional crashes at first responder sites.

In October 2022, Markey and Blumenthal issued a joint statement on a reported Department of Justice investigation into Tesla’s misleading advertising of driving automation systems. The senators have also taken issue with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta software and Autosteer reportedly causing crashes.

Tesla documents reviewed by Reuters show the automaker’s engineers tracked frequent failures of aft links and other suspension, steering, and axle parts for years, oftentimes on relatively new cars. The company instructed its service managers to tell customers that the parts were not faulty as it struggled to contain soaring warranty costs, according to Reuters.

In response to the Reuters investigation, Tesla posted on X that the headline was misleading and the “reality” is Tesla paid for most of the 120,000 vehicle repairs under warranty.

“Tesla has the most advanced vehicle telemetry system that can identify emerging issues, determine scope, and allow for faster vehicle and service improvements than has ever been seen in the auto industry. We take action as soon as we see a problem, something that should be celebrated as best-in-class, and is often cited by our regulators as a major safety advantage.

“The author has conflated a noise-related (non-safety) issue with a range of unrelated and disconnected service actions. Contrary to the article’s statements based on erroneous data, Tesla is truthful and transparent with our safety regulators around the globe and any insinuation otherwise is plain wrong.”


Featured image courtesy of baileystock/iStock

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