US safety body to investigate 115,000 Tesla cars over suspension issue

The safety agency said it was noticing a rising trend of alleged component failures at highway speeds.

The United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a probe into 115,000 Tesla cars over a safety issue pertaining to the vehicles’ front suspension.

According to news outlet Reuters, Tesla issued a service bulletin in 2017 addressing the issue, explaining that some Model X and Model S cars have “front fore links that may not meet Tesla strength specifications”.

“In the event of link failure, the driver can still maintain control of the vehicle but the tire may contact the wheel arch liner,” the bulletin explained.

NHTSA said it had received a total of 43 complaints from Model S and Model X owners who had allegedly experienced the suspension failure – 32 of them said it had occurred during low-speed maneuvering, while 11 reported it occurring while driving – four of those at highway speeds.

The independent US safety body said the number of complaints suggested an “increasing trend”, with three incidents in the last three months allegedly occurring at highway speeds.

“The complaints appear to indicate an increasing trend, with 34 complaints received in the last two years and three of the incidents at highway speeds reported within the last three months,” NHTSA said.

As a result, NHTSA said it had launched a preliminary investigation into the affected 2015-2017 Model S and 2016-2017 Model X vehicles to ascertain whether the alleged suspension issue could result in damage to the vehicles’ tyres.

According to Reuters, Tesla told NHTSA no recall was necessary as the issue was “exceedingly rare”, with no known deaths or injuries recorded as a result of the issue.

The NHTSA probe follows Tesla’s Beijing arm lodging a recall with China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) for 29,193 cars over two separate suspension issues in October 2020.

The affected cars were Model X and S cars produced between September 17, 2013 and January 15, 2018 and imported to China.

Tesla’s North American responded to the Chinese recall, saying it “disagreed” with the recall but had decided not to dispute the China-only action, blaming the issue on “driver abuse” that is “uniquely severe in the China market”.

CarAdvice has approached Tesla Australia to see if any locally delivered vehicles are affected by the alleged suspension issues.

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