Many people are under the incorrect assumption that Tesla vehicles can drive themselves. The fact is that these cars still need someone in the driver's seat and a steering wheel for them to grab—at least for now. Apparently, someone still needs to tell this to Tesla's QA team, because a new Model Y decided to ditch its steering wheel on the highway with a car full of occupants.
Last Tuesday, Twitter user @preneh24, who goes by the name Prerak, picked up their new Model Y. Prerak says that less than a week after taking delivery, the Model Y's steering wheel suddenly fell off while driving on the highway, prompting the Tesla owner to post the experience on Twitter in order to tag CEO Elon Musk and several other prolific well-known accounts.
Prerak's experience isn't unique. In fact, the same scenario happened in 2020 to a Tesla Model 3 owner whose steering wheel fell off less than a month into vehicle ownership. In both cases, it would appear that a similar failure occurred where the bolt holding the wheel to the steering column may have backed out—or, in the case of the 2020 incident, simply not have been installed. Either way, the steering wheel may have only been held in place by the airbag and wheel control harnesses when the failure occurred.
After an interaction with police and a tow truck, Prerak had their vehicle towed to a Tesla service center where the incident was investigated. According to a separate tweet by the owner, they were charged $103.96 for the repair, though it was later refunded after Prerak lodged a complaint with the service center.
Prerak said that they lost trust in Tesla and asked that the vehicle be returned along with a refund. Unfortunately, the automaker quietly canceled its 7-day no-questions-asked return policy back in 2020, and the service center told Prerak that Tesla "does not have a return policy" and suggested they reach out to the sales and delivery team to discuss options.
It's worth noting that while a strange incident, a steering wheel detaching isn't necessarily a Tesla problem. In fact, Ford recalled 1.3 million vehicles in 2018 for the same risk, however, it was due to a bolt backing out over time and not due to improper assembly like the 2020 incident. It's not quite clear if Prerak's problem was due to improper assembly, though it certainly failed quite quickly for it to be an "over time" issue like Ford's recall.
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