Elon Musk's Tesla Facing Probe Over Alleged Suspension Issue That Could Impact 115,000 Cars

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is launching an investigation into a suspected front suspension issue with multiple Tesla vehicles that could involve up to 115,0000 electric cars.

The federal agency said its Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) had received a total of 43 complaints from owners alleging failure of left or right front suspension fore links, seemingly impacting 2016-2017 Model X's and 2015-2017 Model S's.

Officials will evaluate the "scope, frequency and consequences of the alleged defect," the NHTSA said in a report, confirming a probe was launched on November 22

"The front suspension fore links may fail at the knuckle ball joint ring, which may result in contact between the tire and wheel liner," the report said, describing the alleged issue. The NHTSA said the investigation will cover around 114,761 vehicles.

According to the U.S. regulator, 11 incidents had occurred while the owner was driving, including at least four at highway speeds. Thirty-two complaints involved failures that allegedly occurred during low-speed parking maneuvers, below 10 m.p.h.

The NHTSA said it identified eight complaints that could involve front fore link failures, but they have "not been confirmed by repair records or photographs."

"The potential fore link failures were all reported in the last two years and include two incidents that occurred while driving," the report said. "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."

Tesla, which is overseen by billionaire technologist and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, has been contacted for comment about the fresh investigation by Newsweek.

The NHTSA report was published in full today by Electrek.

In its filing, the NHTSA said Tesla released a bulletin on February 10, 2017, that detailed a possible issue with vehicles that may lead to fore link failure.

NHTSA said the Tesla bulletin had informed its customers: "Some Model S and Model X vehicles may have been manufactured with front suspension 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 said affected Model S and X vehicles were made between approximately January 19, 2016 and May 25, 2016, the NHTSA said, noting the complaints it had received included 12 vehicles built before the bulletin's range, and 29 after.

As reported by Reuters, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Tesla in California on November 20, alleging suspension failings with Model S and X vehicles.

A Tesla blog post published in June 2016 said the NHTSA had "informally" asked the company to provide information about its suspensions and denied there was a safety defect in either model. Elon Musk claimed in a series of tweets at the time that 37 of 40 suspension complaints that were filed with the NHTSA had been "fraudulent."

A Tesla car sits parked at a Tesla Supercharger on September 23, 2020 in Petaluma, California. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said it is launching an investigation into a suspected front suspension issue with Tesla vehicles. Justin Sullivan/Getty