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U.S. opens investigation into steering complaints from Tesla drivers

U.S. auto safety regulators have opened yet another investigation into safety problems with Tesla vehicles.

This time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into a dozencomplaintsabout loss of steering control or loss of power steering in the 2023 Models 3 and Y electric vehicles.

The probe covers an estimated 280,000 vehicles. Five drivers alleged in complaints they couldn’t steer the vehicles at all. Seven more cited a loss of power steering that required increased steering effort.

There was one report of a crash but no complaints of any injuries.

The agency says in a document posted Tuesday on its website that loss of steering control can be accompanied by messages to drivers indicating that the power steering assist has been reduced or disabled.

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The document says investigators will look into how often the problem happens, manufacturing processes and the severity of the problem.

Fifth probe in three years

The probe is at least the fifth started by the agency into Tesla vehicles in the past three years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in February dispatched a special crash investigation team to look into a February 18 crash in Northern California in which a Tesla potentially operating on an automated driving system had crashed into a firetruck, killing the driver and critically injuring a passenger. Emergency responders had to cut open the Tesla to remove the passenger. Four Contra Costa County firefighters had minor injuries.

The probe is part of a larger investigation by the agency into multiple instances of Teslas on Autopilot crashing into parked emergency vehicles that are tending to other crashes. Investigators are also looking into Tesla suspension failures, steering wheels that can fall off, and front seat belts that may not be connected properly.

A message was left early Tuesday by AP News seeking comment from Tesla.

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