NHTSA Launches Probe into Tesla ‘Phantom Braking’

U.S. safety regulators have opened a new investigation into Tesla’s vehicles, following an increase in customer complaints about brake issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into “phantom braking” at highway speeds in Tesla’s vehicles, according to The Associated Press.

The investigation comes after 354 complaints from Tesla owners were filed in the past nine months, with the probe covering approximately 416,000 Model 3 and Y vehicles from the 2021 and 2022 model years.

The agency said, “Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, and often repeatedly during a single drive cycle.”

The unexpected braking varies between huge decelerations and repeated pulsing of the brake — both of which can be dangerous in a highway driving scenario.

‘Phantom braking’ sometimes occurs on single-lane undivided roads or highways. When a large truck is oncoming, we’ve experienced our Tesla brake suddenly, which is alarming if someone is following you closely from behind.

The news comes after a series of investigations and recalls into Tesla were prompted by the NHTSA throughout 2021 and into the new year.

Most recently, the NHTSA had Tesla recall its Boombox feature last week, modifying it to only operate when the vehicle is in park to avoid obscuring pedestrian warning sounds. Tesla released an over-the-air (OTA) software update to fix the issue.

Last year, the NHTSA also launched a probe into Tesla’s Autopilot after a series of accidents with first responder vehicles.