NHTSA Again Queries Tesla About “Phantom Braking”

Sign up for our weekly email to stay on top of the latest news and insights!

AUSTIN, Texas – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has requested detailed information from Tesla concerning unexpected brake activation by model-year 2021-2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles following 758 owner complaints. This is the second probe this year by NHTSA into Tesla  “phantom braking” allegations.

In a May 4th 14-page letter to the company, NHTSA laid the following alleged defects while the vehicles’ driver-assistance systems were in use:

1.         Automatic collision preparation system failure or malfunction, including all associated fault codes;
2.         Allegations of false collision alert warnings by the subject system;
3.         Allegations of missed emergency braking activations by the subject system;
4.         Allegations of unnecessary emergency braking by the subject system; or
5.         Allegations of excessive or unrequested braking by the subject system.

The letter then went on to require Tesla provide extensive material to the agency including all field and consumer reports about unusual braking as well as information about crashes, injuries, fatalities and property damage claims attributed to this issue.

The letter also queries whether the company’s “Full Self Driving” and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems were active at the time of the incident within the complaints.

As reported Feb. 18 in The BRAKE Report, NHTSA began investigating Tesla Model 3 and Ys after receiving 354 complaints for “phantom braking.” The investigation covers 416,000 vehicles.

According to the ODI report in February, “The complaints allege that while utilizing the ADAS features including adaptive cruise control, the vehicle unexpectedly applies its brakes while driving at highway speeds. Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.”

Sign up for our weekly email to stay on top of the latest news and insights!

The ADAS — advanced driver-assistance systems – referenced, according to Tesla, in the report, “as Autopilot which Tesla states will allow the vehicle to brake and steer automatically within its lanes.”

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.