U.S. highway safety regulators have opened yet another investigation into problems with Teslas, this time tied to complaints that the seat belts may not hold people in a crash.
The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers an estimated 50,000 Model X SUVs from the 2022 and 2023 model years. The agency said it received two complaints from Tesla owners that the front belts weren’t sufficiently connected at the factory.
Documents posted by the agency Tuesday said the belt linkage and pretensioners, which tighten the belts before a crash, are anchored to the seat frames. Both complaints allege that the linkage and pretensioner separated from the frames when the vehicles were driving and force was exerted. Neither incident involved a crash.
The agency said it’s opening the probe to look into Tesla’s manufacturing processes, how often the problem happens and how widespread it is. Investigations can lead to recalls.
A message was left early Tuesday seeking comment from Tesla.
NHTSA also is investigating complaints about problems with Teslas that date to 2020. The probes include Teslas with partially automated driving systems that can brake for no reason or can run into emergency vehicles parked on highways.
There also are investigations into complaints that some steering wheels can suddenly disconnect and that suspension parts can fail.
In February, Tesla moved to recall nearly 363,000 vehicles with its “Full Self-Driving” system to fix problems with how it observes posted speed limits and behaves around street intersections. The recall covers some 2016-2023 Model S and Model X vehicles, as well as 2013 through 2017 Model 3s, and 2020l through 2023 Model Y vehicles.
The recall came after U.S. safety regulators expressed concerns about the way Tesla’s system responds in four areas along roads.
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