Tesla Faces Fresh NHTSA Probe over ‘Phantom Braking’ Complaints


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating complaints of Tesla vehicles with Autopilot driver-assist enabled suddenly braking at high speeds. The agency has received 354 complaints from consumers of this “phantom braking.”

Bloomberg reports that the NHTSA is launching an investigation into recent complaints that Tesla cars with Autopilot driver-assist are suddenly braking for no reason while traveling at high speeds. The agency is launching a preliminary defect investigation after receiving 354 complaints that “unexpected activation of braking system may cause rapid deceleration.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. The new Tesla factory is the former NUMMI plant. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. The new Tesla factory is the former NUMMI plant. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Elon Musk and Cybertruck

Elon Musk and Cybertruck (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

The NHTSA previously confirmed that it was reviewing complaints about the issue, referred to as “phantom braking.” The probe adds to a number of recalls and investigations into Tesla vehicles. Earlier this month, the company announced its 11th U.S. vehicle recall in about fourth months.

In December 2021, Tesla recalled more than 475,000 of its vehicles in the U.S. — approximately half of the vehicles it has sold in the country — to address a number of safety issues, one of which is potential front trunk latch failure which would result in the hood of the car flying up while driving and obstructing the driver’s view through the windshield.

The NHTSA began an investigation into Tesla’s driver-assist system, called Autopilot, in August following repeated collisions with police cars and fire trucks. In the weeks following the investigation, Tesla sent an update to its vehicle that aimed to improve the Autopilot system’s handling of crash scenes. In October, the NHTSA asked Tesla to justify the software change without filing a recall.

The NHTSA announced the latest investigation in a filing posted on its website this week. “The complaints allege that while utilizing the ADAS features including adaptive cruise control, the vehicle unexpectedly applies its brakes while driving at highway speeds,” the NHTSA said in its filing. “Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.”

Complaints include one incidence in which the driver of a 2021 Tesla Model 3 in Madison, Wisconsin, complained of his vehicle unexpectedly braking at highway speed. The driver said in the complaint:

I was driving north on Wisconsin route 14 at about 60 mph in my Tesla model 3 using the cruise control. When a large transportation truck came from the opposite direction, my Tesla suddenly braked sharply. A Ford model F150 truck was following behind me and almost crashed into the back of my car.

The investigation will pertain to an estimated 416,000 2021-2022 Tesla Model 3 and Y vehicles.

Read more at Bloomberg here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address

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