The Front Fell Off

Matthew G. Saroff
2 min readMar 10, 2023

One of the problems with Tesla as an automobile manufacturer is that it is the personification of Elon Musk, and Elon Musk does not get either Automobiles or manufacturing.

Case in point, steering wheels are coming off the steering columns.

As Anna Russel would say, “I’m not making this up, you know.”

Either they are pushing so hard to get cars out the door that someone screwed up and left a bolt off the steering wheel installation, or a disgruntled worker had a serious case of F$# it all ……… Or maybe both.

In any case, I’m not riding in a Tesla:

Tesla has yet another federal headache to contend with. On March 4, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation opened a preliminary investigation after two reports of Tesla Model Y steering wheels detaching in drivers’ hands while driving.

NHTSA’s ODI says that in both cases, the model year 2023 Model Ys each required repairs on the production line that involved removing their steering wheels. The wheels were refitted but were only held in place by friction — Tesla workers never replaced the retaining bolt that affixes the steering wheel to the steering column. In 2018, Ford had to recall more than 1.3 million vehicles after an incorrectly sized bolt resulted in a similar problem.

There have been other cases like this, but they were all detected and resolved before the steering wheels come off on an interstate.


An Associated Press report says that in one of the two cases, the wheel detached five days after the vehicle was delivered to a customer in New Jersey. According to AP, Tesla initially told the aggrieved owner that it could fix the broken car at a cost of $103.96. Tesla later replaced the car for free.

5 years ago, I could understand someone wanting a Tesla. For all of their flaws 5 years ago, none of which have been fixed yet, it was the only game in town.

Now, there are plenty of cars that deliver decent range and performance, and they are better built and sometimes cheaper.