Feds open investigation into Tesla 'phantom braking' incidents

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an official investigation into reports of Teslas slamming on their brakes without an obvious reason.

The Tesla Model Y has received a 5 Star crash test rating from NHTSA.  (NHTSA)

Over 350 complaints of "phantom braking" events in 2021-2022 Tesla Model 3s and Model Ys have been filed with the agency.

The cars are equipped with a forward collision avoidance system that can automatically apply the brakes and Tesla's Autopilot electronic driver aid that combines adaptive cruise control with self-steering lane-centering capability.

No injuries or accidents related to the issue have been reported to NHTSA.

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"Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, and often repeatedly during a single drive cycle," the agency's report said.

"The phantom braking varies from a minor throttle response to decrease speed to full emergency braking that drastically reduces the speed at a rapid pace, resulting in unsafe driving conditions for occupants of my vehicle as well as those who might be following behind me," one owner wrote in a complaint filed Feb. 2.

The “phantom braking” investigation is focused on 2021-2022 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Tesla no longer operates a media relations office and has not issued comment on the investigation, which covers approximately 416,000 vehicles.

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The automaker has been forced to issue several recalls in recent weeks, the issues of which were addressed through over-the-air software updates, including a similar phantom braking issue that affected nearly 12,000 Teslas across its model range.

Earlier this month it also recalled 54,000 vehicles running its Full Self-Driving system that had been programmed to slowly roll through stop signs if no other vehicles or pedestrians were present.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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