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.


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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