Steering wheel locked on brand new 2020 Tesla 3- not once, but TWICE

Steering wheel locked on brand new 2020 Tesla 3- not once, but TWICE

Has anyone had the steering wheel lock up completely while driving on model 3? I have a brand NEW Tesla as of Nov 21st and I have had the steering wheel lock down on me not once, but twice! The first time it happened the car had to be towed away and was in service for 2 weeks. They replaced the steering wheel, said it was a hardware problem and it was "fixed." 10 days later after getting it back, the SAME PROBLEM happened, again while driving on a street! But this time, multiple alerts flashed, including "ABS disabled", "Steering assist reduced", "Automatic Emergency Braking is disabled", "Regenerative braking disabled". The car is in service again and I am waiting for the diagnostics.
I have ONLY 360 miles on it; the car is but a month plus few days old, and I feel completely frustrated. I am also scared to drive it, even if they say they have "fixed it"!!!

swagpandit | 27 december 2019

please post this

stingray.don | 28 december 2019

The steering wheel does not lock per se. You lost power steering, which makes the steering wheel very difficult to turn. Same thing can happen in any vehicle and is not unique to Tesla. This was a known issue with the model S, but I haven’t heard of it with the model 3. The service center should be able to sort it out.

gmr6415 | 28 december 2019

@stingray.don, that's very dependent on what service center. They aren't all the same caliber.

swagpandit | 28 december 2019

Yes, you are right, @stingray.don- I lost power steering. But it happened twice in one month! They already replaced the wheel and other parts related to it which took 2 weeks in the service center, returned my car saying it was "fixed," but it happened again! And this is in a new 2020 Tesla 3 model! Do you think they should just give me a new car, given that I have 300 + miles only on it?

stingray.don | 28 december 2019

Do you think they should just give me a new car, given that I have 300 + miles only on it?
Sure, but doesn’t really matter what any of us thinks. You would have to see what Tesla will do for you. Otherwise, see if you qualify under the lemon laws.

Lonestar10_1999 | 28 december 2019

Other than power steering reliability, is there any difference between a 2020 model and a 2019 model?

PECo CT | 28 december 2019

I thought that the steering system on the Model 3 is fully electric, not hydraulic with power assist. In that case, a total loss of electrical power to the system would result in a total loss of steering, wouldn’t it?

I saw an article regarding this, but it didn’t really go into any depth ( ):

“Tesla designed the Model 3’s electric power steering system to have a rapid 10:1 ratio. The power steering is equipped with full redundancy with separate power feeds taken directly from the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. The engineers also mentioned two electronic modules and two inverters providing “hot backup” to the system if one fails.”

In any case, I’d like to know how this gets resolved. Thanks for sharing, @swagpandit.

Magic 8 Ball | 28 december 2019

@PECo CT Drive by wire is not legal in USA. Car is required to be steerable via mechanical linkage. Only thing that would fail is power assist but car would still be steerable.

lbowroom | 28 december 2019

So your car lost power to critical systems twice. That is a serious problem. I don’t envy you. However, the steering didn’t lock. If it did I think you would have crashed. Language is important, it conveys meaning.

jamilworm | 28 december 2019

If you bought it this year why do you think its a 2020 Model 3?

gize | 28 december 2019

Sorry to hear that Swag. I would be so bummed if that happened to my brand new car. Keep your chin up though, I am sure they will get it working 100% and your confidence will grow as you drive without issue going forward.

rxlawdude | 28 december 2019

@jamilworm, Tesla's VINs on recently delivered cars are showing a 2020 MY.

OP, your title of the thread is totally misleading. Please change it to "power steering lost" which is an accurate statement while "locked" is not.

swagpandit | 30 december 2019

@rxlawdude @lbowroom- I am sorry I did not mean to mislead- I lost power steering and I was not able to turn the car- I am not familiar with car terminology; I just know that the steering wheel would not move as if it is "locked" and multiple alerts as mentioned in my initial thread flashed.
Anyway, I am corresponding with the service center, they have ordered some part that they believe will fix it, but there is no estimated time yet. I am pushing for a new car- I have lost all confidence right now.
Thank you for the support.

lbowroom | 30 december 2019

Still your description claims you couldn’t turn. What did you do? Did you stop straight in the lane you were in blocking traffic?

-TheJohn- | 30 december 2019

My sympathy!
I totally get how having a major problem occur and then re-occur after it was stated to be fixed would be super confidence busting.
I would not give up. Tesla will make it right. I can see how one would adopt a forget this particular vehicle attitude but if I had to bet it'd be on things being smooth sailing from now on.
Either way they will fix things with you and you'll be singing its praises I hope!

Let us know how things turn out please.

swagpandit | 31 december 2019

@lbowroom, yes the first time it happened I put on my hazard lights and stopped in the lane after slowing down- I was in the slow lane and cars started passing me from the left. The second time it happened after the car was already "fixed" in the service center for 2 weeks, was in my own street approximately a block away from my front yard so again I put on the hazard lights and just pulled up staright into the frontyard of my house. Both times the tow truck had to tow away the car. Tesla roadside assistance merely instrcuted me to reset and that didn't do anything!!

Frank99 | 31 december 2019

I hang out on these forums too much, and this is the first time I’ve heard of this kind of failure. Man would that put me off!

I would have a strongly worded discussion with the SC manager about how you were sent out with “fixed” car that still had a critical safety failure. I’d ask that they review what happened, explain to you precisely what did happen and what failed in their process that allowed it to happen, and how they’ve fixed their process to assure you that your car has been fixed correctly. What happened to you (the second lockup) is unacceptable.

I am interested in finding out what the underlying mechanical problem is. Lots of possibilities.

apodbdrs | 1 januari 2020

@swagpandit, Agree with Frank99, this condition is totally unacceptable because it puts you and others in real danger! You need to convey this clearly to the SC manager.

PECo CT | 1 januari 2020

@Magic 8 Ball “ Drive by wire is not legal in USA.“

That’s not true. Infiniti has been selling vehicles with drive by wire steering since 2013. The NHTSA requires all electric power steering (e.g., drive by wire) systems to transition to a safe operating state upon failure. Infiniti’s drive by wire system engages a clutch to a mechanical linkage in the event of a failure.

shuj00 | 11 januari 2020

Steering Gear Assembly problems - My 2020 model3 in its second week gave me a service alert. The alert gave no description but just asked to schedule service. I scheduled it (only option was mobile service in the app) and got a text message next day from SC that I would need to bring it in. Upon asking couple of times what exactly is wrong they told me that logs show that car has issues with Steering Gear Assembly. They have ordered the part and I am taking it to SC next week. I asked if its safe to drive and they said “yes safe to drive till the appointment date”. Weird response though. My car drives absolutely fine and had been since day one. I heard no steering squeak sounds or anything. Steering also handles as expected (I use sport and standard modes and both seem fine).
I have co clue if its safe to drive or not but I am driving it around anyways.
I believe 2020 models M3s may have steering gear issues. Let see if other recent owners have the same issue?

Lonestar10_1999 | 11 januari 2020

@shuj00- perhaps the steering is fine with you manually steering but I wonder if the problem is that Autopilot steering is reporting issues.

shuj00 | 11 januari 2020

No idea. I also use auto steer and it appears to work fine. Perhaps its about to go bad soon...

crmedved | 11 januari 2020

@shuj00 Earlier in the thread, someone mentioned the power steering has full redundancy. It's possible one of the components failed, which means if the other fails, you'd lose your power steering. That'd be my guess anyway.

Big_Ed | 11 januari 2020

Steering wheel on the Telsa spins freely in arcade mode, so there is some kind of disconnect. It is definitely not a traditional steering system where if all the power systems fail, you can still steer with brute force.

lbowroom | 11 januari 2020

No it doesn’t. It moves tires during games

ODWms | 12 januari 2020

Mine moved tues last time I payed with arcade.

ODWms | 12 januari 2020


Magic 8 Ball | 12 januari 2020

Steering on Tesla does not disconnect, that is bad and false information.

Magic 8 Ball | 12 januari 2020

Meant to say: Steering on Tesla does not disconnect, it is false information to say it does disconnect.

Magic 8 Ball | 12 januari 2020

@PECo CT Thanks for the correction. So legally it is possible but it appears only Infiniti is implementing. The important criteria is the system must allow driver to steer in event of "feature" failure which is similar to being able to steer if a power steering pump goes south. I thought the criteria was to always have a direct mechanical connection but being able to disengage with a clutch seems to not satisfy that, if that is how the system actually works.

coselectric | 12 januari 2020

@swagpandit, I agree with the opinions that you lost power steering, and it probably felt like you couldn't turn the wheel at that moment due to the substantial increase in turning force required when the electric power assist failed. As stated, there is a mechanical linkage in the Model 3 steering that never disconnects, and the power steering assist is electro-mechanical, not hydraulic as in most older ICE vehicles.

it's possible that there is a bad wiring harness somewhere resulting in a flaky, intermittent failure. Clearly the SC did not successfully determine and repair the true fault, they probably just replaced one or two of the most likely parts and couldn't reproduce the problem after that while it was in their shop. Intermittent electrical probably can be difficult to diagnose. Your vehicle is an outlier from the manufacturing process, but I guess you're just unlucky, sorry to say.

Lemon laws are a form of consumer protection that may come into play if the dealer is not cooperating with you and providing what you are asking for. You don't need to go there... yet. Given that it has now happened twice and they haven't repaired the issue - and that this is a safety issue (even if your steering didn't actually fail because you still had manual steering, clearly the immediate change in steering force required to control the vehicle could have resulted in a collision) you could certainly demand a different vehicle, but they may not be obligated to provide you with one yet, so you're still in the form of a negotiation process on that.

Short of them replacing your vehicle, if they repair it again and return the vehicle to you, you need a clear and confident explanation of the diagnosed failure and what was done to repair it. You should ask to talk with the most senior technician at that SC. Things to watch out for are the replacement of multiple components - that is generally a sign in auto repair that they didn't conclusively diagnose the problem and just replaced the likely components, possibly just based on a flowchart in a service manual. What you want is a clear explanation of which component failed, how it failed, how they determined the failure, and an explanation of why it was intermittent and difficult to diagnose. It's not necessary for them to provide you with the failed component, which is something you might do if you don't trust that an auto repair shop actually performed the work they charged for. In this case, you need confidence in the diagnosis, not proof of repair. They should be cooperative and motivated to provide you with that, otherwise go up the chain until you find someone who is.

Understand that it is the general experience of nearly everyone on this forum that Tesla is interested and motivated to make you a satisfied customer, but they are still a young company and don't always have the experience in dealing with outlier situations expeditiously. It would not surprise me if your specific failure ultimately receives additional attention from factory engineers to improve their reliability and diagnostics (which you will never know about). Good luck, and please keep us posted on how this resolves, you have our collective support.

Big_Ed | 12 januari 2020

Ok my bad

Magic 8 Ball | 12 januari 2020

No biggie just adding to truth, PECo CT set me straight, all good.

+1 @coselectric

coselectric | 12 januari 2020

Let me just correct something... I am not certain that the Model 3 has mechanical steering linkage, that is an assumption based on the behavior of the system during the steering-based video games. It occurred to me that is just an assumption.

This from a Teslerati article: "Tesla designed the Model 3’s electric power steering system to have a rapid 10:1 ratio. The power steering is equipped with full redundancy with separate power feeds taken directly from the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. The engineers also mentioned two electronic modules and two inverters providing “hot backup” to the system if one fails."

This implies the redundancy is electrical, not mechanical.

coselectric | 12 januari 2020

Sorry, that explanation does not preclude mechanical redundancy as well, but I have no first-hand knowledge of it. I'm going to watch some of the Ingineerix videos again to see if it's clarified, because now I'm curious.

Magic 8 Ball | 12 januari 2020

I checked on the Infiniti system and found this:

Apparently the "new" system was not well liked.

PECo CT | 12 januari 2020

@Magic 8 Ball

Infiniti's drive-by-wire system was kinda half-assed, because it was backed up by a mechanical system.

You were right that it's not legal to rely SOLELY upon a drive-by-wire system in a car; not yet, at least.

Magic 8 Ball | 12 januari 2020

@PECo CT You were more correct to point out that drive by wire is legal as long as there is a way to control via mechanical linkage should the electronic steering fail. It did not occur to me to have a fail safe clutch setup to accomplish the requirement.

Lonestar10_1999 | 12 januari 2020

Pardon the tangent but the OP reported his M3 which was manufactured and delivered in 2019 was considered a 2020 model. Is there anything that clearly distinguishes a 2019 model from a 2020 model? Perhaps a cost reduced steering design?

lbowroom | 12 januari 2020

“ Perhaps a cost reduced steering design?”


Big_Ed | 12 januari 2020


Other than the VIN code designator for model year, the only physical difference I have heard from 2019 to 2020 was carpet on the dead pedal instead of plastic. I think there may also be a minor change in the front seat rail configuration which affects fitment of some rear floor liners. Have heard no claims of mechanical or system differences associated with the new model year.

NorthValley | 13 januari 2020

@Big_Ed...yup, carpet for the dead pedal, no shopping hooks and no carpet for frunk. No issue with the Tesla store floor liners but maybe 3rd party night have issues?