Tesla Model Y is the EV automaker’s most popular car. Even though Tesla claims the car is designed for safety, it is still not flawless. It is not to say that owning one puts you at risk; every vehicle comes with some risk. However, what you don’t know might cost you and even kill you. So, here are nine major complaints about the Tesla Model Y and suggestions on how to fix them. Some of these issues have been solved, yet others remain unresolved. Some of them might not have affected many people, but they could be fatal. Let’s get into detail!
1. The Steering Wheel Coming Off
It is the latest and probably the scariest complaint on this list. What do you do when the steering wheel comes off while driving on a highway? Well, you might have to figure out the answer if you plan to get a Tesla Model Y.
On January 29, 2023, one complainant shared a video on Twitter showing a detached Model Y steering wheel along with pictures of the car being towed away. According to the owner, he was driving with his entire family when the steering wheel suddenly came off. Fortunately, there were no cars behind him, and he managed to park near the road divider.
Initially, it appeared that Tesla wanted the owner to take responsibility for the flaw by sending him a cost estimate of $103.96. After pointing out that he had just bought the car 5 days earlier, Tesla rescinded the estimate and offered him two choices: keep the car with assurance or get a new one. He took the latter option.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, had started investigating the incident, especially since there had been an earlier report. In both cases, the Model Ys came without the bolt holding the wheel to the steering column. The wheel was only held temporarily in place by a friction fit, which separated during driving.
Tesla seemingly treats these as isolated incidents and is not making any major recalls. Therefore, you might still need to get a mechanic to check your steering column, just in case a bolt is mixing.
2. Touchscreen Issues
All Tesla models come with a minimalist design, and to achieve this, most of the vehicle’s electronics are accessed and controlled through the touchscreen. Therefore, drivers rely heavily on the touchscreen as the car does not even have an instrument cluster.
A growing complaint amongst Tesla Model Y owners is the touchscreen blanking or automatically restarting when driving. This might be a minor concern in other SUVs because the touchscreen is mainly for infotainment. However, this can be fatal when it is a Tesla you are driving.
Consequently, when the touchscreen blanks out in the middle of the road, it sends a chill down the spine of any Tesla driver. They lose access to basic systems such as windshield wipers, the speedometer, defrost control, turn signal sound, and battery gauge meter.
Fortunately, you can fix this by closing all apps or unplugging all the connected USB devices. If the screen goes off, press and hold the two buttons on the steering wheel until it boots up. If none of these seems to resolve the issues, consider Over the Air (OTA) updates for the screen. Sometimes, this might worsen the issue, but it often resolves it.
Tesla has prevented this problem in newer Model Ys by replacing the MCU2 computer running the touchscreen in earlier Model Ys with MCU3. The MCU3 is more efficient and crashes less often. However, its 12V battery needs regular checking, as a low or faulty battery can cause the screen to turn off or restart.
3. Phantom Braking
Unintended sudden braking is one of the major complaints against the Tesla Model Y and its sedan counterpart, the Model 3. In fact, Tesla is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system on these Tesla models is defective and thus a road safety hazard.
Most complaints showed that the issue occurred when driving with Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) on or when operating on Autopilot (full self-drive mode). In either case, the vehicle slowed down unnecessarily, sometimes in the middle of traffic.
The probable causes of the problem are the AEB, and Forward Collision Warning (FCW) features in Model Y. They detect obstacles using camera sensors on the vehicle; sometimes, these cameras send faulty feedback. One of the common faults is not determining that the car in front is in a different lane.
Tesla has yet to resolve this issue. However, removing the radar system has reduced its occurrence in newer releases of the Model Y.
The automaker recommends overriding the Automatic braking feature by stepping on the accelerator. Alternatively, just don’t use ADAS and autopilot systems. It is better to be tech averse and safe than risk your life with unpredictable systems.
4. Suspension Flaws
The Tesla Model Y has experienced its fair share of suspension flaws in its brief lifetime. There have been several complaints by drivers about failing control arms due to a faulty ball joint and bushing. Some Model Y owners have also shared concerns over loose and squeaky suspensions. To solve this, Tesla recalled the 2020 and 2021 Model Ys to tighten any loose bolts in the suspension.
There have also been reports about the fracturing of the rear suspension knuckles in 2022 Model Ys, causing the failure of the entire suspension. The automaker recalled the 2022 versions and rectified the issue.
The other suspension-related issue is the ride quality. Most drivers have complained about the poor ride quality of the Model Y on uneven terrain. It is because, for the SUV to have exciting liveliness and precision, it is fitted with firm suspensions. However, this makes it uncomfortable to ride on less-than-perfect roads.
Tesla Service Center mechanics or a qualified mechanic can fix the mechanical suspension flaws. There is little you can do about the ride quality besides using 19-inch wheels instead of 20-inch wheels when driving the Model Y on a not-so-good road.
5. Charging Issues
Some Tesla Model Y owners have reported that their car batteries do not charge. Common causes of this are a failure in the vehicle software, a faulty charging port, or a faulty power source. Also, extremely low temperatures can cause charging problems, such as freezing the latch mechanism, making it difficult to insert the charger or to supercharge.
The first step is to check for obstacles in the charging port and then try to push the charger deeper into the port. Also, try another charger or Tesla supercharger. If this does not work, there might be a fault with the circuiting of the power source.
Where the charging issues are due to low temperature, use the Defrost Car setting in the Tesla Mobile app. It will help in thawing the ice on the charging port latch. If all these fail, take the Model Y to the nearest Tesla service center.
6. Easily Triggered Alarms
Tesla Model Y owners have reported that the car’s alarm system is set off often by random noises like loud thunderstorms. In some cases, some owners have said that vibrations in the vehicle’s seat-heating and AC system triggered its alarms. Other causes of false alerts that trigger the Sentry mode include flashing lights, snow, and rain.
Set places that you consider safe such as your home garage or workplace parking, as excluded locations, and the vehicle will automatically turn off the Sentry Mode when you park in these areas. You can also turn off the alarm. You can still track your car using GPS. The other option is to hard reset the system to help eliminate any bugs that might cause false triggers.
7. Condensation in the Head and Taillights
Moisture build-up in the head and taillights are common problems in both the Tesla Model Y and the Model 3, as the two models use the same lights. In most cases, the condensation forms a misty covering in the lights, but some reports, albeit few, talk of water droplet formation.
Condensation in the lights reduces your visibility and that of the driver behind you. In cases of excessive moisture accumulation, the water might destroy the vehicle’s electronic system.
The issue is common in 2020 and 2021 versions of the Tesla Model Y and less common in later models. However, even if it occurs, the mist often clears on its own.
If it persists, take the Model Y to the nearest Tesla service center for a checkup. If it is the result of a manufacturing defect, the automaker will replace it for free, provided your warranty is still active.
8. Body Quality Defects
Tesla has had to deal with numerous complaints concerning the build quality of most of its models. It has rectified some of the issues but not all. Some of the common body quality issues reported by the Model Y owners are panel gaps, mismatched paint jobs, leaking seals, and off-centered steering wheels, among others.
Another common quality issue has been with the glass. Some Model Y owners have complained of wavy distortions on the rear windshield that causes dizziness in motion-sensitive individuals. Others have also complained of hairline cracks in the windshield and glass roof.
The best practice is to solve the problems independently or file complaints with the automaker when the car is still under warranty.
9. Steep Learning Curve
For those driving Tesla cars for the first time, the complexity of using a touchscreen to control nearly all vehicle systems can be overwhelming. Some have reported getting frustrated by the lack of physical knobs, switches, buttons, and the driver’s instrument gauge.
Another complaint stemming from the amount of learning required to use the Model Y, and all other Tesla cars, is the missing smartphone mirroring compatibility using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. To some, this is very frustrating.
There is no fix for this issue. Tesla is not backing down from its minimalist approach, so owners either learn on the job or opt for Model Y alternatives.
Unfortunately, there are still a few more problems with the Tesla Model Y, aside from the ones that we have already mentioned. These include its stiff suspension which causes the ride to be quite bumpy and noisy. Other problems include poor-quality glass in the panoramic roof and poor rear visibility.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Mike Mareen/Shutterstock.com.