Over 750 Tesla drivers report phantom braking when using driving automation systems

At least 750 Tesla owners have reported their cars randomly braking without reason while they use driver assistance technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) produced the statistic in an information request to Tesla. The letter was published on its website Friday.

“This letter is to inform you that the Office of Defects Investigation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary evaluation to investigate allegations of unexpected brake activation in certain model year 2021-2022 Model 3 and Y vehicles manufactured by Tesla, Inc., and to request certain information,” the NHTSA wrote.

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

The NHTSA is demanding extensive data logs from the car manufacturer, including internal reports concerning the affected vehicle, company safety test results, production numbers and more.


“Tesla’s response to this letter, in duplicate, together with a copy of any confidentiality request, must be submitted to this office by June 20, 2022,” the letter concludes. “Tesla’s response must include all nonconfidential attachments and a redacted version of all documents that contain confidential information.”

Failure to produce the requested information could result in civil charges, the NHTSA threatened.

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

“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.

In February, Tesla 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.

“Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning and often repeatedly during a single drive cycle,” the agency’s previous report said.

Musk on Friday endorsed Democratic candidate for mayor of Los Angeles Rick Caruso.

“Los Angeles is fortunate to have someone like Rick Caruso running for mayor. He’s awesome,” Musk wrote Friday on Twitter.


The unprompted message was notable as one of the first formal endorsements Musk has made since his surge into political discourse. Since announcing his intentions to buy Twitter, Musk has become more vocal in support of the Republican Party, openly hostile to Democrats and more opinionated on issues than ever before.