In terms of the sheer volume of media coverage, no car brand can compete with Tesla. The company and its owner, Elon Musk, excel at building excitement for electric vehicles and new technology. The problem is that Tesla may be better at marketing than at building safe cars. This has become particularly clear over the past year as Tesla has fallen under several investigations regarding passenger safety.
These investigations cover everything from accidents to software glitches to gaming features to a supposed “rolling stop” setting. Any one of these investigations could unearth a deadly problem. Here’s what you need to know about the current Tesla investigations and how they may make your car unsafe.
The Wide Variety of Tesla Investigations
Teslas have been on the road long enough that federal and state agencies have started to catch up to their technology. In particular, enough evidence of unsafe features has cropped up to trigger safety investigations galore. Reasons for these investigations include:
- Failure to Stop for Emergency Vehicles: Multiple accidents have been linked to Tesla’s autopilot and self-driving abilities. The cars don’t recognize a parked emergency vehicle with flashing lights and crash into them. This fundamental failure puts emergency responders, victims, and drivers in danger. The NHTSA is investigating the company’s self-driving features to determine whether the flaw is worthy of a recall.
- Failure to Notify the NHTSA About Recall-Worthy Updates: After the above situation was discovered and the NHTSA opened the investigation, Tesla pushed software updates to the cars affected to “fix” the issue. However, NHTSA regulations require companies to notify them if they notice wide-scale safety concerns and issue a recall to fix the problems. Tesla did not do this, and the NHTSA has opened a secondary investigation into the business’s choice not to follow standard safety notice rules.
- Investigation of Driver Behavior during Self-Driving Mode: The NHTSA isn’t the only organization investigating the company. The California DMV may be about to require complete recordings of all self-driving beta rides to monitor how drivers are behaving when cars are entirely in charge of driving. These videos are supposed to watch whether drivers let cars drive themselves without supervision. Despite the feature’s name, the vehicles are not yet rated to support that activity.
- Law-Breaking Self-Driving Modes: A recent issue with the car comes from the reinstatement of several self-driving “modes” or styles. The company has instituted different driving profiles, including “Chill,” “Average,” and “Assertive,” which change how the car behaves on the road. The “Assertive” mode may be able to perform illegal rolling stops and other dangerous driving behaviors that put others on the road at risk. As a result, Tesla is being investigated again for potentially encouraging drivers to break the law.
- Distracting Center-Console Modes: Teslas have recently permitted drivers to play video games on the center console while the car is actively driving. The NHTSA has opened investigations into this feature for potentially causing accidents by distracting drivers from the road.
Managing Your Lemon of a Tesla
Any one of the issues Tesla cars may have could be fatal. As a Tesla owner, you must be careful to make sure a glitchy car doesn’t ruin your own or someone else’s life. If you suspect you’re driving a lemon, there are a few actions you can take that will help you protect everyone on the road.
Always Pay Attention to the Road
The self-driving capabilities of Teslas are suspect. While they may work the majority of the time, in the majority of conditions, there are enough exceptions that you should never take them for granted. Even Tesla requires drivers to pay attention when using this mode by ranking drivers with a “safety score.” Only drivers with a high safety score may even access the self-driving beta.
If even the manufacturer doesn’t trust everyone with its fully self-driving beta, you shouldn’t trust it, either. Always pay attention to the road, even if you have autopilot or self-driving turned on, so you can take over if the car glitches.
Make Sure to Perform Regular Maintenance
Teslas are all relatively new cars, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need maintenance. Make sure you regularly take your vehicle to a trained Tesla mechanic to get it tuned up. This accomplishes two things: it prevents minor issues from spiraling into bigger problems and creates a paper trail.
Regular maintenance visits demonstrate that you care for your car, and the documentation proves that you haven’t been reckless or damaging the vehicle yourself. That helps you shut down any claims that any problems your car faces are your fault.
Regularly Update Your Car’s Software
The digital nature of Tesla’s vehicles gives you another kind of maintenance to consider: software updates. The manufacturer regularly pushes software patches that are supposed to make your vehicle safer. Stay on top of these updates to ensure you don’t miss a patch that should resolve issues in your car’s programming.
File a Lemon Law Claim
If you’ve taken all the steps above and your car is still not working, then it might be time to file a lemon law claim. If your vehicle is still under warranty, the issues started before it was 18 months old, and the manufacturer hasn’t managed to repair it, you have grounds to request they replace or refund the vehicle. A lemon law claim is the best way to get that to happen.
Don’t Wait for Investigations to Prove You’re in Danger
If you have a Tesla, you should be cautious about your car. The sheer number of safety investigations into these vehicles suggests that there’s some kind of danger to drivers. You don’t need to wait for an inquiry to deliver final results to protect yourself. If you’ve noticed safety problems with your car, you should get them fixed as quickly as possible.
If Tesla won’t fix the problems for you, it’s time to take the next step. You can get in touch with the lemon law experts at Johnson & Buxton to discuss your case and learn whether a lemon law claim is right for you.