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NHTSA Has Phantom Braking Questions for Tesla, Asks for Response by June 20

As of now, this is just a request, but NHTSA is likely to get more serious if Tesla doesn't comply.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
2021 tesla model y in a snowy parking lot
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2021 tesla model y in a snowy parking lot

Any time a car slams on its brakes without warning is a bad time, and this car does it a lot.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Phantom braking -- aka the phenomenon of your randomly slamming on the brakes when Autopilot is engaged -- is a big problem. We've experienced it on our long-term Model Y, and there have been hundreds of reports of other owners experiencing similar issues. It's such a problem that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into it.

Tesla doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to criticism of its technology, even if it comes from a government agency, so it has been slow to respond to questions from NHTSA about possible faults with Autopilot. Now, according to a report published on Friday by Reuters, it's asking Tesla to respond by June 20.

NHTSA launched a preliminary investigation into the phantom braking issue back in February, and the results of that investigation haven't been made public yet. However, if the agency is still pursuing it, it stands to reason that there could be something to the claims.

What will happen if Tesla doesn't respond to NHTSA's questions by June 20? Well, it's hard to say. NHTSA has some teeth when it comes to creating and enforcing policy, but because this is a request, it's not totally clear what the agency's next steps could be, but hopefully, something comes of this.

The ongoing phantom braking issue with our Model Y has led us to stop recommending Tesla vehicles, and we'll continue down that road until the problem is fixed.

We'd typically ask a vehicle manufacturer for comment in a situation like this, but Tesla no longer has a media relations department.

Meet Roadshow's long-term 2021 Tesla Model Y

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Watch this: Long-Term Tesla Model Y: How It Rates in Extreme-Winter Testing