Till the Wheels Fall Off: Nissan Recalls Ariya and the NHTSA Investigates the Tesla Model Y for Detaching Steering Wheels
We don’t often get to talk about recalls from different manufacturers in the same article, but here we are. Nissan recalled its new electric SUV over concerns that the steering wheel could fall off, while the NHTSA is investigating claims that the Tesla Model Y’s wheel could detach due to a missing bolt. Nissan’s recall is small, with just 1,063 vehicles, but if the investigation yields a recall, Tesla’s could include up to 120,000 Model Y SUVs.
Though Nissan included more than a thousand Ariya EVs in its recall, the automaker said that just .18 percent of them (two vehicles) likely have the defect, which involves an incorrectly installed or tightened steering wheel bolt. Nissan is unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue but said that dealers would replace the steering wheel bolt for free if it is found to be defective. Interestingly, there have been three reports of loose steering wheels from dealers.
Tesla’s issue is a bit larger, dragging in 120,000 Model Y SUVs. The NHTSA said that the SUV’s friction-fit steering wheel attachment could loosen if the forces applied are greater than it can handle. Two incidents have been recorded, and both were recorded at low vehicle mileage. That said, the reports are frightening, outlining a “complete detachment of the steering wheel from the steering column while driving.
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.
Do I get a hat tip? I posted about this earlier (the Model Y investigation).
Most cars have a friction-fit (interference fit is the correct term) steering wheel, usually with tapered splines. After that, a nut on the end of the shaft, sometimes with an e-clip or something else in a machined groove on the shaft, to keep the nut from backing off. I've pulled plenty of steering wheels in my time, replacing turn signal switches, clock springs, etc., or just replacing a wheel with a different kind. I've never found one that didn't use a nut to hold it on.
Usually a steering wheel puller is required to get the wheel off - I've never used the redneck method of rocking it back and forth until it comes off (it can smack you in the face unexpectedly). Then when reinstalling it, cranking the nut down forces it back on the shaft.
Here is the Nissan recall notice. "Certain Nissan Ariya vehicles underwent a recent port modification activity to replace the steering wheel due to a quality issue. As part of the activity, a technician may have inadvertently applied the incorrect torque settings to the steering wheel bolt. In certain cases, the steering wheel bolt may not have been installed. "
The issue occurred outside the regular production facility. At the production plant, every OEM gives extra attention to things like airbags, steering wheels and brakes.
"Friction-fit steering wheel"?
Is Elon telling us that his vehicle doesn't also have a retaining nut holding it on, like every other vehicle, as pointed out in another letter? Or was his assembly line worker so overworked they didn't notice the frigging retaining nut wasn't installed? Maybe they were too preoccupied with their bathroom break they weren't allowed to take?....