CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, OREGON - JUNE 13, 2019: A wheel rim with logo on a Tesla electric car parked at a Tesla battery charging station in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
Tech - News
What's Up With Tesla's Whompy Wheel Problem?
Drivers affected by Tesla’s “whompy wheel” issue may hear a loud popping noise, followed by a grinding noise and then a degradation in the ride quality and handling. Although previously assumed to be limited to certain model years, such as the Model S units made between 2013 and 2017, a recent lawsuit that followed a fatal accident involving the problem alleges otherwise.
Some of the alleged failures happened when the car was stationary or moving very slowly, resulting in costly inconveniences, while others were more severe in nature if the vehicle was moving at speed. Despite issuing a recall of 29,193 vehicles in China, Tesla downplayed the severity of the issue in a letter to the NHTSA, blaming the recall on excessive wear caused by "driver abuse."
The root cause of the problem seems as if it could potentially be some combination of a lack of quality control and poor manufacturing, but more official details must be released to know for sure. A Tesla technical service bulletin published by the NHTSA in February 2017 indicates that there was a problem in the manufacturing of the suspension links that wasn't caught during quality control.
While it is certainly concerning that suspension components may catastrophically fail on some Teslas, it's heartening to know that it's mostly on older year models. Teslas also generally score positively when it comes to crash-test safety ratings, too. What's more, Tesla certainly seems to be owning up to it more readily than before, whether through recalls or technical service bulletins.