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Steering Locked up on my model 3 [after ignoring warnings]

jlg32281

Member
Feb 17, 2020
14
7
Vidor, TX USA
I forgot I was part of this group or I would have posted this sooner. A few months ago I got a warning saying that steering assist was reduced and it might be harder to steer but nothing happened. This warning became a regular event and got to the point that it came on every time I drove the car. At one point, I got on my app and scheduled a service appointment. Of course the next available appointment was a 3 weeks away and over 100 miles away. This wasn't a big deal because of the warning didn't seem to affect anything. When the appointment was a few days away, I was sent a message in the app from the service department asking when was the last time the warning came on and if it had any other symptoms because they were preparing for my appointment. When I responded, I realized the warning had not come on since I made the appointment. They said I could still bring it in but since the service center is over 100 miles away, I cancelled. I live in Vidor, TX and the service center is in Houston, TX. About a week later, I was driving when the warning popped up but this time something did happen. The steering locked up. It was scary. I'm a 40 year old guy and I even go to the gym. I'm not saying I'm some muscle man, but I'm saying it took all the strength I had to make a sweeping turn into a parking lot for safety. I've owned non-power steering cars; this was not like a non-power steering car. I know my wife wouldn't have been able to force it to make a sweeping turn as I did. This was scary dangerous. I called the roadside service team and they told me to just do a reset. The reset seemed to work. Two days later, same thing happened again while on a 250 mile trip. I was able to pull over and do a reset again and it worked fine for the next 200 miles. The very next day, again on my way home from work. At that point, I parked it and called roadside service and told the to come get it. They sent a tow truck and took it in. The service experience was pretty good. They called me to get details to help with diagnosis. They didn't have a loaner available so they gave me Uber credits. I live in a small town and Uber drivers are scarce. A few days later, they offered a loaner which I accepted. I took an Uber the 110 miles to pick up the loaner. A few days later, they still hadn't found the problem. After about a week, they said they were replacing the steering rack. After the repair was complete, I went back to the service center to turn in the loaner. I wish it was closer and didn't take 4 hours round trip to get there. Hopefully this is a one time problem and I'm the only one but it was a seriously dangerous problem. Since the repair, no issues except now I need an alignment and my steering wheel isn't perfectly centered. Just thought others might want to know.
 
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Reactions: KenC and XPsionic

SaintMickey®

Closed
Sep 19, 2021
117
56
USA
I forgot I was part of this group or I would have posted this sooner. A few months ago I got a warning saying that steering assist was reduced and it might be harder to steer but nothing happened. This warning became a regular event and got to the point that it came on every time I drove the car. At one point, I got on my app and scheduled a service appointment. Of course the next available appointment was a 3 weeks away and over 100 miles away. This wasn't a big deal because of the warning didn't seem to affect anything.

When the appointment was a few days away, I was sent a message in the app from the service department asking when was the last time the warning came on and if it had any other symptoms because they were preparing for my appointment. When I responded, I realized the warning had not come on since I made the appointment. They said I could still bring it in but since the service center is over 100 miles away, I cancelled. I live in Vidor, TX and the service center is in Houston, TX.

About a week later, I was driving when the warning popped up but this time something did happen. The steering locked up. It was scary. I'm a 40 year old guy and I even go to the gym. I'm not saying I'm some muscle man, but I'm saying it took all the strength I had to make a sweeping turn into a parking lot for safety. I've owned non-power steering cars; this was not like a non-power steering car. I know my wife wouldn't have been able to force it to make a sweeping turn as I did. This was scary dangerous. I called the roadside service team and they told me to just do a reset. The reset seemed to work. Two days later, same thing happened again while on a 250 mile trip. I was able to pull over and do a reset again and it worked fine for the next 200 miles. The very next day, again on my way home from work. At that point, I parked it and called roadside service and told the to come get it. They sent a tow truck and took it in. The service experience was pretty good. They called me to get details to help with diagnosis. They didn't have a loaner available so they gave me Uber credits. I live in a small town and Uber drivers are scarce. A few days later, they offered a loaner which I accepted. I took an Uber the 110 miles to pick up the loaner.

A few days later, they still hadn't found the problem. After about a week, they said they were replacing the steering rack. After the repair was complete, I went back to the service center to turn in the loaner. I wish it was closer and didn't take 4 hours round trip to get there. Hopefully this is a one time problem and I'm the only one but it was a seriously dangerous problem.

Since the repair, no issues except now I need an alignment and my steering wheel isn't perfectly centered. Just thought others might want to know.
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,754
2,728
In a galaxy far, far away
I forgot I was part of this group or I would have posted this sooner. A few months ago I got a warning saying that steering assist was reduced and it might be harder to steer but nothing happened. This warning became a regular event and got to the point that it came on every time I drove the car. At one point, I got on my app and scheduled a service appointment. Of course the next available appointment was a 3 weeks away and over 100 miles away. This wasn't a big deal because of the warning didn't seem to affect anything. When the appointment was a few days away, I was sent a message in the app from the service department asking when was the last time the warning came on and if it had any other symptoms because they were preparing for my appointment. When I responded, I realized the warning had not come on since I made the appointment. They said I could still bring it in but since the service center is over 100 miles away, I cancelled. I live in Vidor, TX and the service center is in Houston, TX. About a week later, I was driving when the warning popped up but this time something did happen. The steering locked up. It was scary. I'm a 40 year old guy and I even go to the gym. I'm not saying I'm some muscle man, but I'm saying it took all the strength I had to make a sweeping turn into a parking lot for safety. I've owned non-power steering cars; this was not like a non-power steering car. I know my wife wouldn't have been able to force it to make a sweeping turn as I did. This was scary dangerous. I called the roadside service team and they told me to just do a reset. The reset seemed to work. Two days later, same thing happened again while on a 250 mile trip. I was able to pull over and do a reset again and it worked fine for the next 200 miles. The very next day, again on my way home from work. At that point, I parked it and called roadside service and told the to come get it. They sent a tow truck and took it in. The service experience was pretty good. They called me to get details to help with diagnosis. They didn't have a loaner available so they gave me Uber credits. I live in a small town and Uber drivers are scarce. A few days later, they offered a loaner which I accepted. I took an Uber the 110 miles to pick up the loaner. A few days later, they still hadn't found the problem. After about a week, they said they were replacing the steering rack. After the repair was complete, I went back to the service center to turn in the loaner. I wish it was closer and didn't take 4 hours round trip to get there. Hopefully this is a one time problem and I'm the only one but it was a seriously dangerous problem. Since the repair, no issues except now I need an alignment and my steering wheel isn't perfectly centered. Just thought others might want to know.
I saw a Youtube video reporting a similar problem. The solution was to replace an actuator located behind the stering wheel.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
11,461
13,345
Riverside Co. CA
(moderator note)

I changed this thread title from "My model 3 almost killed me" to a less clickbait thread title that I feel still captures what the OP is saying. I also added the additional information brackets that the OP provided in their first post, that I feel was "qualifying information".

I am not trying to sensor anyone, but I have said many times before that I am not a fan of clickbait / Sensationalist thread titles.
 

SaintMickey®

Closed
Sep 19, 2021
117
56
USA
(moderator note)

I changed this thread title from "My model 3 almost killed me" to a less clickbait thread title that I feel still captures what the OP is saying. I also added the additional information brackets that the OP provided in their first post, that I feel was "qualifying information".

I am not trying to sensor anyone, but I have said many times before that I am not a fan of clickbait / Sensationalist thread titles.


LOL I can see it now....

breaking-news-3.png
 

Gauss Guzzler

Safety Score = 7
Dec 27, 2020
674
864
Thousand Oaks, California
I'm dismayed but not surprised that the OP doesn't understand the importance of steering.

What's surprising however, is the equally lackadaisical response from Tesla. And terrible service on top of it!
Steering system failures are highly uncommon but absolutely critical when they do occur. Why didn't they just send a flatbed right away and get the OP to a local rental agency?
 

SaintMickey®

Closed
Sep 19, 2021
117
56
USA
I'm dismayed but not surprised that the OP doesn't understand the importance of steering.

What's surprising however, is the equally lackadaisical response from Tesla. And terrible service on top of it!
Steering system failures are highly uncommon but absolutely critical when they do occur. Why didn't they just send a flatbed right away and get the OP to a local rental agency?

Agreed. Especially if he would have had a head on crash with on of us...o_O
 

jlg32281

Member
Feb 17, 2020
14
7
Vidor, TX USA
I only canceled the appointment because the problem had stopped for a couple of weeks. As with any mechanic, not just tesla, without being able to replicate the problem their ability to diagnose it would be very limited. Also, the original problem was just a warning sign. There were no actual effects on how the car drove. After going a couple of weeks without a problem, I did not want to make the 4-Hour journey for them to tell me they couldn't find anything wrong. Heck, even when it was showing symptoms it was hard for them to diagnose. After their initial evaluation, they couldn't find anything wrong. It was at that point that they called me over the phone and talk to me and asked me particular details about what it was doing because they could not find anything wrong.
 

Frank99

April 2018 Model 3 LR RWD, EAP, FSD
Apr 7, 2016
369
501
Arizona
I thought the 3 had redundant steering motors and controllers so there could be complete failure and the second would operate. No?
Perhaps, I'm not familiar with the power steering system. But imagine a foreign object in the steering rack; something small enough that most of the time it just floats around, but occasionally it gets wedged in the mechanism somewhare. No car has a redundant rack.
 

Gauss Guzzler

Safety Score = 7
Dec 27, 2020
674
864
Thousand Oaks, California
@jlg32281 I'm really surprised that Tesla didn't do better here. I believe the car records every error message and they can access the log files remotely so it shouldn't matter if the error went away for a while.

And your description of the power steering failure isn't exactly "subjective". I'm shocked that they would tell you to just reboot and try your luck back on the highway instead of immediately dispatching an uber and a tow truck.
 

jlg32281

Member
Feb 17, 2020
14
7
Vidor, TX USA
@jlg32281 I'm really surprised that Tesla didn't do better here. I believe the car records every error message and they can access the log files remotely so it shouldn't matter if the error went away for a while.

And your description of the power steering failure isn't exactly "subjective". I'm shocked that they would tell you to just reboot and try your luck back on the highway instead of immediately dispatching an uber and a tow truck.
When I called roadside service, they said they could see my error message and asked if that's why I was calling.

When it locked up the first time, I was a little surprised at the lackadaisical response to just reboot. The lack of steering seemed serious to me but roadside service felt a reboot was sufficient and it did resolve the problem temporarily. The ability to reboot and then work tells me it was something electrical versus mechanical failure. Something jammed or broken doesn't unjam or fix itself with a reboot.
 

Rice&Curry

Member
May 9, 2018
473
233
San Jose
I think there is plenty of blame to go around. Firstly Tesla can review all the diag logs remotely to understand what is going on in the car. I don't think they did that or else they could have spotted the issue. Secondly as a Tesla owner one has to be on top of issues and chase them till tesla responds and gets it resolved. These are not ICE cars and not easy to understand what actually is the root cause of the problem. Only consolation is that it did not result in an accident or injury.
 

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