Tesla replaces car from man whose steering wheel fell off while driving, motorist says

Tesla buys back car from man whose steering wheel fell off while driving, driver says

Tesla owners Prerak and Neha Patel pose with their Tesla. The photo was taken before the steering wheel fell off, he said. (Courtesy Prerak Patel)


The man who said the steering wheel of his Tesla fell off when he was driving on a New Jersey highway says the car manufacturer has agreed to buy back the car.

In a letter dated Feb. 3 that Prerak Patel shared with NJ Advance Media and later posted on Twitter, Tesla said while it has “determined that the vehicle contains no defect, non-conformity or other warrantable condition, or any other basis for Tesla’s liability, as a gesture of goodwill to you as a valued Tesla customer” it would buy back the Tesla Model Y.

Patel, who has changed his Twitter handle to “Tesla Steering Wheel Fell Off,” did not disclose the amount Tesla would pay, but said the amount would go toward the down payment on a new Tesla Model Y, and the company would pay off his existing full car loan.

Asked when he might get the new car, Patel told NJ Advance Media the company agreed to “prioritize it” but it did not yet give him a date. In the meantime, the company gave him a loaner — a 2021 Model Y — to use until the new car comes in.

Tesla’s corporate office and the local dealership did not immediately respond to inquiries about the agreement.

“My main intent is really to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other family, what happened to us,” Patel told NJ Advance Media. “They should investigate this and make sure what they did wrong doesn’t happen again.”

Patel posted about his experience on Twitter on Jan. 29, saying he was driving on a highway “and all the sudden steering wheel fall off, was lucky enough there was no car behind” and he was able to pull onto the side of the road.

Photos showed wires exposed and the steering wheel was hanging down.

CoTesla buys back car from man whose steering wheel fell off while driving, driver saysurtesy Prerak Patel

Prerak Patel took this photo of his Tesla's steering wheel detached from the column. (Courtesy Prerak Patel)

Patel later said he and his family was heading home from the Woodbridge Mall.

In a subsequent post, Patel said the service department at the Lawrence Township/Princeton Tesla location initially tried to charge him $103.96 for the repair, but he balked.

“Am I responsible for manufacturing defect? It’s not even week and getting bill for faulty steering wheel. Isn’t it company’s responsibility to fix it? We lost trust in Tesla and would greatly appreciate the car be taken back and full refund be issued,” Patel wrote.

Tesla later removed the charge.

Then Patel put up a new post, telling followers Tesla had given him two choices: “Keep car with Assurance” or “Replaced with New Ones” and he asked people to vote in a poll on what he should do. More than 83% of the more than 6,100 respondents said he should get a replacement car.

He said many Twitter users sent him private messages saying he should file a lawsuit rather than look for a replacement car.

“I’m not looking for money here, I want to make sure everyone is safe,” Patel said, noting that he believes the support he received on Twitter was key to the outcome of a replacement car.

Patel said Tesla owner Elon Musk, who also owns Twitter, was tagged in his Tweets but didn’t respond to the messages.

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NJ Advance Media Research Editor Vinessa Erminio contributed to this report.

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