2021 Tesla Model Y Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, suspension and brake issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Many consumers that are hunting for an electric vehicle with lots of room opt for the 2021 Tesla Model Y. Why wouldn’t they when the automaker claims these models are “designed for safety?” However, there’s virtually nothing safe about the EV, thanks to the defects in the electrical system, service brakes, structure, visibility and suspension.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2021 Tesla Model Y

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Lane Departure: Assist

Problems with the Electrical System

As an EV, the electrical system needs to be top-notch for an enjoyable ride. Still, the Model Y continues to receive complaints about this vital system.

Here’s one complaint found on the NHTSA website. “The contact owned a 2021 Tesla Model Y. The contact stated that while driving approximately 70 mph but doesn’t recall; the vehicle began shifting from left to right for 5 – 10 seconds when another vehicle approached the passenger side of the contact’s vehicle. The contact attempted to disable the autopilot by depressing on the brake pedal and maneuvering the steering wheel however, the vehicle would not allow the contact to control it and it spun around and hit the median wall on the highway. Medical attention was received on the scene for the contact’s sister, who was a passenger. A police report was filed. The vehicle was towed to a Tesla repair center, where there’s an ongoing investigation. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and informed the contact that they would respond within 6-8 weeks after the investigation. The failure mileage was approximately 300.”

Currently, the NHTSA is investigating Tesla because of electrical system problems. NHTSA Action Number PE21020 states that there have been eleven crashes identified by the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) where Tesla owners needed first responders because of an electrical malfunction. This is simply inexcusable, especially if the company is priding itself on creating safe vehicles. Maybe Elon Musk should spend more time focusing on space exploration and less time on building vehicles.

Brake System Issues

Stopping the vehicle has been another issue entirely. The defects are leaving many people vulnerable with no warning.

Here’s an Edmunds review worth reading. “My wife’s Tesla Y had a malfunction this morning due to your regenerative braking system. She was driving out of a park from walking our dog going at 10 to 15 mph to a stop sign and all of a sudden the Tesla went out of control going so fast that she almost lost her life due to the cars malfunctioning. At the stop sign you can only go right or left only. You can see by the picture of the intersection coming from the park where the red post is, the car kept going straight until it hit a car and a light pole, after it hit the car. The thing is that my wife took the car into your service center at 901 Gilman to get her front windshield replaced. I’m not sure what they did there with the car’s computer while they disabled the car for service. When my wife picked up her car at the service center it was not working properly when my wife got the car. The side mirrors didn’t fold out so my wife flagged the service guy down to tell him why the side mirrors weren’t out when you put the car to drive. So that was odd. The service guy did something with the touch screen. Something from that point tells me that they did something to the cars computer when they serviced the car and didn’t tell my wife. Straight to the point that the car malfunctioning caused this accident. Your company is putting a dangerous product out on the street for people to drive is not right.”

The review goes on to say “I personally liked this car while driving it on the weekends with my wife and dog. I’m sure you know you are putting a dangerous car out on the road and that’s why there have been more accidents on the news about Tesla’s. Probably many more that don’t even make the news. The only had 1811 miles on it at the time of the accident. Still a brand new car that went berserk. What a damn shame. We should be compensated in some way. My wife and my dog got really lucky to be still alive right now.”

It turns out that there is also a brake-related recall dealing with the hardware. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V387000 states that affected models contain loose caliper bolts that could cause the caliper to separate and contact the rim, which would create a tire blow-out and possible accident. Whether the poor manufacturing processes or the electronic programming fail, the brakes are anything but reliable. Brakes aren’t often needed for space travel, which is why Tesla probably forgot to spend time designing these systems properly.

Problems with the Structure

The complaints over how the Tesla Model Y has been built also continue to roll in, with many customers expressing dissatisfaction over the quality control.

Here’s another Edmunds review. “That’s what it is… As a CAR it has not been designed correctly. The body it not rigid enough, the ride is harsh and noisy. Misaligned panels and gaps. Stupid glass roof is a heater in summer. Rear seats rattling with no possibility for repairs, been to service 7 (!!!) times, no solution… Service attitude is horrible, they just don’t give a damn.”

There’s yet another recall to pay attention to. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V389000 states that the front seat belts weren’t attached securely to the B-pillar. Without the right fastening, the seat belt might not protect anyone in an accident. Plus, NHTSA Campaign Number 21V388000 says that having fasteners not attached properly can also keep the retention system from working. Without the retraction function, occupants are left at risk. At this point, there’s really no reason to even have seat belts in the car; they don’t seem to be helping.

Suspension Problems

The ride of the Tesla Model Y doesn’t seem to be much better. Many customers continue to talk about drivability and suspension issues.

Here’s one from the Edmunds website. “After three trips to the service, still have steering issue and wheel vibration at highway speed.”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that there’s another recall worth mentioning. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V835000 states that the front suspension lateral link fasteners could loosen, which allows the sub-frame to separate from the links. If there is a link separation, owners can count on a shift to the alignment, which would create instability and make it more probable that a crash could happen. A crashed Model Y isn’t a new sight, so people will probably not be surprised.

Problems with the Visibility

A final look at the visibility in the Model Y reveals even more problems, with both the driver window and auto-dimming glass.

Here’s a final Edmunds review to read. “We got our TESLA Model Y on a Friday last month and the very next day, we used the VENT feature, and our Driver window BUSTED!!!  3rd day our car was at the SERVICE CENTER.  Parts were of course not readily available.  Few days the car was returned (UBERed to pick up) and the next day the window function completely went out on the driver’s window.  Guess what, CAR was back at the service center.”

Tesla is fully aware of issues with the auto glass. Service Bulletin #SB-21-12-003 states that some models with auto-dimming glass cannot adjust properly when used at certain vertical angles. But, this is nothing new…Tesla has always kept drivers in the dark.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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