2023 Tesla Model Y Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Forward collision avoidance and vehicle speed control issues are among the top complaints from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Since its launch in 2020, Tesla has used the tagline, Designed for Safety, to describe the Model Y. But complaints from Model Y owners regarding safety issues have been on the increase for the past two years. And it’s no different for the new 2023 model. Owners continue to complain about all the same issues, including phantom braking and sudden acceleration problems.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2020   2021   2022

Most Common Problems with the 2023 Tesla Model Y

There are widespread reports of Tesla delaying delivery of 2023 Model Y (MY) vehicles until well into 2023. At the same time, it is clear that some people in the U.S. were already driving the 2023 MY in November 2022, even though it isn’t clear how many have taken delivery.

Nevertheless, there are already complaints mounting up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and on the Tesla Motor Club forum.

Forward collision avoidance and vehicle speed control issues top the list of problems owners of the 2023 Model Y owners are reporting to the NHTSA. Most focus on unexpected, random braking, a common Tesla issue better known as phantom braking. Other components that consumers say are problematic are the structure, service brakes, and the electric vehicle’s electrical system.

Before we look at the most common problems with the 2023 MY in more detail, we’re going to outline problems experienced by owners since 2020. You will see how some of the same issues, particularly phantom braking, continue to recur.

Prior Year Complaints, Recalls, Investigations, and Manufacturer Communications

2020 Model Y

As of mid-December 2022, there have been 144 complaints about the launch, 2020 model. There are a total of 25 manufacturer communications on record with the NHTSA dated between April 9, 2020, and April 29, 2022. One of these relates to MY vehicles built without a hydraulic control unit wake-up wire. It states that “in rare circumstances,” braking and stability control-related alerts may appear on the instrument cluster and touchscreen during the vehicle power-on process.

As the NHTSA points out, the law requires manufacturers to provide the NHTSA with these communications. They include all notifications to dealerships including service and other technical bulletins.

There are a total of 15 recalls, including one that relates to the unexpected activation of the automatic emergency brake. Another is due to a problem with the car’s “rolling stop” functionality that may result in it failing to stop at a stop sign.

There are 3 NHTSA investigations on file, 2 of which are still open:

  1. Autopilot & First Responder Scenes, “motivated by an accumulation of crashes in which Tesla vehicles, operating with Autopilot engaged, struck stationary in-road or roadside first responder vehicles tending to pre-existing collision scenes.”
  2. Tesla “Passenger Play,” which complaints state has the potential to distract drivers.

2021 Model Y

Complaints about the 2021 model lept to 614. Communications total only 12, and they were circulated between February 5, 2021, and April 29, 2022. Two of these relate to the stability control problem mentioned above. There are 14 recalls including the two mentioned above.

There are 4 NHTSA investigations on file, 3 of which are open. These include the two that relate to the 2020 model as well as another, Unexpected Brake Activation. This is an investigation into the so-called phantom braking problem so many consumers have had and continue to experience.

2022 Model Y

There are 383 complaints about the 2022 model and only one manufacturer communication, dated April 29, 2022. This relates to the same stability control problem found in previous models. There have been 9 recalls and 3 investigations, 2 of which are still open. These are Autopilot & First Responder Scenes and Unexpected Brake Activation, both mentioned above.

2023 Model Y

There are currently (mid-December) 4 complaints on record filed between November 18 and November 28, 2022, about the 2023 Model Y. There are already 2 recalls, but no manufacturer communications or investigations. Looking at the first handful of complaints, NHTSA is likely to include this model in the Unexpected Brake Activation investigation.

2023 Tesla Model Y Complaint Summary

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

Phantom Braking Problems

A 2023 MY owner from Colorado had only 500 miles on the clock when he started experiencing phantom braking while driving at 75 mph. According to the complaint, he experienced the failure three times within two days. No warning lights were illuminated.

An Oregon owner states that when cruise control is activated in the 2023 Model Y, “it suddenly brakes for no apparent reason.” This happened suddenly, on a road trip, and recurred many times during the trip. “It’s quite scary and dangerous.”

Phantom braking is just one of the problems an owner from California describes. It started while he was driving at about 40 mph on a local road during rush hour. While making a lane change, without any warning, the car went into parking mode and the speed was reduced to 0 rapidly. This, the complaint states, was an “extremely dangerous situation” that increased the risk of being rear-ended. Because the driver was unable to put the car back into Drive mode, it had to be towed to a service center.

A member of the Tesla Motors Club writes that while driving from Tucson to Las Vegas he and his wife experienced 19 phantom braking incidents. They were driving mostly on an open desert highway. Every time, the car decided to “brake at highway speeds for no reason. In all cases there were no cars or obstructions in the way and this occurred at various stretches of the trip. The braking was very aggressive.”

They tried disabling autopilot features including emergency braking. But it continued to happen even when using regular cruise control with all the other features disabled.

“The experience was unpleasant and dangerous. If at any time during the phantom braking event there was a car following us closely there would have been an accident.”

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Sudden Acceleration Problems

Another owner from California describes how the 2023 MY suddenly accelerated after the driver pulled slowly up to the curb while applying the brake. It jumped the curb next to a shopping center and hit the post outside a restaurant. It was a brand-new vehicle with just 10 miles on the odometer that had been delivered the previous day. There was no warning of any kind that this might happen.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Not every problem makes a car a lemon. But if you experience recurring issues that impact the value or use of your Tesla Model Y, you might have bought a lemon.

Did you know that every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners? Better still, the law makes them pay the legal fees for lemon-related legal fees.

If you’d like Lemberg Law to assess your 2023 MY problems free of charge, call our Helpline or fill out a contact form.

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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Joel k

    I have phantom braking when using the cruise control. Car will suddenly and violently decelerate. Notified Tesla. They told me this was normal. My visualization computer doesn’t allows work meaning I have no blind spot or forward collision warning. Tesla indicated this was a firmware issue or operator issue.

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