Tesla Hit with Class Action Lawsuit Over Autopilot Phantom Braking Issue

A California Tesla owner seeks damages on behalf of all Model 3 and Model Y owners with Autopilot

Tesla Model X towing β€” Midsize SUV tow ratings
(Image: TFL Studios)
  • Tesla is facing a new lawsuit over its alleged “phantom braking” problem β€” where cars’ Autopilot systems will suddenly brake for no discernable reason.
  • Jose Alvarez Toledo, a Tesla Model 3 owner from San Francisco, filed a lawsuit against the automaker on August 26.
  • The complaint asserts that the problem turns “what is supposed to be a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare”.

Throughout this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating several hundred reports of “phantom braking” from Tesla owners. Now, as reported earlier by Reuters, the automaker is facing a proposed class action lawsuit from a California owner, insisting it is rushing autonomous vehicles to market with unsafe technology, including a troublesome Autopilot system.

Plaintiff Jose Alvarez Toledo, in filing the lawsuit, seeks to represent all Tesla owners with Autopilot. The suit alleges serious safety risks for owners using Autopilot, saying that, “Many Tesla owners have reported significant, unexpected slow-downs and stops due to the false engagement of their Class Vehicle’s braking systems, even though no objects were nearby.” In other words, the Teslas engaged in “phantom braking”. “When the sudden unintended braking defect occurs, they turn what is supposed to be a safety feature into a frightening and dangerous nightmare.”

Tesla Model Y

The pending lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages for owners to cover vehicle repairs and the diminished values of their cars, as well as refunds for the added cost of equipping the Autopilot feature, for cars where it did not come as a standard feature. It states Tesla knew about the defect from, “among other things, pre-production testing, consumer complaints, warranty data, dealership repair orders, and NHTSA investigations.” So far, however, the company has not initiated a recall to address the alleged issue.

The complaint cites 354 complaints for unintended brake activation in 2021 and 2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, between May 2021 and February 2022. “The problem is that Tesla is rushing these features to market when the technology is not yet ready and not yet safe,” it says.

Tesla Model Y

Have you experienced a Tesla phantom braking while using Autopilot?

Apart from the documented complaints to the NHTSA, anecdotal evidence suggests Tesla models have experienced a phantom braking issue for years. In addition to being an inconvenience, such an issue can potentially cause an accident if other cars are following too closely behind a Tesla with Autopilot engaged.