American safety regulators are looking into claims Tesla has forced owners to sign non-disclosure agreements over Model S suspension issues in exchange for out-of-warranty repairs.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating reports of a defect causing Model S suspension control arms to break and the driver to lose control of the car.
One member of the Tesla Motors Club forum reported that Tesla offered to go halves on repair costs for suspension issues if they signed a ‘goodwill’ agreement.
The agreement said: “You agree to keep confidential our provision of the Goodwill, the terms of this agreement and the incidents or claims leading or related to our provision of the Goodwill. In accepting the Goodwill, you hereby release and discharge Tesla and related persons or entities from any and all claims or damages arising out of or in any way connected with any claims or incidents leading or related to our provision of the Goodwill.
“You further agree that you will not commence, participate or voluntarily aid in any action at law or in equity or any legal proceeding against Tesla or related persons or entities based upon facts related to the claims or incidents leading to or related to this Goodwill.”
A NHTSA spokesman said that the agency learned of a ‘troublesome’ non-disclosure agreement over a repair issue that could have serious safety implications.
In a statement, the NHTSA said: “The agency immediately informed Tesla that any language implying that consumers should not contact the agency regarding safety concerns is unacceptable, and NHTSA expects Tesla to eliminate any such language.”
Tesla representatives have reportedly told the agency that it was not the company’s intention to dissuade owners from contacting NHTSA.
Motoring Research has contacted Tesla Motors UK to find out if any models in Europe have been affected – and whether owners have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements similar to those used in the US.