Back in June, a story about an alleged defect in Tesla’s suspension prompted a probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and ended up making international news. As we reported at the time, the story ended up originating from NHTSA complaints filed by an Australian man based on his own interpretation of pictures of salvaged Tesla Model S cars from websites.
Despite NHTSA looking into the alleged issue and reportedly not finding anything, the Australian in question, Keef Wivaneff, is still filing his bogus NHTSA complaints about Tesla.
Since we published our story on Wivaneff, also known Keef Leech, 15 more complaints have been filed about the Model S with NHTSA. The vast majority of the complaints follow Leech’s pattern of linking to pictures of a Model S accident or salvaged vehicle for sales without any VIN if it’s not available on the website.
He then provides his own commentary about what he thinks led to the accident. It is always based on what he alleges is a defect and rarely ever mentions the conditions surrounding the accident.
For example, you might remember the accident in Germany where a 18-year old took her father’s Tesla Model S for a ride with 4 of her friends. She was reportedly driving at an excessive speed and lost control in a turn. The vehicle jumped off-road “and flew 25 meters [82 ft] through the air” then subsequently crashed in a field at full speed before rolling over at least once.
Keef took a look at the pictures:
And filed a complaint with NHTSA with his conclusion :
“Tesla claims that this crash demonstrates the remarkable safety of the car (likely referencing Elon Musk sharing our article on the accident) because the teenage occupants escaped with their lives. Close examination of the photograph shows that the tread of the RH rire has been worn away whilst the wheel was still rotating and that this can only have occured whilst the car was still driving on a bitumen highway and not after going off road. I belive this is another example of suspension failures causing crashes.”
An inexperienced driver was driving a performance vehicle at high-speed, but Keef’s detective work manages to place the blame with the suspension.
It’s only one of many examples of Keef’s complaints. His latest was filed just last week and it’s again based on a Model S listed for salvage. He writes in the complaint:
“There is little sign of collision damage but the front suspension has fallen apart and the wheel has been torn into pieces whilst it was still rotating.”
Here’s what he describes as “little sign of collision damage”:
Why should you care? These complaints are publicly and easily accessible on NHTSA’s safercar.gov website, which is popular for car buyers looking to get a quick overview of a vehicle’s safety performance. These complaints can not only mislead potential buyers, but even if they don’t read them, Keef’s complaints artificially inflate the number of complaints, which alone can deter potential buyers.
What do you think? Should NHTSA implement measures to only allow owners to file complaints? Let us know in the comment section below.