Electric carmaker Tesla is facing its latest investigation from U.S. auto safety regulators over two claims of complete steering wheel detachment in its 2023 Model Y SUV. The "preliminary evaluation" will cover more than 120,000 vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Both incidents involved the Model Y that was delivered to customers despite missing an integral bolt that holds the steering wheel to its column, the NHTSA said.

In both cases, the vehicles required repairs on the production line that involved removing their steering wheels. The wheels were refitted, but only held in place by "fit friction" — Tesla workers failed to replace the retaining bolt that fastens the steering wheel to the steering column.

The latest investigation will assess the "scope, frequency, and manufacturing processes associated with this condition," said the NHTSA.

In one complaint filed with NHTSA, a driver said he was with his family in his recently purchased Model Y on Route 1 in Woodbridge, New Jersey, when the steering wheel suddenly came off. The driver said he received his vehicle on Jan. 24 and the incident occurred on Jan. 29.

The driver said he was "lucky" there were no cars behind him at the time, allowing him to be able to pull onto the divider, according to a tweet he attached to the complaint.

The driver goes on to say how he had lost faith in Tesla and no longer felt safe driving his car home, especially after a Tesla service center gave the owner a cost estimate of $103.96 to repair the problem.

After some short-lived backlash, the service center apologized and rescinded the fee, with the driver later saying his dealership called him to apologize and gave him the option of keeping the car or getting it replaced.

The driver shared a photo on Twitter of his replacement Model Y that he received on Feb. 23.

The quality of Tesla's manufacturing has fallen under intense speculation in recent months, as the Austin, Texas-based electric car company has become riddled with recalls and controversy, most famously over the operation of its "Full Self-Driving" vehicles.

Tesla has issued 20 recalls since January 2022, with many of them required due to NHTSA oversight.

This latest investigation has yet to lead to a recall, but the NHTSA could demand one following the conclusion of its investigation.

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Car and Driver magazine columnist Ezra Dyer cited how Tesla has a lack of transparency involving vehicle performance, distorted the resale value of vehicles with sharp price changes, and delayed many vehicle launches. Dyer also noted dissatisfied Tesla workers and how CEO Elon Musk has weakened the company's reputation with his purchase of Twitter.