Several photos and videos of a Tesla Cybertruck made their way online over the weekend showing a wobbly rear right wheel after a pretty intense session of doing donuts in the sand.
So what happened? Was it just a case of poor driving? Or maybe the car isn’t designed to take that much abuse–even though Tesla says the pickup is designed to “Tackle Anything”? The short answer: it’s complicated.
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A Tesla Cybertruck was doing donuts in the desert when one of its rear wheels was seen doing things a wheel shouldn't do. According to several posts on Reddit and the Cybertruck Owners Club forum, the culprit was a stock tie rod bolt that broke.
We’ll start by saying that the Cybertruck isn’t the first (or the last) vehicle to experience hardware mishaps on off-road trails. Steering tie rods have been known to fail on the Rivian R1T and Ford Bronco (which isn’t an EV), and it seems that the Cybertruck can also suffer from the same failure if it’s pushed hard for several days. The only difference is that the Cybertruck we’ve all seen had the failure at one of the rear wheels and not at the front because it’s the only vehicle out of the three that has all-wheel steering.
The EV we all saw on social media is part of Unplugged Performance’s fleet. If you don’t know UP, it’s a company that develops and sells aftermarket parts for Tesla vehicles. Things like beadlock wheels for the Model Y, suspension and brake upgrades for the Model S, and a full-on off-road pack for the Cybertruck. And it’s the latter that was being tested when the right-rear wheel of the angular pickup decided to leave the conversation.
It happened at King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California, where Unplugged Performance also brought a Model Y to see how much abuse the mods can take–a 3-inch suspension lift, 18-inch beadlock wheels, and quick-disconnect sway bar end links.
The Cybertruck also had quick disconnects, as well as a set of 20-inch beadlock wheels wrapped in Yokohama X-AT tires. In a post on X, UP says that the drivers didn’t hold back and pushed both vehicles to the limits. “[Our] product development goals are always to push hard, to explore the limits,” the company added.
Before the development Cybertruck arrived at King of the Hammers, it clocked a lap time of 2 minutes and 15 seconds at the Buttonwillow race track just a week before with the same setup. At King of the Hammers, the two EVs attended the Optima Unplugged event, and on the second day, a stock bolt from the Cybertruck’s rear-right inner tie rod broke, rendering the car undrivable.
A Reddit user who was there said that about 40 EVs attended the same gathering–mostly Rivian EVs, two Cybertrucks, a Kia EV9, some Ford F-150 Lightnings, and a couple of plug-in Jeep Wranglers. Besides the damage done to the Tesla, an F-150 Lightning and a Rivian had some tires pop out of their place while doing donuts in the sand because of the low air pressure coupled with the hefty weight of the vehicles.
Tesla Cybertruck with a broken rear-right tie rod (Source: Emme Hall)
Here’s the thing: some suspension and steering parts are meant to be the weakest link by design, and the tie rod is one of those parts. It’s cheap and easy to replace and when it breaks, it saves other, more expensive parts from being damaged.
That said, we can’t help but wonder: shouldn’t a vehicle that’s touted as being able to drive on any planet and conquer anything be a little sturdier? Unplugged Performance says that they were going pretty nuts on the truck and that they’re not concerned with the broken bolt (a repair is already in progress).
What’s your take? Let us know in the comments below.