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Tesla denies safety problems with Model S suspensions

FILE - In this Monday, April 25, 2016, file photo, a man sits behind the steering wheel of a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing. Tesla said Thursday, June 9, 2016, that it has started selling a cheaper version of its Model S car in an attempt to make its electric vehicles more affordable for more people. The new version, called the Model S 60, starts at $66,000. An all-wheel drive version of the Model S 60 will start at $71,000. Both cost less that the current Model S 90D, which starts at $89,500. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

FILE - In this Monday, April 25, 2016, file photo, a man sits behind the steering wheel of a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing. Tesla said Thursday, June 9, 2016, that it has started selling a cheaper version of its Model S car in an attempt to make its electric vehicles more affordable for more people. The new version, called the Model S 60, starts at $66,000. An all-wheel drive version of the Model S 60 will start at $71,000. Both cost less that the current Model S 90D, which starts at $89,500. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

Electric car maker Tesla Motors is denying allegations that there are safety problems with its vehicle suspensions.

The Palo Alto, California, company says one of its cars had an abnormal amount of rust on a suspension part, a problem it hasn't seen in any other car.

On Thursday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it asked for information from owners and Tesla about Model S suspension failures. The agency has not opened a formal investigation.

Tesla said in a statement Friday that the Model S with the rust had over 70,000 miles on it and was caked in dirt when picked up for service. The company says it has given the agency all relevant information.

NHTSA says it's also concerned that Tesla has asked owners to sign nondisclosure agreements about safety issues. The agency says such agreements could prevent owners from reporting problems to the government.

But Tesla also denied that. The company says it has asked customers to sign a "Goodwill Agreement" when it agrees to fix a problem that wasn't the fault of the car. Those agreements make sure that repairing the car is not used against the company in court, Tesla said. "This agreement never comes close to mentioning NHTSA or the government and has nothing to do with trying to stop someone from communicating with NHTSA," Tesla's statement said.

Shares of Tesla Motors Inc. fell $6.89, or 3 percent, to $222.47 in midday trading Friday. Tesla shares are down more than 11 percent over the past year.