2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Ominous Noise Fixed

November 4, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

"Our 2013 Tesla Model S is making an ominous noise under acceleration and deceleration. It originates from the rear of the car and seems to be getting worse." That was our last post addressing this mystery.

Here is how it was fixed...

"We replaced the entire drive unit," began our service advisor. "Tesla doesn't want us diagnosing the problem here, so I can't answer your question of exactly what happened. It gets put into a box and shipped off. Sorry I don't have any more information."

If you like to say, "I don't care how you fix it. Just fix it." Then you'll be completely satisfied with this solution. We don't say that. So at this point we have messages out to contacts at Tesla directly to see if we can learn anything more. We'll keep you posted when (if?) we learn something.

While it was at the dealer we also asked to have the magic driver door looked over. The fix here was to replace the driver door handle mechanism.

We're not sure what to think about the fact that both of these repairs were completed with just one overnight stay. Maybe the dealer is really on the ball. Maybe the supply chain is short. Or maybe the parts are readily available because they've seen these before. The car is back on the road again, regardless.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 10,773 miles

Comments

  • kirkhilles_ kirkhilles_ Posts:

    Hmm. I will be interested to see how the Tesla does, reliability wise, at 100k+ miles.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Wow. So much wrong with that answer. So them replacing stuff under warranty buys them the right not to tell you what went wrong with your $100k car. And so in my service log I keep on all my cars from Day 1 it says - what? And I have heard they won't sell you a service manual. So you are buying a black box. A fast black box.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    Agreed with fordson1. This isn't satisfactory in the least. Just because this massive repair didn't cost you anything doesn't mean it's OK. If you kept the car longer, would the ominous sound return at the same interval? Oh, Tesla - get rid of those wonky door handles; the cool factor disappears when they break. Just don't use the Dodge Dart design, either.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    What the crap kind of answer is that? This is even sketchier than the Nissan GT-R transmission replacement. They were able to replace the entire drivetrain because presumably it's much easier to service than a regular ICE car with its miles of plumbing/wiring and fluids; but that kind of response is not what I'd want to hear if I owned the car. It also seems to suggest that something happened (crunched gears/bearings?). Edmunds, please keep on top of this and get an answer for what happened.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I would be happy the service was so fast. Happier if I were leasing rather than owning, because i think long term this would be an expensive car to repair, despite having no gasoline motor.

  • c5thunder c5thunder Posts:

    You should keep this car beyond your normal long-term car test period. This is a rare opportunity to evaluate not just a new car but a new manufacturer and new technology. It would be like a long-term test of the Ford Model A.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    Maybe I'm not as needy as others, but for a first time problem, I wouldn't be 100% upset if they didn't give me an explanation because they didn't know but were able to get me up and going in 1 day at no charge. Now if the problem kept returning with them replacing the drivetrain then I'd be more perturbed. Obviously as a reader of edmunds I'd love for them to get to the bottom of this just out of curiousity, but I don't think anyone can be angry about the service they received. Sometimes the cause of a problem isn't immediately known and at the end of the day does it matter what was wrong with the car if they can replace the faulty part and you are back in your car in a short time. Sometimes a faulty part is just that. I had an issue with my evo that I couldn't find reports of anyone else having online, it turned out to be a poorly machined pulley and once replaced the issue disappeared forever. Unfortunately my experience took multiple dealer trips and several weeks out of service. I would have rather them not had an explanation for me but replaced all related parts the first time in versus taking so long to diagnose and fix the problem.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    If Tesla said "the motor had a bad widget, and therefore we had to replace the whole thing since the widget isn't a serviceable item", I would be mostly OK with that. Maybe one of the bearings or windings in the motor went bad. In any case, Edmunds, you should press them for the root cause. Is it possible - however unlikely - that the noise was caused by hot-dogging, like a chipped gear tooth? Are there other cases like this in the blogosphere?

  • ok, off topic but in the same vein of following up and finding out what the issue was..... you never followed up on the left cylinder head replacement with the Jeep Wrangler. What actually happened was never addressed, nor why Chrysler would not warranty the rear door hinges that broke carrying the Mopar larger wheel. I would still like to know what happened there, and I hope that we also will know what happened with the Tesla. Thanks

  • drcomputer drcomputer Posts:

    Obviously people on here do not read TeslaMotorsClub.com. The issue of the drivetrain "noise" is well documented and Tesla's fix has been the same each time...replace the entire unit. I had the drivetrain in my car replaced for the same problem. Like many things electronic is cheaper and faster to just replace the entire unit and send it back to the factory than pay hourly techs to disassemble and repair it. I'm sure Tesla is taking each one of these drivetrains apart and learning why they are having the "noise" problem. They have (or will) fix the part having the problem and slip stream it into the production line. Everyone who has had this issue (and there are even some RAV4 EV people) have not been stranded or disabled by the problem so I'm sure it isn't a recall worthy problem. Tesla has been very quick and responsive about replacing the drivetrain when the problem happens.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    We must get the truth or at least something better than "We ripped out the motor and dropped in a new one". Also I agree with c5thunder if at all possible lets see thing thing go for a few more roadtrips testing that Supercharger network that Tesla is so proud about or heck just turn it into a fleet vehicle and give us monthly reports or so on whats going on with this thing.

  • thecardoc3_ thecardoc3_ Posts:

    If you like to say, "I don't care how you fix it. Just fix it." Then you'll be completely satisfied with this solution. We don't say that. Hi Mike. I completely disagree with that statement. There has been plenty of effort (here in Edmunds and many other placess) put into playing down the role that real techs have to put forth to be service ready for the consumers especially in the face of the ever escallating technology that goes into today's cars. So at this point we have messages out to contacts at Tesla directly to see if we can learn anything more. We'll keep you posted when (if?) we learn something. What you have here is exactly what just about everyone has always pushed for. "You" haven't wanted real techs who could diagnose and repair a vehicle bumper to bumper in decades. That person is "too expensive", "you" only want parts changers who can (will) work much cheaper. So now you had a vehicle making a noise and instead of it being diagnosed and repaired, an entire assembly is simply swapped out. That IS what we have always heard that everyone wanted. In part that's why dealers and shops sell so many services. They don't want to fix broken cars, they can't make money doing it. (The "you" in quotes isn't an individual its inclusive of just about everyone who doesn't make their living as full time tech) If you were really about seeing things like this fixed like it would have been in the past, then you would never have allowed the problems like warranty flat rate pay to steal the livlihood of the technicians who were working to actually provide the services to the consumer. You had people here who attacked the techs who gave in to the pressures and started doing things the wrong way in trying to overcome some very unfair practices who then turned right around and ignored the causes of those techs bad behavior. There is a shortage of qualified technicians in the country today and that shortage is going to get worse, much worse in the near future. It takes decades to learn to be that master technician that the consumers need, but at the same time there still is no reason for the people that the trade needs today to even consider coming into it. Media may never have said it, but media's actions have served to reach that end goal and now they got what they wanted. The hood might just as well be welded shut if you don't have qualified people under it when its open.

  • This isn't so uncommon. In 2006 our 2001 Honda Odyssey transmission failed. The D4 light started to flash, the check engine and traction control lights came on and the van wouldn't shift out of second gear. We limped to a Honda dealership and went home. They called stating they found a fault code and the repair was to replace the transmission as a whole unit. I asked for more informatoin on what failed...the response? We just check the codes...the code says to replace the transaxle and that's what we do. Luckily, we were under warranty and it cost zero out of pocket.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    At this point Tesla should just add a new maintenance item to their service manual. "10,000 miles: Replace powertrain". Reminds me of the RX-8 actually.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    drcomputer, what you are advocating is parts replacement as a substitute for diagnosing the problem. Like you, I'm "sure Tesla is taking each one of these drivetrains apart and learning why they are having the "noise" problem." What I'm not sure about is why you don't think they should share that info with owners. You say you've had it done to your car - this is a $100k car, and within your first year of ownership it needs the entire powertrain replaced...but you don't want to ask too many awkward questions - ? So what if it happens again when your car is 5k miles outside of warranty, and the repair is on your dime, and there has been no official, exact assessment of the problem by Tesla? Come on, man.

  • @desmolicious, while I can't comment on why the rear door on the Wrangler wasn't covered under warranty, I can comment on why the cylinder head had to be replaced. The 3.6L has the exhaust manifolds integrated into the cylinder heads. For whatever reason

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    @thecardoc3: You're missing the point. Nobody here is advocating component-level diagnosis of this problem. It's nice that Tesla responds so quickly to the issue, but how can a prospective customer have confidence in buying this vehicle?

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    if they replaced such a major part so quickly i would probably be reading the lemon laws and thinking worst case scenario

  • thecardoc3_ thecardoc3_ Posts:

    @gslippy If this was really only about Tesla then you'd be correct but this is a glimpse to where the entire industry is headed. As some others questioned, what's going to happen when warranty doesn't pick up the tab, especially if no one is concerned a

  • diigii diigii Posts:

    I remember correctly that a Tesla service advisor admitted to a one Edmunds journalist when the car was taken in for the sunroof repair that they are following this blog. So the Edmunds card is the sole reason that the drive unit fix was so quick.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    @thecardoc3: I'm not a car technician, but I am a mechanical engineer and do all my own car work, except for tire changes and ECU reprogramming. Dealer technicians do what they're told. Independents keep cars on the road after the warranty expires, and

  • thecardoc3_ thecardoc3_ Posts:

    The top technicians around the country have educations that are easily on par with most engineers. Tomorrows technicians need to come from a significant portion of the people who would go on to be engineers, but there is no reason for them to make that career choice. The work atmosphere, wages and benefits simply aren't where they should be. While you would encourage your kids to learn all they could about the technology if they chose to become a tech what they would see is others doing much simpler work and turning significant hours while they go unpaid fighting the nightmares the second, third, and who knows how many other times. I saw where one of the posters said that Tesla is monitoring this thread, too bad Honda and others didn't look at and react to what has been happening to the techs who could have solved your Odyssey's problem. The only people who have ever been concerned about flat rate pay are the people who work under it at the dealerships. Once the first visit of your car to the dealership took place, the techs didn't get paid for any subsequent repairs. That's the stick part of the carrot and stick aspect of flat rate. It's supposed to make sure the techs work fast and get it right the first time, when what it really does is it destroys the career path. As a tech who is making reasonable hours doing the easy stuff, most have to ask themselves why subject myself to having to absorb the nightmares. As strange as it should seem the approach by most of the manufacturers and their dealers seems to suggest that they think its cheaper and better to buy cars back than it is to have a viable workforce to fix them.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    @thecardoc3: Thanks for clarifying with the inside scoop.

  • knate knate Posts:

    The Tesla forums show more than 50 people having the drivetrain noise issue - http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/anyone-who-has-6075-mph-hum-please-respond-here - and they noise seems to return (more quickly than before) as Tesla has not released any upgrade or redesigned parts! Forum guys there are reporting Tesla remanufactures the units.

  • einstone einstone Posts:

    One thing we should remember how ever not prevalent to many, is being some where the dealer is not with in reach... like out in deep suburbs or another country. there are plenty of DIY shops that if you point to the problem, be it a barring or another part, they may quite efficiently replace once ordered. I personally think the reputation is being built with at least some degree of transparency in the issue at hand. My main concern would be will i make it to the safety of my home once i hear abnormal noise. So they definitely should disclose what the noises are and likely hood of you and your family getting stranded out on the road with them.

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