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2021 Model 3 Tire Fell Off - Get your bolts checked ASAP

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Sorry to alarm anyone, but this may save your life (and your family's life).

This issue was in a recent recall, and our VIN number was NOT included in the recall, however, the problem occurred anyways on our car. Luckily nobody was hurt.

After 29,000 miles, the front passenger tire decided to fully unscrew 2 large bolts hidden under a plastic cover at the front of the car (bolts that hold the tire joint onto the car). We backed the car into our garage to charge for the night and we heard a loud crunch as the joint broke through the plastic and the car dropped to the ground. We immediately stopped to examine what was going on. A large bolt was laying on the ground, surrounded by scraps of plastic and the wheel was tilted into the car holding it up.

The car could not be moved, the tire was completely disconnected from the car. A special tow truck from Tesla had to bring out something to prop the frontend onto some wheels to turn it so it could be towed. After the car was placed onto the tow truck, the second bolt fell onto the ground. While they put the car on the tow truck it ripped through the plastic that was under the car hiding where these bolts go. Each wheel has 2 bolts holding the joint on (at least on the front) - the back I am not sure if it's the same, but I would assume it's similar. We collected both of the bolts and the plastic as a souvenir (evidence of the problem).

You might be thinking: Oh big deal, your tire came off in your driveway... Imagine this happening going 80 on a highway with your toddler in the backseat. I have talked to several friends who own Teslas and they think the tire would have not flipped the car, even at 80 MPH because the battery is so heavy. I have seen tire "blowouts" total cars, so I have no idea what a 40 PSI inflated tire would do to a Tesla at 80 MPH, sucked under the car (as a worst case scenario), vertical or even sideways. Either way, this is very dangerous.

After we told Tesla what happened, they put our car in their service center in front of 30 other cars (on Christmas Eve) that had been sitting there for over 2 months and had rebuilt the entire bottom and frontend of the car in under 1 hour and replaced bolts on both the front driver and front passenger tire. It was probably because I was angry and pointed at my 5 year old possibly being a victim of a factory defect.

My wife is terrified of the car now and Tesla approved the car to be driven.

We're very grateful this didn't happen at high speed. Someone was looking over us at on Christmas Eve.

The experience at the dealership was not friendly at all; they knew this could lead to a lawsuit and were immediately pointing fingers at everything they could other than Tesla. The car is under a full warranty, is only 1 year old, and the service team were hostile about the situation right in front of my family. It was the worst experience ever. The only reason we can think of them getting the car repaired that quickly was to get us away from them and keep us quiet.

I have 2 pounds of bolts & parts in a plastic bag sitting on my desk from the incident.

Please get your tire bolts checked. Not the lug nuts, but the joint bolts.

Tesla is still my favorite car ever, but my wife is not convinced fixing 4 bolts in the front of the car is good enough to call the car safe. We're leaning towards the car being a lemon and would request Tesla to disassemble the vehicle and reassemble it to guarantee it was properly assembled. It's a really tough ask for something like that, so we might be returning the vehicle and changing to a 2023 Model Y.

Happy holidays, and be safe out there. Don't experience our mistake - learn from it.

I will be making a video of all the footage captured - including the tow truck, etc. I will try to post it tonight if anyone is interested to see what the final result looks like when the tire comes off. I will also post pictures of the bolts so you guys can see what to look for.
 
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Here's the photos. Working on the videos still.
 

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Was the issue the control arm bolts? *Edit, too slow to post, looks like it.

Just grabbed my screenshot from my notes, so apologies for the size and quality.

Not to marginalize the issue, as its a significant issue that is hard to understand is allowed to persist...but think this is a fairly well known defect.

Makes me wonder if loctite should be added by any user in/out of warranty despite any recall window, possibly even safety wire.

Not read about one letting go at highway speeds yet, seems to be several low speed cases documented however...
Model 3  control arm disengaging.png
 
Was the issue the control arm bolts? *Edit, too slow to post, looks like it.

Just grabbed my screenshot from my notes, so apologies for the size and quality.

Not to marginalize the issue, as its a significant issue that is hard to understand is allowed to persist...but think this is a fairly well known defect.

Makes me wonder if loctite should be added by any user in/out of warranty despite any recall window, possibly even safety wire.

Not read about one letting go at highway speeds yet, seems to be several low speed cases documented however...
View attachment 889279

It's terrible this is happening to other people. Was Raj K's vehicle in the recall for their VIN #? Because ours was not, yet all of the vehicles recalled had the same model & year as our car. We're a Musk family - we believe in Elon's mission to mars, his dreams of making the world better & safer.

I reached out to Tesla, waiting for them to respond. So far if we want anything out of this, we will have to hire a lawyer because it's so difficult to reach anyone at Tesla and it feels like we're their enemy when we show them their defects.

You have no idea how much fear and heartache I feel thinking about my 5 year old little girl being in a fatal car accident because of some loctite or whatever it is the manufacturer left out. It's just terrifying to think the car is so fragile and poorly put together. Tesla is the # 1 electric vehicle & safest car on the road in my opinion, and even with all of this I still think Tesla vehicles are the safest car for our family to use.
 
You had no clunking noises from the font end? Looks like the bolt had been loose for a while, the bushing in the control arm is also worn. Sorry this happened to you and glad they fixed it quickly.
That's EXACTLY what I was really concerned about. The car was rock solid. We had only 1 sign that this was possible, which was turning to the left had a creaking noise, but researching said it was lubrication issues. We washed the car, the creaking went away. Then 20 minutes later the right wheel comes off.

It would be really nice if we had some kind of warning - like a wobble, or shaking, or any kind of noise when something like this is happening so we can stop and say "something is wrong with the car". It was an instant destruction moment - no signs at all. I have been thinking about this over and over and I hate that there wasn't some kind of warning sign.
 
Oh this same thing happened to me, but I had aftermarket coilovers so couldn't really blame Tesla for that one.

Let us know how it gets fixed, mine required replacing the entire front sub-frame and Tesla didn't even want to perform the work so i had to go to a 3rd party shop - wasn't very fun or cheap.

When the car got towed to Tesla's shop, they put our car in front of 30+ cars and had replaced the entire underneath of the car and the bolts in less than an hour. Usually these repairs take weeks to months, but I think they realized this was a pretty serious situation and wanted us to "be happy" and not post on forums like I am doing now. They put all of their technicians on our car when they heard what happened; I don't think it helped when I had an outburst in the sales floor about how the car could have killed my little girl.

I really would like to know if there's videos of Tesla testing what would happen when a fully inflated tire goes under the car at 80+ MPH - I would feel more comfortable knowing it wouldn't flip the car. If they would show me that, I would feel much better.
 
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You can see the bolts without removing the front aero shield. You'll need a flashlight to illuminate the area. Look from behind the front wheel forward, you should see the rear bolt. Looking from the front of the wheel back you should see the front bolt.
 

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You can see the bolts without removing the front aero shield. You'll need a flashlight to illuminate the area. Look from behind the front wheel forward, you should see the rear bolt. Looking from the front of the wheel back you should see the front bolt.

Thanks Avid! I think we're going to take a look from time to time to make sure everything is still tightly in. I really appreciate you letting us know how to find these bolts. You rock!

I would honestly suggest anyone reading this to just have a check to make sure they're fully in place. God knows how long they were unscrewing. The car performed like a rockstar up until the moment we put it in reverse to charge it, then plopped to the ground. I don't want anyone to get hurt or killed, so if you see this, please check those bolts! I can't think of anything else more dangerous than wheels falling off the car. There might be other things, but wheels can total other cars or even your own. Just have a check at your bolts please <3 I beg you - there's no need to gamble your life for a 10 second check under your car.
 
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They tried to recall what they thought were all affected vehicles. They missed yours. Your part failed in the manner they predicted, and after a day of frustration all is well. This is not an indication that the car is “poorly put together.” Every automobile in the planet has mechanical weak areas—most more than Teslas, in all honesty.

Your car is fine. Before you spin yourself into a heart attack comparing everything to perfection, ask yourself “what options would be better?” I expect you’ll find a very short list of vehicles would give you an overall better ownership experience.
 
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The first time I saw a thread about this I went to check the bolts, they appear solidly in. After reading this thread I checked again with the above pictures as a result.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate you doing this for us. I'll make sure my wife sees your post and we check it time-to-time. I think she'll feel a bit safer seeing that the bolts are in place before we do any more long trips. We're driving back to Texas on Jan 2nd so we'll probably do a check at each hotel on our way back from Florida.

I have a good feeling Tesla got those bolts on there properly this time, but I know she's still pretty concerned.

The funny thing is, our car has at least 6 defects that Tesla has to repair from manufacturing:

1. Misaligned trunk
2. Misaligned frunk
3. Misaligned doors
4. Bolts falling off the joints (she's still terrified of that, so we might bring it to our Texas dealership and have them do a more thorough inspection).
5. Windshield leaks from the top on the driver side
6. Clips are missing from the front black guard under the bumper.

I'm pretty sure most of the misalignment issues happen to a lot of people, but with this list adding up, we're starting to wonder just how sound this car was assembled. It's starting to get creepy. Obviously misaligned doors, trunk & frunk are not safety issues; but it does give off quite a red flag as to what else was done wrong.
 
They tried to recall what they thought were all affected vehicles. They missed yours. Your part failed in the manner they predicted, and after a day of frustration all is well. This is not an indication that the car is “poorly put together.” In fact, Mountain Pass Performance sells an aftermarket component that, in part, is specifically designed to fix this known issue.

Your car is fine.

Lindenwood, I feel the car is fine for the moment - you're right. I just have to convince my wife that there's nothing else loose in the vehicle that can cause an accident. We're going to research what else other than tires could cause an accident and make sure those parts are secured properly to the vehicle. I would love to keep my car, but in the end my family comes first.
 
Has there possibly been a user tutorial on how to check and service these items?

Guessing the interface tolerance on the threaded section is not quite tight enough to create the interference required to secure the fastener reliably?

Does anyone that has looked into this issue have recommendations on the type of thread sealant and toque specs to check them with?
 
They tried to recall what they thought were all affected vehicles. They missed yours. Your part failed in the manner they predicted, and after a day of frustration all is well. This is not an indication that the car is “poorly put together.” Every automobile in the planet has mechanical weak areas—most more than Teslas, in all honesty.

Your car is fine. Before you spin yourself into a heart attack comparing everything to perfection, ask yourself “what would be better?” I expect you’ll find a very short list of vehicles would give you an overall better vehicle ownership experience.

BTW your Tesla is F*****ing AWESOME. Whatever you did to it makes me want to scream :D