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Brought car in for annual, had fan/blower cleaned, it stopped running, overheated and now PEM dead

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by MileHighMotoring, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. MileHighMotoring

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    I'm just livid right now. I had the Roadster in for a $1,000+ annual service last month and had them clean the PEM fan, flush coolant, everything they recommended and more. I've driven the car only a few times, and the other day I drove one mile and got a warning that the car was overheating and it stopped, literally one mile. I had it towed to Tesla and they're saying the PEM and the fan assembly are both garbage and I need to spend $10,000 + labor (a few grand I assume). The car ran perfectly before the service. I find it impossible to consider it merely a coincidence that they worked on the PEM fan and it promptly died and killed the PEM.

    Any ideas on how to handle this? Honestly I'm in shock right now. I want to scream, but the service reps at my service center aren't at fault so I can't blame them for relaying this to me. I need help. Any advice?
     
  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear about your problem, it sounds awful. Can you be more specific about what you have been told is the problem with your PEM and fan assembly? Certainly Tesla said more than they "are both garbage"?
     
  3. MileHighMotoring

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    I'm expecting a call from the service manager tomorrow, all I got today was the list of parts needed to repair the car, which included a PEM and the PEM blower fan assembly.

    I can understand the fan not turning on (perhaps accidentally broken during cleaning), for whatever reason, and hurting the PEM. But I drove it for literally a mile after the warning to get back home, and the PEM temp never got above the middle yellow line. In fact, it's still driveable (I drove it onto the tow truck). So I'm wondering if it couldn't just need a new fan, and the PEM is usable. It isn't as if it went any amount of time in the hot temp zone.
     
  4. shrink

    shrink Member

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    Ugh. That's awful. I hate reading about stuff like this. I know many have disagreed with their guerrilla advertising techniques and spam emails on these boards, but perhaps you can put a feeler out to Gruber Power in Phoenix? (Full disclosure: although I live in Phoenix, I have absolutely no relationship with them).

    If you search for "Tesla Roadster PEM" on eBay, they advertise PEM remanufacturing, diagnosis, and repair for much less than $10K.

    tesla roadster PEM | eBay

    Again, I cannot personally speak for the quality of their work, but perhaps it is something to consider? Might be nice to get real customer feedback if you choose this option - although I do hope Tesla can fix at a reasonable cost for you.

    Good luck!
     
  5. ElectricLove

    ElectricLove Member

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    Dude, I think I know what the problem is with your Roadster's PEM... there is a pretty common "issue" that was part of the build of the PEM, I've written a tech bulletin for it and submitted that to TESLA...

    If you want to contact me directly I can guide you otherwise checkout the eBay posting like shrink advised! I can vouch that they will be able to help you, but I'm not a customer of theirs, I used to work there and helped them get things set up so they can do this stuff... So I may be a bit biased, but I'm also being honest!

    Best of luck!
     
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  6. wiztecy

    wiztecy Active Member

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    But if you look at the $7,500 refurbished PEM versus the $10,000 Tesla PEM, that's only $2500 savings from a non-certified Tesla repair shop. I'd want a steeper discount than that if I was going the non-Tesla route. I'm also certain Tesla has more insurance available if anything catastrophic happens.

    If its down in the $3k range then it may be worth the risk since that's a $7k savings. Also keep in mind Telsa won't install this for you if you go though an unsupported vendor. And what if your battery somehow gets blown out by the PEM, which they're known to do in rare cases? Not sure if Tesla can identify a changed PEM that wasn't repaired / replaced by them, but I'm sure that would be another thing to worry about. If you don't have any battery warranty and such then they wouldn't have much to say if the battery did go south.
     
  7. ElectricLove

    ElectricLove Member

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    wiztecy; Just FYI, you guys should call the service center about whether or not they will install it, last week I was speaking to Burlingame SC and they said they would install the PEM, no problem, they actually were willing to receive the remanned PEM from Gruber at the SC, install it and then return the old one in the same packaging... The labor charge would have been right around $500 for that service (PEM swap)...

    NOTE: I am NO LONGER employed by Gruber, I really don't care and have no vested interest in the manner, but I don't want misinformation to spread... I think it depends how you approach it, in this case I called the SC to ask if they would do that and they discussed and agreed to do so, it is in the customers best interest and they know as well as any that PEM's aren't easy to come by and most SC wish there were more options they could give their customers b/c it does increase customer satisfaction and their ability to do their job (keep the vehicles on the road and out of the SC!)...

    Also, I believe their $7.5K option is a misnomer; we discussed this when I was there, that is without a core return but I told them they are stupid to take anything without core return and should ONLY do the $5K option which is the one with core return... If you make the call and they will actually sell one without core return for $7,500 TAKE IT!!! The PEM's are worth more than that realistically, Tesla won't do it without core exchange at any cost b/c of that very fact...
     
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  8. djf

    djf Member

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    ElectricLove, Can you explain the core return vs. the no core return options, for those of us who are a little less electro-savvy? Many thanks.
     
  9. ElectricLove

    ElectricLove Member

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    Sure, the "core" is your PEM, or the customer's PEM, the bad one that is in their vehicle. A core return PEM means you must send your PEM to Gruber and they repair it then send it back to you (or if they decide they may swap the PEM with a reman'd one), a no core option would mean you buy the PEM carte blanche, no requirement for you to send your old/bad PEM back to them.

    TESLA (and I believe Gruber will follow suit) will not sell you a PEM, they will only sell you a PEM swap, it is required for them to retain your existing PEM when they put the bad one in, they will not allow you to keep it, at any cost...

    I believe that $7.5K option that Gruber had available was for a PEM but without getting the old one back, but I could be wrong...

    Like I said, if you have a Roadster and need a PEM you should absolutely buy the PEM without core (the $7500) if that is a real option, the spare PEM will go up in value and as more people learn them the price of getting it repaired will go down to the point you may have an entire back-up PEM for a fraction of the cost of replacement, then its just a couple hours swap each time one fails... These have some electronics that will expire with time, the large capacitors are an example; each megapole has a set of large capacitors, it hasn't been seen yet but likely to come that they will start failing due to aged capacitors, when that happens all the caps will need to be swapped out... Basically, my point is, eventually EVERYONE will need a replacement PEM and as the cars age they'll continue to require PEM remanufacturing to be done... The motor and many of the other electronics will last through time but the batteries and PEM have a bit of an electronic expiration date...
     
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  10. tvuolo

    tvuolo Member

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    Sorry to hear about that. That's not good. I'm really worried about the Denver Service Center and Roadsters.
    • I begged them for an alignment for months... they couldn't get the parts, so I had to go elsewhere.
    • I needed a rim fixed. They recommended shipping it out of state!
    • I took it in to have AC noise fixed. They "bent some of the cooling pipes so they wouldn't rattle." It was even worse when I got it back, and now it's missing half of the screws holding the black plastic in place.
    I had my 6th annual service for $600:
    • Said they replaced the FOB batteries. My main FOB died 3 months later, so not sure if they didn't, or what. I easily replaced myself.
    • Replaced wiper blade even though I had replaced it a few months before and requested they not touch it.
    • Flashed new firmware, but it didn't "take." I had to reboot when I got my roadster back, then it seemed to have the new firmware.
    • Charged an additional $150 to drain, flush, and fill the coolant. I smelled coolant burning on the way home and thought maybe they hadn't tightened a hose properly. Nope, just spilled some and didn't clean it up.
    I wish they'd pull it together.
     
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  11. djf

    djf Member

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    Thanks- I will keep your advice in mind but hope I never need it!
     
  12. ElectricLove

    ElectricLove Member

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    I hope so too, but the capacitors concern me, large format capacitors like those in these PEMs... They don't last forever, even if just sitting on the shelf...
     
  13. MileHighMotoring

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    I'm not considering a non-Tesla option right now, but I do appreciate the feedback and information on that.

    I spoke with the service manager and was told that the issue isn't that the fan or PEM seems broken in any way, but that the connector between the fan and PEM is damaged and now the PEM is throwing the error message that the fan isn't running. I don't know what these parts really look like to be honest, but that sounds like a heck of a parts bill to replace a connector (PEM and blower fan assembly). But maybe I'm wrong.

    Given that these parts were taken out of my car at the service a few weeks ago, is it possible they were slightly damaged or re-installed in such a way that the fan would stop working, or the connector was pinched or damaged? People here I know have removed these parts before, is that a possibility?
     
  14. gregd

    gregd Member

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    #14 gregd, Jul 28, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
    This sounds like the fan connector on the bottom of the PEM. The contacts are marginal at best, and if they aren't mated really well, they will burn (oxidize) and make even less contact (in a downward spiral) to the point that the PEM complains. In my case, this was associated with "Drive Train Service Required" messages on the VDS, and errors 1144 and 1146 in the logs. If you have those, that's the issue.

    The unfortunate thing is that once the contacts are burned, they need replacement. The cable end (going to the fans) is relatively easy and cheap, but the connector on the PEM is not considered a repairable item at the SC. We ended up working with the factory to swap for a remanufactured PEM. I paid for the labor ($800-ish), and the cost of the connectors themselves (I think it was a few bucks). You might have your SC contact the Rocklin, California SC for guidance on this. If the contacts burned because the technician didn't seat the connector properly (to be clear, not the cause in my case), you even might argue that they pick up the whole cost of the repair.

    There's a thread from my saga: Error code #1111? (My roadster is still needy) and also another one by another victim here: #1146 DMC Motor Fan Problem?. I think there are others too...

    Good luck!

    Greg.
     
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  15. MileHighMotoring

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    That's pretty great information, thanks Greg!

    I got a little more information - it seems the logs are showing that the fan over-amped, which melted the wire between the fan and the PEM, and damaged the contacts. It was acknowledged that this all could have been caused by a poorly seated fan->PEM connector, possibly causing an arc or something and showing the fan as having over-amped. They weren't aware of the potential to swap the PEM And send the damaged PEM for repair but will look into that. I should hear something tomorrow afternoon.
     
  16. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    The reason they don't repair or replace that connector at the SC is because you have to take almost everything out of the PEM in order to replace it. If the fan over-amped it should have blown the fuse which is 25A if I remember correctly. I blew one of mine when my PEM needed cleaning.
     
  17. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    I had the same thought before I even bought my Roadster. High-capacity inverters with large-format capacitors wear out. You see it with solar systems, back-up power supplies, etc. I'm curious what they're using in the Model S inverters. Is it a similar megapole design with large caps?
     
  18. ElectricLove

    ElectricLove Member

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    The connector can be replaced, it isn't "that" challenging... Once the PEM is out it would take about an hour, it's about 16 screws and then desolder and solder a new one on... It is a Molex part, I forget the p/n but could get it if you are interested...

    The connectors can be hard to find though, MOQ often make it difficult to get any, I know there are some at Gruber b/c I bought them for a few PEM's while there...

    Also, yes, these can be damaged due to mishandling, that is probably the easiest way for it to happen, if you don't set the PEM down in a proper way you can end up with a lot of weight on these pathetic little connectors and they can get loose (cold solder joint... causes arc/etc)...

    If you are wanting to do something on your own or want to ask TESLA if they are willing to work with Gruber, I bet you could get something done (ie. if they don't think they can send to their factory for repair, maybe they would send to Gruber if you asked them to? It wouldn't be the first time they worked together, just FYI)... Ideally, since they say they realize it could be their fault, they just repair it for you and not at your cost!

    Best of luck!
     
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  19. ElectricLove

    ElectricLove Member

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    Yes, the megapoles look very much the same as Roadsters, but they are heat-synced to a liquid cooling system rather than air-fins... The Roadster has 28 (IIRC, maybe it's 32) of these MOSFET on each phase (of the 3) and each MOSFET is 75A rated... When you do the math you realize these things are capable of significantly more power than the Roadster ever puts through them, but it takes an enormous amount of heat-dissapation to do so...

    It is just a matter of time for these components... They should last longer than a UPS power inverter or Solar inverter b/c their duty cycle is MUCH lower (a UPS may push 50% load for 24/365... How often do you drive your car??? MUCH less), but they will still be subject to the same fate... The good news is that the caps can be swapped pretty easily when the time comes and they aren't overly exotic (can be found on mouser) nor especially expensive...
     
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  20. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    That is good news. The problem I've seen is that a failed capacitor can take out multiple MOSFETS when it blows making the job a lot bigger. But they can be easily replaced as well when compared to $7,000 to $10,000 for a reman PEM. Thanks for your insight after you worked on a few PEMs at Gruber.
     

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