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Cracking/Popping Noise from Front End - P90D

Dec 26, 2018
400
274
TX
Hi everyone,

I recently had my Model S over at the Service Center for some creaking in the front end when I turned the steering wheel. The SC replaced my whole steering rack, and the creaking noise went away.

A week later, I started hearing an even more alarming cracking/popping noise when turning the steering wheel at <5 mph and when parked (w/o brakes applied). Video of the noise is below:


The car also feels quite 'unsettled.' It feels like it's kind of floating around the road, requiring lots of micro-corrections to keep it straight. The car was aligned when they replaced the rack, and the result is identical to a known good specification for me, so I'm worried that there might be some component that's 'moving' which might be causing the unsettled feeling and noise.

+.05 Front Toe (each side)
-.23 Rear Toe (each side)
-1.6 L Rear Camber, -1.2 R Rear Camber (I have adjustable kit)
No thrust angle, 0.0 steer-ahead.

I set up another SC appointment, but it's not till April, and I want to see if I can figure this out ahead of time to feel safer when driving. What do y'all think?
 
Last edited:

DerbyDave

Member
Jul 2, 2020
597
309
Kentucky
That doesn't sound right. Be careful driving it until you find out. Maybe worth an hour labor by a good shop to have it looked at to make sure it is OK to drive until your appointment. It sounds like something they could find the cause of quickly.
 
Dec 26, 2018
400
274
TX
That doesn't sound right. Be careful driving it until you find out. Maybe worth an hour labor by a good shop to have it looked at to make sure it is OK to drive until your appointment. It sounds like something they could find the cause of quickly.

Oh for sure, it's definitely not right. I can feel the vibration in the steering wheel when it 'pops.' I'm curious if the rack is binding or not torqued down thoroughly...that might explain why it is feels a bit unstable on the road.
 

Doanster1

Member
Feb 14, 2018
880
464
Oregon
It’s the bolts in the steering rack housing. They probably didn’t apply the wax sealant and/or shims. I had the exact same popping on my P85D although it only popped once when turning the wheel left or right. Solution was to replace the bolts AND apply wax sealant.
My car felt and drove fine though even with the popping. Since they replaced your entire rack, I’ll bet more than one bolt wasn’t properly torqued or is missing sealant/shims.
They should get you in well before April. Tell them it doesn’t feel safe to drive.
 

aerodyne

Active Member
Nov 19, 2018
2,132
1,546
Los Angeles
It’s the bolts in the steering rack housing. They probably didn’t apply the wax sealant and/or shims. I had the exact same popping on my P85D although it only popped once when turning the wheel left or right. Solution was to replace the bolts AND apply wax sealant.
My car felt and drove fine though even with the popping. Since they replaced your entire rack, I’ll bet more than one bolt wasn’t properly torqued or is missing sealant/shims.
They should get you in well before April. Tell them it doesn’t feel safe to drive.
Good catch, I agree. Also, if there are any broken bolts, the SB is very specific, the entire rack must be replaced!
 

howardc64

Member
Oct 19, 2013
170
73
Seattle
Ditto Doanster1's comment.

One more note on steering rack mounts. Mine had the passenger side bolt replaced from recall (pre 4/16 MSs) and developed a popping sound in parking lot turning maneuvers. Pulled the frunk tub for diagnose and was clear the bolted area was slipping under torque. Tesla sees this enough to have developed a shim solution.

I suspect the real issue is aluminum frame the rack mounts on. Torquing a bolt onto aluminum will naturally weaken the small contact area. So shim was used to produce new and larger bite surfaces. Original bolt recall effort didn't anticipate this so had to patch afterwards with a shim. Tesla won't admit this and charged me $200+ for shim install after I took the car in with the front tub pulled out and showed them the slipping bolt+recall work history. They even tried to charge me diagnostic fee which the manager waived after I complained haha.

Anyhow, hope this background explanation helps. Since your whole rack was replaced, I'd imagine every mounting bolt needed to find enough bite on the aluminum mounts.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: aerodyne
Dec 26, 2018
400
274
TX
Ditto Doanster1's comment.

Anyhow, hope this background explanation helps. Since your whole rack was replaced, I'd imagine every mounting bolt needed to find enough bite on the aluminum mounts.

This does make sense - i don't hear the noise when I'm moving at any rate of speed, i guess because when the car's moving, the force from movement of the rack when the bolts slip can be dissipated. Versus when I'm sitting still, there's nowhere for that torque/load to go, so it just moves forcibly and you hear a pop.


Is the rack actually moving, then? that would explain it feeling floaty.....
 
Last edited:

howardc64

Member
Oct 19, 2013
170
73
Seattle
This does make sense - i don't hear the noise when I'm moving at any rate of speed, i guess because when the car's moving, the force from movement of the rack when the bolts slip can be dissipated. Versus when I'm sitting still, there's nowhere for that torque/load to go, so it just moves forcibly and you hear a pop.

Yep, straight line no noise. I only had it turning into / out of parking spaces.

Is the rack actually moving, then? that would explain it feeling floaty.....

Floaty could theoretically be something else. Can consider 2 possibilities 1) generally a good idea to attribute similar failure area to the identified fault first 2) perhaps a separate failure, according to Tesla service manual, a lot of stuff had to be disassembled to replace your rack.

Here is a couple of quick test if handy

A. Maybe some bolts are loose from the replacement. Might even be beyond the rack mounting bolts. Tesla service manuals for rack removal is quite involved (see link below, HV battery and subframe both comes out!). If you are handy, remove the fronk tub and plastic trim pieces to get a good view of the rack, crank steering while parked and have someone listen, I found the noise source quickly this way.

B. Jack up and test front tire on each side, hold tire at 9+3 o'clock and twist to test for ball joint play. Note you have to be able to separate proper steering movement (steering wheel will move perfectly and precisely to matched twist motion) vs play from loosen connections (can "feel" a little slack/looseness when twisting before steering wheel/column/rack internal gearing engages) Also do the+twist hold at 12+6 o'clock, this test the vertical (upper/lower) suspension ball joints. If the subframe came off, I think quite a few of these had to be disassembled.

Steering Rack (Dual Motor) (Remove and Replace) (fixyourtesla.com)
Subframe Assembly - Front (Remove and Install) (fixyourtesla.com)
HV Battery Assembly (Remove and Install) (fixyourtesla.com)
 

TwistedGray

Model S VIN: 00070
Mar 12, 2021
128
105
Monterey Bay, CA
It’s the bolts in the steering rack housing. They probably didn’t apply the wax sealant and/or shims. I had the exact same popping on my P85D although it only popped once when turning the wheel left or right. Solution was to replace the bolts AND apply wax sealant.
My car felt and drove fine though even with the popping. Since they replaced your entire rack, I’ll bet more than one bolt wasn’t properly torqued or is missing sealant/shims.
They should get you in well before April. Tell them it doesn’t feel safe to drive.

I'll add a +1 as well ... my S went through the same issue and the same fix (wax sealant and shims).
 
Dec 26, 2018
400
274
TX
I'll add a +1 as well ... my S went through the same issue and the same fix (wax sealant and shims).
Do you recall if they had to remove the rack to add the shims and wax? I have my alignment set to "my own standard," and I'm trying to see if they'll be removing any suspension components as part of this fix that would require me to have it aligned *again*
 

TwistedGray

Model S VIN: 00070
Mar 12, 2021
128
105
Monterey Bay, CA
Do you recall if they had to remove the rack to add the shims and wax? I have my alignment set to "my own standard," and I'm trying to see if they'll be removing any suspension components as part of this fix that would require me to have it aligned *again*

Unfortunately I do not remember. I just know it was near identical to your situation, and the solution was the same as noted above. When I get the car back I'll see if there are any notes on the report that help and letcha know.
 

Doanster1

Member
Feb 14, 2018
880
464
Oregon
Do you recall if they had to remove the rack to add the shims and wax? I have my alignment set to "my own standard," and I'm trying to see if they'll be removing any suspension components as part of this fix that would require me to have it aligned *again*
I don’t believe so, at least for our older cars, if I remember the SB correctly. The main bolt needing replacement and shimming is accessible from the top IIRC. If they need to check every bolt for you, that might be more involved.
Have you updated/texted the SC to let them know you want in sooner and that car feels very loose?

Edit: just remembered that the fix was done by a Ranger in the parking lot at my work; replaced a dead door handle the same day as well so def don’t need to drop anything, esp suspension; i dug up the invoice if you need the part number for the bolt kit used
 
Last edited:
Dec 26, 2018
400
274
TX
I don’t believe so, at least for our older cars, if I remember the SB correctly. The main bolt needing replacement and shimming is accessible from the top IIRC. If they need to check every bolt for you, that might be more involved.
Have you updated/texted the SC to let them know you want in sooner and that car feels very loose?

Edit: just remembered that the fix was done by a Ranger in the parking lot at my work; replaced a dead door handle the same day as well so def don’t need to drop anything, esp suspension; i dug up the invoice if you need the part number for the bolt kit used

Great to know.

Yes, the SC is going to bring my car in tomorrow to address this specific item. The SC near me is solid, they do a great job and I'm happy they've squeezed me in here.

I'm hoping that tightening/shimming those bolts will fix my 'loose' feeling when driving....if the rack is loose and moving around - even just a little bit - that would make sense.
 

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