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Failed Rear Lower Control Arm / Service Bulletin SB-19-31-001

Discussion in 'Model S' started by airsailor, Aug 31, 2020.

  1. airsailor

    airsailor Member

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    Hello All,
    First post here from new owner of a 2013 MS85, seeking a "reality check." I bought my used Model S on July 7th, with 80K miles. I am enthralled with the car, having waited years to be able to afford a used one. However, on the drive home from the dealership, the MCU went black and wouldn't reboot. I spent a few days learning about the eMMC issue; pulled the daughterboard and sent it to EVFixMe who replaced the chip, and I have a functioning MCU again. Then, last week, while backing up in my driveway, the right rear lower control arm failed at the outboard end. The large circular boss that holds the bushing cracked in three places and released the bushing so that the suspension collapsed and the wheel assumed a camber of 30 or so degrees. The two broken parts of the control arm were laying on the driveway underneath.

    I had the car flatbedded to the Paramus, NJ Service Center. I discovered and advised them that Tesla Service Bulletin SB-19-31-001 applies to my car and describes this failure: "Condition: On certain Model S vehicles, either lower rear control arm might crack, causing excessive negative camber of the rear suspension. Correction: Replace both LH and RH lower rear control arm assemblies with updated parts." They initially said the SB didn't apply to my car and I sent the SB to them; then they agreed that it "seems" to apply. However, they are stating that they would only cover the repair if the car were still under warranty.

    They sent their quote for the repair: $3,921. This includes R&R for the Lower Control Arm Assembly, as well as parts damaged when the suspension collapsed: Toe Link Assembly, Integral Link, Halfshaft Assembly (I think one of the boots on this was torn), Airspring Module, and a Brake Hose. It doesn't include replacing the LH control arm, just the failed one.

    I'm really surprised that Tesla knows that these control arms are prone to cracking and has issued the Service Bulletin, but isn't replacing them voluntarily. I'm surprised that this isn't an actual recall item given the consequences if it fails when the car is at speed, which obviously could be catastrophic. I filed a notice with NHTSA about this failed part. I've written back to the service rep explaining this, and asking to escalate the discussion to someone in management. I expressed my deep enthusiasm for Tesla and my "dream car," and mentioned that I've installed two 50 amp charging circuits at my home in anticipation of purchasing a second Tesla, likely brand new this time, but that this experience risks dampening my enthusiasm. Finally, I authorized the repair and intend to pay for it if Tesla doesn't step up, and I intend to have the other side control arm replaced with the updated part as well, since I see no reason to trust it.

    Am I off the mark here? Is what I am asking of Tesla service reasonable, or should I accept that this is an early iteration of the car with "teething problems" and this sort of thing is just going to be part of owning a 2013 MS? Frankly, I'm more than a little spooked by the thought of what might have happened if the control arm had failed ten minutes earlier, while I was on the highway at 70 mph with my family on board, rather than in my driveway. Perspective an ideas about how to go forward with this issue will be much appreciated!
     

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  2. David.85D

    David.85D Active Member

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    I don’t know if you are aware, but there was a short seller going around to junknyards photographing Tesla’s with suspension failures and reporting them to the NHTSA. Tesla called it “fraud” since the online submission is intended for owners and not third party submissions. Sadly, the result is they have mostly moved on without a proper recall. Front fore links fail the same way. Lots of posts about that issue, with no official recall.

    do file a report with NHTSA.

    Tesla seems to always say these suspension failures are impact related and not want to cover these, even when there is warranty. Without warranty coverage, seems pretty hopeless to get help from Tesla on this.
     
  3. cookie99

    cookie99 Member

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    Tesla service used to be good, but now I can't recommend owning a Tesla. I don't think you'll be able to get Tesla to cover this, its like talking to a wall.. sometimes you can't even talk to the wall. theres also shady warranty issues recording by tesla, they like to mark warranty repairs as "goodwill" instead of a warranty repair, so who knows how many of these actually were recorded by teslas as an issue.

    at the same time I dont think this is a widespread enough issue that required them to have a mass recall of all 2013-2014 models. even though many people are still driving a 2013 model S just fine, its still a 7 year old car, so i guess you won the bad luck lottery.
     
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  4. dark cloud

    dark cloud Active Member

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    Not a very pleasant start to your Tesla owning experience. Hopefully law of averages enables you to have minor repairs going forward. Welcome to the Tesla family :D
     
  5. 2101Guy

    2101Guy Member

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    Once upon a time many years ago, I had an issue with a german car company. Short version: a common failure of a particular gasket in the engine. The rubber composition wasnt compatible with the german car companys OEM coolant. Car was out of warranty (I purchased the car brand new) and dealer charged me 1500 or so total to have them fix. (That was a fair amount of money to me back then). I tried working with the dealership (asked kindly in a letter for goodwill service since I had my own records of every two year coolant changes using the OEM brand coolant) but they declined.

    I felt it was very unfair especially since it was widespread and there was a TSB out on it. So in my case, I filed a case in small claims court against the car company. Had their state agent/representative served the court papers. Within less than a week, I received a call from the law firm hired to represent them for my state (Maryland at the time). The lawyers first question: "what do we need to do to make this go away?". My reply "send me a check for the full amount of the repair". We agreed to that.
     
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  6. airsailor

    airsailor Member

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    Thank you all -- yes, this has been a discouraging start as an owner. I guess the crux of it is that I can't understand how Tesla can issue a service bulletin which essentially says: we know these parts are subject to cracking and failure and we have a new, redesigned part to remedy the problem, but if the car is out of warranty, you're on your own. If someone were to be killed or seriously injured, isn't the SB an admission of responsibility? And I am not trying to be dramatic here -- the control arm let go ten minutes after I returned from a trip on the highway with my family in the car. This could be a very different situation if it had cracked ten minutes earlier.

    Just top clarify, the SB applies to cars built approximately from June 1, 2013 through Jan 31, 2014, so it affects eight months of production, not two years.

    Is there someway to contact someone higher up the food chain at Tesla? So far I haven't been able to talk to anyone other than the Service Advisor, although he tells me the Shop Supervisor might call me today. I can't seem to find any way to contact management.

    But, OK, assuming I am not going to get anywhere with this argument, Tesla is quoting $1745 for labor to R&R all these parts and do the alignment. This includes replacing the halfshaft, presumably because one of the rubber boots was torn when the suspension collapsed. Is there any point in trying to get them to charge for actual labor time? Or to ask them to replace the rubber boot rather than the whole halfshaft assembly which costs $500? Or is the Tesla way just pry open the wallet and deal with it? I do realize I'm not paying for maintenance on a $90,000+ automobile....

    I feel like I'm in uncharted territory here, with an early iteration of the car, and no one actually knows how the car will fare as it ages. Very, very different from owning my 2009 Prius, which is as reliable as a home appliance -- but also drives like one.

    It just sort of feels like adding insult to injury that they know the part is subject to failure, and fail it did, taking out much of the suspension with it, and I have this $4000 bill to contend with -- which doesn't even address the Service Bulletin's requirement to replace both rear lower control arms, which I will certainly have done, because my wife will not set foot in the car again unless we are reasonably assured that the left side will not spontaneously fall apart just the way the right side did.... IMG_1933.jpg
     
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  7. Chaserr

    Chaserr Hyperactive Hyperdrive

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    The NHTSA was hammered by false reports of this issue from a short seller. The short seller effectively made this issue invisible - his reports outumber actual ones 1000 to one or more! So to the NHTSA they all look fake and actual problems are a needle in a hay stack. He was still doing it last time I checked my car's recalls. He even signs his false reports with a weird name like Quiche.
     
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  8. MorrisonHiker

    MorrisonHiker S 100D 2020.44.15

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    Keef
     
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  9. 2101Guy

    2101Guy Member

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    Actually thats not uncommon at all with carmakers. Big diff between a recall and a TSB. Not defending the practice, just stating facts

    You can always try writing higher up at TEsla HQ asking nicely for reimbursement or splitting the bill in half? But I suspect you wont make progress. But worth a shot.
     
  10. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for the hassle.
    Perhaps ask them, if it only applies to vehicles under warranty, why the TSB dated January of 2019 (after the 4 year warranty had expired for both the 2013 and 2014) says to replace the part on all affected cars.
     
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  11. ucmndd

    ucmndd Well-Known Member

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    #11 ucmndd, Sep 1, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
    Service bulletins are essentially knowledge base articles to help expedite and standardize service center responses to common failures. They aren't warranty extensions, or recalls, or any other mandatory/voluntary campaign. Basically "if this happens, do this". They don't cover who's responsible for the bill if "do this" needs to happen outside of the warranty period.

    The very first sentence in the service bulletin explains that this is a "non-safety-related condition". I suppose we can debate the merits of that until the cows come home, and I agree that the dude trolling NHTSA on this matter hasn't helped things, but as of now Tesla says this isn't safety related and there aren't any regulators that seem interested in making it one.

    I think if you're persistent and want to devote some time to escalating you could probably receive some goodwill concession on some of the parts or labor - but you should be realistic about the outcome and not expect this to suddenly become a "covered in full" sort of repair.
     
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  12. ucmndd

    ucmndd Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to repeat this again because I think it's necessary - TSBs have nothing to do with the warranty. They are documented procedures for how to address a service issue, regardless of warranty status. Who is responsible for payment is completely irrelevant.
     
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  13. Chaserr

    Chaserr Hyperactive Hyperdrive

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  14. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    Sure, TSBs on their own do not have anything to do with the warranty. However, the discussion is whether acting on this TSB is covered by Tesla or the owner, and whether the TSB itself supports either as the payee.

    This particular TSB does not match that description. It exists only to flag cars in the Tesla system for preemptive repair.
    Nor is it conditional on a failure occurring.
    "On certain Model S vehicles,either lower rear control arm might crack, causing excessive negative camber of the rear suspension"
    Might crack, not "did crack".

    Further, it reads as non optional (versus suggested fixes).
    "Apply this procedure to all vehicles in the affected VIN range listed."

    There is nothing procedure related in the document other than calling out replacing the parts.
    "Replace both LH and RH lower rear control arm assemblies with updated parts.Perform an alignment check and, if necessary, adjust."

    This is more in line with the category you describe:
    And applies to a different case, thus different wording:
    "This Service Bulletin contains installation instructions for the optional third row seat. Included in this procedure are steps to add the rear crossmember (if needed), remove and modify existing trim panels, install hardware, add the 2ndrow seat back bezel,and adjust the latch assembly.

    NOTE:This procedure can be performed on any vehicle that is eligible for a third row seat based on the information in the “Third Row Seat Eligibility”, “Rear Bumper Plate Inspection”, and “Affected VIN(s)”sections of this document. As with other Service Bulletins, this procedure may be performed by professional 3rd-party repairers. Consequently, there are and can be no restrictions on sales of third row seats to professional 3rd-party repairers"
     
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  15. Chaserr

    Chaserr Hyperactive Hyperdrive

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    I don't disagree with you - it's a known flaw that carries a safety risk. I'm just pointing out the TSB alone doesn't imply any kind of warranty. It should be carried by recall but those shorts are trying to hurt us and so far they won this one.
     
  16. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    I get the whole TSB thing, but when it is issued post warranty expiration for the impacted vehicles and calls for mandatory replacement (not wear based), it sure seems like Tesla should cover it.
     
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  17. SoCal Buzz

    SoCal Buzz Supporting Member

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    "Non-safety related" is kind of a joke. I hate to say it, but in your shoes I would keep all of the parts, take them to a metallurgist, escalate with Tesla management in good faith, and then get a lawyer if you don't get results. That part should not fail nor be subject to wear and tear, unless the car physically hits something to cause the damage.

    You have little choice other than to get the repair done through Tesla at this point, but perhaps you can get help with financial reimbursement or settlement after the fact.
     
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  18. Chaserr

    Chaserr Hyperactive Hyperdrive

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    Tesla knows they should cover it. They did their due diligence and reported it to the NHTSA. It's the NHTSA that issues recalls and they chose not to. Tesla pinches pennies excluding what should be clear and obvious warranty items constantly so it isn't a surprise, but this time they actually did the safety paper work and the government let them off the hook so I can't fault Tesla for pinching pennies with explicit federal permission.

    Take @SoCal Buzz advice and maybe you can help everyone else, this is a safety problem and they are aware of it - it's the NHTSA that shirked its responsibility so maybe Tesla can be convinced to cover it on a case by case basis like they do with screen warranty.
     
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  19. Zuikkis

    Zuikkis Member

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    You can get low mileage control arms from ebay for under $200 easily. It's the same part left and right.

    The toe and camber links are about $100 each, new from Teala.

    They are very simple to replace, any shop can do it. Or even by yourself if you have the tools. So whatever you do, don't go for the quoted $4000 Tesla offer.

    My 2013 P85+ probably is manufactured after July, so it's possibly affected.. I'm just about to replace the toe links because of failed bushings, have to check the part number of control arms as well. I assume if they are 1027459-99-A they are already changed?
     
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  20. airsailor

    airsailor Member

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    Thanks all for your input. I was starting to doubt my sanity. But @mongo sums up my sense of the situation well:
    And:
    So, if I understand this correctly, the TSB is instructing the service departments to preemptively replace the lower rear control arms on all Model S produced in the eight months between approximately June 1, 2013 and January 31, 2014. Tesla is stating that since the cars are not in warranty, this work must be paid for by the owners. If a control arm fails, as mine did, and takes out a bunch of adjacent suspension components, the owner gets to pay for all that as well. And this is not a recall item despite its obvious safety ramifications because some nut was trying to manipulate Tesla stock by falsifying reports to NHTSA? That's seriously crazy. For the record, I did make the online complaint to NHTSA about this failure, but now I know not to expect a reply.

    But why isn't Tesla actively following up on this TSB with all the affected cars, given that they know exactly where the cars are and know their service history? Do they simply not want to stir up a hornet's nest by actually alerting these owners to the fact that their rear suspension could collapse on either side at any time and at any speed -- but it's the owner's problem, not Tesla's?

    Anyway, I already instructed the Paramus SC to proceed with the repair, and to retain and give me all the parts they R&R. Maybe if I had been a little further along in owning this car I would have bought the parts and done the work myself, but the car was immobilized in my driveway and that wasn't the choice I made. Now my "dream car" is 75 miles away at the dealership while I try to coax Tesla into viewing this as an unacceptable safety risk that they should shoulder the burden of correcting. I'm not optimistic but I'm not giving up yet.

    How does one reach Tesla Management? I can't for the life of me find a way to contact anyone. I emailed "[email protected]" today, and immediately got a reply from Tesla stating that this email address isn't monitored anymore! I asked the service rep I am in contact with to give me the contact info for the Regional Service Manager and didn't get a reply. I did get a couple of calls from the Paramus service supervisor today and missed them both, and was unable to call back as he didn't leave a message or his extension. I have to say that the nearby Mercedes service department is much more responsive and easy to communicate with. All of this is taking the blush off my genuine enthusiasm for Tesla.
     
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