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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. croman

    croman Active Member

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    Fight this tooth and nail. This is like the corroded steering column. Tesla needs to take care of Model S owners and fix the suspension issues due to bad mellaurgy or design. They fail when reversing and turning the wheel or at low speed parking maneuvering.

    They eventually did the right thing with the steering column but I think early victims had to pay out of pocket and might not have been reimbursed.
     
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  2. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

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    Actually it says the date range is just a broad category and that they are to refer to their internal VIN database to see if a particular car is included in the TSB or not.

    But in general, at every car manufacturer I have dealt with, they only pay for TSBs when you are under warranty or service agreement. If it is something they pay for outside of warranty/service agreement it would be a recall.
     
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  3. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    This seems like a weird edge case to me due to the 'all vehicles' aspect. Had the TSB existed before the warranty expired and the car been in for service for any reason post TSB/pre-expiration, the parts would have already been replaced.
    Either there was a bad batch of parts, in which case it may be the supplier picking up the tab, or a poor running design change in which case Tesla would be on the hook.
     
  4. cookie99

    cookie99 Member

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    woah now.. slow down. i hope you didn't buy a tesla expecting Mercedes level customer service. if awards were given for car manufacturer customer service rankings, i dont think Tesla would have even gotten an honorable mention
     
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  5. Huskyf

    Huskyf Member

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    Did you try simply to send a meassage via the Tesla mobile app - Open new case normally you receive a response quickly.
     
  6. BigNick

    BigNick Disaffected Member

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    #26 BigNick, Sep 2, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2020
    Unless you or the previous owner(s) have been driving the car like a Finnish rally driver, suspension parts shouldn't collapse during normal use, certainly not within the first 7 years of ownership.

    IMO, since your car is out of warranty, Tesla could make a case for charging you labor to replace the parts, but the cost of the parts should absolutely on them - including any "collateral damage" parts damaged due to the failure and the not-yet-broken side of the suspension.

    Best of luck in trying to communicate with them, however. If you're 75 miles away from the nearest service center, they probably realize they have you by the cojones for now.
     
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  7. Raro

    Raro Member

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    I think its ridiculous that Tesla hasn't done a recall on this, its clearly dangerous if it happens at any speed.

    I would honestly just take it to another shop, A tesla is no different than any other car when it come to suspension work, you just need someone who can turn a nut and bolt and do an alignment.
     
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  8. airsailor

    airsailor Member

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    I finally got a call back from the service advisor. The managers at the Paramus location are "tied-up" today and I probably won't get a call to discuss. The advisor agrees I should replace the other control arm as well as the failed one to meet the requirements of the Service Bulletin. He seemed to agree with me that this part failing is unacceptable and dangerous, but it seems like he doesn't have the authority to do anything except manage the repair and take my credit card number when it's done.The $500 halfshaft is being replaced because one of the boots was torn by the suspension failure, and apparently they can't just replace the boot.... I don't know how the air spring was damaged but that $1000 unit needs to be replaced as well. He confirmed that all these parts were casualties of the suspension collapsing when the control arm failed. The bill for this work will total about $4500. He said he is unable to direct me to anyone in management but steered me to the Warranty page of the Model S Quick Guide, which has an address to snail mail a dispute letter. So a letter appears to be the way forward for now. IMG_1926.jpg
     
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  9. richrootes

    richrootes Member

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    Good luck - hope it gets sorted

    Is that overspray on the Caliper? Wonder if the car has had a whack in that corner in the past?
     
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  10. David.85D

    David.85D Active Member

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    It’s enough money you may want to talk to your insurance about a comprehensive claim. For Tesla to avoid warranty coverage, they have to say it’s impact related... which should bring your insurance into play. See if the Tesla people will give you something in writing why they refuse warranty coverage...
     
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  11. airsailor

    airsailor Member

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    I assumed the red paint/overspray on the caliper was done by a prior owner and that the calipers were not originally red.

    Tesla is refusing warranty coverage because this is a 2013 with expired warranty.
     
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  12. demundus

    demundus Active Member

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    David's got a good one on this, go through insurance for comp, then let them fight Tesla.

    I machined my own rear arms to keep this from happening, this car is as heavy as a Bentley, and they are notorious for suspension issues later in life. Just makes sense to keep a super close eye on all suspension related parts. The car is stanced pretty aggressively, and is VERY heavy. Aluminum arms with "holes" for weight reduction seem like a *sugar* idea to begin with.

    Sorry it happened, to be honest and as others have said, if you dont want to go the Insurance or Tesla route, grab a set off ebay and take them to a suspension shop. Its a really easy swap actually. My shop charged me labor hours, took them about 2...
     
  13. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it would be a comprehensive claim, it would be a collision claim. And I'm not sure they would want an at fault claim on their record for this.
     
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  14. 2101Guy

    2101Guy Member

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    on a somewhat separate note...had a non air suspension loaner for a few days while my 2017 90D (Smart Air suspension, but not the more advanced Raven Adaptive air suspension setup). The ride quality on the loaner was significantly harsher than on my 2017. And the loaner had 19" wheels with taller sidewall tires than my car with 21" wheels and low profile Pilot Sports.

    I understand why Tesla went to air suspension standard on these cars. So heavy and really needs the air setup for just decent ride quality.
     
  15. beatle

    beatle Member

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    Air isn't required for good ride quality. A properly damped and sprung car can have equal or better ride quality than air (and vice versa). It just depends on whether the components and tuning are up to the job.
     
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  16. Darren Donovan

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    Good luck to you!
    But Tesla really doesn't care about you anymore, because they know you've been hooked and reeled in. Sadly, people who have been/are ardent supporters seem to be screwed over the most, because they're the ones very willling to give free passes when Tesla doesn't do the right thing. Tesla wants to woo the innocent and uninformed, who are enamored with Tesla's mission and oftentimes overlook the serious shortcomings.
     
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  17. SoCal Buzz

    SoCal Buzz Supporting Member

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    Continue through the Supervisor, and then ask for their management if they cannot resolve. Basically work your way up
    Don't let it go. Be polite but persistent and explain that you want to escalate in the right way, but won't hesitate to go through Corporate or perhaps even local press if necessary.
     
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  18. airsailor

    airsailor Member

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    For those of you with interest in this saga, or nothing better to read at the moment, this is the letter I sent via FedEx to Tesla HQ today:

    Tesla Motors, Inc.

    3500 Deer Creek Road

    Palo Alto, California 94304

    Attention: Vehicle Service



    September 2, 2020


    Re: 2013 Model S

    VIN: 5YJSA1DN4DFP14786

    Paramus Tesla Service Center

    Vehicle Delivery Date August, 2013

    Mileage: 83,943

    Defective Lower Control Arm




    Dear Sir or Madam:


    I am the proud new owner of a used 2013 Model S -- a car I have dreamed of owning since its release, when I had the good fortune to test drive a friend's S. I have owned the car for about seven weeks, and I am wildly enthusiastic about it, and about Tesla in general. Two weeks after buying the car I bought some stock in Tesla because of my experience driving the car and my belief in the company. I installed not one, but two 50 amp charging circuits at my home. Why two? Because I am planning to purchase a second Tesla -- and thinking this next one will be purchased new. You could safely say I am a "Tesla convert."


    But, before I even got my Model S home from the used car dealership, the MCU bricked. After some days of educating myself about the eMMC issue, I undertook that repair and had the chip replaced and got the MCU functioning again.


    Now, six weeks into owning my “dream car,” the right rear lower control arm failed while backing my car up in the driveway and the suspension collapsed. I discovered Tesla Service Bulletin SB-19-31-001 which is attached. The Service Bulletin states that either lower rear control arm might crack, and to "Replace both LH and RH lower rear control arm assemblies with updated parts." In the Correction Description it states: “Replace LH andRH Lower Rear Control Arm Assemblies Due To Potential Cracking.” (Emphasis mine.) This SB describes exactly what occurred to my car. See photos attached.


    I want to say at the outset that I am basically horrified by this. I had just returned from a trip on the highway with my family in the car when this occurred. Had this failed ten minutes earlier, while at highway speed, the resultant loss of control would have likely been catastrophic. My wife has lost all confidence in the car. The Tesla Service Bulletin describes this issue as a "...known non-safety-related condition..." but I cannot understand how this can possibly be thought of as not affecting the car's safety. Image yourself happily cruising along at 70 mph in your gorgeous Tesla with wife and child aboard when the right rear wheel suddenly locks up. To me this is the very definition of a safety-related issue!


    I had the car taken on a flatbed to the Paramus Service Center. I advised them of the existence of SB-19-31-001. They initially claimed that it did not apply to my car. I sent them a screenshot of the SB. They now agree that it applies to my car. They are stating, however, that since the car is out of warranty, I must pay for the repairs. I acknowledge that the car is not in warranty but have asked them to consider making a goodwill repair. They have refused. Attached is their quote for repairs in the amount of $3921. Apparently, when the suspension collapsed in my driveway, it damaged a number of associated suspension parts including the air spring assembly and the halfshaft.


    What is missing from this quote is the R&R of the left hand side lower control arm, as required by the Service Bulletin. So Paramus Service Center proposed that I spend just shy of $4000 to repair the spontaneous failure of the righthand lower control arm with an updated/improved assembly, but leave the original control arm in place on the left side. I am somewhat amazed by this, and certainly would not feel any confidence that the car could be operated safely like this. I instructed the Service Advisor to replace the LH control arm as well, at an additional cost of $555. The Service Advisor agreed that this was necessary to avoid failure of the control arm, and fully agrees that this is a dangerous condition.


    I have owned a variety of cars over the last 44 years, and it never even occurred to me that a suspension could fail this dramatically and spontaneously on an automobile. My Tesla is seven years old with 84,000 miles on it. I think a spontaneous suspension failure of this seriousness is really unacceptable. And, someone at Tesla did too, when the Service Bulletin was released. In short, while I understand that this is not yet a mandatory recall issued by NHTSA, the fact that Tesla knows these original control arms are susceptible to failure, and that the Service Bulletin requires both sides to be replaced with updated/improved assemblies, strongly suggests to me that this work should be voluntarily performed by Tesla, gratis. It is obvious that if the control arm fails and the suspension collapses while the car is underway, the resulting loss of control could cause serious injury or death.


    I understand the difference between a recall and a Service Bulletin. However, there are several points contained in SB-19-31-001 that strongly suggest that this should actually be a recall and that Tesla should pay to correct this problem:

    • SB-19-31-001 was issued January 3, 2019, after all the affected cars are beyond warranty coverage.
    • The SB is non-optional; it states: “Apply this procedure to all vehicles in the affected VIN range listed.” (Emphasis mine.) It essentially calls for mandatory replacement.
    • The SB is designed to flag Tesla vehicles within the VIN range for preemptive repair.
    • The control arm cracking is not a matter of wear or age, it is a known defect that results from either a bad batch of parts or a bad design revision.

    I have not been able to reach anyone at a management level with whom to discuss this issue. I have authorized the Paramus Service Center to proceed with the repairs, since I really have no choice. Obviously, I strongly believe that Tesla should provide my repairs and replace both RH and LH control arms per SB-19-31-001 free of charge. I would like to feel that Tesla service surpasses my expectations, just as the experience of driving the Model S does.


    I truly am very excited about my "new" Model S, about the Tesla company, and about the prospect of purchasing a second Tesla new in the not-too-distant future. Suffice it to say that this initial experience threatens to dampen my enthusiasm, to put it mildly.



    Best regards,
     
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  19. 2101Guy

    2101Guy Member

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    Agreed. Perhaps this loaner had worn suspension pieces. I didnt get a chance to check tire pressures but there definitely was a harsher ride overall in that car
     
  20. TSLA Pilot

    TSLA Pilot Active Member

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    I read things like this and, if true, they make me embarrassed to be a part-owner via TSLA shares.

    Please, tell me this isn't true or that the OP has embellished the story?

    Sadly, my suspicion is that it's 100% accurate.

    Elon, why is this happening? The number of posts on this suggest there's a pattern here, which then suggests a supplier fault with this safety-critical part. It's really, really simple: ORDER A RECALL, and then just sue the supplier to get 100% of the costs (and goodwill loss) covered by said supplier.

    Thanks. End of rant.
     
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