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First Model 3 motor failure reported

DaveT

Searcher of green pastures
Nov 15, 2012
3,492
10,420
Texas
Hopefully this doesn't happen to anyone else, but the first ever Model 3 motor failure was reported.

Basically, the owner had driven his car only 270 miles, and then let his wife take it to show it off to some friends. His wife's friend accelerated kind of hard and they heard a loud thud. And then they lost all propulsion. They pulled over and had to get the car towed to their service center. Service center found out it was a blown motor.

Tesla is sending a new drive unit and also an engineering team to investigate.

First Model 3 motor failure reported, Tesla engineers on their way to investigate
 
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Sunlight

Member
May 7, 2014
329
729
South Africa
I bought a Ferrari 308 in the 1980s and the one thing I expected was a tough engine (after all the endurance racing etc..)

Within 500 miles I needed a new engine as the original was drinking oil! Freak incident?

I understand that if electric motors last the initial period then they run 'forever'. We used to have brand new electric motors on air conditioning equipment fail within days (or not at all..)
 

cwerdna

Active Member
Jul 11, 2012
3,393
2,234
SF Bay Area, CA
I understand that if electric motors last the initial period then they run 'forever'.
I guess you haven't paid enough attention to Model S and X drive replacement reports here on TMC for noise or total failure.

(It seems that the -P and -Q revision DUs have gotten the replacements needed for noise problems under control (at least 3 guys here are on their 7th or 8th DU) so most of the rest we're hearing of now that are at least -P or -Q rev seem to be failures.)
 
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Sunlight

Member
May 7, 2014
329
729
South Africa
Hi cwerdna - I did not mean Tesla motors but electrical motors in general. Our fancy Bosch fridge motor failed within a few months but the replacement motor has soldiered on for years.

I have been following TMC for a few years and was interested in/surprised by the grinding/milling/noisy motors on the early (?) Models S and all the DU exchanges but it seemed to me that the main issue(s) had been resolved as the postings dropped down significantly.

Are DUs still failing across an abnormal amount of cars? Or has the issue been resolved enough that newer cars do not usually have DU issues?

Never quite understood how a car could have more than a couple of motor replacements - huh?! Service and stuff back the 'faulty unit'?
 
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tomas

Out of warranty...
Oct 22, 2012
4,242
3,826
Chicago/Montecito
I get so tired of this “failure” crap. 99% of the drive units members have termed as “failures” were not failures in the sense of “stopped working”. They were repairs required to fix a cosmetic noise problem. Annoying, but not disabling. Tesla elected to centralize repairs, so units displaying noise were replaced.

Observation is true that most electric motors fail catastrophically early or never.
 

scaesare

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
8,242
13,177
NoVA
It will be interesting to see what the infant mortality rate on these is. As per the above comments, electric motors are well understood and typically quite reliable as a whole.

Certainly Tesla has learned some things with the drive unit problems on the S. They also plan on using Model 3 motors as the basis for the Semi. And they want to build a boatload of these... so recall/warranty costs are something they no doubt looked at carefully.

While the Model 3 needed to manage costs to meet it's price point, I'm confident they aimed for a robust design.
 

David29

Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
2,173
1,791
DEDHAM, MA
When the drive units "fail" or get noisy, etc., is it the motor itself, or one of the other components, anyone know?
Does the "drive unit" include all three major pieces -- the motor, the AC/DC converter, and the reduction gear?
Be interesting to know which part(s) is (are) most prone to problems...
 
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csphili

Member
May 25, 2016
28
34
Illinois
David:
The noise almost certainly can't come from the actual motor components or the converter (which has no moving parts). It could only be from bearings or the gearbox and i'm 90% sure it's actually in the gearbox. Would love to know if any insiders have the scoop on that.

Bearings do occasionally need to be replaced after extremely long service. Gears get worn out, but the Tesla has far fewer of them than any ICE car.
 

csphili

Member
May 25, 2016
28
34
Illinois
And yes, the drive unit contains all three major pieces (on S/X at least). They just unbolt the whole system and drop a new one in, then send the problem unit back to the factory for analysis.
 
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scaesare

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
8,242
13,177
NoVA
David:
The noise almost certainly can't come from the actual motor components or the converter (which has no moving parts). It could only be from bearings...

Both the rotor and it's bearings are motor components. They are moving parts.

And while I'm being pedantic, it's referred to as an "inverter".
 

csphili

Member
May 25, 2016
28
34
Illinois
Both the rotor and it's bearings are motor components. They are moving parts.

And while I'm being pedantic, it's referred to as an "inverter".
Yes it is. But i'm referring to the inverter, which has no moving parts. I'm also leaving the bearings out of the true motor parts list because you can design a motor without them or they can be external to the stator/rotor assembly.

I should go take another look at that Model S motor cutaway to see where the bearings are packed...
[I just did that. In the old display version, they're packed in the ends of the housing which bolt onto central stator component. It's a beautifully simple design to assemble and disassemble.]
 
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ℬête Noire

Active Member
Jan 30, 2018
3,105
2,556
TX
I understand that if electric motors last the initial period then they run 'forever'. We used to have brand new electric motors on air conditioning equipment fail within days (or not at all..)

Outside of a very corrosive environment w/o appropriate sealing; Bearings are normally the weak point. Although poorly designed controller electronics can be an issue, too. It's actually usually the seal for the bearings that fails, that propagates into the bearing to wear out. The good news is they tend to get really noisy first so you probably won't get surprised with a total failure unless you're not paying attention.
 

Xenoilphobe

Active Member
Jan 2, 2014
4,578
4,283
Fairfax County, Virginia
Hopefully this doesn't happen to anyone else, but the first ever Model 3 motor failure was reported.

Basically, the owner had driven his car only 270 miles, and then let his wife take it to show it off to some friends. His wife's friend accelerated kind of hard and they heard a loud thud. And then they lost all propulsion. They pulled over and had to get the car towed to their service center. Service center found out it was a blown motor.

Tesla is sending a new drive unit and also an engineering team to investigate.

First Model 3 motor failure reported, Tesla engineers on their way to investigate

She must have done too many clutch drops..

 

cwerdna

Active Member
Jul 11, 2012
3,393
2,234
SF Bay Area, CA
Never quite understood how a car could have more than a couple of motor replacements - huh?! Service and stuff back the 'faulty unit'?
See the last paragraph of my response at Drive Unit failure symptoms and thresholds for replacement.

It is odd that my thread at automotive reliability and durability testing is mostly crickets. I guess people here just aren't interested.

BTW, here are some examples of the 7th+ DU replacement:
Drive Unit Replacement Poll
6th drive unit replacement and more
Drive unit replacement - getting better?

I get so tired of this “failure” crap. 99% of the drive units members have termed as “failures” were not failures in the sense of “stopped working”. They were repairs required to fix a cosmetic noise problem. Annoying, but not disabling. Tesla elected to centralize repairs, so units displaying noise were replaced.
While I wouldn't agree that it's 99%, I do agree that in the first years of Model S, most of the DU replacements were for noise and not outright failure (stopped providing propulsion or SC determined that DU was malfunctioning and required replacement)

Now, most of the DU replacements I've seen in the Model S and X built in the last ~2 years (or had their previous DU replacement in the last 2 years) have NOT been for noise, but for failing to provide propulsion.

Here are some examples of last 2 years or complete failures for older ones :
New P100d model S failed!!!
Car died today. Gear indicators turned red.
Is the Third Drive Unit the Charm? - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
A bad week - Drive Unit Need Service
New Drive unit for 2016 refresh
Drive unit replacement - getting better?
Model S Technical / Mechanical Issues
Warnings, More Warnings and then car "Unable to Drive"
Dual engine shut down on freeway. Anyone else?
Drive unit, new or refurbishishid?
Drive Unit Failed - Dashcam video
Clunks, Drones and Milling sounds: Just had a drive unit fail
New Model S Drive Unit Replaced at 734 Miles
 
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MXWing

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2016
7,294
17,889
USA
I wonder if I wondered when the first Bolt died.

Nope.

Zero bothers given.

47009616.jpg
 
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