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Frame Failure called "Normal Wear and Tear" by Tesla Service

Discussion in 'Model S' started by andystj, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. andystj

    andystj S: P957 X: P337

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    I posted this an hour ago under the Model S Technical / Mechanical Issues #3117, but a general post about the service experience seems appropriate in light of Tesla's decision to not look at this from an engineering standpoint but rather to just deny goodwill, swap out the part and move on.

    I hope I'm not the canary in the coal-mine, but my rear subframe sheared apart at the rear connection to the drive train. I do drive a lot, so my 2012 P85 is approaching 170,000. That said, I have never thought of frames as a "wear and tear" part. Nonetheless, Tesla service apparently does and decided that I should pay $2035 to have it replaced. I am beyond frustrated.

    There was no collision, no bottoming out, no drama. I was just backing out of a parking spot and I hear THUNK THUNK THUNK. Upon diagnosis at the service center, I told them to explain the situation up the line and request the repair be done on a goodwill basis. I know my mileage is high, but this is not a water pump. It is a FRAME FAILURE. It is the structural skeleton of the car and it should not wear out. The stresses from the motor are known and the engineering should be correct on a part like this. There had to be some sort of materials defect or heaven forbid an engineering defect. Frames don't just break.

    The only other idea that has come up is that they may have over-tightened the mount and created the stress when they swapped out the drive train a few months ago.

    The only analogy I can find is the BMW E46 3 Series where the subframe was pulling against the unibody and causing cracks in the body. Guess what BMW did. Ten years of goodwill repairs regardless of mileage and design changes to stop the issue. In my case, they were just planning on sending the subframe off to recycling and moving on.

    I would really appreciate any advise on how to proceed or get this escalated to someone who cares to take a considered approach.

    Thanks,
    Andy


    You can see another view in the original link, but here is a closeup of wear the metal sheared away.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. AnonNJ

    AnonNJ Track mode, smack mode!

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    That will buff out. Nothing to see here.
     
    • Funny x 3
  3. croman

    croman Active Member

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    Tweet Elon whether Tesla thinks this is really how it should go after 170k miles. My brother's '98 corolla lasted 250k without this kind of issue (or any real major issue) (might still be going, he sold it 5 years ago when he bought a leaf).

    I think its alarming to say the least.
     
  4. BerTX

    BerTX Supporting Member

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    I expect the BMW goodwill policy was not offered to the very first person that it happened to when it occurred. Probably happened many times to show a pattern. Unfortunately one (that we know of) is not a pattern.

    Wear and tear is an odd classification for a frame failure, to be sure. They probably didn't know what to call it. It isn't a warranty item, as you are way out of warranty.

    Not to be too flip about it, but $2K for that repair seems like a steal for a Tesla, what with $1000 door handles and windshields. I'd register my complaint, pay for the repair and hope they come back to you if it becomes a common problem.
     
  5. mtndrew1

    mtndrew1 Member

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    The Mercedes Benz E-Class from the late 90s/early 2000s was semi famous for subframe failures. I had a Miata with a subframe failure. This is not the wildest failure for a car.

    The price, to be honest, seems very fair for a major repair to a high end luxury car with high miles from a boutique brand.
     
  6. sorka

    sorka Well-Known Member

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    You're mileage isn't that high. I sold my Lexus SC400 with 334K miles on it 4 years ago and the current owner has over 450K miles on it and it has had zero repairs in it's entire life.

    My Prius just hit 300K and I expect it to last another 200K without any issues.
     
  7. sorka

    sorka Well-Known Member

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    Highlight Elon's goal of a million mile power train when you tweat this. Put a link here and I'll forward it to everyone I know.
     
  8. scottycs

    scottycs Member

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    Every 3 series in existence through the mid 2000 had rear subframe issues. Typically there are bushings that fail that cause movement that ultimately leads to the failure.

    What preventative maintenance have you done on the rear suspension? Have you replaced anything? Or just drove it until it broke. Tesla is no different than any other manufacture, this is a repair that falls on you. At 170k wanting them to replace it? that's Ludicrous! $2,000 seems more than reasonable...

    Want a warranty? Buy a new car?
     
  9. andystj

    andystj S: P957 X: P337

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    The other issue was with communication failures. Timeline.
    • 11/2 (2 weeks ago) THUNK THUNK THUNK. Dropped in at service center and they quickly found the problem. Noting that it was unique and I opined that it seemed to be either some sort of latent defect in the aluminum or a design defect. We discussed known stresses, metal fatigue and engineering design in general terms. I emphasized a belief that this should be analysed and really should be a goodwill repair despite the mileage. I requested that they both pursue goodwill and order the part. (We discussed the possibility of a weld repair, but they could not do it, and since it requires dropping the drive train the logistics would be a nightmare.)
    • 11/5 (Monday) My tech seemed to be out, but I get a text saying that they are making sure the part is on order with a promise to give an ETA when they have one. I replied to remind them about pursuing the goodwill avenue and reemphasized the points from 11/2.
    • No reply. No updates for an entire week. In the interim it occurs to me that if they deny goodwill I can use a subframe from a car with front end damage. I do a rough price out and it looks like it is doable with shipping for $500 vs $1500 new. All things considered this is the sort of thing that makes sense to me, but I don't want to rattle the cage because I still believe that it should just be solved. I optimistically think that the delay in response means that they are considering the request.
    • 11/12 (Day 10) Still no update from Service Center. I send a note that simply says "Any updates for me." I get updates that the part is coming from Canada but no ETA. Nothing about Goodwill. I follow-up with a request about goodwill.
    • No Reply.
    • 11/15 I get a note that says (a) goodwill is denied & (b) we installed the part. Come pick it up.
    I never signed any authorization for repair, and I made multiple requests for an update on the goodwill. Yet they decided to install the part without contacting me first.

    At this point, I'm waiting for the "Regional Service Manager" to call me as he is supposedly the authority who made the call to deny the goodwill to begin with. The new part is in the car. The old part is on a dolly, but they are not able to find the missing mounting plates. One option is a weld repair, but that doesn't work without the parts to weld. :(

    There's more to the communications disaster, but that's enough for now. I understand that $2035 is not an outrageous amount for the repair, but the nature of the damage really calls for some analysis and consideration. Metal shearing away from metal is not normal wear & tear and it is not normal at all.

    Andy
     
    • Like x 1
  10. scottycs

    scottycs Member

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    You never had the intent to fix the car at Tesla unless it was free? Did you get a loaner car as well? If so, you atleast owe them for the rental AND time to diagnose if you didn't consent to the repair.
     
  11. andystj

    andystj S: P957 X: P337

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    This is not a problem with the suspension. It is the subframe. It is a non-moving part which does not call for maintenance on any schedule. While there are bushings where it mounts to the unibody, they are all in perfectly good shape. There is no preventive maintenance to be done. I reject your premise. The point on the Model 3's is that BMW did make the repairs under goodwill for 10 years.
     
  12. scottycs

    scottycs Member

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    #12 scottycs, Nov 16, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    My premises is there is NO WARRANTY, Tesla owes you nothing, period. Sorry, your feelings are irrelevant. You are expecting a lifetime warranty because its a non moving part, which is also irrelevant. Tesla is not in the goodwill business....And bmw did not make repairs for 10 years...I replaced the subframe mounts on a e30 and a e36.

    Parts fail and your car has 170k. Abuse AND failure to maintain the suspension CAN stress the subgrame. What do you think attaches to the subframe?
     
  13. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

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    But you authorized them to order the part. So the only portion not authorized is the $500 of labor, you could bring that up and ask them to goodwill the labor since you didn't authorize it.

    Something else to consider is that often Tesla won't install a used part that you provide, so while you could have bought the part for $1000 less, you might have had to do the repair yourself or find a non-Tesla shop to do it.

    Really you only need measurements, I wouldn't expect the shop to reuse the broken parts themselves. (They would just fabricate new ones themselves.)
     
  14. andystj

    andystj S: P957 X: P337

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    Definitely feels like shouting into the wind, but I did send a tweet. Andy St. John on Twitter
     
  15. croman

    croman Active Member

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    This is just wrong. Wear and tear isn't the suspension. Its the frame. The frame should never have "wear and tear" failures after 170k miles. Especially not for something well-engineered like the Model S.
     
    • Like x 1
  16. laromin

    laromin New Member

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    There is also a crack in the square tube running along the entire length of weld next to the left bracket.

    Depending on the alloy used,the strength of the tubing will be reduced right next to the weld,which is common
    for any kind of welded part.
     
    • Love x 1
  17. scottycs

    scottycs Member

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    its not the frame....its a subframe. There could be numerous reasons why it failed, the car has 170k.

    At the end of the day, if you want the protection of a warranty, buy one.
     
    • Disagree x 2
  18. scottycs

    scottycs Member

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    Alignment issues, wheel balance issues, worn suspension, potholes, abuse, etc are things could wear to the failure of your subframe. Also 170k....

    But you never answered my questions? Did you get a loaner from Tesla for 2 weeks? You authorized them to order the part... I am trying to figure out why you left the car there when they told you they were not going to goodwill the repair.
     
  19. andystj

    andystj S: P957 X: P337

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    Those conversations have come up and your point is taken. The conversation was to get the part ordered to get the ball moving and it was definitely attached to the explore goodwill caveat. There was definitely something off about ignoring the goodwill issue until after the part was installed.
    At one point today they agreed to put the car back to it's state upon arrival, but now they say they won't do that. Best they will do is pull the new part and have me tow it away.

    That is for sure a problem. I'm working on it.

    Perhaps, but I think the odds of Tesla providing the specs at this point is zero. It really is a common sense solution, and I have suggested late this afternoon. I haven't heard back.
     
  20. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

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    I would think that you could crowd-source the measurements. Someone like @Btr_ftw would likely be able to help you with that.
     

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