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Getting Really Frustrated

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by bolosky, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. bolosky

    bolosky Member

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    My Roadster's reliability problems are really starting to get to me. I think it's been in the shop at least three months out of the past year, and after having it back for a grand total of 34 hours from the last appointment, it's headed back tomorrow. While Tesla has been wonderful about providing me service loaners, this is just getting old.

    Many, many years ago I had a Porsche 914 that in lots of ways reminded me of the Roadster. First, it was a roadster itself, though with only a hard top that stored in the trunk. It was mid-engine, and it handled a lot like the Roadster. It was amazingly fun to drive and attracted a lot of attention. (And unlike the Roadster it had a frunk, which was pretty cool.) Of course, it was ICE and was grossly underpowered (not just relative to the Roadster), so there was that difference. But it was always broken. It had problems with the airflow sensor for the injection system (a stuck bearing that meant that I could set the measured airflow to one rate by hand, so I had to keep it revved at stoplights or it would stall from too rich a mixture). The clutch wore out, I replaced it, then it blew an oil seal that spread oil over my brand new clutch, ruining it. The heater didn't work at all, which was great fun in Pittsburgh in the winter. The windshield washer never worked (it was deigned to use the pressure from the spare tire, so you could imagine how there would never be any problems with that). And on and on. The bottom line was that I couldn't rely on it to get me places. As much fun as it was to drive, I wound up really happy to sell that car.

    I never thought I'd say it, but I'm starting to get there with the Roadster. In the past year it's had a failure of the airbag system that required replacing the steering wheel and took weeks to resolve; a PEM failure that stranded me in an underground parking lot that also took weeks to fix; a failure of a strut that took months, and then most recently a failure of the motor fan that melted the connector from the PEM and took from June 7 to July 23 to fix.

    So today I drove it maybe 20 miles and put it in the garage. Then I went out to get in it to go shopping and the red fault light is on. The screen says that it now has TWO fan failures, the motor fan (that I paid $1500 for YESTERDAY) and also the PEM fan.

    Since May 16 when I took it in for service, I've had it available for 22 days total, the rest of the time It's been in the shop, and it's headed back now. The last fan failure took 46 days, and who knows how long this one will take.

    In the past year, I've spent nearly $15K on service for the car (some of that is scheduled maintenance and tires, but most is not). It's three times failed within two days of getting it back from service (twice with the airbag thing and now this); in fact, one of the airbag problems happened within a mile of the service center. But worst of all, I'm starting to worry that I just can't count on it to get me where I'm going, which is usually where a car and I part ways.

    All these years, I've been a huge fan of Tesla. I still am, and if I get rid of the Roadster, I'll probably replace it with a Model S. But it's really not the same. All the performance in the world + supercharging + low CG doesn't change the fact that the S is a ginormous sedan and not a convertible sports car.

    Blah.
     
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  2. hcsharp

    hcsharp Active Member

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    Sorry to hear about your bad luck. Mine has been amazingly reliable for 3 years, 2 of which have been out of warranty. As a result I would encourage you to hang on because maybe your streak of bad luck has run its course.
     
  3. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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    Thank God that it is not a British sports car ... :cool:
     
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  4. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    Wow, that is bad. Sorry, bolosky; I am sure it is frustrating. Like hcsharp, I have had only one issue in 7 years (4 of which have been out of warranty). I hope your car gets there soon.
     
  5. shrink

    shrink Member

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    Yikes. That's beyond frustrating.

    Someone wisely wrote in a recent post here that Roadsters seem to have their own "personality" in reference to the widely variable reliability.

    My car has had a lot of issues as well - most relatively minor, but some major (including a refurbished ESS) but all have fortunately been fixed under warranty. Without my warranty fixes, though, I would have been pretty angry and probably tried to sell the car.

    I'm very sorry to hear you've had so many costly problems recently. I guess one silver lining is that it sounds like you've been given loaners. No, it's not a small EV convertible, but Model S loaners are quite the perk many would envy and I hope still meet your transportation needs.

    I don't think anyone would blame you if you cut your losses at this point and sell; however, I truly hope they make it right.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. Habious

    Habious Member

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    I feel you @bolosky, I feel you.

    My Roadster #1195, in the 20 months I've owned it, is on its 3rd PEM, and is in the shop right now, getting its 3rd battery pack installed. The only timeframe I have been given on this latest repair is "weeks".

    I had the car about 3 months when the first pack crapped-the-bed...that took about 6 weeks (and about $5K).

    I've had PEM overheating problems almost continuously since I've had the car (on a mild day, I can romp on it for about 10 seconds before the PEM gets hot enough to kick it out of Performance mode). I keep getting told by the service center that this is "normal".

    The car is an absolute hoot to drive...when it runs.

    But, like you, I consider a car, first-and-foremost, transportation. If I can't trust it to get me where I need to go, it's pretty-well useless.
     
  7. gregd

    gregd Member

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    Just my opinion, but it sounds to me like part of the problem isn't the car, but the repairs. Insufficient attention to details of the car's own personality, especially as these cars age.

    My car has had its share of troubles, but the SC here (Rocklin, CA) kept at them, got to the real root causes, and fixed them. The example of PEM overheating, for example, sounds like my history with 1146 errors, which ultimately turned out to be poor duct sealing (fixed with weather stripping!), and a bad PEM fan connector. It's been over a year, including driving in 100+ heat, and no hint of trouble in that department since.

    I don't know if there is another SC that you could take the car to, but you might consider that. Failure of a just-repaired part is just not acceptable, and in my book, that's not the car's fault.
     
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  8. Habious

    Habious Member

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    I don't disagree but, this the downside to the "no dealerships - only factory service centers" business model.

    There are exactly 2 service centers in this area - Tyco Rd and Rockville, MD.

    In this area, the two service centers...combined...have about 6 Roadsters they work on so, they don't have a lot of experience with them.

    I'm sure a "Roadster expert" from one of the California service centers would come to a different conclusion...since they've seen "hundreds" of them, and know how they're supposed to work but, around here, they simply...don't.

    I've been told, more than once "That's just how they work" or "That's normal". When, from reading this forum, I know it's not.

    74° day, and I can kick my car out of Performance Mode (from white lettering to red lettering) in under 30 seconds (from leaving my driveway).

    I bought a G-tech meter to measure 0-60 times but, I can't get the car to stay in Performance mode for an "entire" SINGLE 0-60 run.

    Is that "normal"? Is that just "how these cars work"?
     
  9. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    No that is not how they are supposed to work. I had a track day at EVCCON a few years back where I did at least 50 1/4 mile runs along with a dozen autocross runs and while temps were in the low 80's I never hit a temperature limit. So there is something strange with yours. The only time I hit the temp limit was last year when the thermometer was registering 110 and it was HOT.
     
  10. djp

    djp Roadster 2.0 VIN939

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    No, that's not normal. My PEM generally runs at 20F over ambient temperature, and kicks out of Performance Mode when it reaches 113F. It sounds like you have a problem with either the airflow, PEM fan or PEM itself.
     
  11. Habious

    Habious Member

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    They've cleaned out the PEM fan on multiple occasions (both during annual maintenance and off-cycle repairs, when I've complained about the "lack of Performance Mode").

    And I'm on PEM #3.
     
  12. gregd

    gregd Member

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    Not normal, as others have posted.

    But I disagree about the business model being at fault. Given the very limited production volume of the car, a dealership model would have even less opportunity to gain the experience needed. You really need factory-trained, experienced technicians to work on the car. If there is another SC available, you might have better luck there, or try to get the two to work together (tap into their collective expertise), or even feed them some of the Forum's information.

    One thing that might help nudge them into action would be to review the vehicle's logs on your own. What do they say about the PEM's temperature? I know it will annoy the technicians a bit, but if you come armed with some hard evidence, it should prevent these issues from being dismissed so easily. Get them to contact the factory for backup. Don't let them off the hook.
     
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  13. BartJ

    BartJ Member

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    Tesla needs to officially label all their service-centers as "roadster-qualified" or "non-roadster-qualified".
     
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  14. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    We've got just one Roadster qualified service center at Gatwick in the UK and I wonder if we have the opposite problem...

    There are apparently 51 Roadsters registered in the UK and there is I believe 1 guy at Gatwick who is trained on the car and has been with the company many years.

    I was recently given some strange answers to my questions about my HVAC issue. They imply that corners are being cut or work isn't being logged properly. I also know of another owner who took a car in for an annual service and apparently didn't receive it back for a month - and even then there were outstanding work items. His car probably depreciated the same amount as the cost of the service in that time...

    I wonder if the guy is just totally overworked and is also a potential single point of failure. Either way it's not good enough and points to a management failing. I've heard of the same issues from the Netherlands so combined with the stories in this thread it's clearly not a local UK issue.

    Having a zip code lottery as to whether you get good service or not - and have to pay thousands to find out - is not acceptable, especially as Roadster owners have been some of the most ardent supporters of the company. I have a friend who is set on getting a Model S and I have serious reservations about if I can recommend it. I'm also worried about my Model 3 deposit and if they will cope with the numbers.
     
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  15. djf

    djf Member

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    Right on the money, gregd. My own experience (Roadster #243), basic logic, and all the data I have seen strongly support that this is a service expertise problem. The service (and parts) situation is at best undependable and at worst abominable. A repair is a crap shoot - you win some, you lose some, and it logically and most certainly depends on where and of course who does the job.

    The cruel irony here is that this truly unique vehicle is the most extraordinary, the most storied, the most beloved, and the most fun vehicle on the planet. It embodies a key inflection point in the history of the automobile, and an extremely colorful and exciting one at that. It may even represent an inflection point in the history of the planet, if Elon's vision comes true and bears the expected fruit (as by all indications it will). By all rights it should be the most heavily supported "classic" car in the world, for its incomparable legacy value and significance. But other than the wonderful 3.0 upgrade, the support story is largely one of inconsistency and underwhelming mediocrity all too often.

    I hope Elon looks at this forum occasionally. Unless he and he alone puts his prodigious will and phenomenal ability to the relatively easy task of turning this situation around (all it takes is a small but adequate supply of trained, skilled, motivated Roadster technicians and a reliable parts sourcing system), our beloved, history-making, ear-to-ear-grin-making Roadsters will be dead - rather than living- history by the end of the decade. I will keep mine forever, if I can keep it running. Short of that, I will enjoy the heck out of it before it gets to the R.I.P. stage!
     
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  16. Habious

    Habious Member

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    First, an apology for @bolosky for hijacking his "rant" thread and turning it into MY rant thread! Wasn't my intention, just kinda how it unfolded.

    I get what people are saying about it being a service issue...and I agree. I'm just not sure what to do about it.

    I could pull the logs and look at the temps but, since I don't have a service manual, or published data on what the temp range SHOULD be, I'm not sure what good this will do.

    I know Tesla pulls the logs from my car every time they service it (thank you OVMS). And I've brought it in multiple times for these temp issues so, I'm SURE they're looking at the PEM temps in the logs.

    I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that something isn't right but, I'm not sure what I can do with that.

    It's tough to simply march into the Service Center and tell them "No, you don't understand; someone on the Internet says you're wrong!"

    Well, it's not tough to do that...but I don't imagine it would get me very far.
     
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  17. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Disclaimer - The budget will have to increase for this solution but,

    You mentioned a Model S but correctly pointed out that it is not the same. I've found the S to be a wonderful daily driver and the PD in particular to be most enjoyable. Combine that with the McLaren MP4-12C plummeting in price (10K mile 2012s in the low 100s range these days) and you will have a potent combination that will address any and all needs at either end of the spectrum.

    Just a suggestion :)
     
  18. bolosky

    bolosky Member

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    The latest on my car is that the problem is a pin on a circuit board in the PEM that had too much play in it (read: was loose) that was messing up the connection to the fans. So, they're getting a new board and it should be ready to go soon.

    With (lots of) luck, this will be it and it will last another 10 years without problems. :) Hope springs eternal.
     
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  19. gregd

    gregd Member

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    Ha, excellent! THAT, finally, sounds like the real root cause. It explains the observed symptoms, and is realistic (not an improbable sequence of unlikely events). Lesson: you've got to push for the real issue, not simply replace the drive train over a bad connector.

    To @Habious, and how to handle "the internet" angle, the approach I would take (unproven at this point) is to come with data - exports of logs and graphs from the various excellent tools we have (VMSParser, Graphical Log Parser, etc.) and keep pushing for an explanation for the observed issues. I am personally moving (slowly) along this track with my car. I've gotten a bunch of 1115 and 1116 errors, which suggest a bad sensor in the motor, and the default repair is $10k to replace the drive train. Rather, I suspect the issue is similar to what we have here - a loose connector somewhere. So, I'm gathering experiental data to try to narrow down when / where / what happens to trigger the condition.

    Best of luck to all!
     
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  20. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    Yep this default answer of $10k to replace the PEM with a refurb when it could be something like a blown fuse or a dry joint is not right. I suspect all of us are going to face this at some point given the nature of the beast.

    Could a Model S PEM be modified to work with a Roadster drivetrain?
     

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