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Has anybody gotten their "balloon squeal" noise fixed?

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Thud, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. Thud

    Thud Member

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    I've searched and found a few threads on this, but I didn't come across any instances where somebody has said they contacted Tesla to get the noise fixed and whether it was actually fixed.

    My S85 (late 2014, with Autopilot) has the noise and it's evident between 80%-100% pedal. It's not the cool futuristic whirring sound, it's the steady tone that sounds like a tortured muppet crying for help.

    I'd contact the SC to fix it, but first I want to make sure it's somebody that can actually be fixed.

    It seems to be an issue with the larger rear motor specifically, as the noise can even be heard in this P85d launch video: Tesla Model S P85D AWD and auto-pilot demo - YouTube

    But it's even worse in this S85 test drive video:

    Model S Test Drive on Vimeo
     
  2. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    Weird, thought that they had fixed this. My car had it for the first 6-12 months of ownership, but one day it disappeared for good.
     
  3. Thud

    Thud Member

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    I think they fixed it by moving to smaller motors. :smile:
     
  4. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    FWIW, my refurbed S85 DU replaced a month ago does not have it either. There was speculation it was caused by the pack contactors tho.
     
  5. Thud

    Thud Member

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    It seems to be all over the board. Some cars have it, some don't. Some cars don't have it initially but get it later. Other cars have it initially but it disappears on its own.

    That would seem to indicate it's related to physical contact between two parts that can shift over time. Which means it should be trivial to fix, in theory. Just let me know where I need to cram a piece of felt....
     
  6. SW2Fiddler

    SW2Fiddler Bannd Member

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    I never even heard the balloon squeal, until a few days ago. (May 2014 rear-drive non-performance)
    It took an extreme acceleration event on a really quiet road, to hear it. Funny squeal!
     
  7. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Model S cars have had this since the very first models, and Tesla has consistently said this is normal and cannot be fixed. It only occurs under heavy acceleration and thus you only briefly hear it. I'm used to it now, and it gives me a nice audio gauge of how aggressively I'm driving. If you hear it all the time, I suspect you like to torture your cars. Nothing wrong with that, but just be aware that most people don't drive like that.
     
  8. MichaelS

    MichaelS Member

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    The balloon squeal is produced by the main contactor in the battery pack. It's caused by poor contact of the mating surfaces of the contacts, probably from pitting. The contacts are actually arcing, causing the armature to vibrate under the tremendous current draw at full throttle.

    I believe this was the whole reason for the contactor recall program. I fought with Tesla for two years to get this problem fixed. Finally, last time I had the car serviced, they dropped the pack and replaced the contactor.

    The car squealed very faintly a couple of times right after the work but now the car is perfectly quiet.
     
  9. Thud

    Thud Member

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    I don't really consider passing on the highway to be "torture" to any vehicle.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Are there risks to not getting it fixed? I would think that repeated arcing would be a bad thing.
     
  10. MichaelS

    MichaelS Member

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    Absolutely. It's a very bad thing.

    Several people have reported that the contacts welded together and the car won't start again after being shut off. This usually happens on an extended drive up a steep hill.


    Are there risks to not getting it fixed? I would think that repeated arcing would be a bad thing.
     
  11. Thud

    Thud Member

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    OK-- I just need something to respond back to Tesla with when they try to tell me it's "normal."
     
  12. JakeP

    JakeP S P4996 / X P6028

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    My balloon squeal had disappeared for quite some time, but now it has returned. This makes me nervous that I could be in for another contactor failure at some point ("The Dreaded Clunk", That very loud and painful - Page 11).
     
  13. Forty Creek

    Forty Creek Member

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    I think the squeal might be temperature related. Didn't hear it all winter but it's milder out now and the squeal has returned. It could be that my driving wasn't as spirited in the winter and so the squeal wasn't triggered then. I can't be certain.
     
  14. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    Subscribed. I hate the squeal, especially when giving people test drives. It's kind of embarrassing actually. If contactor replacement is the fix, I can understand their reluctance to replace because it's a big job and probably expensive. If you can report any techniques that you used to successfully get them to agree to fix your squeal, please share. That's the only complaint I have about this car...otherwise, it's amazing.
     
  15. MichaelS

    MichaelS Member

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    gavine, I felt exactly the same as you do about the squeal.

    When I brought my car in for a very simple fix (replace the broken roof rack mount cover) I was notified that the logs in the car indicated that there was a problem and the contactor needed to be replaced. I nearly fell over when the service center told me that.

    It could be that the SC there in New Jersey doesn't have the training yet to do this major repair. But the squeal is definitely not normal and you should keep bugging them about getting it fixed.
     
  16. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    I know some cars have had their contactors replaced proactively, but I don't think it was because of the squeal. Apparently, your car had one of the defective contractors already. I understand there's a service center in NY that does contactor replacements. Maybe I should call them directly.
     
  17. JakeP

    JakeP S P4996 / X P6028

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    I definitely used to think I heard more squeal when it was cold, but now I am hearing it as it warms up. Like you say, it may just be that we are driving harder now that the roads are better and the potholes are filled.
     
  18. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Oh dear. I get this occasionally when driving aggressively. (I drive very conservatively.) I'm going to have to contact Tesla if it's due to arcing.
     
  19. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    I have a P85+, delivered 9-29-14 and have never heard this. Thank goodness.
     
  20. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    Per my service center, the balloon squeal is due to the current turning into a "plasma" and rushing over the contactors. I don't know much about electricity, so don't know if this rings true. I was informed that my car is not eligible for the contactor replacement, and that the noise is totally normal and operating within design parameters. The balloon squeal, I was told, is specific to the battery contactors and not the drive unit.

    I'm satisfied with Tesla's explanation and see no need to make further noise. The squeal comes and goes depending on how much I've driven that day, the temperatures, etc.
     

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