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Hit fairly large trench, bottomed out

Was showing a friend autopilot at night on a road w/out streetlights, when we ran into this massive trench in the road. Looked like 5 ft of asphalt was sectioned out across the whole lane for construction or some bullcrap, but there was no warning whatsoever 🤬. We were going about 30 mph which was the AP speed limit for that road, and AP didn’t slow at all and just barreled into it. We only saw the trench about a half second before hitting it so I was not able to intervene in time. Heard/felt a loud bang as the bottom of the car hit the oncoming edge.

Looking underneath when I got home, the front aero shield had two big chunks knocked out where front sway bar and brackets punched through. The sway bar brackets appear to have taken the direct impact and are mashed up a bit. Right (passenger) side bracket got hit harder it looks like. Everything else underneath (besides brackets and aero shield) appear ok.

There were no warnings from the car and no other noises from driving/turning after, but I did notice the alignment is no longer straight, the car pulls to the right slightly, and suspension on the right side is sagging ~inch lower than the left side.

Obviously gonna get it serviced, but afraid of how bad the underlying damage could be, and worried why the suspension is sagging on one side, or if it’s safe to drive. Only had the car a little over a month so pretty sad ༼ つ ಥ_ಥ ༽つ about this.

Has anyone had something like this happen, basically smashed the front undercarriage on a pothole, which affected their alignment and suspension slightly? If so what was the repair cost? I have Tesla insurance so should be covered but would like to avoid submitting a claim if at all possible. Thanks in advance!

Had I been driving w/my foot on the pedal I likely could have let off to slow to 20 mph or so instead of barreling on into the trench at 30 mph like autopilot did.

Anyhow, stay safe out there everyone! and be vigilant when using autopilot or FSD!

Note: in photos I have removed the front fascia valance and front screws from aero shield to get a better look at any potential damage.
 

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afadeev

Active Member
Feb 28, 2019
1,107
1,308
NYC
While I haven't had anything like your experience, I can tell from the pics that you will be replacing a LOT of parts under the car, plus paying for an alignment at the end. Some plastic (all aero shields), some metal (sway bar brackets, RHS suspension). Suspension sagging on one side may be the most expansive part of the puzzle, unless it's something simple like cracked/busted upper shock mounts.

Depending on your deductible and the final bill, a warranty claim (against comprehensive part of your policy) may be justified.

Good luck!
a
 
While I haven't had anything like your experience, I can tell from the pics that you will be replacing a LOT of parts under the car, plus paying for an alignment at the end. Some plastic (all aero shields), some metal (sway bar brackets, RHS suspension). Suspension sagging on one side may be the most expansive part of the puzzle, unless it's something simple like cracked/busted upper shock mounts.

Depending on your deductible and the final bill, a warranty claim (against comprehensive part of your policy) may be justified.

Good luck!
a
Thanks for the reply!! Yeah that sounds about right, definitely both aeroshields, sway brackets, and like you said - likely parts of the right suspension. Deductible is $1000 so I suppose it could have been worse, bc at least it seems fine/drivable so I can use it with caution until my service apt.

One thing on my mind has been that Tesla has very few authorized third party repair shops (only 4 in Houston, the 4th largest city in US 🤔). I’ve heard they’re repair centers will try to get the most $$ out of a claim that can be reasonably expected, by replacing more stuff than is necessary. Of course I don’t know if this is true or not. I would hope not, but given they don’t allow regular car shops to do repairs makes me wonder.

I plan on really picking the brain of the collision center / mechanics that do the assessment to understand their replacement plan and if it makes sense to my engineer brain.

Also wondering if it’d be worth taking it to a auto shop I used to go to to have them take a look. Theoretically I have the service manual and can share it with them if they feel confident they can make a full repair for cheaper but this starts to feel sketchy w/warranty and all that.

Anyways, thanks again man!
 
Glad you're safe...
Having the original Tesla warranty firmly in place will override any money saved by using a 3rd party repair shop!
Good point, I will likely stick with the authorized repair shop. Anyone have a good sense for why Tesla has relatively few authorized repair shops? It’s not like the majority of their mechanical parts (suspension, steering etc) are much different from traditional ICE automobiles.
 

afadeev

Active Member
Feb 28, 2019
1,107
1,308
NYC
Glad you're safe...
Having the original Tesla warranty firmly in place will override any money saved by using a 3rd party repair shop!

To be clear - Tesla warranty will absolutely NOT cover repairs to any of the damage incurred with hitting objects on the road (moving or stationary).

One thing on my mind has been that Tesla has very few authorized third party repair shops (only 4 in Houston, the 4th largest city in US 🤔). I’ve heard they’re repair centers will try to get the most $$ out of a claim that can be reasonably expected, by replacing more stuff than is necessary. Of course I don’t know if this is true or not. I would hope not, but given they don’t allow regular car shops to do repairs makes me wonder.

Any independent business will do anything possible to maximize its revenue. Automotive body shops are no different.
The paucity of Tesla authorized repair shops is due to Tesla imposing overhead costs in getting "certified", plus Tesla refusing to supply OEM parts to "non-certified" repair shops:

Also wondering if it’d be worth taking it to a auto shop I used to go to to have them take a look. Theoretically I have the service manual and can share it with them if they feel confident they can make a full repair for cheaper but this starts to feel sketchy w/warranty and all that.

Tesla warranty will cover none of the damage.
Insurance will, and may provide other benefits (rental for the duration of time in the body shop, cost control over the body shop, etc.).

Alternatively, if you were even remotely thinking of upgrading Model 3 suspension, this would be THE perfect time to do it.
This will not save you any money (just the opposite), but could lead to improvements in handling and ride quality.

a
 
To be clear - Tesla warranty will absolutely NOT cover repairs to any of the damage incurred with hitting objects on the road (moving or stationary).



Any independent business will do anything possible to maximize its revenue. Automotive body shops are no different.
The paucity of Tesla authorized repair shops is due to Tesla imposing overhead costs in getting "certified", plus Tesla refusing to supply OEM parts to "non-certified" repair shops:



Tesla warranty will cover none of the damage.
Insurance will, and may provide other benefits (rental for the duration of time in the body shop, cost control over the body shop, etc.).

Alternatively, if you were even remotely thinking of upgrading Model 3 suspension, this would be THE perfect time to do it.
This will not save you any money (just the opposite), but could lead to improvements in handling and ride quality.

a
Does the warranty void if I get a non authorized repair shop to do repairs?

Interesting thought about suspension upgrade. Hadn’t planned on it as I’m pretty happy with the stock suspension and ride height, and the fact that I rarely take sharp turns due to Tesla insurance and the safety score game I play lol. But say I were to upgrade, would insurance pay for up to cost of the OEM suspension assuming both sides need replacing? And I pay difference? or would I need to pay the full cost of new suspension because it’s not OEM?
 

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