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I'm shocked, catastrophic failure of left rear wheel

Hi everyone,
IMG_20210211_172813.jpg


Yesterday, my rear left wheel "detached" from the car! Luckily my wife was driving in a parking lot at the time, if this had happened on the highway or somewhere like that, she or both of us could have been killed.

I'm completely shocked that something like this can happen on a car that's only 5 years old; it seems abnormal that a relatively new car can fail so catastrophically without any warning whatsoever? what if I/we had been driving at 200 km per hour on the German autobahn, I would surely would have been killed.

Some people on a Danish forum has sent me some links that point to the Chinese recall, and some other stories about failing suspensions that I have not looked into yet; have any of you ever heard about this problem before?

Michael
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
13,058
9,347
I think It’s a control arm failure. Typically from impact (pothole, curb, etc), but there have been some reports from fatigue.

looking closer - cannot tell. Did the wheel detach from the hub?

that wheel rim looks beat up? So does the middle. Or is that dirt?
Tesla counsel claims they recalled in China given different expectations in terms of car damageability due to driver abuse (curb strikes and pot holes). I guess people there expect to hit curbs directly and pot holes without any damage.
[U:] Tesla To Recall ~30,000 Vehicles In China Due To Defective Suspension
They mention even with the rear link falling off, the car still remains controllable.
They did have a TSB for front suspension also mentioned in the article and there was mention of ball joints rusting.
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2017/MC-10110741-9999.pdf
There's another one for ball joints.
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2015/SB-10057891-5587.pdf
From this article that mentioned it.
Tesla Model S, 3, X & Y Suspension Issues: Owners Discuss Defective Parts

This issue was muddied by a certain individual with a grudge against Tesla that went through and posted many fake NHTSA complaints based on looking for images on the internet (mainly from cars damaged in crashes from salvage auctions). I still remember this back when I was active on this forum (I recently came back). Made it so most people's reaction to Model S suspension claims is that it is likely FUD (because back then it was true).

I'm guessing the best action is to have Tesla look at it and see if they can cover it under warranty (presuming OP still have warranty). OP may want to take pictures however of the suspension to see if any cracks or rusting in the suspension components and arms. Like you I'm presuming the wheel did not fall off the hub and the actual issue is some broken suspension component (looks that way in the picture).
 
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stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
13,058
9,347
I'm no longer under warranty, but for me the much bigger issue is if this can happen again, and this time while I'm driving at high speed, I would most likely be killed then. I doubt you would have any control over the car in this state, the wheel is off axis and is pretty much touching the wheel well.
I did a bit more searching, this thread (person was going in reverse) and TSB seems to cover your specific issue on the rear (excessive negative camber), although it only covers the 2013 and 2014 models (your car is newer?)
Failed Rear Lower Control Arm / Service Bulletin SB-19-31-001
https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2019/MC-10153421-9999.pdf

These issues tend to happen on low speed. In the article Tesla specifically mentioned for front one it tends to only break off at wide steering angles and in reverse and also in the TSB it mentions the car might rest on the wheel liner but still be controllable. The front ones are more dangerous as steering is there also.

Note you are unlikely to crash due to this (Tesla said they have not have any reports of crashing related to both recalls). There are people who do this type of negative camber on purpose.
Negative_Camber

negative camber wheels - Google Search

Unfortunately out of warranty you would likely have to pay out of pocket unless a recall happens in your country. You can reference that TSB to make sure you are at least getting updated parts (not just old outdated parts). In that thread I see someone who bought a 2013 model and did get his replaced for free by referencing the TSB even though he obviously is out of warranty, but he is in USA.

That guy who posted fake reports made matters worse for people affected because he made it so NHTSA closed the investigation as no defect found, as his fake reports greatly overwhelmed those from actual real owners (by a huge factor). If it wasn't for that noise, NHTSA might have pushed this from TSBs to being an actual recall.
 
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I have read online that Tesla attributes crashes to have caused the damage, and not the other way around, crashes due to the failure, but since it's hard to prove either way, I'm somewhat concerned about the credibility of these claims, also about the claim that it mostly happens at low speed, why would it fail at the lowest stress levels, and not at the highest?
 
All Tesla suspension failures seem to happen while reversing, and perhaps turning at the same time. This seems to be true for front and rear control arm failures and also the rear subframe mount cracking..

It's like they put 100% design effort to handle the high power forward acceleration, and forgot that sometimes you need to reverse too.. :)
 

BigNick

Infamous Fat Sweaty Guy
Dec 3, 2017
1,944
2,123
Pennsylvania, USA
I'm not concerned about reverse loading (rarely does anyone reverse at high speed) but side loading on the suspension components. A sudden change from zero rear camber to -20 degrees rear camber in the middle of a high-speed curve, canyon carving, mountain driving, etc.

Recalling only in China (because of bad road quality) is bullsquat. Anyone who has ever driven in the Salt Belt knows how badly damaged the roads in northern PA or Michigan can get.
 
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