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Inexperienced 19 Year Old interested in repairing a salvage Model S!

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Dvb51, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    Hello everyone! I’ve been a tinkerer for the better part of my life and have been “dreaming” about getting a Tesla for the last year or so; there’s just one problem, I have nowhere near the money needed to spend 100k on a new one or 60k+ for a used!

    After just recently looking through the forum and several YouTube videos, I figured I would make a post here to at the very least learn more about the cars themselves and process! Despite the difficulties involved, I’m definitely inspired by what some have been able to accomplish.

    As far as experience with cars go, I am basically completely inexperienced! The most I’ve done in the past on my current 2001 car was replace the stereo system/wiring harness and replacing the headlights with LED bulbs.

    Despite this lack of experience, I still feel that with the right guidance, money, and luck I could get started and finish a project like this.

    Obviously, aside from the experience, the biggest issue and possibly flaw with Tesla is sourcing parts that are needed without spending an absurd amount of money through Tesla themselves. Correct me if I am wrong, but it is this very reason that cars with seemingly such minimal damage are seen as a total loss by the insurance?

    Assuming that two salvage cars wouldn’t be needed to source the needed parts, what is the current status of the grey market for Tesla parts online? While very limited, it seems like eBay has a selection of replacement parts to repair the vehicle. Is the situation any better than it was in the previous years?

    My next area of questioning is sourcing a salvaged vehicle and diagnosing what would be needed before the purchase. As an example if anyone would be able to help educate me on the process, I’ve uploaded a picture of a Tesla that was involved in a front collision.

    5E4E8D05-1936-41F6-A7FD-E2081253C71E.jpeg

    How would you go about fixing a collision like this? As someone completely inexperienced, it seems like replacing the fender, bumper, hood, lights, airbag(s) and tire would be the biggest parts of damage. Either way, I’m sure I’m completely wrong here and I’m happy to hear where I’m wrong to learn more! If the frame rather than just these panels are damaged, I’m assuming you’re better off going for a different one unless you want to buy multiple cars.

    Anyways, that’s about all I have to say for now! I’m looking forward to hear more from people who know much more than me here!
     
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  2. JonathanD

    JonathanD Member

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  3. Vinc

    Vinc Member

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    I don't know if that is a chance worth taking if you don't have the experience. Not that I have any either, but the car that you show for instance will likely have damaged axle, breaks, suspension, steering, etc since the crash hit right on the wheel...

    Plus fixing a savaged Tesla also involves getting Tesla to approve the repair (they charge a fee). If they don't approve it, you won't be able to use superchargers and won't be able to get any parts from Tesla down the road. And on top of that you will have a hard time (or expensive time) getting insurance for a car with a savaged title.

    You might want to just go with an old MS and upgrade when your income allows.
     
  4. scottm

    scottm Active Member

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    Great enthusiasm! In theory, if you find a front ended salvaged model S and another rear ended model S, you just cut the two in half and merge that best halves, right?!

    You might surprised at the cost of salvaged units. If each was $30K and you needed two that's $60K plus a whole lot of work and risk that it just won't work. Perhaps a good used complete model S is starting to look more attractive for the same money and no hassle?

    You'll have competition in finding good salvage wrecks and parts, they're sought after. And some things you'll need new from Tesla. A company that in particular has a hard time supplying new parts sometimes. Makes for a long project. Money all tied up in a non-driving thing.

    Maybe you'd be happy salvaging one car with good drive train and battery, and retrofitting into some ICE car for a homebrew EV if it's the EV driving joy you're after. This would be cheaper, but weirder too. Just understand up front that you'll never be able to recoup all your money put into such a contraptions. It will be an odd-ball that you'd better love to its ultimate demise because you'll be stuck with it. So don't make it too weird.

    What if you joined a school that had a shop class for automotives and you convinced the teacher to take on an EV project?

    You're 19 and want to live to 20. EV cars require very skilled and knowledgeable service procedures so you don't electrocute your self or others. Seriously. You can be dead so fast.
     
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  5. TM Parts

    TM Parts Supporting Member

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    This specific car will probably sell close to 40k.

    From the looks of it you will need at least the following.

    Hood: $400
    Fender: $200
    Left Headlight: $200
    Front Bumper: $250
    Two Rims: $400-$500
    Two Tires: $300
    Radiator Support/Bumper Carrier: $250
    Left AC Condenser/Fan: $250
    Left Wheel Liner: $250-$300
    Left Fender Autopilot Camera: $250
    Left Louver: $300
    Lower Splash Shield: $250
    Bumper Guide Bracket: $50
    Frunk Left Trim: $175
    Steering Wheel / Knee Airbag: $500
    Left Seat Belt: $150
    SRS Module Reset: $80

    If the suspension is completely shot on both sides you're looking at $1,500 including the shock and axle EACH SIDE.
    Chances are the steering rack will be ruined as well, that's another $400.
    Subframe will most likely be also damaged. That's another $400.

    Questionable Parts:
    Ankle Catcher: $200
    Center Radiator: $350

    Front Left Apron Assembly is probably damaged and will need to be replaced. That's at least $400 for the used part. Plus you will have to pay someone for the work because you won't do it yourself.

    You're looking at 9k in parts and that's not including any labor costs.
     
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  6. smalltownguy

    smalltownguy Member

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    Consider community college auto body classes.

    Some things just need to be taught in person.
     
  7. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    This is the exact type of response I was looking for! I will definitely look into all these parts and read up on them. An example like this with the information you provided is perfect for learning more about the parts/car and the type of damage you can expect from accidents in certain areas :)
     
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  8. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    I'm aware these cars even severely damaged can go much past 20k which I'd say is more or less about what I'm willing to put up.I also considered what you mentioned about merging the best halves before I made this post but I decided that I just don't have the skills, space, or ability to weld/merge them together.
     
  9. unbelievable

    unbelievable Member

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    Don't listen to anyone kid. If you want it enough you can do it. I can't afford a Tesla either, but you know what, I bought one anyway and am somehow making it work (don't feel bad, I've been working for 25 years longer than you o_O).

    I would start by watching everything Rich Rebuilds has done, and bear in mind that his videos are days and weeks of knuckle bleeding work condensed into polished, bite-sized hilarious nuggets.

    If you so desired you could also try contacting the man himself @Btr_ftw and ask him if he has any need for an inexperienced but highly motivated assistant. Or at least ask very politely for some advice on how to get started.

    My advice, and not to get too Shia LaBeouf on you, is just do it. That has served me well in life so far. Yes, I've sometimes wondered what the hell I'm doing and what have I got myself into now, but if you believe in yourself enough, things will work out.

    Good luck.
     
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  10. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    Oddly enough, I've seen several Teslas that were salvaged up for auction with a clear VIN, I'm wondering if not all Tesla's will have their updating/supercharging revoked? Perhaps there's a possibility some remain under the radar?
     
  11. demundus

    demundus Member

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    I'm going to give you what appears to be the opposite viewpoint thus far in the thread (times are changing it feels like, as normally people would be in here screaming DONT DO IT).

    Anyway, DONT DO IT. The cars are more complex than you think, just because it IS repairable doesn't mean it SHOULD be repaired. You're looking at complex aluminum work, sensitive battery technology, high voltage electronics, secure linux kernals, etc; Here's another "young guy" who tried and failed... paging @satoshi

    A College Student Rebuilding a Salvage Tesla Model S

    Satosh Surrenders: Parting out S85
     
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  12. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    Thanks for the reply! :) I've looked/watched through essentially all his videos before I had the guts to make a fool of myself or post here to begin with! He is definitely inspiring with what he's been able to accomplish or even get started with for that matter.
     
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  13. SabrToothSqrl

    SabrToothSqrl Active Member

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  14. jelloslug

    jelloslug Active Member

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    Learning by doing is one of the best ways to learn IMO. Like others have said, there are some pitfalls specific to Tesla having to do with access to reprogramming modules but there are people out there that can help. The bodywork is straightforward and there are vast resources available to assist with whatever skills you need to learn. I have rebuilt a wrecked car myself, and personally I found it to be great fun.
     
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  15. demundus

    demundus Member

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    FYI Hoods are spotty at best, flexed, dented, etc; they are basically a throw away... although I got lucky with one from a salvage yard personally but had to hunt for a year or more for it. Dont forget all the feather/prime/block operations he'll need to do, as well as calibrating the AP camera and sensors (which he needs Toolbox for).

    Total loss thresholds for insurance estimators are usually 65-80% of RV... so something caused an insurance adjuster (and maybe a body shop too) to look at this car and decide that there was 50k~ worth of damage. Without a copy of the estimate or a KEEN eye for the issues, you're inheriting a massive problem.
     
  16. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    Once again, thank you everyone who has responded so far, I absolutely respect and consider both sides that will discourage me or encourage me. At the end of the day, it's you folks who will sway me to move in either direction! I'm happy to hear anything you want to share :)
     
  17. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    Completely agreed! Great fun in this case unfortunately comes with many risks and a steep price. If one was to completely abandon such a project, what's the typical situation with selling? Is it easy to find someone local looking to purchase the entire thing or would it be easiest to part it out? Assuming you struck a good deal, is it unreasonable to get your entirety of the investment back?
     
  18. demundus

    demundus Member

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    No, the parts market is becoming more saturated. The cost of a salvage Tesla STILL isnt the sum of its parts, may never be. Door handles that used to go for 1k EASY maybe go for 200 bucks now? Salvage cars are still going for 35k on average.
     
  19. Dvb51

    Dvb51 Member

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    Interesting to hear, obviously transportation of these parts would have a fee unless picked up locally. I wonder if it’s still a better option to part out after shipping costs.
     
  20. glide

    glide Member

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    If you are tight on money and low on experience this is a big gamble.

    If it is a hobby/project then go for it. If it is meant to be your daily driver you may consider looking elsewhere.
     
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