TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

It's that time again - embarrassing loud AC compressor

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by yobigd20, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Messages:
    5,793
    Location:
    Skaneateles, NY
    as the 2nd summer I've owned the car approaches, it's that time again to resurrect the stupidly loud AC compressor. It's so loud, it's embarrassing, and I refuse to turn it on. It sounds awful. I feel like I'm driving in a crappy 4 cylinder Honda with a huge muffler exhaust. soooooo embarrassing. I've complained about it in the past to SC which responded that 'they are looking into it'. that was June of `13 to Norristown SC. I think in August of `13 I complained again to Queens SC. same response.
    from the responses I've got from the service centers last year, tesla was looking into this but has no TSB/no "fix" for it yet. I know there was a TON of others (pretty much everyone) also saying the same thing. then winter came around and all the complaints stopped. for a while. clearly bc nobody was using their AC anymore.

    well now it's June again. and there's probably about 20k more Teslas on the road since last June. I would imagine the number of complaints about this is going to skyrocket. and there's been a few hot enough days where I needed to turn the AC on. then I was immediately reminded of the issue and embarrassed of that sound in the parking lot so I quickly shut it off as to not attract any attention.

    so what is Tesla doing about this? are they ever going to fix this or am I just never going to use my AC ever again? or perhaps somebody knows a third party AC compressor that's quiet that we can start doing aftermarket AC compressor swaps if Tesla refuses to fix the problem? and no, i'm not looking for the "precool the car to mitigate the sound while you're driving" or "turn range mode on to limit the power" responses. I want a real hardware fix so I can use my AC when driving without looking like a chump.
     
  2. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,097
    Location:
    Redwood Shores, CA
    Yup, that compressor can sound nasty when working hard. Mentioned it on my first service visit a year ago.

    Given no choice now, yes, I'm sticking to range mode.
     
  3. chickensevil

    chickensevil Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2014
    Messages:
    4,134
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    Newer owner, and yes it is noticeable. I would prefer it didn't make a ton of noise, but even the roadsters made a lot of noise with their A/C... which will actually kick on regardless of if you are using the A/C in the car itself or not, since it also has to cool the batteries.

    Honestly, people who have heard it, it made them laugh because they finally HEARD my car. Even your ICE cars have pretty loud A/C compressors. Have you never turned on the A/C in them and heard it? I know my old Civic used to be quite loud for the A/C. I just don't know that there is a lot they can do about it...

    Not saying they *shouldn't* do anything... just not holding my breath for a change here.
     
  4. Brightonuk

    Brightonuk Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    Plantation
  5. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Messages:
    1,440
    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    The Volt can be quiet loud too. I think the industry never tried to improve on this before because it wasn't all that noticeable in cars where the gas engine was already making noise. Hopefully as we get more and more EVs, they will start developing quieter compressors.

    I bet Tesla would design and build their own (I assume they use 3rd party here) if they could come up for air, but I think they are plenty busy with all the other ongoing efforts. Probably just have to live with this for a few more years.
     
  6. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Messages:
    4,591
    Location:
    Nixa, Missouri, United States
    #firstworldproblems

    A bit louder than I'd like too, but just wasn't even on my radar to complain about. Given the trade-offs/options, I'll take what I've got and enjoy it. Never once been embarrassed in this car, noisy AC or not.
     
  7. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2012
    Messages:
    4,279
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Is it just me or does 5.9+ software change the way the compressor works. It sounds like it only goes to ~80% unless you get over about 15-20mph, when it kicks into full power mode.

    Still it is loud, but compressing a gas is loud any way you do it. It's better than an embarrassingly hot car IMO.
     
  8. pgiralt

    pgiralt Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,476
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    ElSupreme, I wondered the same thing. I notice the same thing as you - that it seems to get louder once you're moving and then slows down when you're stopped and I don't remember it doing that last summer, but I only got my car last August, so I didn't get much summer time.
     
  9. dave

    dave Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    451
    Location:
    Greater Cincinnati
    I have the same complaint. When it kicks into "turbo" mode, I turn the climate control off and then back on again, and that often works to quiet it for a while.

    I have no idea what is happening mechanically when I do this, or if it is a good idea, but it solves the problem temporarily...
     
  10. mark

    mark Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Dallas
    I have complained about this since last summer, and my local service center told me that they were testing a cover for the compressor that significantly dampens the noise. He saw a demo and said the difference was substantial. I doubt it will be available for this summer though - just have to remember to precool the car to avoid this embarrassment.
     
  11. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    7,019
    I agree the compressor can be loud - I've had someone ask me if I knew I left the car running when pre-cooling the cabin. That said, in other cars even when the sound is masked by the engine, I can hear the compressor clutch and compressor making their noises above the engine's noise.

    I don't believe that our cars need to be 100% stealth-silent, and in many cases they may be a significant trade-off. Would you accept a piston-based compressor that would consume far more energy if it were quieter? Would you trade less compressor noise for yet another fan to cool that alternative compressor?

    I've found the compressor noise is significant when it's working at top speed to cool a 125 degree car, but once things cool down and we're underway, it's background noise to me.

    Even the cars on the Jetsons still made noise. :)
     
  12. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Messages:
    5,793
    Location:
    Skaneateles, NY
    I don't mind some minor noise, but I do mind the existing loud compressor that makes it sound like I have a cheap 25yr old 4cylinder honda engine under the hood that's breathing it's last breath before its about to keel over and die type sound.
     
  13. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    7,019
    I imagine the threads would then complain about range loss due to the high-power-draw compressor, or the frunk space loss due to the acoustic cover... I suspect it's a collection of trade-offs, or Tesla would have a new manufacturer lined up.
     
  14. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2013
    Messages:
    4,705
    Location:
    Buckeye, AZ
    #14 AmpedRealtor, Jun 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
    How can a compressor noise, or any normal noise emanating from a car, be "embarrassing"? This must be the first AC compressor in history that makes someone feel ashamed. That's not the response I had, not by a long shot. I've had my car for over 9 months. The compressor is loud because there is no engine noise masking the compressor. There is nothing abnormal about the noise itself. Cars make noises. So do EVs, for that matter. Just because our cars are electric doesn't mean they will always be silent in every circumstance. Cars make noises.

    The first time I heard the AC compressor, I thought "oh hey, that's the AC. Cool." I never assigned a negative emotional value to that noise. It's a normal noise. Just like the vacuum pump coming on when you tap your brake pedal. Or the car making a similar noise while it re-levels itself when you exist. Living in AZ, I'm thankful the Model S has such a powerful AC.
     
  15. DrComputer

    DrComputer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    893
    Location:
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    As other's have said this has been an issue since the Roadster days. My previous car, a Lexus LS600hL, was a hybrid and also had an all electric A/C compressor. It was nearly silent at full speed so there ARE quiet A/C compressors available. Tesla just needs to use their relationship with Toyota (Lexus) and source the compressor they use in the LS600hL.
     
  16. pete8314

    pete8314 Vendor

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    Messages:
    1,947
    Location:
    DFW
    I'm with Yobigd20 on this, it is very loud, and while I agree it's a first world problem, one of the cool things about the car is it's near silence when rolling away, but at this time of the year in Tx, no A/C is not an option. I park next to a Volt at work every day, and if we happen to leave at the same time, the Volt rolls away more or less silently (electrical motor noise, but not a rattly AC), and I roll away with the usual AC noise, that really just sounds like there's a misbalanced fan blade, but either way, it's noisy, and definitely takes away from the cool, efficient image that the Model S has.
     
  17. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Messages:
    5,793
    Location:
    Skaneateles, NY
    yes, actually it sounds like a computer fan going bad, but a really loud version of it. lol
     
  18. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    7,019
    Sure, there are silent all-electric compressors available -- I have one in my refrigerator which hums very quietly. But as I mentioned, there are trade-offs -- does it take up a much larger amount of space with insulation, does it use up 2x, 3x, or even 4x the range of the one used by Tesla?

    Would you still accept a quieter compressor if it had a 50% or 100% higher effect on range instead of its current value?
    Would you still accept a quieter compressor if you lost .5 cu ft in the frunk?
    What if it added another $500-1000 to the price?

    I'm happy with the trade-offs they made, I don't mind a highly-efficient scroll compressor that makes that much noise for the first few minutes while cooling the car down. It does it fairly rapidly, then settles down pretty quickly. Cooling performance is much better compared to a piston compressor that must be cycled.

    I can appreciate the desire for a quieter compressor, but it's low on the priority list for me behind power consumption minimization and space maximization in the frunk. If they can accomplish it without sacrificing those elements, I'm all for it.
     
  19. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    8,568
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Mine is quite loud as well. I don't know about embarrassing, but I did have someone come up to me saying my car's "engine" sounds awful! Mine is so loud I find it hard to believe an ICE would mask it. It's a MUCH louder sound than everything under the hood of my last car made.

    As a result, I pretty much use Range mode exclusively. It actually works pretty well, but keeps the "jet engine on takeoff" sound at bay. I just wish Range wouldn't limit the fan speed to 8.
     
  20. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2009
    Messages:
    11,923
    The Model S is a quiet car, so I'm sure (like other manufacturers) Tesla took the time to work on NVH when developing the car. Road noise is loud, but not as loud as it could be, because they've done work to mitigate this.

    Sorry, I refuse to accept "this is just the way it is" because all cars do it -- especially when discussing Tesla.
     

Share This Page