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Low Speed, High Pitch Whine

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by MarkR, May 14, 2015.

  1. MarkR

    MarkR Member

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    Our 2013 S85 has a high pitch whine at low speeds whenever the accelerator is depressed. The sound fades as the speed increases, but it annoyingly announces my arrival every day at work and later when I arrive home. So much for Tesla's silence. Several months ago the Scottsdale Service Center took the car for a test drive and acknowledged the sound as a "known issue" and indicated that "engineers are working on a fix that has not yet been released." The service rep indicated that the car was safe and the sound was not an indicator of a potential problem with the drivetrain. I was told that I would be contacted when a solution become available.

    I returned to the service center last week to report that the sound was getting worse and was advised again that no solution was yet available and the service rep didn't know when one might become available. When I again asked if this was a potential indicator of a developing problem with the drivetrain, this time there was no reassurance that the sound was non-problematic in terms of the potential for a breakdown.

    I wonder how many of us have this problem and if other service centers have been authorized to fix the annoying noise.
     
  2. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    Oh yes it's a very known issue. Many people here had it including me. They don't seem to have an easy fix so they swap out the drive unit. Believe it or not, I'm on my 4th drive unit because of this issue. It starts faint, and gets more noticeable over time. For me it was getting really annoying after 15k miles. Got a new drive unit and after another 15k mile the same problem again and again, got a new drive unit. And again at 45k miles.

    Are you driving a lot of long trips? For me it seems it always got worse after a long road trip.
     
  3. pgiralt

    pgiralt Active Member

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    Ask them politely to please swap out your drive unit. It will at least fix the issue for some time. It might return if they really haven't determined the root cause but at least you'll be in silence for now. They can always swap again later when the real fix arrives. FWIW I've had two drive unit swaps for this problem.
     
  4. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    I had my drive unit swapped at 48k miles due to this. I had to ask them a few times before they did it. The new unit was great for about another 18k miles but now I have the sound again on the swapped unit so I will probably take it in again at some point for another swap.
     
  5. Khatsalano

    Khatsalano Member

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    I have an S85D (9,000 miles) and the front motor is definitely audible. The sound characteristics have changed with each patch slightly. I actually prefer there to be some level of sound.

    This is probably where I am in a different camp than than some of you in that I believe an electric-derived sound, as long as it is not unpleasant, is part of the EV experience. While I agree with Elon that fake noise is horrible and cheesy, natural electric whirr is sexy and connects me to the electric drivetrain experience. Announcing my arrival in what sounds like spaceship with impulse engines ain't all bad. :)

    - K
     
  6. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    The whirl we talk about is not the same as your front motor. Ours is more like annoying electrical interference.
     
  7. Scotty

    Scotty Member

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    I picked up my S85 on Sep 29th, 2014 and have put more 27,700 miles on it. Yes, I love it, and it gets heavy use, and mostly charging at SC. It was within a few weeks of picking it up that I read about repeated drivetrain issues with a longterm test MS with a major automotive magazine (think it was Car And Driver). They also reported the drivetrain replacement cost was about $15,000. Elon Musk addressed it with the announcement that the drivetrain problem was known to be a spacer (or something close to that), and Tesla would invoke an 8 yr unlimited mile warranty to alleviate any owner or prospective buyers concern. Since the announcement was so soon after taking delivery of our MS, we had hoped we wouldn't have this problem with our relatively new purchase.
    Wasn't to be! About a month ago, I got the loud whine, and I mean really loud. People would look at the car at slow speed, and I think they thought it was jet powered. While it disappeared when exceeding 25mph, I think it was just going above the audible range. The funniest part of this was when I was in the LA area, I tuned the AM radio to KNX 1070. When I got back into Northern CA, where there's no station at 1070, it sounded like a massive jet engine as I accelerated from a standstill. I 'rolled' down the windows, and couldn't stop laughing.
    Called for an appt at the Tesla Factory Service Center, and dropped it off. After a minute of checking it out, the service advisor stated it needed a drivetrain replacement, and set me up with an earlier P85 loaner They did it, but had to replace it a second time before being returned to me. It's totally quiet again.
    I work in the electric car business, and I am convinced the whining is inverter noise from the very impressive 3 Phase AC Controller. I'd love to have put the drivetrain unit on a test fixture and dig into it. Due to the impressive display of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) on the AM band, I believe my problem was electronic in nature, and not something a plastic spacer would have fixed. BTW, I was VERY pleased with the Tesla Factory's Service Center.

    Scotty
     
  8. Cyclone

    Cyclone Active Member

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    I believe I am experiencing this as well. If I have the stereo at 3-4 and the windows closed, I can hear it over the music. I haven't looked at speed, but that may be a part of it on my car as I don't hear it over 50 mph. That said, road noise could be covering it up. It starts out from the beginning of the power curve and gets louder to 20 kW, then tapers out to be silent by 40 kW. I'll be sure to spend some time with the music off and the windows down to get a good feel for it. As I picked up my car yesterday (a CPO) and I have some due bill items to take care of soon, I will bring it up at that time. Or tomorrow since I wanted to go in and order the all weather floor mats.
     
  9. supratachophobia

    supratachophobia Active Member

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    Mine cuts out right at 20kw or if road noise starts to drown it out at 35mph+. Very annoying. SC insists it's nothing to worry about but it started around the exact time everyone else on here heard it, 15k+. They claim they are currently analyzing an audio recording I took with the seats down. We will see.
     
  10. tinm

    tinm 2013 S85 Owner

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    Right around the 20K mile point my car (2013 S85) started making this weird sound that I noticed bouncing off walls, parked vehicles, and curbsides -- only when I tap the accelerator a little bit and the power doesn't go beyond 20kW. Once it rises above 20kW the sound goes away.

    It sort of sounds like the Jetsons sound... or a million insects on a warm evening... a combination of purring/throbbong/motor humming.

    It also happens if I let off the accelerator and go into regen -- but again, only up to about 20kW of regen, beyond which it stops.

    FYI I am on my second drive unit; first was replaced around 13K mi due to very loud moaning/humming at 70+mph, which was driving me crazy. Service center was reluctant to change it but after I complained enough they did.

    My car is now above 24K miles and this new sound is a little more pronounced. I figure people hear it as I drive by at like 10-20mph in a neighborhood or big parking lot. I don't hear it in the car, only with the windows open. And I can't hear it if I have the car sound system on.

    Is this the sound that everyone's talking about or is this something else?
     
  11. Scotty

    Scotty Member

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    I couldn't really state for sure, but logic dictates that either the whining stops when the speed increases beyond a certain threshold, OR, it does above the human audible range. I believe it is the latter, because the RFI was still there at higher speeds, but not nearly as pronounced. I wish I had performed an audio recording when it was happening, but that train has left the station.
    I do wonder if the drivetrain issues might be due to several different causes. The descriptions might refer to gear grinding, motor - differential endplay and movement I think of Elon Musk's plastic piece fixz, or inverter whine.
    I think that doing these replacements might not be too expensive when actually doing the actual fix to the appropriate assembly of the drivetrain, but the time and resources at the Service Centers, and shipping these between the factory and the particular Service Center wouldn't make me a happy Tesla investor (if I was).

    Scotty
     
  12. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    It's the latter because I can still hear it at high speeds. I'm a bit of an audiophile and can hear distinct noises like this easily. That's also unfortunate because it annoys the hell out of me. I have to turn the radio up pretty high to mask it.
     
  13. Sigus

    Sigus Member

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    So I came on here to look this issue up and see if anyone else was having it, and I'll be darned here it is. I have a 2013 P85 with about 24k on the clock. Noise started around 19K but was kind of drowned out by the tire wear noise we where hearing.

    Put a new set of tires on and oh my gosh did the electronic scream become obvious. The Scottsdale SC is telling us its a bearing and we are in line for the fix when the have it.

    Car is on its 2nd drive unit. First one failed due to loud clunk when apply and letting of accelerator.

    Because I don't believe the bearing noise BS I requested in writing a description and time frame for fix. Will see if they give me that. Overall the SC has been great to work with. But the bearing comment showed me a little bit of ignorance and is concerning to me.

    I work with MV motors and drives ranging from 1000HP to 25K HP. So I have a bit of experience in electrical noise from inverters to motors. To me this sounds like feedback from the inverter to the motor or regen.

    Once we have a solid diagnoses I will let you know.
     
  14. SeminoleFSU

    SeminoleFSU Member

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    I have the same noise. Sounds like a transformer humming or a power company's security light that they will put on a pole for you. I also have a really loud drone above 75MPH where the car actually sounds like it has an ICE engine in the back. I'm also starting to develop the clunk/slop in the drive train sound that I can get to click fairly easily when at a stop and tapping the accelerator or when coasting along at various low speeds then apply power via the accelerator. The clunk feels like it is related to the gearing that allows the motor to transition from regen, to idle, to propelling the car depending on what you're doing with the accelerator
     
  15. UberEV1

    UberEV1 Member

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    Ditto! Service Center said they were waiting for parts and would call when they arrive. I get very professional weekly updates from my Service Manager saying that they had not forgotten me, but it has been many weeks of waiting thus far.
     
  16. MarkR

    MarkR Member

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    Our local service center reported that they now have the "tools" required to fix the noise. They indicated a desire to fix an alignment problem within the motor, but would swap out the drive unit if they can't get it right. I'm told that they'll need the car for two days. We'll see.
     
  17. NoMoGas

    NoMoGas Member

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    Just had my second Drive unit swapped out for this exact cause. I am not sure why there is such a disparity between service centers and how they respond to the same event with a customer. What I can tell you is that the cost to swap out a drive motor is nowhere near $15,000. They keep the old motor and rebuild them and they're putting in a rebuild unit so it's all labor. As far as shipping the drive motor, that just goes on their parts truck. The cost is minimal at best. I honestly don't understand why more service centers don't just swap out the part instead of playing games running up labor costs. Perhaps it's just the sheer volume of cars in Southern California, but I find that the service centers will throw parts of the car and get you out the door as fast as they possibly can which is a good thing. My service center told me total time to swap out a drive unit was in the neighborhood of three hours. That beats tinkering around with it. Let Fremont figure out what's wrong with these things and fix them once and for all but until then thank God for great service.
     
  18. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    Well swapping out the part is not the end of it. It has to be shipped, tracked, looked at, repaired, rebuilt and then stocked somewhere. And where do these go? They can't be put into new cars. There is a lot of labor and overhead involved doing this. Fixing it on the spot, even if it takes a little longer is overall still more effective.
     
  19. Scotty

    Scotty Member

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    The $15,000 cost was quoting an article, but it was for a 'out of warranty replacement'. This quoted cost was prior to Elon Musk's edict of the 8 year unlimited drivetrain warranty announced just after I picked up my new MS.

    My drivetrain was replaced with a remanufactured drivetrain, under warranty. Further down the proverbial 8 year road, a remanufactured drivetrain brings up a couple of issues. 1) There is usually a core charge. If you choose to pay that core fee, you keep the old unit. Core fee set my the supplier.

    Ok, let's say to buy a NEW drivetrain unit is $15,000. Buy it, take it home, it's yours. You keep the old one.

    Next, a remanufactured one is available for, say, $5,000, but the core fee is $10,000. You pay $5000 for a swapped unit, but you'd pay $15,000 if you kept the old one. When a warranty repair is done, the small print will usually state that a remanufactured unit may be used for warranty work. This is where the reman'd units will be used, not used in a new MS.

    I would love to get my hands on a drivetrain, and a whining one would make me happier. I know there's salvage MS out there, and maybe I will end up buying a drivetrain from someone who has bought a really toasted MS. The interdependence between the MS and all of it's systems is daunting, but there's other methods of spinning up a 3-phase AC induction motor. I'm not suggesting that I'd be able to able to improve on what Tesla is doing, but I'd like to see what's happening.

    Scotty
     
  20. MarkR

    MarkR Member

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    The service center was not able to fix the drive unit as they had hoped and instead replaced it. As a stockholder, this is worrisome. It appears that a lot of cars have this whine. If each unit needs replacement ever 20-30k miles, the cost could be massive. I trust that they will soon have a relatively inexpensive fix.
     

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