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My CPO (and disappointments) Experience

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Cyclonic Member ((.oO))
Jan 12, 2015
Charlotte, NC
Seeing as some users may not read the 150+ page CPO thread, I thought I would break out some recent experiences into its own thread. Overall, I have hit some bumps in the process of getting my CPO car and while not any individual item screamed from the top of the mountain "Danger Will Robinson", as a whole, it has caused me to question my purchase and ultimately, in hindsight, I wouldn't have gone through with it if I knew then what I have learned till now. Instead, I would have waited for Tesla Motors to grow some more as a company to have some of these (IMO) missteps addressed before I ever experienced them.

So let's simply start from the top and go from there eh? Let me start this off by saying I truly do hope I am just an isolated case and nobody else goes through the trouble I have. In everything there are going to be outliers and perhaps this is the case of me being the "lucky one" (why couldn't this thread be about buying a lottery ticket?!?). I was enamored by the Tesla Model S and Tesla Motors. I joined this forum just a few months ago and have been soaking up all the Tesla knowledge I can. Made some amazing new friends, both in person and online only. I could tell that even if I was going to be an unofficial "beta tester", I would be ok with it as long as Tesla Motors also made a good faith effort on its part.

I had been searching (and saving up for the purchase) for the right car. A new S85 was a stretch compared to any car I've previously bought and was not only more than 3x the cost my next most expensive car, but it would be more than half what my house cost! The numbers didn't make the most financial sense, but altogether it wasn't crazy given how I've managed everything else in my life and provided the benefit of being "the right direction" for the future as I've long felt our polluting ways need to stop (or at least majorly scaled back). So I was saving up for the right inventory model when the CPO website went live. I was fortunate to have a neighbor as an owner and he knew I was very interested in the cars. He was the one who called me up that Friday night to tell me about the website.

April 24th, 2015

I found my car, texted the Owner Advisor who I took a test drive with, and confirm with him the car, the specs, no delivery fee, no add on fees (except whatever is required by my local government), and hit purchase. I was in heaven. Then a week later, the car didn't budge. Turns out Tesla HQ was still determining the logistics of transporting the vehicles and ultimately decided that even though I was told there would be no delivery fee (I have that in email and text writing), there would be a $500 delivery fee. Still, my car was in DC and I lived in Charlotte, so that wasn't unreasonable. As some may have seen in my Road Trip to Buy a Tesla? thread, I was ready to pay the fee, but the car wouldn't be delivered for a couple weeks. So I arranged to fly up and they were gracious enough to pick me up from the airport.

Now this is where Tesla Service is doing great. I had a small disappointment in the purchasing process, but they were doing whatever they could to make this a great experience. My local store confirmed that if anything didn't pass muster when I saw the car, DC could notate it and Charlotte would fix it.

During this time, I had also applied to finance my CPO through Tesla. I secured outside financing, but was willing to go with Tesla itself if the terms were right. Up until a few nights before I flew up to DC for my car, everyone I spoke with kept saying they saw my application in the system and I would hear from Tesla Financing. Finally I got someone to provide me the right email address to reach out to and the Financing department said they saw I was doing an application, but something went wrong and it never went through. Another break there were no less than four people confirmed my app was in the system, then only to find out it was lost. Thankfully, I had already secured outside financing and had them overnight me a check. Never hurts to be prepared!

May 14th, 2015

So when I picked up the car, most things were great. I did have one scratch on the back passenger quarter panel and bumper that needed to be repainted and a shallow scratch on the hood. The cargo net wasn't in stock, but Charlotte had them to provide. Additionally, I noticed the mirrors would not manually fold in no matter how hard I or the Delivery Specialist there tried. They noted these items and said Charlotte would take care of it. So off I went for a great drive home.

May 19th, 2015

I go into my local store, they get me the cargo net and I purchase a front trunk all weather floor mat. My older VIN has the 2" deeper front trunk than other RWD cars, I either lucked out that they had one such mat in stock, or when I mentioned it to the DC store that I would want something like this, they said they can make sure Charlotte had one since DC didn't. So perhaps they phoned ahead and got it drop-shipped to the Charlotte store. Anyway, I buy that and the interior all weather floor mats. They set me up with an appointment for June 1st to bring my car (expected for a week) to get the hood repainted, the rear repainted, and the mirrors fixed. I had also noticed that my trunk was making a knocking sound (Knocking sound from power lift gate) and had that noted. I also mentioned my disappointment that the brake rotors were covered in rust, but I was told this was only cosmetic and I would need to live with it. A disappointment for sure on a car that is marketed as "like new", but oh well.

June 2nd, 2015

So a day after I dropped off my vehicle and got a loaner (S85 Classic vs. P85 Autopilot Comparison), I get a call that the body shop is backed up and we need to reschedule the repaint in the back. They managed to buff out (rather than repaint) the scratch on the hood. This meant the rock chips that had been there (and service through silver touch up paint was applied to instead of gray) weren't removed from the repainting, it still was a bad job and a 2013 having three rock chips on the edge wasn't the end of the world. The Service Center also performed the following repairs:

- (TSB) Replaced 12v postive jump post
- Replaced the mirrors
- Verified the A/C TSB was previously applied (strong vibrations from a/c when sitting out in the sun)
- Pano stops replaced, "rubber" replaced (butyl -> urethane), cleaned up, and "trimmed tabs for improved pano roof clearance". This stopped the pano smearing black goo on the top of the rear passenger glass when opening
- taillights had insects in them and were cleaned out
- reverse lights had water ingress and the seals, washers, and rear appliqué were replaced
- motor whine (the milling noise others noticed) was recorded and sent to engineering
- the strut on the life gate replaced
- brakes verified to confirm rust was not impacting performance

June 3rd (yes, the next day)

I had to take the car back to service because the mirrors now no longer tilted when in reverse nor changed position between profiles. SC found they had installed the wrong model mirrors (the non-TP version essentially). Replaced mirrors again and all was well.

June 15th-18th, 2015

The car goes in for the rear paintwork and I get another loaner. Looks great and I'm happy. Now to finally get the next steps of a new owner done.

July 8th, 2015

I've babied the car over the past month waiting on the rear paint to cure. The body shop told me that I should wait 60 days to get the car XPEL wrapped and cQuartz coated, but I can begin washing it after 30 days. This was closest to that time and I take the car in, go over what has happened, and speak with the detailer to make it clear not to do the rear of the car since it was repainted and I would come back in August for the rear. Sadly, when clay barring the car and applying Acrysol in cleaning it, the clear coat comes off from the front passenger fender when the detailer is wiping everything off with a microfiber towel. He notes that it appears the car has previously been poorly painted here as you can see the car clearly has sanding underneath and there appears to be a dot of bondo. He says this can only be from a poor paint job previously. Tesla takes a look at it and feels the detailer must have applied the wrong chemical to it. They look through their records in case they see anything about a previous repaint. They state that if the previous owner got it repainted without going through a Tesla certified shop, Tesla would NOT cover the fix. They ultimately find no record of any repainting in the area. They did ask me to take the car to the two certified shops around me and see if the body shop felt this was a factory paint failure, which they would then cover. Neither shop felt it was a factory failure.

July 27th, 2015

Tesla has agreed to provide me a loaner while the car is getting repainted. As unhappy as I am that Tesla is not going to help me with the repaint cost, I am happy that the Service Center is trying their best to make this as painless as possible for me. I drop off my car with Tesla, they give me a loaner, and they coordinate getting the car to and from the body shop. Additionally, HQ has instructed my VIN to get the proactive contractor replacement. So we run into a couple of issues over the past month and the Service Center makes the following repairs prior to shuffling my car out to the body shop:

- battery failed testing due to corrosion on one section and exhaust vent is clogged. Loaner battery installed while my battery goes to Freemont for rebuilding.
- drive unit is making the subtle clunk between power and region. Additionally, I reiterate the motor whine that was recorded and sent to HQ before. A remanufactured drive unit is installed in my car
- Under the same line-item as the drive unit, they replaced both rear rotor hats. No clue as to why, but now these rotor hats are rust-free. No change to the calipers (not a problem) nor replacement of the front rotor hats (odd).
- my left scroll wheel sometimes would ignore small scrolls. They confirm and replace both scroll wheels (comes as a set)
- my driver door doesn't always open from the interior latch. They find the cable is connected to the handle, but the mount has broken pins. They replace the mount so the cable is no longer strained.
- At my request and expense, they retrofit power folding mirrors. My garage doors are tight (I have two separate one-car doors to a two-car garage) and it was a matter of when, not if, I hit a mirror. Now I can fold in the mirrors as I park.
- the front trunk had water ingress by the latch. They replaced the seal where the hood meets the front trunk cavity.

Three months since purchasing

Tesla reiterates that they feel the detailer did a poor job in their work and my failure was a direct result of his work. The detailer continues to state that this was because of a poor prior paint job. Other owners who have seen my car are inclined to agree with the dealer and are surprised to learn that the CPO warranty does not cover prior paint jobs. As one person pointed out (#1616)...
That is so much work, maybe when it's done they should reset the odometer to zero. Seriously, I am so sorry this has happened to you. Tesla should have done what Mercedes and others that have a CPO program do. If Mercedes (and others) take a car in on trade, and inspection reveals too many issues, they take it to auction rather than harm the reputation of their CPO program. Not doing the full inspection and prep BEFORE posting the vehicle online and selling it really puts Tesla Motors at risk. Tesla Motors should seriously reconsider the way this program is managed -> prep and inspect car first - maybe use it in the "service loaner" fleet for a little while and get feedback from owners about the car - then put it up on the website if everything is OK or can be made OK.

In another 6-8 weeks, I get to go in again to swap back to my own battery. Hopefully I do not have any other repairs needed at that time. Meanwhile, around that time, the detail has agreed to at least put on these two panels that were repainted at no charge. I still will have to pay out of pocket for the XPEL on the rear of the vehicle (I paid for the front 3/4s already).

Now, I love my car and it is a joy to drive. It is just frustrating that I drank the kool-aid that CPO cars are reconditioned like-new and would be just as good as new car except for small wear and tear. I am NOT trying to get my Service Center in trouble (I'm looking at you Tesla who has twice already told the SvC about posts I've made on here). I am disappointed really in HQ's policies that the SvC must follow. I have never before been a luxury buyer. I've had a Mazda 626, two Toyota 4Runners, and a VW EOS prior to this purchase. I wasn't expecting a picture-perfect car, but I honestly expected more than I received, both in Tesla's policies and handling of a new customer and in what constitutes acceptable for a CPO. I will continue to be a proponent for what Tesla Motors is trying to do, but I'm tempering my love for the company based on real-life experiences.

And yes, at the end of the day, I really would have NOT bought my Model S right now and waited a couple more months or a year and bought once Tesla was focused more on "mainstream" buyers like myself. Either Tesla would have updated some of their ways of doing things, or I wouldn't have gotten the glowy expectation of how Tesla will go the extra mile to fix any problems and make sure I have the best possible experience. Comparing notes with my family members, their experience from their Lexus dealer is miles ahead of Tesla on getting things done right up front. They may ultimately be stinky ICEs and have enormous charges for routine service that the Model S won't need, but they provide a much more consistent experience and frankly, have done much better with my mother's CPO IS than Tesla did with my CPO Model S. Not to mention my still outstanding gripe (though I recognized this upfront and still hope Tesla Motors changes its tune on it someday while I own my car) -- you cannot get an extended warranty on a CPO Tesla like you can on other makes' CPOs. Hopefully the next four years of ownership under warranty do not mean continue to report the experience of the past 3 months.

Time to get off my soapbox. If you have scroll this far along, thank you for reading!
It pains me to read this as I know you and Drucifer were one of the first forum members to purchase a CPO Model S and I know how excited you were about your Model S.

At this point what would it take for Tesla to make this right for you?
It pains me to read this as I know you and Drucifer were one of the first forum members to purchase a CPO Model S and I know how excited you were about your Model S.

At this point what would it take for Tesla to make this right for you?

I cannot answer that question at this time. There would be too much emotion in a response. Generally speaking, when I get "worked up", I tend to shut out for a bit and come back to things when I'm past the emotion so that I can speak a bit more objectively. It was a cathartic release to write such as long post to start a thread, but it helps to get it out and hopefully things will look better in another couple days. Though, I'm also a person to baby the car for a little bit, so it basically is a garage queen for the next few weeks while the paint cures. I never sold my prior ICE and loaned it to a family member. He brought it to me this weekend since I will be driving that for a month. It probably will not help my opinion much to be driving the 4Runner for another month while the Model S sits beside it in the garage. Kind of being reminded over and over again about the experience until I have some more positive experiences to paint over the last three months.

At least Cars and Coffee and our local Tesla group's monthly meetups help. This a double-edged sword for Tesla though as they have all been seeing my car and getting updates to this story as I've moved along. But in the past week when I dropped off my car and today when I picked it up, I met two other new owners who reached out to me on here as they were excited about their new cars and I helped provide a picture of what to expect, items to consider getting, places to go, and other owners that can provide some good feedback. Meeting them helped my mood tremendously.
Your situation is not unique. I talked to another cpo buyer whose car had numerous issues. Leaking pano, chrome trim badly misaligned, milling noise, dirty interior, etc. All of these issues would have been discovered if someone spent 20 minutes with the car. I once heard someone say that Tesla spends about 5 thousand per cpo getting the car up to snuff. I'm beginning to think they just give the car a quick wash and leave it up to the buyers to find the issues.
dirty interior
Oh I mentioned this in the CPO thread. When I picked up my car they were washing the headliner, so it was wet and I didn't see any stains. As it dried, I have stains all over the pano. Some are small scuff marks, but some are are multiple-inch long and one or two inch wide streaks. My local service center that is another "live with it" item.

All of these issues would have been discovered if someone spent 20 minutes with the car. I once heard someone say that Tesla spends about 5 thousand per cpo getting the car up to snuff. I'm beginning to think they just give the car a quick wash and leave it up to the buyers to find the issues.
I am sorry to say, but I am more a believer of the latter than the former since I've also heard the same from other CPO buyers. That said, I also have seen CPO buyers report back that everything was perfect, so some centers are in fact going over the cars completely.
Cyclone - thanks for sharing. I'm sure others will chime in with their own experiences and it will run the full spectrum. At least, that's my hope for this thread - it becomes a repository for the good, the bad & the indifferent CPO tales.

I'm disappointed in the paint condition of your Model S. Coupled with the other issues, I feel like a more seasoned CPO program would not have certified & the car would have gone to auction. I've had immediate & extended family members buy CPO from BMW, Lexus & MB; Tesla CPO lacks their consistency, but I am hopeful they'll get there.

To be fair, your purchase was literally at the infancy of the CPO - three days before the website went live. No excuse, though. I feel like you got punished being a pioneer, and I'm disappointed in Tesla for not doing more for you.
To be fair, your purchase was literally at the infancy of the CPO - three days before the website went live. No excuse, though. I feel like you got punished being a pioneer, and I'm disappointed in Tesla for not doing more for you.

Just a note, it was on the night the site went live. *Max I think bought just days before it went live. That said, I wouldn't really be that annoyed (given the infancy) of the program if somethings needed to be worked out (like the transport fee) and some cars weren't quite up to par. But it does bother me that Tesla HQ didn't step up to the plate and say we will get this taken care of. Now, I can understand the point that they didn't repaint the car, so they shouldn't be responsible for it. But to me, that comes with the territory of certifying the car. The other matters, just as hpham007 said. If they actually used them a bit more, they would probably find these issues. My local SvC has said they are finding some service loaners are cars rejected from the CPO program. That makes sense as none of the problems I had prevented use of the car. So they would work well as a "mule". At least that is better than the cases were some people have to get a Hertz or Enterprise rental since no loaners were available.

And don't get me wrong. I am NOT looking for Tesla to buy back my car. I just wanted everything fixed and taken care of like it should have been (IMO) before it got handed over to me w/o cost to me. But this could be the emotions talking and maybe I'm just being unrealistic or feeling "entitled".

- - - Updated - - -

All of these issues would have been discovered if someone spent 20 minutes with the car.

Case in point, both of the keys I was given with the car were scratch, scuffed, one was cracked, and the other had significant wear and tear. On this last visit and my first visit, the local SvC felt the key casing needed to be replaced. Honestly speaking, this should have been done before they keys were handed over. I didn't take a picture of them, but there are others who posted photos of the their key wear on here. My "button covers" were still there, but one was cracked around the button cover and the button had an edge and piercing through the casing. The other key had more "wear and tear", but less "about to fall apart". These are things a new owner connects with the car and a $5 (well, $25 retail) casing should have been changed when reconditioning the car. It's all about setting the right impressions.
I do sympathize with your problems. As a purchaser of a CPO myself in mid May I see some of this as well.

I have bought many used and new cars in my day. And the only time I find myself getting mildly frustrated with my Tesla experience is when they get me confused thinking this was a new car purchase. Meaning they have done such an amazing job with my purchase experience (walking through the car, calling later to check on me, giving me swag, etc) that I forgot it was a used car purchase. I've been looking at used Model S prices for years and I did not pay a premium for a CPO over a used Salvage title car on Ebay.

For me this goes down as a mediocre new car purchase or the best used car experience I have ever had. I just need to keep reminding myself which one it was. Not trying to be a smart xss here, but when i find a new scratch or dent, I do have to remind myself of this.
This is quite a story. I was also an early CPO convert and ordered my car on May 4th, a few days after the site and consolidator went live. I selected a 2012 P85 Signature car since it had everything that I wanted, including the silver signature paint. Since my car was one of the first 1000 VINs, I was a bit apprehensive about it since I could not see its previous service history and there were lot's of stories on TMC about early teething problems. I kept my fingers crossed that the PO had gotten any gremlins sorted by the time he traded it in for his D model two years after initial purchase.

So I am 9 weeks into possession of the car and can gladly say that I have not had a single significant issue with the car. Everything works, it looks great (except for those rusty rotor covers!) and I am smiling from ear to ear. I went to the recent grand opening of Tesla's new service center/store outside of Boston and had no service issues to discuss with the staff. Except for a very slight whistle on the driver's side window, I thankfully have nothing that needs attention, yet.

So, Cyclone, I feel for you and am pained by your experience because I know that Tesla can do better. In your case, I hope they win back your trust.
I think Tesla needs to hire someone who had implemented the CPO program for Mercedes or some other car manufacturer. We have bought several Mercedes CPO cars in the past and they completely stand behind the car they sell as that's the whole point for buying a CPO car. On the Mercedes forum I once remember someone buying a CPO E Class to find it has had prior accident damage that was not fixed properly and they basically bought the car back with no hassle. Also when you buy a CPO Mercedes the keys you get are pristine. If they are not in good shape, they are replaced and they even go as far as giving you a new manual in a nice new binder. These are little things but it's the first thing you touch when you buy the car and it is part of the experience.

CPO should mean that they have gone over the car carefully and made everything right PRIOR to the car being sold to someone. That's how every other manufacturer from Toyota to Mercedes handles their CPO program. I know sometimes the fact that everyone else does something one way is not justification for Tesla doing the same thing but this is a case where Tesla and their customers are best served when their CPO cars actually go through a certification process before they are sold. That process needs to be very thorough with an assessment of the paint condition of the car along with any past paint or bodywork that has been done. In cases where faults or issues are found, they need to be completely remedied or the car sent to auction. This is CPO 101.

It is inexcusable to tell you that the bad paint job on the car by a previous owner is your problem. You bought a Tesla Certified car so you don't inherit someone else's problem.

I hope they make this right for you in addressing the issues with the car at no cost to you. I think it is the right thing to do.
I have to say IMO Cyclone is anything but entitled. I've seen folks on these forums scream louder and longer over far less significant issues. He's been, to the best of my knowledge, completely reasonable & patient with Tesla.

I'm happy that the vast majority of CPO buyers have had a very good experience. But Cyclone's ordeal has given me pause about buying a CPO.
*Max I think bought just days before it went live.

I went new, and I think I did buy right before the CPO program started as I was debating used vs. new, and I might have been in my 1 week confirmation period when the site went live and I still decided to stay with new.

For a new car, I'm surprised at the amount of minor issues I've had (only a very small fraction of problems compared to Cyclone) -- rear hatch buffetting (fixed myself by adjusting the stoppers), door handle stopped working (fixed by Tesla), steering wheel scroll sometimes non-responsive (fixed by Tesla), while they were fixing the steering wheel scroll they scratched up the steering wheel buttons ever-so-slightly (but enough for me to notice and complain), AC vibration (was told it's "normal"), my arm rest fell apart (partially fixed by me, getting fixed by Tesla in 3 weeks), my rear parking sensors are going crazy (getting fixed by Tesla in 3 weeks)... I'm sure I'm missing something, but FTR the car is 1.5 months old and on my previous new car (I don't think I've had a fraction of these problems in the first year of ownership).
I think this underscores the importance of a thorough Pre Purchase Inspection before you pay for the car. Despite the marketing the CPO car you get might not be a "like new" car.

We may very well end up buying a CPO Tesla next year as long as by then they offer the option to pay for an extended warranty but if we go that route this is what we plan to do:

+ Put down the deposit to reserve the car.
+ Have them do all the reconditioning and "certifying" that they do before we see the car.
+ Take the time to thoroughly inspect the car in person.
+ Request to see and go over the past service records for the car (and not accept "no we can't show you the service records" as an answer).
+ And finally take the car to a reputed body shop and pay them to inspect the paint as well as signs or prior accident damage.
+ Hand over the payment once these items have been satisfied. This is how we generally buy any used car and likely applies for CPO Tesla cars as well.
+ If any major issues came up during the due diligence for the car, I'd then ask to transfer the deposit for another car.

To Tesla's credit it seems many CPO buyers are satisfied with their cars so the good news is this doe snot seem to be an endemic issue but the steps above will minimize the likelihood you end up in an unfortunate situation no matter how much of an outlier such cases are.

I concur that Cyclone is anything but entitled. He's been extremely patient and reasonable and it is Tesla's turn to be the same and make this right for Cyclone.
Your situation is not unique. I talked to another cpo buyer whose car had numerous issues. Leaking pano, chrome trim badly misaligned, milling noise, dirty interior, etc. All of these issues would have been discovered if someone spent 20 minutes with the car. I once heard someone say that Tesla spends about 5 thousand per cpo getting the car up to snuff. I'm beginning to think they just give the car a quick wash and leave it up to the buyers to find the issues.

Most of your posts are negative re:Tesla. Working in the oil business wouldn't make you biased would it?
I think the program has matured, at least in my area. The car I found showed that it was one of the first available around 4/27. It was sitting at the Highland Park, IL location all that time. I called into the store and said I see two CPOs do you have them available. I then came out and test drove the one I ended up purchasing. It was a little dirty in the interior, but I was more concerned with how it drove. I test drove every other model, except the P85 at that point. I was blown away at the response and how the car drove. It was amazing. At that point I knew some minor reconditioning/detailing was all that was needed for delivery. Within a week that process was complete. Everything is immaculate on the car, I could not find a single problem. My owner advisor said that the car has to go through the thorough CPO process before even being allowed on the lot and because it was there since 4.27, they went through most of the process again as well. I have a feeling that they were not prepared for this program in the beginning and have learned from their mistakes at this point. In my opinion the CPO program is amazing. I just got my dream car that would have been $110K new for $69K, with basically the same warranty. The car has lived up to all my expectations and more!
I'm glad you found a great car Clark. I wouldn't be surprised if my car sat in a lot for a while. That said, it was three weeks from purchasing to pickup, so that should have been plenty of time to finish up the car.

Thank you everyone for your comments and support. I hope it's not confirmation bias that others also don't feel I was expecting too much with what Tesla would or wouldn't do. My trust I would say they still have, but have tapped out the "goodwill" of the customer bank account. I did not take an agreessive stance with local Service Center because I feel I don't want to be that customer they just try to get out the door. Instead, I try to interact with them in such a way as they would want to be my advocate when talking with whatever powers that be in certain decisions.

I think the true test will be how I feel in two weeks. My neighbor (who told me about the CPO site) and I are driving our cars in a parade in downtown to promote "Drive Electric". I'm sure there are going to be lots of questions at chat like at Cars and Coffee (the EV owners club meets beforehand and we line up the Model S, ELR, Leafs, Volts, and I3s together). I will still be positive in talking about Tesla, but wonder if I'll be ecstatic.

Anyways, thank you again for your support and insights. I truly appreciate our community and I very much appreciate hearing others tales of their CPO experience, either at Tesla or with other manufacturers.