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Out of Warranty Drive Unit Replacement and Cost

Hi Everyone,

Sad to make this my fist post on here, but looking for some advise.

About a week ago the DU started making that dreaded milling sound. Just all of the sudden. It is getting a bit louder as I drive more, even in just a week . I took it in this morning to the service center and they confirmed its the drive unit and it needs replacement. I'm a 6 months out of the 8 year warranty based on delivery date. Figures, right. I have a 2012 Signature Performance with only 66k on it and I have tried to do everything to keep this car pristine. I had taken it in several time previously for uneven acceleration(almost like a vibration when accelerating) which I thought was the signs of the DU starting to fail but each time they denied that it was a concern. They aren't budging on the slightly out of warranty good will. They are quoting $10,900 to replace the DU.

Have you seen any other way to repair this? Should I just drive it until it stops driving anymore? Any guesses how long until it flat out stops or does this noise get unbearable? I guess I should submit and see what Tesla will trade in the car for, but that seems like such a waste.

Thanks for your help. Feeling sad for my car, and my wallet!
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,754
9,795
Visalia, CA
...Should I just drive it until it stops driving anymore?
You can continue to drive until it won't run anymore if you can afford the tow and the hassle of being stranded in the middle of the road at the most inconvenient time.


Any guesses how long until it flat out stops or does this noise get unbearable?
No. But it's not about the noise, it's about sudden stop that you may have enough glide power to guide your disabled car to the shoulder.

...Feeling sad for my car, and my wallet!...

Me too. You can either spend money on a new car or fix this old car. Either way still costs money.
 
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ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
8,382
16,350
California
Gruber Motors might be able to do something for you if you’re willing to drive it out to PHX.

 
This probably isn't useful information but I've read somewhere, can't remember where, that the motor itself is usually fine. It's just the bearing that's failing.

Maybe if you stop driving it now and if Tesla is nice enough to sell you the bearing and if that bearing is a drop in replacement then that could potentially save you some money.

But I've never read of anyone doing this so I assume there's some reason that it's not possible.
 
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2101Guy

Active Member
Jan 6, 2020
3,234
5,214
USA
is this the situation where it only affects the RDU's of only the 2018 and earlier performance models? Starts with a small leak inside past some sort of seal inside the RDU? There is a company that rebuilds for much cheaper. Somewhere out west. There is a thread on it if thats the issue
 
Do you have any invoices where "customer states DU is a concern blah blah" prior to your warranty expiring?
When I was at the service center today, they were able to see when I brought the car into the Van Nuys service center with the concern, it was in 2018 and about 10k miles ago and says customer states vibration and uneven acceleration from the rear and they determined it was uneven tire wear, but the tires were very new at the time.
 
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When I was at the service center today, they were able to see when I brought the car into the Van Nuys service center with the concern, it was in 2018 and about 10k miles ago and says customer states vibration and uneven acceleration from the rear and they determined it was uneven tire wear, but the tires were very new at the time.
If you can prove they were new (receipt from tire shop). I'd present them with both pieces of paper, ask for a fix. If they refuse or quote you to replace it, hang on to the quote. Here's what I would do in your position (i have a 2013, no stranger to 3 DU swaps).

1.) The DU isnt actually the issue its the halfshafts and bearings. you could take it to someone who could swap it for you. there is a guy in el cajon, ca who dismantles teslas and does some work on the side. They are a member here. I don't want to shill for him or put him in an awkward spot, but google a little bit and find them, reach out and see if they'd be willing to swap your half shafts if you buy from them

OR

2.) Go to small claims court against tesla for the 10k (full amount in small claims) for willfully disregarding your concern while under warranty, and then reversing course and agreeing with you after warranty. They would have to fly a company rep to LA (lawyers cannot appear on their behalf), and either wouldn't show (default to you) or a C level/VP would have to show up and explain why they did what they did.

Then... OR

3.) Pay them to fix it
 

AMPd

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
5,009
5,336
Northern California
Gruber Motors might be able to do something for you if you’re willing to drive it out to PHX.

Since OP is in LA I second this option. It’s not too far of a drive, at least worth looking into.
 
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I know it doesn't help you, but they proactively replaced my rear drive unit last month. I brought it in due to a "thunk" noise at slow speed acceleration/deceleration. Turns out the sound was from the mounts failing, but the tech claimed to hear a very slight grinding sound in the motor - which I never heard or noticed - and they replaced the drive unit under warranty. I had to pay for the mounts.

2015 (May) 70D, 84,000 miles.

bwb1
 
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Had the drive unit in my 2013 replaced under warranty. They told me the 'milling' noise was the only issue and it probably wouldn't actually fail. As someone mentioned, it's a minor bearing and not actual the motor that is failing.

You can find Model S rear drive motors on ebay cheap. I just looked and you can find an entire rear subframe assembly including tires, etc complete for $6k. My understanding is that it's pretty easy to swap the subframe assembly if you are comfortable working on cars or a shop could do it for you. Gruber can prob do this as also mentioned.
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
18,051
44,439
Oregon
Another, closer, option in Vista, CA, would be QC Charge. They post here on TMC sometimes: @ajbessinger


I think they mentioned that the bearing alone costs ~$400. And you probably want to replace some seals and other things while they are in there. So it isn't a "cheap" repair, but should be much cheaper than the $10k replacement from Tesla.
 
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Another, closer, option in Vista, CA, would be QC Charge. They post here on TMC sometimes: @ajbessinger


I think they mentioned that the bearing alone costs ~$400. And you probably want to replace some seals and other things while they are in there. So it isn't a "cheap" repair, but should be much cheaper than the $10k replacement from Tesla.
oh i live in vista ca, i should check these guys out!
 
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MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
18,051
44,439
Oregon
Can you find out what type of bearing it is and who made it ? I don't see why the bearings and seals wouldn't be available aftermarket
Apparently it is a custom bearing and hard to source. (You would also need to replace the custom grounding "seal".)

You can see some details on the bearings in this video: (Though I think it may be from a newer model, so it might not be exact.)

 
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dark cloud

Active Member
Apr 14, 2018
2,203
2,570
BC
Replacing the entire drive unit for one bad bearing makes as much sense as replacing the whole $2500 Media control unit for one bad $20 eMMC chip.

Just watched highlights of another SpaceX launch where they reused the Falcon rocket, and Dragon capsule. Essentially sending astronauts to the international space station in a used rocket, in order to keep costs down and be efficient as possible, environmental purposes aside.

I imagine this process is also employed with the drive units, where a replaced drive unit is not new but a rebuilt one, but the problem is the whole "keeping costs down" is not provided to the owner but it kept as profit by the company.
 
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VikH

Active Member
Supporting Member
Nov 23, 2015
1,222
1,358
Midwest, USA
Hi Everyone,

Sad to make this my fist post on here, but looking for some advise.

About a week ago the DU started making that dreaded milling sound. Just all of the sudden. It is getting a bit louder as I drive more, even in just a week . I took it in this morning to the service center and they confirmed its the drive unit and it needs replacement. I'm a 6 months out of the 8 year warranty based on delivery date. Figures, right. I have a 2012 Signature Performance with only 66k on it and I have tried to do everything to keep this car pristine. I had taken it in several time previously for uneven acceleration(almost like a vibration when accelerating) which I thought was the signs of the DU starting to fail but each time they denied that it was a concern. They aren't budging on the slightly out of warranty good will. They are quoting $10,900 to replace the DU.

Have you seen any other way to repair this? Should I just drive it until it stops driving anymore? Any guesses how long until it flat out stops or does this noise get unbearable? I guess I should submit and see what Tesla will trade in the car for, but that seems like such a waste.

Thanks for your help. Feeling sad for my car, and my wallet!

Wow. I wasn't expecting such a high cost. Tesla needs to start getting creative with how they are servicing the drivetrain/battery components otherwise all of their cars are going to end up worthless after 8 years.
 

gaswalla

Model S,3,X.. CT with Austin delivery
Sep 23, 2012
3,700
4,480
San Diego
oh i live in vista ca, i should check these guys out!


Near Vista: also check out EVWest in San Marcos.
OP: get this done by a third party. It will be 1/3 the cost with a repurposed drive unit. Also, the milling noise does not affect performance. You can drive it like this 'forever'
This is your reward for keeping it 'pristine' with low miles. The folks that have driven their 2012's a lot typically had received v3 of the DU and a replaced battery pack under warranty
 
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