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Power Steering falling apart

Brass Guy

Active Member
Jan 5, 2014
1,172
974
Holbrook, MA
I searched and didn't find anybody else with a similar issue.
Yesterday, all of a sudden, my steering started making some bad noises - clunks and screeches. Today I removed the tub and found 2 of the 3 bolts that mount the electric steering assist to the rack had sheared off.
Another 2 bolts, along with those 3, hold two parts of the rack together. One of those is also broken. It can't escape because it's too long to come out all the way where it's situated.
Oddly enough, there are 3 more threaded holes (exactly adjacent to the 3 used in assembly) in the electric assist; so I didn't have to drill the broken ones out. I filed them down to flush and put 3 new bolts in. (The last one was bent.)
I'm pretty sure the originals are aluminum, but being Sunday I just went to the local hardware store and bought what they had. BTW they are 8mm x 1.25, 65mm long.
CAM00156.jpg

CAM00157.jpg

Its working great again, but I wonder if I should replace the bolts with OE. I did put some anti-seize on the threads since they're dissimilar metals now.

I hope the rack stays intact.
 
Upvote 0

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,825
44,413
Michigan
I searched and didn't find anybody else with a similar issue.
Yesterday, all of a sudden, my steering started making some bad noises - clunks and screeches. Today I removed the tub and found 2 of the 3 bolts that mount the electric steering assist to the rack had sheared off.
Another 2 bolts, along with those 3, hold two parts of the rack together. One of those is also broken. It can't escape because it's too long to come out all the way where it's situated.
Oddly enough, there are 3 more threaded holes (exactly adjacent to the 3 used in assembly) in the electric assist; so I didn't have to drill the broken ones out. I filed them down to flush and put 3 new bolts in. (The last one was bent.)
I'm pretty sure the originals are aluminum, but being Sunday I just went to the local hardware store and bought what they had. BTW they are 8mm x 1.25, 65mm long.
View attachment 256935
View attachment 256936
Its working great again, but I wonder if I should replace the bolts with OE. I did put some anti-seize on the threads since they're dissimilar metals now.

I hope the rack stays intact.

Definitely get real bolts when you can.
And let Tesla know about problem.
Armchair toot csuse: If the bolts get loose, the rotational force turns into shear instead of only having tension on the bolt. Over cycles it fatigues and shears. Over torqued could have failed and then the helical gear was pushing the assemblies apart half the time. Gears may be damaged.
 

Brass Guy

Active Member
Jan 5, 2014
1,172
974
Holbrook, MA
I hadn't thought about over- or under-torqueing, that certainly makes sense. I figured after 4 years, maybe hardware just failed.

Either way, I think you're right that I should bring it up with the service center. Insecure steering is too serious of a safety issue. If this is happening to other older cars, they may need to do something about it.
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,825
44,413
Michigan
I hadn't thought about over- or under-torqueing, that certainly makes sense. I figured after 4 years, maybe hardware just failed.

Either way, I think you're right that I should bring it up with the service center. Insecure steering is too serious of a safety issue. If this is happening to other older cars, they may need to do something about it.

Wow, yeah 4 years is quite a while to last if it was torqued loosely. From the rust on the gear, it may have been loose for a while and exposed to the elements, if so it may have ingested something (a reach I know) which caused the final parting. The screeching was the gears no longer meshing, the mating gear may have taken some damage.

One other thing, I can't quite tell from the pictures, but the second set of mounting holes may be offset slightly from the originals (relative to the shaft), possibly for backlash adjustment. Or it's just to support multiple applications... Since you say it's working fine, I'm probably just overthinking.
 
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Az_Rael

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Jan 26, 2016
5,668
8,963
Palmdale, CA
I just read that thread. Gee, they replaced a lot of yours! I suppose that may be the easiest/safest thing to do if it was the same thing, but I don't think my column has any issues.
Was it making nasty sounds, or just working intermittently?

No nasty sounds, just got in it one day and it worked intermittently. I was surprised as to the extent of the replacements as well. Unfortunately, I picked it up at the end of the day and the technicians had gone home already, so no real info on the repairs and why it happened.
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,825
44,413
Michigan
No nasty sounds, just got in it one day and it worked intermittently. I was surprised as to the extent of the replacements as well. Unfortunately, I picked it up at the end of the day and the technicians had gone home already, so no real info on the repairs and why it happened.

Just trying to clarify, do you know that something sheared, or only that they replaced your rack? Your failure sounds more like a control or sensor issue.
 

Brass Guy

Active Member
Jan 5, 2014
1,172
974
Holbrook, MA
Whoa! Glad you found this early. I don't understand why you're not apoplectic and scared--wouldn't this have been a huge safety risk at speed? Doesn't this raise the issue of whether there should be a recall?
At the time, I wasn't scared since it just felt like a power assist issue. The handling still felt solid. Now that I know only 2 bolts were holding that part of the rack together, it was more serious than I'd considered.

I did contact Tesla service. They asked me for pictures and detailed descriptions. I sent them, but haven't heard back since though.

I just realized, that first picture may be misleading. I had already removed the third bolt and just placed the motor and bolt in those positions for the picture. It wasn't like that picture while I was driving.
 

Brass Guy

Active Member
Jan 5, 2014
1,172
974
Holbrook, MA
Well, I just got an email back from the service center. I am disappointed.
He thanked me for the pictures and information. He suggested the gasket may be compromised, this may happen again, and they recommend replacement. (Right, big surprise.)

The rest of the email was essentially a quote:
$1920 steering rack
$30 tie rod ends, 2 @ $15
$175 one hour labor (estimate, parts)
$175 one hour labor (alignment, alignment, test, firmware)
$2300 + tax.

I was hoping to find out if this was a common occurrence, or if maybe they should be looking for this in other cars. Best case, I was hoping they'd say something like, "We're going to get you a new rack and all the hardware, and we're going to check with the engineers as to how this could happen." I knew that first part was a long shot, but maybe at least the 2nd half.
Why are the bolts shearing off? Is 4 years really that old for a steering rack? The rack internals work fine, it's the structural assembly I worry about.

This is not unlike a year ago when they told me I needed to replace my front calipers, rotors all around, dust shields, and pads all around, to the tune of about $3500; when all that was wrong was a pad stuck to a caliper. I freed it up and cleaned it off in a couple of hours. Rotors are all smooth, calipers all work fine, pads have little wear. But I digress.

Well, I'm still hoping for another few hundred thousand miles. It may not be as smooth as I'd hoped though.
 

SeminoleFSU

Voluntaryist
Apr 5, 2013
1,491
446
Atlanta, GA
Well, I just got an email back from the service center. I am disappointed.
He thanked me for the pictures and information. He suggested the gasket may be compromised, this may happen again, and they recommend replacement. (Right, big surprise.)

The rest of the email was essentially a quote:
$1920 steering rack
$30 tie rod ends, 2 @ $15
$175 one hour labor (estimate, parts)
$175 one hour labor (alignment, alignment, test, firmware)
$2300 + tax.

I was hoping to find out if this was a common occurrence, or if maybe they should be looking for this in other cars. Best case, I was hoping they'd say something like, "We're going to get you a new rack and all the hardware, and we're going to check with the engineers as to how this could happen." I knew that first part was a long shot, but maybe at least the 2nd half.
Why are the bolts shearing off? Is 4 years really that old for a steering rack? The rack internals work fine, it's the structural assembly I worry about.

This is not unlike a year ago when they told me I needed to replace my front calipers, rotors all around, dust shields, and pads all around, to the tune of about $3500; when all that was wrong was a pad stuck to a caliper. I freed it up and cleaned it off in a couple of hours. Rotors are all smooth, calipers all work fine, pads have little wear. But I digress.

Well, I'm still hoping for another few hundred thousand miles. It may not be as smooth as I'd hoped though.

Service Centers should not be profit centers. What a crock. Anyone else own a car that had the steering fall apart so quickly? This sounds like it could have dangerous/life threatening... You'd think they'd want to take care of it and research.... my guess is this quote and feedback/information got round filed right after the phone went "click."
 

mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,825
44,413
Michigan
I searched and didn't find anybody else with a similar issue.
Yesterday, all of a sudden, my steering started making some bad noises - clunks and screeches. Today I removed the tub and found 2 of the 3 bolts that mount the electric steering assist to the rack had sheared off.
Another 2 bolts, along with those 3, hold two parts of the rack together. One of those is also broken. It can't escape because it's too long to come out all the way where it's situated.
Oddly enough, there are 3 more threaded holes (exactly adjacent to the 3 used in assembly) in the electric assist; so I didn't have to drill the broken ones out. I filed them down to flush and put 3 new bolts in. (The last one was bent.)
I'm pretty sure the originals are aluminum, but being Sunday I just went to the local hardware store and bought what they had. BTW they are 8mm x 1.25, 65mm long.
View attachment 256935
View attachment 256936
Its working great again, but I wonder if I should replace the bolts with OE. I did put some anti-seize on the threads since they're dissimilar metals now.

I hope the rack stays intact.

Hey @JonMc,
Something for QA to check on/ be aware of.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SeminoleFSU

appleguru

Member
Mar 15, 2017
982
1,746
MA, US
Service Centers should not be profit centers. What a crock. Anyone else own a car that had the steering fall apart so quickly? This sounds like it could have dangerous/life threatening... You'd think they'd want to take care of it and research.... my guess is this quote and feedback/information got round filed right after the phone went "click."

Other than the rack being quite pricey compared to similar vehicles, their quote actually seems quite fair... they're only quoting 2hrs of labor (for a job that almost certainly will take a lot longer than that).

I agree though that only 4 years of life out of the rack is not reasonable. I assume you're just outside of warranty?

Especially your situation, which points to a manufacturing defect and likely an issue that actually occurred while under warranty but wasn't discovered until after the warranty ended (perhaps someone didn't adequately tighten those bolts?) I would push Tesla to goodwill it, or at least meet you halfway on the parts cost (Those numbers are almost certainly inflated from their actual cost; I believe body shops get a 30% discount on part prices for example, so there should be at least 30% markup in there).

With all that said, assuming you caught this soon enough and the rack isn't damaged, I suspect your 'fix' will likely last a long time and be just fine... So maybe drive it another 100k miles until it really fails? (or you get play in the other steering components and would have to replace tie rods/etc anyways).
 

Brass Guy

Active Member
Jan 5, 2014
1,172
974
Holbrook, MA
I'm more than 60,000 miles past my warranty. I don't expect any goodwill repairs.

The hour replace time is probably accurate for a shop. Its really quite accessible with no engine over it. If I recall, there were a few mounting bolts, a pinch bolt for the column, 3 electrical connections and the tie rods.

As for reporting it to NHTSA, I thought that might be extreme. But the more I think about it, what if this is not just a one-off? I'm certain I have not abused the car. If I had, I'd expect tie rods to fail first.
 

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