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Random steering popping noise after steering motor bolt recall

Mobile tech did steering motor bolt recall in 12/18 and random steering popping noises started after. It seems to randomly reproduce starting from standing still such as backing up and turning from parked position and doesn't necessarily depend on tight turns. Some times it would occur at the beginning of the turn.

Finally got around to taking out the frunk tub to see what is going on down there. Here is what I found

- There are 2 big bolt that mounts the rack to the frame. The bolt on the passenger side has been turned since its original marked position (See photo) If this bolt was loosened and the driver side bolt is not loosened. One certainly don't want to push the steering rack around after passenger bolt is out and place a lot of twisting torque on the driver side bolted mount.

- Can't find any TSBs for Tesla of course but does anyone know which bolts were replaced in the recall? and what bolts had to be loosened to get to them?

- Raised both front tires off the ground. Full left and right turns and perfectly quite. Only hear the assist motor humming. Twisting both front tires shows no play at all in tie-rods or ball joints.

- Front end and steering is dead silent in normal driving. Not a sound anywhere even during low speed turns.

- With both front tires on the ground (drove a little after front end was raised to eliminate any post lifting tension on the suspension geometry) Full left and right turns would reveal these popping/pinging sounds. Hard to isolate where it is since sound pretty much transmit all over. It seems likely as steering rack is turning with tires on the ground and creating load between the rack and frame, this might be the cause of the noises.

It seems passenger side steering rack bolt wasn't tightened back to the original mark. I don't know if these are stretch bolts. Without TSB, it also isn't clear why this bolt had to be removed.

There are some rust on the pinion shaft although the rust is all above the boot. It seems just a short section of the shaft was not treated for rust. Under the boot is wax like protectant and fully intact. Bolt below U-joint also shows some rust. Not sure this was removed in the TSB. Slip joint bolt before the firewall looks fine and at original tightened mark.

Anyone else had this post steering motor bolt recall?
 

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Took the car into service center. Service advisor immediately called out needing shim between the subframe mount points and rack and said they have seen this quite a bit.

Thinking this through, the frame is aluminum (soft and brittle) and torquing down the original steering rack bolt over the original mating surface on a soft and brittle metal such as aluminum is surely an issue. So Tesla's solution is to put in shim + new bolts for all new larger biting surfaces.

SC is charging me $210+ for this. I am send a complaint note to SC management. This is basically a design issue where the rack bolt can only bite once on the soft aluminum subframe mount point. Steering motor bolt recall caused this bolt to be removed and have to bite 2X over the exact same surface area. Tesla's solution is adding a shim which creates new and larger bite surfaces (which would have been fine if it was installed during the recall but I'm guessing they didn't learn of this issue until recalls started coming back with steering popping noises). Doesn't sound fair that we should pay for their design issues that manifested itself in the recall procedure.
 
Last edited:

Doanster1

Active Member
Feb 14, 2018
1,213
647
Oregon
Took the car into service center. Service advisor immediately called out needing shim between the subframe mount points and rack and said they have seen this quite a bit.

Thinking this through, the frame is aluminum (soft and brittle) and torquing down the original steering rack bolt over the original mating surface on a soft and brittle metal such as aluminum is surely an issue. So Tesla's solution is to put in shim + new bolts for all new larger biting surfaces.

SC is charging me $210+ for this. I am send a complaint note to SC management. This is basically a design issue where the rack bolt can only bite once on the soft aluminum subframe mount point. Steering motor bolt recall caused this bolt to be removed and have to bite 2X over the exact same surface area. Tesla's solution is adding a shim which creates new and larger bite surfaces (which would have been fine if it was installed during the recall but I'm guessing they didn't learn of this issue until recalls started coming back with steering popping noises). Doesn't sound fair that we should pay for their design issues that manifested itself in the recall procedure.
I had this issue as well. They immediately were going to replace the steering rack bolts when I brought it in, but parts weren’t in stock. However, the tech tightened and/or replaced the shim on the steering MOUNT bolt and the clicking immediately went away when I drove off. When the steering rack parts arrived, a Ranger came out to replace them and I still have silent steering to this day. My P85D is still under warranty so it was no charge the first time I came in but, there was an existing bulletin for this (SB-13-32-001) so you shouldn’t be charged at all. I’d def try to get reimbursed.

Here’s a vid of the exact condition/noise I had before they shimmed/tightened the steering mount. Note that it’s not me/my car.

https://youtu.be/IgPrzHsoLy0
 
I had this issue as well. They immediately were going to replace the steering rack bolts when I brought it in, but parts weren’t in stock. However, the tech tightened and/or replaced the shim on the steering MOUNT bolt and the clicking immediately went away when I drove off. When the steering rack parts arrived, a Ranger came out to replace them and I still have silent steering to this day. My P85D is still under warranty so it was no charge the first time I came in but, there was an existing bulletin for this (SB-13-32-001) so you shouldn’t be charged at all. I’d def try to get reimbursed.

Here’s a vid of the exact condition/noise I had before they shimmed/tightened the steering mount. Note that it’s not me/my car.

https://youtu.be/IgPrzHsoLy0

My car is 2013 S85 so no under warranty repair. SC folks gave me every BS explanation in the book that this was unrelated to the steering motor bolt recall. One explanation is caused by dirt (I kid you not).

If I assume these problems started prior to steering motor bolt recall (video link on previous post is 6/16 which I believe is before steering motor bolt recall), then Tesla probably realized the bolt isn't providing enough bite into the aluminum frame mount and developed the shim solution. And since its just a noise issue and not a safety issue, they just follow warranty policy on cost responsibility. Unfortunately the steering bolt recall procedure didn't think through the consequence of loosening the rack bolt and likely triggered the failure mode on otherwise quiet steering racks that had sufficient bite from original factory install.

The other interesting observation is HQ is clearly mandating SC to rein in the cost. This is certainly understandable goal for company health. The problem is the whiplash in customer service. Tesla went from taking responsibility for many early teething issues to now charging standard itemized book fees with majority of SC personnel lack any ability to adapt per scenario. I brought the car in with frunk tub fully disassembled, showed them the bolt, showed them this post and my full analysis of what happened and was written up for $250 ($80 diag, $50 parts, $100 labor, tax). SC manager eventually eliminated the diagnostic fee after my complaint.

In any case, its the age old pressure between centralized standards vs distributed decision making. HQ is fully controlling SC's policies and SCs with all its growing pains (mostly new junior personnel) can only follow. Not a great recipe for distributed complex customer service that SC need to perform. So far, Tesla can get away with it as the car is a great product and buyers are weighing over the service challenges. I guess I'm just yet another early adopter that is shocked by the change in experience.
 
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Doanster1

Active Member
Feb 14, 2018
1,213
647
Oregon
But if there was an official SB for it, you shouldn’t have to pay. I’m sure they’ll say it’s not directly related, so depends on how much time/effort you want to keep nagging. Sounds like you’re satisfied with the popping finally being gone so just want to be done with it. I don’t blame you. Gets tiring arguing back and forth.
 

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