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Return of experience: Vibrations when braking & rolling noise


Active Member
Apr 6, 2015
I've been on a recent longish "journey" with our S & the Tesla service center to find the root cause of vibrations and rolling noise. This post is to share that experience and maybe help a fellow Tesla driver with similar symptoms.

TLDR: it's the front rotors that needed replacement

Here is how this started and developed.

Since a couple of years, I've had more and more rolling noise coming from the front. But only at lower speeds (30-50 km/h or 20-35 mph). Blame was first put on the tyres, but switching to the winter wheels, the problem did not go away. So in the sprint, I decided it was time to get this sorted out.

SeC diagnosed first that the wheel bearings needed replacement. They started with the front. That did nothing. They wanted to do the back too. I did not agree with this.
Around the same time, I started noticing that when braking, around that same speed, I'd sometimes feel light vibrations in the car. Not particularly felt from the steering wheel and not a hard vibration. Like a shiver. Short and would go away below those lower speeds.
For those vibrations, SeC drove the car and diagnosed rust: I did not use enough the brakes and needed to drive without the regen for 2-3 days, to remove the rust from the rotors. I was doubtful, as I could clearly see the rotors and there was no rust, but they said it was rust "behind", where you cannot see. Fine.
So I complied and things did not improve. On the contrary, the vibration started to feel stronger. But then again, not systematic: when I drove to the SeC, I hardly could reproduce it, to my biggest frustration indeed.
SeC then diagnosed to replace all brake rotors & pads. Quite expensive. With my recent expense for the wheel bearings, and the large cost estimate, I was not sure it was right. (*)
Another SeC technician drove the car and found that my tyres were not entirely worn out, but almost (more so on the inside), and could be deformed, causing those vibrations.
As I could see they were close to their end of life, and with a long summer road trip ahead, it made sense to replace the tyres.
But that was not helping for the vibration. So only next step was the rotors replacement. As this vibration was only fell from the front, I agreed to replace the front rotors & pads. That did the trick.

It surprised the technician, as for him, warped rotors have a different feel: the vibration is stronger and fell not only in that particular speed range. Anyway, they and I learned something. As the car still had the original rotors & pads, it means I'll probably be ok for the next 6 years or 220.000 km.

So now the car drives like new: no rolling noise, no vibrations at anytime. Peace again.

(*) one could argue at this point I should have agreed with their diagnostic, but in the end, only the front one needed replacement, not all 4. That money saved paid for 2 of the 4 new tyres.

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