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Salvage Car Owners Support Group.

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Rwolf01, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. Rwolf01

    Rwolf01 Member

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    Someone once said you can have too much free time or too much free money, but never both. I'm in the free time camp, and thinking of buying a salvage car and fixing it up for my own enjoyment.

    I've read horror stories about Tesla not being salvage car friendly, but they seem to be rather partisan. It seems to me that resale values will improve if Tesla takes a moderate and reasonable approach to DIY service and salvage car ownership.

    I'm hoping to start a thread where people who are interested in safely and reasonably repairing salvage cars can exchange tips & advice. I'll kick start it by posting whatever I can find online.

    But first, my lawyer would like to say a few words:

    "Car's are dangerous, m'kay?"
    "Working on them is even more dangerous, m'kay?"
    "Working on cars that use new technology you may not fully understand could get you badly killed."
    "There is a fine line between clever and stupid. It's often only clearly visible in hindsight. Staying on the right side of that line is *your* responsibility"
    "In the interest of promoting free dialog, assume that anything you see posted here might be on the *wrong* side of the clever/stupid line."

    Now that that is out of the way, please post any technical or administrative mistakes or near misses you might encounter so others can learn from them! Often, knowing what NOT to do is even more important than knowing what to do....
     
  2. Rwolf01

    Rwolf01 Member

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    Basic resources for a prospective MS Salvage Owner.

    1: Create an account at TeslaMotors.com and log in. Go to the Support tab and watch all the videos to learn basic car features & operation.
    Note: The detailed users manual is read from the 17" display and updated along with the SW :)

    2: Emergency Responder's, Second Responder's (tow operators, etc) and general EV safety guides are located here: First Responders | Tesla Motors
     
  3. Rwolf01

    Rwolf01 Member

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    Official service manuals are now available online (via a subscription) here:

    Welcome | Tesla Service

    I haven't used them yet, but I will if I buy the car I have in mind, and I'll post a review on how useful they were.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Obsolete PDF owners manual is here: http://prius20.ru/instructions/tesla_manual.pdf
    (useful if you don't have your car yet, or it refuses to light up for some reason)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Official/current manual in PDF form is here. https://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/Model-S-Owners-Manual.pdf
     
  4. Quantum`

    Quantum` Member

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    #4 Quantum`, Jan 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
    There are too many variables here, not even considering the parts situation and that it's an aluminum car. You have to actually inspect it in person to see whether there's structural damage, and you have to know what to look for as it can be hidden. If there is, you must take special measures to ultimately get cleared in the body shop inspection. What those measures are depends entirely on the exact nature of the damage. Too many variables to give general advice.

    Best I can say is that 90% of the population has no business messing with a Salvage vehicle unless they can truly afford and are willing to lose the money. Many people have failed, and no one talks about it. Oh yes and no. warranty. Forget about the warranty.
     
  5. Mike K

    Mike K Member

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    #5 Mike K, Jan 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
    Under 99% of situations a salvage Tesla is a bad idea. Unless you can see that the car lot drives, that the battery has a charge, that the 12v isn't dead, etc I wouldn't touch any salvage Tesla and I say that as someone that had one.

    There's two problems:

    1. They're getting too cheap. $50,000 for an S85 with reasonable (sub-40k) miles is a regular occurrence now.
    2. Inability to service - You can't run any diagnostics on the car at all. You can't tell it you've replaced the drive unit, you can never update firmware and if you lose a key Tesla won't so much as program one for you. If you lose a key you have a brick sitting in your driveway. Literally your only option to drive the car would be to use the App and if you happen to park the car somewhere where there's no cell service you'll need to tow it somewhere to get it to an area where it has signal.

    Right now the problem with these cars is getting them fixed but then unlike most other salvage cars, you have a whole slew of additional issues after the car is fixed. With a salvage BMW I can just walk into BMW and get parts and if I can't get them from BMW there are tons of independent shops that I can get them from. And that applies to most brands.

    Really the game changer is going to be whenever they a) crack the software and b) figure out a way to communicate with the car. If the community can make it so that we can run diagnostics, we can program keys, etc that will be a game changer. Until then, don't take the risk. It's not worth saving 50% up front to eventually spend 80% of the amount you would have spent on a clean title car and go through all that work to accomplish that only to end up with an inferior car.
     
  6. California Roll

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    If the sole point was simply getting a working car, I would agree. Alas, there is a sizable group of tinkerers out there that would pick a project like that out of curiosity, and challenge, with a bonus of a possibility of having a car at the end of it. After all, how else those "game changers" you mention are going to happen?

    Off topic, I will stop by the SC tomorrow to ask whether what you say about the keys is true - I find it hard to believe....
     
  7. Mike K

    Mike K Member

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    #7 Mike K, Jan 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
    Fair enough. I don't think there are a whole lot of people out there willing to shell out 15 - 20k just to tinker. If there are then I'll eat my words. I think most people buying a salvage car are doing it with the expectation that they'll end up with a functioning car when it's all said at done and with that expectation in mind, the math doesn't work.

    It's well documented here and confirmed by my local SC. The car does not exist to them. One of the techs happened to be outside and answered a few questions for me out of kindness but the service writer emphasized (kindly) that they aren't even allowed to look at the car. I bought this salvage S85 with 14,000 miles.

    PKo2Bsk.jpg

    It was a running, driving car and as you can see, the aesthetics were fixed 100%. It needed odds and ends. A few sensors, a knee airbag, most of the underhood plastic cowling, etc but as it sat, it was a running driving car with no issues. Ultimately it was Tesla's unwillingness to even program a key for the car that forced me to sell it. I couldn't stomach the fact that simply losing the key would leave me with a mostly unusable car and would mean forfeiting potential profit as I'd now be selling the car with no key. Never mind something more serious like a failing drive unit which let's face it, isn't exactly a rare occurrence. :) I spent hours poking around figuring out the different systems, took a bunch of pictures, got my nerd fix and sold it for a profit.

    I'm a car guy. I've owned two performance shops and have always wrenched on my own stuff. The failing with the Teslas is that you can't diagnose serious problems on them because as it sits, there's no software to do so outside of Tesla. The other issue is that if you could diagnose the car's problems, you still can't buy any restricted parts which includes drive units, batteries, anything that requires specific training to install, frame parts and I believe any body part. Your only hope is to wait on eBay or salvage yards.

    Kudos to anyone that wants to throw that much money around just to tinker. I just want people to have realistic expectations for these cars and as they sit, the math generally doesn't work out.
     
  8. Rwolf01

    Rwolf01 Member

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    Mike, Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Did you try visiting several Service Centers to see if this was really Tesla policy, or if maybe you just met one little emperor with an attitude problem? Also, what time frame was this? It's possible in the early days the SCs just didn't have the bandwidth to spend on helping us, but they did recently put service manuals online.

    Did they offer you any sort of path towards getting parts and/or service from them? I've heard of Tesla insisting on doing a detailed inspection of Salvage cars before working on them. If that's a one-time thing to baseline the car and document it's condition, that might be reasonable. Did they flat out refuse to program a key, or did they just say you have to get it inspected first?

    In the long run, I hope Tesla would converge on Toyota's attitude towards salvage cars. (I have put 145k miles on a Salvage Prius and they have been great) Toyota honors all recalls. I never had a problem that required a warranty claim, so I never tested that. But the few times that I had it at the dealer, they were very matter of fact about it's salvage status.

    It will improve resale values and lower insurance costs if Tesla takes a reasonable "we're all on the same side here" approach.

    I'll stop by my local SC with some high res pictures of the car I'm considering and ask their advice. I'll report back on my experiences.
     
  9. Mike K

    Mike K Member

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    No and they didn't have an attitude problem either. They were actually really apologetic about it and the tech there answered a couple questions for me simply because he happened to be standing in the lot at the time I pulled up. And it was in November at a brand new service center so definitely not an early days thing. As far as it being Tesla's policy, before I bought the car I very heavily researched Tesla's policy on them. That included calling them, asking them what they would/ wouldn't do, talking to their certified body shops, finding out the repair process, the re-certification process, etc. As you're trying to accomplish with this thread, I wanted to make sure I was going into the purchase armed with as much knowledge as I could get.

    For them to do anything to the car they need to put it through the recertification process. As of a couple months ago, Tesla's certified body shop told me it was $1500 and that they basically had to take the car apart and send Tesla 30+ pictures of specific areas. It appeared that what they were primarily concerned with was frame damage and the condition of the high power components. The shop told me that Tesla rivets, welds AND glues various frame components and it's important to make sure that the same methods are used in a repair. In my case, I had a frame rail that was bowed an 1/8th of an inch over the course of it's ~30" span. As minor as that was, it was a $5000+ repair to replace it.

    If Tesla denies to re-certify the car they continue ignoring it, keys and all. If it passes inspection then they will again support it, however at your cost. And just for the sake of clarity, I had a key and never requested to have one reprogrammed but the service writer there confirmed that they couldn't so much as do that and it's been pretty well documented that they won't do it for salvage cars. I think there was even a story of one guy that had a running car and no ability to drive it. Frankly, I was surprised Tesla was willing to transfer the car to my account which allowed me to use the App. That was my fallback plan.

    This is BMW's take on it too. Your warranty is void but you can pay for service and they'll honor recalls. I think that's totally fair. I assume that's how most manufacturers work. I don't get this whole shunning thing. At least sell service.

    I agree. I also think Tesla could help that by offering insurance companies an inexpensive check of the motor/ battery after an accident. This is why so many cars are scrapped with minor damage. Insurance companies don't want to put 10k into body repairs only to find out part of the battery was damaged. With 2013 S85s worth $50,000 - $60,000 now and batteries still billing out at $40,000+, they are one very minor accident away from being totaled. Insurance companies just aren't going to take the risk on potentially having to shell out $40,000+ on a $50,000 car. That's a bad bet every day of the week. That's a different conversation though. :)

    Can you PM me a link to the car or shoot me over some photos? I might be able to tell you some of what you'll be up against.
     
  10. maximus16

    maximus16 Member

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    What are peoples plan with salvaged cars? To tinker and learn, projects or just get them another car.
    I would love to see someone take the motors and battery and put them in like a F150, basically all the guts, just a new shell.
     
  11. brkaus

    brkaus Member

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    I would like to see the mechanical "sled" put under something like a 1957 Chevy or 65 muscle car.
     
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  12. Rwolf01

    Rwolf01 Member

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    I'd like to get a Model S that is safe, runs well, and I don't have to worry about scratching, because it's already been totaled... (something I could throw scuba tanks in without feeling guilty :)

    Not looking at starting any herculean projects. Not particularly looking to make money, but it would be cool to save some.
     
  13. scaesare

    scaesare Active Member

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    Or a stretched VW Vanagon camper!
     
  14. Quantum`

    Quantum` Member

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    Show us how it's done, Rwolf01.
     
  15. hockeythug

    hockeythug Active Member

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    wk057 is up to something possibly regarding that.
     
  16. Rwolf01

    Rwolf01 Member

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    That would be the blind leading the blind.... but we can try to sort it out together.

    Mike K is way ahead of me, and has been very helpful sharing his experience.

    BTR_FTW is boldly forging ahead with what is probably the *last* car I would ever consider standing next to, much less working on. Check out his Repairing a Flooded Tesla Model S : HOW-TO thread. I think his odds of ever driving that particular car are low, but he'll learn a heck of a lot. It's a great learning vehicle.

    Does anyone know if there are any dismantlers yet that specialize in used Model S parts?
     
  17. Btr_ftw

    Btr_ftw Court Jester

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    perhaps you may be interested in this one

    Tesla Model s Performance | eBay

    however not for 30k.

    I'd offer him in the mid 20s and see if he bites.


    There are many dismantlers that sell their parts on Ebay, they do not specialize in the model S specifically, but many of the specialize in EVs in general.
     
  18. stephenpace

    stephenpace VIN S00219

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    He lists it as a "Model S Performance" but says it has a 60 kWh battery which is a conflict.
     
  19. scaesare

    scaesare Active Member

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    A 60KWh Performance model, eh? :rolleyes:
     
  20. Btr_ftw

    Btr_ftw Court Jester

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    ok great, he just got some more money off.
     

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