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Suspension Problem on Model S

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May 27, 2013
Crap...worried about this on the last couple of Lexus cars I had...now I have to worry about it on the Tesla too?

Google "ball joint failure Lexus"
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Apr 1, 2015
There are at least three Chinese owners reported same problems

Not sure why tesla does not pay attention on this


Aug 19, 2014
MA South Shore
here they are.

The upper sway arm you picture here was also a problem on my May of 2013 Model S 60.

Maybe 2 months ago I started noticing a clanking rattle when my left tires went over manhole covers or rough patches of repaired road, making the car bounce just a bit. After two weeks of listening to this, I decided to swing into my local service center completely unannounced, hoping to setup an appointment to check it out. The service manager immediately took my car for a test drive (well, he was going to), he heard the clanks before he even left the lot, drove the car into a service bay and replaced that sway rod for me. He took it for real test drive, came back and showed me the part, then gave me my key fob back. No charge.

Ultimately, I'm guessing they differentiate between "it's just one small piece and a quick repair" and "there's a whole lot of damage to be repaired". But if the one small piece is what caused all the damage, and if that piece was under warranty or recall, all the rest of the damage should be covered. The question is whether a recalled item was at fault for the rest of the damage.



Active Member
Sep 16, 2013
Bay Area, CA
If abuse is driving
If abuse is driving down a rough road at 5MPH, I am guilty, but I
I didn't really have any comment one way or the other, but it is certainly possible to abuse a car to the point of failure at 5MPH.

Anyway, if the initial failure was the ball joint, it has some seriously abnormal corrosion. Look at that thing. I've never seen one that looked like that.
Mar 11, 2010
Humboldt/Los Altos
Anyway, if the initial failure was the ball joint, it has some seriously abnormal corrosion. Look at that thing. I've never seen one that looked like that.[/QUOTE]
Galvanic corrosion?
I wonder what Humboldt weather does to Tesla ball joints? Pretty sure mine look ok from the outside... but the Steering thingamajigger(pic) was shopwing a bit of rust on it pretty quick. Pic was @ 10 months ~12K miles


Unnamed plug faced villian
Aug 21, 2013
Burlington, WI
To me it looks like there should have been a seal/boot around the ball joint that didn't do it's job or is missing. Salt spray got into the joint. So the whole ball corroded until there wasn't enough material to keep it in the socket.


Perhaps if anyone is worried about this happening on their higher mileage S, they could take a peak at the boot make sure it looks proper.

I recently replaced my sway bar links at 72K miles on my Model S due to "clunkyness" which fixed the issue. Thankfully not very expensive. Hopefully the replacement parts are of better quality.


Active Member
Jan 2, 2014
Fairfax County, Virginia
I have never had that happen even on cars I did abuse off road.

What if you had been screaming off an off ramp at 3X the suggested speed limit and this had happened?

I need to go look at mine. One P85 has 50k and the other 35k and we drive near the ocean on occasion and but rarely on dirt roads.


Jun 19, 2014
Connellsville Pennsylvanina
Just an update. After further inspection of the left side control arm and ball joint by a tesla service technician, it was the right side that let loose, they have decided to replace it also because of excessive wear. They said that the ball joint bolt was loose and caused the wear. They are now going to inspect the lower control arms and ball joint. They indicated that this is not normal wear an tear and have moved the request to cover the warranty to upper management. They also recognize that the wheel damaged the air strut when the ball joint failed and said they may cover that repair. I am optimistic that Tesla will do the right thing and cover the cost of repairs under warranty.
With that said I still love my car, but I love the loaner that they provided even more because it has auto pilot. LOL


Active Member
Apr 3, 2014
SF Bay Area
If normal wear and tear can cause catastrophic failure, we're all driving time bombs. It can be fine line between "wear and tear" and "defect", but when it puts lives at risk, a car company is foolish to call it "wear and tear".
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Jun 19, 2014
Connellsville Pennsylvanina
Just out of interest, what is the repair price in the event it's not covered under warranty?
The left side was quoted at about 3k, but it included the air strut due to damage caused by the wheel hitting the strut upon ball joint failure. The right side will be much less because only the upper ball joint, tie rod and away bar are in question.


Feb 2, 2016
They said that the ball joint bolt was loose and caused the wear. They are now going to inspect the lower control arms and ball joint. They indicated that this is not normal wear an tear and have moved the request to cover the warranty to upper management.

Glad to see it is going to a proper resolution.

However, if this is not normal wear, how was the ball joint bolt loose in the first place and would this happen on other Model S as well? Any explanation from SC folks?


Mar 5, 2016
It looks to me like the boot around the ball joint broke early-on somehow, and let in road saline. The boot must have been completely off for some time, as with the lower arm boots and so on.

This would normally happen only with abuse, but the OP doesn't exactly look like a Boy Racer... although it does have to be tempting to go faster than 5mph on a washboard dirt road, at least sometimes. Fix that road man, if you own it.
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Mar 1, 2015
Chesapeake, VA
After reading this thread - I must support Edmond and defend the owner. This is clearly not an issue of abuse. It is very clear the ball joint seal failed some time ago. It could have been damaged during manufacturing or it could have been damaged by road debris. Probably will never know what caused the seal to fail. What happened afterward is quite obvious - the grease was washed out and replaced by moisture and salt. If something isn't feeling right on your car this is why you should always have it checked out. It is also why on any car periodic inspections are necessary because sh!t happens.


Apr 12, 2016
I have owned my Model S since May of 2013 and truly love the car. With that said, I must tell everyone about a recent problem I experienced this past Sunday while driving on a back road at a very low rate of speed, about 5 MPH. The road was rough so my air ride was at it max lift. As I was proceeding down a steep hill I heard a snap and felt my steering wheel pull to the left. I stopped the car for further inspection only to discover that my left front hub assembly separated from the upper control arm. Needless to say the car was inoperable due to a loss of steering. Thank goodness I was not traveling at a high rate of speed. This could of been a tragic accident causing injury or even death.
I contacted Tesla and they towed the car to a service center. They just informed that this is not covered under warranty, stating that the cause was due to normal wear and tear. I have owned many cars in my life and have never experienced such a failure. My car has been driven 73000 miles.

Has anyone experienced this failure on their car?


Apr 12, 2016
You have made it to the number one position on FLICKR TESLA WHOMPY WHEELS.

I do hope that yours is the only Model S in the entire world that has had the ball joint eaten away by Galvanic Corrosion to the point that it has popped out of the cup.
Somehow I doubt that.

Tesla is highly concerned with safety and has recalled the entire fleet for a 2 minute check of the seat-belt pretensioner.
I am sure that they will be getting right on to your problem and notifying all owners around the world of the possible danger.

Incidentally...many posters have commented that this accident was entirely your own fault because you drove at 5 MPH down a dirt road.
Apparently you should have waited until you were travelling at 70 MPH round a bend and THEN when the ball joint popped out you might have had reason to complain.
I am so glad that you have reported this to NHTSA.
Do please follow up with photographs of your rusty ball joint and maybe also suggest that they have a look at WHOMPY WHEELS.

Now, sing along with me.
You picked a fine time to leave me loose wheel :)


Nov 15, 2014
I know about 3 similar cases in Norway. One of them it did just snap right off when driving out of a parking spot. Is just luck none in them have happens when driving fast and caused an accident.

The upper control arm is made of steel and is s-h-i-t quality. I have never seen any other car rust so fast on the suspension parts like the Tesla does. And I have looked at many, even 20 years old cars look better than the Tesla after only 1-2 years.
Yes they salt very much in Norway but this is not a problem after so short time on other cars.

This is from a model S after 1 year and 10 000km.


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