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Tesla Service question (damage as a result of service, how to proceed)

I have a 2017 Model S. I am happy with the car and Tesla in general, and have recommended Tesla cars to friends, and I expect to have Tesla solar and battery backup installed any day now. I have always had a positive impression of Tesla, but recent events have me concerned.

I recently updated the MCU in the Model S. It was suffering from the green-tint problem and I had noticed occasional strange behavior (mangled font glyphs, etc) and the idea of upgrading the computer(s) (and both screens) seemed like a great idea.

After having the service done several car functions were disabled while recalibrating and there were many software updates to apply. This took a few days to work out.

More time passed and I noted that (1) specific functions of the mobile app would no longer work with the car and (2) the steering wheel controls would sometimes stop responding. I emailed the service advisor I worked with for the MCU upgrade and he pushed some reset to my Tesla account that restored the mobile app functionality. Regarding the steering wheel controls, he said I should keep a record of the behavior and then schedule another service visit.

I did that and a mobile service appointment resulted in no work done. The technician came out and observed the problem but had no parts to fix anything. He thought it might be an incorrectly applied software update so he pushed all applicable updates to my car. No change.

At this point what was an intermittent problem has progressed to just no steering wheel controls. None of the buttons or scrollwheels work, so I cannot do a software reset or use the horn.

I rescheduled a service and they want $747.05 approved to do the work.
The only reply to my concerns in the service ticket is "We don't remove the steering wheel or airbag to upgrade or replace MCU touchscreens. Since your vehicle is out of warranty, this will be a customer pay repair." I responded with plenty of detail and explanation but have yet to see another reply.

Of course I do not want to pay to repair something that happened as a result of past service.
I do admit that I cannot prove this problem is a result of the work done. I can say I have never seen any behavior like this in the years I have owned the car, and it seems too coincidental that as soon as the MCU is updated the controls become unreliable. Even if it did have nothing to do with the MCU upgrade, this seems to have happened while the car was in the care of Tesla service.


TL;DR: Tesla wants to charge me to repair something that happened while in service.

I am not sure what to do. This must be fixed; the car would not pass state safety inspection without a working horn.
  1. I could cancel the service appointment and try to talk to someone on the phone. There have been no replies to my texts on the service ticket in the app.
  2. I could proceed with the service, knowing Tesla will likely stick me with the bill.
  3. I could cancel the service appointment and seek legal advice. I do not like this idea but if Tesla doesn't budge and I do not want to pay for the repair then I don't know what else I could do.
  4. ? Sell the car for parts?
 
Thanks for the input. I tried to follow that advice but it was difficult tracking stuff down and (I imagine in response to my comments in the ticket) the estimate was removed anyway. The work proceeded and the service tech replaced the steering wheel controls (containing all the electronics in the steering wheel and the airbag), which involved 2 screws and took about 5 minutes, and that seemed to fix the problem.
Apparently, this is a common problem and swapping out this $700 part is a quick, simple solution. The defective part is probably a $5 module but the fix is to replace $700 worth of stuff.

I am guessing whatever electronics commonly go bad may have already been deteriorating in my car and the MCU replacement exacerbated the problem. I never noticed the problem before the replacement, but afterwards it happened intermittently, increasing in likelihood over time. Eventually it just stopped working.
It has been a few days now and I have not noticed the problem since.

I did ask about pulling logs to identify the problem and it seems that is not a trivial action. Accessing the car's system logs seems to require some effort and justification. At least that was my impression.

I am happy to have this problem finally fixed.
I am glad it could be solved with a mobile visit, but I wish it could have been fixed with the first (of the two) visits, so I did not have to take two days off of work.
I think $700 worth of parts is excessive, especially if this is a common problem. If I could do it again I would remove the unit and try to diagnose it myself and replace the defective part (or even all suspect parts) myself. I bet I could replace every electronic component for far less than this service visit cost, and I could keep my two vacation days.
 
it SOUNDS like the new firmware can't talk to your wheel controls. their maybe the drivers or the logic for that control unit is not compatible (and may never be). so they replace it and blame the user great. just great.

this is why I dont like tesla's style anymore. as a company, they act like every dollar is taking money from poor old starving elon. we all know he needs that $700 of yours. the fact that the new firmware is not compatible with your button cluster is only their fault and if the buttons need replacing with the larger ecu, then they should do them both at the same time.

again, tesla gets away with this crap because there is no competition, as of yet. its the only reason they get away with this bad behavior.

if you can fight it, I'd fight it. there is something fishy about this. do you have the old module, still or did they insist that its a 'core refund' deal?
 
Upon intake of my car in March, it was noted that the cars steering wheel was barely off and that the car, as a result, it was turning slightly to the RIGHT when traveling at the 0 power point (i.e when 0 power is being given or taken from the car while moving). I brought it in immediately once I noticed the steering wheel was slightly off center. This was a slight pull to the right from the steering wheel being about 3-5 degrees off center, and was not causing sway to the LEFT on acceleration and regen, as is the case after this series of unfortunate events (details to follow).



After this visit in March, where I paid for a re-alignment, my car was given back to me with a large scratch and dent on both the driver side rear (by the charging port) and on the bumper. I could not believe that the team at Tesla handed me my keys back with this clear amount of body damage. As a result of this damage, the parking assist did not work, which had to be repaired by the team along with other damages. It is not clear to me how hard my car was struck and by what, and what other damages this could have caused.



After picking up my car with the damages, it was clear that the steering wheel was still off center. I asked for them to please do the original alignment and fix the damages caused by the service center. Casey then called and offered (as a complimentary service for hitting my car) to replace the front sway bars, as well as the rear integral links and spring and damper assembly. Great! I thought this was Tesla’s way of saying sorry… However after hearing Casey’s explanation over the phone yesterday and in his email, these new parts, installed compliments of Tesla, are causing my other parts to wear quicker? In fact, they apparently weren’t installed correctly.



I went to pick up my vehicle and found that the steering wheel was centered, however the car had an extreme sway and pull on the road upon acceleration and regen. This was the first sign of any pull or sway from accelerating and regen, as the car would drive straight when traveling right between the acceleration/regen point (i.e when 0 power is being given or taken from the car while moving). I immediately called the service center and pulled over on the road. I explained that I got into my car and that it was pulling quite hard to the left when I accelerate (left) and on regen (to the right). I explained that this was quite scary as It swerved me over in my lane quite a bit, nearly grazing the car next to me.



I brought the car right back and was told that the sway bar that was installed failed due to being installed backwards. It isn’t clear to me how much wear that can put on other parts that work in harmony, however, it must be a good amount. The service team then took the car and put in a new sway bar the correct way. It appears that from this repair the car was mostly better, however I explained to the service manager that I was extremely unhappy with my service and that I felt as though they had caused other issues with their negligence.



Shortly after this visit my car began making a clicking noise that sounded like it was coming from the rear. I took the car into Tesla and asked they diagnose. They said all I needed to do was have the axles lubed and torqued down. They also recommended that I have my front break pads and rotors replaced. I decided to do this all under once ticket and had the service center do break pads, rotors, and their recommended axle work. I went to pick up my car and noticed that the axles were still clicking. Please note that this is 5 times I have been to the service center where the claim was made that my car was ready, when in fact it either wasn’t or was damaged. Prior to my arrival I asked that they please test drive the car to ensure the clicking sound was gone. I was assured it was gone and proceeded to pick up my car which had an even louder click than when I dropped it off. The team took my car and assured me they would ‘knock out’ the sounds.



I came back once they said the car was ready and hopped in. I was relived that, although I went though car repair hell with service center, they worked to make it right and make sure all of my concerns were addressed. I was wrong. I pulled off in my car and felt a pull to the left that was many times worse than that caused by the negligent sway bar installation and failure. I released the pedal and felt a pull to the right. My eyes opened wide and I pulled over to call the service team.



I realized that my concerns was not being taken seriously by the rep that was helping me. I prepared a long-form timeline that I sent to Casey explaining that I was extremely unsatisfied with the results of my car. I explained in detail what had happened in each visit and what the resulting drive experience was like. It is clear that test drives were not taken with my vehicle to ensure safety after repair. If this was the case, then a tech would have immediately noticed the backward sway bar and failure, they would have noticed the click was still apparent from the axles, and they would see the result of their work being a sway on acceleration/regen as they knew what the state of the vehicle was when I brought it in and did my original test drive with the lead tech.



It is clear that during my cars time with this service center it has been not only damaged externally but internally over and over again. From carelessness with the body of the car, to mistakes with installation, I am owed a clear explanation as to what will be done to fix this.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: aerodyne
I rescheduled a service and they want $747.05 approved to do the work.
The only reply to my concerns in the service ticket is "We don't remove the steering wheel or airbag to upgrade or replace MCU touchscreens. Since your vehicle is out of warranty, this will be a customer pay repair." I responded with plenty of detail and explanation but have yet to see another reply.
So if it is the steering wheel controls that are dead you can buy the part for $200 and pretty easily replace them both (comes with a new wire harness) when you lose horn plus steering wheel controls that is usually the fix. I have had it done 5 times, 4 under warranty that latest was RIGHT after (or actually probably during) the MCU 2 replacement they did last year. wierd they wanted $700+ as my one out of warranty was 200 for the part and 200 for install
 
Just buy new (new to you) controls for the wheel from 057 or autobahn parts they are like $20. then have tesla send an OTA update and bam bobs your uncle you should be good to go.
Pulling off the airbag takes like 5 min and the buttons are pretty easy to swap out, i had to change mine when i did the heated wheel retrofit.
 

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