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

Zluz

Member
May 9, 2017
16
17
Maryland
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?
 

Gixx1300R

Member
Dec 30, 2017
730
1,234
orlando
Escalate your service request above the service department explaining your situation, Send a certified letter to Tesla's legal department explaining the situation once again. If neither one of those works then hire a lawyer.
 

Zluz

Member
May 9, 2017
16
17
Maryland
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.
 

linux-works

Active Member
Dec 23, 2019
2,163
3,732
mtn view, ca
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?
 

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