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Two Thirds of Early Model S Drivetrains May Fail By 60,000miles

Kevin Harney

Active Member
Apr 30, 2008
2,052
3
Herndon, VA
As an outsider (and a complete EV convert and Tesla fan) looking in, I find this thread so disturbing..........

I could live with 100% DU failure of early cars with a new DU replacement and then NO (or minimal) problems. And few DU problems reported in later cars.

And continuous improvement in DUs so that newer cars and later replacement no longer had this issue.

But how can 2015 DU replacements still fail (in under, say, 100k miles)? Is Tesla just putting in (badly) refurbished old DUs one after the other? Surely doing it properly now is essential to get this issue to go away - it must be having detrimental affects by now on Tesla....

Maybe Tesla is really struggling to solve the issue and still hasn't got to the bottom of the problem. Why not?

As I have said many times - as soon as the DU issue is sorted then all replacement (and new) DUs will be 'bullet-proof' and the issue will gently fade away but this point sadly does not seem to have arrived yet.

This may be doing more harm to Tesla's reputation than to their cash balance as I imagine replaced DUs are relatively cheap.

It should be noted that BMW had a similar issue with their fuel pumps failing. It took they several years of study and redesigning SEVERAL times to get it right. But the issue has faded into the oblivion now.
 

Sasmania

Member
Aug 22, 2014
347
399
Scottsdale & Flagstaff AZ
I get why people are reacting to this news... it sounds bad...

However, getting your Drivetrain replaced is about as painful as getting your oil changed....and less expensive as it's free under the 8 year warranty. It's just not that big a deal (in most cases). I had mine replaced at around 55K.

On the other hand, I think Elon boasting about 1 million mile drivetrains is a bit ridiculous at this point too.
 

dmckinstry

Model X 2019
Jul 9, 2011
1,428
1,853
Medical Lake, WA (near Spokane)
I'm at 51,000 miles in my Jan 2013 Model S and have had no problems.

I'm at 57,500 miles with my June 2013 Model S. Also no problems. However, a few months ago I read all the problems people had with their drive trains, so I asked the Spokane technician about a sound I was hearing and he told me it was normal. My hearing isn't much good above 2000Hz, so I wanted someone with better hearing and experience to listen.

My real question is "What percentage of cars are having drive train problems?" The assertion made at or near the beginning of this thread seems absurd to me.
 

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,518
2,980
Also, redundancy. Elon said it himself. If one DU goes out, you can still drive using the other (Though highly reduced power output).
It's not quite that simple. There are cases where that works, and cases where it doesn't. I've experienced the latter (front motor failure, car will not engage D or R).
 

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,320
2,667
Redmond, WA
Another 2012 with 57k miles and no problems here. Not that we can figure out the failure rate with anecdotes, but yeah 100% or 67% both sound way too high.
 

tomsax

Member
Jun 19, 2008
898
117
Sammamish, WA
My real question is "What percentage of cars are having drive train problems?" The assertion made at or near the beginning of this thread seems absurd to me.
Of the vehicles that have been reported to the Plug In America Model S owner survey, 32% of the 2012 model year cars have had their drive unit replaced at least once, 27% of 2013's, and 18% of 2014's and so far none of the very few 2015's reported. As you can see, the older cars have higher numbers. Is that because Tesla has improved the newer cars or because the newer cars haven't been on the road long enough for them to see the issues yet? To answer that question, one has to analyze the data using methods from reliability engineering. That's what the folks a Green Car Reports did; see page two of their article for more details.

I've looked over their methods, studied the relevant mathematical models, and their math looks good to me.

To get a clearer picture, we need more data. If you haven't filed a recent report on your Model S, please use the survey form to file a first report or the update form to add current data to a previous report.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: cwerdna

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,518
2,980
Of the vehicles that have been reported to the Plug In America Model S owner survey, 32% of the 2012 model year cars have had their drive unit replaced at least once, 27% of 2013's, and 18% of 2014's and so far none of the very few 2015's reported. As you can see, the older cars have higher numbers. Is that because Tesla has improved the newer cars or because the newer cars haven't been on the road long enough for them to see the issues yet? To answer that question, one has to analyze the data using methods from reliability engineering. That's what the folks a Green Car Reports did; see page two of their article for more details.

I've looked over their methods, studied the relevant mathematical models, and their math looks good to me.

To get a clearer picture, we need more data. If you haven't filed a recent report on your Model S, please use the survey form to file a first report or the update form to add current data to a previous report.
Tom, I haven't looked through the materials you linked (so mea culpa) but quick question: Has the data collection been updated to reflect front vs. rear vs. both replacements for D vehicles?

As an example, I've had 2 replacements on the rear of my 2012 P85 and 1 replacement of the front on my 2014 P85D.
 

tomsax

Member
Jun 19, 2008
898
117
Sammamish, WA
Tom, I haven't looked through the materials you linked (so mea culpa) but quick question: Has the data collection been updated to reflect front vs. rear vs. both replacements for D vehicles?
Hi Brian,

The survey asks for model, year, assembly date, how many drive unit replacements, and the date and odometer for the most recent drive unit replacement. There's also a comment area for details. For multiple failures owners can list dates and odometers and I'll get that into the data set.

The big problem is we need more participation! As of right now, we have 105 vehicles from 2012 (partial year) and 242 from 2013 but only 51 from 2014 and 23 from 2015 for a total of 421 vehicles. There are just 30 dual drive vehicles in the survey.

I can add a field to the report for front/rear drive unit replacement, but in the meantime dual drive owners who have had a drive unit replacement can put that in the comments.

BTW, I recognize many of the people on this thread from the survey. Thanks to all of you who have participated. The question is how can we get people who aren't following this thread to add their experience to the survey data.
 

dhanson865

Active Member
Feb 16, 2013
4,385
5,920
Knoxville, Tennessee
The question is how can we get people who aren't following this thread to add their experience to the survey data.

What would you say is the advantage to supplying data to pluginamerica instead of or in addition to truedelta?


Tesla Model S Reliability

- - - Updated - - -

Plug In America has a field called Max Charge kW but it seems a large number of entries have invalid data (maybe they entered Amps instead of KW?)
 

tomsax

Member
Jun 19, 2008
898
117
Sammamish, WA
What would you say is the advantage to supplying data to pluginamerica instead of or in addition to truedelta?
The Plug In America survey is designed specifically for the Model S and collects data to research many aspects of electric vehicle ownership that are different from gas car ownership, things like battery pack longevity, affect of climate, affect of different charging strategies, differences in battery pack versions, etc. It's also totally public, anyone can download all of the data except for personal participant info (name, email, VIN number).

No membership or log in is required, although we appreciate everyone who joins Plug In America.

Plug In America has a field called Max Charge kW but it seems a large number of entries have invalid data (maybe they entered Amps instead of KW?)
I see 8 out of 141 entries that report values over 135. I'll bet you're right about that being amps instead of kW. I'll either follow with those owners or exclude those values from any analysis I do in the future.

For future reports, I've added range checking to that field to alert owners who fill in a value that looks too large to be the kW value.

Thanks for the note on that.

BTW, there is a thread for discussing the Plug In America Model S survey for any other issues that aren't related to the drive unit replacements.
 
Last edited:

shelbri

Member
May 27, 2014
551
223
Sandy Hook, CT
I have 32k on a late 2014 85. Milling noise started a few months ago and I asked that they look at it. Was told it was fine. Noise has become a bit louder and annoying. I'm planning a road trip to Florida over Christmas break with my daughter and called Tesla yesterday indicating my concern over the increased noise. They squeezed me in for a Friday appointment to have another look. Will know more then.
 

dhanson865

Active Member
Feb 16, 2013
4,385
5,920
Knoxville, Tennessee

shelbri

Member
May 27, 2014
551
223
Sandy Hook, CT
Had the test drive with the service technician and he confirmed that the noise I was hearing was indeed an issue. Scheduled for a full drive unit replacement for Jan 4th. He said I should not be concerned about a failure during my road trip to Florida over the Christmas break. Great service.
 

shelbri

Member
May 27, 2014
551
223
Sandy Hook, CT
The reason they replace the entire drive unit is that each service center around the country is not properly equipped to take apart and rebuild the failed or failing components. They send them back and installed previously refurbed units with new components and original casing from CA. Plug and play and takes only 3 hours to do.

Milford, CT SC is getting the equipment so they don't have to send the entire unit back to CA. My guess is they will handle for Northeast until other service centers are properly equipped.
 

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