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Tesla Model S: the story of a very short happiness and excitement (dmitryzavyalov.livejournal.com)
412 points by speedy_go on Jan 30, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments

Thanks for telling this story. The car business is HARD. I, for one, hope Tesla makes it across the chasm from early adopters like me to the mainstream.

There's a reason for the existence of dealerships: they are local businesses that local jurisdictions can hold accountable for such things as lemon law refunds. If Tesla wants out from under the dealership laws, they better handle this kind of problem more professionally from the factory.

They also need to grow their corporate PR and communications to be bigger than a single Twitter account if they're going to appeal to a mass market.

All that being said, I really like my Model S. I hope they make it.

> There's a reason for the existence of dealerships: they are local businesses that local jurisdictions can hold accountable for such things as lemon law refunds.

I'm not sure this argument holds water. Civil and criminal law hold all sorts of corporate entities accountable without forcing them to franchise out the business of sales and service. We have a sort of "protected status" for car dealers now in order to prevent the manufacturers from squashing them unfairly after setting up local markets and goodwill.

A franchised BMW dealership tried to charge me $15,000.00 for a new engine. It turns out the problem was two spark plus that they installed improperly. Their diagnosis turned out to be entirely manufactured.

The idea that franchised dealerships somehow improve customer service is laughable.

The manufacturer and dealer incentives are somewhat misaligned.

The former has an incentive to portray its product as a stress-free and worry-free purchase, as most people are not thrilled about buying a clunker that has consistent issues. Highest mark of success here is the complete lack of future customer interaction - no complaints, no warranty claims, no recalls, no class-action lawsuits.

The latter one does not get paid until the customer comes in for service, and the higher the frequency, the better.

That's exactly right. I don't know what metrics are used inside the dealership but I suspect they encourage this type of behavior, perhaps unintentionally.

Say you have two service writers. One is highly competent, motivated and puts the customer's interests first, they try to properly diagnose the problem and fix it the first time. They will also strive to learn from any mistakes so they are not repeated. The other doesn't really care and just does the easy thing. Throw parts at the problem and if you can get the manufacturer or the customer to pick up the tab then all the better.

When it comes time for promotions what gets considered? Is it minimal repairs, customer satisfaction or is it dollars in the register? It could be some combination of all of course but I think at the end of the day it is dollars as long as the customers in general have a perception they are being cared for. If that means telling them a repair will be free from BMW that's probably even better than not having a problem at all. A customer may think "Wow the dealer really helped me out of a jam there!" even though the problem never existed.

Over time this means that the thoughtful and customer-focused service writers get pushed out of dealership service departments for a lack of performance. In fact the service writer at my independent shop used to work at the dealer and left.

I sold a near perfect used Lincoln only to get an angry call from the buyer a day later claiming I sold him a lemon. After he calmed down he told me he had gone to the dealership to have the spark plugs changed. The dealership caused this problem.

Given how easy it is to properly gap a spark plug, I can't help but think this is a scam when it is overlooked. But the scam only works if you don't get the gap too far out of spec. The victim should come back a month later, not a day later.

Completely agreed. I'm not sure what the solution is. I like the idea of Tesla owning their own service because they can more directly control the quality but that only works if they actually want to provide good service.

For an out-of-warranty German car, your best bet is the independent mechanics that the local car club members like. For a BMW, maybe start with the BMWCCA-approved safety inspection shops on the track day prep list.

Yep, been taking mine to the local mom and pop BMW racing club guy shop since day one. The ONE and ONLY time I took my car to the dealer for a free oil change. They didn't put the oil cap back on, sprayed everywhere in the engine as I was leaving, and months later I found out they didn't replace the drain plug access panel underneath. Can't handle oil changes, I sure as shit am not bringing it there for something serious.

Oh, forgot one more thing. They didn't tighten down the coolant cap fully, so that eventually seeped out enough to set off the coolant level alarms.

I took mine in for an oil change and they also removed that drain plug panel. In addition they broke the plastic cover for the cabin air filter by over-tightening the bolt that holds it on.

It's a staggering level of incompetence.

Yeh it's crazy, and you reminded me about the coolant cap they didn't fully tighten as well! All things you find out about six months later, when alarms go off. No way to every hold anyone accountable.

I changed the oil myself the next time and they had the filter cover torqued down so tight I had to make a wrench out of an old timing belt to get enough leverage to remove it. The cap has a torque spec printed right on it that is much lower than whatever the dealer tightened it to.

The amazing thing isn't just the degree to which they make mistakes it's the frequency. More often than not they are doing the job wrong.

I've always changed my own oil, and at every 7500, rather than the insane 15000 BMW states for their service intervals. So while it was in warranty, I took advantage of the 15000 mile changes, and did my own in between. In hindsight, it's not even worth my time, and I won't be doing it again with a future car. Oil change is quick, and you can get 5L Liqui Moly for much cheaper than "BMW" brand oil.

This is exactly what I do, down to the oil. BMW made it really easy with the access flap for the drain plug and there are convenient jacking points on the subframe. The service calls for more than just changing oil but I'm not confident that the dealer even does all the "extra" things they claim. My car is due for a brake fluid flush soon, not sure if I will do that myself or have the mechanic do it.

> My car is due for a brake fluid flush soon, not sure if I will do that myself or have the mechanic do it.

If you have the knowledge to jack up your car then just do it yourself, it's really easy, even better if your car is such that you can reach the fluid valve by the wheel without jacking it up.

Buy a brake bleeder kit, it's a small bottle with hoses.

You'll need an assistant to press and release the brakes on command.

Keep an eye on the fluid reservoir and don't let it go dry or you'll waste even more time and fluid bleeding it. Keep it covered at all times, open it just long enough to fill - don't do it like the mechanics, who just leave it open since it's not their car and they don't care.

A friend of mine actually made a pressure bleeder out of an old weed sprayer. I really like the idea of using that because it's easier to maintain the balance in he system and fully flush the old fluid.

He stores his with brake fluid in it which seems to me to defeat the purpose of bleeding brakes because the weed sprayer isn't going to be any more resistant to moisture than the brake system in the car. I'll probably have him help me build my own and then use that.

There is also a tool library around here that may have an actual pressure bleeder I can rent.

> My car is due for a brake fluid flush soon, not sure if I will do that myself or have the mechanic do it.My car is due for a brake fluid flush soon, not sure if I will do that myself or have the mechanic do it.

Leave brake fluid stuff to the experts. If you manage to get any moisture or air into your brake systems, say goodbye to your brakes. Back when I had a car, I did everything by myself except brakes, engine works and steering - mess up on these three and you can end up dead.

> If you manage to get any moisture or air into your brake systems, say goodbye to your brakes.

That isn't true at all. You just bleed the air out, it's really easy, I've done it multiple times using just a small $5 brake bleeding bottle.

The only way you'd get enough water in your brake system for it to cause a problem is if you poured it in there, or left it open for several days.

> Back when I had a car, I did everything by myself except brakes, engine works and steering - mess up on these three and you can end up dead.

The brakes are the easiest [major] thing of all to to fix on a car. Your caution was completely unnecessary.

> The brakes are the easiest [major] thing of all to to fix on a car. Your caution was completely unnecessary.

Yeah but when the brakes fail (or the steering, or the engine seizes) you usually end up injured or dead.

If you have had a licensed mechanic dealing with the life-critical stuff and it turns out that it was the fault of the mechanic then you can at least sue his insurance for damages after the fact (or, if you die, your dependants can sue, e.g. for widowers' benefit). It also protects you from being sued by others in case your screw-up causes an accident.

I've had complete brake failure due to a rusted brake line. There's no need to panic: I applied the emergency brake and pulled over to the side of the road, then drove to the nearest auto shop that was conveniently a block away.

Unfortunately, their insurance didn't cover dropping the gas tank that was in the way of replacing the brake lines, so then I had the fun of driving to the next nearest place two miles away with only a handbrake and engine compression to slow me down. Fun times!

This is right, it is quite easy if you know the procedure.

However, no brake system is perfectly water right because it has moving parts. Flushing the system periodically removes this moisture before it can accumulate to a level that will cause significant corrosion of the internal brake parts.

In a past life in spent a couple years in an auto tech program and was an equipment mechanic in college to pay for books (beer) so I am familiar with the process of bleeding my brakes.

You are right to be concerned about moisture, that's actually why they need bled. BMW suggests bleeding them roughly every other oil change because no system is perfectly water/moisture tight.

The nice thing about having my mechanic do it is they already have a place to do it and they deal with the waste fluid plus they also inspect the rest of the car and have a lot more experience with what to look for than I do. Preventative maintenance is a big deal on these cars so having an experienced mechanic look at it regularly puts my mind at ease.

I just recently started renting a friend's garage so I could rebuild my motorcycle so now that I have my tools and a space to do work I am much more likely to do this kind of thing myself.

To be fair, brakes are stupid easy to replace. I did my girlfriends pads, rotors, calipers by myself, for the first time ever, just watching some online videos. I certainly would not pay someone to replace pads / rotors. The only thing you really need for that is a brake spreader tool, which is free to rent from Autozone type places. Regarding flushing brake fluid, you can bring it a place if you're not comfortable, but it's really not difficult either.

> The only thing you really need for that is a brake spreader tool, which is free to rent from Autozone type places.

A large C-clamp and the old pad work just fine.

While that works it's a good idea to always bleed the excess fluid out because it doesn't last forever. Brake fluid is lighter than water so any moisture will make its way to your calipers then start rusting them from the inside. That's why manufacturers suggest flushing the system regularly. Brake fluid is pretty cheap relative to calipers so you may as well just bleed it out.

Depends on the car, the woman's civic was this cross pattern, that had to be cranked out.

Not sure what you mean by cross pattern but most cars have their braking system split up into two systems that are diagonally opposite. This way a failure in one only results in a loss of 50% of braking instead of up to 80% if the front fails. The cross bleeding is done to maintain the balance in the system and prevent the sensors from improperly detecting a failure in the brake system.

Is this problem specific to BMW? Because I've never heard any of those things happen to a Honda or a Toyota.

It's very common at all dealerships. My dad worked at a Toyota dealership for 20+ years. He still takes his cars there for service. They frequently overfill them with oil because they don't take the time to let the crankcase drain fully. I worked for a guy who took his vehicles in to the same dealer for service and the Toyota shop forgot to put his drain plug back in then drove his truck around the lot and told him it was good to go. Luckily he did his own inspection because the crankcase was completely empty.

I was in the waiting room of another Toyota dealership and the service writer told a woman that her scheduled service would cost $500.00 because her drain plug was stripped out and she needed a new oil pan. She insisted that the car had always been serviced at that Toyota dealer and they told her they could not verify that and the part is not covered under warranty because it is a "wear part".

The incentive structure at a dealer service department is the exact opposite of favorable to the customer. Dealers are incentivized to perform the maximum number of warranty services so as long as they don't run afoul of the manufacturers expectation of warranty costs they are rewarded for excessive repairs. The excessive repairs are passed on to new customers in the form of less standard equipment and increased sticker prices so as long as sales are at an acceptable level manufacturers have no incentive to call the dealers on it.

When out of warranty cars come in the customer is treated as a blank check to be bled dry because most people won't question the repairs if the price seems reasonable.

e: I forgot about the time that same Toyota dealer that left out the drain plug over-torqued my lug nuts so severely that they warped the brake rotors. I noticed the pulsing in the brakes and pulled the wheels off to replace the rotors and the studs snapped off with my hand wrench! They were so tight that the threads were visibly stretched.

Oh and when I worked there as a lot attendant in high school a tech replaced a radiator but didn't reattach the fan shroud so when I started the vehicle the whole fan/shroud assembly exploded and destroyed the radiator.

One of my ex-coworker took his Toyota sedan to dealership for every single service need, like engine oil changes. And you know they advertise people should bring in cars to dealership despite the higher price because they do complete inspection in every visit.

Guess what. In of his his visits to the dealership, the mechanic came around and pointed out with 'pride' that he had found completely worn out brake pads. His brake pads were worn out to the point where simple replacing replacing wasn't enough. Because the brake pads weren't replaced in time, the repair was going to be more complicated and $$.

The thing is my coworker had been taking the car to the same dealership since he had bought it there like 3 years before. And apparently no one had inspected or bothered to inform customer about the worn out brake pads.

Think about it. Elon Musk, the man who very possibly could put first humans on Mars, is annoyed with car dealerships enough to the point he refuses to sell his Teslas through dealers. He is going through needless hassle with sales channel of Tesla because he's sick of car dealerships.

> The incentive structure at a dealer service department is the exact opposite of favorable to the customer.

As is at the doctors. A doctor should be paid for not seeing you.

Exactly. I had back trouble, and visited a couple of therapists over the years who would massage and manipulate. I eventually realized that I was an income stream to them, and that I'd keep going back every time I had trouble.

Then I found a physio (= physical therapist) who treated it but also gave me an explanation for what was wrong, an exercise regime, and told me that, in the nicest possible sense, she hoped never to see me again.

Well to be fair, a massage just feels good, I'd be going regardless of problems :)

Hah, never really thought of it that way. That doesn't seem quite right though, do you mean a doctor should be paid for you not needing to be seen?

That's it. Because you are healthy. That would change our whole medical system from fixing sympthoms to preventive healthcare

Over tightened wheel nuts are a complete nightmare. I got a flat in the middle of nowhere at night and found that the idiot who had fitted my new tyres had done this. I couldn't get the wheel off with an extra long wrench I was jumping on. Wheel fitting places fit into the equation a few rungs below car dealers.

Les Schwab has provided consistently excellent service to me over the years. I can't speak for other tire places but of the four Les Schwabs I have done business with I have never had a single problem.

From my personal experience dealers are much worse than tire shops but I'm not going to claim that's true in general.

Anytime I've had to bring my car to a shop, for any reason. I've run around each bolt, loosened, and properly torqued. Things like an inspection, will take at least a wheel off, and dealing with warped rotors, blows.

This is a really good practice but not everyone has the experience tools, time and space to do this. Not to toot my own horn (hah) but I am capable of performing any repair that has come up for my car but I still pay a mechanic most of the time because after moving to a city I don't have the space for my tools or a place to work on the car.

It's unfortunate that the shop that carries the manufacturers name is not a trustworthy place to have the work done, even with their exorbitant premium on labor.

Yes this is great advice, I have since found an independent shop that I trust. They are actually the place I went for a second opinion on the engine replacement. I also found a third-party warranty company that does not require service at the dealership.

my BMW broke too. one of the turbo fail and rejected all in the motor also one flap goes to the motor. I had finish to pay the leasing after 3 years and voilà you get nothing, just lost 15000$. The car had 140'000km, a BMW 123d. A lot of serie 1 get the same problem. I had to wait and town the car to my country (800km), lost 3 days of vacation. I hate car now and all the service that goes around.

Dealerships as a whole are not going to treat a customer like the person in the story above. They live and die on customer referrals and there are many rewards from manufacturers for being stand out. This includes servicing vehicles not purchased from them and at times even different brands.

The Tesla model irks me because they are also pretty much keeping all repair work in house; disclosure I work for a major parts/repair/distribution company; and this limits both customer choice but also valuable information on reliability that all consumers should be able to get access too.

That letter at the end looks exactly like a corporate guilt acceptance letter you see in the news. We settle but do not plead guilty. That just doesn't cut it in a consumer oriented industry like auto sales and I really don't see how Tesla will be able to defend their dealer less strategy with the III should problems shake out this way. If anything the noise on the internet should be loud.

The reason dealerships exist has nothing to do with accountability. Google it.

In my opinion the most damning sentence in the article is this:

    This was the day of first bitter truth of Tesla: even you have a new car covered
    by warranty, you will need to wait in line for a few days to get it checked up.
This says one of two things to me, both of them bad. Either there are so many Teslas with issues that the technicians are constantly booked up days in advance, or Tesla doesn't care about providing even adequate customer service for customers with serious issues like this. In reality, I'll bet that both are at least somewhat true.

I get that not every car that rolls off the production line can be perfect (though I suspect that Tesla's defect/lemon rate is a lot higher than most other manufacturers), but at least the other established manufacturers have a network in place to remedy issues like this when they arrive, and to minimize the negative impact to the customer.

My first experience with Tesla service was when my car created an alert telling me that there was a coolant leak. When I called them, they told me that it didn't make sense as the car had no radiator. I had to send them a picture of the warning on my dash before they realized that I must be telling the truth.

When I brought the car in to the service center in Sunnyvale, they told me they were backed up and that they probably wouldn't be able to look at it until the end of the day. At the end of the 2nd day, having heard nothing, I called them and they told me they wouldn't be able to even look at it until the end of the week. It took me half a dozen angry phone calls to the service manager to convince them to look at it the following day, determine that it needed a new part that had to be ordered, and order the part. All told, the car was with them just over a week.

About 2 weeks later, my AC stopped working (South Bay Area Summer--hooray!) Again, they tell me it'll be days before they can look at it.

All told, from the moment I drove out of the Fremont factory in December 2013 as a happy customer, Tesla the company did everything in their power to lose me culminating in a bait and switch offer on my car after 3 years.

They want people to believe they are different. They're not. :(

This sounds so bizzare to an European.

Here you leave the car at the dealer, go to the reception and ask if they will be providing replacement car or have a preferred rental company.

In the US, there is no obligation on the part of the dealer/service-station to provide a replacement car while warranty repairs are being performed.

Many of the luxury brands, and some of the larger dealers, provide this as a value-added service. When my Lexus goes in for service (even just an oil change), they provide a new Lexus for the day. For my VW, the dealer provides a car from a rental service. When I owned a Jeep, I was SOL during service, having to schedule my own transport.

I'm in the US and I always get a loaner car, even when I drop it off for an oil change. I'm in no hurry they can give it back to me the next day.

The overall picture I'm getting of Tesla is that they have great tech, are very innovative, but they have a hell of an attitude problem. It's not like the guy was making it up, they had clearly-detailed logs of the problems and the car was provably misbehaving.

Even though in the end they did do the right thing, it would have been far better handled if they'd simply offered a replacement the moment the (just freshly checked and declared good) car refused to start.

Not my experience at all. The service people have been a pleasure. My car has had glitches but everyone has been great and most of my issues eventually got resolved. It's just normal growing pains you expect from a new startup.

You're getting an overall picture from one story?

Yes, of course, because this is the only story I've ever read about Tesla, I never even heard of them before this post.

...of course not.

> It's not like the guy was making it up, they had clearly-detailed logs of the problems and the car was provably misbehaving.

The fact that problems exist says nothing of what caused them. I don't imagine it would be difficult for a competitor to intentionally damage a Tesla in a way that they could make a blog post like this about it. I'm not generally conspiracy-minded, but I feel like this is something worth considering when you're reading an article that seems to be put up on a throwaway LiveJournal account by somebody that doesn't link to any of their other social media accounts or websites.

But that's precisely why they should have done a recall-and-replace. Funny error message? Intermittent fault? No worries, give it a thorough looking over. Find nothing. Okay, give it back to the customer. More weird error messages followed by a persistent fault? The prudent thing at this point is to instantly swap out the car, and this time go through it with a fine toothed comb.

Now you're not just looking for a dodgy cable. You're looking for one of three things:

1) An as-yet-unknown design flaw, which needs to be documented for maintainers and fixed in future revisions.

2) A manufacturing defect, which should be investigated by quality control and again documented in case it reoccurs.

3) Malfeasance, in which case you want to preserve any possible evidence, finger prints on parts, damaged tamper seals etc.

It's not just about good customer service, it's about finding out exactly what happened.

> Funny error message? Intermittent fault? No worries, give it a thorough looking over. Find nothing. Okay, give it back to the customer.

Well said. This might be a problem, in a state of mind way, when you think of your car as a computer but not so much a car. Have you tried turning it off and on again? No? Well, do so and the errors will go away. Not really a good attitude for a car manufacturer.

Don't worry - I guarantee if this is a hit piece, and even if not - Tesla will make a blog post listing specifics from the vehicle telemetry and so forth to paint the (ex-) owner in a bad light.

It wouldn't be the first time they've done that.

I bought a new BMW in 2012. I've had a lot of problems with it (including an entire new engine, covered under warranty), and I've always had to wait for BMW to service it. The wait is anywhere from a few days (car towed in and nobody looked for a few days) to two weeks (30k and 60k mile maintenance).

I feel like everybody is being hyper-critical of Tesla because most people dislike the auto industry and see Tesla as a major disruptor of the status quo.

At least with BMW, if you can afford to pay for service, despite being in-warranty, you have the option of going to an independent shop.

My car is out of the factory warranty now but I purchased a third party warranty that allows me to go to independent mechanics.

My local dealership has a 100% failure rate with my car. Every service action they took has resulted in an egregious misdiagnosis or future failure of a part due to improper service.

I'm not sure if I will ever buy a new BMW unless I can be reimbursed for the factory warranty that I will never use. The single most dangerous place to take your BMW is a BMW service location.

God, this. I had my car drift one month out of warranty when the alternator failed at 45,000 miles. Was not happy. Was MUCH LESS HAPPY when they called me to tell me "this is weird, but the B post under the hood has melted. Do you know anything about that?" "Do YOU know anything about that? I never jumped the car. I drove it to your driveway and you told me you had to jump it to get it into the service bay." "Well, it's about $600 to fix." "That sucks for you. You guys nuked it. I dropped it off with a working B post. See: HOW DO YOU THINK YOU MOVED IT FROM YOUR DRIVEWAY?" "Oh. Well, we'll take care of it this time."

I haven't ever left a BMW service center NOT feeling like I was being fleeced.

I did have my Model S throw a 12 V Battery Needs Service error 3,000 miles in. Called them on the way to work, they remote diagnosed that it was NOT the HVLV connector (Tesla's take on the alternator, effectively), and offered to have a Ranger out to my office to swap the battery later that afternoon. Done and done. Though I've heard plenty of complaints for very long waits for more complex fixes, I've also heard of those for every manufacturer.

When my car was in being diagnosed they put 40(!) miles on it then told me that it was impossible that they did any engine damage, even though they cleaned the intake ports which involves removing the intake manifold and media blasting the parts they claim were damaged and would cost $15,000.00 to fix. They also claimed it was impossible that they caused the wheel damage that wasn't there when I dropped the car off "because there are no curbs here".

Right, because car dealerships are always built in perfectly smooth fields and you put 40 miles on it using a treadmill. /s

They also told me that if I brought the loaner car back with less than a full tank they would charge me $5.00/gallon(!!) to top it off. They put 40 miles on my car and didn't reimburse me.

Franchised dealer service departments really are the worst. I am very impressed with the engineering and build quality of my BMW but the service is so bad the rest doesn't really matter. I hope Tesla is able to improve the level of service and forces others to do the same.

Anyone who can afford and BMW can afford to lease one to avoid all this crap.

Based on my experience with BMW franchised dealerships your engine replacement may not have been necessary. They told me I needed the same and it turned out the problem was two spark plugs they didn't install properly. Part of that ordeal involved unnecessarily replacing fuel injectors under a BMW extended warranty after an incorrect diagnosis of the misfire.

I had tons of issues with my 135 but they always gave me a loaner of similar value.

Typically the loaner is part of the warranty. Beyond that, service managers can approve loaners for good customers (repeat buyers, high value cars or long service history).

I own a GM vehicle in a large city (1 million +). There are plenty of GM dealerships. Whenever I call, they typically offer an appointment time about 1 week out. So I'm not sure I totally believe the argument.

This is about the same level of service I would expect from Toyota should I buy a Corolla or Camry. I would expect better were I to buy a Lexus LS (random example in the same price range)

I own a Lexus and Tesla and while nothing has been bad with Lexus service, my experience has been better customer service from Tesla (more friendly, better loaners, more flexible scheduling, etc).

Now, on the other hand: my Lexus has had a lot fewer issues.

People are finally starting to see that, "an electric car has fewer parts so is more reliable." Is but marketing speak. Even if it's less parts it's still got plenty enough to cause a plethora of technical issues.

Actually, as an owner of both I tend to agree the core _is_ more reliable. With the exception of a minor drivetrain issue (which took a couple hours to fix), all the issues I've had have been fit and finish issues, such as squeaks and groans, which can happen regardless of whether it's electric or ICE. Tesla has also fixed almost all of them, the latest round of fixes coming 3.5 years later and all part of free warranty work.

Compared to the ICE cars I've owned, which have had all sorts of issues with the fuel injector, transmission, carburetor, etc.

True, but internal combustion engines have had decades to be refined. Another few years of refinement of electric vehicles will, I think, tilt the reliability balance.

Owned BMWs and Infinitis before and Tesla Service is way better.

My Lexus dealer has been great (Pohanka, Chantilly, VA). They're open 5am - 11pm and appear to have many technicians working throughout the day.

Oil changes and other small services are done while I wait and do NOT require scheduling ahead of time. They have a large lounge with food/drink, TVs, wifi, and a quiet office space for work.

Larger services have always had a loaner car included. It's always been a current model year Lexus RX. Again, no call ahead, just drop it off and drive away. The longest they've taken is a Sunday PM return on a Friday PM drop-off.

I own a Mercedes-AMG, and despite being very expensive, and despite me having direct access to an AMG-exclusive service centre, you still have to wait a few days to have the car looked at if there's anything wrong with it.

As a (now former) Tesla owner, there's not a single moment of this story that surprises me. As I tweeted on the day that I was told that I would be receiving $5,000 less for my car than they had offered me and that I would be waiting 2-3 weeks (I actually waited over 6 weeks and had to follow-up multiple times to get the check which incidentally arrived today), a Tesla is a nice car--but the company is garbage.

I've got 3 years of experience with them that tells me it's just not worth it. Sad too, I really wanted to be a Tesla owner for life when I got the car.


I click and see that you're employed at Paypal...

Why is that a problem? I don't think Paypal harbours any animosity towards Elon Musk.

Ah no, I was targeting the remark that Tesla is a bad company in general, while PayPal is itself also very famous for being a failure in customer services.

I see a real parallel: not being able to transfer your money when you need it and being stuck on the side of the road.

Wow that's sounds like a crappy experience all-round given the avg customer service response!

A few things regarding the towing situation tho... Do tesla's honestly not have any form of rear tow hitch/chassis/axle? The bit where the tow truck driver had to push the vehicle out of a park because it was nose-in boggles my mind. Like,why didn't he just strap on to a rear axle/chassis point and pull it out with his truck/winch? I haven't had a chance to crawl under a tesla but if by design they have nowhere on the rear end to slap a strap this sounds like an absolutely terrible oversight/poor design by the tesla team. That or the towie was just being lazy/precious and didn't want the late night. If anyone owns a tesla and could take a snap of the undercarriage from rear I'd be pretty interested.

Apart from that and the crap customer service experience I've gotta say that this being such a new model of machinery I would be blown away if the first half decade(or full decade) of releases weren't plagued with problems... Most combustion vehicles engines/blocks have literally had 30 years on the same base design slowly removing flaws with each iteration(and creating new ones in the process).


Issues with needing to be in the vehicle, "warranty voiding", manual stating "do not tow"...

> Do tesla's honestly not have any form of rear tow hitch/chassis/axle?

I suspect the issue is more to do with the electric drive. There is no neutral unlike a traditional ICE vehicle, so any kind of towing could potentially damage the electric motors.

I have a Prius and it's the same issue - if I need to get it taken to a garage, it's recommended to get a flatbed with a crane.

These are ac motors not permanent magnets. Ac motors don't produce electricity or braking torque when you turn the shaft without power.

What is the general experience, does law enforcement care about this car being "special" when parked in the wrong spot?

Electric motors default to being in neutral. If they produce voltage, and nothing consumes it, they spin freely.

Right. It’s that Teslas’ default mode is to be parked on brakes. You can tow it onto a flatbed, but you have to put it into a dedicated mode for it.

If those are the facts of the case, I would say that looks pretty bad. Normally, a new car replacement under warranty is done in an effort to salvage repeat business after extreme duress. This Tesla was a lemon, and it should have been replaced with an equal spec model. This is where Tesla could have gotten tons of goodwill from the press, and I can promise that even the most fervent Tesla haters at the truth about cars/jalopnik/etc would have publicized this as amazing customer support. I am curious if this will now make those same sites as an example of how not to support the customer after the sale.

It's not the manufacturers' decision. In California, you can demand a new car replacement under warranty if, after a number of attempts, the manufacturer can't fix it successfully.[1] Most states have "lemon laws". Here are California's rules:

In California, a vehicle is presumed to be a “lemon" if, within 18 months of the vehicle's delivery to the buyer (or 18,000 miles on the odometer):

- 2 attempts or more have been made by the manufacturer to repair a warranty problem that could result in death or serious injury.

- The manufacturer has attempted to repair the same warranty problem at least 4 times.

- The car has been out of service for 30 days or more for repair to warranty problems.

- Problems to the vehicle are not the result of abuse by the owner.

You don't hear about this much any more because most manufacturers don't deliver many lemons.

[1] http://www.dca.ca.gov/acp/pdf_files/englemn.pdf

I understand the law part. I understand why they may even say please sign this California appropriate legalese so we can all move on. The truth of the matter is that they should fix the problem and delight the customer unless they can prove that someone had an ax to grind.

Something lots of car companies don't seem to get. If the service center has your name on it, its an advertisement. PR goes all the way down to the street.

Its so easy for a service center manager to blow $500K in goodwill chasing $1k in savings to secure his $2k Christmas bonus.

2 brand spanking new Teslas passed out like party favors would have been cheaper than having this story hit front page on HN alone.

> 2 brand spanking new Teslas passed out like party favors would have been cheaper than having this story hit front page on HN alone.

That's actually quite problematic. I hate corporations as much as anybody, but there are now actually people going around demanding free stuff and threatening to make up some story to "my 20,000 twitter followers". Or consider the story of the developer of "Dash" that hit HN: he threw all sorts of allegations at Apple, and using the HN community as props actually got Apple to offer him a way out. Only thing that exposed this scam was that he got drunk on his power and posted the audio of a secretly recorded phone call (!) which he believed to be supportive for his side of the story (it mostly just made public that "someone" was faking reviews for apps with an account using his credit card, hardware, name, address, and naming scheme)

I know a lot of people that are happy with their Model S. I also know a lot of people that have spend way too much time dealing with issues, having many days without a car, and some even drove 200 miles multiple times to a service center.

I just cannot justify that kind of service and reliability for a car that expensive. I'd rather buy a BMW or Mercedes, because they actually handle this far more maturely.

But what scares me most about this story, is that they do not have their software done right. Even if their system is devided into a critical part, and a non critical part (the infotainment system, ect.), if it throws a code like in this story, it better log every possible thing it knows and what lead to this error. And I would actually expect it submitted it directly to Tesla to look at and analyze.

How can it throw an warning on the display without a detailed log of the actual cause?

Thought the same thing.

Remember in the early days when Tesla owners would claim some wacky thing or other about the car (unintended acceleration etc) and Musk would publicly say "Nope, got the logs right here on our server"?

Seems nearly impossible that a trouble code as bad as "car will be undrivable" wouldn't be logged like crazy somewhere.

That's what I was wondering. They're probably lying their asses off about "no fault" to cover themselves.

I'm sorry this happened to you. These are the things that scare me about the Model 3 ramp up to 500k cars/year. Hard to do and they want to do it fast. Their track record for the smaller details isn't the greatest, and when you're spending 100k on a car, the details matter. To me at least.

-Tesla owner since 2013.

Makes one wonder where else QC may be lacking. Especially if these cars are expected to be fully autonomous in the future.

FWIW, the drive software on the car is independent of the displays. So, pressing the pedal, braking and steering is probably very well tested. I've had the main drivers screen crash on me and I have no idea how fast I'm going (follow the car in front of you) while the screen takes 1 minute to reboot.

But you're right about the QC. Although, I don't think Tesla is alone in this, every startup developing autonomous software (uber, cruise, google) will probably have their own unique quirks.

> I've had the main drivers screen crash on me and I have no idea how fast I'm going

That's somewhat terrifying! I'm surprised there isn't a requirement for a backup, analogue version of core instruments, as there is for planes fitted with digital displays.

I had the "12V battery problem" as well, which did require service. (I have a P85+.) I also had a more involved problem with the main battery which actually required them to swap the whole thing out for a temporary one, ship the original back to Fremont, and 1-2 months later I got my original battery swapped back in. (I got Tesla loaners both times it was in the shop for the swap.)

I wasn't buzzkilled at all; I did kind of sign up for some growing pains with an all-new technology. And Tesla service has been courteous as heck. And the car is still WONDERFUL to drive, so...

> I did kind of sign up for some growing pains with an all-new technology.

I don't really subscribe to this line of thinking with a piece of equipment that is so expensive.

That being said, I'm a car nut. I've gone through more than my share of vehicles over the years and the percentage that have been problem free straight out of the dealership is pretty low. I had a 5-series that my wife got to drive for a day before it sat in our garage for 6 weeks. I was quite perturbed. I had a mercedes that was in and out of the dealership for a few months right out of the gate, but their dealership was the friendliest and most helpful that I've dealt with. I had a mustang that I left service with at one point with no brakes. Imagine being a block from the dealership and figuring that out. I had a Navigator that I spent three months complaining about before the manufacturer admitted they had a problem and put out a kit to fix. Up until then the dealer laid blame 100% on the fact that I had aftermarket wheels put on it.

It's not new technology. It's that the nature of the car business is such that they put them together with best-effort and there isn't a lot that is done from an individual quality-control perspective before they reach customers. Dealer fix-it shops keep themselves busy and full of employees by fixing warranty issues. The danger of doing it differently is that dealers would be short manpower and repair parts would be crazy expensive if cars never had any problems. It's cheap to fix a 12 year old F150 because so many people know how to fix them.

Personally, I'd love to get a Tesla. From all I've heard they have great customer service and work hard to make sure solutions are complete. I don't expect perfection. The only thing that drives me crazy is getting the runaround when problems are unusual.

I've gone through more than my share of vehicles over the years and the percentage that have been problem free straight out of the dealership is pretty low.

That's disappointing, only because as I go through my mental list of cars purchased new, I can't think of any major problems out of any of them. '82 Honda Accord: it never saw a dealer again after I drove it off the lot. 90-sumtin' Geo Prizm: problem-free. 2005 Scion xB: took it back for some rattles. 2010 Nissan Leaf: haven't done a damned thing to it other than change the crappy OEM tires.

Though comparing my list to yours: maybe you should buy less expensive cars. :-) The only new vehicle I've owned that had actual broken stuff to fix under warranty: 2014 BMW motorcycle, which has been back to the dealer more times than all of my other new vehicles combined (granted, that's only three times, and it has never left me stranded). Honda motorcycles: not a one ever saw a dealer's lot post-sale.

Thanks for sharing this. I hope Tesla respond in time, as this seems very unacceptable to me.

Honest question: why root for Tesla? Great EVs are starting to appear from other manufacturers, so why cheer for one company in particular?

I think a large part of it is cultural: Tesla is seen as a tech company, and we root for tech companies. Especially when they're seen as "disrupting" and taking on entrenched companies in an industry. Personally, I do think it's a bit exaggerated. But on the other hand, I think that Tesla did help the EV market bloom a bit faster than otherwise would have happened. Other car companies did know about EVs and some even experimented with EVs before Tesla (see: GM EV1), but the fact that Tesla started profiting off of this market segment made other companies want to enter the market segment earlier rather than later.

Great EVs are starting to appear from other manufacturers? I know of the Chevy Bolt and nothing else. Are there others you're thinking of? I mean, that's one car, which generally seems to be reviewed along the lines of "not as good as a Tesla, but hey, at least it's not a Leaf" — so although it is great that somebody else is doing it too, it seems pretty fair to say that Tesla is still leading the charge here (pun not intended, but it did make me smile).

Even if you like the Bolt better, AFAIK that's literally the only long-range EV that isn't a Tesla. So if you like EVs, you kind of have to cheer for Tesla, or else you really just like one EV.

How about the BMW i3? The 2017 gets 120 miles to a charge and for a bit more money you can get an onboard generator to bring that up to 300 miles IIRC.

The driver assist capabilities aren't as great but otherwise can't think of much to complain about.

I personally love my i3... I get about 120 miles on pure battery, but once the range extender kicks in I get about 40 mpg on a small 3 gallon gasoline tank.

It actually works out pretty well, because 99% of my driving is well within the 120 mile all electric range, it's super quiet, and accelerates at any speed! For the 1% of the time I need to go on a longer trip (longest so far is about 250 miles), I simply treat it like a motorcycle trip and fill up gas every 50-60 miles, after exhausting the battery.

Huh, I'd just get two 5gal gas cans and call that good, as I'd rather not stop off every hour to get gas at varying prices and levels of quality.

Plus, in good chunks of Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas its easy to go nearly that far without seeing another building, let alone a gas station. There are wind turbines on the ridgelines tho, which are pretty.

Isn't that supposed to be dangerous?

The supercharger network is a huge advantage.

All the other EVs are basically limited to local driving.

I wouldn't consider it to be in the same class. 120 miles is much closer to the Leaf (which is widely dinged for its paltry range) than the Bolt or any of Tesla's cars.

And the range when burning gas seems kind of beside the point to me since we're talking about battery electric vehicles here, not cars that run on gas. (Like, my 2010 Prius gets 450 miles, but that's because it isn't relying on its battery and instead mostly uses an ICE, and for that reason it isn't usually considered in the same category as the Bolt.)

I..... don't think that's a fair argument to make though. The leaf can't go anywhere when it's out of battery power AND the battery range is short. The Prius PHEV has a very short electric range so you'll mostly drive it on gas (and as far as I've heard, there are speed limitations on battery power). The i3 goes pretty far on battery power, farther than the leaf on battery, but as well you can add gas to get to the next charger and get back to battery power.

Arguably, I'd say the i3 is closer to the bolt than any other EV.

Love the i3, shame it only seats four people.

Not the OP, but I personally root for Tesla because they're the ones pushing the envelope when it comes to EV cars. If it wasn't for Tesla's huge popularity, it is doubtful we would ever see mass-market adoption of EVs.

That said, it's clear that innovation can come at a cost, as we read in the article. Tesla handled this very poorly. If I were the author, I would have taken them to court, despite being a huge fan.

They had multiple out of pocket expenses due to their supposedly "no defects found" Tesla. Rental cars (they were half way across the country from home and Tesla's idea of a rental option was "cannot leave the state you are in"), etc.

The author got their money back, didn't they? Tesla should have treated them far better, but I don't see what there is to sue over.

What other great EVs are there? The only one I know of that comes even close is the Bolt, and it has no decent road trip capability and poor driver assistance features.

Tesla's bypass of dealers is another point in their favor.

Because they kicked off the movement (at least the full EV one), are leading on automation as well, and because they're made in America. I'm sure there are good reasons against, but those are a few pros.

Because they kicked off the movement (at least the full EV one)

Tesla might have kicked off the hype, but Nissan kicked off the "movement", having released their mass-market vehicle a full year before Tesla did.

Because Tesla makes the sexiest one, duh! ;) AND is being produced by the first new auto manufacturer "startup" that has a shot in hell of a continued existence.

(Disclaimer: I own one. I also used to own a Volt, which was nice... but there is no comparison, frankly. I think the Bolt looks cool, and I generally think pure-electric technology is the way to go... if we keep applying pressure to the battery problem, it will keep getting better and better, same as every other technology in history)

Many of the other companies are doing it because they are forced to by government regulation, often termed "compliance cars". By putting it all in on EV Tesla has more skin in the game. They've certainly achieved more in the past, and it looks likely to continue in the future, even when up against models that are effectively subsidized by petrol and diesel models.

> Great EVs are starting to appear from other manufacturers

Where? Leaf is ugly and has crappy driver UI and limited range. i3 is ass-ugly, has terrible UI (as is to be expected given the manufacturer), Bolt is so-so, the best of the bunch and even it doesn’t have OTA updates.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing comes even close to Tesla with its huge charging network, actually good software and UI and regular car-improving OTA updates.

(I have nothing but good experience with their service, personally, in multiple locations. It’s not perfect, waiting times are long-ish, it’s a 4h drive each way to get there, but they are proactive and treat me better than any other service before. The sale process, that was another story closer to this article, and I’m scared shitless of crashing the car and not totalling it, but still, I love having owning a Tesla and wouldn’t go back.)

I, for one, am still fearful that our new electric-car revolution might still whimper and die.

Tesla is the one single entity most important in assuring that future. Not that it cannot happen without them, but, it might not.

I guess everyone just really, really loves Elon Musk.

I am impressed with Elon Musk and his accomplishments, no doubt. But this is not even close to the worst Tesla customer service story I've heard. The company is a nightmare. The only state you can even SEE a service manual for these cars is in Massachusetts where they mandate it by law, and you have to pay by the hour to see it! There's huge issues that haven't been tested in court with how Tesla treats these cars as "their cars" even after you buy them. Refused to activate salvaged and repaired vehicles that you have the title for, calling and threatening you because they detected you dared tinker with your own car, etc.

I really want to like Tesla, but as long as they treat their cars like a service rather than a product, I'd be terrified to invest my money in one of their vehicles.

You own the Tesla hardware. You do not own the software. You're also not forced to buy one. You're also free to write your own software for the vehicle to bypass Tesla.

While that may be technically true, I do not know if that will hold in court, as currently Tesla owns a monopoly on software that runs on Teslas, and they disable their software to prevent the legal owner from using their own vehicle. I suspect this is wholly illegal behavior, and I really look forward to seeing it get tested in court.

While this grey area has generally survived in smaller items, I suspect a car, where you literally have a title to it, is not so defensible under that claim. Especially when they also make it effectively impossible to repair the hardware outside of their company as well.

If Apple can do it, Tesla also can. No court is going to reverse it.

> You're also free to write your own software for the vehicle to bypass Tesla.

I thought the problem was that this part was illegal also

Its not. Write your own software, flash the vehicle. Its a herculean task, but possible, and not illegal.

It also, at the very least, voids the warranty on your potentially $160,000 car.

It's hard not to be really, really impressed by him, tbh.

Ah? I do not have to force myself a bit.

Not everyone, but we're definitely a minority waiting for the world to catch up. Stories like this sometimes help, but also bring out all the apologist in droves...

Because elon is doing it for the tech. At least that's the image he's crafted :P

There are other stories like this on Tesla Motors Club and Tesla service always goes above and beyond to get it right. The service guys gave me their card when I picked my car up. When I have an issue, I send them an email and get me scheduled immediately. They've taken care of a flat tire that they didn't need to (on Xmas eve, nonetheless), fixed almost every issue, and have always gone above and beyond.

When we had the flat tire, it was on Xmas eve, they worked to get our car towed to the service center and even offered to deliver it to us later that night. We left the key in the trunk and went Xmas shopping and it got towed just fine.

Why would you need car towed for a flat tire???

On my car there's no spare, there's only a tyre repair kit. Which is all great in an emergency, but using the tyre repair kit destroys the tyre - and the ones on mine are rather expensive($250/each). On the other hand, I get free recovery during the warranty of the vehicle - so I would rather get it towed to a garage nearby and get the tyre patched up for about ~$15 than pay for a new tyre(obviously if it can be patched, if the sidewall is damaged then no).

We called Tesla roadside because other tire shops were closed and I didn't want to put the spare on myself. They offered to just tow it to the SC and have it fixed on them.

Putting on a spare takes 10 minutes. Unless you are physically challenged, I recommend you try it if you can. Though if you own a tesla, and they are as heavy as they say, hmmm

An insulation fault -- I'm surprised they didn't go straight to inspecting the high voltage harness. Seems like they could have done with some electrical design engineers in the service center.

Source: I build electric racecars and my own cars have thrown this error one or twice in three years, usually from component failure or cable abrasion against carbon fiber.

I'm always amazed how I skip a whole class of time/money intensive problems by not owning a car.

It's a bit of a shame though as "Tesla" has actually been the first kind of car I would have been interested in.

Are there stats about reliability? What about insurance stats? If someone has them, please tell us.

Doesn't sound like a great story, but it means a lot more with statistics.

I didn't know that livejournal was still a thing.

Very popular in Russia.

and in Westeros

So, what happens in the Models S runs into issues transitioning to mainstream scale? Considering they are heavily leveraged off Elon's other companies, unless Solar city makes some great deals isn't Elon at risk of a credit crunch?

Gosh. Not that I can afford a Tesla here in Australia, but even if I did, I think I'll just stick with Mazda and Subaru - no issues whatsoever with the former, and only minor stuff on the latter which has been properly dealt with.

Tesla is going to offer the model 3 in a number of developing countries, where customer service will present an even bigger challenge.

"In couple weeks I got notified that my refund was approved, and I got contacted by another guy, who suddenly suggested me to get vehicle rebuilt. Of course I agreed to that generous offer saying I’d love to have the same vehicle."


What are you saying "What?" to? It seems pretty clear to me.

I think the problem is with the word "rebuilt". I would take that to mean take the car apart, and put it back together with maybe a couple new parts. Given that Tesla thinks there's nothing wrong with that car, despite there clearly being something wrong with it, taking it apart and putting it back together again and hoping it works is kind of insane. (although it might work if the problem is say a loose or poorly aligned pin in a wiring harness)

I believe the author meant that Tesla would build a new one to the original specifications. This is probably reasonable, the majority of Teslas probably don't have terrible problems or we'd hear more about them, so throw the old one in the river and get a new one isn't a bad idea.

Given the poor English of the article, I took "rebuilt" to mean something like "certified" or "inspected". I can't see any company taking a product apart and reassembling it. Note also that Tesla has already refused to give the customer a new car.

Given that Tesla thinks there is nothing wrong with the car, the only way I see that conversation working is if the car is returned unaltered.

taking it apart and putting it back together again and hoping it works is kind of insane

Perhaps it is the EV equivalent of "have you tried turning it off and on again"

Why would you opt for a rebuild (with lots of risk) when you have a refund offer?

The offer implied was that he'd get a brand-new Tesla with the exact same specifications as the one he had. Only, later, he found out he'd have to pay the full retail-price, which did not include the 16k "Showroom Discount."

tldr: The author was excited about getting a brand-new Tesla, but a lot cheaper than a brand-new Tesla, which turned out to be false.

tldr: The author was excited about getting a working Tesla, for the price he paid for a supposedly working Tesla, which turned out to be false.

The offer implied he'd be getting the same car back. Tesla had already refused an exchange.

He wanted a Tesla!

He wanted that particular lemon-flavoured Tesla, even.

1. The customer has had a long term problem with the vehicle...

2. ...which Tesla had been unable to remedy, to the extent that the customer has requested a new vehicle or a refund...

3. ...but the customer is eager for the chance to get the same vehicle back.

I'm afraid I don't understand the thinking.

Remember Windows 98, then Windows ME?


If I understood correctly, they sold your old car to someone else?!?

If they did, i would not recommend posting the vin here so that the owner might find the story. Don't do that.

It sounded like they sold the loaner car that he was using at the time.

I found one way to avoid all the costs, the taxes, the service times, the accidents and that annoying kid who always scratches your doors with a key: Don't buy a car.

Then I'm either paying for (and waiting for) taxis a minimum of two times a day, or making my 15 minute commute into an hour or an hour and a half commute on public transportation (depending on the exact time of day).

By not owning a car, I'd avoid certain costs and inconveniences by opting for certain other larger costs and inconveniences. If I lived somewhere where it was actually feasible to ditch the personal vehicle, I would've considered it by now.

Have you followed the news surrounding the DC Metro? The system has so much deferred maintenance that stuff randomly catches on fire. They have to shut down huge swaths of track for weeks at a time for major service. Even when all runs well, it's overcrowded, overpriced, and rife with major delays.

My wife tried to use Metro to get to work. She literally couldn't, as it wasn't reliable enough to make client meetings. So, she drove.

Not an option if public transport is not great in your city.

I have a Model S and Tesla service is generally exceptional. This sounds like they messed up. I am sure if he escalates they would take care of it

They refunded his previous sale and built him a replacement but wouldn't honor the original price on the replacement.

There was no where left to escalate.

Wow, there's an amazing amount of down voting in this article. Is that because people hate tesla? I don't get it. I once bought an suv. It had a problem soon after I bought it and got service for a while and i didn't have a car. It was frustrating. It wasn't a tesla by the way :-) They didn't offer to give me a loaner during that time, but I was pretty young and not aware that was a normal expectation. Eventually my car was repaired, but I was out several weeks of use of that car.

Moral of this boring story - things can break. The car company won't just give you a new one. They will try to fix your old car. Tesla sells things, and they can't just give you a new one when it breaks.

> Tesla sells things, and they can't just give you a new one when it breaks.

Actually, they can. And legally, they have to (or offer a refund), if the car breaks as much as that one did. I don't think you quite grasp the magnitude of the issues being alleged.

> I once bought an suv. It had a problem [...] Eventually my car was repaired

Right, good story, but totally different than the OPs story, where he had tons of problems and they were never fixed.

Things can repeatedly break until you're out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and until it has spent more time being (not) repaired in the shop, while the dealership repeatedly tells you nothing is wrong with the vehicle despite the vehicle saying there is, to the point where lemon laws kick in.

But you seem to think he's just whining.

Taking new, untested tech from a new, untested company on a long trip was a bad idea. I fault the author more than I fault Tesla in this case.

Electric cars are notoriously unreliable because there are just that many things that can go wrong. For example, a battery pack on average will monitor about 400 temperatures and perhaps 200 voltages. Its inherent design means that it undergoes many thermal cycles, has thousands of fasteners and up to a hundred switching circuity components inside various isolated power supplies. The deviation of any parameter from normal requires an immediate shutoff at risk of a lithium fire that cannot be extinguished.

You could not even imagine the amount of engineering that goes into making sure the fasteners are positive locked in a redundant manner, whilst preloaded against temperature change, without breaking isolation.

Yet, a Tesla is, in general, relatively reliable. Maximum props to them on a job well done.

Ehh, but fundamentally its just 1-2 motors and a big battery.

No alternator, fuel injection, radiator fluid, oil, pistons, spark plugs, fuel pumps, exhaust, manifolds, shafts, rods, gears, blowers, turbos/superchargers, catalytic converters, etc.

Not saying it's easy as described with unstable lithium chemistry, and its own heat dissapation problems, but MECHANICALLY it is fundamentally simple.

Yeah, except that we have literally a century of experience building all of above, but only decade or so of building huge automotive lithium batteries. It's "just" a battery, but at the same time it's hideously complex device where a lot of things can go wrong.

You don't actually have to measure individual cell temperatures and voltages. A thousand fasteners is nothing special, and you don't need to have circuitry on each cell either. You're making batteries out to be much more complex than they actually are.

I am not, and it is necessary to measure the temperature of the batteries in at least some locality, as batteries can short out and go into thermal runaway. Although their construction can avoid a full battery pack fire, if you don't shut down the tractive system immediately you will run current through them and charge them negatively. Then you will get a fire from surrounding cells.

Sorry, you had trouble with your new car. It happens sometimes that cars have problems. Tesla is a physical thing and it can have problems. I would be frustrated that my new toy had problems, but I don't see why this couldn't happen with a porsche or bmw. In fact, they do sometimes have problems.

I don't think the issue was that the vehicle had problems. I think the issue was more about how Tesla handled those problems.

The first failure was while they were away from home and had to convince the service manager that a week was a long turn-around time. They offered them a loaner, but not one they were allowed to drive to their destination so they had to rent a vehicle with their own funds. They found nothing wrong after three days.

As they left from that repair, the car announced that it needed service twice between Ohio and California. As such, they brought it in for service in CA. This service took 10 days and they found nothing wrong.

1 week later, the problem is back and they took it in for service (at yet a third service center, this time the headquarters). Another 10 day turn-around time.

The next problem was that the car refused to start.

Through this, Tesla kept taking their sweet time and being less than communicative. They also didn't offer a Tesla loaner (rather giving them rentals from Enterprise). Most luxury automakers try hard to make their customers happy. Tesla didn't.

When it came time to deal with the lemon law, Tesla offered to re-manufacture the car for them. They accepted and around 2 months later Tesla told them that they'd have to pay up for the re-manufactured vehicle.

Finally, Tesla wouldn't even admit that there was a defect with the vehicle.

As the author notes, friends with similarly priced cars had much better experiences with actually getting them repaired or replaced.

It's frustrating to have problems with a car, but if the manufacturer/dealer is communicative, prompt, helpful, and honest with you, it feels a lot less bad. In this case, it doesn't feel like Tesla was any of those. They had to keep checking in on the status, Tesla took much longer than I expect car repairs to take, Tesla wasn't able to help them, and the dealing around the re-build and refund feels like a bait-and-switch.

Yes, car trouble can happen to you if you buy a Porsche or BMW. But that's not the issue in this story. This isn't a story about Teslas being unreliable. This is a story about Tesla service and customer support being non-communicative, unhelpful, slow, and possibly even dishonest.

One of the loaner Teslas was defective too. The headlights would turn off intermittently.

The point is that after all the crap they have gone through Teslas response was that the car contained no defect, which is obviously false

Not really. The car being returned to Tesla was, at that time, in good working order. Tesla had repaired it after the last issue. Now of course given the car's history it's possible that there were still other things wrong with it, but to the best of Tesla's knowledge, at the time the letter was signed, the car was defect-free.

to the best of Tesla's knowledge, at the time the letter was signed, the car was defect-free.

This is what happens when there is in fact an intermittent defect, but the technical staff does not believe the user/customer. Basically, this is poor epistemology on the part of the Tesla staff. If this is an exceptionally difficult intermittent problem, their choice is between replacing the unit, or losing a customer. They chose the latter, which is clearly the wrong choice. This indicates some sort of dysfunction and/or poor planning on the part of Tesla management. That they are going to have wastage based on defects is inevitable. They must have underestimated the numbers.

The defect is on the engineering side. Someone at Tesla thought it was a good idea to display a failure message but not to log the nature and origin of the failure. That person needs to be identified and put on a performance improvement plan.

That's clearly a product decision!

I'm sorry, can you elaborate?

I would be extremely surprised if an engineer would allow a warning message to be displayed and not emit a log line for it as well. That sounds more like a decision a product manager would have made.

They should have logs showing that a problem was detected.

That said, hearing that they provide fossil fuel powerred vehicles as loaners has lowered my opinion of them.

It's not like Tesla has a bunch of spare Teslas to give out as loaners. They're selling them as fast as they can make them.

It's not like Tesla has a bunch of spare Teslas to give out as loaners.

The Russian military during WWI also underestimated wastage of its rifles. (~800000 a month) They were building rifles as fast as they could. In fact, they were stressing their resources so hard, they took up all their gunsmith/worker manpower and were unable to repair broken weapons sent back to the factories, which only exacerbated their problem.

It could be that they feel they've already made their reputation, and that more profit is now their priority. In other words, it seems that they no longer think they have to give amazing service. I think that would be a bad policy move for them. They still have to be better than all the internal combustion engine cars out there.

It's really interesting to see how far some people will go to absolve Tesla of anything bad. This car was a lemon and the owner got terrible service from Tesla. End of story.

Except all support people know about PEBKAC.

This isn't the usual holier-than-thou I did noth-ingggg! bad review.

But it's always hard to know....


If there is something you can do from between the wheel and the seat to cause those error messages, it's Tesla's fault.

I agree the owner got terrible service. I agree that the car appears to be a lemon and the owner is well within his rights to ask for a refund or replacement.

All I'm saying is that the letter is not actually wrong; as far as Tesla can tell, they had repaired everything wrong with the vehicle and therefore it was in good working order. And for all we know, this diagnosis is correct, seeing as how the owner didn't try out the vehicle again after the last repair.

But the wording tells the customer something that the customer did not experience, which is a terrible way to create goodwill. The customer experienced several failures. Surely that indicates a defect. So why contradict the customer? Tesla's people could privately believe the car was defect-free if they wish, but in dealing with the customer focus on the remedial action they are taking, rather than Tesla's beliefs about the car.

The car displayed to the user that it was not able to start! Presumably, especially given the remarks about the techs pulling the logs from the car, the car logged the fact that it could not start. That, by its very existence, means the car is not "in good working order". Not being able to trust that your vehicle will start is one of the worst feelings a driver can have.

It was repaired after that. Directly from the article:

> After a few days, we’ve been told that the car is working with no problems again.

At that point the owner rightfully decided they didn't trust it anymore and wanted a refund. That's perfectly fine. All I'm saying is that the thing he was being asked to sign wasn't a lie, because Tesla had repaired all known defects. Yes, the owner is perfectly justified in not believing that, but that's not the same thing as saying it's false.

"but to the best of Tesla's knowledge"

Like the several previous service incidents where they said the same thing, but there obviously was?

The problem isn't that the car had an issue, it was that Tesla's customer service operation is apparently Google-esque in the way that it is over-automated to the point where it is difficult to reach a human, and when you do they are apparently script-reading cogs in a wheel that change every time you contact the company.

I'm willing to deal with that when it comes to buying a $300 cellphone, but for a $100,000 car it is inexcusable.

(The primary reason I haven't gone to a Pixel from a Nexus 5X is that even $650 crosses over my threshold of dealing with Googley-service).

Huh, every time I've called the Tesla support line, a human has answered. Sometimes it's a real engineer. Tesla is #1 in customer loyalty among car brands, so it appears that my experience isn't unusual.

This story is a perfect example of why that statistic doesn't mean much. People buying Tessa's now are so giddy to purchase that almost nothing could dissuade them from sticking with Tesla. It's a small sample size of excited early adopters. Once the hype dies down, so too will their loyalty if they continue to produce cars with poor reliability. Great customer service doesn't make up for not being able to drive the cars. http://www.autoblog.com/photos/consumer-reports-least-reliab...

> In fact, they do sometimes have problems.

The difference is those companies have their shit figured out.

If I had a vehicle checked like 2 times and it left me stranded, I would blow up in someone's face if I got handed a letter that says "Customer made it up"

BMW most certainly does not "have their shit figured out". I was quoted 15,000.00 for a new engine which turned out to be completely unnecessary. An independent shop replaced two spark plugs for $40.00 and fixed the misfire that a BMW dealer told me was caused by a bent intake valve.

BMW NA told me that there was nothing they could do and that they "stand behind their dealers". All manufacturers leave a lot to be desired on the customer service front.

Did you read TFA to the end?

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