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Keeping Tesla Roadsters Alive Is Serious Work (roadandtrack.com)
191 points by t23 53 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 204 comments



A lot of early adopters were probably worried that Tesla would go out of business and they wouldn't be able to get parts. Tesla is still in business and there still aren't parts.

Hopefully enough of the current Tesla models will end up on the road to make it profitable for aftermarket suppliers to make some parts. So far it doesn't seem like that is happening at very much scale.


The roadster is a uniquely weird product in that it was hacked together from Lotus parts. Lotuses are already hard to get parts for, and Lotus and Tesla split on bad terms. Plus the electric parts were basically one-offs; they made less than 2500 units in total.


Parts are hard to come by for their mass market models too, it's crazy.


my only concern about owning the model 3 is what happens when something breaks. However while Tesla gets a bad rap here and in many cases deserves it I have already experienced a similar problem first hand both with VW and Chevrolet. Fortunately for VW the issue I experienced will never resurface because they cannot sell TDI models anymore.

Still I am hoping that by 2021 or at worst 2022 there is a viable alternative to look at. I will be really loathe to give up OTA let alone the simplicity of the interior. Do not under estimate the game changer that OTA is, it is completely contrary to how all other automobile manufacturers operate; one of my peeves that helped convince me to trade my Volt.

Working for the major automotive replacement parts company I am always expecting all manufacturers, from automobiles down to phones, make parts available for third party repair facilities and owners.


That's why I'm really interested in leasing one next year - if anything breaks, the leasing company has to fix it or provide me with an alternative, they own the car after all. I really want a Model 3 but I would never buy it to own.


There is a tidy profit for the leasing company for taking this fear over for you.


Financing Teslas is already expensive as they don’t subsidize low borrowing rates. Most luxury cars finance at ~2.5% right now and Tesla is around 4%.

It’ll be particularly interesting to see what happens when Tesla starts leasing as luxury cars tend to offer very good leasing terms when compared to the MSRP.


Actually, for some reason leasing ends up cheaper than PCP, so it looks like you're paying extra for the ability to buy the car out at the end, which I don't particularly care about.


If I buy and you lease for 4 years who will come out better at the end if keep mine for 8-10 years?


Uhm..........that heavily depends on many factors, some of which can be hard to predict.

Do you already have an answer in mind?


Yes we both get the dual motor Model 3 with autopilot. My loan will be no more than $30k and max 4 years. Not sure how a down payment translates to a lease.

On mobile and I can’t work out the math right now.


But this is true of many car models;

I've done 3 projects on my 2004 BMW post 2012 (where as time passed, more parts become available); one of the last years before everything became more computer integrated, where there weren't significant, cheap, readily available parts

- Xenon Headlight Baskets; factory headlights only sold as a sealed unit (that would likely suffer the same burn issue), aftermarket whole units don't have self leveling to be road legal; Had to find from a crashed 2006 on eBay and modify.

- Windshield washer pump. This simple pump didn't become readily available in parts stores until about 2013. The factory unit costs 10x what it should cost.

- Valve cover gasket; the best one is the OEM bmw, brand, any aftermarket part is likely to leak sooner rather than later.


e46? I had a 2000 and it was extremely easy to find parts. Denso AC compressor, idler pulley, belt tensioner, coils, wheel bearing, and a window motor. Everything was reasonably priced and I had choices of OEM, Aftermarket, or Genuine BMW. The AC compressor was the only part I didn’t buy Genuine because of the massive up-charge. Amazon had lots of OEM options that were the same brand as Genuine BMW.

I would’ve changed the gasket but I “totaled” it. A cheap gasket is going to cause problems.

BMWs are expensive and you have to be very careful of aftermarket parts or you’ll cause more issues.


Coils are another thing that were slow to make it to the autoparts store.

Much of this is probably because of the 100k mile warranties common on cars today, autoparts stores are less likely to stock parts until each model has the majority of owners outside of the factory warranty coverage.


> I've done 3 projects on my 2004 BMW post 2012 (where as time passed, more parts become available); one of the last years before everything became more computer integrated, where there weren't significant, cheap, readily available parts

This is a far cry from there being no parts, cheap or otherwise. And even if there aren't OEM parts I'm betting there are tons of knockoff and third party/performance/budget parts you can get too, which these Tesla owners also cannot.


Many of these parts didn't make it to your average auto parts store for ~13 years of the model (began in 1999); of which the Tesla Roadster is still several years away (if it will ever be)

Because of programs like the 100k mile warranty; there is limited after market support for most mainstream automobiles until the majority of the owners no longer fall in that category.


What are owners supposed to do? Are there any indications these cars fail so rarely?


It's smartphone engineering: when it breaks, you're supposed to throw it away and buy a new one. /s


From one angle this isn't so unreasonable.

If your car never breaks down, why fix it when it does. There are already plenty of sealed units in a car. If your 2nd gear went, you'd replace the whole box.

Id be interested to know what proportion of phones actually break (except user imposed damage) before they reach the end of their useful lives, I would guess very few.


It's pretty unreasonable for many components in a car if you are paying for it yourself. There's a Model S owner who is on the 7th drive unit replacement for his car. This is a $15,000 unit.

These cars are too expensive to be disposable, but that's where they are headed because parts are difficult or impossible to obtain out of warranty.


Right, that isnt a car that never breaks down though. Teslas might not be at the required reliability to day, EVs one day might be.

Re price, an interesting point.

Do I not repair my TV because its so reliable, or because the replacement is cheap?


Or because it's very non-repairable? I've repaired two of my old NESes, but wouldn't try my TV either.

As a happy car DIYer I really appreciate when parts come in small replaceable units that I can swap out.


How many of your tvs have you actually needed to repair though?

My 14inch CRT broke, but then I had given it to my parents because I had a flat screen. I replaced the flat screen because the hdmi was out of date, it didn't have digital, etc, etc, etc. So I'm on my third tv in 25(?) years and none of them have broken (for me). I could see a nes being different as that's attached to a library of games and aren't made anymore. I would guess if they were still being made, and there was competition, a nes would be very cheap, and not worth repairing.

You only appreciate the easily replaceable units because you have to replace them


Teslas might not be at the required reliability to day, EVs one day might be.

EVs already are, they’re just not made by Tesla.

Happy Leaf Owner for Eight Trouble-Free Years


> actually break (except user imposed damage) before they reach the end of their useful lives

I'm not sure that distinction into those three categories is actually useful. Almost nothing breaks within normal use in a few years. "User damage" through cracked screens is a major factor in phone end of life. And the other determinant of "useful life" is either the battery or the operating system, both of which are under the control of the manufacturer.


My point is most of a phone is reliable, it will reliably outlast peoples need for it. I have never heard anyone complain about their processor breaking, or ram. If the processor breaks the expectation is you buy a new phone, and that's reasonable because there isn't a reason to do it any other way.

One of the promises of EVs is vastly improved reliability. Isnt it plausible if motors reliably last 500k miles that the infrastructure will never be built to replace them, and instead you'll just replace the car. Its plausible we're already at that stage with engines? If garages just become glorified body (phone repair) shops, aren't we at the scenario to gp described?


Phones would last much longer if you could swap the battery again


Which....you absolutely can. Maybe not by yourself, but a phone shop down the road will swap any battery in any phone for like ~£30. It's really not an issue at all. Most people just don't want to and the end of battery life usually concides with people feeling like they want something new and fresh, so it's a very convenient excuse to justify getting a new phone - while replacing the battery wouldn't be an issue in the slightest.


Sure, but the quality of the battery that the shop down the road will install is questionable and often below the OEM originall since the manufacturer has no incentive to sell their OEM parts outside of their service network.

YMMV but I replaced the battery on my Samsung Note with two off eBay and in both cases the life was similar to the original that already had 2 years worth of wear.


"YMMV but I replaced the battery on my Samsung Note with two off eBay and in both cases the life was similar to the original that already had 2 years worth of wear."

I see you forgot to clear the old battery information from your phone before installing the new one - the phone is still assuming you've got the old battery in and measuring as such. batterystats.bin (Android) needs to be cleared before installing a new battery, so that it is forced to get fresh information on the installed battery.


Most of the problems I've heard of with the newer Tesla models involve replacement body parts to repair damage from accidents, especially the glass roofs of the new Model 3.


>What are owners supposed to do?

Take a lesson and buy more wisely next time?


>Are there any indications these cars fail so rarely?

It's less that they fail often, in the traditional sense. The problem is that they are poorly manufactured, and the flaws manifest themselves as major issues for owners eventually.

In theory, the cars should fail less than ICE, by virtue of having fewer mechanical parts.

What do owners do? Complain on Twitter and hope for the best.


Lots of would-be buyers won't purchase until the supply lines and insane repair wait times are fixed.

Source: I am one, as are many of my friends in Seattle.


Yup, me too. I was almost about to pull the trigger when a buddy of mine with a Model S told me that his car broke down and he had to wait for parts. He was just into his second month of waiting. After hearing that I took to the internet and read up on it and it seems legit. I can't have that so bought a traditional car with an infernal combustion engine. Last one I hope.


I hear Porsche has a pretty nice EV in the works.


I won’t. I was this close to buying a Model3 but I got scared off because I need my car to get to work.

I had been driving BMWs for the last 10 years and while it hasn’t always been trouble free, they’ve treated me very well and either given me loaners or paid for a not cheap Uber to work.


Looking to buy my wife a car next year and it’ll likely be an Audi ICE or similar.

The two biggest problems are no superchargers where I vacation in Florida and parts issues which include fixing manufacturer defects.


It's s tricky issue to fix - often parts fail due to a bad design (eg. 1 part too weak).

Everyone wants to buy that replacement part, leading to a shortage. At the same time, Tesla doesn't want to increase production of the faulty parts - in fact, they want to reduce production so they can redirect machines to making the new, better part. But it takes time to understand what was wrong and to design and test.

Overall, I think the key to solving it is latency - within days of seeing a part fail, they need to get the redesign out to the factory, so at least new cars with the faulty part aren't still being produced.


>But it takes time to understand what was wrong and to design and test.

These seem like obvious problems to anyone in manufacturing, especially in the auto world. The fact that Tesla didn't foresee them is scary.


I wonder how much of this is a cultural issue, with Tesla being more aligned with the tech world where it's more acceptable to "move fast and break things" and fix them later. Anecdotally I know some people who have a similar culture fear of the way SpaceX appears to operate


Why not ship the new parts as replacements of the old?


This is becoming more and more of a problem as everything becomes more complex. I remember when I was a child my dad repaired the power switch on the vacume cleaner by going to the local electrical store and buying the exact same switch. Now every single device has its own custom part and the switch isn't just connecting 2 wires, it's contacting a main board telling it the button has been pressed triggering the power toggle code which will probably perform a bunch of checks and processes before powering on. If anything goes wrong you either have to replace half of the device if you can or just bin it because it would take you a lifetime to work out everything that happens when you press the power button.


The good news is you can get almost anything on the Internet. I've found so many weird parts from shady eBay sellers that worked perfectly in the end.

Other times I've had to order a similar part off of Mouser and hack it to make it fit, with varying levels of success.


This is less of an option when hardware makers fuse everything in to a single board so when one thing breaks you need a new main board which costs as much as the whole device.

I have had a surprising amount of luck with some items though. Managed to replace the shoulder buttons on my 3ds by finding a replica of the button + ribbon cable + connector used.


> hardware makers fuse everything in to a single board so when one thing breaks you need a new main board which costs as much as the whole device

As frustrating as this is, it's a natural consequence of the monolithic system integration which means that the whole device now costs barely more than the mainboard. Repair hasn't become more expensive, new things have just become unbelievably cheap.


> Repair hasn't become more expensive, new things have just become unbelievably cheap.

You don't think it's both?


Fair call, it's both. Someone skilled enough to repair a high-tech item is often also skilled enough to design one, and economies of scale mean that these people are now paid much more than they used to be, while the per-unit cost of the item has tumbled.


It is that but its more. To replace my battery in my samsung s5 I just had to pop the back cover off with my fingernail and pull the old battery out. Now with modern phones I am sitting there with a hair dryer and suction caps trying to pry the phone apart for an hour so I can then remove 20 screws and 3 ribbon cables all in the right order so I can then start hair drying again to unstick the battery.


This is the #1 reason I bought the absolute cheapest washer/dryer combo I could find. My last set was purchased at a garage sale and I kept them running for ~10 years by purchasing the necessary replacement parts from eBay, maybe $40 over those 10 years.

I can't do that for everything, but I will for washers and dryers. My "new" dryer has already failed once and I repaired it in 20 minutes with a $4 part.


I really like my microwave oven that has just two controls: one dial for power (scale defrost - full power) and one for time (mechanical clock up to 30 min).

It is not likely to break because there is no PCB with bad capacitors. It does not have a clock that I would need to adjust at every DST change, and it does not have an array of confusing buttons and controls.

Everyone can use it, without reading the manual.

And it cost me €39, including 24 % VAT.


There is an "Apple" market for the first company that designs a simple microwave oven. The user interface on most of those things is atrocious. A beautiful oven with two dials would kill on the market. (maybe there is one, but I couldn't find one browsing on appliance stores)


This already exists. It's called the LG NeoChef[1], and it's an absolute joy to use compared to anything else I've seen.

It has three controls on the front: stop/clear, start/+30sec, and a touch slider that lets you accurately set any time from 10 seconds to an hour. The slider actually works very well, and is super kid-friendly. Here's an image: https://www.lg.com/ca_en/images/microwave-ovens/MD05821693/g...

If you open the door, there are 11 more buttons for setting the power level or starting a timer, etc. The only preset button it has is popcorn, which is the only useful one. Notably, it does not have a number pad, only plus/minus buttons. Image: https://www.lg.com/ca_en/images/microwave-ovens/MD05821693/g...

It also has an internal LED light that shines down from above instead of a crappy incandescent light that shines from the side (and is inevitably burnt out).

Oh, and it doesn't have loud, irritating beeps from a piezoelectric beeper that wakes up the entire house when you're reheating your 2am snack. It has an actual speaker instead, and the touch tones are soft and the "done" alert is melodious and stops when you open the door (there's an actual handle, instead of a spring-loaded button).

[1] https://www.lg.com/ca_en/microwave-ovens/lg-LMC0975ST


_A beautiful oven with two dials would kill on the market. (maybe there is one, but I couldn't find one browsing on appliance stores)_

Aren't you commenting on a guy claiming to love his two dial microwave oven?


Exactly. I must admit that the 39 € oven isn't "beautiful" in terms of artistic design and implementation; it is merely practical and not an eyesore. It is made cheaply, so now after 5 years of use, the paint has chipped in some places where it has been cracked by hitting it with dishes, etc. However, functionally it is just what I want.

It could be improved by making the design smoother so that it would be easier to clean the inside when my microwave meal happens to explode.

The good thing is also that it's still on the market, so if this unit breaks, I'll just buy another one. (Perhaps I should buy one to storage, just in case they stop making/selling this thing).


Who's asking for a beautiful microwave? It's a microwave. You put old food in it for 30 seconds and then eat it as fast as possible before it gets rubbery. No beauty there.


Well, many people spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars or euros to make their kitchen look nice (even if they don't use it very much).

Quality is of course always also subjective and dependent on needs. For instance, this cheap and nice microwave that I have is also very light. That's good because no material is wasted in manufacture, and it is easier to transport and install, but it means that if I slam the door, the unit will actually move on the kitchen desk. I'd like it to stay put.



Nice! That's the kind of thing I was looking for.


I had exactly what you described, an older model from LG with 2 digital knobs. It was amazingly intuitive and I loved it. Not sure if they make it anymore as now everything has to be touch to be cool in the showroom.

My parents bought new kitchen appliances from Bosch and I was shocked how bad the UX was with the combination of touch buttons, rotating dial and full color LCD display.

I just want to roast this chicken FFS! Why does it have to be a 12 step process?!


>A beautiful oven with two dials would kill on the market.

And it did, in the 1970s

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/1971rr4....


I bought something that looked like this (maybe not this exact model but certainly same family) in early 2000s: https://www.bedienungsanleitungonline.de/bildern/product_521...

Still running as my only microwave although I don't use it for much, other than warming the occasional cup of water for a tea.

Last Christmas I rented a cabin for vacation. The MW had more buttons than my TV remote control. Icons and button placement were completely not intuitive. I am convinced that this is done just because more buttons suggests more functions and more advanced product. Everyone else is doing it so they all slap them on to compete. You get 4 buttons and an LCD to do what a rotary dial did.


Funny you should mention this. I just bought a microUSB connector off of eBay to attempt to fix my kids Kindle Fire. It's a $2.50 part but replacing it is a roll of the dice with my skill level.

On the other hand, it's a $60 tablet so it's not like I can bring it to someone to have it fixed professionally and not end up paying more than it would cost to just buy a new one. I figure I can't break it any worse than it already is (impossible to charge, impossible to use), so it's a gamble that I'll be able to fix it cheaply.


> This is less of an option when hardware makers fuse everything in to a single board so when one thing breaks you need a new main board which costs as much as the whole device.

Depends on your soldering iron handiwork. If we're talking something large like a switch or a power socket it's usually pretty easy to replace it as it's still through-hole. Fixed some blown caps on an old LCD monitor earlier this year doing exactly that. It's not that hard if it's big.


What is the alternative, a vacuum that has 3000 individual components now and they are still not user replaceable?


"Not user serviceable" is an evil concept that needs to die.

And as 'jdnenej points out, and the thing that "right to repair" movement is all about: nobody says you have to do the repair yourself. Having serviceable devices means your technically skilled friend, or your local repair shop, can do the repair. Possibly charging you money from it. As a side effect, this strengthens local economies.


A good start would be to open up more access to plans & documentation to make it easier for interested people to do so.

Better access to replacement parts is another demand you often hear around the "right to repair" movement.


Even with just full documentation available, people (hobbyists, repair shops) could replace original parts with generic alternatives that match the spec electrically. The result wouldn't be as pretty as the original, but it would work (and gave some street cred valued by people who prefer reuse and repair to generating waste).


Yes, this is much better because you can bring the device to someone with experience who can quickly and cheaply swap out the part.


The Nintendo Switch is also quite accessible; but Nintendo might be the outlier here.


>parts from shady eBay sellers that worked perfectly in the end.

So not shady then...


At least for random electronic widgets, there's some manufacturer in China selling that exact part or an aftermarket one on Ebay/AliExpress.

Backlight burnout on your LCD TV? No problem.

You can buy brand new NES controllers today. (!).


The barrier has gone up in fixing things, but it's still not impossible. You can't buy parts from Radioshack, but you can still find parts if you search carefully. Folks are also able to 3D print parts and combine new parts to make replacement. The repair culture is down, less people are into electronics, but those that are motivated are still fixing almost and and everything they set forth to.


When it doesn't work, I just apply more voltage.


How do you refill the white smoke which escapes sometimes when you do that?


That's the whole point. The smoke is clogging up the electronics, need to blow it out.


If you apply even more voltage, you can make more smoke. :D


I've heard Tesla advertising themselves as a simpler car, by comparing the number of moving parts between a Tesla and an ICE car. That should've made part shortages less likely.


Its simpler in terms of moving parts sure, but the actual complexity of what is going on is through the roof. A physical door handle may have more moving parts than a touch panel but if you pull apart a door handle you can quite quickly work out how it works and how it could be replicated. Good luck pulling apart a bunch of micro controllers trying to work out the communication protocols and code required to respond to a touch.


That's a good point. I guess that just comes along with trying to design an entire car yourself. I was thinking more about the normal major repair points for the car, like the powertrain. But I guess all the smaller repairs needed on a car become more frustrating when you need to go through Tesla to fix it.


My wife has a 2020 Toyota Corolla. Less than 3 months old and it’s got a bad crack in the windshield.

Toyota says a replacement is 6 months out and there are 800 on backorder in North America right now.

So, it’s not just Tesla. Can happen to any manufacturer.


Can’t you just go to one of the dozens of windshield replacement businesses in your area? You drive it there and they plop in a new windshield for very reasonable rates. They will often even come to you to fix it.


I have wondered about this between my 2008 Honda and my 2019 Honda. The 2008, I have had the windshield replaced twice, no sweat, once due to a rock from the road and once due to a hailstone. On the 2019, there is a suite of sensors behind the rearview mirror that (I presume) handle lane detection and object avoidance (emergency braking) duties. I don't know what assumptions those sensors (or the software behind them) might make about the properties of the glass they're looking through, but I wouldn't blindly have the shop on the corner replace the 2019 windshield like I would on my 2008.


Similarly, I recently had to replace the windshield in my 2016 Acura. Safelite threw in aftermarket glass and every sensor in the car went haywire. For the next two weeks I was driving around with constant beeping reminding me that the sensors I had turned off aren’t working.


What ended up being the resolution?


Pretty much. Same deal on the Corolla.

Just out of curiosity I checked safelite.com and they don’t even offer a replace option on this year/make/model. Only repair, and this crack is well beyond the repair limit.


In aviation, we stop-drill the ends of cracks in aluminum to stop propagation by diffusing the stress point.

If you need to wait 6 months, you might want to investigate doing that.


Drilling specialty tempered glass is not advisable.


Honey I’m going out to drill some holes in your windshield.

... okay?


That's what the "repair limit" is.


Return the Corolla while you still can. This is hot garbage.


Because part availability isn't 100% just yet, it is "hot garbage"? That seems like a stretch.

TBH, this kind of thing happens pretty regularly with various parts. Usually the delay doesn't end up being 6 months, but often those kinds of estimates are on the pessimistic side.

It isn't unusual for places like Safelite to be dependent upon the manufacturer's glass, especially on newer cars.


Those sensors need to be recalibrated after replacing the windshield. That should be in the fine print somewhere.


>I don't know what assumptions those sensors (or the software behind them) might make about the properties of the glass they're looking through, but I wouldn't blindly have the shop on the corner replace the 2019 windshield like I would on my 2008.

Figuring that stuff out is the glass manufacturer's job. The dealer doesn't have some glass guy who's magically better than the glass shop's glass guy. Many smaller dealers actually sub out glass (along with body work, frame pulling and other things they aren't big enough for it to be worth the overhead to do in house).


Which sounds great until you realize the windshield you need requires automatic rain sensors, or has an antenna built in, and none of the cheap Chinese replacements are equitable drop-in swaps. Also, those "very reasonable rates" end up translating to shit-poor work in many cases. Anecdotally I've been through 3 windshields at one of these places. Each time it was improperly sealed, leading to water incursion damage. Eventually I did the right thing and went to a dealer who actually knows what they're doing. The cheap place ended up being the most expensive route I could have possibly taken. Maybe those trained monkeys can ham-fistedly install an older Ford F-series pickup truck's windshield and it's fine, but for modern cars I won't take chances anymore.


Most likely if the dealer is replacing it, it's a manufacturing defect. In which case you can't go to a third party if you want OEM glass and/or have Toyota pay for the replacement, not to mention possibly voiding the warranty.


Right?! Six months for a windshield replacement is ridiculous, especially for such a name brand


Where are they getting there windshields from? If they're just a customer for manufacturer made windshields then you'd have the same issue.


Not if you want it replaced under warranty for free.


um, my Nissan got a windshield crack, I went to the dealership to get it fixed and they said run away. We [Nissan] will charge you ~$1000 and it might take the whole day while if you go to safelite, they'll do it in 2 hrs and <$300. I'm super thankful the sales clerk was nice and honest.

Windshields are the exception for car repair and you shouldn't have been going to toyota.


Why is the dealer fixing a cracked windshield? Is this somehow under warranty?


People have a perception that third party parts are inferior. Maybe Toyota limits access to some OEM parts by others for whatever reason.


Maybe this is true, but for newer cars, installing third party parts or even having the car looked at by a third party will void the warranty. So at least during this early period, the incentives are such that you're better off taking the car to the dealership so you still have the warranty later when you really need it.


>>Maybe this is true, but for newer cars, installing third party parts or even having the car looked at by a third party will void the warranty.

Unless the law varies hugely where you live compared to the rest of the Western countries, that's just simply 100000% not true. You can do almost any modification to your car and it doesn't void the warranty, unless the manufacturer can show that the fault occured due to the modification being fitted(so no, a manufacturer cannot refuse engine repair because you used a 3rd party windscreen or fitted custom rims on the car, unless they can prove that either of those caused the engine damage).


Note that a manufacturer warranty might be distinct and separate from statutory obligations the manufacturer also has. So while the rights your consumer protection laws give you are not voided, an additional, voluntary warranty provided may well be.


> Note that a manufacturer warranty might be distinct and separate from statutory obligations the manufacturer also has.

In much of the West (including the US, even though it has generally weak consumer protections), there is a statutory restriction with regard to when the manufacturer can and can not void a warranty.


There are some limited exceptions, but generally speaking what you are saying would be in violation of Magnuson-Moss.

Unless it can be proven by the warrantor that the 3rd party labor or parts caused the fault, the use of 3rd party labor or parts does not void the warranty.


For a windshield on a new car I would prefer OEM. The material, tint and cutouts might interfere with the sensors causing safety issues. The tint colour may also not match the side windows. The UV protection could be less. The strength can be less which will interfere with airbag deployment. The smoothness of the glass might be off causing suction mounts to operate worse. The fitment could be worse causing rust around the windshield in the future due to glass rubbing against the body or due to water ingress because the window is not big enough.

Insurance is usually paying for it, might as well go OEM.


Here in the UK I have bought several OEM parts from Toyota service centres by walking in off the street. Some service centres (not my local one) even sell surplus inventory on ebay.

My impression is that they do not limit distribution: if you have the part code they will sell it to you (for an exorbitant price).


Even though I brought up limiting distribution, whether or not they limit distribution has absolutely no bearing on people’s decisions if those people have the perception that distribution might be limited to dealers. Perception is all it takes.


I've got a 2019 SUV and when my windshield cracked, insurance told me to get OEM because of the whole EyeSight thing. This makes me question the viability of the third party windshield business going forward.


Sounds like a manufacturing defect.


I'm surprised to see Toyota doing this again. I bought a 2010 Camry for my wife and the dashboard started melting into a shiny puddle of sticky mess within a year. It took 18 months to get the replacement because of the same sort of backorder. This was a few years after the whole "stuck accelerator pedal" hoopla relating to floormats. I resolved to never buy a Toyota vehicle again after that.

I wonder what happened to their whole Kaizen philosophy?


>So, it’s not just Tesla. Can happen to any manufacturer.

How many Corollas are on the road? How many Teslas?


This guy is great, he found a niche full of customers and became the expert. I wish more startups would do this.

With regards to Tesla, it is always interesting to me to see how as companies grow, they become more political, less effective and generally suck more. All the good people, like this guy, get pushed out or leave on their own.

Makes me generally not want to build or work for a large company ever again.


> it is always interesting to me to see how as companies grow, they become more political, less effective and generally suck more. All the good people, like this guy, get pushed out or leave on their own.

The skillsets required for a $100k company, and $1M one, and $100M one and a >$1B one are very different.

It's not even surprising when a CEO who launched a company gets replaced once the company goes big (oh hey speaking of which).


Having just wrapped up a stint at a >$1B company, I was floored by the incredible amount of waste of human effort on the part of management, which never really visibly impacted the bottom or the stock price.

I agree that the skill sets change as companies add zeroes to their value, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there’s a way to determine the optimal size of a company from a productivity standpoint.

Sure, it would likely be super subjective and not necessarily repeatable, but I noticed how much worse we were as a software team shipping a product under the guidance of our corporate overlords compared to our days as a startup.

In our case after the acquisition, our product features were essentially cut in into two halves and sold as separate bundles, so customers all of a sudden had to pay twice as much for the same product. Then they laid off the bespoke support team from our startup days and handed that responsibility to people who didn’t know our product.

Our customers were once so happy that we existed, and our new overlords trampled over that goodwill in an instant to boost their stock price.

It’s really hard to believe that big companies truly have a positive and productive role in our system after that experience.


Just imagine the waste in a $1T government :-)


Eh, I’m sure there’s quite a bit of waste in government spending, but I’ve become so disillusioned with the way that argument has been presented in our political discourse for a variety of reasons.

A) the US military has dragged its feet to become audit-compliant many years after it was mandated to do so, and there’s been a lot of reporting on corruption among military leaders and defense contractors. It seems like one side only cares about government spending when it applies to social programs like Medicare. Just look at the deficit increase in the current administration. They don’t actually care about balancing the budget. It’s just a political hit when the dems are in office.

B) the government never gets credit for projects that are completed early and under budget, which does happen. Michael Lewis of Moneyball game wrote a whole book about this titled The Fifth Risk. How are we ever going to be happy with how the government uses our taxes if we don’t recognize the wins they do accomplish? All we hear about are the screwups, and we don’t hold private industry to that standard because they have a clear goal: to make profit. Turns out that trying to keep a society functioning is expensive and not sexy work. Big surprise.

C) government takes on projects essential to society that private industry is unwilling to take on, which often come with price tags that the public loves to balk at. Take the Hanford nuclear site (also featured in the Fifth Risk). The US nuclear program failed to properly dispose of nuclear waste after WWII, and it was discovered to be leaking a few years back. This waste zone threatens the water supply for millions of Americans and is costing many billions to clean up. If there’s no competition to perform this work, how do we expect it to cost any less than it does?

Government waste is constantly berated as this existential issue in our society, but government waste didn’t cause the Great Recession, nor is it driving what’s looking more like another recession here in 2019.

Sure, I have no doubt there are ways to improve the efficiency and reduce wasteful spending, and I’d love to see better financial reporting around government spending like USAfacts.org. I think technology will play a major role in informing citizens on how tax dollars are spent, but I can’t just jump on the “government is wasteful” train because I’ve been deeply unimpressed with most of the alternatives provided those people.


Or a $20T economy.


An economy isn't a bureaucratic organization, unless of course it is centrally planned.


>An economy isn't a bureaucratic organization

Yes, in the real world it's a loose not very well coordinated association of bureaucratic organizations (i.e large enterprises - Dilbert is less comedy and more journalism), monopolies, advertisers, clueless consumers, media and politicians paid by corporate interests (or pursuing their own over their duties), financial schemers, speculators, and rent-seekers...


Neither is a government, of course.


Then you might find much to agree with what the creator of Rails (of Ruby on Rails) and founder of niche company 37Signals (now known as Basecamp) had to say:

https://m.signalvnoise.com/exponential-growth-devours-and-co...


Find a niche. Build a profitable business around it. Stay small. Make your customers and your staff happy (make a path to shared ownership for them if that tickles your fancy). Enjoy doing it. You won’t regret it.

More money, more problems (my apologies to Mr B.I.G.)


> Find a niche. Build a profitable business around it. Stay small. Make your customers and your staff happy (make a path to shared ownership for them if that tickles your fancy).

Wow. This is exactly what I'm doing!


I wish you much success. I’d love to buy you a coffee or other beverage and hear all about it.


Anytime, jacques@modularcompany.com


"Mo" not "More". Respect.


I love listening to this. It's all the beauties of a great business. There's a problem, a loyal group and someone willing to solve and love the problem at the same time.

It's sad to see that the Roadster community was left behind so quickly. For better or for worse, Tesla plays cars like the startup game. Pivot, deploy, traction?, repeat. As terrible as that sounds, I do hope Tesla is here to stay. Even in its current form, the world is better with Tesla than without.


It seems that abandoning the userbase of the people that got you there is a staple ingredient for start-ups beyond a certain size too.


A small run exotic car won't be as easy and cheap to service as a mass market car. But 2500 isn't 25. Lots of manufacturers of exotic cars in a LOT smaller runs than 2500. And they make sure to procduce the parts required to service the cars for a very long time if they want to look like a serious car manufacturer.


My wife damaged the skirt at the bottom of the car, driving over a bump. It dented the skirt pretty badly, so we got it replaced.

$10,000 and 4 weeks labor (but waited months to get it fixed), because they had to disassemble the whole damn car. I was livid at what should have been maybe a $200 part required practically the entire car to be disassembled. One front seat and the back seats were both removed as were the entire side panel of the car.

Until Tesla solves the maintenance and replaceability of parts, I'm never getting another Tesla again. It's simply bad design. It's like an iPhone where you can't just replace the battery, you need to disassemble the entire thing just to get to the battery.

With no commitment to their Roadster customers, it makes me wonder how long they will be committed to their Model 3 customers in providing parts? Already the parts market takes months to get parts, how will it be 6 years from now?


This is exactly what put an end to my plan to buy a Tesla. I went nuts like everyone and most of my friends and coworkers bought one. I held out then I read about how the repair can take forever and how the parts are so tightly coupled that you have to almost disassembly the car to make repairs and I decided to pass. Until they figure this out, I'll probably get a used volt or bolt whenever I decided to get my next car.


There are a few clickbait articles out there, but don't believe everything you hear. Repairs, the very few I've had (two flat tires and one camera issue) have not been that bad. Flat tires were: mobile service came to where I was within 20 minutes, had me sign a paper, and put on an identical loaner wheel. That was that. Took like 2 minutes of my time. Then had to go to the service center for the swap back, which took around 20 minutes. Camera was a drop off at the shop and then I ubered to work on Tesla's dime for two days, because they were out of loaner Teslas at that time. Yeah could have been faster but it wasn't bad at all.

The horror stories were a catalyst for a lot of changes, I believe... the reality may be not as bad as you fear.


Model 3 is a mass market car with a production of currently all existing Tesla Roadsters per week.


To be fair it was their first car. They have come a long way since then.


What model do you have?


Basically the Apple philosophy.

On the plus side, it really drives up re-sale values and part-out values when you don't have the manufacturer undercutting you.

Source: I parted out my old Macbook and ended up with a pretty good downpayment on my next done. Got new mid-2015 Macbook Air new by parting my mid-2011 and ~CAD$300 by selling the promo "free" Beats headphones.


Tesla threw together of a couple of thousand prototype-ish cars based on an already-uncommon sports car. Apple makes zillions of devices and supports them for years. What's the connection here?


Individual parts are not readily available from either manufacturer.



You can't get 'individual parts' for most consumer electronics. They don't require the sort of maintenance a car does, as this user's story about selling an 8 year old laptop and buying a 4 year old laptop with the proceeds illustrates.


Apple keeps a much tighter grip on their supply chains than the rest.

If you're willing to search around on Ebay/AliExpress, you usually can get individual parts: either gray market from a service centre, 2nd shift or overruns. The big exception's for Apple parts.

Contrast with Sears: Here's 250+ parts available for each fridge they distribute, shipped to you direct, with manuals:

https://www.searspartsdirect.com/category/1234589/refrigerat...

I bought repair parts for my parents' 20 year old garage door opener from them. PSA: open it up and grease the nylon gears every decade so they don't turn into a snowmaker.


Sure, but that doesn't change the fact most consumer electronics are not user-serviceable by design and are also designed in a way that most of them don't require service in their useful lifetime. That's the 'philosophy' at play here, if we can call it that.

The other thing is making a small-run weird and pricey car and then mostly ditching it as a supported product. Putting aside any value judgements about the practice of making and selling products in either of those ways, I still don't see any 'philosophical' connection to Apple or really, you know, anyone else not-making bespoke custom products.


OP's claim was literally that Tesla's approach to parts hasn't changed since Day1:

"A lot of early adopters were probably worried that Tesla would go out of business and they wouldn't be able to get parts. Tesla is still in business and there still aren't parts."

I guess that could be interpreted as though Tesla would eventually support the early models, but it's clear that they're not providing parts for any model in small or large production.


Yes, my point is that if you make 2500 nigh-bespoke custom sports cars, whatever your plans or execution for parts, maintenance, etc are, they can't possibly have anything to do, philosophically or otherwise, with a manufacturer who makes non-user-servicable devices statistically nobody expects to user-service. Apple shipped 2500 iPhones every six minutes last year.

The comment you quoted says that buyers were concerned about parts from the get go, presumably as most buyers of nigh-bespoke custom sports cars are and as most buyers of anything Apple makes aren't.


I tried emailing ASUS about where to get batteries for a laptop of theirs, and they seemed happy to point me towards [0]. Apple's attitude isn't as common as you might think, even in that industry.

[0]: https://asusparts.eu/en/


the Roadster is a Lotus Elise with an EV drivetrain installed by Tesla, there is good parts supply for the original Elise. https://www.elise-shop.com/original-lotus-parts-c-17.html

The EV conversion made the car a lot heavier and was a pretty complex conversion https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2018/09/18/elon-mu...


That's not very accurate. The "sled" is completely different, not just the drivetrain.


The EV conversion made the car a lot heavier and was a pretty complex conversion https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanbaptiste/2018/09/18/elon-mu....


"Only the windshield, the dashboard (complete with the airbags and the wheel), the front wishbones, the rear-view mirrors...and the removable soft top were carried over from the Elise"


It's a very similar looking car, even down to the T E S L A matching the L O T U S. I wouldn't be surprised if the 'new' parts had conspicuously similar mounting points.


It does look similar, but the article says every body panel is different.


Tesla had to fettle very similar modified components and panels to make it all work is my understanding


https://youtu.be/_w9vB8V8mII Great video about gen 1 roadsters


"There are unique challenges that come with working on these cars. You might have to rebuild a circuit board one day, and fabricate a new hood the next day. Actually, if any body parts are damaged, you'll have to fabricate them. Tesla doesn't sell parts to anyone, so Medlock has taken to fashioning new panels out of carbon fiber himself. "

Didn't expect to see circuit board rebuilding until ~2023 (15y is my recollection for MTBF curves starting to climb).


I thought federal law required mass market vehicle manufacturers to make parts available for 10 years?

Am I mistaken or did Tesla manufacture these under some low-volume exception?


There is a California law requiring consumer electronics And appliances (not cars) to have parts for 7 years.

CIVIL CODE SECTION 1792-1795.8

(b) Every manufacturer making an express warranty with respect to an electronic or appliance product described in subdivision (h), (i), (j), or (k) of Section 9801 of the Business and Professions Code, with a wholesale price to the retailer of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, shall make available to service and repair facilities sufficient service literature and functional parts to effect the repair of a product for at least seven years after the date a product model or type was manufactured, regardless of whether the seven-year period exceeds the warranty period for the product


I don’t think the Tesla Roadster was ever a mass market car?

Someone elsewhere suggested only 2500 of them were made.


> federal law required mass market vehicle manufacturers to make parts available for 10 years

That's what I always heard as well, but it doesn't apply to Tesla for some reason, which is not being discussed even though it should be.

https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/14049/are-auto-...

According to the above link, parts for cars and other consumer products only need to be available in some form (and not from the manufacturer) for the stated warranty period, whatever it is. After that you have no protection. Seems the 10 yr thing is an urban legend widely promulgated to rubes like us.

The thread has evidence that laws are different overseas. In Israel it is claimed parts must be available for 7 years, as an example.


You’re probably thinking about cars bought by the federal gov.


The boards can get damaged in accidents and perhaps by water intrusion, so I wouldn't be surprised if the shop needs to replace them on a regular basis.


Just plain old MTBF says there will be (some) early failures. Nobody's perfect, and outlier conditions, like really high temps or humidity, high salt, etc, exist in some buyer environments. And, as you mention, special circumstances like crashes, fires, theft/vandalism, and flooding.


It's only a matter of time until it becomes profitable enough to salvage that one orbiting the Earth...


It's not orbiting Earth, it's orbiting the sun. I think it's fair to say that it would be the most ambitious space mission we've ever taken to try and retrieve it, at least when not adjusting for our increased technical sophistication since the appolo era...


Buck Rogers 2.0


Salvage One 2.0


That would be a pretty expensive recovery. It's orbiting the Sun at about the same distance as Mars.

"The current location is 185,936,494 miles (299,235,874 km, 2.000 AU, 16.64 light minutes) from Earth, moving away from Earth at a speed of 2,944 mi/h (4,738 km/h, 1.32 km/s)."

https://www.whereisroadster.com


I was going to mention that the one that has broken earth's orbit is the wrong vehicle and is not a first generation Tesla Roadster, but then I realised the repair woes are likely to be even worse for second generation Roadster owners. They're not likely to be produced in significantly more volume, and they're made totally in house, not based on a Lotus platform like the last one.


The first Roadster had a Lotus Elise shell, not the "platform". The "platform" is not the outside of the car, in automobile industry terms.


It seems that Musk realized that the only sane fate for the cars is to throw them away as far as you can.


Wow.

I had a '91 Saturn sedan until 2015. Despite my model being out of production for decades, and Saturn having closed up shop for years, I could still find aftermarket auto parts.

How common of a problem is this?

Any other manufactures/models notorious for poor part availability?


Most of the parts on your car are just GM parts. Auto manufacturers don't design a new pump/bearing/condenser/etc... for every make and model of their vehicles, they take one off of the shelf. When it breaks you can find a replacement because there are dozens or hundreds of cars that used the exact same part and supplying one supplies them all. Even when the manufacturer stops making that part (because the last car they used it in is 15+ years old) there's a healthy market of people making knockoffs just for people like you. I gave plenty of money to companies like Dorman to keep my old 90s truck alive.

With something like those early model Teslas there is a lot of custom one-off parts that are near impossible to find. The problem is a lot harder.


GM and the Big Three in general have a huge aftermarket and good parts availability likely due to the prevalence of the modding/tuning culture at the peak of the "car era" (1950s-70s). In fact you can still buy all the parts for the running gear of the stereotypical American car (V8, 3-speed auto/4-speed manual, RWD, IFS) entirely from the aftermarket, and they'll perform just as well if not better than the original parts.

Auto manufacturers don't design a new pump/bearing/condenser/etc... for every make and model of their vehicles, they take one off of the shelf.

...unless it's a German car. Or so the stories go...


> ...unless it's a German car. Or so the stories go...

VW has extremely decent availability for spare parts, speaking from experience here. That, and I am not joking here, even extends to sausages - try ordering part # 199 398 500 A ;)


> With something like those early model Teslas there is a lot of custom one-off parts that are near impossible to find.

I guess the question becomes why did Tesla have so many one-off parts? Is it all attributable to being electric rather than gas?


> Is it all attributable to being electric rather than gas?

Partly yes, but Tesla didn't have a shelf to go grab parts from in the first place, either. They didn't come out of an existing auto company with an existing parts inventory after all. And for the body & frame they also started with a Lotus which is itself not a mass-market car.

You'll probably find _some_ non-custom common parts in a Roadster, like maybe the A/C system. But the drive train makes up a pretty big chunk of the parts in a car.


Pretty big difference between a model that sells 2,500 total units and one that sells millions over 2 decades. A better comparison would be to look at what parts availability is on a limited run sports car.


Not only the limited run nature, but part of this has also got to be the big supplier network that is available for other cars. How many custom parts are there on a Tesla Roadster compared to other cars? There are large supplier networks that can supply many (most? all?) of the internal parts required to build a complete car (sport or otherwise).

I’ve got to think that the ratio skews heavily to the side of custom for any of the Tesla. This is where Tesla’s intense vertical integration starts to be a detriment. I was just reading an article about how the vertical integration of Tesla was amazing in that it made it possible for custom components to be used that saved space and weight by performing more than one job [0]. This is great - until you need to replace that one specialized part and you can’t seem to find it.

I laughed when I was looking at the cup holder for my new car. It’s a 2018 Audi A3. The rear cup holder is the same junky design that I had to replace multiple times in an old 2000 Jetta. It’s not a great design, even-though it saves space. However, because of all of the available suppliers for that part, I know I’ll be able to find a replacement of this for years. This type of parts availability is a blessing (you can find one cheap) and a curse (you are limited in how you can design the car by the parts that are already available, thus you can only have a barely functional cup holder).

[0] https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-3-superbottle-disrupti...


This is great - until you need to replace that one specialized part and you can’t seem to find it.

...or when that multifunction part fails and renders much of the car inoperable.

Odd that that article about the Superbottle mentions "increased modularity" as an advantage, when it clearly decreases modularity to integrate so many functions into one monolithic part.


Yup. Try a first gen Jaguar XK8. Not crazy rare, many small towns have one or two. Gorgeous cars. But despite Ford owning Jag for a while, and some shared parts, you’d better hope you don’t need repairs. Only ~50k made in the whole world across the whole ten years of production. And that’s not even partitioning for body style or revision. Some critical parts are scarcer than hens’ teeth.


You're right; that's a good point. The are specialized vehicles akin to a rare sports car; it's unfair to compare it to mass market vehicles.


But they made a lot more Saturns than they did Tesla Roadsters. That's got a lot to do with the strength of the parts market.

BTW-- congrats on the Saturn! I had a '94 SC1, first car I ever bought brand new. Good car.


Mine was an SL2.

I wish I knew how many miles I had on it; the odometer broke at 186,000 in 2003.


Why would Tesla send a C&D to this guy who is helping their brand???

Mind-boggling decision.


I find it crazy when any company doesn't fully adopt the hackers and aftermarket people. Like the guy said they need to have a certification process and official pipelines to support 3rd party vendors.

This would significantly increase the UX of owning the car which would offset any risks of backlash from bad work. A car waiting 1.5yrs for a small component is a way worse outcome IMO.


"Actually, if any body parts are damaged, you'll have to fabricate them."

I thought car markers provided parts for, like, 30 years.


Mass-market cars tend to yes. The economics work out for them to do that, along with trying to get those repeat customers. The low-volume exotics not as much. They didn't make extra parts when the factory was doing the initial batch, and they sure aren't going to go spin it up for the odd one-off.


Wonder if these are good collectible-candidates? Though I guess maintaining the battery for 25 years would be an absolute nightmare. Do these things, used, trade at a premium or discount to their original price?


That they won't service them or supply parts shows the future for all Tesla owners.

We need legislative reform that requires any companies selling products in US jurisdiction put enough parts and cash in escrow to guarantee for a reasonable time period the ability to service anything that costs more than $500.


It's more like the present; every part they manufacture goes into a new Tesla while owners wait weeks for replacement parts.


This is the key: Tesla's goal is increasing new-car production. Diverting intermediate assemblies into spare parts inventories directly competes with that goal. If Tesla had spare manufacturing capacity this wouldn't be as pressing. As they bring more online it would presumably ease, though with lag while the backlog of demand is drained.


It’s unknown if Telsa has spare parts capacity.

What is know is that distributing parts for warranty repairs is a cost to the company.

It seems their plan is to let warranty claims languish until at least the next financial period.


Depends on the part and who the supplier is. Some parts are more easily ramped up in production.

Are parts buyers struggling for some parts, or all parts equally? If it's the latter, Tesla is either really good, or really nasty.

If you're getting stamped steel body panels from a manufacturer that can't ramp up its supply, you're with the wrong manufacturer.


>> put enough parts and cash in escrow

How about just putting the CAD data into escrow, and it all becomes public domain whenever (1) the manufacturer no longer makes replacement parts available, or (2) the price to replace all the parts of a vehicle exceeds three times the original purchase price.


A good idea in theory, but would you trust the security of the escrow system? It would be a very ripe target for corporate espionage.


They could just as easily buy a car and cut it up. IP is generally protected by (threat of) a courtroom, not obscurity.


Buying an old car is not a way to get new parts, and buying a new car is not a way to get parts for an old car.

The high price of car parts is the reason why we have so much car theft. Promoting the availability of car parts will save costs for car insurance, law enforcement, the prosecutors, judges, juries, and jails.

The situation is outrageous. There are parts for which a dealer pays around $10.00 that retail over $500.00.


It could be done with some kind of multi-key approach, everything encrypted. I'd be more worried about not loosing data and that the correct data was put in there to begin with. Up to date revisions and everything.


Library of Congress or other national libraries could be used as trusted intermediaries. They've been keeping stuff safe for hundreds of years.


As good as that sounds for consumers I think the cost would mean we would see less innovation. And it would be harder for small companies to bring products to market. Caveat emptor.


That's a great way to raise the barrier to entry so much that only large, established companies can afford to introduce new products.


I've wanted one since "Nash Bridges". Cool car.




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