Suspension and safety

I recently had  work done on my 2013Model S85, a week before my trip.

It came  about as a result of driving around with my friend, who is a skilled mechanic, Roger. Roger pointed out a low hum from the rear, only noticeable at highway speed and without the radio on. He speculated that it might be a wheel bearing. He had me gently steer back and forth to see if the sound changed in pitch or volume, which would confirm a wheel bearing issue. We were  unable to detect any changes, and I speculated that it might be the motor.

When I brought it to my Tesla service center, they immediately had a service tech, Jose, go for a drive with me. He had me do the same thing, gently steering side to side at speed. He also couldn’t detect a change in the sound which would have indicated a wheel bearing issue. We made an appointment for him to do a thorough diagnostic.

During the same road test with Jose, he pointed out an additional sound from the front right side. It was very difficult for me to hear. I could only pick it up when Jose had me raise the suspension to maximum, drive parking lot speed (under 4mph) and make a sharp left turn over small potholes. It was a popping, creaking type of sound. He would also examine that when the car came in for a proper appointment.

When the appointment came, the diagnostics were done and I was told the following: The rear wheel bearings were worn and needed to be replaced. Also, something to do with the front sway bar (suspension), needed work or replacement. I forget the details about that.

I have a very limited budget, with lots of medical bills. I couldn’t afford the estimate for the work to be done. So I called Roger and asked his advice. He advised me that the wheel bearings were a safety issue and that I absolutely was NOT to drive cross country without having it fixed. He also said that the sway bar issue in front would become more noticeable with time (louder), but was not a serious safety concern.

I asked Tesla to fix the wheel bearings only. Even with having them not do All of the work, I had to cancel my Model III reservation to pay  the bill. No matter, I already own a Tesla, I’m glad everyone else gets to move up in line one more spot for the model III and someone else will enjoy the $7500 tax rebate that I’ll miss out on.

Even though I had asked Tesla not to do the front end work, when I went to pick up my car, the service leader casually informed me that I wouldn’t be hearing that noise from the front end anymore and I haven’t. i assume that they did that work for free, because that falls in line with the fantastic, generous customer service I’ve always received from them.

I asked for the parts from the wheel bearing work, to show Roger. He’s always interested to potentially learn something new in mechanics and the exotic design of the Model S piques his curiosity.

Roger looked at the parts and said they didn’t look very bad, but that it was good to have them replaced. That low hum disappeared and I’m back to driving on a cloud :). Roger knows that I have over 100,000 miles on my car, including 3 winters of corrosive road salt and snow in upstate NY. He didn’t harp on about how my car shouldn’t be having these problems with such’low’ mileage.He also said the repair cost was in line with industry standards.

From all  this, one might conclude A: Tesla is proactive, thorough, and generous when it comes to service, but doesn’t  want to encourage customers to constantly ask for favors. or B: Tesla is shady, trying to hide a problem.

I choose A and think that anyone who chooses B probably (with exceptions) either has a bone to pick with Tesla, or is jaded from negative experiences with companies that don’t realize the benefits of being good to their customers.


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