Rear Drive Unit swap out at 3,500 miles

Rear Drive Unit swap out at 3,500 miles

We recently took delivery of a 2018 P100D- which is now a couple of months old and has about 3,500 miles on it.

Unfortunately, I woke up the other morning to a "rear motor disabled" message blaring on the dash.

After the car got to Tesla Service, I received a message from the service guy that they would need the car only for about one more day- but would be "swapping out the rear drive unit."

Is this a common problem, and should I be concerned about performance once the car is home?

Thank you!

akikiki | 08. Oktober 2018

Well, we don't know from records. We don't have access to Tesla repairs data. If we rely only on reports here on TM and TMC, it is rare these days. It does happens once in a while now. It happens considerably less now ('17/'18) than it did in '12/'13/'14.

Most people that report the problem and after the repair are more pleased with their car than before. Think of it this way. Tesla is constantly improving the car. If there was a problem on drive units in the batch about the time yours was built, they have likely found the cause and fixed it going forward. So your S is probably better now than it was before it broke. Concerned about performance? No.

minervo.florida | 08. Oktober 2018

Have no concerns.

Bighorn | 08. Oktober 2018

A DU replacement is not a big deal

ST70 | 08. Oktober 2018

P85DL- I'm on my 4th rear DU...25K miles. My right foot is 99% lead though....

sbeggs | 09. Oktober 2018

Haha. Change name to Pb70?

ST70 | 09. Oktober 2018


Anthony J. Parisio | 10. Oktober 2018

This has not been reported often here about the P100D.

Be award the electric paradigm is different than the Fossil paradigm. By this I mean Fossil cars have gotten good at making sure there is very little problems in the first three years of ownership. One might say there will be no big problems for the life of the warranty. However when it comes to electrical equipment IF something is to go wrong it will be in the first few months. If nothing goes wrong electrical equipment will last for many years. The reason for this is if it was made right electrical equipment will wear very slowly. I hope this helps.

ST70 | 10. Oktober 2018

@#Anthony J. Parisio- correct...I hope I'm giving Tesla good data so they can continue to improve the components...I'm also a P85D that was upgraded to not sure how many of us exist.

Haggy | 15. Oktober 2018

It's not a common problem. It was a common problem with the early 85 or 60 because of Tesla's original bearing design. Back then, they swapped drive units not because the units were bad, but because the drive units had to be removed to repair the problem, and it was quicker (and better for the customer) to replace it immediately with one that met the latest specs.

Also, it was better to send it to the factory to be remanufactured to the latest spec, with anything showing any amount of wear replaced and anything that was superseded by a newer design upgraded. Sending your unit to the factory, having them go through the queue until they got to yours, and then fixing yours and sending it back to be reinstalled would be time consuming, and you wouldn't gain anything over having them put in the first one they can get, which will be as good as or better than yours would have been had it been working perfectly.

On paper, Tesla got a lot of bad press for it back then, ironically because they didn't just replace bearings and put that on the work order. Tesla is doing more for you, getting something back to you faster, and making sure that you have the latest hardware. Don't assume that just because they are replacing the drive unit that there is necessarily a major problem with it. It might not be a major problem at all, but regardless, you'll be getting one with no wear whatsoever and with the rest of the eight year, unlimited mile warranty.

carlk | 15. Oktober 2018

It's not common. Have not heard this for ages.

carlk | 15. Oktober 2018

BTW even back then I don't remember ever heard people getting "rear motor disabled" message.

ST70 | 16. Oktober 2018

BTW...I've never been disabled by Tesla with DU and battery issues...only issue I had that disabled me was a screw in the tire crossing the San Mateo bridge...Tesla provided a flat bed tow and called Uber for my wife and children. If I would have had the tire kit I have now I would have taken care of it myself.

carlk | 17. Oktober 2018

Yes I have never heard of cars died on the road or in the garage because of drive unit or 12V battery issue when those things did happen.

BTW where is the op?

Rocky_H | 17. Oktober 2018

@carlk, Quote: "Yes I have never heard of cars died on the road or in the garage because of drive unit or 12V battery issue when those things did happen. "

Really? Drive unit, no, generally not. But you've been following this forum long enough to have read several instances of cars dying because of 12V failures.

ST70 | 17. Oktober 2018

I have my original 12v battery...I had the main battery replaced last year

Bighorn | 17. Oktober 2018

My car died on the road due to a drive unit. I’ve met several people who’ve had this happen.

Haggy | 17. Oktober 2018

Yes, but not recently. It's more common now for people to get a message about replacing their 12V battery soon, being told by the service center that they have at least a month, and then getting into a panic. Mine lasted almost four years and was swapped out under warranty at 49920 miles. It was questionable to me whether mine was old enough that I might have had some of the problems that people used to have. Whether or not it was, my car wasn't one of them.

Also, an under the radar change to the software at some point within a year before the Model X release was a change to the algorithm for recharging the 12V battery, which supposedly helped prevent problems.

Bighorn | 17. Oktober 2018

Yes this is true, about more recent drive units--more responding to the concept of "never." My 12V has 180k miles on it, I think. Wasn't replaced during service two months ago either.

p.c.mcavoy | 17. Oktober 2018

I had two instances on my refresh 2016 MS90D where I receive a series of drive unit performance reduced quickly followed by a safely come to a stop type of messages. At that stage the car was dead throttle with the PRND indicator all displayed in red. The whole sequence happened in a matter of a second from first message to dead throttle and coasting to side of the road. First time the car was about 3.5 month old and car was towed to service with the result of the engineeeing investigation being the diagnosis of “rare software bug”.

Second occurrence about 3 months ago when car was just over 2 years old. That time after coming to a safe stop at the side of the road I exited the vehicle, let if fully lock/shutdown, waited 30 seconds, and reentered the car. This was recommended to me the first time as they diagnostics would recycle on start-up at which point I called service as I drove home and two days later car was dropped off at service. After having it for about a week I picked up the car with a new rear drive unit installed.

In neither instance was there any association with a 12V battery issue.

So, drive unit failures still happen, and in some instances, they do result in the car suddenly being undrivable and coming to a sudden stop at the side of the road (although not a loss of electrical power).

nwfan | 18. Oktober 2018

@Bighorn, made it to 1500 miles on my Model 3 before Tesla replaced my 12v battery.
Model S passed 1 year, knock on wood, no issues. Going in for 1st year service.

Dpakula2000 | 31. Oktober 2019

In reference to the rear drive disabled message, I experienced this issue last Monday in my 2019 MX, however, could still drive the vehicle, although the performance is quite limited.

I have reached out to Tesla service, however, no response for the past three days after several VMs, e-mails, etc. Also posted to my Tesla account for help..twice. The only option seems to be scheduling a service appointment through the mobile app, but seems only the option is the mobile mechanic. Could be a challenge replacing the rear drive motor remotely.

The 2019 MX was built in June of this year and took delivery on 30-Jun-19. This is the first time I have seen this message after driving MS / MXs for the past 2.5 years.

rxlawdude | 31. Oktober 2019

@Dpakula, if the expected job is beyond what a mobile tech can perform, they will schedule you at the SvC. Yours does sound like a high priority.

AlMc | 31. Oktober 2019

Mobile can't (at least at this time) replace a drive unit. I went thru one on my '13 P85+ and the rear drive on my '14 P85D.......( just a single point of reference )

jordanrichard | 31. Oktober 2019

A DU replacement will never be able to be done by mobile service. The car has to be on a lift.

The original DU on my ‘14 S was replaced at 36,000 miles. It was not for a failure, but for the milling noise. They were actually going to just replace the bearing in the motor, but when the seal/bearing kit showed up, it was missing a couple of seals and instead of making me wait for another kit to show up, they just put in a whole new DU. BTW, that was 134,000 miles ago.

Bighorn | 31. Oktober 2019

My replacement drive unit has 216k miles on it. Seems good.

NKYTA | 31. Oktober 2019

82k after bearing issue.

Whine is back on hard acceleration, but I do that rarely.

Today, I wanted to catchup quick to a Porsche 911, who had a vanity plate that read “08 911”. I lost half a second on the HOV “tree” while I waited for puffs of something noxious and a clearly not tuned engine to get off the “line” in front of me. Disconcerting.

reed_lewis | 01. November 2019

@Dpakula2000 - Make an appointment with a description of the issue, and pictures of the screen showing the error message. Tesla will contact you very quickly to move the appointment to a service center and then you can chat with that person to get taken care of.

@Teslatap is right (what he posted on another thread). If you need any help with your Tesla, just schedule an appointment and then someone will contact you and take care of you. Attempting to contact them yourself is a fool's errand.

troyhobbs | 21. November 2019

Came out of work on Tuesday, to a ‘dead car’. Warning said ‘unable to drive’ / ‘low voltage’. Real downer since I live 40 miles from work, and my day starts at 5:30 am. Used the mobile app to summon Roadside Assistance. Got a text back fairly quickly stating ‘tow truck should arrive in 90 minutes’. (Glad it’s November, and not August!!) I tried a ‘reset’, but that killed everything. Tow driver had to jump the 12v to get it in neutral. We pushed the car out of the parking spot. Just got my car back an hour ago. New drive unit, 12v and 4 wheel alignment. Since I put 360k miles on a Lexus LS400, I’m a little bummed about being left stranded so soon. 2013 Model S60 with 9400 miles on it when I bought it last December. Now has 35k miles. Guess we’ll see how it holds up. Overall...... still love the car

troyhobbs | 21. November 2019

Oh!!!! Forgot to mention, I have the Tesla charger in my garage, and charge the car every night. Got to work with 140 miles on the dash! ( so ‘Voltage’ should not have been low (??) | 21. November 2019

@troyhobbs - There have been very a small number of 12v battery low issues, that were caused by something else. Still not sure how the Drive unit caused this. One of the mysteries we may never know! Nothing you are doing or charging is likely to have anything to do with the failure.

troyhobbs | 21. November 2019

TeslaTap |
I didn’t understand the correlation either. And the techs didn’t have an answer. Glad to have it back!