Wife was driving on freeway, all of a sudden all these warnings came up - Regen braking disabled, Emergency braking disabled, traction control disabled, and a large metal clunking noise. Very dangerous on highway, as car just drifted but good thins mechanical braking was available. She was unable to drive fwd or reverse, no movement at all. Tried resetting car, rebooting, no change at all.

Tesla towed car to service center, diagnosis: REAR DRIVE UNIT FAILED

I couldn't believe it, car has 2200 miles.

I guess Elon was correct when he stated we should all get AWD in case the rear unit failed then we would be able to drive still.

Wife is pissed, now really hates Tesla, wasn't fond initially but this just makes her really mad. Now my life is not good since I recommended the Tesla.

Anyone else have same issue?

Magic 8 Ball | 14. November 2018

Rare infant mortality. Would probably sour most that don't have lots of experience with other brands and having things not go right.

Coastal Cruiser. | 14. November 2018

There have been several similar reports, in this forum and others. There seem to be varying causes that cause total loss of power, but clunking sounds are one of the reported symptoms.

Anything you can add about how the car was being driven prior to the failure, and how it was being driven at the time of failure. Accelerating? deceleration? flooring it? Not pejorative. Just curious.

The Tesla store will likely never tell you exactly what went wrong, but please report any details you happen to learn. Good luck getting your car back soon.

slingshot18 | 14. November 2018

It happens with the most reliable cars, even Honda and Toyota. The expectation that there will be perfection isn't fair to Tesla. My Audi S4 had an infant mortality with a failed transmission. My response was to get it fixed under warranty and move on with life. It sucks, but Tesla will make it right. You'll get the car back. It will work as intended and you'll enjoy the car again. You and your wife will forget all about it in a few months. Some day you'll tell your story on an online forum like I am right now.

lilbean | 14. November 2018

I’m sorry you think your life isn’t good because your wife is pissed. :(

burdogg | 14. November 2018

"wasn't fond initially" so question - once she had it, did she really like it...or has she never cared for which case I am at a loss for words...

wayne | 14. November 2018

I would recommend marital counseling.

Cclcal | 14. November 2018

@ coastal cruiser - well i wasnt in car to witness the method of driving but she states she was just driving along normally on a highway she always takes around 70-75 mph when this happened. Freeway is flat, no significant incline/declines.

She also stated when the clunking noise occurred the mph shot up to 90-98 mph. I asked her if she was driving that fast and she stated definitely not.

@ burdogg she didnt like the look, but after driving it she warmed up to it. She wanted EV so I gave her choices, Bolt, Leaf, another e-Golf, Porsche, (Audi wasnt announced).

@slingshot i told her it happens to all makes, not good but it does happen. Our A8 tranny didnt die till 120K miles though.

ST70 | 14. November 2018

"she didn't like the look"? What EV does she like the looks of? Porsche doesn't have an EV.

Cclcal | 14. November 2018

@ ST70 you got me, none. She likes BMW 5 series or Audi Q7. Porsche has the Taycan! not out yet though.

efuseakay | 14. November 2018

They'll replace it and the car should be fine after that.

Cclcal | 14. November 2018

I think it should be fine but I would like to exactly what failed. But I doubt Tesla will release that as coastal cruiser stated as well

@wayne haha, she's better now, we're all good. :)

kevin_rf | 15. November 2018

Yes, I have ended up on the couch many times for issues more minor than recommending a Tesla. I recommend heavily researching couch and couch comfort levels :)

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

@ kevin_rf very funny, ironically she wanted me to purchase a nice sleeper sofa so guests can have a nice bed to sleep on but i didnt want to spend thousands for the rare times we have numerous guests. She was warning me...
I have my kids beds to invade haha

Bighorn | 15. November 2018

Never cheat on this woman:)

jimglas | 15. November 2018

My BMW died repeatedly. I finally dumped it for a prius.

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

@ Bighorn - never will, love of my life. :)

@jimglas - she wants a BMW!

Coastal Cruiser. | 15. November 2018

If she puts up any more of a fuss we could always turn Phillygal loose on her.

Cclcal, if you have not met Phillygal, she is one of the forum's leading female spokesgal and evangelist for all things Tesla. I'm sure she would be happy to -in the most friendly way- help your wife see the light.

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

@CC- that may help, but she is so set in her ways and determined. No helping BMW lovers...

Bighorn | 15. November 2018

Tesla cured me of my love for BMWs.

BlueDaddy | 15. November 2018

My M3 is less than two weeks old. Got all of these same electronic warning errors minus the mechanical failures you describe (drive unit *seems* uneffected). First error was with less than 200 miles on the Odo. It’s in service today and I’m also awaiting an explanation or resolution.

Will post updates as I get them

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

@BlueDaddy - keep us posted. Did you try a reboot /reset?
You were still able to drive the car? | 15. November 2018

BMW ownership cured me of BMW ownership.:-)) "Vee do not make lemons." Said Hans, the BMW maintenance director for CA, incorrectly.

onetwocombo | 15. November 2018

Sounds like you got a dud, ever set off fireworks and one of them just does nothing? That's what happened, your car did nothing. They'll fix it.

jjgunn | 15. November 2018

Friggin HATE / DESPISE BMW's. They're like A-holes....everyone has one & they all stink!

Tell the wife that....

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

Im just waiting on service center now. It was amazing how fast they diagnosed the issue. Car was towed in @ 1338. i received repair order via email @ 1349. It's like they know the problem already. There is no way they could have diagnosed it that fast, unless they hook it up to a diagnostic unit that tells them the exact problem.
They also stated it should be done by today by 1500. Do they have drive units stocked at these service centers awaiting M3s to come in?

Bighorn | 15. November 2018

Their diagnostics are excellent. They should be stocked with routine parts, yes.

jjgunn | 15. November 2018

I believe your issue is rare but yes they have been acquiring parts & probably are aware of the issue - Glad they hopped on it immediately. Very cool

maitry | 15. November 2018

I had somewhat similar issue 3 days back with my Model 3 with 3500 miles so I know what you mean. I got a series of warnings - Unable to charge, charging port disabled, reduced power, service needed, unable to drive (going off of memory so some may not be accurate) and the car would not drive. Had a humming sound coming from under the hood which eventually stopped. Car's been at service center and they suspect a problem with 12V battery and power conversion unit.
Have a separate thread I posted for this. Will update once repairs are done.

Even though we both love the model 3, we were both unhappy that the problem happened so early on. To make matters worse, the tow truck that tesla arranged for free towing damaged the rear bumper so have to get that fixed as well :).

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

update - stopped by service center this afternoon to ask some questions. Service man was very nice.
1. Car will not be ready today, sometime next week.
2. Rear drive unit is being ordered and shipped
3. They will not tear apart old unit to find out what is broken, just replacing w new unit so they wont be able to let me know what exactly happened.
4. This is rare, very unusual. (But it's not rare when it happens to you).
5. Cannot add on issues that were discovered at delivery (paint, fitment, etc), body shop is slammed, 6 weeks out. But that's what I was told @ delivery 2+ months ago...? I didn't push any further.

I wonder how rare this really more M3s get on the road this may become more commonplace....

BlueDaddy | 15. November 2018

I got the errors a total of five times. First three were during my commute and I was able to get to work with minimal impact to driving experience. Once parked, the errors cleared themselves.

Events 4 and 5 happened about 15 mins apart. Event 4 occurred while backing down my driveway and also included all steering assist so it was not in a drivable condition. Tried the (soft?) reset by holding both scroll wheels and that didn’t fix it. I did power down the car for 3 minutes using the touchscreen and that cleared the errors. Fifth event was about 15 minutes later while cruising at 50 in a straight line with no notable driving behavior (turning, breaking, interaction with other controls).

Still awaiting diagnosis

walnotr | 15. November 2018

Or it could become less commonplace as they look into the cause back at the factory. The mobile service person that changed my charge port door said all replaced parts are returned to the mothership for failure analysis. It’s konwn as continuous improvement.

Coastal Cruiser. | 15. November 2018

One thing to note too is that Cclcal and BlueDaddy -based on their descriptions- have totally different types of failures. Cclcal seems to have a purely mechanical failure... in the gearbox/transaxle. BlueDaddy may have an electronic component failure... in the penthouse of equipment that lives above the battery.

Either type of failure of course equates to car-won't-go, and the old adage 'a chain is only as strong as its weakest link' comes in to play. No doubt Tesla is chasing down all the culprits. It's nice to see the recent news of what appears to be a strong candidate moved to the position of President of Automotive Operation (

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

@BlueDaddy - I wonder if your warnings are a forecast to mechanical breakdown. I hope not.

@walnotr - I concur, that would be great for Tesla as a company. If it's a mechanical issue, then all the M3s currently on the road, already manufactured may encounter the same issue since it wont be a software/firmware update.

@CC - glad to see Tesla constantly looking to improve. Not sitting on it's laurels.

BlueDaddy | 15. November 2018

Early feedback from service is that there was a failure of (something) in the steering rack. Unknown exactly what at this point. Parts are on order and repair is expected to be done sometime next week. Clearly a different issue than what cclcal is experiencing.

walnotr | 15. November 2018

The other piece I forgot to mention is they can trace each part to the person installing the component which would also equate to a specific batch of parts. It’s all about improving the process to bring the failure rate to a close to zero as possible. Not only does that help the consumer, it also helps the bottom line. A win win. Of course being the one with the problem isn’t fun but I have yet to hear of Tesla not making it right.

HighlandPony | 15. November 2018

I would love to see the telemetry from this incident. Careening down the freeway, uncontrolled at 90-98 mph. Does your wife need therapy for PTSD after this incident? I would assume that Tesla would be keenly interested in this incident since it would represent a total loss of driver control. Much like the Prius and the all weather floor mats. Dashcam footage?

kevin_rf | 15. November 2018

@walnotr, another word for that kind of continuous improvement is hording...

greg | 15. November 2018

Suggest you read the OPs comments. No one was DRIVING at that speed.

What the OP said His wife told was that she was driving at 70-75 on a flat stretch.
But when mechanical noise happened the speed registered on the speedo apparently ramped up to 90-98.

Likely as the mechanical breakage in the drive unit disconnected the motor from the wheels, causing the rear wheel motor unit - to speed up [overspeed] and thus the car registered this increase in motor RPM as a high speed of travel transient as if the car was going 98 MPH.

I doubt the car ever went that fast at any stage.

Same "speed bump" would happen on any RWD ICE if there was a drive shaft or similar breakage.

I doubt the car was uncontrolled or careening either at any stage when this happened.

Yes it would be scary. But so would a tire blowout at that speed.

Xerogas | 15. November 2018

@HighlandPony: "I would love to see the telemetry from this incident. Careening down the freeway, uncontrolled at 90-98 mph"
That’s not what happened. The car *reported* that speed. It wasn’t actually going that fast.

Cclcal | 15. November 2018

@highland pony - I doubt the car was actually going over 90mph, but wife stated that forward movement ceased suddenly and the car decelerated very quickly (faster than standard regen braking) and she had to get to the shoulder asap. She then walked off the freeway (she was just past the nearest exit). I advised against it but she was determined to get off the freeway somehow with or without the car. Good thing the highway was only two lanes, she said if she was on a wider freeway, say 4-5 lanes and in the fast lane she would never have been able to make it to the shoulder and the car would have stopped in the middle of traffic. That made her very anxious

no dashcam footage, didn't get around to the arduous task of inserting a USB drive :)

Cclcal | 16. November 2018

what are the VIN ranges for cars w similar failures?

BritMob | 17. November 2018

BTW this happened to me a few weeks back - car did much of what you said without the clunking. And it was on the highway when it failed, which was scary as hell. I was able to reboot and drive slowly until it died for good in the middle of an off-highway intersection. 47 miles on the ODO. Got a new rear motor and back in business. So, yeah, seeing your post made it feel common.

Cclcal | 17. November 2018

@BritMob - tesla called and said car is ready but I wasn't able to pick up. Will update once I get the car back. DId they mention what exactly broke?

BritMob | 23. November 2018

@Cclcal They said the rear drive "resolver" failed. I searched for that on the internet and it's not a thing. In the end the verbal statement was "the rear drive unit was replaced."

Tâm | 23. November 2018

At the start of Model S, concerns about Drive Unit was so strong that Tesla had to calm owners down by starting offering infinite mile warrant for 8 years for models above 60 kWh.

The symptoms started with louder and louder 'drone" noise and most are replace preventively before a rare one would break down in the middle of the road.

Yes, Dual Motors would be able to "limp" you safely to a shoulder (instead of just gliding with no power) when 1 of them fails.

ftm3 | 23. November 2018

@BritMod Resolvers in electric motors are a thing, they are used to measure rotary position and as a result determine speed and direction. They are internal to the motor so not likely to find it listed in a parts list as a separate item. Search for "rotary resolver" and you'll find a lot of info.

Cclcal | 24. November 2018

picked up car today. drives normal.

Tesla mentioned the driver side rear axle seized in the drive unit.
They had to replace the drive unit and the driver side rear axle. They don't know why and what broke.

I mentioned very dangerous if we couldn't get to side of road, if stuck in the middle of highway, then we are talking big collision w chance of bodily injury or death. Tesla just said "yeah" and nothing more. They seemed content and proud that they were able to get car back to me within a week. Basically telling me don't worry we will take care of it, it's an easy replacement!

jefjes | 24. November 2018

Scary stuff but the way the media jumps all over any type of Tesla mishaps or failures, I am pretty confident driving my car without worrying about this happening. If it were happening to any degree that shorts could benefit, it would be front page on every news feed. When I used to work in building maintenance which included HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems, conveyors, battery chargers, cranes, electric mules, and forklifts, etc. etc., occasionally a brand new part straight out of the box would be defective. We would just remind ourselves that even newborn babies die and they are made by .....;-)

Bighorn | 24. November 2018

All cars suffer failures that can stop them unpredictably. I had a wheel and half shaft detach from the driver’s rear on a Mazda. Throwing a rod or dropping a tranny are similarly startling I imagine. Running out of gas is usually driver error but happens probably a million times a year. Blowouts and major road hazards, esp mattresses and ladders are things I’ve seen several times.

Cclcal | 24. November 2018

@jefjes and bighorn

I concur and understand. I would just like to know what actually happened, what part broke, and if it is likely to occur again. Was there an upgrade to the drive unit so this doesn't happen again?

Like I said, all I got was it's a sealed unit, easy to drop out and replace with a new one. We don't open it up to see what happened.