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DEAD ROADSTER SPORT 2.0

DEAD ROADSTER SPORT 2.0

June, 2016
Tesla Roadster Sport 2.0
Catastrophic failure 
Sticker price - around $148,000
VIN: 5YJRE1A36A1000799

I loved the concept of an electric vehicle that would perform like a regular car and use a fraction of the energy as that of a petroleum powered vehicle with none of the exhaust pollution. As soon as I saw the Tesla Roadster I was hooked and I started doing a significant amount of research into the vehicle. I was blown away by the performance and I became a huge supporter of Tesla and their technology. Tesla helped me to find a beautiful used 2010 Roadster Sport 2.0 with 7000 miles in February of 2013 from a private owner. The three year warranty was just ending by the 36 months cut-off but the vehicle had all of its service intervals and was in very good condition.

Other than some annoying issues which I accepted as a trade off for the performance and awesome factor, I had no over the top issues. Of course, I did the over $600 yearly maintenance and blew off the significant road noise, the lack of creature comforts, the every 5000 mile tire changes, the constant tire pressure monitoring system problems, the fogging headlights amongst other things because the car is just so much fun to drive. Whenever I needed something done by Tesla, the prices were way over what a regular car shop would charge for regular non-electronic items. I still loved the car....until...

In a period of a few weeks I watched the charge capacity drop from a 179 mile ideal range on a full charge to less than 75 miles. It was so bad that I could no longer get from point A to point B and back. While this was happening I was waiting for an appointment with Tesla for about two weeks. It took about one week for Tesla to diagnose the problem and send data back to California to figure it out. The best explanation I received was that a brick in one of the battery sheets was faulty.

The solution: Tesla's offer, "as a favor to me" would be to replace the entire battery pack with a refurbished battery pack for $10,971.96 plus tax and support this with a one year warranty. The other option would be to replace the battery pack with a new 3.0 battery pack for about $30,000 and a three year warranty.

Without the battery this vehicle is a paperweight. Has there ever been a modern day production vehicle that lasted 33,000 miles and then was useless unless one spent between $10000 and $30,000 (The cost of a new Tesla Model 3)? This makes every claim about the vehicle’s efficiency and fuel savings pointless, regardless of the warranty. So, it seems that Tesla would have a little better plan than an almost $11,000 service charge and a one year warranty to keep one's car running after such little mileage. This would not burn nearly as much if there was at least a reasonable life of the car. This is especially true for early adopters who believed in the company and would otherwise likely be a Tesla customer for years to come. A one year warranty on such an enormous charge does not leave a customer much confidence in the company's own confidence in their product. After a series of phone calls and concerns about this problem, getting absolutely nowhere with Tesla corporate other than telling me the only person I am able to speak to about this issue is my local service manager, Tesla offered me a $1500 discount with no change in the warranty period. One year only. This would reduce my bill to a low...$10,000 with tax.

I was actually starting to shop for a Model S before this happened. Knowing how Tesla is handling this issue, I am unlikely to pursue such an expensive purchase. C'mon Tesla, how are consumers, especially ones that believed in and supported the company in the beginning, going to have confidence in your company if this is what they can expect after 30,000 miles of driving without a decent plan for such a catastrophic failure on a perfectly maintained car regardless of the warranty time? What car is dead after such low milage

flight505 | 02. Juli 2016

Sorry to hear about your battery problem. I have been trying to bring myself to buy a Roadster, but I'm worried about technical issues, especially the battery.

Do you mind mentioning other problems and how common they are?

The Model S has an 8-year warranty with unlimited miles on motors and battery.

I don't think you will have any similar worries with Model S.

schnitt | 03. Juli 2016

The TPMS has frequently faulted either with an individual monitor, despite age, or with the computer. The headlights frequently fog. They had a repair kit for this where a semi-permeable membrane was placed over a hole in the housing to give more aeration, however, this did not work. The headlights started peeling after three years where a clear thin film started curling up over the entire clear surface of the lights. I had to have them re-finished. One of the bulbs melted one of the headlight running light covers internally which was not repairable according to Tesla. The entire light housing was recommended to be replaced at considerable expense (something around $1000). The drivers side electric window actuator failed and needed to be replaced after three years. This was an expensive Lotus part. The windshield washer tank gets algae in it and the system needs to be cleaned and flushed to operate again. This is especially true if the car sits for any length of time. The car is very noisy with the rag top. It is not easy to carry on a phone conversation. The 2.5 has more insulation, however, it has the same top unless the hard top is on. The rear tires need to be replaced every 5000 miles. The best performing tires I have found so far are the spec Yokohama's which are more expensive than the others available. I consider these all minor details compared to the battery problem.

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eric.zucker | 06. Juli 2016

Sorry to hear this. the SC has told me recently about several Roadsters with bricked batteries, this is more likely when they have not been used for a long while. Never let your battery discharge completely, nor leave it fully charged for long.

I took my chances when I bought mine - turns out to be fine. 320km range when fully charged, in range mode, and driving conservatively. 48k km - 30k miles.

I'll enjoy the extra 200km the 3.0 battery upgrade brings, I've been put on the waiting list. No news yet.

I had a failure of the high voltage switchbox - apparently it got wet. Fix was quick.

schnitt | 06. Juli 2016

Understood. My Roadster was in perfect shape, driven regularly, never completely out of charge nor left sitting or full for any length of time and there was never any indication of battery death until a sudden noticeable decline over a few week period.

wiztecy | 07. Juli 2016

First of all you bought a car that is on the verge of a prototype. I hope you knew that. I own a Roadster and assumed the risks of that before I bought mine used. Also you note that it costs more to repair this car, that Tesla charges you more money, than a non electric car. With that I hope you understand you bought a "SuperCar". Compare apples with apples, SuperCars with SuperCars, not SuperCars with Economy Mass Consumer cars if you're trying to make a point on cost to maintain and repair! A supercar costs $$$$ to maintain, comparing that with a Tesla Roadster, the Tesla is not even close.

I have 56,000 miles on my 2008 Roadster which is a 1.5 version. I bought it with 3,000 miles in 2012, so I put on 53k myself. This is the best car and the most inexpensive car as well as the most reliable car I've ever owned let alone the most fun. When I bought my Roadster I got 188 miles on a standard charge and 242 on a Range mode charge. I now get 182 miles on a standard charge and 238 on a range mode charge.

As for your TPMS issues, that's part of the 2.x version where Tesla changed out the TPMS than what's in the 1.5 Roadsters which was a racing grade TPMS system. Only thing with the 1.5 is that we're stuck with the same size tires, but that's fine.

As for the fogging headlights, I have had other cars of that era that have fogging headlights. Tesla has a fix for that, installing gortex patches to let the headlights to breath. Its a $4 fix, not costly. I put them in myself. I also work on my own cars, so don't complain if you get more than a $4 service bill.

As for the $10,000 to get you back on the Road. You should have taken that deal. Its actually a good deal to fix a supercar. Try to get an estimate for a Ferrari's transmission or engine work, it'll be way more than that!

Lastly you bought a used car, not a new one. So you take risks when you buy any used car. Assume the risk.

I hope you know that you had a chance to extend that 3 year warranty that expired, but its a moot point now. Tesla has made it very good for owners to have confidence in these cars with perks like that.

Lastly I'm blown away at Tesla's support, to support an old vehicle that was hand built and which only 2500 were made world wide is amazing. Thank you Tesla.

wiztecy | 07. Juli 2016

By the way, the sudden decline you mentioned in your Roadster was most likely caused by a single sheet out of the 11 in the pack that was pulling the rest of the pack's voltage down. One brick, even one bad cell in a brick will pull down the pack. What Tesla does is to replace the single sheet in that case, not the whole pack. Your pack is as good as the lowest brick voltage. The typical cost to replace the sheet in a pack which includes dropping the pack from the bottom of the car is anywhere from $3,000 - $5,000. What Tesla does, instead of opening up the pack, replacing the sheet, they'll install a refurbished pack that's gone through extensive Testing back into the Roadster. The pack they install is the same and most often much better than the one that they replaced.

Also to clarify in my original post, when I said "This is the best car and the most inexpensive car...." I was talking about the cost to maintain in terms of inexpensive. We all know that the Roadster has been holding its value steady between 60-80k for the past couple of years. So I wouldn't say buying it was inexpensive :)

schnitt | 08. Juli 2016

Wiztecy,

Seems like you should get a job with Tesla if you do not already work for them!

When operable this is an amazing car with amazing performance. I love the car. That is why I purchased it.

Apparently you have no worries with your older car,...I have a DEAD car at 33,000 miles. Not acceptable.

Extending the warranty only applies to original owners. I inquired multiple times, this was not evident until the offer was made available. I was planning on doing it - check the facts.

I am happy for you that you were able to get 23,000 more miles out your older car, with no significant decline, than my two years newer car. Hmm, seems like a catastrophic failure in mine at very low milage, no? Should Tesla not support the car? That would be even more ludicrous. Obviously I purchased a used car with its warranty just timing out. Of this I was well aware. However, in my wildest dreams I would never have imagined the car to be unusable at 33,000 miles. The company should have a better solution for early adopters of their technology, the first ambassadors for their company, who suffer such an untimely failure. I did not buy a Ferrari, I bought a vehicle that was supposed to be proof that a battery operated car was reliable. I will let you in on a little secret: The car is a $70,000 Lotus Elise with a great deal of retrofitted electric technology effectively doubling the price. I respect that. Many of the other parts: Tires, brakes, calipers, suspension, etc. are off-the-shelf readily available. Let's not make the rest of it more than it is. These are not Ferrari parts at Ferrari prices. The entire car is centered around the battery.

I have simply listed the facts and I am not pleased with how Tesla has handled it. The proof of concept was to be a reliable sports car that could perform as or better than a gasoline car without the negatives. The whole idea of the brand.

Good luck to you.

brando | 20. September 2016

Trade in Roadster on Model S/X. Fight for high trade in value (valued customer and all that).
Then keep eye out for Tesla to sell as CPO and you might get it back for + $5-$7k trade in price?

olevjaak | 21. September 2016

What do the acronyms TPMS and CPO stand for?

Earl and Nagin ... | 22. September 2016

TPMS = Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor, measures tire pressure continuously while driving.
CPO = Certified Pre-Owned, a Tesla program to sell used Tesla cars.

louis_deluca | 29. September 2016

I just bought a used 2008 Roadster and it's a rockstar car. I completely agree with wiztecy, this is a supercar, hand built (truly a prototype) and the fact that Tesla supports it is pretty amazing. It will only go up in value, and to get you back on the road for $10k, that seems like a bargain to me. Good luck. Tesla rocks!

flight505 | 30. September 2016

I hunted an older Roadster for six months, but have reverted to my Model S with Ludicrous as I await Tesla's new Roadster in 3 years or so. I don't understand why the new battery Tesla developed for the old Roadster does not charge on a supercharger. This makes no sense to me, so I am out for now. The cars do look good, I guess I just don't see collecting a Roadster. When the new Roadster comes out and is faster, supercharges, and has more room in my opinion the new Roadster might push down interest in the older Roadster. I am 6'4" and 185 pounds, so I can still fit inside a Roadster, but the steering wheel blocks view of the gauge cluster. Fixing the Roadster is another concern.

Red Sage ca us | 06. Oktober 2016

flight505: The new battery does not use the new cooling system and the old car does not include the DC Fast Charging hardware.

flight505 | 10. Oktober 2016

Red Sage ca us
Yeah, true - thanks. I really want a sports car. Just read on net Tesla will have a Roadster in 2017 and that's what the October 17th unveiling is about.

Mjenkinsatgbi | 13. Oktober 2016

Does anyone know if the recently announced battery upgrade would fix the bricking issue. I'm scared to death to buy a roadster because of the bricking issue.