Whine from Engine?

Whine from Engine?

I have had my car for almost one month. One of the things that is so amazing about it is that it accelerates without a sound from the motor. At least it did until yesterday. It may be me because I have the radio on most of the time, but I stopped by the Audi dealership to talk with the salesman that I didn't buy a car from. I was close to a deal and then decided to wait for the S. In an apt change of pace, I took a car salesman for a test drive. I hit the pedal and the car moved, but I heard a high pitched whine from the motor. Anybody else hearing this? Later that evening, concerned, I accelerated rapidly a couple of times and I heard it again. Is this normal? Did I just miss it before because I had the radio on, was on the phone, or my ears weren't connected to my brain because of the smile on my face?

Hills | 28 February 2013

I think it is normal. Happens every time I accelerate.

docdac | 28 February 2013

The Roadster has a very distinctive and noticable whine under rapid acceleration. I have not noticed in on my MS P85.

mal42north | 28 February 2013

I've noticed it as well, particularly when accelerating up hill. My impression is that it is more noisy now than when I first got the car, but its difficult to be sure. I only really notice it in the early morning, when there are fewer ICE cars making a racket. Two possible sources come to mind, a little bit of gear noise due to some wear in on the gears, or some inverter noise from some insufficiently tacked down cable or magnetic. I should see if my iPhone spectrum analyzer is sensitive enough to pick it up.

Brian H | 28 February 2013

Since some MS are silent, all MS should be silent. Service should/may be able to get rid of it.

dpsinger | 28 February 2013

Me too. I hear it on rapid acceleration up hill. Particularly in the morning.

Jamon | 28 February 2013

I had a similar experience when I got my S (60kWh battery). I had done 2 test drives, and read every forum post for months before my delivery - but never heard anything about this high pitched whine. I noticed it immediately after I took delivery and started to show it off to my friends. It always happens on hard acceleration when I reach about 100kW.

Since then I found a good thread on TMC that discusses it in depth (

It's also mentioned a bit here:

There seems to be uncertainty whether it's coming from the motor or the inverter, and whether or not Tesla will design it out at some point. I spoke to my service center and they said it's normal & expected, and there is nothing to be done about it. Some people like it, and some are bothered by it - I haven't decided yet how I feel about it. I'd rather not have it, but if this is the biggest quirk from such a great technology, then I can probably learn to embrace it!

Pungoteague_Dave | 28 February 2013

I have this, spoke with customer service. They have my car for other repairs right now, so drove it and called to tell me it is normal, comes from a part of the motor control system.

noel.smyth | 28 February 2013

i actually like it.

Hills | 28 February 2013

Can you believe that people like the obnoxious ICE engine sounds and the fumes?

GeekEV | 28 February 2013

There's a whine in my LEAF as well...

gregv64 | 28 February 2013

Mine definitely has a whine under hard acceleration. Since both test drive cars I drove did as well, I assume it's normal.

Shesmyne2 | 28 February 2013

We just noticed this after a quick trip to Menlo Service for our check up. Didn't seem to notice it before - but it may have occurred after the upgrade to f/w .42, instead of after the service.

"Wwwwhhiiiirrrrf" when punching it from a full stop, didn't hear it until passing 35mph or so.

Up to that point, we love our slight electric-rocket-ship sound, but the high pitched whine we didn't have before; we'll get it checked out when we pick up due bill items.

BYT | 28 February 2013

I hear the whine all the time, I have two speeding tickets in less then two months to prove that I push my Model S harder then most... :) I, like noel.smyth, smile wider when I hear my P85 squeal for mercy... ;)

akikiki | 3 March 2013

Info: Ask the Audi saleman to get out of your MS and try it without him. Could it be his screaming and whining because he now knows you will never be back to buy another Audi? (Sorry, could not resist letting this opportunity pass.)

Pungoteague_Dave | 3 March 2013

It is the inverter according to the tech who just went over my car. It takes away from the silent acceleration story, but I will live with it. | 3 March 2013

Just this week I noticed a faint whine on acceleration for the first time. When I looked in the trunk (actually hatch) I had left the cover off of the storage compartment. I also have to add that I have some higher frquency hearing loss anyway.

Captain_Zap | 3 March 2013

I find the "whine" a bit thrilling when accellerating.

Reminds me of turbochargers, boosters or bypass gates. It's a sensory cue that something seriously fun is going on.

mferrazano | 29 June 2013

Zap...not so sure how thrilled you will be if that whine is a sign of an inverter that needs replacement. I had the same sound from my P85 on hard acceleration/deceleration, took it in to Fremont SC for other issues, one of which was the "high pitched whistle" discussed in this blog. I was surprised to find out that this whine was not as benign as I thought, the inverter was replaced.

RanjitC | 29 June 2013

P85 11000 mi no whine. Possibly I have high frequency hearing loss! I hear the cooling fans though.

Xerogas | 29 June 2013

Hmm, I had heard here on the forums that it was caused by gears meshing in the differential. Guess I should ask about it next time it's in for service...

JohnnyMac | 29 June 2013

Just curious, especially Pungoteague_Dave since you were just with the service techs....which whine are we talking about here? I have both a subtle whine which occurs with most levels of moderate acceleration which I find reasonable and cool, as well as what has been describe on the TMC forum as the squeal like a pig or air being let out of a balloon squeal/whine under heavy or max acceleration which I frankly cannot stand and do not find reasonable. Help me out as I need a rreference point here - which one are you all dealing with and which do you find reasonable vs not acceptable? Which one has TM service said is "normal"? Looking forward to the feedback. P85 btw if it matters. Thanks!

JohnnyMac | 29 June 2013

Sorry, add on questions for Mferrazano...was your inverter replacement a result of the air out of the balloon whine/squeal sound? Mine was great for the first 800 miles and has been exhibiting the balloon squeal under heavy acceleration for the last 600 miles. Lay it on inverter needed??? I have a service appointment set for next week.

mferrazano | 29 June 2013

it sounded like a high pitch whistle that only could be heard during hard acceleration and to a lesser degree upon deceleration. Seemed to have something to do with current flow (in or out). It was not mechanical as I could not hear it all the time. I took a tech for a drive and it took a few accelerations to make it whine, which he seemed to recognize. Not sure if this was the reason for the replacement, but I got a call a couple of days later telling me that the drive train was going to be replaced which turned out to be the inverter.

aaronw2 | 30 June 2013

The whine under heavy acceleration is caused by the helical gears according to a friend of mine who helped design the drivetrain at Tesla. He said there's a trade-off in quietness vs efficiency based on the number of gears that engage at one time. I personally kind of like the whine.

mferrazano | 30 June 2013

aaronw2...with all due respect to your friend, the whine I experienced had nothing to do with helical gears and appeared to be related to an electrical system, not a mechanical system. In any case, if you like the whine, enjoy it and hope that your friend is correct.

mferrazano | 30 June 2013

PS...My "whine" was discernible under heavy acceleration, and to a lesser extent, deceleration while current was going back into the battery via the inverter by way of anyone who hears the whine speeding up AND slowing down (much reduced volume which would coincide with some relation to current), you should have it checked out.

Brian H | 30 June 2013

Yeah, get it checked. You don't want to know what happens when a heavily overloaded inverter goes ka-blooey!

jbm6207 | 5 August 2013

The "whine" is normal and it is actually one of the things I like about my Model S. However, when the whine goes to a high pitch squeal, that is bad. I have worked in the electronics industry for over 25 years and that is the noise electronics make before they start on fire! Taking my car into service tomorrow.