Any experience with this air pressure pulsing from road bumps that kind of hurts the eardrums? Edit: resolved

Any experience with this air pressure pulsing from road bumps that kind of hurts the eardrums? Edit: resolved

I've had my Model S for about three weeks. I've been an obsessive researcher and sometime commenter here for about the last 6 months, though, so now it's time for my first post. I'm experiencing something kind of weird that I want to see if anyone else has encountered.

You know how if you're going fairly fast, like 60+ mph, and if you roll down one of the back windows, you get this pulsing of air pressure in and out of the car that kind of feels/sounds like an unpleasant throbbing on your eardrums? My wife is very sensitive to this, and windows need to either be all somewhat open or all the way up if we're about to get on the highway, and DON'T change them once we're going fast. Opening one at highway speed actually hurts her quite a bit. Bothers me a little too, but not much.

Anyway, so on to the Model S issue. With all of the cars we've had before, having all the windows up makes it a complete non-issue. The cabin is sealed enough that there is no air pressure pulsing at all. With the Model S, at various speeds, even low speeds, I get that pulsing from bumps in the road, even with the windows all up. I just went on a 600 mile road trip, and I found it to happen quite a bit, not on a regular repeating frequency, but timed on whenever the car would go over some kind of minor bump in the pavement. And this was with the windows all up completely. My wife has just recently gotten to ride in it some and brought it up unprompted, without me even mentioning it, and I concurred that it was something I had noticed. She said it is the one thing that she has found not perfect about riding in the car (Good Wife Approval Factor going on there).

Has anyone else heard of this air pulsing thing? Is it common on cars that have frameless windows, since they probably wouldn't air seal as well? I've only had one car with frameless windows before, and that was kind of briefly.

Edit: Found out that this was caused by the rear lift gate not fully landing on the stopper pieces. Bumps caused it to bounce, compressing the air. Implemented solution suggested in comments and it fixed it. | 09. huhtikuu 2014

This might be one of those things to Volkerize, as this sounds like a known problem.

I believe you might want to adjust the stops for the trunk lid. If there is a little bit of play, your trunk lid can move up and down breaking and reestablishing the seal of the cabin with the effects you describe.

You adjust the stops by turning them, so perhaps raise them a half-turn at a time until the problem resolves itself.


ferrec | 09. huhtikuu 2014

I experienced the same issue and found it to be the trunk lift gate not seating all the way down tightly. I found this out after talking with another Model S owner that experienced the pulsing and his ears were sensitive that it drove him nuts. After speaking with him I was more a kin to the issue in my MS. I have the automatic lift gate and found out the rubber stoppers on the light gate (right below tail lights) were not seating/coming in contact with the plastic seats on the trunk frame. I was able to determine this by applying Armor All or you can use another oily liquid, just as long as it adheres to the plastic seat on the trunk frame. Place a bit of Armor All on the seat, spread it out evenly and close the light gate. Open the lift gate and examine for an imprint from the rubber stopper on the plastic seat. You want to see the entire diameter of the rubber stopper on the plastic sea, indicating the light gate is seated. Not just a portion of the rubber stopper but complete diameter as seen on the plastic seat. If you don't have this you need to turn the rubber stopper counterclockwise in quarter-turn increments until complete contact occurs. This helped my problem of the pulsating. Hope this helps.

ERon | 09. huhtikuu 2014

+ ferric exactly what I thought would be the cause.

Hope that fixes the problem.

Rocky_H | 09. huhtikuu 2014

Yeah, I tried to Volkerize for it first and couldn't find anything, but I'm not sure if the words I was using to describe it were able to find the problem.

I am liking these answers about the lift gate. I do have the power lift gate in the tech package, and that would make a lot of sense if a bump in the road would make it bounce a little or something, which would be quite a lot of area of glass bouncing down onto the air, causing that little burst of high pressure in the cabin.

The description about what to do with the stoppers is sounding a little counter intuitive to me, but I'm not at my car seeing how that setup looks right now. I would think that turning them counterclockwise to make them stick out farther would stop the gate farther away, making it not sealed as well.

David Trushin | 09. huhtikuu 2014

It's not the seal, it's the vibration that causes the ear (sic) pressure. Loose lids cause the problem.

J.T. | 09. huhtikuu 2014

It might be easier to lay a couple of oieces of newspaper over the stoppers. Close the hatch. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it the bumpers need adjustment.

J.T. | 09. huhtikuu 2014


ferrec | 09. huhtikuu 2014

JT, I like your idea.

Rocky, with the power lift gate, it closes then the latch pulls it down the last little bit to secure it. If the stoppers don't contact the plastic seats then it can bounce as the latch does not secure it completely. Think of the latch and two stoppers as legs of a stool. It takes all three to work correctly. If just one (the latch in the rear of the trunk) or two work (latch and one stopper), the stool is unstable. It takes all three for the system to work correctly.

NKYTA | 09. huhtikuu 2014


My lift-gate was misaligned (noticed months after ownership because I read of the paper test on this forum and noticed a bit more water after a wash). I did the paper test and it failed.

I then adjusted the adjustables and promptly made it worse.

My Service Manager lightly chastised me and told me to bring it in.

So bring it in! ;-)

Rocky_H | 09. huhtikuu 2014

Heh, well, service center is 400 miles away, so I'm not going to just "bring it in".

Rocky_H | 09. huhtikuu 2014

I probably will email my service guy, though.

Blue_T | 09. huhtikuu 2014

I had the same issue on day one with my car. I adjusted the stops for the lift-gate and this fixed the problem. Took a little trial and error to get the adjustment just right. Think my adjustment was about a half to one full turn before the stops came out (they were down too far).

Rocky_H | 10. huhtikuu 2014

Thanks, Blue_T. It sounds like it's fairly simple to check for it and get it adjusted.

hikerockies | 10. huhtikuu 2014

@Rocky_H: Same thing used to happen on my 1994 Acura Integra coupe. That car was not as airtight, so I could actually hear the trunk lid making mechanical noise more than air pressure pulsing. Fix was the same on that car too.

Rocky_H | 14. huhtikuu 2014

Follow-up on this: You all are amazing; this stuff worked great. @ferrec's idea was perfect in using a liquid to detect where those rubber stoppers were coming down. I used Goo-Gone. When I tested it the first time, the left one had just an edge showing, and the right side had nothing. I gave them a few turns, and got a a bit more on the left, but still nothing on the right, so it was apparently way off. After a few more adjustments, I got them both fully showing up. Test driving over the next couple of days has shown that it's fine now. Thank you all very much! | 14. huhtikuu 2014

Glad it worked out. :)


Rocky_H | 14. huhtikuu 2014

Since I got my solution, I'm going to switch this over to public, so it can be found by Volkerize now.

Rabid Chinchilla | 29. kesäkuu 2014

I know I'm late to this thread but... Thanks so much! After having the car for a couple of months I was planning to just accept the annoying pressure pulsations as something normal. Saw this thread and stuck a strip of paper under one of the stoppers and closed the hatch and the paper just fell out. The stopper wasn't touching the base at all. I think it was around 2-3 full turns to get it out far enough. WOW was a simple adjustment. Problem is completely gone now!

A simple 30 second test and adjustment would prevent this from happening on any car. Mine was delivered in mid April with one stopper waaaay off adjustment. This was hopefully a fluke and they are adjusting them correctly now.

rkelsch | 29. kesäkuu 2014

I am fortunate to live 2 miles from a service center and three miles from Tesla HQ. I had the pressure buffering problem quite severely when the car was delivered. It is due to the vibration of the trunk lid. That big piece of glass vibrates if not tightly secured and it moves a lot of air creating the very annoying pressure wave. I attempted adjusting the stops as has been stated here and it helped but did not solve the problem completely so I took it to service. They made further adjustments (suggesting I should not do the stop adjustments myself) and there were further improvements but not a complete solution. Tesla has an engineer at HQ assigned to this problem and he looked at my car. He installed a prototype part which takes the play out of the inverted U latch on the body that the trunk lid grabs. This gave another 3 db of improvement and the problem is nearly gone. They are still working on further improvements at HQ. I definitely recommend anyone experiencing the issue to go to Tesla Service and if they don't seem knowledgeable on the problem, have them contact HQ.

Good luck.

Rocky_H | 30. kesäkuu 2014

I am the original poster of this. @rkelsch, thanks for the follow-up with your experience. I have my own follow-up, which is that like you, it is not quite completely gone. The comparison seemed so much better that it seemed to be gone at first, but I have noticed it from time to time, and my wife, who is much more sensitive to it said she didn't think it was better. (But she didn't ride in the car much when we first got it when it was really awful, so I think she was just bothered that it was still doing it some.)

I am glad to hear they have someone working on this. I am an 8 hour drive from a service center, so going there isn't an option for me, so I am glad that someone else is following this up with them more.

Haeze | 30. kesäkuu 2014

If you make the airflow coming into/exiting the car asymmetrical, the buffeting goes away. Try rolling down the passenger's front window, and the driver's rear window. Doing so makes it so the air coming into the car will all enter through the passenger side, and exit through the driver's side. If you make the incoming airflow symmetrical, you are basically turning the inside of your car into a giant parachute, gathering all the wind, compressing it until it gets higher than the incoming air pressure, and releasing, then repeating... causing the noise.

If you still hear buffeting with the passenger front, and driver's rear windows open, close the passenger front window a little bit at a time until the amount of air coming in that window exactly matches the amount of air exiting the driver's rear window. You will hear the sound go away.

Rocky_H | 30. kesäkuu 2014

@Haeze, I think you missed the point of this thread. This is specifically about when all of the windows are up, so there should be none of this.

garygid | 17. tammikuu 2015

On my Nov 2014 S85, half way up the side of the rear hatch lid there is
a non adjustable "chair", which appears to "receive" a height-adjustable
cone on the car body. On one side I could twist the cone slightly, and on
the other side I could not turn the cone with my fingers.

Near the bottom corner of the lid, I think there was another "skinny" cone,
meant to mate, I think, with an adjustable round disc (about 1 inch in diameter),
but I could only move one disc.

I will have to try again when it is not dark, and try the paper-pull test.

garygid | 18. tammikuu 2015

In the light of day:

Near the bottom corner of the lid, there should be 4 "skinny" cones,
two on each side of the lid, covering the protruding ends of screws.

At each lower corner of the lid, there is a flat round rubber "bumper",
about 5/8 inch in diameter, that does not appear to be adjustable.

When the lid closes, it is meant to "seat" on a height-adjustable
round disc (about 1-1/8 inch in diameter) that is on the car body,
but only one of the two would turn.

I did the paper-pull test on all 4 of the trunk lid support points,
and the one on the lower driver side "failed" (the paper pulled
out easily), indicating that the lid was not being "supported"
at that corner.

That "adjustable" disc did not turn, thus I could not adjust it.
The good news is... this is probably the cause of my case
of mild pressure buffeting.

So, it looks like I need to schedule an appointment at
the Tesla Service Center.

lecompte | 08. elokuu 2015

My brand new 70D has the same issue here! Did you get this resolved at all by the Service center? I am thinking of taking mine in. Has anyone else here experienced this with a fairly new model like the 70D?

prp | 08. elokuu 2015

My new 85 also did this. I resolved it myself by making the adjustments written in this thread to the stoppers, and after confirming with the service centre. Bottom stoppers you should not be able to pull a piece of paper out. Top stoppers have to JUST touch. I used a small drop of soluble oil to determine this. Problem solved with 10 minutes of careful fiddle.

lecompte | 10. elokuu 2015

prp: What do you mean by the top stoppers have to JUST touch? They shouldn't be screwed all the way in, but how much should they be unscrewed? Is there any type of test that we can do to make sure it's perfect? I tried futzing with it over the weekend, but I couldn't eliminate the pulsating sounds.

lecompte | 10. elokuu 2015

Actually, if anyone here lives in the Bay Area and wants to help me fix this, I'd be happy to meet up! :)

Rocky_H | 10. elokuu 2015

@lecompte, Read the rest of the thread to see how to do these adjustments. Using a bit of vegetable oil is a good way to see when the round rubber piece is making a full round imprint on the screwable piece. It does take many incremental adjustments to get it right.

lecompte | 10. elokuu 2015

Ah, I see. I missed the bit about using some vegetable oil to make sure that it is just right. I will re-read and try again tonight. I originally tried the paper trick and noticed that the right side caused the thin paper to slip out. I adjusted that side and now the paper no longer falls, however I still hear the sound so I think I now have to adjust the other stoppers (using the vegetable oil trick).

prp | 10. elokuu 2015

The noise you are hearing is a pressure wave generated by the trunk lid. The stoppers absorb that wave and remove
the pressure. The upper stoppers have to JUST hold the lid for this to work best. It's fiddly, but definately makes a difference. You have to get all stoppers perfect. Remember bottom stoppers need to be set so that you can't quite pull a piece of peper out without tearing. Don't overdo it.