AC makes weird noise and rumbling/vibration now.

AC makes weird noise and rumbling/vibration now.

I've had my MS for about 3 weeks now. My first issue was a clicking noise that the sunroof made. Took it to the Tesla dealer and they fixed it in a day. Problem solved.

Now recently sometimes when I first turn on the car or adjust the AC I will hear a loud rumbling and will feel vibrations. Is anyone else having this issue?

I called Tesla Worldwide to see what they thought. The person on the other end seemed like he didn't want to admit there was an issue. He said that all this was normal because the MS is so quiet that you don't normally hear those things in an ICE car. I again said that this started recently and it didn't happen before. He said he would pull my logs and after a few hours he said there was nothing in the logs. Well I am now hearing and feeling this same thing more often now.

Can any other MS owners tell me if they notice the same type of issue? I know this is not normal because I've been driving for 3 weeks and I didn't hear it before. Maybe the logs did not report anything but that doesn't mean something is off.

Hills | February 26, 2013

This is a known issue that occurs in minority of cars. My problem was minor but it started on day 1. I believe it is fixed now but time will tell. My noise problem was minor. I don't see how the logs will know about something like this.

Brian H | February 27, 2013

Care to tell what was fixed and how? Or is it secret? ;)

Hills | February 27, 2013

They replaced AC motor. I think it is fixed but will wait another week to be sure. Electric car is silent at low speeds, so there is still a slight rumble when the AC starts, but less than before.

nickjhowe | February 27, 2013

@Hills - interesting. I get a pretty hefty rumble sometimes when starting, but it seems less than when I first picked the car up. I'd started ignorning it, thinking it was normal but will pay attention and maybe give service a call.


Brian H | February 27, 2013

Needs more oil. 5W10 should do it.

Liz G | February 27, 2013

Hope you didn't blow a rod. :O)

AndresL | February 27, 2013

@Hills, @nickjhowe - I agree, had the same issue happen on my P85 - first week no noise and then A/C noise every time I turn on the car- Ignored it thinking it was the same in ICE cars just drowned by a regular engine, but it is loud. If it persists I will take it to the service center.

Mark E | February 27, 2013

In my experience, all AC units make some noise - generally audible above any ICE noise. As soon as you turn it on you hear the compressor spin up, and often the cooling fans are linked to the AC operation, creating more noise.

I'd be surprised if the Model S was that different. That's not to say that any noise from the AC is normal, just that you might notice it more on the Model S.

For what it's worth, I can hear my perfectly functioning AC running above the rumble of the V8 in my 928. Its even more noticeable on my wife's car which idles more quietly.

nickjhowe | February 27, 2013

Mine isn't too noisy - just feels like theres a minor earthquake going on, or my son has the subwoofer on the home theater cranked up too high. Very low (sub 50 hz) rumble. Probably one of those things I'll never be able to demonstrate at Service. | February 27, 2013

I can definitely hear the car heat (fan) & cool (compressor & fan). I thought this was likely due to the reduced ambient noise of the car.

Vern110 | February 27, 2013

Anyone hear loud rumbling noise with the pano roof open at 100%, drive speed ~ 65 mph?

TiburonTesla | February 27, 2013

@nickjhowe - I hear the exact same thing. at first i thought it was a helicopter above the garage, but when i got out of the car it was silent. i can hear a THX type sound inside the car and it's really quite loud.

tvntesla | February 27, 2013

I posted two months ago regarding rumbling noise from the AC with certain settings. In particular if the air flow to face is on. The noise stops if I direct the flow only to windshield and/or to feet. I brought the car to Tesla service for investigation and they said that they couldn't find anything wrong. The noise seems to resemble a pump or air compressor running and stopping. I am getting used to the noise and I know that I can turn it off by changing the air flow, so I can live with it for now.

nickjhowe | February 27, 2013

@Tiburon - yes - like the 'whump whump' of a helicopter. Lasts for 15-20 seconds, but not every time I get in the car.

Carefree | February 27, 2013

I noticed the exact same issue - when I get into the car it sounds like a subwoofer - it almost hurts my ears.

Brian H | February 27, 2013

Record the noise if it won't repeat at the Service Center.

TiburonTesla | February 28, 2013

Agreed that it almost hurts ones ears with the deep reverberating sound.
Maybe more will notice it as the days grow warmer and more people switch on that cool AC. I've only switched it on a couple times myself,but it's readily repeatable.

I'll trying switching to the floor blower for now, but honestly I think it should be fixed. I'll wait till I have to take it in to install the kids jump seats.

Thx guys

Kunal | February 28, 2013

What you hear is the AC compressor vibrating against the plastic tub which is the floor of the front trunk when the compressor starts up. It is fixed by affixing insulating tape between the compressor top and the plastic tub which is the front trunk. The AC compressor is under the tub at the back closer to the front of the battery pack.

Pungoteague_Dave | February 28, 2013


I also have this throb on startup. How do you get to the area you describe? Under the car or through the frunk?

NKYTA | February 28, 2013

What fan settings do you have set on startup? I've got allergies so AC is always on, every time I get in the car - Fan speed set at 2, Face and Defrost. Never heard any rumbles or throbs.
P85 VIN 1842

TiburonTesla | February 28, 2013

Kunal, you da man. Any chance you have a pic on how to access that sucker?

jchangyy | February 28, 2013

@vern110...I have that rumbling sound. I looked at the moveable portion of the pano roof and it was vibrating like crazy...thought it was gonna break off (reminded me of the chair that was built for the space ship/portal in the movie "the Contact" with Jodie Foster. when I close it to <70%, the vibration disappears.

Plan to take it in tomorrow for them to see it.

Kunal | February 28, 2013

Access is through the frunk, not under the car.

The AC compressor and a host of other pumps (air suspension, brake abs module, etc.) are under the front trunk bin and are accessed by removing panels above the bin, then fasteners and bin can be removed. I have a picture but not sure how to attach it here. Send me an email address and iI can email the picture.

Kunal | February 28, 2013

Full disclosure, I got this information from a Tesla Ranger and after the fix, on my car the excessive noise as many of you note as well is gone. The Tesla service guys and rangers are good and are responsive to issues.

And if you are willing to pull the front trunk plastic panels off and remove some fasteners and a few screws, (some are not easy to see). You can get this addressed in an hour or so.

nickjhowe | February 28, 2013

Kunal - way to go!

I'll get service to check it out.

Revscott | February 28, 2013

If the rumble air pressure noise continues even with the AC off I suggest you check out the MS "pressure buffeting" thread here:

nickjhowe | March 1, 2013

@revscott - the issue that's being discussed here happens when the car is stationary, so not related to the buffeting issue.

DouglasR | March 1, 2013


I've also noticed the rumble when stuck in traffic, moving very slowly, as well as when the car is stationary. I did not have the AC on, but I did have the climate control on (and it was cold outside). At first I was concerned that it was the air suspension system, and that I had a leak because it was going on so frequently. Sometime later, I noticed that the sound stopped when I turned climate control off. So perhaps the AC compressor is active when the heat goes on? Anyway, after my long trip, the problem seems either to have gone away or to be much less frequent. Perhaps something settled in the space under the frunk, or perhaps the weather has just warmed up so that the climate control is kicking in less often.

sftesla | March 1, 2013

I have had this low frequency rumbling with the AC since I got my car. It seems like a known issue so I was just going to wait until I took it into the service center, but I haven't had a chance yet. It happens almost every time I start the AC.

rjones | March 15, 2013

Had car for 4 weeks. Just started vibrating and whining when AC is on. It cycles off and on at front left wheel well. It increases in pitch and screams to the point I can hear it reflected off passing walls and cars. Lasts a minute and starts again a few minutes later.

Calling service.

Brian H | March 15, 2013

ya, I think service would be a good idea. About 5 minutes of that would have been more than enough reason.

kingkoti | April 12, 2013

Those who visited service with this issue , did you get it resolved ?

I had the car for 3 weeks now and have this issue of rumbling surfaced y'day - it can be felt in the steering column and it lasts for a minute or 2. It happens every time I start the car and turn the AC on not sure I can reproduce the issue if I take it service.

bbmertz | April 12, 2013

I also started noticing this issue a few weeks ago, perhaps coincidentally not long after upgrading to software 4.3. I found that it is usually fixed by turning the AC off and then back on again after starting the car. I too would be interested to know if anyone has brought this into the service center to be diagnosed and repaired.

splitsec002 | April 12, 2013

I had my car sent in to service and they said it was normal. I am now just hearing the outside screeeeech that rjones mentioned. The rumbling continues which is really annoying since the first 3 weeks of the car it was totally silent when I turned on the AC.

Has anyone gotten this resolved or is this normal for our cars? I'm getting the feeling that Tesla just wants to brush this one under the rug but I don't have any other cars to compare to.

Electron | April 12, 2013

From what I remember, this is the AC compressor not having any baffling or clearance between it an the frunk plastic tub. So it turns the tub into a big drum as it vibrates against it. I think the fix is to remove the tub and place some insulation between them.

Electron | April 12, 2013

Mine does this too, by the way, haven't taken it to service yet.

Brian H | April 12, 2013

Have you tried the "turn AC off, turn back on" trick?

gtimbers | April 13, 2013

I have had the rumbling/howling sound from the beginning. It only occurs when it is hot outside and it lasts for about 5 minutes. If I turn the AC off and then back on in 10 seconds or so, the noise will often not reappear. If it is really hot, the noise builds up again after cycling the AC.

I took the frunk apart and got down to the compressor. I found that the freon line from the compressor was routed under the steering shaft and was, in fact, touching. I repositioned the output line to clear the steering shaft. I also added a few cable ties on the wire harness for the compressor to make sure nothing touches the frunk liners. The compressor still makes noise, but it is quite acceptable now. I need to wait for a warm day to be sure, but I think I solved my problem.

jwolens | May 17, 2013

I have taken my car to the service center and was told it was "within design specifications".

It was hot today here (> 90 degrees) and while in the past the sound would stop when the A/C was turned off and not return when it was turned on, today it was coming back with a few minutes every time I restarted the A/C. It sounds like something is going to explode- a building electric whine.

I doubt this is designed this way. I am embarrassed when pulling up to a stop light with the car making this noise.

I hope that some one is looking at getting this addressed but insulating the compressor or moving it elsewhere.

negarholger | May 17, 2013

I put mine in range mode all the time, that limits the max setting for the A/C and the noise is now acceptable to me after hours in the sun. Also I roll down the windows via FOB when I am still quite a distance away. | July 29, 2015

It seems crazy that I'm reviving a two-year-old thread, but thanks to I found that it's not just me!

I've had my car less than 8 weeks and started having this same AC rumbling/noise/vibration yesterday. It was particularly hot here (94 F) and the noise stopped after a few minutes. Then started again about an hour later. Has nobody else had this issue over the last 2 years? Is the fix discussed above applicable to an 85D that has a different frunk than the 85?

Might be time for my first call to service...

Firewired | July 29, 2015

I have had my car since December. Have the same A/C noise. To me sounds slightly like a playing card in the spokes of a bicycle wheel, but only intermittently. Turning on/off seems to work. I mentioned this when I had the car in for a couple of issues recently, but was told everything was "operating normally." | July 29, 2015

Thank you, Firewired. There are a few posts above from people that had the same experience - they were told it's "normal". That may explain why there were no new discussions (at least that I could find) in the last couple of years about it.

AmpedRealtor | July 29, 2015

There were some issues with pre-autopilot cars where the AC compressor was really loud and vibrated the steering column. Tesla issued two service bulletins, one regarding noise (solution: insulation blanket) and one regarding vibration (solution: new mounting bracket). | July 29, 2015

Hmm...thanks AmpedRealtor. That explains why the long silence here on the forum about it, but it doesn't explain why my car (it's a June 2015 delivery with autopilot) would suffer from the problem unless it has come up again in another form. I'll notify service just so it's on the record and see what they say. I'll report back if I learn anything.

1089 | July 29, 2015 If it started yesterday when it was very hot, I think it is the battery coolant system starting its cycle. This is common on hot days when you supercharge, and it can sound like you have an ICE revving under the hood. If it happens on a cool day, then call service, but that's what I think it is. | July 29, 2015

Thanks, 1089. It was the hottest day we've had since I took delivery and definitely felt like an ICE rumbling under me. It happened when I first got into the car after it sat outside in a parking lot for a couple of hours, then happened again when I pulled into my garage and put it in park 40 minutes later. | July 29, 2015

I emailed my local service center and they said that even on brand new dual motor cars there is some degree of vibration that you can feel in the brake pedal and the steering wheel so I shouldn't worry.

I didn't find it bothersome, so I'm just going to roll with it. My main concern was that something might be malfunctioning. Assuming that everything is working the way it's supposed to, case closed.

Thanks for your input.

rlwrw | July 29, 2015

Tesla is currently using a compressor.
I would think that they would be heavily trying to use Peltier effect devices for both cooling and heating.
Solid state, non-mechanical, no moving parts.
However, as of now, peltier devices still have a power penalty.
Hopefully Tesla has a corner of their R&D working on this.
The Michelin device for generating power from hot tires sounds like it might be an improved peltier device.

1089 | July 29, 2015

@josh -- That definitely sounds like it's trying to keep the battery cool. Ours does that when it's a hot day and we pull it into the garage, since the garage is usually quite a bit hotter than the outdoors. See if you can feel hot air blowing out in the front wheel wells. That would tell you for sure. Or drive to the nearest supercharger on a hot day, and plug it in. It should start making the sounds at a very high volume. People will tell you you forgot to shut the engine off. But it's normal.