Floaty suspension vs P85+

Floaty suspension vs P85+

Had the P85 for about 48 hours. Totally love it. Astonishingly fast. I could go on, but it would be repeating material oft posted here.

I had no idea what people meant about "floaty" suspension until I drove this car and hit the accelerator. It seems to veer a little right and then a little left. I guess I am getting used to it.

I definitely would have gotten the Performance Plus option for $6500 if I had known. It became available right as a placed my order, but nobody had more than the paragraph describing it, and the test drive I did was on a regular 85 which didn't feel as floaty.

I suspect I'll quit noticing the floatiness, or get used to controlling it, but coming from a Mercedes CLS 550, I do notice that.

Not to pick nits, I'm mostly wanting to know others' thoughts on the floatiness and their perception of it over time.


christurbeville | May 22, 2013

You have a bad bearing in your short link in the rear suspension I'd bet. Does it feel like you're wind wandering all the time? Does it pull up and left under throttle and down and right under regen? Can you change lanes to the left with just your right foot?:) Volkerize throttle yaw and axle nuts to find many discussions. Look up the edmunds suspension walk around.

christurbeville | May 22, 2013

Just realized you may have a fault on the other side so all my rights may be left and all my lefts wrong.

matt.wis | May 22, 2013

Ah. Thanks! It seems consistent with the pull on acceleration vs. regen. I bet what's happening is when I hit the accelerator hard, feel the drift one way, have the "mother of god" rush, and then let off the "gas" and regen pulls me back the other way.

Will research more.

ITSELE | May 23, 2013

Come on guys! It's a BRAND NEW CAR he's only had for 48 hrs. I had the same problem on my lowly MS 60 with 19" wheels and it scared the crap out of me. Your tires are brand new and they are slippery (tire experts feel free to chime in why this happens). Give it a couple hundred miles or less and the problem should disappear. If it's still present after a few hundred miles, then it's something else.

lolachampcar | May 23, 2013

I drove a P85 with Continental tires for my test drive then they delivered mine with Pilots. The Pilots felt much better (which is probably one of the reasons they are used on the P+). I should really try to get together with a local P85 owner (and ideally a P85+) as compare the cars on the same day with multiple drivers. It might be useful to have some (non-professional) owner feedback as each of us would be very familiar with our own cars and sensitive to the slightest difference with the other's car.

matt.wis | May 23, 2013

My step brother does also have a Tesla 60, so that'd be a point of comparison. Thanks for the commentary.

Brian H | May 23, 2013

I forget. Which are the ones made in the Czech Republic?

christurbeville | May 23, 2013

Conties are Czech AFAIK.

rchiang | May 23, 2013

When I first drove the p85 on test drive I notice that already I even told the sale person. But they didn't have the p85+ at the time when I got my car on April. Other wise I would of gotten the plus. So there wasn't anything I could of done except for enjoy what I have now. Just wrong timing... At this point I'll wait for after market parts.

JaneW | May 23, 2013

I've driven 3 P85s. Each is a little squirrely in the back and floaty in the front if you jam your foot down. I've felt it from a standing start, from accelerating 35 to 75 and coming out of corners when pushing it a little. Easily cured by easing the accelerator on quickly rather than totally jamming down. But I still wish I had the bigger wheels and Michelins. P+ came out 3 days after they started my car and they wouldn't add it.

viranjit | May 23, 2013

Would you really notice the difference in daily driving?
I have learned to use progressive throttle application and don't find the suspension to be floaty on my P85 any longer.

I am curious about the driving intended by the P85+ car owners :-).


lolachampcar | May 24, 2013

I'm kinda funny about driving in that my butt likes to know what the tires are doing even if I am no where near pushing the car hard. I prefer an M5 over a 540 as a daily driver not because I will be drifting the boat around corners but because I simply like a car that responds much quicker.

If I had to guess, and this is only a guess, I would say that the bushings used in the initial production were readily available parts. Much stiffer bushings probably required development as they use the rubber annulus between the inner and outer bushing sleeves to take up the angular movement between the suspension arms and the upright. There was most likely a great deal of engineering and product qualification put into the stiffer bushing design to make absolutely certain that the fatigue life was good enough before putting them into production.

I base the above comments on the simple fact that a lot of people have taken issue with rear suspension lateral compliance. If we notice it, you better believe Elon and his crew noticed it and early on. I simply think the business reality of shipping product outweighed the desire to have the absolute perfect car on day one. Again, just a guess.

christurbeville | May 24, 2013

@lolachampcar +1 I suspect that M5 level bushings would have delayed production. And considering how well it does handle they've compensated well with the suspension architecture but couldn't tweak every material to perfection. That said I can't wait to rash my rims and trash my bushings enough to justify replacement with the P85+ bits. Going to have to slalom home again:) To be honest though driving my E60 does show me how much less smooth and comfortable a ride it is but it is more precise.

matt.wis | June 3, 2013

So I've gotten to 250 miles and re-read this thread I started, and have new data. A quick thanks again for the help. I'm a shareholder and share the religion, and am blowing people's minds daily with tours of the car.

Back to the issue at hand: if I strongly accelerate, the car bounces right, then left, in a way that almost seems like it is twisting a bit because it feels like there is a pivot somewhere in the car more than say a lean. It is always right then left, and it is also while the accelerator is held down firmly without letting up. I mention that to say that the bounce left is not caused by backing off the accelerator and/or regen, as someone astutely asked..

I can live with that when flooring it in a straight line, but the real issue is in cornering. I'm noticing in any acceleration while cornering some strange behavior. It's like excessive understeer that flips to oversteer, or vice versa, depending whether I'm turning left or right.

I don't have a feeling at all for the limits of the car. It's more like I know there's no way it could lose traction because I'm no where near a limit of a modern car, but I'm getting signals that it could be and it's hard to ignore.

I've written Tesla about this just today. It was my "HQ Product Specialist", but that may be the wrong person to pursue the issue with. Advice?

Perhaps I should do some hard cornering at a completely flat speed and then get more feeling for the car's behavior when this issue is not in play.

I'm also going to be in the bay area this week, and have requested to test drive a P85 and P85+. My only test drive was an S85 and so I think this will also help get me some perspective.

RedShift | June 3, 2013

I have noticed this, when pushing the car onto the on ramps. The car feels like its floating and speeding up and then suddenly slows down, when all I am doing is letting off regen after coming in fast into the curve.

I agree with Matt, that the car feels as though its close to its limits, but really, it feels like it shouldn't be. My sport package equipped BMW cold take on the same curve at a higher speed and never felt like it was close to the limits until the front wheels started complaining a bit.

matt.wis | June 3, 2013

@RedShift, thanks that is where I am on comparable cars like Mercedes, Porsche, and really every other one I have ever had.

I just spoke to a product specialist who said it could be related to the air suspension being slightly bouncier than the standard suspension.

I'm going to test drive another P85 out of Menlo Park. I'll be in the Bay Area tomorrow, perhaps I'll start a thread to see if somebody might let me test out a p85+ to compare the handling.

Christianjacques | June 3, 2013

Do you know if the P85+ have the same problem ????? I got a p85 and I 'm even a bit afraid with that floating

christurbeville | June 3, 2013

This really sounds exactly like what happened to me. Setup a service appointment and have them drive it on the freeway. The repair to mine was to tighten and re-loctite several bolts and to replace a bushing. This is NOT the way the car is supposed to drive. Mine is back to dead center on acceleration and deceleration. The cornering is where mine felt very dangerous as little throttle blips would flip it from pointing one way to another.
The explanation I got was that slop in the small link due to the bushing being too loose (they also called it a spherical bearing) was allowing the caster to shift twisting the car.

lolachampcar | June 3, 2013

All but one of the rear suspension bits are rubber bushings. The only spherical bearing type thing is the ball joint between the outboard end of the lower a-arm and the bottom of the upright. If that was worn, it would be a very noticeable problem.

nickjhowe | June 3, 2013

I must admit I've never noticed my car wander on (very) hard acceleration - 0-80, 30-50 or 50-80

lolachampcar | June 3, 2013

the wander I was referring to was the tendency of my car to follow imperfections in the pavement at highway speeds (constant speed - no acceleration).

nickjhowe | June 3, 2013

Sorry @lola - I was referring to the earlier comments, not yours. Mine does exactly what you describe on I95 near Miami in the express lanes. I call it tramlining. For me it is a constant speed problem. I've never had the issues others describe when accelerating.

matt.wis | June 3, 2013

OK. The closest service center is Houston, so it sounds like a flatbed truck to get it out there with no loaner car! It seems like this is related to the car itself, and not standard performance from everyone else. Ugh, but ok.

I'll report back when I test some other cars for comparison.

Ohms.Law | June 3, 2013

Matt, thank you for this thread. You are describing exactly my experience as well in my P85. A friend who witnessed it from the passenger seat called it "torque stear". Most disquieting.

danej | June 4, 2013

Coming from a BMW M5, I find the Tesla MS to be ... squirrely under acceleration, and when cornering and accelerating. It's disquieting, and doesn't inspire confidence.

I've watched some of the videos of the MS on the test track, wheels squealing, the Car & Driver narrator going on about the amazing handling (for a heavy car), and I wonder if I've got the same automobile.

My car is at the service center now for what has become a rather long visit, but when I pick it up I'm hopeful I can get a test drive in with the staff and we can talk about it.


lolachampcar | June 4, 2013

It is very hard to compare personal experiences on a forum. This is what I have pulled from different posts combined with my own experience (P85).

Like Nick, I do not have any torque steer issues under hard acceleration even in the wet. The inverter (motor drive electronics) together with the traction control meter power to the wheels much faster than any ICE I have driven which decreases the time between the rear tires exceeding the programmed slip limit. This is a very good thing in that more power is being applied to the ground in a given period of time. However, it does make the back of the car much more active then say an M5 under hard acceleration. The individual chirps associated with an ICE's traction control are more like a continuous light squeal on MS. Again, I take this as a very good thing.

Several posters have mentioned torque steer and have had success having it addressed by a service center. Something seems to be going on here and I think anyone having this problem would do current and future owners a service by posting before and after correction observations along with exactly what the service center had to do to correct the issue.

Lastly, I too have the "darn, it does not feel like my M5" reaction to the rear of the car. I'm trying to get together with some local P85+ owners to do a back to back comparison with my P85 and, if I succeed, will try to get all involved to post their observations on TM and TMC. I believe the issue of an uncertain rear - that is, less than stellar feedback from the back of the car - is the result of too much compliance in the rubber suspension bushings. This theory is backed up by statements from Tesla like "you get 80% of the P85+ benefits with the field upgrade. That field upgrade package consists of Pilots and bushings. My car was delivered with Pilots (Conti production issues) and I immediately felt my car's rear was much superior to the Conti shod P85s I had driven to that point. However, that uncertain feeling in the rear is still there on my car. It literally feels like the wheels, and thus the alignment, is changing under load from bushing compliance which will change the feel of the back.

The above are simply my observations and I am always mindful that I am dealing with a 4700 lb car. It is never going to handle like a 458 (or 12C for that matter) nor should I expect it to. It is a wonderful car and beats the snot out of any S Class I have driven. So please do not take my comments as negative; I love my car!

J.T. | June 4, 2013

Though I did not order a P or a P+, I still find your analysis fascinating to read. I hope you guys get it figured out.

nhurst | June 4, 2013

I guess I'm confused. What I refer to as torque steer is a characteristic of front drive cars caused by unequal torque at the driving wheels during acceleration.

What I observe in the Tesla is a quite different phenomenon under hard acceleration. It almost feels like looseness but I attribute it to the more responsive (quicker) traction control system. It feels to me that it could be quickly eliminated by reducing the torque limit under acceleration but I would prefer it as it is. The feel could be possibly improved by a less compliant suspension, modified suspension geometry, or different tires but all these approaches are being explored. My guess would be that even if the "loose" feel were eliminated by these modifications, one would want to increase the torque available at the rear wheels and bring the same feel which I think may be a "good" feel of the S.

RedShift | June 4, 2013

I think what we are feeling cannot be characterized as 'torque steer' in the traditional sense. That term is always associated with front wheel drive as noted by others.

'Torque sway', may be?

Rear engine - rear drive layout and the large curb weight make this a unique problem for the Model S.
Still, a super amazing driver with surprisingly 'manic' turn in at low speeds during tight cornering. That turn-in is better than my erstwhile BMW, and a very pleasing trait of the Model S.

Brian H | June 4, 2013

You mean it's just the powerful motor torquing to you?

christurbeville | June 4, 2013

I kept calling it yaw because like an aircraft the car rotates around the vertical axis and it is torque related as it really wasn't too noticeable with just steering input but at speed under throttle watch out.

nhurst | June 4, 2013

Brian H - What it feels like to me is a new, to me, phenomenon that I might be tempted to call tire squirm. That is, sufficient torque to cause tire slip combined with an anti-slip system that is so responsive that it allows more "near slip" than other systems can. The result is a slightly loose feeling that, as far as I can tell, is not bad.

Vic M | June 4, 2013

Matt, I had exactly this issue. It was with the suspension and Menlo Service fixed it in a day. Given that this is a known issue, they should jump on it fast.


christurbeville | June 4, 2013

@Vic M can you tell us what they said they did for you?

lolachampcar | June 4, 2013

Oh Brian!

TikiMan | June 4, 2013

I would also like to hear from P85+ daily-driver types, whom spend 95% of their time driving in a straight line (like myself).

I agree the P85's air-suspension gives the MS a somewhat disconnected (lighter than air) feel to the car. To most not familiar with driving an MS with air-susp, it might feel a bit abnormal. However, as you get use to it, I really love how the air-suspension system really makes the ride feel like it's flying, verses rolling, yet with very quick handling. It's not your typical 'bumpy' sports-car ride for certain.

But then again, like I said above, I do 95% of my daily driving in a straight line, with quick lane changes, and very few sharp turns. None the less, I would still love to test-drive the P85+ to see how different it feels, verses my P85.

RobS | June 4, 2013

I had the same issue as well with my P85. At my first service visit on this they adjusted the bolts and it improved, mostly. Then a bushing broke. The car started making a "thunk" noise on slow accelerations from a full stop. (this happened when I had about 5000 miles on it) Once they replaced the control arm bushing the problem went completely away. I can now do a power acceleration on the highway without any sideways pull.

matt.wis | June 6, 2013


Firstly, there has been a stunning attention to this in service -- I'm super impressed. Every dealership service center I've ever dealt before Tesla has seemed like it was only there to separate me from my money, and grow every problem to require major repairs, warranted or not. I would call the dealership move I'm used to as a "cashectomy", the removal of all cash from the patient. Not so with Tesla.

Two things are going on to diagnose the issue: I am based on New Orleans, but happen to be in the Bay Area and just went to Menlo Park and test drove a car. Coincidentally, the Tesla service rep for my region is in New Orleans today, and is testing my car shortly for comparison.

The test drive out of Menlo Park was a car with exactly my P85 config, even colors and options. It performed easily within what I would think of as a normal and satisfying range on the issue that I have with my car. And so now that I have a great control case to compare against, I'll offer my amateur insights as to what is going on.

I have the air suspension, which I think is included with the P85. The air suspension is successful in softening the crazy-bumpy New Orleans roads, which makes the car have a very comfortable ride. It does add a little bounce on both cars, and instead of a sensation like the old springy bounce on cars of yore (like old cadillacs in the 80s that felt like floating sofas on wheels), it is a bounce like an air mattress when you are on it and somebody else joins you. The bounce back and forth feels just like you would expect compressed air to stiffen, and transfer side to side.

So the air suspension seems to be doing what it should. Hitting bumps in the control test drive caused a little side-to-side motion and was predictable. I'm not generally used to air suspension yet, but it seems to have its own performance characteristics and you just need to learn and get comfortable with those.

Now to the issue: on the control car, I did approximately 6 hard accelerations, including a circular on ramp at an aggressive acceleration. Independent of any bumps in the road, I could feel the yaw -- a twist that pushes the driver to the right and then left. This effect in the control car is only about 20% of the amount that my car seems to have, and I had to pay specific attention and focus to detect it. The Tesla specialist also perceived it at least one time, and immediately understood the issue I was referring to. That said, I'd be quite happy if my car performed as the control car did, so I think the baseline test was successful for dianostic purposes.

My interpretation of what seems to be happening on my car, is that on hard acceleration, there is an inital yaw that is the shift to the right. The yaw then causes the air suspension to bounce you back left, with maybe tiny reverberations back and forth again as that is dampened down. I suspect that what is happening is that the power transfer to the rear wheels causes the initial yaw, and everything else after that is the normal performance characteristic of the air suspension.

Sometimes I get the spatial aspects of this confused, but I'm guessing that for the driver to feel pushed to the right, the rear wheels are steering the rear of the car to the left on hard acceleration, which is a clockwise yaw if you are looking down at the car if you were floating above the roof. I'm not sure what the implications are for the location of the pivot point in the car versus the front to the back. It does seem to cause a perception that is assymetrical if you are cornering left vs cornering right. Turning one direction causes an initial sense of oversteer, and one understeer, and then a quick switch to vice versa in both cases as the air suspension bounces you the other way.

I'll report back what the Tesla rep says after test driving my car.

Brian H | June 6, 2013

A couple of points:
Some have had the issue cured with a rear suspension tightening of some links;
Second, if you feel pushed right, it's because the car is going left, and vice versa. So your clockwise/anti-clockwise suggestions are reversed.

Mark Z | June 6, 2013

The service center repaired mine several months ago. There is a service bulletin on the subject. If you experience a wind gust feeling above 50 or 60 mph when accelerating, then call Tesla. They immediately took care of the axle bolt issue after experiencing the problem while I drove with the technician. Three hours to fix and it was perfect. It remains perfect to this day.

hugo | June 7, 2013

Does any of you P85+ owners have a New 0-60mph number? I'm told it should be quicker than the regular P85...

matt.wis | June 7, 2013

Situation: resolved.

When I received the car -- it was unloaded from a large shipping truck -- I detected the yaw within the first mile of driving. That was at 11pm when I took the onramp onto I-10 and mashed the accelerator.

Apparently, the car was shipped with tire PSI of 44-45 on all four tires, and typically the air might be let out at that point to get to 42 PSI. It's obviously easier to let out some pressure than to add it back in.

There was no delivery specialist (we don't have a service center in New Orleans), so this seems like a relatively small detail. Every other facet of fit and finish has been perfect. Separately, I had an order of a digital tire pressure gauge that arrived today, but this is a culprit I ruled out.

Rick, the friendly Tesla service rep (mechanic?) reviewed the car yesterday. He, and my step-brother (an S60 owner) both drove the car, and both identified the yaw problem. Rick checked every bolt and bushing, and said everything was tight and in proper shape, but still took out a wrench to make sure they were extra tight. He checked the tire PSI and decreased it to 42.

All three of us, independently, said it fixed the issue and brought the car into line for normal performance. The working theory is that the increased tire pressure reduces the contact surface for the tire, and there can be slip on blacktop roads like we have in New Orleans that is not detectable to the driver, but is apparent based on the logs.

The car now performs as I expected. There's an incredible nuance here -- I've beta tested products before, or been an early adopter, and most engineers don't care about your feedback. Maybe they are too busy solving the next problem. In any case, it was a service experience that I found rewarding. I was worried… they listened… they solved. No "B team" that I had to beg for escalation to a better team.

I don't remember the last time I trusted a dealership. The very last time I took my Mercedes CLS 550 in for service at the dealer, it came back with a strange sound on the air conditioning, and the car was progressively hotter as the spring season progressed. I suffered the unmitigated heat as it got worse, but it's hard for me to take time from work to deal with car stuff. I was about to take it back to get a new air conditioning unit (or whatever that would be), and I noticed that every single vent had been shut to off. That is why it made a crazy sound, the air had to squeeze out somewhere. It occurred to me that I should have taken it in to the dealer and seen what they would have claimed to repair. I don't actually like to fight those kinds of battles, so I didn't, but it is astonishing to me that the NADA claims dealers are there to *protect* customers.

Major victory for the Tesla business model.

nickjhowe | June 7, 2013

@matt - just to be clear - you are saying that reducing the tire pressures by 2 PSI to the recommended 42 solved the handling problem?

matt.wis | June 7, 2013

Yup, reducing 2-3 PSI (all four tires were high) solved the handling problem. Improbable, I know. But, I am happy to say the least.

Oliver in Seattle | June 7, 2013

Even small differences in tire pressure can make a huge difference in vehicle handling. Raising the rear pressure by 5 lbs eliminated any sign of understeer when autocrossing my Corrado years ago. Certainly a good way to explain the variability, although if the shiftiness/yaw/squirm persists after correct tire pressure is verifies, there are always other things to check....

christurbeville | June 8, 2013

It's in several threads that they regularly get delivered with high pressure. I had over 50 in mine. Glad the issue was resolved and the service center team got to shine. Looks like this behavior is the main sign of four or five issues. Axle nuts, tire pressure, loose bolts, and bushing issues.

JohnnyMac | June 8, 2013

Took delivery two weeks ago and did not bother to check my tire pressure since I could not locate my gauge (even though I knew about the over inflation issue from the Google Doc Delivery Checklist). I have not had the yaw issue at all but the car has tramlined pretty badly on some of the local grooved highways and seemed to ride a bit harsh on small choppy pavement. Just checked the pressure now while the tires were warm and they were at a whopping 55 lbs! Reduced them for now to 46 since they are warm and will check them again while cold. Car seems to tramline much less and ride much smoother. Has it been decided that the proper pressure for the 21" Continentals is 42 lbs when cold??

RedShift | June 8, 2013

Matt, that's good feedback. I have my fronts at 48.5 and rears at 46.5 coz I wanted the car to have a bit more lively turn-in. Looks like these tire pressures could be causing some issues with the handling, even though such small increases should not affect handling in such a major way?

Superliner | June 8, 2013

Throttle steer is common in high torque rear drive platforms. Many accomplished drivers CAN change the cars attitude "heading" during hard cornering (after the car "takes a set") on corner entry.

This would not be suspension float. which is seemingly uncontrolled undulations over uneven surfaces

cgiGuy | June 9, 2013

Tire pressure was also causing this issue when I first got my 60. Luckily, I found the suggestion somewhere on the forum and was able to avoid a service call. I picked my new car up from the service center, so they should have caught this..