My Tesla Service Loaner Experience

My Tesla Service Loaner Experience

I took my car to the Tesla Service Center today. Really responsive service, appreciate them.

Well except for one thing. The loaner program, well it just sucks.

It was basically like arriving at an airport and taking a shuttle to the Enterprise Car Rental counter. I had to provide a credit card, and then endure a really lame sales pitch on why I needed to buy insurance for my super cool Chevy Impala.

Model S is awesome. But as a company Tesla has a long way to go to get to a satisfying service experience.

I don't get it. Why would Tesla would create hype and buzz that Model S owners get a Model S Performance model as a loaner, then deliver a rental car experience?

Ok, I can understand not enough Model S to go around. But geez, don't hype a lie. And at least have some decent cars ready for people who need them without all the extra time and hassle of going to Enterprise.

Not cool.

J.T. | January 11, 2014

@billseven We all feel your pain. I'm sure Elon had the best of intentions when he announced the loaner program, but it never worked the way it was envisioned. Once people realized you could "cut the line" by buying a loaner instead of waiting 2-3 months for a build the loaner supply dried up.

From what I understand selling the loaners as used cars allowed Tesla to get around the dealer laws in some restrictive states.

So, until production exceeds demand it's going to be a rare experience getting a P85 as a loaner.

SamO | January 11, 2014


Last time I was at the Service Center, they told me offhand that they had sold all of their loaners. I've seen other comments from other owners hearing the same thing.

Part of the loaner program is to sell those cars to owners who might like to upgrade.

Looks like they've been too successful. Perhaps they can take this into account as they replenish their stock.

carlk | January 11, 2014

Yes it sucks but it's till no worse than other dealers' services. I had to take a shuttle to Hertz to pick up a Fiat 500 when I take my car to Porsche service for "routine" service that ended up costing me over $3000.

I'm sure Tesla has all the good intentions it's just that they are really production restrained at this moment.

NKYTA | January 11, 2014

And make sure to ping your SC manager when you set up your appointment - give them a heads up that you'd "really" like an MS loaner. If I can't get one, I just have my wife follow me up to the SC and don't deal with Enterprise. I'm lucky though, only 10miles away.

sagebrushnw | January 11, 2014

@ billseven

Which Service Center? (Don't know where you live so don't know which Tesla Service Center you are referring to.) Did you check ahead to see if a Models S was available to use?

Mel. | January 11, 2014

billstevens, when you made the appointment, what was your discussion with the service center amount a loaner?

SamoSam, are you using the same service center as bill?

bradslee | January 11, 2014

I think that TM just sold out all MS loaners. When I brought my MS to the newly opened Sunnyvale service center, I also asked for a MS loaner. However, SC manager explained to me that since the SC opens, they have never had any MS loaner available. All loaners are ICE cars from the Enterprise Rental Cars. Thus, it is an unrealistic expectation having a MS loaner when you bring your MS to a SC for service.

RedShift | January 11, 2014

I have gotten ICE loaners may be 30% of the time. Yes, they suck big time, which makes me appreciate my Tesla more when I get it back.

Dcp9142 | January 11, 2014

I have a warrantee service needed but cancelled the appointment when they said they sold all the loaners. Better to drive a defective Tesla, so long as safe, than go through an ICE rental. Really, this broken promise of Tesla loaners is a rather big deal. They need to keep an appropriate number of loaners in stock and not sell them out from under the crevice centers.

Mathew98 | January 11, 2014

TM usually sell out all their loaners every quarter end to push for better numbers to report.

TM can't make and provide the loaners to all SC fast enough. This program is too successful as many new buyers have figure out how to cut the line without waiting for months to get their hands on an MS.

Moral of the story, bring your car for service a few week before and after quarter end...

SCCRENDO | January 11, 2014

Costa Mesa used to be like that. I got reassurances from the manager Mike that they will give you a MS if they have one but they are sold unpredictably. If they don't have one Enterprise will come to you and deliver an upscale car such as. Merc, BMW etc. minimal paperwork and they pay for the gas. They feel it's insulting for a Tesla owner to put gasoline in a car.

Captain_Zap | January 11, 2014

Apparently the price is too low on those loaners.

My original understanding was that the owners could upgrade their cars if they liked the loaner better than their existing car. In that case, Tesla would still have a car to loan.

I thought that sales to the general public was going to be limited to orphan cars that were on hand because people could not take delivery at the last minute due to circumstances beyond their control.

Pungoteague_Dave | January 11, 2014

It was always the strategy to use the "loaner" program as a way to get lot-level inventory in-state at Service Centers where they can be sold to customers who are unwilling to wait for an ordered car. It is a way around dealership licensing and local direct auto sales laws, and allows TM to level out production and demand fluctuations now that the early adopters are full up (contrary to popular opinion here, TM isn't as production supply constrained as they'd have you think).

This strategy is very smart for TM, although requires optics to be one thing and reality another, just like the phantom battery swap and a few other things that were always stated as one thing (and accepted on face value by many in the Tesla fan community), yet in reality intended for another corporate purpose. These things can generally be identified in the careful wording used by Elon and others in describing the program. Don't ignore the caveats and extensions. People heard "loaner" full stop. In the same paragraph was the statement about the loaners being available for purchase by the customer who borrowed it, OR by customers who can't wait for an order. The second part was the important part.

The same applies to the statements about testing the battery swap process, and the tax benefits. All people heard was "swap" and they failed to understand that just because the car was "designed" in a very broad sense to do it, the cars cannot undergo an automated battery swap as currently built, and the real strategy was to claim the larger per-unit credits for cars with swappable batteries. This was also obvious to a careful observer at the time of the announcement. No one at TM ever lies, but the truth isn't always what it appears either. Sometimes what they say often turns out to be impractical and they must change strategy, such as abandoning the 40, visor upgrades, etc. No one's fault and a characteristic of an evolving new business. There have been as many positive and unexpected surprises, such as the continued free 3g, better warranty terms, etc.

With the above said, I have found that, at least at Rockville, if you schedule far enough ahead and state that you will only bring your car in if there is a TM loaner, they will accommodate you. I have had three Enterprise loaners, and then began scheduling service only when loaners were available, and have since driven for over a month in three separate service events, using TM's cars over 2,500 miles in three different loaners, including a stunning p85+. Be persistent, but not a d*ck and you'll get what you want if they can make it happen.

Pungoteague_Dave | January 11, 2014

@Captain Zap, it was always stated that the cars would be made available to the general public. That was the real purpose of the arrangement, with the rest being the legal optics.

TeslaLandShark | January 11, 2014

I got lucky. First time I took it into Fremont for tire rotation there were no P85 loaners in sight. Did the Enterprise thing but it was on site so it was pretty quick and painless. The Volvo was decent but once I got home I opted to drive my own ice instead.

Took it back on 12/31/13 for a 12 volt battery replacement. Being the holidays it was very slow and I got a sweet P85+. For those of you S85s and S60s who are wondering (I'm an S85), YES you can tell the difference in acceleration. The P85 actually does a little fishtail off the line because of the extra power.

It's the 0 to 30 mph range where you really feel it. Wow. Glad I got the opportunity but as cool as it was I still wouldn't have put down the extra 10K for a P and the car is already way too expensive for me to risk ripping around corners to pay another 6K to experience the + suspension.

Glad I got the chance to try it out!

Low CG | January 11, 2014

Might be time to initiate a class action against TM using the storied Law Office of Howard Smith (who is reachable in his mom’s basement)

SMinnihan | January 12, 2014’s-best-service-and-warranty-program-0

Press releases like this could be considered misleading, maybe even false advertising. Maybe Tesla should take it down.

Also, the battery swap tab should probably come down. A reasonable prospective buyer could leave the site thinking he/she could actually swap a battery in the real world.

Car t man | January 12, 2014

SMinnahan, you are correct in addressing Tesla's inconsistencies, which some of the Kool aid drinker's have issues with, but I too, see you as a troll.
Even when you're right, the fact that you mention it, changes everything, since you do appear to be here with an agenda.

I myself don't find you any more or less annoying than the most avid Kool aid drinkers. I find both annoying, since both have some ideological agenda.

SamO | January 12, 2014

@Car t man

There are several service centers that are reporting sell-offs and lack of loaner cars.

Tesla is growing and doubling production rate from 2012 ~2650 to 2013 ~22,000 in one year.

Service is going to be a challenge.

TM needs to supply vehicles more consistently instead of the supply drying up at the end of quarter.

Expect demand for loaner vehicles to be at least double for the short term.

Using Enterprise is not excellent even if it is (barely) acceptable.

bb0tin | January 12, 2014

Is the law in the US that if a product is available for sale then the seller must sell it if someone wants it?
If not, then Tesla can simply say no to potential purchasers if the car is required to fulfil the loaner program.
If yes, then Tesla should officially discontinue the loaner programme as they now know that they cannot fulfil the promises made.

Car t man | January 12, 2014


everything you mention, I know.
I myself often recommend loaners as
a purchase choice to those I talk to.

As a side note, I like unbiased, realistic, honest advertising,
conduct, commenting, etc. I don't like the way most dealers
behave and their practices with false advertising, but I also
noted Tesla followed some of that more than once. Needless to
say, with a product like this, I find that quite unnecessary.

I am sure Tesla can and will do much better with things like
this this year myself.

detlefo | January 12, 2014

It is unrealistic to expect TM to have sufficient numbers of loaners to accommodate every one, every time. I have had three occasions that required a loaner. Twice I got a P85. Once, before Rocklin was open, I had the P85 loaner for over a week. San Rafael SC picked up and returned my car at my home, dropping off the P85 loaner. One time I had to settle for an Infinity for about 6 hours. The Infinity was delivered to me at the Service Center within minutes and paperwork was minimal. Tesla picked up the cost of gas. I returned the Infinity to the service center when I picked up my serviced and washed MS. Kudos to the Rocklin Service Center, they could not have been more accommodating. While I would rather have had a P85+ driving the Infinity reinforced what a great car the MS is. Even at its worst, Tesla service far exceeds any experience I have had getting cars serviced in the past.

Car t man | January 12, 2014

Exactly. It exceeds others. But when it gives wrong impressions, many will be disappointed when it happens and a percentage point will threaten or go ahead with lawsuits. It isn't necessary to overstate services.

Most instances of lack of satisfaction come down to expectations not being met. So when raising expectations, it is best to be more tempered.

Newer owners don't come from early adopter pools. They will complain more
and more about this. Some of the early adopters still don't quite see that.

Car t man | January 12, 2014

When I say about this, I mean things where promises are made and not filled, in general. You see little things (ok not tier one things) like fog lamps
and all kinds of stuff like this float up nowadays. Time to promise a bit
less and stick to it. Better for Tesla, users,.. Less complaining that way.

MichaelN | January 12, 2014

Yes - painful indeed - same happened to me, turns out all three S loaners had sold the previous week, a big push to get the cars out by year end - the SILVER LINING - I own some TSLA stock, so while disappointed, that tempered my loss, and I got to drive a Mercedes which totally reaffirmed my decision to by the S - my final analysis, smile the Tesla smile and enjoy the ride, people in Africa are still walking on retreads -

frankviaje | February 18, 2014

In Oct 2013, I received a Loaner P85 while my MS was in the Marietta Service Center for a minor problem. But, I can imagine situations where Tesla had sold out of all their loaners. It's easy to understand why folks get impatient to buy one of these loaners!

zwede | February 19, 2014

I took mine in to the Dallas SC last friday and was given a P85+ loaner. It was recent production and had 1,600 miles on it. Looks like they are trying to build inventory back up.

zmansbr | February 24, 2014

Just scheduled my first service appointment. Was looking forward to a great experience and I find out their hyped valet and MS loaner program is non-existent in Palo Alto due to lack of cars (all sold). Service guy seemed unapologetic and when I mentioned Elon's blog post he said something about it will be coming. Of course we all know they were doing this in the past so I guess it wasn't officially launched. This is incredibly misleading and disappointing. Oh well, Enterprise here I come.

jchangyy | February 24, 2014

Yeah...same here. I had a loaner once at Sunnyvale (S85). other times, Enterprise. Pushing Hyundai Sonata hybrid. Not the same. No other lux vehicles available.

tes-s | February 24, 2014

I had service this past Friday. Drove a P85 to my house, left that and took my car for service. Drove my car back in the evening and picked up their P85.

judimasters | April 30, 2014

Kinda hate bringing this up again but... As much as I love the service and people who take excellent care of me at the Service Center, the promise of the upgraded Model S loaner is not being upheld by Tesla. I understand all the whats and whys of it and also know this is very frustrating for those people at the service centers. It is also a very costly thing for Tesla to have to pay an outside contract to Enterprise for their services.
So my point is... How does this look to the prospective buyers out there? Those friends of ours that we have touted all the pluses about Tesla as the most fantastic car and company. They see us now having to drive a Ford Escape for our loaner when we told them all about the loaner system promised to us when we bought the car.
All I can say is Hmmmmmmmmm Tesla ???????

mdemetri | April 30, 2014

+1 judimasters - it is way past the time for Tesla to have a permanent fleet of loaner cars at every SC; as they promised would be the case. I have had my car in for service multiple times but have never got a Model S loaner. This is really unacceptable and needs to be fixed permanently.

NKYTA | April 30, 2014

I wonder - if they had actually produced the 40's, that would be an ideal loaner and their cheapest option for a fleet of loaners. Maybe they should rethink that; or use 60's with few bells and whistles if they want to keep the loaners around.

I suppose they are doing the math...we'll see...

I always call ahead and schedule ahead and make sure I can get a loaner - if it is urgent (never), I'd just have my wife pick me up in her Mustang, I'm too close to the service center to sweat it or deal with an ICE free-rental.

judimasters | May 1, 2014

I would call ahead to ensure a loaner of our own fleet. I have been told they actually have zero to offer us.

J.T. | May 1, 2014

@NKYTA I thought that the 40s and 60s were identical except for a software switch, like enabling Supercharging. If that's accurate than the cost to produce would be the same.

I think Elon's promise of a "car equal or superior" to the one in service was more dreamspeak than possibility. The idea was to trade up after experiencing a more powerful car. That turned into a shortcut for the impatient.

However, if NKYTA's suggestion is taken to heart and the fleet of loaners are not as desirable, the number of loaners being sold would be considerably less.

Mathew98 | May 1, 2014

@PD brought a very valid point that the loaner fleet is really the work around to the dealership game. TM keeps on churning out the loaner fleet of 500 - 1000 every quarter just so new buyers who do not want to wait for 3 months can buy ones readily made with a few extra bells and whistles within a week.

The down side is the service loaner fleet is depleted by each quarter end and get replenished 4 - 5 weeks after every quarter. Rinse and repeat and the loaners become non existent about half the time.

I have received MS loaners on three occasions while I declined ICE rentals for other service visits. | May 1, 2014

Just had my first yearly service performed. When I made the appointment I let them know that I really needed a loaner. When I showed up for the service appointment (Palo Alto SC) they had an Enterprise Prius waiting for me at the SC. I had no contact at all with Enterprise, either at pickup or drop off. I signed the paperwork at the SC. Obviously I would have preferred a Model S loaner but the Prius really made me appreciate my Model S even more.

judimasters | May 1, 2014

@ Carmel. I agree that it is great just to have a loaner and the Prius would certainly make one appreciate the S much more. But the fact remains that we were promised a Model S loaner. I had to be shuttled to Enterprise and when I go back I must be shuttled back. Unacceptable!

Red Sage ca us | May 1, 2014

On the bright side... Tesla Motors is able to sell their Service Center Loaner Vehicles.

NKYTA | May 1, 2014

@JT, yes they are virtually identical - my point was, what if they actually decided to go back and produce a "real" 40?

I completely agree with "dreamspeak", nice made up word. ;-)

and the fleet of loaners are not as desirable, the number of loaners being sold would be considerably less

Hmm...I wonder what the percentage of "loaners" are being purchased by current owners vs non-owners that just want one "now!"? My WAG is the latter is much more prevalent in which case maybe it matters not so much...

JZ13 | May 1, 2014

+1 judimasters - Tesla is not living up to their promise. I was made to feel lucky the 2 times I did get a loaner but was offered Enterprise on my last visit. I declined so they gave me a ride home and delivered my car to my home later that day. Very good service but not what was promised.

Red Sage ca us | May 1, 2014

I think the 'promise' was made when Tesla Motors thought they just might 'barely' make their hoped for 20,000 cars per year sales target. It was also before being announced as the Automobile Car of the Year, Motor Trend Car of the Year, Best Car EVER Tested by Consumer Reports, and getting the Best Combined Score of ANY Car in NHTSA Crash Testing... All of that made what they knew to be a very good car, an incredibly desirable car to a much wider audience than what was originally expected. Not just rich and well off people, but also people who could just barely make the step up to purchase at a higher price point, all wanted the Tesla Model S.

When they first set up their loaner program, Tesla decided upon a schedule of use that would allow them to periodically switch them out for fresher, newer units at Service Centers and Tesla Stores. They knew that those would be put up for sale as used vehicles. They didn't anticipate the demand for them would be so high. Oops.

So, yeah... They'll have to run the numbers again. They'll determine a replacement schedule that is more apt to keep Customers happy. They will go ahead and run the risk of maybe having a few extra cars around, more than they thought they would need. Because now they know the instant a 'FOR SALE' sign is posted on a demo or loaner, it will be a distant memory as someone peals off in it.

Like having a football team with two or three really good quarterbacks -- this is a really good 'problem' to have.

judimasters | May 1, 2014

@ Red Sage. All this explanation does not resolve the issue. Doesn't take away the fact of a promise to customers. And doesn't look good to prospective customers. IE: friends that see this happening. Promises unkept creates distrust.

J.T. | May 1, 2014

@judimasters You are absolutely right about this and considering some service centers are going through the trouble to put an Enterprise kiosk right on their property it isn't likely it will get better soon. It's almost like they've moved on from the concept. It's disappointing.

judimasters | May 1, 2014

Everyone needs to complain to Ownership!!!!

LEvans | May 1, 2014

Maybe if customers refuse to accept an ICE vehicle as a loaner and keep telling them they they need to have a Model S loaner as promised, they will increase the inventory of Model S loaners?

That's likely what I'd do unless it was an urgent issue. Still, if they pick up my car and drop it off at my home after they are done, that is also okay with me as long as it is returned the same day.

I agree that this is something that was promised and they need to deliver on that promise.

Mathew98 | May 1, 2014

Well, if they produce more for the loaner fleet then the folks in China and EU will have even more to complain about.

It's a juggling act over at TM HQ. Patience, patience, people.

zwede | May 1, 2014

I've had my car at the SC (Dallas) twice since I got it in January '14. First time I got a P85+ loaner. Second time I asked if they'd do valet and they did. Worked great, they picked my car up from my office parking lot and returned it in the afternoon. So for me it has worked perfectly.

judimasters | May 1, 2014

@ Mathew 98. Patience? Really? If Tesla cannot deliver what is promised then they need to slow down and keep up with the customers they have already promised. Simple!!!

madbuns | May 1, 2014

So, I had a loaner at my first service - a P85+ with the pano roof challenge (read: crazy a-- loud over 35mph) - but I was happy to have a Tesla as my rental.

Since then, I have been happy to have a vehicle of any sort. I acknowledge that the original "point" was "same or better," but not coming from a generation of Tesla Expectation, I am pretty pleased just to have a rental car during the times when my car is being looked after.

Enterprise, thus far, at least in Highland Park (IL; I visited Villa Park for my first service and found Highland Park to be more conveniently located), hasn't tried to upsell me on anything and actually, made me feel really good -

" are from Tesla right? Step up and get your car..."

- I have had service a few times in my 22K (so far), and each time Enterprise brought me in, brought me forward and got me the heck out so I could continue with my life.

I agree that expectations need to be better managed, but so far, the partners that have been brought forward have been brilliant (at least in the Midwest).