Ranger just told me there is no drivetrain issue.

Ranger just told me there is no drivetrain issue.

I'm making a separate thread, because otherwise this will just be buried and missed. A Ranger from Vegas was doing some minor things to my car yesterday, and when he was done, I asked him about the drivetrain issue. He said there is no issue. A while back they replaced a few for customers that were complaining of noise, and the Tesla engineers wanted to use that as an opportunity to look at them. I don't remember the exact wording he used, but he basically said there hasn't been a need to do any in a while. He said the gears are spinning fast, and they will make some noise at high speed. You will hear them because there is no engine to cover that noise.

I personally have noticed that if I don't have the trunk cover/liner on in the back, or the rear seats are folded down, I will hear the motor/inverter/gears at high speed. With the trunk cover on, I don't notice it. There is no way they are going to be completely silent. I think part of what has happened is that a few people posted about their replacements on the forum, and a bunch of other people started listening and then wanted theirs replaced as well, thinking it was a good idea. I think Tesla was very happy to have volunteers who wanted their cars taken apart and a new drivetrain put in for minimal noise, so they could look at how the drivetrains were doing in the real world. Personally, I'm not going to have my car taken apart for no good reason. Obviously, this is different from the very few people that have developed a clunk when coming off the accelerator due to a rare gearbox problem.

So my thoughts are:
1) Parts moving at high speed are going to make some noise, and you will hear it since there isn't a loud ICE to cover the noise. It is normal and will change over time as parts break-in.
2) You will hear the noise less if you use a trunk cover and have the rear seats up.
3) This is not a reason to not buy the car or worry about the company, as a very busy service center claims they aren't doing many, if any, at this time.

Red Sage ca us | July 17, 2014


Captain_Zap | July 17, 2014

Analysis... That is what I was thinking. Thanks for the update!

carlk | July 17, 2014

That makes sense. You don't know your clock makes noise until late at night when other noises are gone. | July 17, 2014

A sensible, drama-free post? It'll be buried on page three by tomorrow, but thanks for posting.


eddiemoy | July 17, 2014

at least MS isn't making the death noise like the concept one from rimac. i don't think anyone would buy the car if it made that noise!

torst1 | July 17, 2014

@rdalcanto so glad you posted this.
Now people can link to your thread as soon as the drive unit issue comes up. Not an official statement but close enough to calm the nerves of people.

Thx for posting dude :-) | July 17, 2014

I have no way of evaluating what the issue may be with a drive train. I got a step change in noise (a droning sound) at around 65 mph. I asked the service center if I should be concerned since I did not here the sound in any loaners at the same speeds. Engineering folks in CA listened to the sound and told them to replace the drive unit.

Fact is, it was replaced. Was there a serious problem? Ask Tesla engineering.

Sorry, but the word of one ranger doesn't mean anything to me.

carlk | July 17, 2014

@GaryREM That's exactly what the op said. It's not a real issue but Tesla engineers want to use the opportunity to take a look to verify what people are complaining about.

@omarsultan Maybe this thread will be kept alive for a while now. ;-)

shop | July 17, 2014

People have short memories. A while ago (8-9 months?) there was a spate of droning noise at 65 mph issues with "several" cars. Not an epidemic, but not zero either. My car was one. It's a fairly early VIN, 58xx or so. Anyways, the noise progressively got worse to the point of really loud. They replaced the drive unit, no problems since. Given that we haven't heard about the noise much lately, I would venture to say that Tesla figured out the problem and have instituted a manufacturing fix.

NKYTA | July 17, 2014

Thanks for the informative post, OP.

Captain_Zap | July 17, 2014

I have had the droning noise, hum whatever you want to call it, at 65-70 for well over a year. Tesla said it was normal. I've had no issues. I think it is just how it sounds in that operating range.

It sounds like a motorcycle in your blind spot on your right rear. The sound may be unfamiliar to an ICE driver but, it makes sense to me. If it changed dramatically or increased as I accelerated I would be concerned.

All is good.

romainiacWV | July 18, 2014

I had mine replaced for the drone and I am glad that I did. Some may accept it but it sounded like a truck was always riding in the next lane, and it changed tone with change of speed. I disagree that this is just normal behavior that you must accept, when car was delivered it didn't do it. The silence of the car is part of the joy of owning it, if I wanted a drone I would had bought an ICE.

Captain_Zap | July 18, 2014

A truck is a bit different than a motorcycle.

AmpedRealtor | July 18, 2014


GreenBehindTheEars | July 18, 2014

Thanks for posting this. It is of course interesting to hear that ranger's point of view and experience.

Still, I have to maintain that the problem of the drive-units seems to be more widespread than to be silenced by (no offense) a guy who's ranger said there was no problem. "These are not the drones you are looking for" comes to mind :-)

I heard another story from my local SC of them changing a drive-unit on one of the demo cars not too long ago.

In any case, you might argue that I and others are being overly careful, but buying a Tesla is a huge investment to many and we don't want to take unnecessary risks.

If this is all a storm in a glass of water (and it probably is), it would be easy for Tesla to reassure people. I would place my order right away if I got an official statement from Tesla on this. Fingers crossed for news from the Tesla event this weekend.

jordanrichard | July 18, 2014

There is or was a loaner S60 at the Milford CT service center that has a drone/hum noise at about 65 mph. I have been given this same loaner twice and I heard both times and even pointed it out to them. My S85 doesn't have this noise and at the time, my car had the same number of miles as this S60 loaner.

David Trushin | July 18, 2014

I asked Villa Park about this and they said they replaced a few but it is not a systemic problem.

BrassGuy | July 18, 2014

I once drove a loaner with the drone. It is a great detraction from the otherwise silent experience. I wish Tesla would divulge what they find from these units. I suspect something in the inverter, but it reminded me of a bad wheel bearing except no noise at low speed. It was an obnoxious sound, not just because the rest of the car is quiet. I've had a few minor sounds, they don't bother me. If I get a new loud sound, that would cause concern - especially if it kept getting louder over time.

podoffice | July 18, 2014

I just had a drive unit replaced approximately 2 months ago. It was making a significant clunking sound. They said on inspection it was due to a broken motor mount. However after replacing the broken motor mount the clunk did not disappear so they replaced the whole drive unit which solved the problem. I have an S60.

jchangyy | July 18, 2014

To clarify, there are two types of humming noise from the motor.

1. Motor noise at high speeds, which most centers has said it's normal

2. Motor noise at low speeds, which was getting progressively worse, which was case where my motor was replaced.

I've had both noises, and was not concerned about the noise at high speed, but progressively worsening noise at low speed was noted to be due to defect (didn't tell me what the defect was)

shop | July 18, 2014

Define high and low speed please...

Webcrawler | July 18, 2014

That is more or less what I suspect is happening... I know some boxes will exhibit unusual wear and make more noise and some will fail. I just do not think it is a design flaw....

These cars are so quite we notice sounds you would never hear in an ICE car...

christurbeville | July 18, 2014

@jchangyy can you describe the low speed noise? I have a low speed buzz as well as high speed hum. Just curious if your low speed was a buzz or a hum. | July 18, 2014

New theory - the parcel shelf is now included as it reduces the high-speed noise. I've never heard the noise myself, but I also have the parcel shelf (and my hearing above 13kHz is not what it used to be). Then again I didn't notice any sound for the first 4 months when I didn't have the parcel shelf.

I wonder how many that hear the high speed noise:
a) Have or don't have the parcel shelf (and if having it is it in the down position)?
b) How good is your hearing? I just had it tested about a month ago, and it's fine except for some disappointing degradation at the high end.

I'm 100% sure some units are producing more noise than they should and it sounds like Tesla has replaced those units. I wonder if all cars produce some noise and if some owners are just more sensitive than others or the parcel shelf is a factor? I'd like to think I'm a sensitive guy, but that's another story.

AmpedRealtor | July 18, 2014

+1 - that was my feeling as well when they announced inclusion of the parcel shelf. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I ordered it with my car. I read reports last year that the parcel shelf did a good job of deadening the sound from the rear.

David Trushin | July 18, 2014

TeslaTap, could you please use all caps when posting. I'm also a little hard of hearing.

jchangyy | July 18, 2014


Low speed: 20-35mph; power consumption of unto ~20kwh level or below, I hear more of a buzz. Sound gets louder until it peaks at above numbers and starts to disappear to higher pitch sound above that sound.

High speed: >65mph at higher power consumption. harder to hear depending on road condition.

My complaint to SC was not about high speed noise as that never bothered me.

Low speed buzz was getting louder as time went on over the course of 6 months and it was starting to drive me crazy on everyday comment (El Camion Real at 35mph)

I hope that clarifies a bit more. I don't have a parcel shelf (too cheap to spend $250 at the time)

TeslaOR | July 18, 2014

I noticed that the loaner I got when I went in for my 1 yr service had quite a bit more whining noise under hard acceleration (not speed related) than mine does. Both S60s. Both had parcel shelf and both around 7k miles.

bevguy | July 18, 2014

Some have the noise some don't, so I don't see how it can be normal. My car has 3500 miles on it, made early March 2014 and is totally silent except for tire drone and wind noise. I do have the parcel shelf (and a bit annoyed that I paid $250 for it and a couple of months later it was free)

Any noise that could be compared in loudness to a typical Harley just off your rear fender is inexcusable in a car this expensive.

Bighorn | July 18, 2014

Sorry, who said it sounded like a Harley?

Could it be normal that the inverter develops some characteristic noises with usage? Seems reasonable given Zap's description of work she's done with motors in the past.

BrassGuy | July 18, 2014

I think the acceleration whine is cool, like a sci-fi film or something. The drone discussed above is something else though, and a little hearing loss will not hide it.

Rocky_H | July 18, 2014

We do have a pretty trustworthy source on this. After all, it's The Lone Ranger. | July 18, 2014

Gradual increases in noise are understandable and the fact you have no engine or exhaust noise lets you here things that you normally wouldn't hear.

However, step changes in sound usually signify a problem (could be minor or could be serious). As an engineer, I want it looked at and want to be sure Tesla is aware.

My new unit is perfectly silent, which tells me the 'drone' is not part of the design.

I'm not at all concerned about this at this stage, because I am confident that Tesla engineering is treating this seriously and will eventually get it sorted out.

balabanshik | July 18, 2014

If I may pitch in with, strangely, non-Tesla experience here...

While I'm waiting for my P85 (scheduled for "late September", sigh), I continue to drive the Lexus RX450h. Since it's a hybrid, it basically has the same components (battery, inverter, motors) that a Tesla has, in addition to the ICE. And, interestingly enough, at speeds of 55-60, on quieter roads, there is this whistle-like electric sound. It's rather specific, and only happens at 55+.

Now, I'm not too good with electricity-related physics, but I do know that if you stand under a high-voltage AC line, there is a distinct hum. At the same time, the inverter in the car produces quite a lot of AC current. So maybe it's just a normal property of an inverter-driven electric system?

jchangyy | July 18, 2014

Not a normal sound since my replaced unit, now after 8000 miles, has no noise whatsoever. not gradual, not step wise hum, buzz etc. no type of noise at this point. will report back if noise gradually start though.

ssarker | July 18, 2014

All was quiet until about 14K miles or so. Now, there is definitely much more noise > 65 mph or so. It sounds like my 8 year old Sienna on the highway. I will just wait until I go in for my tire rotation in the next month or so.

michael1800 | July 18, 2014

My noise depends on the temperature. The lower the temp, the more often I hear acceleration noise. It's pretty low key though, normal operation IMHO and not noticeable if I have the radio on at nearly any volume.

wraithnot | July 18, 2014

Different people are probably describing different types and intensity of noise. I have VIN 5875 and started noticing a droning sound around 15,000 miles or so. It sounded like a car with a bad muffler in a nearby lane and would change intensity with increased power or regen and change pitch with speed. It got to the point where it was quite noticeably even when the stereo was on and my wife starting giving me grief about the noise. I had the drivetrain replaced at around 18,000 miles and replacement was completely silent. I'm at 33,000 miles now and the noise hasn't come back so the noise I had doesn't seem like a characteristic of the car.

andex23 | July 19, 2014

I have to disagree that the noise is "Normal". I had the drone at 65-75 MPH and it as very noticeable. So noticeable that when I got into a loaner, the silence was amazing. Parcel shelf did not help. They replaced mine and everything has been perfect.

Today, I forget to close the parcel shelf and don't notice a difference either. There is no drone and I like it.

djm12 | July 19, 2014

It would be useful to get actual statistics. It's unfortunate that this defect is present. From these posts, it appears that some drivetrains from 60, 85 and 85P have experienced this anomaly. I'm sure after the recent publicity, owners will come forward in somewhat higher numbers.

moonfresh | July 19, 2014

Some of you are right: There shouldn't be any noticeable sound inside the cabin from the drive unit, unless it is defected. After all,this is a luxury vehicle without an ICE. And I am pretty sure Tesla did a good job sound proofing the vehicle. This is not to say that there are no sounds from the drive unit.

Captain_Zap | July 19, 2014

I said it sounded like a motorcycle approaching the rear passenger side. It is not that loud. Just enough to make you wonder and glance to see if something might be approaching. Now I am used to the normal operating sounds of my car. It only happens a narrow range of speed.

The sound is definitely not like a Harley. To me it sounds like an average mid sized Japanese commuter motorcycle. Not a café racer either. I was referring more to the type of sound I hear rather than the volume.

nickjhowe | July 19, 2014

Following up from what @jchangyy said, I think that there are at least four noises:

1. A droning sound from the motor at high speeds (>65 mph)
2. A buzzing sound from the motor at low speeds - gets progressively worse
3. A whining sound from the motor/inverter under hard acceleration, esp. P85/+
4. A clunking from the drivetrain at low speed (<10 mph) when lifting off the accelerator.

I've got direct feedback from different owners that depending on which service center you speak to, and which service agent/manager, the noises are either 'normal' or cause for a drive train replacement.

Items #1 and #3 are the only things I'd consider 'normal' - and then only if they are relatively quiet and don't get progressively worse. #2 and #4 are (IMHO) definitely a problem and if you have them you should persist with service until they are fixed.

Brian H | July 20, 2014

A sound centered above 13kHz would be like a mosquito on crack; such frequencies or harmonics mainly serve to add tone and color to lower ones, and are rarely heard directly. So hearing loss is unlikely to explain much about audible buzz or hum -- that would not be how such sound would be described! Anyone hear piercing, super-high whine?