Warranty, Scratching my Head

Warranty, Scratching my Head

You know what they say about assumptions; they make an a** out of – well at least me….

My primary concern about the Model S warranty was the battery so that is what I asked about. Good, an 8 year unlimited mile warranty on the 85kw pack. Ok, is it pro-rated like a car’s lead acid battery or is it an outright fix or replace. I was told it was outright. I’m happy. I can keep the car for four years and the secondary market is assured there are another four years of warranty on the single most concerning element.

So, I saw the service blog post and started to read. Huh, Tesla is selling service plans covering consumables (apart from tires) and an annual inspection (also seems needed to “enable” the software update function on the car) for XYZ. I thought, that will be nice. When my factory warranty runs out, I can extend it with Tesla and now one of these aftermarket warranty companies. Sweet! Not remembering what the factory warranty was apart from the battery, I went back to the Model S page to see what the standard warranty is. I did not see anything about warranty apart from the battery.

This begs the question of what is the standard warranty on the Model S? Are you really on your own when you buy the car if, within the first thirty days, you do not purchase a warranty plan? Nah, there is no way they did this; not if they are competing against the likes of BMW (my five series is something like 4 years 50k miles all but tires included), Audi and MB. They surely would have bumped the price by $2,400 and included four years of on site or service center service. There is no way they would be charging for something that goes wrong in 35 days of getting the car.

Can someone shed some light on this subject? I’m certain there is a page somewhere where Tesla describes their warranty which is certainly as brilliant and well thought out as the rest of the car.

Sudre_ | November 25, 2012

The specs page says there is a 4 year 50k miles warranty. I recall someone posting a link to the PDF of it but my brain plays tricks on me some times. It is too much trouble to find it while using this Tablet.

lolachampcar | November 25, 2012

4 year or 50,000 mile, whichever comes first, new vehicle limited warranty

Direct from the specs page. Thank You.

How does this dovetail into the 4 years for $2400 service deal or is that only for years 4-8 and beyond?

BYT | November 25, 2012

Direct from my Warrantee Booklet:

Subject to separate coverage for certain parts and the exclusions and limitations described in this New Vehicle Limited Warranty, the Basic Vehicle Limited Warranty covers the repair or replacement necessary to correct defects in the materials or workmanship of any parts manufactured or supplied by Tesla that occur under normal use for a period of 4 years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km), whichever comes first.

Volker.Berlin | November 25, 2012

lolachampcar, there has been some heated debate on the relationship between paid service and warranty validity, and the cost/value ratio of Tesla's suggested service plans. I'd suggest you have a look at these threads and go from there:

lolachampcar | November 25, 2012

Will do. Thank You.
Only started looking into it when I signed my paperwork. I guess it all became real at that point.

lolachampcar | November 25, 2012

I've just started to digest the myriad of threads from the above links. The following are some choice tid bits from a very specific post by GeorgeB on extended service.

So, to answer the question clearly about whether failure to do Annual or 12,500 mile Inspections voids your warranty, yes it does. We need to see your car to make sure all covered wear and tear parts are visually inspected and replaced, as needed, before they grow into bigger issues. And we want to make sure things affected by “time” are replaced on their appropriate schedule. This may not be a popular answer, but it is the best way for us to make sure you and your car are being taken care of properly.

@WONG.PETER “Is an annual inspection required to maintain the warranty?”
Yes. If you do not buy a pre-paid service plan or bring your car in for Inspection, when due, you will forfeit your warranty. This is no different than any other car manufacturer and is necessary to make sure your car is operating properly and to replace any wear and tear parts we think might need to be replaced proactively.

@DR CHILL: “What will happen to Tesla owners that do not pay for these annual inspections from Tesla? Can they take their car to an independent shop without affecting warranty coverage?”
You will forfeit your warranty if you do not do Annual or 12,500 mile Inspections, when due. You will forfeit your warranty if you take your Model S to an independent shop for vehicle service and/or repairs. Your car needs to be serviced by a current, Tesla Certified mechanic to make sure it is working properly and to maintain the warranty on your car.

As a disclaimer, I'm going to buy the service plan for a lot of reasons. That being said, I can not help but think GeorgeB is in for a very rough ride. A manufacturer can offer a warranty. They can also stipulate preventative maintenance that must occur for the warranty to stay in effect (oil changes, brake fluid changes, etc.). However, I am reasonably sure they will find it very difficult to fight a warranty claim by an owner that has properly documented the required maintenance on the car. For example, I do not let dealers work on my bikes. I do the oil changes, fluid refreshes and multipoint inspections as per the BMW S1000RR maintenance schedule and document the same. When I have a warranty issue I provide the dealership with the bike solely to affect the warranty repair then I follow behind them to check the work. I have NEVER been questioned regarding my performance of any required scheduled service.

In addition to the above, Tesla will, if they ship sufficient product, find themselves sideways with the trade groups that represent independent service shops. There are laws in place to prevent manufacturers from limiting owner's service options. Ferrari is notorious for predatory service behavior and they have had their hands slapped on many an occasion. I seem to remember a recall on my Maranello that required the dealer to add a second ground wire to the OBDii port plug (pin 4 or 5, I think) because it did not comply with the OBDii standard. The Ferrari SD tool would work just fine but most aftermarket scanners would not. Result- Ferrari paid to have every car brought into compliance so that independent shops could service the cars. I believe there are also laws on the books that require manufactures to publish test tool interface specifications such that companies like Autologic and build scan tools allowing independent shops to support the cars inclusive of module reflashing.

Again, I'm buying the program...... Just be warned that an "Apple controls the world" philosophy may cause some heartache. Dictators are seldom adored, not even the benevolent ones.

Spiky | November 25, 2012

This is pretty unfortunate. I'm hoping to be able to afford a Tesla in a few years, and this means I have to add on 2 grand to the price considerations.

Something I didn't see addressed in those threads or the blog is the second 50000 miles. You know, the 50k where stuff actually starts breaking on cars. When I bought my Sonata, I paid for an extra warranty, for the 60-100k mile range, the first 60k was already included. That's what I'm concerned about.

They should have just tacked on $2000 to each car and made it all free for the warranty period. THAT is how you do the marketing. Esp as a startup. This is going to be a big black eye just when Tesla wants people to start looking at them favorably. Not preorder people, but everyone else.

Mel. | November 25, 2012

Lola, what are you trying to say? Do you want to take your tesla to the local garage and have them check your battery?

Ron5 | November 25, 2012

The long and short of it is that it doesn't matter what GeorgeB says.

The law states you can do your routine service anywhere (including yourself). If you do it at someplace other than Tesla, it cannot void the Warranty.

However, if you don't do it right, it can void the warranty. What others have pointed out is that it may be impossible to do it right, outside of a Tesla service center. I have no opinion on that.

Like you, I will buy the service plan. But what I've explained in other threads is that what GeorgeB said in your quote *would be* illegal, as it came across. I'm sure he misspoke. The actual wording of the warranty itself is different, and *probably* doesn't itself run afoul of the law (or the trade groups you mentioned).

Also, if an independent service center (or an owner) does a good job of doing the annual service, the warranty must remain in force. In reality, it probably doesn't make sense for an independent service center to go through the time and money to figure out how to perform the Tesla Model S maintenance.

DouglasR | November 25, 2012

There was a lot of discussion about the need to have annual inspections in order to maintain the Model S warranty, and statements that the only way to get annual inspections is to pay the service fee. George Blankenship, in blog and forum posts, expressly stated that failure to do this would void the warranty.

I reviewed a copy of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty for the Model S. Unfortunately, the copy I reviewed was quite garbled. Nevertheless, the document does not expressly state that failing to have an annual inspection WILL void the warranty. The warranty does not cover "damage or malfunction directly or indirectly caused by, due to, or resulting from . . . failure to take the vehicle to a Tesla Service Center or Tesla authorized repair facility upon the discovery of a defect" covered by the warranty. It also does not cover repairs by a person or facility not authorized or certified to do so, or lack of or improper repair or maintenance. Finally, it provides the following warning:

"You may void this New Vehicle Limited Warranty if you do not
follow the specific instructions and recommendations regarding the use, operation, and maintenance of the vehicle provided in your Model S owner documentation, including, but not limited to:
• Complying with any recall advisories;
• Carrying passengers and cargo within specified load limits;
• Observing scheduled inspections and making all services and repairs;
• Performing all vehicle maintenance and service requirements, including those indicated by the vehicle’s systems; and
• Charging, and caring for, the vehicle’s Battery."

A reasonable reading of this language would suggest that the warranty is not automatically voided if you fail to observe the scheduled inspections. It MAY be voided if your failure to observe the scheduled inspections or perform the required maintenance was the proximate cause of the damage you incurred, or if you failed to take corrective action for a problem that an inspection would have caught.

All of this is pretty reasonable in my view. It is a new car with innovative systems that very few customers or even mechanics are qualified to service. To keep all of this running properly, I think $600 a year is a good deal.

I don't want to start another argument about the service contract. I just want to suggest that they might reasonably charge for what would otherwise have been a warranty repair if that repair could have been avoided by a scheduled inspection.

sergiyz | November 25, 2012

It's all moot point until the service plan is actually available for review.
It is not yet, not even for the current car owners.

Brian H | November 26, 2012

Keep in mind too that TM has no data showing what's going to need doing (history of real world use for years). So offering a $600 "everything but the tires" (and owner negligence like trying to drive through trees or underwater) plan is taking a substantial chance. Another reason for super-tight QC.

dtesla | November 26, 2012

Does anybody know what Tesla considers normal loss of battery range per year (Under "normal" conditions). > then which it would possibly be considered a warranty issue?

Volker.Berlin | November 27, 2012

dtesla, that's in fact a very (very!) interesting question. Up to now, Tesla has been careful not to offer any hard numbers. Their entire language in this regard is watteweich (what's that in English?), i.e., leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The intention is clear, but how a legitimate warranty issue is determined, is not (at least not to me).

There is this number of 70% nominal capacity that keeps popping up. Thus, if within 8 years your battery loses more than 30% of capacity, I'd expect that's definitely a warranty issue. It was also mentioned that in reality for an average battery pack, they expect twice the life time, i.e., no more than 30% capacity loss in 16 years. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Timo | November 27, 2012

It also depends of how much you drive. Charge cycles damage the battery (another reason to get big battery even if you don't need the range).

lolachampcar | November 27, 2012

"Lola, what are you trying to say"

I was trying to start a discussion about warranty which brings up a myriad of issues that all new car companies must face. The one I am most interested in is how Tesla approaches warranty and service. Remember, I started the thread by saying I'm buying the plan. One 60 mile trip to the service center to get a loaner followed by another sevaral days later to pick up my car and I've blown way past $600.

Tesla has headed down the path of building a profitable company that does some good. Call it capitalizm gone good which is a nice change. Given that, I think it is safe to assume that George's comments are coming from a place of wanting to make sure the product is the best it can be in the field which they rightly feel is best done by having Tesla service reps touching the car. Tesla has more to loose than the customer if outside service goes bad. Add to it the Silicone Vally element that is used to a lot of control over their customers and products (especially Apple) and you might have a good intentions gone bad problem.

Manufactures publish service manuals and sell both test tools and pass through programming tools. I do not know the relevant law but I assume there are some controling statutes as companies like Ferrari are far from benevolant and would have to be forced kicking and screaming to do anything that enabled customers to handle their own service issues. It is not a matter of if but when they break and Ferrari wants thier $180 an hour. Tesla can either take the Ferrari route or choose one that better respects their customers.

I will be buying the shop manual and the test tools required to support the car not becuase I want to do my own service but because I am curious and want to learn. Should there ever be a need for me to service the car, I'll have the capibility to do so.

I'm more interested in what people do than what they say so I am waiting to see if/when I can order the above bits.

Vawlkus | November 27, 2012

@Lola: you do know Tesla will come to you to service your Model S, right? If it needs some shop love, they will pick it up and bring it in themselves whenever you say it's convienient. You need never visit a Tesla service center unless you want too. I don't know if the loaner car question has been answered, but I'm betting Tesla will cover that as well if you're without your car for any length of time.

As far as the service quality goes, I come back to a Roadster story I read about. Guy brought his Roadster in for a service check, and during it a tech heard a noise he didn't like. They tore the car apart and found damage to the frame, which then then repaired/replaced at no cost to the customer. How many other car companies will do that level of work?

If you're a trained electronics/electrical technician, then you might be able to do work on a Tesla vehicle. If you aren't, and think you can pick it up yourself, then I think you might be in for a rude awakening. YMMV

Tiebreaker | November 27, 2012

"If you're a trained electronics/electrical technician, then you might be able to do work on a Tesla vehicle. "

Keyword: might. Model S is so unique, any previous knowledge is probably not be enough.

There is an organic synergy between hardware, high-power electrical systems, electronics and a lot of software. Also there are many trade secrets in it's build (see the blurred battery pack in the National Geographic video), and there may be no way to get the whole information from Tesla.

lolachampcar | November 27, 2012

Sorry to use bold but people seem to be missing it.

I also want a shop manual and the test tools necessary to work on the car should it be necessary. Why would it be necessary to work on my car if I have a warranty and an extended service agreement with the manufacturer? That would be a topic for a different thread.

Manufacturers that do not want to provide service manuals and test tools are compelled to. I'm interested in how Tesla approaches this issue. Will they be open and supportive or will they be closed and proprietary? Will their test tool be PC/MAC based, use an IXXAT usb to CAN adaptor and be reasonably priced or will they go the proprietary hardware route (think SDX) and charge $15K as a barrier to entry for the average guy? The questions could go on and on but you get the idea.

Tiebreaker | November 27, 2012

Lola, we got it - you are buying the plan. We also got it that you would like to work on the car, sometimes. The discussion above is about the later. This is a discussion forum, after all, isn't it?


Tiebreaker | November 27, 2012

On testing tools: they already went proprietary and unreasonably priced, Linux based. Fortunately, they include it with the car, free of charge.

lolachampcar | November 27, 2012


Vawlkus | November 28, 2012

I'm more of the mind that part of Tesla's testing gear will use wifi connections. My reasoning why is this: the car already has the wifi hardware installed, but it's not enabled yet. Why? I think it's because they need to restrict access to certain "areas" for diagnostic data only, and not casual user availability.

In all honesty, how much use will a shop manual for an electric car be? They're useful in ICE cars because of the complexity. A BEV is a motor, a gear, an axel and the suspension. The complexity in Model S is in the software, and I doubt we'll see more than an operators manual on that, maybe an SDK for third party apps.

Sudre_ | November 28, 2012

I was thinking along the same lines as Vawlkus. You will not be tearing into the battery pack or motor to make repairs. At best you will just replace them. The first person to get killed from eletricution will prove Tesla's point about "trained" people. It will also spend their money when the famile decides to file a lawsuit because there was no sticker on the battery pack showing that it could not be carried up the stairs by one person.

lolachampcar | November 28, 2012

The high voltage concerns are understandable to say the least.

The manuals being available in pdf would be consistant with most manufacturers these days. Virtually no one is printing stuff any more.

What the documentation will provide is all the procedures for doing normal maintenance. Sure, the battery will go back to Tesla for service no matter who pulls it from the car. The same can be said for the motor or speed controller. Those are big tasks and should seldom be required.

What is required are annual services and the like. Bleeding the air from the battery cooling system probably involves multiple bleed points with the coolant circulation pump running. Anyone know how to turn it on or where the bleed points are? Brake fluid should be swapped periodically to prevent moisure build up in the system. Some cars ABS components allow for suction or pressure bleeding while others require the use of a test tool to actuate some of the ABS solenoids. Those are but two of what I would guess would be a long list of very pedestrian maintenance functions that do not get anywhere near high voltage or opening battery packs or motors.

This really is just normal stuff. I'm surprised there is such a reverence within the Tesla community and that their have not been more calls for proper documentation. This is not rocket science; that's the other company. Hopefully this is one thing that will change (for the better) with the Model S being a production volume car.

mrspaghetti | November 28, 2012


This is not rocket science; that's the other company.


Brian H | November 28, 2012

Actually, at about 130 lbs., it should be reasonably tote-able! Just don't trip.