My Model 3 Brake Failures and Tesla's Solution

My Model 3 Brake Failures and Tesla's Solution

Quick summary. Picked up car in October.

For about a month, very high energy consumption. Tesla SC said they couldn't figure out what's wrong.

One day I stop car and smell burning brakes. Brake dust caked on to driver rear fender behind wheel. Right after, the consumption drops like a rock. Tesla SC said they couldn't figure out what's wrong.

One day I noticed high consumption again. Used IR thermometer and find the passenger rear rotor much hotter than the other three. Tesla SC said they couldn't figure out what's wrong.

One day getting on the highway, no acceleration. Slowly hit 50mph, which took well over 10 seconds. It did this three times in a row, with pulling off the road in between to check. When getting off highway, brakes felt like they let go and I almost rear end the car in front of me. Intermittently get what I thought were made alignment issues. Tesla SC says brakes must have a problem. The alignment issues most assuredly caused by brakes because it's not consistent. Tesla SC eventually said they can't figure it out.

2 weeks ago, pull out of bank drive through and have zero power again. Most severe event so far. Felt like I was driving my old 1985 Camry from college. Like a boat anchor dragging behind. Very loud grinding sounds. Drove 0.6 miles at over 1300wh/mi with consumption going up as I drive, before calling roadside assistance. Towed in. Tesla SC said they can't figure out what's wrong.

Photos and bug reports for all events.

I believe the brake hold feature is randomly coming on when it's not supposed to. The time I almost got in an accident, I believe the brake hold turned off right as I was slowing down.

Just got off the phone and they want me to come pick up the car again. They say it's working fine. It's not. I've already narrowly avoided one accident. I'm not going to continue to put the safety of me, my passengers, and others on the road at risk. Something is wrong with the car. It's intermittent. The diagnostics system isn't catching it as an error, so SC says nothing is wrong. I have passengers as witnesses the events are absolutely real.

Can't even get the SC manager on the phone because he's "busy." Anyone got a contact higher up?

raqball | 7 agosto 2019

Sorry for your issues... Do you live close by the SC? If so I'd camp out in the lobby until he/she is available to speak with you...

I've always had better luck with face to face conversations than over the phone or email so going in might be better for that reason as well...

Good luck!

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

This may be the first time I would suggest Lemon Law if the account is accurate.

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@raqball 30 minutes away. I might try that tomorrow morning.

@Magic 8 Ball I've considered it, but really want to work with Tesla to avoid all the mess it creates. I also just finished up with an almost 3 year lawsuit with Audi a few months ago. Really don't want to go down that road again, but if I have to...

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

At some point you have to decide to be your own best advocate and take appropriate actions. You should not be driving a car that you feel is dangerous to drive period.

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@Magic 8 Ball Yup, and that's why I sued Audi. 2 major accidents, possible bent frame, sold as CPO. I won.

FISHEV | 7 agosto 2019

Pretty serious issue. So they replaced all the brake pads? Checked rotors for damage? Checked motors for damage? Fighting the brakes like that could overheat and damage the motors, there are likely tests they can do you should ask to see the results of those tests.

Totally document everything. They need to have the car in the shop 30 days total tried to fix it as least twice for Lemon Law to kick in. In most cases, we simply want the car fixed “like new” and the Lemon Law makes a good lever.

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

@slingshot18 So are you still driving the car if you feel it is dangerous? Making the claim and driving it still will not work for you.

"Yes, officer I was driving car that I thought was dangerous to drive" is not good admission to have to make.

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@Magic 8 Ball No. I had it towed in. It's sitting at their SC and I will not pick it up until it's fixed.

@FISHEV They say they've checked everything. It seems like they want to recreate the problem to be able to diagnose. But it doesn't happen that often. I've had the car since October and over 10,000 miles. The events listed above are the ones I can firmly say are caused by this. Although I think their have been some minor ones as well. So it doesn't happen often. But even once is too many.

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

Excellent, did they put you in a free loaner or compensate you for transportation?

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@Magic 8 Ball No. Unfortunately, I was on vacation the past week and a half so didn't need a loaner. Now that I'm back, they say the car is "Ready to be picked up" and they can't provide a loaner for a car that "there is nothing more they can do for it."

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

When they get back to you simply request that someone go for a drive with you, have them drive the car, so you can show them first hand what you are talking about.

Xerogas | 7 agosto 2019

This, folks, is how you report a genuine problem, and ask the forum for help.

No hyperbole, no threats, just politely working with the Tesla folks, and escalating when necessary. Does not smell like FUD to me.

Hope it gets resolved quickly!

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

I've done that. It doesn't do it most of the time. 99.9% of the time it drives fine. If it only does it once every 2 months or so, it makes it hard to predict when it will happen again. But would you be happy with a car where you might get in an accident every couple of months?

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@Xerogas I really didn't want to post this. I mentioned a snippet of it in the past, but I trusted it would get resolved. I love my car. I love what Tesla is doing. I don't want to add to the noise. But I need my car fixed.

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

@Xerogas Exactly, this past week has had several inquiries without whining and blames. Goes way better for everyone.

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

Okay, thanks for sharing it is intermittent and not frequent or all the time. Tough situation, best of luck.

Xerogas | 7 agosto 2019

@slingshot18: You’re doing a great job. The whiners need to learn from you.

The service center *must* be able to pull logs from the car when this happens. They should be able to see abnormally high battery draw, and correlate it to logs that show when the parking brakes engage. If you notice it again, press the right steering wheel button and speak “report a problem, brakes engaged” or something like that, then pull over and use your phone app to open a service ticket. The logs should be marked with the time stamp of when you told the car about the problem.

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@Xerogas I've filed bug reports consistently since January on this issue. I've sat down with a tech for an hour as he went through them on his laptop. Hasn't helped. He sees events and information about the issue, but he doesn't see what the cause is.

sheldon.mike1010 | 7 agosto 2019

I'm not getting how monitoring is not seeing this. Sounds like intermittent brake application holding back acceleration
and mimicking bad front end alignment. That ought to be leaving evidence for technicians to monitor. Glad you've decided not take take it back right now.

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@sheldon.mike1010 That's exactly what I think it is. I believe it's the brake hold feature. As I understand it, that is only applied to the rear brakes, and those that have evidence of issues in the past. The tech has stated he believes everything I say. But they do their regular tests, measurements, and system diagnostics and everything comes up clean. What they haven't done is start replacing parts.

My wife had a Honda Pilot years ago that had a TPMS issue. It took 12 times at the dealer to fix. None of their normal tests and diagnostics found the problem. They systematically replaced piece by piece. They even flew out an engineer with a new computer he personally tested. When they finally had replaced everything but the wiring harness, they had to cut into the frame where it was held. Turns out one of the wires was pinched. Once replaced, it worked perfectly. Sometimes regular diagnostics doesn't work and you just have to start throwing parts at it.

The_Flash | 7 agosto 2019

@ Slingshot18. Do you have the video clips from from onboard camera showing the problem when it happened?
Maybe you can give that to SC?

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

@The_Flash Interesting idea. I'm sure the almost-accident event is not available. I'm not sure the video from this recent event would help. Wish I had recorded the awful noise of trying to drive with brakes on for half a mile.

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

Shot in the dark. Do you drive gravel roads frequently?

slingshot18 | 7 agosto 2019

No dirt or gravel roads. Just lovely California streets. Doesn’t seem to be stuck pebbles.

Magic 8 Ball | 7 agosto 2019

Crap you are making it hard for me to blame you ; ).

apodbdrs | 7 agosto 2019

@slingshot18, if you haven't already, start keeping logs of the events, day, time and location. Take pictures that may show anything that will help. Mount a camera or two inside your car to show things the other cameras don't. Keep very careful records in the event you have to file for Lemon Law on the basis of safety to you or others. Every time you have the issue, take in to the SC or call mobile service if you can't drive the car. Don't be shy, but also don't be jerk. Become familiar with the Lemon Law. Good luck!

apodbdrs | 7 agosto 2019

A neighbor is going through a Lemon Law issue with new Cadillac.

terminator9 | 7 agosto 2019

I had the message "12v power reduced, unable to drive, voltage supply too low" a few times last week. Car was still drivable. Got it on video since the message was on screen. Took the car in, showed them the video. Car was at the SC for 4 days and when I went to pick it up "We tested everything and could not see anything wrong with it. Bring the car back if it happens again and note the time so we can check the logs". I was thinking this happened at least 4-5 times in the last couple of days and they couldn't get that from logs? Well, I am driving now and the message hasn't showed back up since I picked it up. Let's see what happens.

Yours sounds serious so I hope you get it resolved.

slingshot18 | 12 agosto 2019

Got an update for you. Finally got a manager on the phone on Friday. He said he had been reviewing my car history all morning. He assigned the lead tech and got engineering involved. He didn't want to say a whole lot just yet, but said they thought they were on to something. Seems the rear brake calipers were passing the system diagnostics, but when they moved them by hand they felt rough. So they are replacing both back calipers. Not something normally in stock, so have to wait for parts to show up. I am happy I have the service managers attention, and have his cell number. I believe they are finally going to get this sorted out. My only gripe now is that it took me so much work to get them to pay attention. I think my situation is extremely rare, but it seems an over reliance on automated diagnostics and not enough attention to the customers personal data. Anyways...I'll report back when done.

shank15217 | 12 agosto 2019

@slingshot, extremely rare cases like yours is what makes it difficult, they are definitely going to learn something from your car and apply it to their diagnostics systems in the future. Obviously they missed something but alls' well that ends well.

Halbach | 13 agosto 2019

My M3P had 4,000 miles on it when the rear brake pad broke and fell off the car. Rotor was scored. Sounds like a similar issue as yours although on a lesser scale.

Magic 8 Ball | 13 agosto 2019

Seems like maybe a thread title edit is in order, nice to see the persistence and that help is on the horizon. As others have said failure that have not been seen before are learning experiences for everyone. It sucks when it happens to you but life is like a box of chocolates................

Fuzzball | 13 agosto 2019

@slingshot - i am running out of pop corn... Please let is know the outcome and hoping its an actual resolution. Thanks for keeping us nformed.

slingshot18 | 21 agosto 2019

OK, sorry for the delay. My car was with service for 3 weeks this last time, but we made some progress. After getting management and engineering involved, they were able to disassemble the rear brakes and found evidence that at least one of calipers was seizing and excessive heat on the rotors. It took a hand inspection of the individual parts to find this. System diagnostics were of no help, which sot of makes sense since this is so intermittent. They replaced both rear calipers and rotors. The final documentation isn't complete, but at least I have hopes my brake problems are fixed. Now to drive for a few months to see if it happens again. Tesla service was outstanding for most of the time. I was frustrated when they gave up due to no issues with system diagnostics, but glad when they dug in again and asked for help from engineering. I do think this is extremely rare and not something anyone should worry about. Good job Tesla getting to the bottom of this!

Syed.Hosain | 21 agosto 2019

Thanks for the follow-up to the thread. Good Stuff™

slingshot18 | 21 agosto 2019

I also updated the thread title!

JAD | 21 agosto 2019

I had an Audi a few years ago and they adjusted the rear brakes slightly too tight. Was fine when cold, but as the brakes warmed a bit, everything expanded slightly which added drag, which caused more heat, which expanded things, etc until the car basically wouldn't move after 10 miles of driving until parked enough to cool off.

Was very hard to initially diagnose, but just like yours was a simple fix in the end and the car was great for years after.

Xerogas | 21 agosto 2019

@slingshot18: "I also updated the thread title!"
Bless you. This thread should be held up as an example of how people *ought* to behave on the forum.

slingshot18 | 14 dicembre 2019

Update: I've now driven over 3k miles with the brakes fixed and for those 3k miles my average consumption has been 246 Wh/mi. This is when colder weather, low tire pressure because of the temp swings, using seat warmers and heater occasionally. On a nice sunny day with temps in 75-80 range I've been seeing round trips close to 200 Wh/mi. My lifetime consumption with over 15k miles is falling quickly. No issues of slow acceleration or terrible dragging noise. The car is pulling a little to the right again lately, but I think it's time to rotate the tires.

Bighorn | 14 dicembre 2019

Must have missed this thread while I was on a lengthy road trip. Sounded like a seizing caliper from the get-go. No need to implicate brake hold, especially if it’s only affecting one corner, which your IR confirmed. It’s happened on my car that predates brake hold. Mine also went undiagnosed despite an emergency service center visit on a cross country trip. To be fair, it had unbound spontaneously after about 1000 miles of dragging. Eventually, it was a corrosion failure of the inner piston, which isn’t readily inspected, due to road salt which is why northern cars have a service visit scheduled annually for brake lubrication. The second time it manifested, it quickly wore the pad to the metal wear indicator and the attendant screeching. Ended up with new brakes and rotors on both fronts, but after six winters and well over 200k miles.