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Yikes!! Tesla's pioneering $2,700 door handle.

Yikes!! Tesla's pioneering $2,700 door handle.

So, on delivery one of my door handles needed to be replaced. That was back in 2013. Within a few months, another went. Replaced under warranty.

Over the past month, another one bites the dust. This time, no warranty. $400. Even just stopping there, the fuel efficiency gains of a retracting door handle over the lifetime of the vehicle are wiped out.

But get this... the door handle replacement required an MCU replacement. Yes, you read that right.

Because of Tesla's widely documented MCU design flaw that chews through SD cards with excessive logging, my MCU stopped accepting firmware updates back in 2017. No big deal to me, really, I bought a car, not an arcade machine. So I didn't really care about running pac-man or space invaders on my car. I just wanted something I could drive.

Unfortunately, that's not where it ends. It turns out, the MCU needs to "accept" a number of other items in the vehicle -- including door handles.

BTW, this also extends to drive units. So while our drive unit is still under warranty and has failed (for the second time), we can replace that but not without replacing the MCU first.

FWIW, back in 2016 I was told that the issue with MCU freezing was due to "NAV locations and trip metes (sic) were taking up a lot of memory." This was quite the foreshadowing for the flash issues. But even back then, I (practicing computer engineer) thought to myself, what kind of grade school drop-out amateur engineer develops a system that runs out of memory updating the trip meter and recent NAV locations?

Out-of-warranty ownership of this vehicle is going to be expensive!!

NKYTA | 4 dicembre 2019

So then I, perhaps got lucky with my 2012 having multiple handle replacements, before the MCU replacement?

And had door handle replacements again after.

“ I (practicing computer engineer) thought to myself, what kind of grade school drop-out amateur engineer develops a system that runs out of memory updating the trip meter and recent NAV locations?”

I’d like to think I’m “a practicing computer engineer”. I do have some cred.

The flash memory in our older cars, is problematic. They threw auto suspension locations in there, of which I had a bunch. I had travelled a lot. So lots of Nav Destinations.

Resetting the MCU wasn’t a solution.

In my experience:

“ BTW, this also extends to drive units. So while our drive unit is still under warranty and has failed (for the second time), we can replace that but not without replacing the MCU first.”

No.

Motor was replaced before MCU. Milling noise.

Out of warranty and ESA, it has been tiny $$.

Bighorn | 4 dicembre 2019

Over 182k miles out of warranty and my original MCU still works and I’ve never been charged for a handle repair or upgrade. No other car of ours has lasted close to this many miles without being ready for the junkyard or in need or major repairs.

eggbert747 | 4 dicembre 2019

My 2014 85S door handle just replaced ($225) without any MCU upgrades. Seemed very reasonable (for now)

barrykmd | 5 dicembre 2019

Is it very reasonable that something as mudnae as door handles keep needing to be replaced? It's a poor design, at least the earlier ones, and Tesla should own up to it and replace as goodwill for the life of the car (beyond Bighorn).

Bueller86 | 5 dicembre 2019

5 years on my Model S. 3 of the 4 door handles have failed. 2 under initial warranty. 1 under extended warranty ($100 deductible) - have not had any MCU issues.

jordanrichard | 5 dicembre 2019

173,000 miles, 2014 MS, DU replacement at 36,000 (milling noise), had front passenger handle gear replaced, driver's door handle replaced, had door handle pressure sensors replaced and yet still on my original MCU.

jq5073 | 5 dicembre 2019

@eggbert747 - Where are you located? I'm curious why the handle pricing is so dramatically different. I'm in Portland, OR.

Bighorn | 5 dicembre 2019

Door handles can easily be rebuilt. The most frequent failure requires the replacement of a part you can get 3 for a dollar. So you can DIY for 27 cents or claim it costs ten thousand times as much because you’ve been limping along with a broken MCU.

Winemusic | 5 dicembre 2019

100,000 miles. At least four handle replacements. Now out of warranty and currently have one handle stuck open.
Sadly, after being such a staunch Tesla proponent and early adopter, I find that their customer service has gone to shit.
You can't speak to a human. I have no idea what the fix will actually cost. I read $1200 on the blogs.
This is a confusing, astonishing and ill-will inducing. Very surprising that after all they have been through (I even read the Elon book) that they would devolve to this level of customer cynicism Love my car but....my wife needs a new car now and we are looking at alternatives.

Bighorn | 5 dicembre 2019

@winemusic
I have never heard $1200 nor did they ever charge me for handles even after I was past my 100k mile extended warranty. Sounds like you’re already sour about what might be. Schedule per protocol on the app and you’ll be texted for details. Rebuilds run about $200. Handy folks do it for pennies.

eggbert747 | 5 dicembre 2019

@pq5073 I'm in San Diego. Mobile service come out and repaired the handle in slightly over 1 hour. Very efficient. No rebuild it seems, a new mechanism in a packet (could be refurnished I guess) I'm quite sure this was the 3rd generation handle which seem pretty reliable

Haggy | 5 dicembre 2019

Door handles can be easily rebuilt, except for gen 1 door handles from 2012. I don't know when the design changed.

Silver2K | 6 dicembre 2019

$1800 in repairs in over 200k miles.

Handle repaired is 200+
Handle replacement is 400+
Handle retro to gen 3 is 600+ (includes modification to the door and all components).

Silver2K | 6 dicembre 2019

I do have a rear toe link replacement scheduled at $350

I may have a possible steering u-joint replacement at $450 (not sure yet). The clicking in my steering started immediately after messing around with my steering rack.

Still very cheap to maintain compared to anything over owned and still kicking ass in street racing :)

Silver2K | 6 dicembre 2019

Over/ever

SnowFlake | 6 dicembre 2019

Last bill was $3200.00, and no Christmas for my kids this time.
Even though I complained about oil leaks from the axle oil seals at the time of last service under the warranty. Sc said it was AC condensation was doing on top and no issues. Now at 160000 km one of the rear wheel showed double the wear so I told them to check the bearings and break ...now SC said that oils seals are leaking and have to be replaced also one of the 1/2 axle had to be changed as well...all added ..
Charge speed restricted , summon stopped not fixed....Not promising yet...
battery cap trust Tesla they are protecting my home ( not catching fire inside my garage)

jq5073 | 6 dicembre 2019

@Bighorn -- I'm interested. Is there a service manual available somewhere? Chilton has one for all my other vehicles, but nothing listed for Tesla.

Add to this service... Heater has never really worked well. I always just assumed it was the brutality associated with electric vehicles. Replaced it a few years ago, but still never did well. The loaner we have now has a "normal" heater, so I asked if ours was busted (again). $1160.

@Winemusic -- Yeah, I'm with you. I was an early supporter and advocate. But that quickly deteriorated. After the first year, our Model S was in the shop more than all other cars we've owned combined (and since). My brother-in-law bought one this year (Model X) against my suggestion and has had all sorts of issues.

I realize that everyone has their own anecdotal experience. But at least mine corroborates with the overall Consumer Reports data. They do an excellent job marketing past their reliability record, though.

I just wish I would have gotten one of the good ones. :)

jq5073 | 6 dicembre 2019

@Bighorn -- I'm interested. Is there a service manual available somewhere? Chilton has one for all my other vehicles, but nothing listed for Tesla.

Add to this service... Heater has never really worked well. I always just assumed it was the brutality associated with electric vehicles. Replaced it a few years ago, but still never did well. The loaner we have now has a "normal" heater, so I asked if ours was busted (again). $1160.

@Winemusic -- Yeah, I'm with you. I was an early supporter and advocate. But that quickly deteriorated. After the first year, our Model S was in the shop more than all other cars we've owned combined (and since). My brother-in-law bought one this year (Model X) against my suggestion and has had all sorts of issues.

I realize that everyone has their own anecdotal experience. But at least mine corroborates with the overall Consumer Reports data. They do an excellent job marketing past their reliability record, though.

I just wish I would have gotten one of the good ones. :)

Bighorn | 6 dicembre 2019

@jq
You can pay for access to a service manual, but there are a lot of DIY videos.
https://m.youtube.com/results?search_query=tesla+door+handle+repair

RedShift | 6 dicembre 2019

I repaired my door handle which had a pawl gear broken, apparently a common problem. $45 for a new part on eBay, and 2.5 hours of sweat equity.

I concur the S handle design is a little too complex and has multiple potential failure points.

However, all car door handles have failure points. My first car was an accord, and it’s door lock motor (a very common, cheaply made mini-motor)failed at 70K miles or so.