Leaking radiator.

Leaking radiator.

So it seems I am in the hole for a new battery coolant radiator on my ModelS that is only a month old.
Noticed a puddle in the garage, and a warning light came on the dash.
Car had to be towed via flatbed to nearest service center. As I was working in the area later today, I swung by to see what they had found.
They told me a "small rock" must have hit the radiator, below the front bumper, and then took me to show me.
What I saw was a knick, no deeper than a 1/16th of an inch which they say was the problem..... Seriously?
Anyone else have a similar story, or am I just the lucky one?
Seems to be an awfully vulnerable piece of equipment, mounted 8 inches from the ground, on a vehicle traveling 80 mph daily.

jordanrichard | 2018年2月2日

Car insurance should take care of this. It is certainly not Tesla fault. Crap happens.

MilesMD88 | 2018年2月2日

Your the lucky one! Buy a lottery ticket.
3 yrs reading this & other forums... your the 1st.

Anthony J. Parisio | 2018年2月3日

Yup, you are first to report this happen.

redacted | 2018年2月3日

I haven't heard of it happening.

Holes can be small, they don't need to leak very fast. Be glad it wasn't your space capsule.

Silver2K | 2018年2月3日

the other day a small rock almost hit my radiator. I saw it coming and avoided it. it takes practice, but I'm sure over time you'll get the hang of it.

PS: sorry to hear this happened to you, but shit happens!

bbdzet | 2018年2月7日

Well, it looks as though the radiator is completed, and I can pick it up today.
Received an online bill from the SC and there is no charge??
I was totally prepared to have to pay for damage caused by road debris, but apparently Tesla is going to take care of it.
Hats off to this kind of customer service. Very impressed.

Bighorn | 2018年2月7日

They are very generous with goodwill gestures.

Tropopause | 2018年2月7日

Great story! Thanks for the update. I once turned my Traction Control OFF on my RWD S85, punched it around a corner, spun out, front end hit the curb pretty hard. No leaks despite a silver-dollar-sized hole in the floor pan and lots of scraps down there. Replaced floor pan, had an alignment and lesson learned.

My point is I whacked a curb and no leaks while a small rock caused a leak for you. I wouldn't say it's a weak link. Nonetheless, Tesla took care of you. I had to pay for my damage, as should have been the case. We're both happy campers.

Drive safely!

akikiki | 2018年2月7日

Don't you think you owe it to Tesla to go back to your first post and edit it to reflect the great outcome and the very generous Tesla good will? I do. I certainly would. (You can edit your own first post, but that's the only one.)

ckcland2 | 2018年2月7日

+100 akikiki

AmpedRealtor | 2018年2月8日

+100 for Tesla Service - best in class, in my opinion.

bbdzet | 2018年2月8日

@akikiki I have no idea how to do that, therefore the follow up post to express my gratitude..

akikiki | 2018年2月10日

bbdxet, I understand. If I had one of my own post that I created, I could detail it for you. But go back to the top and look for an edit button. It only appears for the OP. :)

aj | 2018年2月11日

I don’t think you are the first to experience this problem. I seem to remember someone else having this issue about about a year ago or so. Discovered a leak and the service center found a hole made be a rock. You can search if you are really curious, but I don’t this this is very common. I’m glad the issue was resolved with minimal pain.

cbstide | 2018年9月17日

Yes, this happenned to me last week. My Model S has less than 3,000 miles. i have not hit anything and do not recall a rock hitting the vehicle or anything else for that matter. I am paying $598.78 for a new radiator--the replacement is the same as the one that is damaged. Very disappointing. Concerned that this will happen again and I will be stranded.

Qwiksilver | 2018年9月17日

Same thing happened to me. It was covered by insurance.

Qwiksilver | 2018年9月17日

I agree with akikiki. You should change the post.

jordanrichard | 2018年9月17日

If there is evidence of a rock or other object hitting the radiator, call your insurance company. | 2018年9月17日

@cbstide - I'd expect either the impact to the radiator to be obvious or Tesla would cover it under warranty. They should show the damage or cover it, unless it is out of warranty which seems unlikely for only 3,000 miles. Now I doubt you'd hear a rock hitting the radiator inside the car - it's well sound insulated.

Were you stranded when this happened? Unlike a ICE car the radiator is not critical to the short term operation of the car. Very unlikely to get stranded as ICE owners would under a similar situation.

DanFoster1 | 2018年9月17日

Man, road debris has caused so much damage to so many of my cars over the years…I feel bro, I feel. Great that Tesla took care of it!

Silver2K | 2018年9月17日

Can I put pepper in the reservoir?

mzylak83 | 2018年11月14日

It looks like the same thing just happened to me. I got my new Tesla S less then one month ago. Two days ago, when I was driving to work a "low coolant" warning popped up on the screen. When I got to work I looked under the car. Some blue liquid was dropping fast. Made big pool quickly. I called Tesla service. They towed the car right away. They called me today. They claim something hit the radiator (... the one which cools the battery) and they want I pay for the damage. I'm not too happy about this. I did not drive any unpaved roads since I got the car. This might be as well a poor quality control for radiators or a the a faulty batch. Maybe the metal is weaker or thinner then it should be. A small, loose rock on a highway can damage your windshield but cannot possibly damage the metal parts under the car. If it does, the warranty should cover it. If many car have similar problem, a recall needs to be issued. A large impact would be a different story but it would be probably visible on parts surrounding the damaged radiator. I believe this is not the case here. I asked the service for more evidence that this is indeed a result of an impact. I'm certainly going to try to get Tesla to fix this under warranty.

mzylak83 | 2018年11月14日

Radiator replacement will cost me total $850 (in San Francisco Bay Area). It will be below my insurance deductible :( | 2018年11月14日

@mzylak83 - Sorry about the problem. Why not ask to see the damage? The radiator opening is not under the car, but the opening is low (as it is on most cars today). It's openings are a lot smaller than ICE cars too so it's less likely to be hit. Sound like just bad luck you got hit.

Larger rocks can hit the radiator easier than the windshield (and you're unlikely to hear it). Doesn't seem to be a common problem. I know on ICE cars, the same thing can happen. The heavier the rock the more damage it can cause.

Silver2K | 2018年11月14日

Don't bitch, you got towed for free

robertsjh | 2018年12月13日

bbdzet - no, you're not the only 'lucky' one as a similar thing happened to me a couple weeks ago. At first, the service rep said that the pin-sized hole damage on the radiator was likely caused by being hit by a rock and wanted to charge me $350 for parts + labor as it wasn't covered under warranty. I refused and asked to speak to a manager so he came back and said I only have to pay for labor ~$100. IMHO, there's no way a rock could have caused a hole that tiny. Anyway, I finally got them to pick up the entire bill. My experience dealing with Tesla was not quite as amicable as BMW, Benz, or Lexus.

jordanrichard | 2018年12月13日

If it is indeed rock damage, that would be covered by your insurance.

dborn | 2018年12月13日

The radiators, all 3 of them are VERY thin aluminium, the fins are wafer thin!. It really would take very little to damage them. I fitted a light bar for a friend to an 85 a couple of years ago. (dont ask, he is a crazy guy). The only place I could think of to mount it was in ther slot just just below the old nose cone. This necessitated trimming the plastic to make room for it. I used a Fein oscillating saw, which indeed was the correct tool for the job, but managed to nick the underlying radiator with the very last cut (of course). I was shocked to see how thin everything is. The radiator itself was $300, and I managed to fit the new one - no big deal. You have to have the bumper bar off, but then everything is held on by spring clips for the hoses and simple plastic clips for the radiator itself. Astounding how little actually holds the whole front end on!!!
However, nothing could get in from underneath to damage it and any outside mechanism of damage would have to enter via the grille. There is quite a lot of labour to exchange the radiator though. Also, the blue coolant is quite expensive and the volume is quite high. I forget how many litres i needed, but it was a heck of a lot more than I was expecting.

jordanrichard | 2018年12月13日

Every radiator since the dawn of time has wafer thin fins. The water travels through the narrow tubes that the fins are attached to. You can smash the fins and it won’t cause a leak. Quite often these fins get bent by debris like bugs.

m_furey | 2019年1月22日

Same thing happened to my 3 week old ms yesterday - another hole caused by a rock I guess. Disappointing as I’ve had lots of cars and never had this happen. Might have to make some sort of mesh grill insert and pretend I’m driving my 1990s Honda CRZ.

mvotb | 2019年1月22日

If a small rock can put a hole in the radiator without going through something protecting it, then the radiator is not protected properly. | 2019年1月23日

@mvotb - I guess you could put a plywood panel in front to prevent rocks from hitting the radiator, but then how would the radiator get airflow to cool? Lots of tradeoffs in the design. You could make a much stronger radiator to deal with the .01% chance of damage, but then you lose a mile or two of range due to extra weight and the cost goes up. You could put a screen in front, but then you need a larger radiator to deal with the restricted airflow, which adds cost, weight and reduces range. No easy answers for this rare issue.

mvotb | 2019年1月23日

Tap You certainly know more about the mechanics of Tesla's, in general, than I do, or ever will, but I do know about ice cars and their cooling systems. I started working on cars 50 yrs ago, in the beginning because I found it interesting and later because I needed to. Owned many personal cars in that amount of time, and owned a construction company with many more vehicles and equipment, hence the need to work on vehicles to keep up with our schedule, no time to wait on mechanics.

Small rocks are a known road hazard, as evidenced by the many rock chips we all get in our windshields, couldn't even guess how many I have had in all these vehicles. I have never had a small rock damage a radiator. If Tesla chose to make the radiator so thin that a small rock could put a hole in it, to save weight, better heat transfer, etc., then they should have protected it. Should be as simple as a plastic grid. Given that the air intakes on a Tesla are very small compared to an ice they had plenty of room to make the intakes larger to accommodate a grid and still get the flow they need . In future designs they should make this design change. Given your estimate of .01% chance of damage, Tesla should cover it because they created this risk, not the customer. | 2019年1月24日

I sort of doubt the Tesla radiator is any thinner or designed to be more damage prone than ICE radiators, but it's possible. My guess is the fact that all the radiator inlets are very low to the ground increases the chance of damage. Larger rocks could be kicked up by cars or trucks in front of you and large rocks don't fly as high. Many ICE cars now have low inlets too for stylistic reasons and perhaps better CD. I'd think some of the plastic radiators (BMW and others) would have a higher risk of damage, although the plastic ones seem to fail with age too.

So far in 6 years (2 MS), no damage to the radiator. I also don't have any significant chips in the bumper, so I may luck out and not encounter nearly as many rocks in the road as you do. If you do get a high incidence of rocks, and you're not in an area that gets really hot, you might be able to construct a metal screen barrier to reduce the chances of future damage.

charles.a.braun | 2019年3月1日

I too am a recent victim of a "rock puncturing the radiator" in our 2016 Model S. Cost to repair was almost $700. I asked for the radiator to be given to me since it was not a warranty repair. This was a few weeks ago.

Today I took that radiator to a radiator repair shop and for $20 they cleaned it and pressure tested it.

There is in fact a pretty significant hole but they determined that it was caused by a rub, and clearly not a rock.

I am not sure what part(s) of the car might rub the radiator in this location but I intend to find out and if in fact it was a rub I will request my money back as a rub should be covered by warranty.

jesus | 2019年3月1日

W H O M P Y W H E E L wears wadiator?

mvotb | 2019年3月2日

Yes. Looks like something has been rubbing the tube and fins.

Silver2K | 2019年3月2日

Is that behind the louvers? If so, then it was not caused by the louvers because they are plastic and they would get stuck trying to open or close.

Silver2K | 2019年3月2日

If you look at the pipe where the hole is, the pipe is pushed in and it's fatter. Clearly something hit it and nothing behind the facade/bumper can do that.

mvotb | 2019年3月3日

Silver said
"If you look at the pipe where the hole is, the pipe is pushed in and it's fatter. Clearly something hit it and nothing behind the facade/bumper can do that."

Absolutely incorrect. That metal is worn, just like the radiator shop said. I work with metal a lot, going out to my shop right now to do some welding. OP can send that radiator to me and I can duplicate that damage with my grinder. Then he can sent it to you, and I guarantee you can't duplicate it with a rock.

mvotb | 2019年3月3日

PS sent = send and the reason the the metal looks " fatter" where the hole is, is because as something rubs on a soft, thin, metal tube, like copper, it's going to start to flatten it the tube, before it wares a hole in it.

Silver2K | 2019年3月3日


Take the facade off your Model S or X and show me what part can cause this issue. Nothing that can cause this issue is close enough to those fins. The only moving parts on the facade is the louvers and they are at least (without measuring) 4 inches wide 1 inch in depth and sweep up and down. Does that rub look 4 inches wide?

And if the louvers rubbed that hard, the plastic hinges would have broken long ago and or caused a lot more damage if they can push the pipe in that deep.

mvotb | 2019年3月3日

I understand that you can't think of anything that could cause this rubbing and therefore assume it wasn't rubbing. You are also assuming that the damage is on the front of the radiator, which it may or may not be, since we don't have a picture of the whole radiator, just the damage.

The first question isn't what could have caused this rubbing, the first question is, was this damage caused by friction or impact. It is impossible to get the tapers, on the tube, to the left and right of the hole, without friction. It is ground down. It is exactly what I would expect to see on a tube, from friction. Each taper goes from deep at the hole to shallow, as whatever was rubbing could no longer reach the tube.

Now if you still think I am wrong, I am willing to get a small piece of tube, and grind it to look almost exactly like the damage, and post the pics, if you are willing to get a tube and try to simulate the damage with a rock, and post the pics. Deal? But I can assure you, you will never make those tapers without friction.

Since a number of people are reporting leaks and are being given Teslas rock theory, this could be informational for all, including Tesla. My suggestion of this test is certainly not to be confrontational at all, simply educational, shall we do it?

NKYTA | 2019年3月3日

Sure. Dec 2012, my titanium shield crusher added in 2013 seems to do the job.

I’ve no idea what you are talking about.

dborn | 2019年3月4日

The price of a new main radiator (there are 3 in total) is under $200 Australian. (So take off 30%for USD). I know because I damaged one with a multi tool while doing another job. The price quoted above to replace is crazy high. I did the job myself and it was pretty easy. I was going to have the radiator repaired, but it was uneconomical to do so. It is made of aluminium and VERY soft and very thin alu at that. One could almost make a hole in it with a finger nail! OK, perhaps I am exaggerating slightly but you get the picture. The photos of the damage above look like it has been squished, not struck. | 2019年3月4日

What if a rock lodged between the radiator and the plastic grill (or some other part). With vibration it would act like a grinding wheel and eat into the radiator and perhaps fell out after grinding enough of the radiator away or from water pressure when it started to leak. You'd have to see the spot on the rarator relative to parts within the car to get a better handle on what might have happened. Even then it might be hard to tell.

Then it could be a manufacturing defect (unlikely). Might have been damaged when other work was done. Perhaps a high speed rock rickochet could cause it. At high enough velocity can clearly do some real damage. So many possibilities - I doubt you'll ever be sure what caused it.

charles.a.braun | 2019年3月4日

@dborn - The cost to replace my radiator (pictured above) was $295 for the part and $297.50 for "Labor and miscellaneous items" + $28.03 sales tax. Grand total $620.53

After taking a look at the front of the car (no I did not pull the bumper cover off or anything crazy) just a visual inspection I see nothing that would have been rubbing against the radiator. However, due to the location of the damage, I still find it hard to believe that it was a rock as a rock would have taken a nearly impossible angle to reach the spot that was damaged.

The spot is on the front of the radiator but is quite high and both behind (protected by) and well above the bottom of the bumper cover. A rock would have had to enter at about a 75-80 degree angle to strike the radiator in this particular spot without striking the bumper cover or the "grill".

I don't know what happened in this case but I am pretty much convinced that it was neither a rock nor a rub. I just don't know what it was.

I have kept the radiator and if something like this happens to the new one, I can compare the damage and if the same location then I will blame a design flaw. But for now I am just going to call it a "mystery"

rsrivast | 2019年9月23日

Yet another radiator damage. Coolant leaked. Low coolant warning indicator on. Got the garage professionally cleaned as battery coolant (G-48 ethylene-glycol) is highly toxic for pets, even humans. Vehicle in SC. The radiator design of Model S is definitely flimsy, after reading all the reports. Is Model 3 also prone to this kind of damage?