Auto accident repair or replace?

Auto accident repair or replace?

My wife happened to be in a head on collision which resulted in the front end totally crumpling up and the airbags deploying. The Model S did extremely well in the accident with no one getting hurt. Problem is that now the auto insurance company, USAA, can't figure out wether to fix the car or total it. The problem being that the parts are hard to come by. For example a front windshield has a 100 day back log. In addition if the car is totaled I will end up going to the back of the line. One Tesla service center said that they did have two "Orphan" cars that I may be able to purchase. We will see. And I never did get the back seats that I paid for.

Electron | 17. mars 2013

Shouldn't Tesla be deeply involved in this decision? Is USAA working with a collision repair place?
I would doubt dropping it at just any repair house would do....

Sudre_ | 17. mars 2013

I am extremely happy to hear no one was hurt.... very sad to hear your car is, I guess, in limbo. With any luck the car in Chicago might be what you are looking for. I heard there is one there that the owner could not get financing for.

kilimats | 17. mars 2013

why is there no mention of Tesla customer services in this thread.

That would be the second call i make after calling the insurance following an accident...

need more details !

noel.smyth | 17. mars 2013

I would hope that Telsa would jump your replacement car to the front of the production queue. About replacement parts, again Tesla needs to be sure there are adequate means to get these to a service center quickly to get your car fixed. This is a big deal for Tesla to get figured out.
Glad no one was hurt.

shop | 17. mars 2013

Depending on the options, the wait time right now is only a few months for a new car.

lolachampcar | 17. mars 2013

At this point in the accident repair knowledge curve (basically zero) I would go for replacement. You'll get hit with depreciation which will suck but I suspect you will be much happier then having to deal with the results of a repair.

RAFellows | 17. mars 2013

The time from order to delivery is now down to 6 weeks, probably shorter time than having it repaired. I'd opt for having it totaled and getting a new car.

petero | 17. mars 2013

I would definitely go for a new car. Glad all are safe and sound.

snowmass4 | 17. mars 2013

I am also glad your wife walked away unhurt. Hopefully Tesla will help in the replacement process. I would think they would also be curious to look at the car to see how it behaved in a real world accident. Their experience with an actual head on collision has to be somewhat limited.

DouglasR | 17. mars 2013


We are all thankful that no one was hurt, and sad that your Model S was damaged. Would you be willing to describe the accident in more detail -- how fast the cars were traveling, point of impact, what parts of the car were damaged, etc.? I think people would be interested to know.

GeekEV | 17. mars 2013

+1 @noel.smyth

Cattledog | 17. mars 2013

Tyson - Glad to hear your wife was OK, hopefully passengers in the other car were as well. I wonder if Models S makes it safer for other vehicles in this type of accident becuase of its ability to absorb impacts.

I have USAA as well, I'll be interested in your outcome, please update us with details as they resolve. Good luck.

Joel N. Weber II | 17. mars 2013

Is there any significant damage to the battery pack?

Is the crumpled front end a part of the ``body in white''?

danielccc | 17. mars 2013

Sorry to hear this but glad nobody was hurt.

The battery pack is still worth a small fortune, and probably the whole drive train is still good. But would the insurance company know what to do with these parts? The car should not just end up getting crushed...

I'd talk to Tesla for sure.

BorisT | 17. mars 2013

I do not recommend fixing the car. If the car sustained frame damage with it most likely did - well it is hard to know if it will ever be the same. An unbalanced car is also a safety issue as it can behave oddly in hard cornering - so no insist on a new car. There's a reason why they call the cars a salvage title and many insurance co's don't want to insure them. It's because you never know if it was fixed properly.

As for the spare parts on the car inclusive of the battery pack - well the car has a salvage value and the insurance company will sell it for that value to a junk yard or worse yet to an individual who will try to fix it on the cheap and resell it as a salvage title.

BTW - happy to hear no injuries and the car did its duty admirably. Walking away from an accident is all one can ask for and the car is irrelevant. The <2 month wait right now is your worst case. I would even contemplate ordering a new car while USAA is determining what to do that could take 2-3 weeks. So get a jump start... Best of luck to you.

Kit-60kWh now 85D | 18. mars 2013

I'd go for a replacement. My car suffered what seemed like rather minor damage thanks to a cement truck shedding its troughs on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in heavy wind. One just grazed my car. The estimate is $7600 for a bite out of the bumper and bolts pulled out of the slightly bent panel behind the left front wheel where it connects to the rocker panel. My car is completely drivable. Once the truck company's insurance accepts the estimate, there will be a 2-4 week wait for the parts from Tesla. The day I picked up my car in Seattle, a Model S that had been T-boned arrived on a flatbed. It went back to the factory for study. I suspect Tesla would want a look at yours, too. I'm very glad to hear there weren't injuries,

GLO | 18. mars 2013

I echo the sentiments of others that your wife is OK and the car did its job admirably. As a USAA owner as well we are looking forward to hear the process of gettig resolution on the repair/replacement issue.

Vawlkus | 18. mars 2013

I'll echo the sentiments that all walked away from a crash. I'll also echo the call for a replacement car, but for a different reason: this is a real world crashed S for Tesla to evaluate. They're also the best ones to evaluate how bad the damage actually is, and worst case, it can give them some spare parts to help other cars.

Brian H | 18. mars 2013

Yes, it would have been kinda insensitive to ask someone to crash so they could analyse the car and event, but nature provided your car. I'm sure TM would be very happy to get its hands on it.

Aleksandyr | 18. mars 2013

I had a lady back into my car with minor damage to the tail lights and reflector. Took 2 weeks to get the parts needed for this rather minor damage, 2900$ bill. I also have USAA, and they will treat you right. I too would be interested to hear what Tesla thinks about the ability to repair this. All I wanted to mention is the wait could be longer than getting a new car, since parts are not readily available. Tesla needs to work on this!

tysonfc | 18. mars 2013

Spoke with USAA and Tesla today. USAA said they did not know after 1.5 weeks whether they would total it or not. They still haven't determined frame or battery pack damage. If it was repairable and it took four months to get the parts, then it would take four or more months. Tesla has been very helpful and concerned. Evidently when the car is in a collision the car blows a circuit breaker disabling the batteries which prevents first responders from getting possibly shocked. The batteries then start to deplete if not recharged. Tesla service stated that if the adjuster didn't recharge the batteries in a timely fashion the pack might go permanently dead requiring a replacement. Tesla is more than happy to help and USAA seems to be crippled by their reliance on a outsourced autobody adjusters. Will keep you posted.

dstiavnicky | 19. mars 2013

One more big advantage of having all 'crumple zone' in front instead of tossing a big, heavy hunk of metal (engine) into your space... with hot oils and gas spilling out of it...

Sudre_ | 19. mars 2013

If USAA lets the car sit around long enough they will answer their own question. Once the battery goes dead the repair cost will probably throw it into the totaled category.

Thumper | 19. mars 2013

If an impact strong enough to trigger the air bags also triggers a battery disconnect, can't the battery sit for a long time without any discharge? Wouldn't it be just shelf life at that point?

Brian H | 19. mars 2013

Yeah, all the vampires get cut off, too.

michaelseda | 19. mars 2013

Hey guys, I own 3 body shops in Colorado and have had one MS in my north location with a similar amount of damage. The claim went through State Farm and here is how it played out.... First, the insurance needs to get in direct contact with Tesla. They will then have the insurer upload VERY specific photos of the damage. Then, Tesla makes the recommendation as to whether or not to repair the car. Tesla offered to buy out the car and use it for R&D if they felt it shouldn't be repaired but in the end the engineers decided that the car was safe to repair. Now, the kicker....there are no parts in inventory. Tesla will have to pull them from the assembly line and therefore the wait will be upwards of four to six months (depending on the part). The estimate on sits at just over $21k and we're half way through the waiting game.

Now the good stores deliver around 5000 cars each year. This is the very first time that a manufacturer wanted to get involved in whether a vehicle should or shouldn't be repaired. The engineers have been great to work with and very thorough. I'm proud to own an MS especially after dealing with this claim.

Hope this helps....

Captain_Zap | 19. mars 2013

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Brian H | 19. mars 2013

Very impressive. Whose engineers decide in the other cases -- the insurer's, I assume?

michaelseda | 20. mars 2013

Nope....Tesla gets the final say

jkirkebo | 20. mars 2013

Hmm. Tesla should build up a small inventory of parts. 4-6 months wait time for parts is unacceptable. Just build three cars less than planned this week and put the parts on the shelves instead. Problem solved.

Given the layout of the MS, my guess is that front end collisions will more frequently be repaired than on cars with an engine up front.

I wouldn't worry about the battery. If the fuse is blown, it should be safe for 6-12 months if it wasn't near depletion before the crash. Only the BMS draws power from it at this point.

Brian H | 20. mars 2013

by "other cases" I meant other mfrs, non-Tesla cars.

michaelseda | 24. mars 2013

Other manufacturers will do the same as Tesla......if you can ever get ahold of them

zzurich | 20. april 2013

just had accident yesturday other driver at fault they have chartis insurance. so far tesla not helpful. refused to allow me to send car to local tesla office. suggested i send car to some body shop not related to tesla. i am waiting on insurance adjuster to go see the car. the car had significant front right impact axel broken front right side crumpled. air bags went off. hard to get car on flatbed when electric system goes dead and cant get car out of park.

Otmar | 26. juli 2013

I'm very sorry to hear about your loss in the Model S, glad that I hear of no injuries.
I'm looking at bidding on a Model S at auction Monday that may have been yours. I hope to use the parts for a special conversion into an electric VW camper.
Is there any chance you could contact me directly if the one on auction might have been yours?