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A Repair Would Cost $16,000 at Tesla: the Electrified Garage Did It for $700

 Donald Bone drove over some debris on the road, and something broke in his Model 3. The coolant leaked, and he was worried. Tesla told him Bone could drive to a Service Center. He took the car to one, and they detected the vehicle had a broken port. When Bone thought the repair would cost $800, he received news that he would have to pay $16,000 to replace the entire battery pack.

His car did not have comprehensive coverage because he just switched his former car with the Model 3, and his insurance company did not want to pay for the repair. Without options, Bone asked for help in Tesla forums, and someone told him about the Electrified Garage.

The engineer lives three states away from the garage, but he shipped his car there anyway. When it got there, Chad Hrencecin could show what was wrong with that Model 3. The shop’s service manager removed the belly pan below the front axle and presented how simple the issue was.

When Bone hit debris on the road, something pierced the nipple of the coolant port and cracked it. The repair consisted of cutting that nipple, using a pipe thread forming tap both on the cut nipple and the base from where it was extracted, and joining them back with a brass nipple.

Hrencecin explained that this sort of repair is easy and effective because the battery coolant system does not work under high pressures (2 psi tops) and high temperatures. It is nothing like the cooling system of combustion-engined vehicles. That said, this sort of repair has already been done multiple times, and the cars are still running. In short, plumbing techniques saved the day.

Pete, the owner of another Model 3 that had the same issue, showed up at the Electrified Garage to talk about his experience 27,000 miles after the repair was done. At this point, Benoit states that the problem is not with the belly pan and that these things happen. Despite that, Tesla could work to reinforce the protection there, perhaps with a steel belly pan instead of the one it employs nowadays.

The bottom line is that Tesla Service Centers do not perform part replacements, just assembly replacements. In other words, if something small breaks or has to be replaced, they replace the whole module that includes it.

Jennifer Sensiba talked about that in an article for CleanTechnica on May 2. She did a test drive in a Model Y with her family and their dog puked on the seatbelt mechanism on the second row. The Tesla Service Center said it would try to clean that. If it were not possible, Sensiba would have to pay for replacing the entire second-row seat assembly. The Service Center would not replace only the seatbelt mechanism.

According to Benoit and Hrencecin, Tesla adopts that strategy because it is cost-effective for the company. Too bad it is not cost-effective for customers, which reminds us of the video in which Sandy Munro attacked Volkswagen for lazily designing the ID.4. The engineer said Volkswagen should have placed the components under the hood behind the instrument panel to give its electric crossover a frunk because that would benefit the clients.

The same applies to Tesla: if it has to invest in training and buying equipment to perform more repairs in Service Centers, it should just do it. Not replace a perfectly fine battery pack, ship it back to the factory, fix it there, and sell it. As Bone said, he had the right to keep his old battery pack if he had paid $16,000 for a new one, something that the Service Center was not very willing to accept.

Steven Salowsky, the Rich Rebuilds channel manager, told autoevolution this:

“The important thing is: right to repair certainly is showing up more and more. Tesla has really taken the Apple business model, and it’s a damn shame they don’t just have even a regional master tech. This would alleviate the issues that can, in fact, be done at Tesla Service Centers but require a bit more technical skill to do so.”

Although Bone managed to bring his Model 3 back to life, he still faces a danger down the road. Tesla may go after him and disable supercharging in his car because it did not perform the repair. That’s something we have seen happen before on salvaged vehicles. Although this Model 3 was not written-off, that is a risk. Benoit asked him about that, but he is apparently cool with it – mainly because the repair helped him keep his race car. He would have had to sell it to pay for the fix Tesla proposed.

As we said in our article about Benoit’s tweet, this case shows Tesla has a list of improvements to do. It has to have a more resistant belly pan or whatever helps protect the battery pack better. Owners have to have cheaper repair options – such as the one the Electrified Garage offers. Finally, Tesla Service Centers need to address this assembly replacement strategy. Tesla customers deserve better.



    There's little money in new cars sales. It's all in REPAIRS

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