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

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

His car did not have comprehensive coverage because he had just traded in his previous car for the Model 3 and his insurance company refused to pay for the repair. With no options, Bone asked for help on Tesla forums and someone told him about the Electrified Garage.

The mechanic lives three states away from the garage, but he took his car there anyway. When he got there, Chad was able to show Hrencecin what was wrong with that Model 3. The store’s service manager removed the belly pan under the front axle and explained how simple the problem was.

When Bone hit debris on the road, something pierced the coolant port nipple and broke it. The repair consisted of cutting that nipple, using a pipe threading tap on both the cut nipple and the base from which it was removed, and reconnecting them with a brass nipple.

Hrencecin explained that this type of repair is simple and effective because the battery cooling system does not operate under high pressure (2 psi peaks) and high temperatures. It is nothing like the cooling system of combustion engine vehicles. That said, these types of repairs have been done several times and the cars are still running. In short, sanitary techniques saved the day.

Pete, the owner of another Model 3 who had the same problem, came to the Electrified Garage to talk about his experience 27,000 miles after the repair was completed. At this point, Benoit argues that the problem is not with the belly pan and these things are happening. Despite this, Tesla could work to bolster protection there, perhaps with a steel belly pan instead of the one it uses today.

The bottom line is that Tesla Service Centers don’t replace parts, only assemblies. In other words, if something small breaks or needs to be replaced, they replace the entire module it contains.

Jennifer Sensiba spoke about it an article for CleanTechnica on May 2. She was taking a Model Y test drive with her family and their dog puked on the seat belt mechanism in the second row. The Tesla Service Center said it would try to clear that up. If it wasn’t possible, Sensiba would have to pay to replace the entire second row seat. The Service Center would not only replace the belt mechanism.

According to Benoit and Hrencecin, Tesla is adopting that strategy because it is cost-effective for the company. Too bad it’s not cost-effective for customers, which reminds us of the video where Sandy Munro attacked Volkswagen for lazy 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 frown as it would benefit customers.

The same goes for Tesla: if it needs to invest in training and equipment purchases to do more repairs in Service Centers, then it should just do it. Not replace a perfectly fine battery pack, send it back to the factory, fix it there and sell it. As Bone said, he was entitled to keep his old battery if he paid $16,000 for a new one, something the Service Center wasn’t very willing to accept.

Rich Rebuilds channel manager Steven Salowsky told autoevolution this:

“The most important thing is: the right to repair is definitely popping up more and more. Tesla has really adopted the Apple business model, and it’s a damn shame they don’t even have a regional master tech. This would alleviate the problems that can actually be solved at Tesla Service Centers, but that requires a little more technical skill.”

Although Bone has managed to bring his Model 3 back to life, he is still in danger along the way. Tesla may go after him and disable supercharging in his car because it didn’t do the repair. We have seen this before with salvaged vehicles. Although this Model 3 has not been written off, that is a risk. Benoit asked him about it, but he apparently thinks it’s cool – especially since the repair helped him preserve his race car. He would have had to sell it to pay for Tesla’s proposed repair.

As we mentioned in our article on Benoit’s tweet, this case shows that Tesla has a list of improvements that need to be made. It should have a more resistant belly pan or whatever helps protect the battery pack better. Owners should have cheaper repair options, such as those from Electrified Garage. Finally, Tesla Service Centers need to address this assembly replacement strategy. Tesla customers deserve better.

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