By on October 15, 2015

TeslaRepair

Tesla Motors has been proud to state its focus is on selling cars and not trying to make profit from their service centers — but the real world results prove otherwise.

I stumbled on a thread where a Tesla owner with a failed part was able to purchase a replacement from the EV manufacturer. However, and this is key, Tesla would not supply instructions for installing it.

Tesla’s direct sales structure and independent nature allows it to bypass almost all regulations and agreements currently in place relating to service information and repair software. These regulations and agreements exist to allow owners and independent shops to have the same information and diagnostic tools as dealers so they have the ability to perform repairs properly on their own.

Tesla wants no part of it.

Massachusetts was the first state to pass a “Right To Repair” law in 2012 with 86 percent of the voters supporting the measure. The law requires motor vehicle manufacturers to provide the same diagnostic and repair resources to owners and independent shops as they would their franchised dealers. Many manufacturers already provide this information via service manuals and websites where access can be purchased.

The law also requires manufacturers to provide diagnostic tools for purchase. The manufacturers have provided access to purchase factory diagnostic tools or pass-thru devices which allow the same functionality in order to repair vehicles.

At first glance, Tesla appears like they are complying by the law as they have a service information website that allows owners and independent shops to purchase timed access. When I attempted to access the website and purchase one hour of access for $30, I was unable to proceed as the website only allows purchase by Massachusetts residents and shops.

My first thought was that the website was setup only to comply with the Massachusetts law, but I quickly found out that Tesla was not providing access to diagnostic software on the website, which is a requirement of that law.

The wording of the law defines a dealer as “any person or business who, in the ordinary course of its business, sells or leases new motor vehicles to consumers or other end users pursuant to a franchise agreement and who has obtained a class 1 license pursuant to sections 58 and 59 of chapter 140 and diagnoses, services, maintains or repairs motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines pursuant to said franchise agreement.” Tesla Motors operates a wholly-owned subsidiary in Massachusetts know as Tesla Motors MA which holds a class 1 license but does not have a franchise agreement since it is owned by Tesla Motors. Since there is no franchise agreement in place, it appears that Tesla Motors MA cannot be identified as a dealer in this law and, therefore, would not have to meet the requirements to provide service information and diagnostic software.

A lawsuit where the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association sued Tesla Motors MA and Tesla Motors Inc. to stop them from selling cars in the state provides more clarity on the definition. The lawsuit was based on a law that allowed franchised dealers to sue manufacturers for unfair selling practices. Tesla ultimately won the lawsuit as the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decided that the dealers did not have a case as the law did not allow franchised dealers to sue unaffiliated manufacturers. One important piece of the judgement pertained to the definition of franchised dealers. The judgement included the following statement:

First, although the parties do not address this point, it is not entirely clear that the plain language of § 4 (c) (10) applies to the defendants’ conduct and renders it unlawful, as the plaintiffs contend. They maintain that § 4 (c) (10) prohibits a manufacturer such as Tesla, directly or through a subsidiary such as Tesla MA, from owning or operating in the Commonwealth “a motor vehicle dealership” selling its own line make of automobiles. “Motor vehicle dealership” is a term defined in c. 93B as:

“any person who, in the ordinary course of its business, is engaged in the business of selling new motor vehicles to consumers or other end users pursuant to a franchise agreement and who has obtained a class 1 license pursuant to the provisions of [G. L. c. 140, §§ 58 & 59]” (emphasis added).G. L. c. 93B, § 1, inserted by St. 2002, c. 222, § 3. Because neither Tesla nor Tesla MA is engaged in the business of selling new Tesla motor vehicles in Massachusetts “pursuant to a franchise agreement,” there appears to be a question whether Tesla’s business model involves the operation of a “motor vehicle dealership” within the meaning of c. 93B, § 4 (c) (10), and therefore whether, by its literal terms, the proscription of § 4 (c) (10) applies to the defendants at all.

The judgement put an emphasis on the clause “pursuant to a franchise agreement” since Tesla does not hold such an agreement in the state and couldn’t be considered a motor vehicle dealership. Even the highest court in the state is not able to label Tesla as a dealer, so it appears that Tesla and anyone else who has a similar sales structure can skate by and not follow the “Right-To-Repair” law.

It appears that Tesla has setup the service website for Massachusetts to look like they are providing the required information and voluntarily following the law. However, since they are not providing diagnostic software and tools, they are only following some portions of it. This seems to go against the Tesla Code of Business Ethics and Conducts that states in Section 1: “Obeying the law, both in letter and in spirit, is the foundation on which this Company’s ethical standards are built.”

Massachusetts may have been an isolated case as other states were considering “Right-To-Repair” legislation of their own and may have caught on to the Tesla exclusion if that legislation was given a chance. Unfortunately, the Massachusetts law ended up being used as the framework for “Right-To-Repair” agreements nationwide.

In order to prevent costly fights in each state, the aftermarket part and repair associations drafted up voluntary agreements with the two largest automotive manufacturing associations. The agreement between the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (now known as Auto Care Association), Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers was signed in January of 2014.

This new agreement cancelled all pending legislation and stated that the provisions, which include making a standardized diagnostic interface available to owners and independent shops, would go into effect with model year 2018. The agreement is a huge win for independent shops and owners as it will allow them access to proprietary software functions at a cost.

Tesla got away scot-free on two fronts when it comes to this agreement.

First, since they are not a member of either of the two automaker groups that signed the agreement, they do not have to abide by it. Second, since the agreement was based on the Massachusetts law, it still included a franchise agreement as part of the description for a dealer in the agreement, so even if Tesla joined an alliance they would still be exempt.

This is great news for Tesla and their $600 a year maintenance plans as it will force owners to come back to their service facilities for repair. Owners will be stuck taking their cars to Tesla service centers since even replacements of door handles require a firmware reinstall using the Tesla software.

Tesla declined to comment, but Aaron Lowe of the Auto Care Association was more than happy to speak. His organization is one of the biggest proponents of allowing consumers and independent repair shops access to work on vehicles and was involved in the law and agreement discussed above. He confirmed that the 2018 national agreement did not apply to Tesla and that the automakers that did sign the agreement have to provide a standardized cloud solution for diagnostic software.

Tesla has advertised themselves as an open company that wants to advance electric vehicle development and released patents in order to assist others in developing EVs. The open patent policy has also done Tesla a lot of good in boosting their image and brand loyalty. Some Tesla owners are defending the automaker by stating it should not release service information as it may help others reverse engineer Tesla’s product and ruin its image if someone were to, let’s say, cause a fire from performing a repair on their own. Service information is not going to help another automaker reverse engineer any Tesla product. Instead, they are more likely to buy a car and tear it down to see what’s inside. I believe our right to own a vehicle includes repair and precludes any right Tesla might have to boost their public image.

I thought about paying the $30 for one hour of access by putting in a Massachusetts zip code. However, a Youtuber who did something similar and shared some information with his viewers is apparently being sued by Tesla, so I decided against it.

On that note, Tesla is significantly more expensive than any other automaker when charging for service information. The Audi Service subscription allows 24-hour pass for $35, or a monthly pass for $250. This pass gives you access to service information along with with diagnostics and vehicle reflash software if you are an independent shop. Tesla, on the other hand, charges $100 for a 24-hour pass and $350 for a monthly pass for only the service information.

Tesla should be required to follow the path of the other automakers in providing service information and access to diagnostic software so owners and independent shops can repair their cars.

Maybe the industry groups I spoke with will take it up.

[Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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70 Comments on “Tesla Doesn’t Want You to Work on Its Cars...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    So when you buy Tesla you own your car, but you really don’t own your car….

    You are married to Tesla for the duration.

    Sounds like the Apple business model where you are forced to marry the company if you buy one of their products.

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t realize my Mac Mini and iPod Touch made me married to Apple. Time to update my relationship status on facebook!

      This is going to make my next date kind of awkward, though.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        When we bought our first Apple product years ago we had to give up our name, address, phone nr, credit card, email address, the whole she-bang to get an Apple ID.

        Since they were bought for business use, we used the business to open the account, and tied each successive Apple product we bought to that same account.

        We still use the same Apple ID for all our Apple devices even though the business has long since been sold and we have retired.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “When we bought our first Apple product years ago we had to give up our name, address, phone nr, credit card, email address, the whole she-bang to get an Apple ID.”

          You need almost none of that to have an Apple ID. I have two (one for my personal iPad, one for my work iPhone) and both just have an email address and a name (which is in the email address anyways, x2, 1 business, 1 personal).

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I think it’s more like consumer electronics in general. You’re not supposed to pull apart your Tesla to tinker with it, just use it till it’s all worn out then dump it for a new one. I feel weird agreeing with HDC. . . :S

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      I remember Tesla being a bit controlling about salvage title cars.

      http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/San-Diego-mans-58000-nightmare-with-a-Tesla-Model-S-277017201.html

      • 0 avatar
        tooloud10

        That’s pretty misleading. Sounds like they’ll turn the car on if they’re allowed to inspect it and/or he signs a liability release. Honestly, I don’t blame them.

    • 0 avatar
      kurkosdr

      Well, Musk did promise to be the “Apple of auto manufacturers”, so you can’t blame Musk for not keeping the promise.

      For example, unless you pay their annual “inspection fee” of $600, they ‘ll refuse to even look at your car if something off-warranty happens.

      Are we missing dealerships already? Most people don’t realize that for all their faults and plaid-shirt wearing, dealerships DO take some power from the automakers. For example, you can choose your authorized service center. With Tesla, there are no dealerships, and all authorized service centers belong to the same company (aka, a monopoly). Prepare to pay through the nose if you want authorized repairs.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    The endless Tesla bashing really hides these ACTUAL issues they need to address. The biggest fear I suspect is that they don’t have much proprietary technology that can be reverse engineered and thus independent groups could easily start getting into Tesla’s goodies and perhaps even retune the software to be more efficient and thus negate possible performance/energy gains in later models.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’m not totally familiar with Tesla’s technology, but do they program the PCM so that the software will only allow the battery to be recharged a certain number of times?

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      HP isn’t making cars just yet but I’m sure region coded charge cycle counted and mile elapsed batteries are just around the corner if somebody like HP owns a company like A123systems.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Great. At least the old planned obsolescence was honest, in that the parts were honestly garbage, and they wore out because they literally wore out.

        The new planned obsolescence will be artificial – the batteries will still be good, but the computer won’t let them accept more juice.

        • 0 avatar
          qfrog

          Oh and I forgot… the battery will be tied to the car’s VIN and handshake with some sort of body or charging control module so even if you own another car the battery could be used in… it will not work. You will have to buy a new battery. This will be done in the name of theft prevention. The rest will be done in the name of ensuring customer satisfaction.

        • 0 avatar

          Apple again. Updating your iphone to system 9 required itunes 12. Itunes 12 required that I toss Snow Leopard (10.6).

          There is zero technical reason for this. I get my older unit can’t run beyond 10.7 due to a 32/64 bit issue, but the rest was just to bump sales….

          All this guy wants to do is replace a latch…sheesh…

          Oh, and I recently represented a guy who got a ticket in his Tesla. Turns out the insurance is quite expensive, mostly because aluminum, batteries and Tesla only allows a very few service centers…that fender bender can’t be banged out by Local Joe who you’ve used for years….the Ford Pickups have this issue too.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Umm, there are plenty of reasons that operating systems cease to get supported. Things like encryption and security measures are often baked into the kernel of the OS. And from a technical perspective the 32 bit/64 bit thing is actually huge. And for perspective my Macbook is a 2011 model and it still gets updates and it isn’t even the oldest machine still supported so if you cant run beyond Snow Leopard, yeah, your machine is really old to the point there probably is a valid reason…like your processor cant handle the kernel later versions are built on. Try to install itunes 12 on a windows XP machine. Also, look at the length of time an iPhone gets updated versus other makes. The 4s got iOS 9 for crying out loud. How many 4+ year old Android devises are getting Marshmallow? And before you yell fanboy I use a Nexus 6…Google’s Android flagship.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            And I just looked…10.11 (El Capitan) The latest and greatest from Apple runs on mid 2007 and newer hardware. So yeah, if you are stuck at 10.7 your machine is over 8 years old. Not many desktop vendors supporting hardware built during the Bush Administration these days.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I’m still using a Dell laptop from 2007 daily. Fully supported, still getting driver updates, and I could even still buy a full hardware support contract on it if I wanted to spend the money. Runs the latest version of Windows like a champ. Serves the purpose of browsing the web and reading e-mail perfectly fine, zero reason to replace it. It has been upgraded to 4GB of RAM and an SSD over the years.

            Apple has LONG been FAR more willing than other computer companies to stop supporting hardware that is otherwise still perfectly useful. I’m not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, as there are advantages both ways, but it is certainly something to be aware of when buying into their ecosystem.

          • 0 avatar
            tooloud10

            Not true of the Ford pickups. I have a ’15 F150 and insurance was no worse than the car it replaced. Many owners are reporting that their insurance was lower after trading in an older F150. Turns out the ’15 (at least the Supercrew) is quite a bit safer…

            Also, Apple doesn’t require you to update to iOS9. If you don’t want to update the other OSes, then don’t update to iOS9.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Krhodes Apple is still fully supporting devices from 2007. The demarc on both platforms is 64 bit processors. If they have them they are typically still supported. New processors are evolutionary versus revolutionary…hence the longer support on both platforms. I’m just trying to dispel this planned obselence garbage. Apple supports their devices as long as anyone and in the case of the iPhone, longer than most. Yes they would be happy to have you upgrade every 2 years but should you choose not to you you aren’t high and dry.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            speedlaw, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

            I have an old Mac running Snow Leopard, and an iPhone 5 running iOS 9.0.2. I updated it directly into the phone via WiFi, no iTunes or computer participation required.

          • 0 avatar

            turns out my late 2009 core two duo, with SSD and maxed memory, is VERY happy with 10.11. thanks everyone !!!

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Toys for rich douchers who have 2nd or 3rd cars and don’t really depend on them for transport.
    If this is the future of cars, they can keep it.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You don’t get out much, do you?

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      “Toys for rich douchers…”

      Sounds a lot like sour grapes from someone who can’t afford one.

      Having ridden in one, I’d definitely assert they are pointing to the future. If you are out, that’s just great – happy for you to take a bus (probably also electrified by then) as that helps clear the congested roads for those of us who ARE looking forward.

      This issue will be resolved one way or another. Tesla is a young company, and teething problems are to be expected.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Toys for rich douchers…”

        I guess the poor ones just use massengill. Most manufacturers are content with heated and cooled seats. Sounds like Tesla took it a step further. Wouldn’t want to hit that button by mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      Do you want every single person who has more dollars than you to get on their knees and beg your forgiveness?

      Remember, living on that principle you are not allowed to work for more money than you already have, or buy that car that you’ve always wanted. Because think of the people who would hate you!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Very good article, and I appreciate the depth of investigation into the problem. This is what TTAC is about.

    As Xeranar said, the chorus of Tesla bashing obscures real problems like this. I’m the type who repairs his own cars as much as possible, and I’d be upset if I couldn’t work on my future Model 3.

    @Xeranar – Per your comment to HDC, it feels weird to agree with *you*, but hey, I guess we’re not monoliths after all.

    Tesla really needs to change this policy. The Earth will be flooded with their vehicles over the next several years, and requiring every owner to take their vehicle to a Tesla shop for repair won’t work logistically. They just don’t have enough shops.

    My $0.02:

    1. Intellectual property – anyone can dissect a Tesla to reverse engineer it. That can’t be why they’re so secretive.

    2. Safety – 90 kWh is a LOT of energy to discharge through a tool or your body. However, that’s equivalent to only 2.7 gallons of gas. Pick your poison. Electrical safety can be described in a user manual.

    3. Service revenue – It’s plausible Tesla wants to keep the service revenue flowing via a captive market. But their prices won’t fly for the Model 3 crowd. And generating meaningful service revenue is at odds with their claimed reliability.

    4. Shortage of time or tech writers – Producing technical service documentation is a massive task. I think it’s very possible Tesla hasn’t taken the time to produce detailed documentation for the masses.

    5. Resale value – Tesla may be trying to maintain its vehicles’ resale value by prohibiting shadetree hacks from working on them. Think of all the yahoos who have laid hands on that 72 Vette you’ve considered buying. There is something to be said for pedigreed technicians doing the work (in theory), although many people’s dealer repair experiences have been terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      spw

      it is just service money… Tesla charges $600 yearly service to do… nothing, just a checkup. Fanboys supporting their anti-consumer behaviour are just crazy.

      p.s. Not a hater, i would love to own one.

  • avatar
    Chan

    The reality is always in the grey zone. It’s not an outright conspiracy to deprive owners of their rights, but nor is it purely the company being victim to the NADA-centric auto sales environment in the US.

    SCE brings up a good point about it being a bad idea for backyard mechanics to mess around with an electric car’s battery pack.

    But since Tesla’s primary audience remains the strictly affluent, you can bet that the consumers are relatively sharp people on average. They will notice and are capable of taking action when they feel that their rights are being infringed upon. I wouldn’t be worried about Tesla owners getting taken for a ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      It is a bad idea for some folks to mess around with anything more complex than a toilet paper roll. If I am paying 6 figures for a car I’d prefer not be lunked in with them. As to the “they have the money” arguement, well nobody got rich by throwing away good money. Maybe I won’t fix it myself, but maybe I want someone other than the dealer to do the work.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Well, there’s inheritance- one smart person can sometimes produce two or three generations of useless wealthy people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that just because a person has money, it doesn’t necessarily mean they do anything very well.

        And anyway, the wealthiest people I know are the last ones I’d want handling an enormous live battery regardless of their intelligence, because they often tend toward an Aspergers-like focus on their areas of expertise at the expense of some pretty basic skills.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          Two or three generations is probably conservative. If the US population is 320 million people, the wealthiest 1% comprise 3,200,000 people. (1% of the population, not 1% by wealth). The very wealthiest families are almost guaranteed wealth in perpetuty given their ownership of real estate and “means of production” which provide constant incomes. These people may or may not do anything worthy of their wealth, but it won’t matter because their family wealth will remain intact. See the Kennedys for an obvious example.

          Frittering away family wealth over two or three generations is the sort of thing small business owners contend with. Hence, the old saw about the first generation building the business, the second generation enjoying the business, and the third generation ruining the business.

          Pro tip – the wealthy people you are aware of almost invariably fall into the former category and not the latter. The former also happen to be more likely Tesla customers than the latter.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            This whole 1% “thing” has been a tool for those unintentionally or intentionally skewing the data horribly, and it centers on how one defines “wealthy,” inherently.

            The top .5% are probably much closer to what most Americans would deem as very well off, with the top .25% being largely considered to be what most Americans would deem to be as “wealthy.”

            There is a major divergence in incomes and value of assets owned by each 1/10th incremental segment in the top 1%, and most of the “top 1%” is comprised of professionals in the service sector making less than $350,000 per year (well of, surely, but far from “rich” by many Americans’ perceptions).

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Big Al

        Yup. If this is how tesla is doing business then all it takes is one abrasive or incompetent employee to sour their relationship with an entire region’s customer base. I personally find this behavior to be disgusting, not irritating, and I will definitely bring it up the next time someone asks me about test driving one of their cars (which happens fairly often). Independent repair and diagnostics is a huge factor in terms of long term customer ownership, and intentional moves to circumvent our impede it should be treated as scumbag behavior, not just a different business model.

        I’ve had nothing but nice things to say about their business until now. This one’s a dizzy.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I dunno, this is one of those things that “should” tick me off, but really doesn’t. One of the selling point of Tesla is that the Model S really requires almost no maintenance. Little fluid, few moving parts, brakes last forever, etc. I’ve got to think most failure points (suspension, interior trim, etc) is going to be the same as any other maker’s to fix, and the other stuff (batteries, software, motor/drive unit) is probably not something the average chucklehead like me has any business messing with anyways. It’s not like having your indy mechanic change our your Ferrari’s F1 pump to avoid rape by dealer.

  • avatar
    daver277

    All this just confirms my belief that the best car to be an owner of is a pre-2001 OBD II car.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    So Tesla is busy badmouthing “evil” dealers that are out to screw people over all the while using their status as not a traditional dealer to screw people over. Thing is, I like these cars and will be in a position to own one soon. But if I wanted an unholy aliance with the service department as part of my ownership experience I’d just buy a VW.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Who’d have thunk it? Teslas need repair. What for?

    I thought everything was so simple a man in a space suit wielding an adjustable wrench could repair it, just like NASA repaired the Hubble Space telescope.

  • avatar
    beastpilot

    This strikes me as biased since it doesn’t research what other auto providers really provide. For instance, I think it goes a bit far in stating that other manufacturers provide diagnostic tools. When I go to the repair website for my cars I’m used to seeing firmware updates for the ECU or other modules, but not a whole suite of special software tools to do any diagnostic procedure. With every car I have that’s the domain of a 3rd party for individuals, or stolen software from the manufacturer.

    At the same time, I really want a Model S, and have been considering one seriously. This attitude would make me re-consider, as I am a full DIY-er. I have to balance that with the fact that I really never pull out the repair manual for a car though, since almost everything is pretty straightforward if you have much experience. It’s pretty critical that the story does indicate that you can buy the parts you need.

    • 0 avatar

      I have worked with many of the diagnostic tools that are available from other manufacturers and visited their sites while doing this research. Most of the manufacturers are making their software compatible with pass-thru adapters that provide the same functionality as their factory hardware but allow independent shops to use a single tool for all brands. Here is an example of an adapter from Snap-On along with links to each respective manufacturer software that is provided: https://www1.snapon.com/diagnostics/us/PassThruPro

      • 0 avatar
        beastpilot

        “Replace the existing software/firmware in electronic control units (ECUs) with updated OEM software. Fix software-controlled driveability issues and emission issues, program new ECUs.”

        My BMW has a procedure to bleed and check the VANOS solenoids after the oil is drained out of them. This is not re-programming the ECU. I know of no other software besides BMW’s that will do this, and the cable isn’t the issue since a $19 cable from China works fine as long as you get your hands on the software.

        From the BMW site, they say that you can do the following with a J2534 pass-through.

        Display of technical information:
         Automated Test Plans
         Repair Instructions (E30 or higher)
         Technical Data
         Tightening torques
         Wiring diagrams
         Pin assignments
         Installation locations
         Connector views
         Functional descriptions

        I see nothing in there that says if I subscribe to their site they will allow me to run all the various electronic diagnostics that are possible if I have the BMW franchise service software.

        • 0 avatar

          In Mass they would be required to sell you the software as they have franchised dealers.

          I know some volvo owners have tried it and gotten access including being able to push firmware updates from Volvo to the car.

        • 0 avatar
          cbrworm

          Right, for BMW I think you need EDIBAS, DIS, etc., to get access to the individual systems.

          For VW/Audi I think you need WIS. I don’t remember what Mercedes needs, but even Nissan doesn’t let you have control of many troubleshooting functions without CONSULT II or III.

          Those are just the cars I have experience with. I’m sure GM has proprietary interface commands that are not available to the general public from the General.

          There are ways to get around a lot of these, but not that are manufacturer supported.

        • 0 avatar

          Found a link looks like OSS is accessible by independent shops and can be used for module programming and resetting
          http://www.nastf.org/files/public/BMW%20-%20OSS%20Overview%202_0.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            cbrworm

            As I recall, you can’t use that service as a DIYer.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah not sure about BMW a few Volvo owners have bought VIDA DICE setup’s and bought time on the systems as do it yourselfers. In Mass BMW might be compelled to allow an individual to access it based on how the law was written.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            BMW is nice in that there is no requirement for any sort of security access to work on the cars (at least so far). This is really something the Swedes ran with, supposedly as an “anti-theft measure”. Even if you had the software to talk to the car, you still need to access the Mothership servers in order to be allowed to do so. So something as seemingly simple as replacing a door handle on a Saab 9-3 involves the mothership.

            For my BMW, I have an Android App that will do about 95% of what I am ever likely to need to do to my car, including the battery registration procedure. And they are adding more to it all the time. Cost $60.

            As far as firmware updates – I am willing to pay for that. Simply because if something goes wrong and I brick the car, it is my problem if I am doing it, the dealer’s problem if they are doing it.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Though this article is very specific regarding Tesla, their different sales structure, and some laws I know not much about yet…

    I think its fair to say no car maker wants people working on their cars. They aren’t making it easy in these new ones.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      An note is that the independent shops aren’t actually all that far removed from a dealership shop. If it’s hard for the independent to do, it’ll be hard for the dealer to do, and they get to cash in on that warranty money based on labor hours.

      The only way you can really make things hard is to hide the maintenance manual (not worth it) or code things in some obscure way for the computer. (why waste the effort?)

      Plus, as we all know from Fiat and Volkswagen’s experiences, customers remember difficult to service cars.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Tesla isn’t the only manufacturer with contempt for owners and mechanics. A friend’s ’05 Prius has a burned out headlamp bulb. Toyota dealer quotes $350 to replace it. (Part of this is the outrageous $95 HID bulb.) An independent garage checked the manual: 2 1/2 hours labor, starting with removing the front fascia. So going to an independent garage and buying the bulb at a parts chain would come to about $330. Whoopee!

  • avatar
    z9

    My understanding of the MA manual is that it is largely useless, because it refers to proprietary tools and diagnostic software that Tesla is not giving out.

    From a repair point of view, software is the weak part of any modern car. I’ve heard there are at least 30 separate computers in a Model S. The repair process is fundamentally driven by software — that’s why they want to keep everything in-house. Few software companies want to open up and document their code to the outside world, and not just because they’re hiding stuff like VW did. It would create security issues and dramatically increase costs. Imagine the army of tech support people needed to support user repair and modification. So they are trying to get away with keeping the platform as closed as possible for as long as they can.

    Professionally, I work on trying to solve this exact business problem of facilitating user-driven innovation, so I know Tesla or some other company could make their products maintainable and hackable in a cool way, but to do so would take enormous amounts of time and ultimately benefit a very small percentage of the total customer base. And then there’s the fact that amateur software + large heavy rapidly moving object = understandable fear.

    You know when you go to Tire Rack they’ll show you all the tires that fit your car? I had read that some Pirellis were extremely quiet on the Model S so I decided to try them. They were indeed quiet but after 20,000 miles Tesla service reported that they were cupped and recommended installing “Tesla approved” tires. The all-encompassing proprietary nature of the vehicle is a little suffocating after a while. If they’re going to become a mass-market company this may have to change.

    • 0 avatar
      EchoChamberJDM

      Tesla won’t change. They have a semi illegal dealer network, sell cars for 6 figures and lose money in the process, take the taxpayers of Nevada for about a billion dollars of their hard earned tax money to build a plant, of course because they couldn’t pay for it out of Teslas own non-existent profits, and talk about sticking it to the “dealer man” as their execs get richer and richer. They don’t care what the average Joe needs to fix his Tesla.
      This company is (Fisker + Enron)^2.

    • 0 avatar

      While it’s not what the hardcore hackers want having access to basic diagnostic tools at a reasonable costs helps build goodwill with customers. Really the same software the dealer uses should be offered to the repair community for a fee. You can lock out portions, but really letting a customer reset a replaced module or run a test function on a component wouldn’t be that hard while still maintaining the integrity of the systems, and most people won’t bother.

  • avatar

    MARK STEVENSON…

    P90d LUDICROUS MODE VIDEO FOR TTAC

    youtu.be/l-C8N2XLS_Q

  • avatar
    shaker

    If you don’t like Tesla’s repair methodology, then just buy a Rolls ;-)

    I’m sure they’ll give you a repair manual that will let you wrench on it between orthodontic patients…

  • avatar

    Despite purchasing the 13,000 GBP (20,000 USD) extended warranty, Tesla recently wanted to charge me 884 GBP (1,365 USD) to transport the car 244 miles following the latest breakdown. Given the car breaks down every six months on average, we have taken the decision to mothball the car because we simply cannot sustain these costs even with the Tesla ‘warranty’.

    If you want some idea why Tesla don’t want us to maintain our cars, think about the $29,000 they are charging for a replacement Roadster battery;

    http://shop.teslamotors.com/collections/roadster/products/roadster-3-0-upgrade

    Also read what the Chief Science Officer for Plug In America said recently;

    http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/40042-Roadster-3-0/page95?p=1148609&viewfull=1#post1148609

  • avatar

    The Model S is heavily computerized – if not 100% computer.

    With a software download the car can literally drive itself.

    Without you in it.

    I have a P90D LUDICROUS for the weekend and I’m churning out video clips for the internetz. Pre-ordering a Model X P90D to replace two of our cars that will go off lease.

    A COMPUTER HACKER could make this car do some serious sh*t.

    They don’t want you fiddling around with it because they’re afraid of what you can exploit.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    And I want no part of Tesla. Or Apple for that matter. Two of the most overrated companies on the planet!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Apple generally makes good products. But so do Samsung, LG and other competitors. They all work as advertised. We’ve had both for many years. It costs a lot of money to jump on the tech bandwagon.

      For the buyer the dilemma is keeping up with all the improvements as manufacturers outdo each other with each new release. It’s nice to have the latest and the greatest, but it costs money. Tough, if you don’t have it to waste.

      If I were pressed to buy what I consider to be the best today, I would go iPhone and MS W10 Tablet/Surface Pro.

      Next year the lead will no doubt revert back to Samsung, Google and Android. At least until the next Apple and MS releases.

      Ditto with Tesla. You gotta have lots of bucks to waste and have to be a real fanatic to buy into the Tesla hype. Not too many people can afford any Tesla.

  • avatar

    Very well researched and written article.

    Even the commentary was interesting, informative and non-trollish.

    Sometimes TTAC lives up to expectations :-)

  • avatar
    davegoldman

    This is a deal breaker for me. No hesitation.

    I love the original roadster and was waiting for the next generation.
    If they stay this course, that will be one less customer.

    One isn’t a big deal but I am sure I’m not alone.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Unlike the Model S, the upcoming Tesla Model X SUV will not live up to expectations nor be competitive with ICE SUV’s that will also cost about $80K. Maybe that’s why Elon said it’s a little “crazy” to build this SUV.

    Why? Because battery-powered electric motors cannot sustain a high KW-output against a severe load for very long: the battery can’t handle this mode without overheating and draining rapidly. It’s no wonder that Tesla likes 0-60 acceleration for its sedan; its performance was “DNF” (overheating) around VIR when tested against comparable ICE cars (don’t remember the number of laps).

    The test would be this: take a top quality ICE vehicle like the GMC Yukon Denali and load it with two passengers and 1,000 lbs of gear PLUS tow a 6000-lb boat with trailer. Do the same with the Model X. (That’s Class-3 towing specs, alleged to be available for the Model X, but a Tesla engineer said it will do over 9,000 lbs.)

    Now use the new standard test (J2807) for other vehicles with these loads and tow-weights, and run them up Davis Dam Hill-climb**, a 12-mile length averaging a 5% grade. The rules are no overheating, no limp-home mode, and no speeds under 40 mph once that is achieved. Measure average speed and time to complete the run. Then do it with both again. And again: three times. Conditions: air-conditioner on full; no refueling; no recharging; no time lapse between runs.

    Let’s see what happens…

    —————
    ** Here are some links that deal with new pickups doing this test, which is not exclusive to pickups:
    1) http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2015/01/2015-annual-physical-davis-dam-towing.html
    2) http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2011/08/2011-heavy-duty-hurt-locker-davis-dam-grade-climb.html
    —————

    ========================

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    According to today’s “Autonews Now”, Consumer Reports no longer recommends the Model S:

    http://www.autonews.com/article/20151021/VIDEO/310219962/autonews-now-ferrari-zips-onto-wall-street?cciid=email-autonews-annow

    =============

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