Musk Says the Tesla Model S Suspension Controversy is Over

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Elon Musk is declaring the controversy that erupted over reports of Tesla Model S suspension failures to be over, done, finished, finito.

The Tesla founder and CEO fired off a string of tweets late Friday, saying that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration was done looking into the matter, and added that the majority of complaints were found to be fraudulent.

Yesterday, TTAC examined the details of the case that sparked accusations of a serious Model S safety issue and a cover-up on the part of the automaker. The firestorm of controversy, ignited by a Daily Kanban blog post by ex-TTAC editor Edward Neidermeyer, centered on a Pennsylvania man whose 2013 Model S experienced an unusual upper ball joint failure.

A non-disclosure clause in the “goodwill agreement” handed to the owner during the vehicle’s repair process raised even more questions. The NHTSA, which had been contacted by Tesla owners and other individuals, examined the language in the document and announced it was looking into the suspension issue.

While this was going on, Tesla fired back at critics with a lengthy and unusually harsh blog post of its own, denying there was a safety issue and singling out Neidermeyer for his post.

It now looks like Musk wants the final say on the matter. Taking to Twitter last night, he announced, “NHTSA confirmed today that they found no safety concern with the Model S suspension and have no further need for data from us on this matter.”

He then added, “Of greater concern: 37 of 40 suspension complaints to NHTSA were fraudulent, i.e. false location or vehicle identification numbers were used.” Musk then questioned the intentions of those who made false complaints.

Looking into the issue, TTAC’s Mark Stevenson and Bozi Tatarevic found that the non-disclosure agreement, while unusual, was likely unenforceable. The automaker would have a potentially ruinous PR disaster on its hands if it tried to silence consumer complaints.

The suspension failure that led to the controversy looked to be the result of a damaged rubber ball joint boot that allowed water and road salt to enter the ball joint, ultimately leading to its premature failure. The damaged boot remains a mystery — it could have been compromised when it left the factory or damaged when the owner drove his Model S down rutted Pennsylvania roads.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • TrailerTrash TrailerTrash on Jun 11, 2016

    OK...Musk, ol buddy...so what was the disclosure in the repair for? It sounds like it implied a legal battle if reported. Enforceable or not...it seems mean spirited. What is the intent of the warning or disclosure?

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jun 11, 2016

      My reading of the NDC is, "We fix, you no sue." No more. No less.

  • Sirwired Sirwired on Jun 13, 2016

    Very nice of Elon to tell us all that the controversy is over. Because those NDA's his company was asking people to sign still have not, apparently, changed, and it sure looks like it purports to prohibit customers from talking to the press to me. The fact that it does not, in fact, actually work, doesn't really mean that Tesla doesn't wish it would.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sirwired Sirwired on Jun 13, 2016

      @Vulpine It ALSO says: "If We Pay For Your Repair, Thou Shalt Not Discuss The Claim With Anybody". (It does not exempt the NHTSA from the definition of "anybody", despite Elon's hand-waving.)

  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
  • ToolGuy Also on to-do list: Read the latest Steve S. fiction work on TTAC (May 20 Junkyard Find)
  • 1995 SC I'm likely in the minority, but I really liked the last Eldorado best. That and the STS.
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