By on June 24, 2017

2016 Tesla Model S, Image: Tesla

One Tesla owner got a big shock yesterday as his accelerator pedal snapped off while driving.

The story comes from user benjiejr on the Tesla Motor Club forum. He was showing off his Model S P85D to a friend and his nephew. After going through the car’s features it was time to show off the massive acceleration of the P85D’s twin electric motors and 503 horsepower.

“I turned around and was going to do another launch, but this time without Launch Mode – just stomp on the pedal – like I do most often. When I punched it, the accelerator pedal broke off.”


Having a pedal fail, whether it’s the accelerator or brake, is a huge shock and can deliver quite a scare behind the wheel. Fortunately, in a Tesla, when you release the accelerator (or in this case, when it snaps off) the car thinks you’re just coasting and goes into regenerative braking. On a quiet back road, like the one this driver was on, that means a safe roll to the shoulder. On a major highway, sudden braking could be much more dangerous.

Tesla Model S Pedal Break, Image: benjiejr, teslamotorsclub.com

A look at what’s left of the pedal assembly shows that it’s a hollow square arm. The arm looks to be plastic, which was confirmed by the owner of the car. The pedal appears to have snapped off where it hits the pedal stop under the dash. Normally pedal arms are made from steel or some other metal, but plastic pieces have become more common in recent years.

Fortunately for this Tesla owner, everything ended safely and the car was repaired the next day. But this was a serious event, and the owner reported it to the National Highway Transport Safety Administration. It reviews all complaints of vehicle safety and, if situations warrant it, has the authority to open investigations.

This is not the first time a Tesla pedal has been reported broken, though it is unclear whether it occurs when people really stomp on it while showing off, or during normal operation.

[Images: Tesla, Tesla Motors Club]

A version of this story first appeared on HybridCars.com

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62 Comments on “Tesla Model S Gas Pedal Snaps Off After Driver Tries Showing Off Launch Mode...”


  • avatar
    Carfan94

    Shouldn’t we be calling it the accelerator pedal and not the gas pedal?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Shouldn’t parts that can be highly stressed be made not to break?

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      When I read this I said to myself “Accelerator pedal arms should never be made out of plastic!”. Then I went out to look at my Lexus’s pedals and discovered that it’s accel pedal arm is made is made out of plastic, and the pedal and the arm are one piece. But the arm is very short on mine (Much shorter than the Teslas), and since the pedal is light and requires very little pressure to floor it seems unlikely to snap off.

      Most importantly the pedal stop on my Lexus is located underneath the PEDAL, and not the pedal arm. The brake pedal arm in mine however is made out of steel.

      • 0 avatar
        tombalas

        I understand the driver likes to “stomp”on it, but still, the pedal shouldn’t break. Just a reminder that Tesla is still learning how to build cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Back in the day, when the pedal was actually connected to a series of pulleys and cables that actually did something, then it would make sense to make them out of the sturdiest thing possible. On the Tesla, it just feeds an ADC and the computer figures out what you really meant to do, so plastic will probably suffice.

      The accelerator pedal snapped off my first car (a Chevette) about 2 months after I got my license and the car just coasted to a stop without me going into an internet uproar (not that there was such an internet back then). But then that car was so unreliable, expecting failure at any second was the standard mode of operation. Start-stop vehicles still give me the creeps as I get flashbacks to the Chevette often cutting out at stop lights and mentally going through the checklist trying to quickly get the engine started again.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      A modern accelerator pedal is basically just an electronic dial that is operated with your foot. If you step on it as hard as you can, there shouldn’t be any stress involved beyond the compressive force on the pedal itself. The arm is doing nothing but locating the pedal.

      Even my ’04 Mazda3 has a plastic assembly.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        Heck, Volvo 850s had reinforced plastic pedals. I know because I broke the bracket that held the accelerator pedal in place in the ’94 I used to own (by pulling it up with the toe of my boot after the throttle stuck). But the pedal itself? Cross-braced for reinforcement, and apparently an example for the industry.

        • 0 avatar
          TonyJZX

          I think people here also dont see that in the even of a big time frontal collision where there is some footwell intrusion, you very well might want the pedals to have some give so they they break away when your feet contact them…

          Your feet break the plastic pedals… the metal pedals dont break your feet.

          I mean I guess its fun to ridicule Tesla but they’ve done the crash testing, I havent, no-one has here.

          I trust them in a big collision.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    now that’s putting “the pedal to the medal” or “the plastic to the mastic”

  • avatar
    derekson

    That pedal looks more appropriate to a Power Wheels than a $100k luxury car.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Anyone who finds this kind of event “scary” probably has a lot of first world problems and a much different understanding of the word “scary” than I do.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      True, but if it can happen to the go pedal I have to imagine it’s also possible it could happen to the woa pedal.
      And that could be scary.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparmann

      @JimC2: +1 I think “scary” is one of the most over used words today! The US would have never came to be if the Pilgrimns had found the sea crossing, or the dark woods, “Scary”! :-)

      • 0 avatar
        BufferOverflow

        @MoparMann: +1

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear” -Mark Twain

        I have no doubt that the Pilgrims found the voyage and the prospect of starting a new life in the wilderness “scary”. If they didn’t they were obviously not thinking it through. We honor them today because they made the trip anyway.

        And I also find the prospect of my accelerator pedal snapping off, uh, scary.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      This event is scary because it suggests that it could happen again in a high-stakes situation. The pedal snapping off while you are trying to merge onto an expressway with 75MPH traffic could result in your death. Not that it’s a certainty, but it’s a possibility.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Juice pedal, man. Best suited to the non-juicy.

  • avatar
    mason

    Oh snap!

  • avatar
    dmoan

    IMO I think Tesla is in pit bottom when it comes to new car quality so not surprising to see it doesn’t participate in any of these quality rankings. Won’t be surprised if they give Fiat a run for its money.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    That’s what happens to show offs.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I could blame the owner, but I’d expect a luxury car to have decent pedals. Heck even arcade game pedals hold up better.

  • avatar

    A hollow tube is generally a stiff structure. It appears to have broken right where it starts to curve, which is also where the stop is. Perhaps they inadvertantly created a stress riser at the curve.

    The average person has no idea how hard it is to make stuff.

  • avatar
    cramerica

    Most cars use plastic rather than metal these days. 25% glass reinforced nylon or similar material.

    Time for root cause analysis pronto…

    Moulding flaw?…bad assembly/handling?…someone forgot to install the pedal stops?

    Plastic is cheap and FEA for something like this is easy, it should have been extensively tested before even cutting steel for the mold.

    Hopefully for Tesla it’s bad nylon and not a DFMEA oversight or other design shortcoming.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It’s Tesla, it is as designed. This special breakaway accelerator pedal is designed to fail intentional if too much power is going to be applied, so as not to slow down the rotation of the earth. Now if they had been heading west, this failure wouldn’t have happened.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    My 1974 Oldsmobile Toronado accelerator pedal and Sammy Hagar have one thing in common:
    HEAVY METAL!

  • avatar
    Mikey-poo

    Dude really? All the comments about a metal accel pedal? Every car I have owned, granted 50% were toyotas and hondas, have had plastic accel pedals. My GTI has metal looking pedals but underneath they are plastic, sans the arm for the brakes on every one, which makes sense. Even my 76 benz diesel had a plastic pedal. In total, I have had about 15 cars between my spouse and I and never have I seen a metal arm on the acce pedal. But seriously, how hard is this guy punching it to break it? And he really has to cry on a forum and call the recall cops??? End my cry on a forum, lol.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I can’t wait to see the cost cutting measures on model three!!

  • avatar
    MudFlap

    “I turned around and was going to do another launch, but this time without Launch Mode – just stomp on the pedal – like I do most often. When I punched it, the accelerator pedal broke off.”

    Yeah, he stomped it alright! Maybe next time he’ll just mash it.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I remember when I first bought a particular late ’90s car.

    I could feel the accelerator flex a little side to side. Naturally I thought this meant the accelerator was loose or worn. It was a used car after all.

    A quick look revealed a plastic accelerator. Never stomped on that gas pedal. Always gently giving it a shove – fast or slow – never trying to bury it in the carpet.

    The clutch pedal is plastic too. The brake pedal is steel.

    Never a problem with either in 200K miles.

  • avatar
    jammyjo

    Lots if not all accelerator pedals are of high quality reinforced plastic. With throttle by wire systems today there’s not much mechanical going on, other than to provide resistance to the driver’s foot. Maybe the hollow constructions and driver stepping on it at an angle broke it? The ones I’ve seen are solid with reinforcing ribs molded in.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “‘…just stomp on the pedal – like I do most often\'”

    “The pedal appears to have snapped off where it hits the pedal stop under the dash”

    Sounds like oafish behavior exposing a fringe design weakness. It’s tempting to say the owner richly deserved the embarrassment this caused, but then Tesla did design and publicize Ludicrous Mode, so now both owner and brand are taken down a peg. Win-win!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Amazing build quality. Truly a marvel of modern engineering. No one but Elon Musk and his genius could create an accelerator pedal with that kind of design. The energy savings obtained by having a break away accelerator pedal when a driver goes to use too much power – why hasn’t any other automaker thought about. Genius, pure genius, that’s why I own 7 Teslas, one for each day of the week – and you should too.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Accelerator pedal snaps off, but it’s a Tesla and all will be forgiven because this car is DISRUPTING the automobile industry and they’re trying really hard (even though they’ve been making cars for nearly 15 years) and we should forgive them because this is the greatest car ever made!!!!

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I have a great proposal: let’s have an experiment where TTAC’s B&B all stomp on their gas ped, er, accelerator pedals every day for two weeks. Let’s see how many hold up.

    (And don’t blame me if you scare yourself.)

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Jim, fella– I drive a 1400cc 3800lb car in Lauderdale/Miami daily. Its all a scare, and it’s all wide-open. I even goose it a little after the turbos wind out, on account that’s where the meat is.

      It’s fun.

      Dart’s accelerator pedal is going to be the most reliable part on the entire car.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I do this pretty regularly I am somewhat ashamed to admit in probably every car I have owned and probably close to daily. Product of too long a commute in heavy traffic. I will take any opportunity to pass a left lane hog which often means stomping on it to take advantage of small gaps in traffic. I may also have anger management issues but accelerator pedal always remains in one piece.

      I have sometimes thought why am I pushing the pedal so hard, fully depressed is fully depressed. I suppose it is instinct when you are trying to harness speed quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I think every teenage male with access to a car has been performing this experiment multiple times per day for the last 90 years.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I was until I had to replace the accelerator cable a few times and I wore the butterfly shaft in my carb. Then I learned a lighter tough in lieu of replacing parts. I’d still floor it b/c it was a tiny engine and needed the extra booting to get up hills – but not so much strain on the control systems.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    It would be much more concerning were it the brake pedal. Still, this guy is either incredibly strong or it is a poor design. Like another poster said, were the pedal stop placed elsewhere, this wouldn’t happen. Though the brake pedal seems much more likely to cause an accident should it snap off, I am quite sure all of us have been in situations where having the accelerator snap off at an inopportune time would also cause a serious accident.

    How many times have you gunned it from a parking lot exit to get out in front of traffic, to quickly get across oncoming traffic to the lanes in the opposite direction. I probably do this close to daily. Well now imagine I am doing it and the pedal snaps after a 10 foot roll out. So maybe not crucify Tesla, but still seemingly a design defect.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      With throttle mapping as it is(70% of acceleration available at 30% pedal application) I’m not sure anyone needs to fully apply the accelerator to apply full mechanical force to the road–

      But you’re right. I will floor my car knowing full-well the turbos take 3 seconds to spool and hold it there for some deeply-buried psychological reason.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Has any manufacturer every made a plastic brake pedal? Plastic clutch and accelerators yes, but brake? No. I suspect it is a gov’t thing and a good engineering thing. Sort of like not having a plastic steering column shaft.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’m pretty sure that’s a safety feature.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Better that it was the accelerator and not the brake. Much better a car that can’t move than a car that can’t stop, though a broken brake pedal wouldn’t keep it from stopping.

    People gotta learn that they just can’t horse around modern cars the way they used to do the old ones. Today’s cars are designed to sacrifice themselves to protect their passengers. By whatever means necessary.

    And this one obviously broke because someone was showing off.

  • avatar

    There are other examples in the language of when terms that are meaningfully obsolete continue to be used. Language doesn’t necessarily shift when technology does. Here are some examples

    https://www.quora.com/What-common-phrases-are-derived-from-obsolete-technologies


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