Tesla Owners' Class-Action Suit Gets Green Light from a California Judge

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Electric vehicles don’t require the same routine maintenance that gas models do, but they’re not completely repair-free. Tesla has made getting repairs a real headache for some owners, as the automaker hasn’t allowed them to get work done at third-party shops. That policy has led owners to seek class-action status against the company, and a California judge recently gave the group the green light to move forward with a suit.

Tesla generated $8.3 billion in service revenues last year, a significant chunk of its almost $97 billion in overall revenue, due to its requirements that owners service vehicles at one of its shops. The owners were under threat of having their warranties canceled if they chose to pursue third-party repairs.

The judge heard arguments that Tesla vehicles contain proprietary components and software that only it can service, but they also learned that the automaker failed to open enough locations to handle the repair demand. Tesla also prohibits parts from reaching independent shops, making it impossible to repair one even if the ban on external service was lifted.

While most owners would head to a third-party shop, those issues mean that even out-of-warranty Teslas can’t be serviced independently. The judge initially rebuffed the group’s class-action efforts late last year, but newer developments in the case have convinced them to allow the case to move forward.

Right-to-repair is a hot-button issue across several industries, with companies of all types pushing back hard against efforts to allow owners to either DIY a repair or have a product serviced by a third party. If you own a vehicle, you should be able to fix it yourself or have the repairs performed by the shop of your choice, so this lawsuit moving forward is a positive step toward fixing the situation for Tesla owners.

[Images: Tesla]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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4 of 52 comments
  • 285exp 285exp on Jun 20, 2024

    I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.

  • Kat Laneaux Kat Laneaux on Jun 21, 2024

    I get the point that Musk is making. I wouldn't want everyone to know my secrets. If they did, they could or would shout it out to the world. But then, if Musk certified certain folks and had them sign Confidentiality agreements, which would allow them to work on cars that Musk had made, that could allow others to work on his cars and not confine vehicle owners to be charged an arm and a leg for the service. It's a catch 22. People are greedy little buggers. If they can find a way to make money, they will even if it wrong. People...sad.

    • See 1 previous
    • MaintenanceCosts MaintenanceCosts on Jun 21, 2024

      There are no secrets that could be kept by restricting parts availability. Anyone who wants to know how a Tesla or its parts are built has long since bought a whole car and torn it down.

  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.
  • V8fairy Absolutely no, for the same reasons I would not have bought a German car in the late 1930's, and I am glad to see a number of other posters here share my moral scruples. Like EBFlex I try to avoid Chinese made goods as much as possible. The quality may also be iffy, but that is not my primary concern