Regulators looking at claims that Tesla asked customer to sign NDA over faulty Model S suspension

By midian182 · 12 replies
Jun 10, 2016
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  1. Things seem to have been going well for Tesla recently. When the company revealed its Model 3 a few month ago, there were nearly 300,000 reservations for the compact sedan in just three days; and yesterday brought news that Tesla Model S batteries weren’t losing much capacity with age.

    But now, Tesla is facing some bad news in the form of allegations that it urged customers to sign confidentiality agreements over mechanical issues with the Model S.

    Bryan Thomas, a representative from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), told Reuters that the agency is "examining the potential suspension issue on the Tesla Model S, and is seeking additional information from vehicle owners and the company."

    The NHTSA said it learned that Tesla had entered into a “troublesome nondisclosure agreement” with a Model S owner who had mechanical problems with his vehicle.

    Right now, the NHTSA isn’t investigating Tesla; it’s just in “data collection mode.” Elon Musk’s company confirmed this in a blog post. "[The] NHTSA has not opened any investigation nor has it even started a 'preliminary evaluation,' which is the lowest form of formal investigatory work that it does."

    But NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said: "Part of what we have to figure out is whether or not (non-disclosure agreements) might have impeded people making (complaints).” He added that it was unclear how many other Tesla customers, if any, had signed similar agreements.

    Automotive site Daily Kanban reported the story of the driver who took his 2013 Model S, which had 73,000 miles on it, in for a service after the left front hub assembly separated from the upper control arm. Technicians said it showed an unusually high amount of wear caused by a loose, rusty ball joint.

    The Model S was out of warranty, but, as the broken suspension was caused by a defective part, it was sent to Tesla management to find out if they would replace it for free.

    It was agreed that the company would pay 50 percent of the $3100 repair bill as long as the customer signed a “Goodwill agreement” that ensured he wouldn’t discuss terms of the deal. It also stated that Tesla wouldn’t be responsible for "any and all claims or damages arising out of or in any way connected with any claims or incidents leading or related to our provision of Goodwill [paying half of the repair cost]."

    Tesla says that the Daily Kanban "fabricated this issue, then caused negative and incorrect news to be written about Tesla by reputable institutions.” It added that it regularly meets with the NHTSA on a voluntary basis to discuss safety matters.

    But the transport agency doesn’t seem convinced that Tesla has done nothing wrong. "The agency immediately informed Tesla that any language implying that consumers should not contact the agency regarding safety concerns is unacceptable, and NHTSA expects Tesla to eliminate any such language."

    Tesla said that the idea that it would ask a customer to sign a document preventing them from talking to the NHTSA or any other government agency was "preposterous."

    "This agreement never even comes close to mentioning NHTSA or the government and it has nothing to do with trying to stop someone from communicating with NHTSA or the government about our cars. We have absolutely no desire to do something like that," the company said.

    As noted by Forbes, a Model X owner recently reported to the Better Business Bureau that Tesla canceled her registration and repossessed her new SUV when she pointed out the multiple defects in the vehicle, and then refused to refund her money unless she signed an NDA. Breaking the agreement would have landed her with a $150,000 penalty violation fine.

    Permalink to story.

  2. These are all lies spread by the petrol company's.
  3. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    No this isn't even news of any sort. See this part...

    They signed an NDA because they didn't want this dude taking to the internet and talking about how Tesla gave him money to fix his out-of-warranty car. Tesla would be flooded with all sorts of requests to pay for repairs on their older cars. Sounds like Tesla did something cool by sending this guy some $$ and it's getting twisted around. It's a freaking ball-joint - it's probably not even made by them.

    Only a govt agency could call this 'Troublesome'. Sounds like the funding review is coming up at the NHTSA and they need to prove they're 'protecting' us - or whatever it is they're supposed to do.
    Reehahs, Auth3ntic0 and Darth Shiv like this.
  4. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,025   +665

    Looks like heavy rust - lack of lubrication - maybe from 'surf' driving.
    Reehahs likes this.
  5. Jibberish18

    Jibberish18 TS Evangelist Posts: 646   +89

    It was a defective part.
  6. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    That ball joint showed no evidence of any grease whatsoever. Even failed ball joints will show evidence of leaking grease around the area of the ball joint and inside the rubber dust boot. Manufacturers typically do not include greaseable ball joints in their new cars but they do grease them initially. They should peel back the dust boot of the other ball joint and see if there is any grease there. Grease doesn't just evaporate. This appears to be a manufacturer defect.

    I know this is supposedly out of warranty but I'm not taking issue with that. If I was a Tesla owner, I would take a look a my ball joints just in case.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  7. Broken ball joint - the wheel to comes off....hope you are not driving on the highway when that happens. Defective part admitted, Tesla not only did not do 'something cool' by paying half, they should have paid it all, felt lucky they weren't sued and hope there isn't a massive recall.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,355   +2,003

    Simple Fact: Those that have the most to loose will invest the greatest effort to cover it up. Tesla, like other car companies, has their problems. They will get much further ahead with the buying public and the regulators by coming clean. Production problems are simply problems that must be worked out. Their efforts now look a lot like Ross Perot's when he demanded that any new employee sign a resignation letter that Perot could use at a moments notice not only to get rid of employee's, but to hide behind the fact that he fired them.

    The best way for the public to react is to withdraw their advances and if he refuses to pay, form a class action lawsuit and wring him dry. Hopefully he will get the message, clean up his act, and get away from the TV camera's and back into the factories and make it right. We've had far too many tin-horned media darlings. We need true, dyed in the wool Industrialists that know how to earn their credits, not just steal them.
  9. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,340   +1,435

    I get that many people on here aren't car guys, but balljoints are mainly considered a long-term wear item. It also wouldn't surprise me if one of the tens of thousands of model S ball joints manufactured were faulty. If this was a wide spread problem then we would have heard about this year's ago. If this was a car from a dealership the the customer would have to foot the bill himself and everyone would agree that, "that's the way things should be."
  10. Jibberish18

    Jibberish18 TS Evangelist Posts: 646   +89

    Yeah I wanted to add (I didn't have time the first post) that no matter what he was out of warranty and whether that Balljoint was defective or not makes no difference to Tesla. And like you said, if it was a wide spread problem then we would have heard about it unless EVERYONE that bought a Tesla signed a "No Talky Agreement". No would I expect Tesla to fix it out of good faith? Meh. 73K miles isn't a ton of miles on a balljoint but it all depends on many factors including condition of the balljoint from the factory, types of places the balljoint was driven and so on.

    Anyways, getting back to the subject if they really did tell him to sign an agreement then that's very wrong and stupid.
  11. Jibberish18

    Jibberish18 TS Evangelist Posts: 646   +89

    Oh and theres more to this story. Just remember this, Elon Musk seems like a little kid when he doesn't get what he wants. Heaven forbid you criticize him or his companies in any ways. I seriously just imagine him jumping up and down while hitting the sides of pelvis like a kid crying to his mom would.
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,733   +3,705

    No mention of lacking grease? That is not a technician I want to get advice from.
  13. JaymondoGB

    JaymondoGB TS Enthusiast Posts: 37   +12

    Shame, seems that Tesla is behaving like Apple, NDAs and bullshit like that, how very American. Just fix the thing in public, like everyone else has too, I thought this was supposed to be a "quality product".

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