Learn About The Dr. Frankenstein Of Tesla Vehicles

Tesla Model S

AUG 9 2018 BY EVANNEX 14


In a weedy junkyard, amid the rusting hulks of once-shiny automobiles, the “Doctor Frankenstein of Teslas” connects a pair of jumper cables from a trashed Tesla Model S to a deep-cycle battery. “We may hear some clicks,” he says. “We may hear some buzzing. The car may explode. I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Rich Benoit (Image: Rich Rebuilds)

This is a scene from a new Motherboard documentary, in which Rich Benoit explains how he salvages Tesla parts and uses them to repair cars damaged in crashes, fires and floods. In this video, Benoit takes us deep under the hood for an intimate look at Tesla’s motors, battery pack and power electronics.

Benoit was first inspired to tinker with Teslas when he went shopping for one of his own. “I was looking for a Tesla, and I thought the prices were way too high,” Benoit told Motherboard. “They start at like $80,000, which is insane. I came across one on the internet, but they said it was in a flood. I thought ‘How hard can this be? You throw it in a bag of rice.’” He salvaged a second Tesla for parts, and cobbled the two vehicles together, documenting the project in a YouTube video.

Benoit has a complex relationship with Tesla. Naturally, he’s a proponent of the “right to repair,” which holds that manufacturers shouldn’t be allowed to prevent consumers from repairing devices that they’ve paid for. In the US, only Massachusetts has a right to repair law, which requires auto dealerships to sell parts to independent repair shops. Benoit says this has helped him “a bit,” but because Tesla doesn’t have actual dealerships, he generally has to scavenge his parts from scrapyards.

Above: The story of how Rich finds wrecked Teslas and brings them back to life (Youtube: Motherboard)

Benoit loves Tesla’s cars and understands why the company wants to retain control over the quality of its products, but he hopes Tesla will eventually loosen up and allow independent shops to make repairs. “If you drive around, you’ll see a place that fixes only Saabs, or they fix only Volvos,” he says. “Places like that are so important. You have to have these little mom and pop shops that know these cars well, that’ll fix it for a decent price, so that the manufacturer can’t monopolize the repair.”

Rich has become something of a hero in the Tesla repair community, running a Facebook group that helps people sell and trade parts. He’d like to open his own Tesla repair shop, but that isn’t in the cards just yet. “I know how that ended for another set of people who tried to do that,” he said. “They shut them down within months. And Tesla doesn’t give them the tools they need.”

A Tesla spokesperson told Motherboard that customers are free to repair their own cars and that, for a fee, the company will inspect salvaged vehicles to assess which repairs are needed.

Above: A look at a salvage Tesla Model S (Image: Motherboard)

Meanwhile, back in the junkyard, Rich connects up the battery, we hear a grinding sound, and he indulges in a couple of expletives as the door handles pop out. It’s alive!


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Motherboard

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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14 Comments on "Learn About The Dr. Frankenstein Of Tesla Vehicles"

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Intrestingly in a recent article regarding newer cars being scrapped. Tesla itself was named as the main purchaser of parts from scrapped teslas.

Link or it didn’t happen.

A rather strange Version of reality you have there, hope you keep the links to Your loved ones https://www.dn.no/nyheter/2018/07/30/0617/Motor/bilene-skrotes-tidligere behind a paywall but the bit at the end of the article (its about cars being scrapped early not tesla) “Tidligere var det mange privatpersoner som kjøpte bildeler av kjøretøyene før de ble vraket. – Nå er det bilverksteder som er våre store kunder, sier Grorud. – Og når får dere inn den første Teslaen? – Den er allerede kommet. Det var vel en 2014 eller en 2015-modell som vi fikk inn grunnet skade. De som er mest ivrige etter å kjøpe Tesla-deler er Tesla-fabrikken. De har blant annet manko på interiørdeler.” & a translation Previously, there were many individuals who bought car parts of the vehicles before they were wrecked. “Now there are car workshops that are our big customers,” says Grorud. -And when will you get in the first Tesla? -it’s already come. It was probably a 2014 or a 2015 model that we got into due to damage. Those most eager to buy Tesla parts are the Tesla factory. They have amongst other things a shortage in interior parts. By the way I have no problem in reuse… Read more »

Then you woke up hahaha

This guy’s the man! I can’t imagine the patience and attention to detail this guy possesses. We need folks like him.

No kidding! What dedication and perseverance. People have been salvaging, parting out an rebuilding damaged cars since there were cars, what’s different here is the crazy resistance from the manufacturer. It’s unprecedented I think. No manuals, no new parts, no guidance, so he has to go it on his own and figure it out.

I think at this point, he has gained enough knowledge about the inner workings and procedures of the Model S that he could start writing his own manuals for others to use. I can see a network of Tesla rebuilders spreading across the nation all sharing knowledge and used parts. Eventually branch out into Model X and 3. Pretty soon there will loads of Model 3 wrecks to buy.

Could be a whole new cottage industry.

He has a copy of the factory service manual. It is posted on a number of Tesla enthusiast websites. He also gets new parts from Tesla from time to time.

But yea, he mostly just figures it out piece by piece by just taking things apart and finding out what is inside. It is cool/scary at the same time.

There are a ton of complaints about the cost of brand new Tesla parts, but the reality in the automotive industry is that there is a high percentage of used or rebuilt parts that get installed, not new parts. Unfortunately that is a problem for Tesla because there aren’t enough used cars compared to all the new cars they are selling. Time will solve this.

Tesla’s will even make it to u-pull-it lots some day.

When we see Teslas in the pick-a-part yards, that’s when we know the days of the ICE powered cars is coming to an end.

In this age of computer-controlled cars, the “shade tree mechanic” has almost disappeared. It’s wonderful to see that they are not quite extinct!

On the other hand, I can understand why Tesla wants to keep tight control of parts and service, not only because their production is so limited that they can’t afford to supply parts to unauthorized shops and do-it-yourselfers, but also because I think that Tesla wants to discourage theft of their cars as much as possible. Allowing easy access to parts and service equipment would make it far too easy for “chop shops” to take a legally purchased part or two that has a VIN number on it, install those in a stolen Tesla car, and sell it on the used car market.

So I can see good arguments on both sides of the question.

I think it is more purely a control issue, that Tesla has enough problems without some unauthorized shops or do-it-yourselfer’s doing something that causes a wreck or a fire, and Tesla is the one stuck with the bad press.

Oddly enough, taking the company private will help Tesla loosen their collar a bit and stop fearing they are going to face a press firestorm over every little thing that goes wrong, even if it is caused by someone other than Tesla.

What Rich is doing, is very admirable on so many levels! Kudos to him and I will be subscribing to his channel.

check out his older stuff, he can be very funny…

“Lug nut covers. What do you need those for?” GREAT example of Tesla’s cooperation with Rich. I respect the guy a lot. He is an invaluable source of information on the Model S. Love his videos.

I liked the part where he mentions that the Model S got burned after a collision with another car… because the *other* car caught on fire 🙂 Don’t see that making national news…