Edmunds Tesla Model S (via Edmunds)

Edmunds Tesla Model S (via Edmunds)

It seems like Edmunds' Tesla Model S test vehicle has lived a pretty cursed existence, as many an issue has popped up over its 30,000-odd mile life...the most notable of which is now operating on its 4th drive unit.

Now to be fair, a long term test in the hands of auto journalists is a true test of the limits for durability of any car. Still, when your Model S is immediately identified by a tech as needing a drivetrain unit replacement from just the sound of the car (and the service guys also have a catch phrase for the problem), you know this issue reaches to more than just one car.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain

Tesla Model S Drivetrain

During the last 500 miles of a cross-country trip, Edmunds' Model S started making a strange noise, and as the car will shortly be put up for sale, the magazine wanted everything to be in tip-top shape.

Enter the Tesla technician who diagnosed the problem in just a block and half of driving...by ear.

"This noise is known internally as the 'milling sound,'" the technician told Edmunds.

When asked what the cure is for the 'milling sound', the tech replied probably a new drive unit.  A recording of the sound was then send back to Tesla engineers, who confirmed their Model S would need a 4th drive unit.

"The technician sent a recording of the milling sound to our engineers and they gave us the OK to replace the drive unit."

It should be noted at this point, that Edmunds still really seems to love and endorse the Tesla Model S.  They offer that owners will happily accommodate most repairs needed to the car, as early adopters of exciting new technologies are fairly understanding; and that Tesla does a fine job in servicing their product.

"Driving around the past few days with this car has reminded me of how good it is. People often ask me what I think of it, and I tell them this is an awesome car, with a huge caveat: Be prepared for things to go wrong.  The Model S is a highly advanced car from a company that is just learning the ups and downs of manufacturing vehicles on a large scale."

Edmunds Suggestion To Model S Owners? Buy The Extended Warranty

Edmunds Suggestion To Model S Owners? Buy The Extended Warranty

Their suggestion to the general public?  If you can afford it, the Tesla Model S is a great car choice...but pop down the extra money for the extra warranty.

"...so if you're set on buying one, or already have one and plan on keeping it for a while, I would HIGHLY recommend that  you buy the extended service plan for $4,000. "

Edmunds notes that while the battery has a 8 year, 125,000 mile warranty, the rest of the car (ie-the drive unit) has just the new-car limited warranty of 4 years/50,000 miles.

The only other obvious question left to be answered is, "How much will a Tesla Model S on its 4th drive unit go for on the open market?"  Check out Edmunds complete report and long-term wrap up of their 2013 Tesla Model S here.

Edmunds