Owners accuse the company of pretending “old information never existed.”
Tesla’s “New Vehicle Limited Warranty” terms reportedly change from time to time. You do not manage to find old versions easily, but we had to look for one due to the latest changes. They specifically address issues Tesla is facing with many consumers, such as the battery update that restricted range and supercharging speed, the Model 3 paint issues, and the MCUv1 eMMC memory failure. Instead of fixing them, the company seems to have preferred to put the burden on its client’s shoulders.
Gallery: Tesla Modifies Warranty Terms To Protect Against Known Issues
The main image in this article and the one above refer to changes that appear on the January 29, 2020 update of the terms. They graphically show the items that were included in the “Warranty Limitations” chapter, which says the warranty does not cover normal wear and deterioration on such and such conditions. The April 2017 text had 13 items. The most recent one has 15. This is the first extra:
“Normal wear or deterioration, including, but not limited to, seat, trim and upholstery discoloration, punctures, tears, depressions, wrinkling abrasions or other deformations, paint and glass stone chips, and similar item;”
We would bold the stone chips excerpt, but the fact is that we have seen complaints about seats as well. We have even told you about seat structures that rust on the Model 3, so the whole new text can refer to issues Tesla cars are currently presenting. Not only on the seats but also on the paint of the car. Buyers claim precisely that the chipping is not normal in such new cars. Tesla says it is "within specifications" but does not mentions which specifications are those.
Curiously, we have noticed an entirely new chapter compared to the April 2017 warranty terms. It was probably added when Tesla presented the Model 3 because the Model S and the Model X have aluminum bodies, not subject to rust. It is called “Body Rust Limited Warranty.”
Although it is not new and has not presented any changes compared to the February 1, 2019 warranty terms, it is an intriguing text. Have a look:
“Body Rust Limited Warranty
This Body Rust Limited Warranty covers rust perforation (hole through the body panel from the inside outwards) resulting from a defect in material or workmanship for a period of 12 years and unlimited miles, excluding the following:
- Vehicles treated against rust, i.e., procedures commonly referred to as rustproofing or undercoating;
- Corrosion from defects in non-Tesla manufactured or supplied materials or workmanship causing perforation in body panels or the chassis from the inside out;
- Surface or cosmetic corrosion causing perforation in body panels or the chassis from the outside in, such as stone chips or scratches;
- Corrosion caused by, due to, or resulting from accidents, abuse, neglect, improper maintenance or operation of the vehicle, installation of an accessory, exposure to chemical substances, or damages resulting from an act of God or nature, fire, or improper storage.
For more information on other paint, rust or corrosion concerns that are excluded from this New Vehicle Limited Warranty, see Additional Limitations and Exclusions on page 8.”
We have no idea when it was actually inserted there, but it denied Tesla’s warranty coverage of paint chipping on the Tesla Model 3 from the very beginning. Did the company already know the cars would present that so precociously?
Back to the addendums to the “Warranty Limitations” chapter, the second one is this:
“Any damage to your vehicle's hardware or software, or any loss or harm to any personal information/data uploaded to your vehicle resulting from any modifications or unauthorized access to vehicle data or software from any source, including, but not limited to, non-Testa parts or accessories, modifications, third party applications, viruses, bugs, malware, or any other form of interference or cyber attack;”
Besides exempting itself from responsibility for cyber-attacks, Tesla wants to restrict access to its software as much as possible. This is what has led Jason Hughes, Robert Cotran, and other hackers that manage to overcome the barriers to keep their methods protected so that Tesla cannot block them.
Gallery: Tesla Cars Have A Memory Problem That May Cost You Much To Repair
Having access to the system is what allowed them to discover that Tesla’s logging procedures lead to the failure of the eMMC flash memory on the MCUv1 and to fix that. That is why Tesla owners are practically begging for an upgrade to MCUv2. Elon Musk promised to offer it back in 2018 but has recently dismissed it.
That is not the first change to appear on the warranty terms. On page 5, one of the most significant modifications relates to a now limited warranty to the battery pack in what relates to mileage. Previously, it had just a span of eight years for all cars apart from the 60 kWh pack, which also had a 125,000 mi (200,000 km) limit.
The January 29, 2020 Warranty Terms put a mileage limit to the battery packs without changing their eight-year time limit.
For the Model S and Model X, it is 150,000 mi (240,000 km), while the Model 3 and the Model Y have different limits depending on the battery packs they have. Standard Range units have a 100,000 mi (160,000 km) limit, while Long Range vehicles will get a little more than that: 120,000 mi (192,000 km).
If the cover page of the old warranty terms was to be considered in this case, it said this: “This version of the warranty is applicable to your vehicle and supercedes (sic) any other versions published online or in print.”
That would make Tesla cars work like software or websites, with new “terms and conditions” you have to accept to keep using them. The good thing is that the “computer on wheels” cannot legally renew warranty terms that way, even if Tesla has apparently tried. The applicable ones are those established at the time the vehicle was bought.
If that was even conceivable, Tesla would have canceled the conditions of previous warranty terms with the new one, which is more restrictive. Instead of that text on the cover of older warranty terms, Tesla now says this:
“Any Model S or Model X purchased prior to the effective date specified on the cover page of this New Vehicle Limited Warranty is subject to the applicable Battery and Drive Unit Warranty effective as of the date of purchase.”
Good luck trying to find yours online. You may have to ask for the help of other owners, such as MSVroomVroom did at the Tesla Motors Club forums. As we mentioned before, this is allegedly a common Tesla practice, according to user whitex.
Apart from the new mileage limits for batteries, Tesla also ensures that they will retain 70 percent of battery capacity during the warranty period. The company included a new text to explain what battery capacity is:
“For warranty claims specific to Battery capacity, the replacement Battery will be in a condition appropriate to the age and mileage of the vehicle sufficient to achieve or exceed the minimum Battery capacity for the remainder of the warranty period of the original Battery. Note that the vehicle's range estimates are an imperfect measure of Battery capacity because they are affected by additional factors separate from Battery capacity. The measurement method used to determine Battery capacity, and the decision of whether to repair, replace or provide reconditioned or re-manufactured parts, and the condition of any such replaced, reconditioned or re-manufactured parts are at the sole discretion of Tesla.”
Tesla does not establish what battery capacity is. It just says that it is not range and that it will decide how to measure it. In light of the recent lawsuits against the loss of range and supercharging speed after the OTA software updates 2019.16.1 or 2019.16.2, that is really convenient for the company. It is even more explicit about that a little further ahead with this new text to the warranty terms:
“Your vehicle updates its software wirelessly constantly, providing new features and improvements for your vehicle, including updates to protect and improve Battery longevity. Any noticeable changes to the performance of the Battery due to these software updates are NOT covered under this Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranty.”
In other words, updates can restrict your battery “performance,” but you’ll have to put up with that, as well as with “reconditioned or remanufactured” parts should Tesla decide to fix your car with them.
Don’t even think of not accepting the update: that will void your warranty, as the company also decided to highlight with a new text under the “Voided Warranty” chapter. The bold part is the new one:
“You may void this New Vehicle Limited Warranty if you do not follow the specific instructions and recommendations regarding the use and operation of the vehicle provided in your owner documentation, including, but not limited to:
Installing the vehicle's software updates after notification that there is an update available;”
On the same page – forgive us for the repeated image; it's due to that – under the chapter “Additional Limitations and Exclusions,” there were originally six topics. The new version has nine. The three new ones can be seen below:
“Parts, accessories and charging equipment that were not included in the purchase of the vehicle, these items have their own warranties and are subject to their own terms and conditions, which will be provided to you as applicable;
Any additional Tesla parts or labor required to repair or service a vehicle, whether under warranty or otherwise, due to any of the exclusions specified in this New Vehicle Limited Warranty, including but not limited to, hardware or software modifications or non-genuine Tesla parts or accessories;
Tires, which have their own warranties and are subject to their own terms and conditions, which will be provided to you as applicable,
We spoke about three new items instead of four, right? That is because this new excerpt replaces another one in the original warranty terms:
“Certain individual items associated with the vehicle, including, but not limited to: the tires, Mobile Connector, Wall Connector, any future connectors, and any related charging adapters, which have separate warranties subject to their own terms and conditions.”
As you can see, the new text expanded this one to be more specific towards the “individual items” not covered by the warranty. What called our attention here was the excerpt in bold, which refers to “any additional Tesla parts or labor required to repair or service a vehicle, whether under warranty or otherwise.”
Gallery: Tesla Free All-Weather Kit May Keep Dirt Close To The Car Body
It can be a reference to the new mudflaps Tesla would be offering for free in cold-climate countries. We have already told you they pose a risk to the cars due to accumulating dirt and water. It could also be related to the MCUv1 units that are failing before the warranty ends.
One of our readers, identified solely as Rick, faced this problem. Check what he had to say about it.
“I have a 2015 Model S, and my MCU failed a few weeks ago due to an eMMC failure. The car could not be driven, and the way Tesla handled the situation was deplorable – it was basically held ransom. I posted about my experience on Tesla Motors Club forums. My handle there is rickrickrick. The MCU they just put in my car has a four-year warranty with no mileage limit. They said my original MCU was not in warranty because I have over 50,000 miles though I've owned the car for less than four years. They wouldn't pull logs for me – ironic – to research the issues I've had with the MCU while I was still in warranty. I didn't realize the end game with what I experienced back then.”
These were the most significant changes we were able to spot. There may be more, and you are more than welcome to point them out to us if you can.
We would ask Tesla why the changes are so intertwined with issues we have been covering in our articles, but the company does not talk to the press. If it has anything to say, we will be more than pleased to publish its explanation for the changes here.
Regardless of what and if it will say anything, we recommend you check these terms before buying your Tesla. Read them carefully, save them, and recheck them right after getting your vehicle. The EV manufacturer may change it inadvertently before the delivery, and you’ll end up with warranty terms that are different – and more restrictive – than the ones you expected.
We wish Tesla was more transparent in its relations to its customers and that it solved all the issues their cars are having without clients having to contact us for help. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for quite some time.