You’d expect Sentry Mode and Teslacam to protect your EV against vandals and unfair accident claims, but Julie McCuen learned these video recording features also help customers against Tesla itself. After the right rear window in her 2019 Model 3 SR+ shattered spontaneously and fell out of the car onto the middle of a freeway, Teslacam was her only resource to get Tesla to repair her vehicle under warranty.
If the story seems familiar, that’s because it is. We have been covering spontaneous glass-shattering in Model 3 units since March 2020, and most of them have happened on the right rear window. However, this is the first case in which the problem occurred at high speed.
“I was driving south on the 55 Freeway on February 2 in the city of Orange, Southern California. The incident happened just before the Chapman Avenue exit. I was in the carpool lane and there was no one around me at the time in any of the five lanes on that stretch of the freeway.”
McCuen received a “sound alert" about the problem, so to speak.
“I heard a faint cracking sound behind me and when I looked back the entire rear passenger window was shattered. I immediately started to try to make my way to the slow lane to exit the freeway. I hit a bump while transitioning from the number 3 lane to the number 2 lane and that was enough to dump the shattered window out of the car and onto the freeway.”
The video above seems to start when she received the "warning." You can see McCuen trying to change lanes and a Kia Sorento to the right suddenly slows down. The SUV is forced to make a brisk maneuver to avoid the shattered window on the ground. It dropped on the asphalt as a single piece because it had window film.
“Had it not been for the tint on my windows, the glass would have immediately crumbled and likely would have entered the cabin while I was doing 70 mph on the freeway.”
After she left the freeway, McCuen “drove surface streets to the Tesla Service Center in Santa Ana.” When she got there, the service department initially refused to replace the window under warranty. Luckily and ironically, Teslacam came to the rescue.
“The Service Center was quick to assume that something hit the window. Then when I showed them the videos and they could see nothing did in fact hit the window, they turned their blame to the tint. They took no responsibility for the window spontaneously shattering. I had to become very vocal for them to agree to cover it under warranty. It was an awful overall experience.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McCuen decided she would not leave the Service Center without getting her car fixed.
“The Tesla Service Center replaced the window and the regulator the same day, but only because I pressured them to. They are still only offering Uber vouchers and I live 40 miles away from the Service Center. I was not comfortable being in a car with someone that long while COVID-19 is still pretty bad in our area. I showed up there at about 8:50 AM and they told me it would be about 2 hours to replace the window. I ended up sitting there until 1:30 PM.”
McCuen already had a history with the Santa Ana Service Center.
“I have been there three times now. All three times were bad experiences. After the second time, my husband and I said we would never go there again. Still, this incident happened a few miles from there so they were the closest location to get to safely. There was still broken glass in the window sill even after most of it fell out.”
Her prior visits to the Service Center were due to a persistent humming noise that still has not sorted out. McCuen replaced the rubber window trim close to the A-pillar. That solved the issue for some days, but the problem came back.
“I still have the issue to this day and I have no confidence in taking it back to them to get rid of it. I just turn up my music as loud as I can to drown out the noise. It's really sad because, overall, I love my car, but the service side of Tesla has been a disappointment. They have no idea how to properly treat a customer at that location. Not once in this last interaction with them did anyone ask if I was okay or apologized for what I experienced. They were more focused on trying to point the blame anywhere but on themselves for the window shattering.”