At 61,000 Miles, Tesla Model S On Third Set Of Control Arms – Video

Tesla Model S


If your older Tesla Model S seems to have sloppy steering, you may want to check your control arms.

Apparently, older model Tesla vehicles may be prone to early and regular wear of the fore control arms. This Model S seemed to need an alignment, however, it wouldn’t align correctly.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S fore control arm

Upon further inspection, the technician on Tesla Repair Channel discovered that the left and right fore control arms were worn, allowing for an excessive amount of play. Additionally, the bushings were beginning to get a bunch of micro-tears.

To purchase new factory stock control arms will cost about $200 each. So, to do all four would run about $800. Fortunately, the aft control arms seemed to be holding up just fine.

This particular Model S is going on its third set of control arms. Interestingly, a commenter inquires about upgrading to some better arms with high-quality bushings. Tesla Repair Channel plans to research that option, along with publishing a follow-up video showing the installation and alignment process.

Video Description via Tesla Repair Channel on YouTube:

Noticed the steering of the 2013 Model S P85 going a little sloppy lately. Decided to put it on the alignment rack, and couldn’t get it to align properly, so we took the shield off to take a look at the components. Seems the fore control arms on both sides are worn, and the bushings are starting to tear. We will be ordering a new set of fore control arms, and replacing them both in a follow up video, along with a step-by-step alignment process for the older generation cars. Car has 61k miles, and this will be the 3rd set of control arms.

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40 responses to "At 61,000 Miles, Tesla Model S On Third Set Of Control Arms – Video"
  1. Darth says:

    61k miles isn’t that much. Hopefully this is not a common issue. Sure hope the M3 doesn’t have these kinds of issues. Inexcusable.

    1. SparkEV says:

      Every Tesla produced have had big initial quality issues, and 3 will be no different. Heck, every new car release from any manufacturer had some problem.

      If you expect no major problems, you will be very disappointed. If you’re getting the car in first couple of years, fully expect the car to die in middle of the road.

      1. Nick says:

        Worn control arms should not leave you stranded, unless you ignore it while it gets worse and worse.

      2. HN says:

        @SparkEV, this Model S is 2013, back then Tesla didn’t have the top tier suppliers. Tesla is now a brand that top tiers suppliers are love to work with, therefore the parts should be better.

        1. SparkEV says:

          Like how Tesla had better suppliers for X, yet still suffer problems? You can hope, but rational thing to do is to go by history.

      3. Bill Howland says:

        SParkEV: “…Heck, every new car release from any manufacturer had some problem.”

        Nope, the ELR had essentially NO TROUBLE at all while being a brand new model from the very first one. Totally UNIQUE new body and passive suspension, only the powertrain had been seen before in the GEN 1 Volt.

        Even the Gen 1 VOLTS (Completely new in many respects due to the most complicated drive train ever put in a production car at the time) weren’t bad AND CONTINUE TO BE GREAT for owners who have early models – even the ones that have hundreds of thousands of miles on them.

        In NY state this would be a yearly inspection issue – and with labor, it wouldn’t be a ‘tiny’ $800 fix every other year.

        1. SparkEV says:

          You mean Volt and ELR had zero factory bulletin or upgrades? That’s hard to believe.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Essentially 0.

            The Voltec did have a recall on the Evaporative Canister (only thing unique here is the gas tank is pressurized), and the EARLY volts had addtional plating put on the sides of the battery. Still no In-Service battery fires in a Gen 1 volt.

            There was, to my mind a SILLY recall on the charger cord, taken care of previously by the disclaimer in the owner’s manual. I preferred the first totally fine cord to its replacement, but understand why it was done – its like the ‘ignition switch’ thing that they don’t want to get tied up in silly arguments.

            People like Sergio Marchione of FCA (Chrysler) would have stood their ground and not paid out a cent.

            1. SparkEV says:

              My point was every MFR have something, some small some large. And let’s not soil GM by comparing to FCA.

    2. Peter says:

      My 2014 model S has 93.000 miles and still no problem what so ever.

      Probably depending on driving stile and driving conditions.

  2. Bunny says:

    Wow, that’s horrible, 3 sets in 61k miles? There’s got be a bigger story on this particular car.

    1. Ricardo says:

      Or maybe just terrible quality control. Yeah, I know, I’m a fudster. It’s stronger than me really. I’m a troll, you see? I only come here to make fun of you.Ah, the Insideevs community. One of the few places on earth where actually driving a Nissan Leaf is considered less important than admiring in awe a tesla, any tesla really, even those that don’t yet exist.

      1. McKemie says:

        I’m unable to divine the point of your Tesla/Leaf comment. But, I can tell you I put 20k miles on my 2011 Leaf at which point the battery failed to meet even my most basic needs. Nissan declined to fix the battery. I now have 105k miles on my 2013 Tesla S and it has over 90% of original battery capacity. Far in excess of my basic needs.

        1. John says:

          Exactly. Everyone on this forum is sick of hearing me complain about my battery degradation issues with my Leaf, so I’ll simply second your comment.

        2. Durandal says:

          I’ll take spending $600 over my Peaf battery that barely makes it to/from work on one charge in the winter when I have the heat on 60F. Next winter it won’t be able to make it even with the heat off. I will have to try to get my work to install charging stations in the deck.

      2. William says:

        Dear Mr. R. WreckCarDope,

        Please take your “troll…fudster” self, and go back to wherever you came from.

        Thanks for taking your EV lamenting song “Babalou”, along with your Tesla/Nissan EV shade slinging, and doing us all a favor, by taking your “splaining”, to another car blog.

      3. Derek says:

        “Admiring in awe a Tesla, any Tesla really, even those that don’t yet exist” Now that’s some funny shyte. Looks like you hit a nerve.

    2. Maybe he “Lives His Life a 1/4 Mile At A Time!” (To Quote Vin Diesel in a famous Movie!)

      Either that, or he Accelerated so hard “He Left His Heart In Havana!”

    3. Tom says:

      Heavy car, perhaps with a control arm that’s fine under normal driving, and he drove it like he stole it every day?

  3. pjwood1 says:

    $400. That’s a win.

    Just me, but I feel I haunt around the places that go over what this car’s “Achilles heels” are, and this issue does not come up. Certainly not commonly, at 20k intervals. Past joint issues have been with the front upper, outboard ball joint (including one case of separation). But rare stuff.

  4. Pierre Champoux says:

    Can it be related to tightening the bolt when the suspension is not at it’s normal ride hight? If tightened when suspension is at max extension, bushing will become overstretched at max compression.

    1. Roy_H says:

      This makes sense. These control arms and bushings should last the life of the car. There must have been something wrong with this car, either the original mounting is mis-aligned or as you suggest improper installation.

      1. CarGuy says:

        Actually control arm bushing don’t last the life of any car, unless that car has a short life. I agree on this car there is likely another issue that is causing the accelerated wear. It doesn’t sound like the repair shop has addressed the problem yet or they could be the cause because of improper installation or alignment.

      2. Nix says:

        Control arm bushings will only last the life of the car if it is driven very conservatively on roads that are in good condition. And then only if the car manufacturer choose a harder bushing material that sacrifices Noise, Vibration, and Harshness (NVH) in order to gain longer lifespan of the bushing.

        Having a lighter car with a low torque engine and aggressive traction control also helps.

        But for heavier cars driven aggressively that have bushings designed to reduce NVH as much as possible, control arm bushings will always be wear parts.

    2. Nix says:

      Yes, every shop manual I’ve ever seen all say to install the bolts/nuts for control arms finger tight, then torque to spec once the full weight of the vehicle is on the ground. This is exactly for the reason you state, that the rubber will experience excessive rotational torques on the rubber when the wheel is at full stuff if they are tighten when the wheel is at full droop.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they made this mistake, since they also said this:

      “Decided to put it on the alignment rack, and couldn’t get it to align properly, so we took the shield off to take a look at the components. ”

      That is a huge red flag right there. Alignment techs are trained to look for damage FIRST before trying to do any alignment. Because even if you can get the machine to successfully do a static alignment with the vehicle not moving, if it has damaged or loose components the alignment won’t be effective under braking or while cornering with the weight of the vehicle shifting the loose parts around.


      The issue of the rubber only being able to twist a certain amount before prematurely failing is a big issue in the offroad world where vehicles are modified to have additional travel. They use aftermarket products like Johnny Joints or Duraflex joints that allow free rotation because if the known premature damage caused by over-twisting the stock rubber bushings.

      1. Nix says:

        I watched another one of their videos.

        I’m not impressed. Not only did he get grease on the rotor surface AND the pad surface, he didn’t even bother torquing the rear brake caliper to proper torque specs. Sloppy.

      2. Chris says:

        Nix, this is my personal car, and I do this in my free time. If the control arms were installed improperly, it was done by the tesla technicians. The last set was maybe 25k miles ago. I have not replaced these myself, as proper replacement for the aft control arms requires traction battery removal.

    3. pjwood1 says:

      True. A poster on TMC, named Lolachampcar, has given exactly this feedback, about improperly torqued Tesla bushings when not pre-loaded. They can prematurely fail.

      Ball-joints are something Tesla has invested in more, over time. Not just the upper front A-arms, but some of the straight aluminum arms also use ball-joints. They tighten handling right up, but fail fast if the sockets see dirt.

      Not even Porsche’s GT3s come with stock ball-joints. BTDT

  5. CarGuy says:

    I wonder why there are so many Tesla related stories. Let’s see some stories about other car company executives and repairs to their plug in vehicles please. How about drunken LEAF drivers getting pulled over or crashed Focus Electrics?

    1. Nix says:

      Total up all the Tesla sales numbers and all the Tesla reservations together for all Tesla green products (including solar and stationary battery) and then let us know how that compares to whatever vehicle you want more news on.

      That will probably be your answer as to why there is more Tesla news content on the web for green car sites to report on.

  6. Donald Beck says:

    This is a common problem with modern cars. My Lexus ls460 is on its third set of front bushings. A lot of other problems for a flag ship model. Going tesla next time

  7. Markh21518 says:

    I’ve replaced at lot of parts on cars never control arm bushings

  8. Nix says:

    Mercedes is notorious for this same problem with control arm bushings. This video actually looks very similar to the same part design on most Mercedes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the early Model S’s were based off of Mercedes parts since they used a lot of other Mercedes parts.

    The speed at which control arm bushings wear out depends on a number of factors:

    1) Durometer (hardness) of the bushing.
    2) How hard the vehicle is driven and the roughness of the roads it is driven on. These bushings take 100% of the forces caused by hard braking, hard acceleration, and hard turning. Extreme duty, like wheel hop from tire spin, suddenly regaining traction, etc are the hardest on these bushings.
    3) External contaminants and extreme weather conditions that may damage the bushing.

    Mercedes service interval for most cars includes checking these for damage at least every 30,000 miles due to this.

    On most Mercedes, if the ball joint end of the control arm is still serviceable and the arm isn’t bent, you can simply press out the bushing and press in a new one with a common shop press. It can even be done by an accomplished home mechanic without fully removing the arm from the vehicle using a free “Powerbuilt Tools Upper Control Arm Bushing Kit” loaner tool from your local parts store. (and your own air tools)

    Parts for bushings alone can be a fraction of the cost of complete arms, and are typically less that 10-20% of the cost of replacing the complete arms.

    If they are going these bushings this quickly, they likely would be better off buying upgraded performance parts designed to better withstand the abuse. Typically these are harder durometer bushings, and of course won’t dampen road vibrations as much. For example, BMW owners who have this same problem often select bushings designed for a heavier BMW, like using 7-Series bushings in a smaller car. Or use any number of aftermarket control arm bushings specifically designed to withstand harsh driving and conditions. It might take some research, but as long as they can find bushings for any car with the correct widths, outer and inner diameters, and durometer, they can press whatever high performance bushing into these arms that will fit. Since it looks like they are based on Mercedes parts, and we know Mercedes was a supplier for Tesla, that would be where I would start. Or look for some aftermarket supplier who has already jumped on the opportunity to sell aftermarket upgrade parts.

    Control arm bushings tend to be a problem with luxury cars that are driven hard. The car maker will generally spec a softer rubber for a soft ride. This works perfectly fine for the vast majority of drivers who drive sanely. But more aggressive drivers quickly find that they need upgraded bushings for their driving style, or to hold up against rough roads in their area.


    Oh, and the solution for the bolts where he is saying the battery has to be dropped is to just loosen the nut enough to get room to cut the head off the bolt, then install a new bolt going the other direction. Jeeps are notorious for having to do the same thing. Easy peasy. No need to drop the battery.

    1. Chris says:

      It is a very similar design to the Mercedes S and CLS chassis. These haven’t failed, but there is noticeable deterioration in handling, most noticeable on the heavier crowned roads. The control arms are maybe 18 months old, and I’m going to take a gander and say that install, as well as terrain are causing premature failures. The techs at the local service center are overworked.

  9. Retired Engineer says:

    It would be helpful to know the VIN. Tesla started 2013 having only built 2600 Model S. By the end of the year they were up to 25,000.

    Mechanic should ask if there is a redesigned part he can upgrade to, rather than just replacing the same underspec’ed part.

  10. petero says:

    Perhaps the driver and his/her driving style or terrain may have some bearing on the wear and tear.

    What do I know? 5 year old Model S, 65K+ miles, original control arms.

    1. Chris says:

      It lives in NYC.

  11. Steven says:

    My question is why are they wearing so quickly?

    Two options come to mind:

    Improperly designed components
    Improperly made components

    If it’s a design issue, we’re going to see a more of these pop up.

    If it’s a manufacturing issue, we still may see more.

    1. Chris says:

      I think the main issues are install terrain.

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