Tesla Model S Owner Compares Fixing Car To Assembling LEGO


This Tesla Model S owner was struggling to get parts and service, so he took matters into his own hands.

Greg Furstenwerth owns a 2013 Tesla Model S that’s now out of warranty and has ~135,000 miles on it. He’s experienced enough issues with Tesla parts and service that he’s no longer relying on the automaker to fix his car. He’s learned to do all the work himself. Interestingly, he says it’s pretty simple.

If you can put together Legos you can put together a Tesla.

Greg shares:

I was fed up with Tesla completely, to the point where today if they want to touch my car they’re not allowed to touch my car. I’ll do my own work on my car now.

Early on, Tesla took incredible care of Greg. They would call him personally about service and issues. They showed up with Mobile Service to fix his flat when he was making a cross-country journey (without a Supercharger network). The help, kindness, and positive interactions subsided once Greg’s warranty expired. Greg said he felt like he was no longer a Tesla owner.

Greg lives on an island near Seattle. It’s quite a distance to even get to a Tesla Service Center and he’s out of reach of the automaker’s Mobile Service. It’s also difficult to find independent mechanics that are willing to work on the car. Moreover, parts, diagnostics tools, and repair manuals are not readily available. With some $14,000 in necessary repairs, Greg had no choice but to tear the car apart himself and get to work.

It’s important to note that Greg is still a Tesla fan through and through. He told CNBC that there’s no other car that he’d want to own. This doesn’t mean that he’s not allowed to be frustrated by the situation. He has a nice car that he spent a lot of money on and he wants it to work properly. He also wants to be able to get parts and service in a timely manner. This is just not something that the automaker has been able to do for Greg since his car has been out of warranty, but his solution seems to be working out just fine.

Video Description via CNBC on YouTube:

This Tesla Model S Owner Repairs His Own Car | CNBC

Greg Furstenwerth was an early adopter of the Tesla Model S, but once the car was out of warranty he had a hard time getting the parts and service he needed. So he took on the repairs himself and found it surprisingly easy. “If you can put together Legos you can put together a Tesla.”

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44 Comments on "Tesla Model S Owner Compares Fixing Car To Assembling LEGO"

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I should hope parts not related to electronics are easy to change.
Did anyone think magic was used to assemble cars?

The biggest problem with DIY is knowing how hard and which direction to pull without breaking something 😉

Once upon a time I owned a ’91 Civic SI hatchback. It had exposed screws on most interior parts and hence was very easy to take apart. I’d much rather have this than the hidden clips that essentially all new vehicles have.

I hope that if the current move from “dealer based sales” to “factory direct” continues, manufacturers also make their vehicles more serviceable, since there would be no dealers trying to push for “dealer only” parts, tools, techniques.

EV manufacturers I think should begin to consider investing in partnering with vocational schools to ready future EV technicians for takling the repair issues with the absence of dealerships.
What I understand is that EV manufacturers not aiming for making money from after sales services, so since the beginning they should consider handing services (especially when cars are out of warrenty) to third parties. This way they can focus their resources to refinement of their current product lines and innovation.

Interesting you mention that…

“Tesla’s Student Automotive Technician Program (aka Tesla START), was designed to help the next generation develop tech expertise through classes, labs, and hands-on learning. Tesla has partnered with North American colleges to integrate its START program into their automotive technician curriculums.”


(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“Once upon a time I owned a ’91 Civic SI hatchback. It had exposed screws on most interior parts and hence was very easy to take apart. I’d much rather have this than the hidden clips that essentially all new vehicles have.”


The clips are a double edged sword. For example, after doing a speaker upgrade and learning it once, I can now pull the door panels on one of my vehicles in less than a minute. The clips make that easy. Harbor freight makes some all-plastic trim removal tools that are super cheap that really help, and there are also spreaders specifically designed for clips. But yea, it is much easier if you can find a youtube video of pulling things apart before you start.

Youtube and Harbor Freight Tools are the two best things ever happened to DIYers… =)

I haven’t done interior trim work, but found struts and brake work to be like any other (coil sprung) car. It’s the dash MCU I worry about. Both expensive, and a bit of a pain to remove. I think Rich Rebuilds takes 2+ hours, with all his experience. That and sunroof maintenance. With a lift, I wouldn’t hesitate to drop the battery, but my 2015 has until 2025 before that’s on me.

I wonder if the Whidbey Island Folks in the Seattle area, are having similar Tesla out of warranty issues?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Doesn’t every car manufacturer have this issue when warranty has expired?
I know warranty companies solidly say “No, you’re warranty has expired”.

But you can get parts and there are plenty of independent shops to work on your car. I always used Independent Porsche shops for my cars.

“Doesn’t every car manufacturer have this issue when warranty has expired?”

Manufactures don’t have any issues, owners may have issues 😉 Typically after couple of decades or so when manufacturers stop supplying full assortment of spare parts and you need to hunt for leftovers and pay exorbitant prices.

You may get into similar situation with any rare luxury car actually. But for the most brands in the US or developed world it is no issue, autodealers are everywhere (except Tesla), factory repair manuals are provided (except Tesla), all spare parts are provided to anybody. Except Tesla of course.

Heck, it is just 5 year old car and the guy “At one point, he even considered destroying the car”! With decent automaker you would not know what warranty or post-warranty repair service is, because you would not need it at 5 years. You need to be seriously brainwashed to pay big money for opportunity to spend your free time playing these “Legos”, that other people would name the same as certain citrus fruit /s

What would be revolutionary is to make the diagnostics software and the manuals free for all and sell parts via mail order to any ship able address.

I think any company who can manage this wins big.

I hope this is going to be the norm in near future.

All Our Manuals Are Belong To You

I am not a big fan on DIY, but sometime you have to do it, I simply had to get rid of the rattling sound from the doors , turning up the volume on the HI-FI, and it really did help, with some isolation, I think I will do it to help lower the sound from the wheels, and the occasional whining from the motor.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“help lower the sound from the wheels,”

Consider using dynamat xtreme on the flooring and bring it up as high as you can around the walls.
We Audiophileheads use this all the time to reduce/eliminate road noise.

Haha!! So I suppose this guy is a Tesla Hater to those of you who’ve never even bought nor don’t intend to buy an electric vehicle. He just lives in the real world where he cannot afford to pay Tesla’s prices for repair. That attitude that Tesla has of ignoring people who are out of warranty is especially irksome – since people are just trying to get their cars fixed. In my own case, I ran with my Roadster for one year while it was out of warranty (original was 3yrs/36,000 miles) until it was simply much much less expensive to trade it in on a brand new ELR. The dealer basically ‘gave’ me $7500 besides, because of the fed tax credit – one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. As he says, Tesla needs to open up about Service Manuals and Diagnostic tools, therefore allowing nationwide repair shops like Goodyear or Firestone to repair the cars. Automotive News just had a story today mimicking the story here stating that Model ‘3’s are 35% more expensive to insure on average – even when figuring the yet to be produced $35,000 model. This is just confirmation that repairs on the… Read more »
(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“The help, kindness, and positive interactions subsided once Greg’s warranty expired. Greg said he felt like he was no longer a Tesla owner.”

I don’t understand this BS mentality.
You’re out of warranty……..PERIOD. There’s nothing they can do for you.
My Toyota went out of warranty and the the Stealership said they won’t do the work. I verified with the warranty company and sure enough it went off warranty 3 weeks prior.

People need to understand there’s an end to the warranty. Get a friggin CLUE!
Some people get lucky and the shops will do the fix but that’s rare. Don’t go putting a company on Blast because they aren’t supposed to cover anyone past the warranty end date.

BS. Dealers do out-of-warranty repairs. They’re just more expensive than independent shops. Why would any service shop ignore this cash cow?

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I should’ve said…
“said they won’t do the work under warranty due to expiration.”
They contacted the warranty company.

Dealers have a strong incentive to perform out-of-warranty service and repairs on cars, since service/ repair is where the dealerships earn most of their income; much more than they do in selling cars!

Tesla says it aims to make its service shops revenue-neutral… meaning no profit. So I can certainly understand if authorized Tesla shops put cars with expired warranties last on their priority list. Many Tesla service shops are overloaded and are having a hard enough time keeping up with delivery prep work and warranty repairs/ upgrades. It’s understandable that due to a scarcity of spare parts, Tesla would be giving priority to authorized Tesla repair shops, and not do-it-yourselfers.

I’m not trying to make excuses here. It’s a very unfortunate situation with the scarcity of spare parts, and the overloaded Tesla service centers. That makes it very difficult for someone trying to get out-of-warranty service, or to do their own repair work on Tesla cars.

As I see it, this is an unfortunate side effect of Tesla’s very rapid ramp up in production. Good for Tesla, but not good for those with older Tesla cars on which the warranty has expired!

If Tesla is so overloaded, they could go down to the local printer and print up some service manuals. Or offer them as .pdf so people could print them out themselves – which they do on a limited basis but only for a short time and for a steep fee. Kdawg’s comment puts the lie to all the supposed free-ness. Diagnostic tools or even better – configurations for use with many shops’ existing diagnostic equipment would be even better.

But Tesla is holding all this very close to the chest, and that isn’t sustainable.

Generally the out of warranty rate is far more profitable to both mechanics and the company Tesla…Either he’s begging to for free repairs or was too ingorant to understand over the past five years service as whole has gotten far busier…

You haven’t been there and I have. The guy isn’t being ignorant at all. The Roving Ranger guys who serviced my Tesla all LIKED me since I was so helpful to them, so when I needed docs I’d just call them up and they’d email me the proprietary stuff, which helped me out but probably would have gotten them in trouble if Tesla Corporate knew they were doing it.

My big break, so to speak, was when the service center themselves ruined the heater and the drive inverter – at that point I got ALL KINDS of parts replaced for free since the problem escalated to Corporate and someone there decided they had better fix my car – at least the parts that the company themselves broke.

The problem is some parts have both a part number and a serial number. If any of those are changed the configuration file needs to updated or the car will not start. Of course Tesla doesn’t give access to the configuration file.

Interesting. Finally some early Tesla Model S are starting to come off warranty.

Those out of warranty “service data” will be interesting.

He has just confirmed in the video that he doesn’t want to pay $1200 per door for actuators that will constantly self destruct. The aftermarket stuff (some vendors providing stainless-steel racks) are a permanent fix. Too bad you can’t get such sensible parts from Tesla.

He had the right mindset. If it can be taken apart, it is just time and one’s ability to research and follow manuals. Sounds the same as pretty much every high mileage owner on every car enthusiast site for every brand of car. That’s why there are page after page of DIY discussions and repair FAQ’s on every car enthusiast websites, so folks can do their own work on their cars.

Is anyone under the impression that magically because the drivetrain is electric, that every other part in the car is immune from needing repair?

DIY is much cheaper than paying a pro no matter what car you own.

Also, if you want the shop manual for the Model S, it is widely available for download. Easy to google. If you can’t figure out how to google the shop manual, you probably shouldn’t DIY any car….

Yep, once my cars are out of warranty like my 2012 Volt I try and do all the maintenance/repairs myself.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Yup, do the same on my nissan pickup and scion.
Changed radiators and alternators etc……
The one that pissed me off was replacing the radio because I didn’t have the panel tools (had to go buy them) to pry stuff open.

Also, if you want the shop manual for the Model S, it is widely available for download. Easy to google.”

Quite true. I checked on that myself, after seeing one of the serial Tesla bashers claim that you couldn’t even buy a repair manual. Very quickly and easily I found a place online to download it as a .pdf file. For anyone who can’t find it, your Google-fu is quite weak! 😉

Everybody knows Tesla don’t need servicing.

Yeah – that always was the illusion. Complexity of a car doesn’t equal service requirements.

At least, there’s no engine-light polka dance with a Tesla.

The plural of Lego is ‘Lego’, not ‘Legos’

You assemble Lego, you could say ‘It’s like assembling Lego pieces/bricks/blocks’

An individual piece isn’t called a Lego sorry!

Yes, you are correct. However, he says Legos and so does the CNBC source article. Nonetheless, I fixed our title. Thank you!

Individual Lego pieces are either called “Where the hell is the darn thing” when one just can’t find the final piece for the assembly, or simply “Fxxx!” when one finds it again at night stepping on it barefeet on the way to the bathroom…

Elon should see this video. I really think that Tesla should start selling spare parts just like any other manufacturer. Right now it is easier go to Mercedes to buy some parts for Model S (because they share some), then go to Tesla. That is really sad.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“Elon should see this video. I really think that Tesla should start selling spare parts just like any other manufacturer.”


I wish I was able to buy a CARB approved catalytic converter for my Nissan a few years back from someone OTHER THAN NISSAN.
Only Nissan sold that product back then.

“I really think that Tesla should start selling spare parts just like any other manufacturer.”

I think every reasonable person would agree with you. As I see it, it’s not that Tesla doesn’t want to sell spare parts to do-it-yourself-ers, it’s that the logistics during a rapid growth rate in making and selling cars has created a chronic shortage in spare parts. It’s the nature of things that the distribution network for spare parts is going to continually lag behind new car sales, as Tesla continues to rapidly increase its manufacturing and sales.

If Tesla is going to have to choose between providing Tesla service centers with spare parts, or do-it-yourself-ers, then it’s going to choose Tesla service centers every time. That’s not fair; that’s not right; but I think most people can see that doing otherwise makes no sense for Tesla as a business.

I certainly hope Tesla can find a way to ramp up its logistics and distribution system as fast as it’s ramping up production and sales, but I won’t be surprised if this remains a chronic problem for the next few or several years. 🙁

What’s really sad on this issue is that Tesla only makes a couple of models of cars so to have good parts stock and coverage for darn near everything would be very little effort nationwide on Tesla’s part.

Back when I worked Chevy parts for a couple years at two different dealerships the parts books rack was almost four feet long covering the endless models of Chevy cars and trucks , I mean seriously, Tesla makes so few models at the moment it’s almost inexcusable not to have parts in stock!

Well the chickens have come home to roost
– when I mentioned that Elon needs to allow third party repair with spare parts which resulted many upset here.
I want Tesla to improve greatly post warranty for owners & not result in wasted product & owner frustration due to current policies.

I think there is a great opportunity for 3rd party Tesla recyclers. Rich rebuilds on youtube has a nice selection of used Tesla parts for his rebuilds. The cost of damaged Tesla’s are insanely high because of the lack of parts. I expect there will be a thriving aftermarket for Tesla parts by the time 2018 Model 3s start going out of warranty.