Tesla President of Sales and Service Says Program To Allow Owners To Perform Own Repairs Is “In The Works”

9 months ago by Eric Loveday 28

Tesla Service

Tesla global sales and service president, Jon McNeil, recently took to the Tesla Motors Club Forum to discuss “Right to Repair.”

The approval process is complex, time consuming and costly, so few such sites exist outside of Tesla hotbed markets like California.

Tesla Service Center

However, with more and more aging Teslas now on the road, the automaker at least seems open to the “Right to Repair” idea, which would provide owners and independent repair shops with access to items such as repair manuals, wiring diagrams, parts and so on.

As of right now, Tesla requires work be done on its vehicles either at a Tesla service center or though a “Tesla approved shop”, at least if you live outside of Massachusetts.  That state in 2012 passed a “Right to Repair” Initiative – which likely prompted/forced Tesla to make its service/repair manuals available online (for a fee, and limited to just US residents living in Massachusetts) here.

It was McNeil who first alluded at this “Right to Repair” idea by saying simply it’s “in the works.”

Opening up repair options will be essential as Teslas age. This will allow owners to perform their own maintenance and will allow them to purchase necessary parts. Furthermore, it opens the door for small repair shops to work on the hundreds of thousands of Model 3 later down the road.

With Tesla service centers already reporting repair wait times of weeks or even moths at some locations, clearly Tesla will have to find a way to deal with the influx of 3s that are soon to hit the road. One way would be to allow the nation’s thousands of independent repair centers at least perform basic maintenance and procedures on Tesla vehicles.

And, as a wrench-turner myself, having access to vital information such as wiring diagrams, repair manuals, etc. is essential for doing the work properly.

Source: Tesla Motors Club Forum

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28 responses to "Tesla President of Sales and Service Says Program To Allow Owners To Perform Own Repairs Is “In The Works”"

  1. Anon says:

    Very cool. Maybe people can pool resources and set up local, “Tesla Repair Clubs”?

    Go Tesla Life!

    1. Lad says:

      Give me the information and sell me the parts that will allow me to repair my own car and I’m in a Tesla forever.

      Right now I’m trying to determine if I should keep my 2011 Leaf and fight with Nissan when I need new batteries. If Tesla will give up it’s repair IP to the Public Domain, I would just junk it so the next guy doesn’t have to put up with the Nissan dealer nonsense and their outrageous labor prices.

      1. Martin Winlow says:

        I would be most surprised if replacing your cells (one or more) would be something that would not be feasible fairly soon, done by non-Nissan-affilitated organisations whilst keeping any warranty intact. Of course once any Nissan purchase warranty is over (or even before) there is nothing to stop you from obtaining new (er) cells off the interweb and fitting them. The car won’t care.

  2. GeorgeS says:

    Good article and good move by tesla. As the article suggests, getting into a service center can be a bit of a wait sometimes. Then take into account the added load when model 3 starts and you search for alternate repair.

    Maybe tesla could start an independent service network…..not NADA but TADA;)

    1. Or TASA? Tesla Automotive Service Association!

      I should think this should be done in 3 steps:

      All 1st year services done in Tesla Approved Shops, so they can deal directly with any basic issues;

      in 2nd-4th year, All Tesla Drivetrain Services done Only in Tesla Approved Shops, while any Auto Shops can do other Mechanical or Bodywork, and Owners can do any Adding of Accessories or simple work;

      From 5th year on, Owners and Approved Shops can do anything except Opening of Battery Pack and Driveline, but can do Re & Re (swaps), of those parts. (Assuming they want to maintain warranty coverage on the battery & driveline!)

      Even Massachusetts, should be able to work closely with this plan, since few shade tree mechanics are High Voltage trained!

      1. unlucky says:

        In the US the law says they don’t have a choice. They cannot require you service the vehicle at their own locations.

    2. TADA = Toronto Automobile Dealers Association!

    3. SJC says:

      You pay $100,000 then have to fix it yourself..boy that is fast talking. Just build more service centers and get with it now.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        First, I don’t think service center wait times are as bad as the article implies, but Tesla needs more than to continue building them. I’m in MA, and have the manual. It does not go into repair & replace of anything drive, or battery, related. It seems a limited few on TMC have cracked the drive system software, but a big road block for independents and non-MA Tesla owners is the need for Power Tools (or whatever it is called). If MA Right to Repair is what Tesla is talking nationwide, folks will have suspension, interior, door handles, and a lot of the instructions for what actually brings these cars in for service, before them. Battery swaps, or I believe any interruption in the drive line electronics, and you’re going to need access codes. So, a good first step, anyway.

  3. Dav8or says:

    I did not know that about Tesla. Welcome to the factory direct model. Hopefully they change their ways.

    Makes me want to buy a Tesla quite a bit less. I have always worked on my own cars and will continue to do so with my Bolt.

    1. Would love to see those law suits start arriving from spouses of electrocuted ‘owner mechanics’, sticking a screwdriver in the wrong connection!

      These aren’t just like fixing your vacuum cleaner! The Voltages run a lot higher, and even a simple car 12V battery can get you a good burn if you short it!

      If you figure working on any EV is the same as working under the hood of any gas car, you might get some surprising discoveries!

      First, brakes need less changes, due to electric regen slowing capacity, & since there is less vibration, fewer other things rattle loose, unless your roads you drive are notoriously filled with pot holes!

      You should not need a sevice manual to add washer fluid, and even coolant should last longer, since most electric motors and batteries generate far less heat. No Transmission fluid to check, no exhaust to repair or replace, no fuel filter, only cabin air and no engine air cleaner! No ignition system, and no starter motor, DC-DC converter instead of Alternator, voltage regulator is out!

      Sure, tires & wheels you might want to change, put in a new 12V Battery (For some reason, they still seem to use a Lead Acid 12V Battery!), and change wiper blades, but how much other work are you really wanting to do?

      1. unlucky says:

        I doubt the lack of a running engine changes vibration issues at all. Issues strictly from vibrating engines can be tested and fixed at the factory. It’s the unexpected results from bouncing around on roads that typically leads to repairs.

      2. Dav8or says:

        What a load of fear mongering. There are no lawsuits on the horizon. Work on your own car at your own risk. It has always been this way.

        Yes, somebody out there is going to electrocute themselves working on an electric car someday, but so what? There have been scores of people die from working on gas cars over the decades and there will be more.

        That’s the great thing about this country (I hope it still is anyhow) is that we have the freedom to make choices, to take responsibility and to live with the results. This is still America and I hope it remains so and not some technocracy where people are controlled and dictated what they can and can’t do.

        There is nothing in the electric car to fear. All it takes is a little education on what it is you’e dealing with. I’m sure the first carriage and steam engine mechanics needed some learning up too back in the day. There is no machine built that another man can’t work on. Permission from the builder is not required.

        1. pjwood1 says:

          An interesting story to this. Cars are one of the few places left where, perhaps because of the dealer franchise model, repair information is widely available. “Right to Repair” came up at a MA state hearing I attended, where Tesla was on hand only because of the direct sales issue. Massachusetts is considering expanding right to repair to a more broad set of electronic devices, especially medical devices. Without repair information, you realize how crippled owndership can be. Actual crippled people were testifying from wheelchairs they prefered, and could only afford by going the extra steps of reverse engineering what they were sitting in. The fundamental question is what right, especially electronics, makers have to make their products a locked box.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “Cars are one of the few places left where, perhaps because of the dealer franchise model, repair information is widely available.”

            I’d say it has more to do with the fact that automobiles are one of the few remaining mass produced products actually worth the time, trouble and expense it takes to repair them. These days, most other things, even major appliances, are more likely to be replaced if they need anything more than a minor repair.

      3. needa says:

        There is more to do than that. Watching videos or scanning the Tesla forums you will see that there are a lot of things not mentioned in your comment that break. Door handle micro-switches, Trunk latches, air diverters, trim pieces, screen and lamp replacements, etc.
        And when those brakes finally do need replacing… we should be able to do it ourselves without having to worry about voiding the warranty.

    2. Tony says:

      You contradict yourself. You say this move makes you want to buy a tesla a lot less but then say you will continue to work on your Bolt.

  4. MikeG says:

    Years ago, I relied heavily on internet forums and web sites to help me maintain BMWs that I could afford to purchase but not have serviced by a professional.

    This move is coming at the right time for Tesla as the first cars are coming off warranty and the used Tesla market is exploding. These cars will need occasional repairs and this takes pressure off the Tesla service center by allowing DIY-ers to repair their own vehicles.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “This move is coming at the right time for Tesla as the first cars are coming off warranty…”

      Good point. The drivetrain has an 8-year warranty, but the Model S as a whole has, as you indicate, a 5-year warranty.

      1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

        Nope. The Tesla New Vehicle Limited Warranty is only 4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

        1. So, what are the most typical issues older Tesla’s deal with, not counting damage from hitting something or getting hit?

          I ask because my 2010 Kia Soul ICE is about due for new tires this Summer, has had coolant and brake fluid flush, and oil changes and tire rotations done, but not much else.

          1. John says:

            Everything starting from dead door handles.

            1. Vexar says:

              The door handles are electronic. They fail when big lummoxes yank on them like a rusty gate. The first supplier sucked, and they had a mean time to failure of 16 months, so they redesigned and allowed a 1/4 inch give. I also had a small bushing within the suspension assembly fail. The service center said it was 10 minutes work and a $20-30 part. I am very pleased Tesla is doing this for residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If only this guy lived there:
              http://cafeelectric.com/stretchla/

              1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                The problem with Model S door handles is, in my opinion and to use a sports analogy, an “unforced error”.

                There is no need for self-extending door handles, and so far as I can see, no practical value to them; they are just a high-tech geegaw that Tesla added for the “kewl” factor. This problem is compounded by the fact that such door handles are standard equipment, not optional; a buyer doesn’t even have the option to get normal door handles that don’t have electronics which can fail.

                In my opinion, the fact that Tesla is still commonly having problems with the door handles even after years of production, and they still aren’t offering a less complex option, is one of many indications of a troubling stubbornness on the part of Elon Musk.

                This is an example of why I say that it would be better for Tesla if Elon were to step back from his CEO position at the company, and concentrate on his other job as CEO of SpaceX. We can credit Elon for making a success of Tesla and leading it to grow far faster than it probably would have if the founders were still in charge, but I think Tesla would be better off if there was someone in charge with a more practical and more flexible approach to the business.

                1. unlucky says:

                  I’m with you. Even if they wanted flush handles there are other ways to do it. Look at the Nissan GT-R for example.

                  And I’m not so sure about the lummoxes thing. Several people I know have had their door handles refusing to present fixed with software updates. That says to me (albeit from a slight distance) that it wasn’t people bending something inside that caused the problem.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Mea culpa. Thank you for the correction, Sven.

  5. Dave Hrivnak says:

    This is great news. Having a 9 year old Tesla and being 200 miles from the nearest service center is quite an issue for me. And to me the risk of electrocution is far less than the danger and hassle of dealing with gasoline.

    1. Dav8or says:

      Working on your car is likely safer than the 200 mile drive to the dealer! LOL 😉