Tesla Service without a Local Service Center

I cannot say why I've waited so long to write this post, because what I'm about to write has endeared me to Tesla Motors, but let's just say I've been a busy boy and leave it there.

Before (and after) I ordered my Model S, the FAQ I was asked the most was, what about Tesla's service? Since I had no experience with the company, and for that matter, since the car had not debuted in Japan yet, I had no way to answer the question. I know that FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) are part of the salespersons' selling arsenal, so when I was asked about service for Tesla, I assumed that was one of the tactics being used by the salespeople to fear me into buying a non-Tesla car.

There were two kinda big issues with my car and a few minor ones that were either present in my car when I got it or showed up not long after. The most glaring issue was a problem with the front sensor system. On that first trip to Oita for the paint coating—documented below—the car sensors were going off when there were no objects anywhere near the car. Without going into detail about the symptoms, the alarm was ringing one to four times during a routine red light traffic stop. While I could tolerate the noise (the only solution offered by the Tesla Motors forums community, an unacceptable one for me), I did not want to have to explain to the many people who were riding in my car for a trip or a test drive what the problem was. I sent some iPhone videos of the problem to my service representative, who called me several times while we were troubleshooting it. The first attempt to fix the sensors came in the form of a firmware update. That update turned out to be the same version of the 6.0 firmware I had on the car. It worked for a day or two, after which the problem resurfaced. After about a month of communicating, the Yokohama service center decided to send a technician to my house for a fix. They asked me at that time if there were any other issues, and I told him about the left-side handle not presenting itself at times, windshield wiper noise at really slow speed, the brakes making noise when wet, the tires losing air each week, and the chrome not lining up between door and body.

So an appointment was made in early February, and Mr. Shimizu from the Yokohama service center (If you're reading the Model S Test Blog, you know Mr. Shimizu; he came by again two weeks ago, and we had coffee at my house while he and his partner used my HPWC and went for ramen after) flew into town. He called when he got off the plane, and I offered to pick him up. He took a taxi and spent the next five hours working on my car in my garage. He replaced all the front sensors, and in doing that, he noticed that one of them was not seated properly. Despite me hand washing the car several times prior to this repair, I had not noticed anything off. I have not had a problem with the sensors since.

He took the left door apart and replaced the handle; it hasn't failed to present itself since.

We talked about the brakes. The issue with the squeaky sound is that with the regeneration system, we don't use the brakes much. Dirt, etc. builds up, which, when mixed with water, creates the sound. The solution is to use the brakes heavily once in a while to clean them off; that works like a charm. I recommend cleaning your brakes this way when you're driving alone or with someone who doesn't mind a bit of a quick stop. 

I learned that the 21" wheels I have use tires that are going to lose some air, especially in the winter. I check them weekly when it is cold outside. Now that it has warmed up a bit, those tires seem to hold air better. One quick comment on those 21" wheels and tires: I wanted to get the 19" for their better wear and more options on the kinds (brands and season) of tires that can be used. After driving on the 21" for four months now, I love them; they grip the road like no other car I've driven. 

The final issue I have has not been resolved yet, but that is by my choice. The chrome strips midway on the doors do not quite match up with those on the body. Mr. Shimizu could not line them up with the tools he had. When he returned to Yokohama, I was offered a loner car while they picked up my car and shipped it up to Yokohama to be worked on. I told the service center that it was a waste of money and Tesla resources to go through all that. I will get this done on one of my trips to the Kanto area.

When Mr. Shimizu was finished, my wife and I drove him back to the airport and thanked him a million times. He was very business-like and quite the professional. I sent email to the service center which I asked to be forwarded to his boss. Thank you again, Mr. Shimizu!

Here are a couple of shots from that day:

The Rocket opened up for sensor replacement

The Rocket opened up for sensor replacement

Thanks again, Mr. Shimizu! We say see you again!

Thanks again, Mr. Shimizu! We say see you again!