Model 3 Battery Pack
(Click to enlarge)
January 6, 2023
Yesterday, nearly a full year since the Power Conversion System in my Tesla started to fail, the American Arbitration Association finally announced the outcome of the arbitration. To not mince words, the arbitrator sided with Tesla —not with me.
I am, of course, very disappointed in that decision. I cannot say that I am surprised, however. Indeed, it is what I would have predicted. Large, wealthy corporations, represented by a team of three full-time lawyers in this case, almost always prevail over one lowly consumer. I sincerely tried my best to express clear, reasonable arguments as to why the electric components in the High Voltage Battery Service Panel should be covered under the High Voltage Battery and Drive Unit Warranty, but… the arbitrator evidently found them unconvincing.
The position of Tesla’s lawyers focused on what is —or more accurately— what is not stated in the warranty:
The Tesla lithium-ion battery (the “Battery”) and Drive Unit are extremely sophisticated powertrain components designed to withstand extreme driving conditions. You can rest easy knowing that Tesla’s state-of-the-art Battery and Drive Unit are backed by this Battery and Drive Unit Limited Warranty.
In other words, the lawyers asserted that, although the warranty mentions the “Battery” and the “Drive Unit,” the legal language does not expressly identify the electric components that bind them together as part of an integral powertrain package. They thus claimed that, in the following illustration on page 6 in Tesla’s own “Model 3 Emergency Response Guide,” the warranty covers components (4) and (6), but not component (5) which connects them together —despite its name:
The arbitrator agreed with their assertion.
At this point, I have no choice but to have the Service Center in Las Vegas replace my PCS and pay the hefty price of nearly two grand for that repair. Frankly I will be relieved to finally have it done, as I have been concerned for nearly a whole year that the PCS will give up the ghost entirely and leave me with no way to charge my Model 3 at home.
Yes, the lawyers’ legalese won the arbitration, most unfortunately. Nonetheless, I will always maintain that the High Voltage Battery and Drive Unit Warranty should cover the High Voltage Battery Service Panel. As a matter of fact, it appears that Tesla might be the only EV manufacturer to dodge such coverage. For example, Ford states the following on page 16 of its “2022 Model Year Battery Electric Vehicle Warranty Guide”:
Similarly, this is what Chevrolet states on page 12 of its “2021 Limited Warranty and Owner Assistance Information”:
Likewise, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis states this coverage for their battery warranty on page 24 of its “2023 Owner’s Handbook and Warranty Information”:
To be brutally honest, I deem it disturbing, even shocking, that Tesla, the clear frontrunner in the EV market, insists on being the outlier here by failing to cover under warranty the essential electronics for its battery and drive unit powertrain. Even worse, it is now apparent that for several years Tesla has been installing battery-related components in its cars that are faulty, of poor quality, prone to break down years before the battery warranty expires. I never would have imagined that such would be the case, given the company’s domination of the EV market.
I am sure that the growing number of other Tesla owners who are experiencing the same breakdown in their PCS will be unhappy to learn that I have lost my attempt to arbitrate this issue. Of course, they can also petition for arbitration, and perhaps, if Tesla’s legal office is inundated with such disputes, they will eventually see a different outcome. If they have the means, another alternative would be to seek a settlement in Small Claim Court and let a judge decide rather than an arbitrator. I also have the impression that some owners are even considering filing a class action lawsuit against Tesla because of this problem. One such owner contacted me only a few days ago to propose such an action, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a thread about that possibility appear in the Tesla forums.
I have to confess that I had already started to sour on Tesla several months ago, for a plethora of reasons —as readers might have noticed in my latest posts about our roadtrips and yearly reports. The outcome of this arbitration has merely added to my change of opinion about the company and where it is headed.
I want to at least state this much for consumers who are considering buying a Tesla Model 3 or Y: be warned that, after driving for half the number of miles specified in the High Voltage Battery and Drive Unit Warranty, it is highly likely that the PCS in the High Voltage Battery Service Panel will start to fail, and you will have to pay a sizeable repair bill to have it replaced. The assertion that EVs have lower maintenance and repair costs is lamentably not true with a Tesla.