Another Battery Pack Error Code Story Shows a Debatable Tesla Practice

Brook Gardner bought this 2014 Model S 60 in May 2018, but a battery pack error code showed him a debatable Tesla practice 11 photos
Photo: Brook Gardner
This is the range Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60 got soon after replacing its battery packThe range did not improve after several complaintsThe range did not improve after several complaintsThis is the range Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60 got after the final correction of the battery pack's capacityThe battery pack replacement for Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60 is older than his carBrook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60Brook Gardner and his 2014 Model S 60Brook Gardner had to pay $13,971.32 to replace the battery pack in his 2014 Model S 60Brook Gardner had to pay $13,971.32 to replace the battery pack in his 2014 Model S 60
The BMS_u029 error code Facebook group recently reached 1,000 members. Luckily, it seems to be growing more due to the interest that the subject raised than due to new cases. Despite that, the stories of those affected never cease to disappoint regarding how Tesla deals with its customers. Brook Gardner's case is one that is worth reporting.
The realtor bought his 2014 Model S 60 in May 2018.

"It was a birthday present to myself for hitting a sales goal I set of selling eight homes in one month... It was with approximately 70,000 miles, if I remember right."

Gardner lived with his Model S for five years without any major issues until the error code emerged. He does not remember if it was the BMS_u029 or the BMS_u018, which also requires the battery pack to be replaced.

"The car was doing great. I loved it and still do. I didn't have a clue something was wrong. I plugged it in at my home charger as I normally do, and the next morning, it hadn't charged at all, and it had the code. So I texted service in my app and took it in. They gave me the news that I could get a reman battery or sell it as it was."

Brook Gardner and his 2014 Model S 60
Photo: Brook Gardner
The realtor would have to pay $13,971.32 for the battery pack replacement. It would be a mistake to call the component "new:" it came from a 2013 Tesla Model S 85. That was the first red flag involving Gardner's case. As Jason Hughes warned a while ago, any Tesla battery pack made before 2015 has at least six major catastrophic failure possibilities. The Tesla Hacker said this, and we couldn't agree more: these changes mean that Tesla should never sell its customers a component that did not have these issues fixed.

Considering the company's remanufacturing process does not address them, nobody should accept a battery older than 2015. To make matters worse, lithium-ion cells die either from use or old age. That said, if you are going to spend a small fortune on a battery pack, it should be as recent as possible. Tesla offered him a new one for $21,000 (including service and taxes), but Gardner thought it was too expensive.

"It was a shocker, for sure. I didn't even have enough miles left to get it home. It was at that point I realized this was going to hurt A LOT. Somehow, I was referred to Gruber (Motors), so I reached out to them before getting the one from Tesla. They told me they could not get the parts for my car to reman the 60-kWh (battery pack)..."

The battery pack replacement for Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60 is older than his car
Photo: Brook Gardner
That made Gardner get back to his Service Center.

"The Tesla repair shop told me I would get at least or better battery than I had. So when I got the 85-kWh component, I was pleased, but that was when I learned that they cork it at the number of miles you had when the battery died. That was not what I was expecting for $14,000. I understood I would get the full 60 kWh as a new one, with 208 miles... but that's not how it works. However, that was not explained to me before I invested in the reman battery."

On top of giving the realtor a battery pack that was older than his car, Tesla also charged him almost as much as it would for its total capacity: $12,500. That value changes a lot, but Bob Atkins received an invoice to repair his mother-in-law's Model S 85 that asked $13,500 for a 2012 85-kWh battery pack. They had to fight for Tesla to sell them a new battery pack, but that's another story. The focus here is on the component's price.

Brook Gardner had to pay \$13,971\.32 to replace the battery pack in his 2014 Model S 60
Photo: Brook Gardner/edited by autoevolution
Should Atkins have accepted the old battery pack, his mother-in-law would get the full capacity of that high-voltage accumulator. After all, her car was no longer under warranty, and Tesla was selling her a replacement, which should be as good as new. As you have already read, that was not what Gardner heard. In fact, it was worse than that.

"They told me that Tesla had a reman in stock and they could have it to me in a week, but it only took three days. The next day, it was done. At first, I was happy it was an 85-kWh unit."

When Gardner got his car back, he discovered a full charge would only give him 130 miles of range, less than the 150 miles it had shortly before it died.

"I soon learned from a person in the group who had an app that could scan the battery that it had been corked to 44.8 kWh. It was not even 60 kWh – which is what I had paid for – so I have been back several times to try to get it corrected."

This is the range Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60 got soon after replacing its battery pack
Photo: Brook Gardner
Gardner went through a lot of back and forth with Tesla to sort this out. Discussing with the Service Center technicians did not help, so he asked them to escalate the issue. Eventually, he started looking for legal assistance before Tesla finally adjusted his car to a better capacity.

"It still was not charging to 100%, so I got on the service app and told them so. They told me: 'Bring it in again and don't charge it up.' So I did. They had it all day, and when I got it back, I was pleasantly surprised it read 96% charged and 190 miles. They said not to let it go under 20% for eight weeks, or it will go into service mode."

Sadly, it was still not where it should be, at least for what Gardner paid.

"They did increase it, but it's not all the way to 60 kWh. I think the person in the group who helped me measure it said it's 57 kWh. I feel it is a bit deceiving that they can control this car so much. I am able to charge it, and it has about 200 miles at 100%. So, I am happy but not sure Tesla can't just turn off the batteries, so you have to replace them as much as they can control them."

This is the range Brook Gardner's 2014 Model S 60 got after the final correction of the battery pack's capacity
Photo: Brook Gardner
I asked the realtor how he felt about this.

"I don't feel they treated me fairly by not educating me on how the reman batteries worked until after they replaced it – and I paid for it. I still don't have a 60-kWh battery, but I do have more miles than they later said I should have, so it's a mixed bag of feelings."

Gardner elaborated on that.

"The fact that I was supposed to get at least a 60-kWh (battery pack) – since that's what I paid for – but they gave me an 85-kWh (unit) scaled back to less than 60-kWh feels wrong. Since this is my first experience dealing with Tesla like this, I do feel like I should have been better educated on how Tesla works. I paid for a replacement battery and understood it would be like a new one – like if I bought it at the store. It would have full power. However, it was not explained to me how I would get the same life as when my battery died. To me, that's scary that they can manipulate my batteries the way they do. They can just kill a battery at will, and we would never know. But I do have the 4-year warranty, so I'm feeling a bit safer. I am pleased they fixed it right this last time."

When people get what they want before I write an article, they usually just ask me not to publish. Gardner was an exception. He said that "this has been an education" that "everyone could benefit from. I hope this helps." I hope nobody has to go through what the realtor had to face.
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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
Gustavo Henrique Ruffo profile photo

Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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