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Tesla Adds Sounds to Owner's Manual to Prevent Unnecessary Service Requests

When April Gillmore bought her Tesla Model 3 Performance, the sound of metal scratching metal led her to discover the car was delivered without a brake pad. Her service request was necessary and urgent, but Tesla thinks it receives complaints for perfectly normal operating sounds. To avoid them, the company added a section to the owner’s manual with these sounds to educate customers.
Tesla added sounds to its owners' manuals to let people know which are the normal ones 10 photos
Photo: April Gillmore
Inside brake pad on the right rear wheel of April Gillmore's Tesla Model 3 PerformanceInside brake pad on the right rear wheel of April Gillmore's Tesla Model 3 PerformanceTesla Model 3 Performance bought by April Gillmore had no inside brake pad on rear left wheelTesla Model 3 Performance bought by April Gillmore had no inside brake pad on rear left wheelText messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."Text messages exchanged by April Gillmore and Tesla Service Center showing rear left wheel without inside brake pad was "within specs."
Predictably, the new section is called “Normal Operating Sounds.” It presents eight sound files, with two per subsection: “Climate Controls and Temperature Regulation,” “Battery and Charging,” “Driving,” and “Wheels, Tires, and Brakes.” Tesla refers to these sounds as humming, whirring, wooshing, clicking, thumping, clunking, banging, popping, creaking, and cranking. Curiously, all four models Tesla currently sells present the same sounds.

Listening to them, there are sound alerts mixed with operating sounds. As people say, if there is a warning, there is a story: Tesla must have received complaints about sound alerts, which is pretty bizarre. That may have to do with buyers that never rode in a Tesla and who just received the vehicles without any explanation about how they operate.

Some of the sounds also seem to be present because Tesla did not worry about a better insulation strategy. Sound-deadening materials tend to make the car heavier. The lower the mass, the further a vehicle can travel. In other words, more weight is an enemy of range, something that Tesla is often accused of exaggerating in its statements. Edmunds discovered that most Tesla vehicles fail to meet their EPA ranges.

The new measure is an intriguing way to tackle the high demand Tesla Service Centers currently experience. The Norwegian customers that promised a hunger strike to talk to Elon Musk said that it is very difficult to make an appointment to repair their cars, adding to multiple similar complaints.

Tesla’s best shot at solving this issue would be to improve quality control, increase the number of Tesla Service Centers, and invest in training its technicians instead of putting people that are not related to repairs in maintenance services, as it recently did. For the record, the first answer Gillmore received from technicians when she sent them a video of her Model 3 Performance's sounds was that her car was “within specs.”

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Editor's note: The gallery contains images of April Gillmore's Tesla Model 3 Performance, which presented a noise Tesla technicians defined as normal. It wasn't.

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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