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Tesla Hacker Confirms Model S Battery Pack Has Moisture-Ingress Issues
Mario Zelaya shared with us an issue in his 2013 Model S Performance that could be responsible for battery pack fires and failures. The AC drain hose sits over the steel fuse box cover. When water drops in that area, the cover rusts and allows the same water to invade the battery pack, making it fail over time. Jason Hughes confirmed that happens with many more Model S units and revealed another moisture-ingress possibility.

Tesla Hacker Confirms Model S Battery Pack Has Moisture-Ingress Issues

2013 Tesla Model 3 that belonged to Mario Zelaya had an issue more units may also present: water invading the battery pack through the fuse box2013 Tesla Model 3 that belonged to Mario Zelaya had an issue more units may also present: water invading the battery pack through the fuse boxTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S facedTransport Canada report about the issue Mario Zelaya's 2013 Tesla Model S faced2013 Tesla Model 3 that belonged to Mario Zelaya had an issue more units may also present: water invading the battery pack through the fuse boxTesla's invoice with the battery pack replacement priceTesla Service Center emails telling Mario Zelaya to sign the papers to release his Model SJason Hughes confirms water ingress in Model S battery packs is a widespread issue
Hughes is the owner of 057 Technology, a shop that repairs Tesla vehicles. Over the years, he became a valuable information source about everything involving the EV maker. This is why he is also known as Tesla Hacker.

In a TMC post, Hughes shared that he is wondering about preventative and affordable measures for the vehicles affected by these two moisture-ingress problems. The AC drain hose with the rusted steel fuse box is just one of the worries. The other one relates to “deteriorated side rail vents.” According to Hughes, they were “supposed to be sealed one-way vents for safety purposes.”

The Tesla Hacker said that the issues affect Model S units “from day 1 builds up to about Q4 2014 and some even Q1 2015.” If the Tesla Hacker is aware of the problem, the EV maker most certainly knows about it for years. Regarding more recent Model S units that also present these failures, Hughes said that “any cars that have had Tesla-refurbished packs installed” will also face them.

Hughes is wondering about a scheduled service that will retrofit some custom-made parts in these older battery packs to prevent water from getting inside the battery pack. 057 Technology will also test the battery packs for moisture ingress and use custom equipment to remove any signs of water inside the components. The issue is that it may not be enough.

According to the Tesla Hacker, “the ultrasonic welds Tesla uses on the sense connections are pretty sensitive to moisture and can fail unexpectedly even after we remove internal moisture and correct the underlying ingress issues.” In these cases, removing the water only works for “a certain amount of moisture.” Above that limit, “that failure is pretty much imminent, even if it can be delayed.

For battery packs that exceed that moisture limit, Hughes may offer “a full rebuild of the battery pack.” Predictably, it should be “a longer process and a bit more expensive,” but certainly not as costly as replacing the battery pack for more than $20,000, as Zelaya heard from his Tesla Service Center. In this rebuild, 057 Technology “would then inspect and test all of the 100+ sense connections within the battery, update other components as needed (contactors, fuse, etc.), and basically do a full refurbishment on the battery pack.”

Curiously, Hughes said he doesn’t “think Tesla is under any obligation to do anything about this.” The Tesla Hacker also does not believe the EV maker did anything wrong or that it should take measures to fix these battery packs. That depends on whether the battery packs are still under warranty or not.

In Zelaya’s case, the warranty for his 2013 Model S expired on June 19, 2020, eight years after he bought the EV. He argued that Tesla could have detected the water invasion much earlier if it had properly inspected the battery packs. Hughes said Tesla started fixing the issue in early 2019 with a software change. In other words, before Zelaya’s Model S battery pack warranty expired.

What Hughes thinks that Tesla failed to do was that it doesn’t “seem to always correct the underlying issue on their refurbished batteries that they sell to customers.” This would be why newer vehicles present the same moisture-ingress issues as older Model S units.

In Zelaya’s case, Transport Canada seems to have dismissed the need for a recall because his case could be isolated. Hughes confirmed it isn’t. In fact, he stated that “057 currently has over twenty customer vehicles in the shop (...), all of them with essentially the same battery issue,” and he wants to offer his preventative measures to “a huge percentage of early (Model) S vehicles being affected by this problem.”

This is another example of something extensive testing would have pointed out before the Model S was put for sale. Philippe Chain asked Elon Musk to do that with the electric sedan for 1 million miles in a six-month long-term durability evaluation before the EV was introduced in June 2012. Musk said he could do it but that the launch date would not be postponed. Any issues would be repaired with recalls and over-the-air (OTA) updates. Ask the Model S owners with these moisture-ingress issues which one they think will fix their cars.



 
 
 
 
 

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