Car video reviews:
This Is What the Model S Battery Pack Fuse Box Cover Looks Like After Some Years
When Mario Zelaya helped us discover that early Model S units had a water-ingress issue with their battery packs, he was outraged. Tesla had thrown away an essential piece of evidence without his consent: the steel fuse box cover. Another Model S owner contacted him to share what that component looked like in his car. It was probably as rusted as the part Tesla replaced from Zelaya’s Model S without asking.

This Is What the Model S Battery Pack Fuse Box Cover Looks Like After Some Years

This is where the steel box cover sits: see the signs of rustThe battery pack in Joaquim Rodrigues' Model S had rusted bolts and plenty of waterThe fuse inlet had to be replaced in Joaquim Rodrigues' Model S battery packThe battery pack in Joaquim Rodrigues' Model S had rusted bolts and plenty of waterThis is the steel fuse box cover in a Model S after some years: after it rusts, the battery pack an fail
Joaquim Rodrigues bought his 2013 Model S P85 in 2016. At the time, it had 80,000 kilometers (49,710 miles) on the clock. For the past six years and 150,000 km (93,206 mi), Rodrigues only had minor issues with the EV until the odometer showed 230,689 km (143,343 mi). At that point, he got the following message: “Maximum battery charge level reduced: OK to drive. Schedule service.” That was three weeks ago.

“I work close to Tesla on Ferrier (Montréal-Ferrier Tesla Service Center). I dropped my car there, asked them to check what was wrong, and went to work. Three days later, after work went by, they had the result: a short in the battery pack.”

Rodrigues asked them what to do and received the bad news: “They said my only option was to change the battery pack at CAD$29,000. And they said I was lucky: they had a 90-kWh battery pack available immediately. For CAD$3,000 more, they would unlock the extra power. I told them to give me a day or two to decide.”

The Model S owner had to rent a car because he lives far from work. Tesla only provides Uber credits or a loaner while the EV is under warranty. Searching for a second opinion, Rodrigues contacted VE Mtl, an independent shop founded by ex-Tesla technicians. They suspected what the problem was and told him to take his car to their shop.

“I told my agent at Tesla that I was going elsewhere to get the car fixed and wanted my car. He went to see his boss to say I wanted to go elsewhere. His boss gave him a letter for me to sign, saying they are not responsible for my car anymore.”

It was the same form Zelaya refused to sign. Rodrigues did the same and almost got the police involved.

“I told him I was not signing that and wanted my car. His boss didn’t want to give me my EV until I signed that paper. I refused again and told them to bring out my car before calling the cops, which they did. Not wanting me to call the cops, another boss came to see me and said he was sorry and gave me my car.”

When Rodrigues left his car at VE Mtl, he learned water dripping from the AC drain hose right over the battery pack invaded the component after the steel fuse box cover almost dissolved with rust. It was the same issue Zelaya had experienced with his vehicle. The difference is that now we have the picture Rodrigues sent us. “The VE Mtl guys are very aware of the problem and knew exactly what to do.”

The independent shop charged Rodrigues CAD5,000 for the service. They cleaned out the rust, replaced the corroded bolts, dried the battery pack, cleaned out all valves, installed new umbrella valves and a new fuse inlet, reprogrammed the entire battery (purging corrupt software), resealed the battery pack, and removed internal corrosion. Rodrigues’ Model S is back to work, even if with less range: instead of the 410 km (255 mi) he used to achieve with a full charge, the EV now travels 370 km (230 mi).

“When I picked up my car on September 23, another Tesla arrived: a 2014 Model S with the same problem. I know that VE Andre Simon, in Trois Rivière, also had five in their shop.”

In similar cases where independent shops repair or replace the battery pack, Tesla often blocks Supercharging. Jason Hughes, the Tesla hacker, complained that the EV maker stopped his car from fast charging even in third-party chargers and in the stall he has in his shop. Rodrigues has Supercharging for life. It was still working the last time he checked.

The Model S owner now plans to sue Tesla for the design flaw. Considering the lawsuit will be in Canada, it will not include American customers, probably the most affected by the water-ingress defects. Besides the rusting fuse box cover, Hughes said that deteriorated side rail vents might also allow moisture to enter the battery pack. We’ll update you as soon as we learn more about the lawsuit.


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