July 20, 2022: The Last Handle

Fully-functioning Model S handles - collect them all!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to give in. That ghost in the rear seat needed to be exorcized. Earlier this month I had left the car at the train station not realizing that the rear door had apparently been left ajar and only noticed the notification on my phone once I was in the office about an hour away. Great, so Big Blue was sitting there in a parking lot, completely open and unlocked, waiting for someone to walk by and invite themselves to the contents. I created a service request in the app:

I was curious whether the Service Center team would get the reference. The response I got in the morning indicated they apparently did. And the estimated repair cost? Over $300, of course. I'm living the low-cost electric future as you can clearly see.

The original appointment date had to be moved back since they didn't have the parts in stock. I always find this surprising since the Fremont factory is right next door and these auto-presenting door handles have been a problem since mankind landed on the moon. But hey, fine ... I've put up with this issue for years so a few more days isn't going to make a difference at this point.

My appointment slot was between noon and 5:00pm and the tech texted me around 2:30. He pulled up in the Mobile Service rocketship (a pre-Autopilot vehicle in need of a wash) and got right to work.

I was tempted to offer a quick once-over with my car cleaning kit in the garage.

About 1.5 hours later the physical install part was done. He was having issues with one of his tools getting network connectivity to the mothership so he couldn't perform the final calibration work. A follow-up was needed and he could either swing by tomorrow ad-hoc or I could run to the Fremont Service Center. I chose the former. I was left with a new handle which didn't auto-present, but the door could be opened/closed with that Model X vibe.

And thus I present to you the final bill for the final door handle from the Tesla legacy that is the over-engineered, supremely-reliable™ contraption designed to extract that last bit of energy efficiency for that sweet, sweet low drag coefficient which is now laughed at by Plaid.

So at this point Every. Single. Door. Handle. On this car. has been replaced/upgraded from the first-gen iteration. I better not ever encounter issues with auto-presenting handles or self-opening doors ever again. Like ever.

Update 07/21/2022:

As promised yesterday, a Mobile Service technician called me up around noon to see if he could swing by and finish up the calibration work. It's hard to believe a story where automotive service folks actually call back or follow-up per a prior verbal commitment, but low and behold Tesla delivered. This was a different tech than yesterday and he was aware of the repair work already performed.

He rolled up in a similar (aged) Model S but with a different Mobile Service label on the door. It turns out these cars are essentially vinyl-wrapped and this Mobile Service door design is the newer version (compared with the other one with half of the rear door red-striped and the company logo prominently displayed).

I guess this is why they don't wash the cars that often - they just replace the wrap. Plus they're probably way too busy moving from one service order to the next. But at least try to keep the wheels clean, yo.

It's quite the thick caked-on brake dust. If we assume that these techs mostly rely on regen while driving between service appointments, then we can safely assume these things haven't been cleaned in years.

That said this episode ends happily with a fully functional handle. On all four corners. In the old Model S world this is what we call A Miracle. A unicorn moment. The tech implied that there was recently yet another minor revision to these handle designs so we'll see if the mothership sends a subtle software update which seemingly bricks a handle or two so I can cough up yet another $300.

My 8-year warranty expires in a few months. I'm sure the high-voltage pack will die suddenly or the drive unit experience a catastrophic failure. You can count on it.