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Solution to pressure buffeting issue in some cars

A huge thanks to DrComputer on the Tesla Motors Club forum for posting his solution to this issue. My car also has exhibited a strange low pressure buffeting even when all the windows were open and the sunroof was open. I'm going to try this fix tonight and see if it solves the issue.

Originally Posted by UMD86
The analyst from Cars.com experienced the same thing I did when I test drove the Performance Model. Below is his article. Has anyone ever experienced the same thing? Does anyone know why this happens?

I noticed it in my other cars when I lower the rear windows only. It feels like your ears are clapping. I have to lower the other windows to prevent it. With the Model Perf. "S" it happens when ALL of the windows are up.
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The ride quality is also firmer than I expected from a sizable five-seater; however, the Signature Performance I drove has 21-inch wheels; the lineup starts with 19-inchers. There was also a troublesome low-frequency resonance — a vibration felt more than heard — that was most pronounced on grooved-concrete interstate but which was also detectable at other times. It felt a bit like the pressure buffeting that sometimes happens when you drive with a moonroof open too far, but not accompanied by the higher frequency wind turbulence. I and a passenger — and another editor driving separately — found it terribly irritating.
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This is concern for me. I will have to test drive both models before I finalize my order. I hope it's nothing major - I like the interior headroom of the perf. model.

(POST FROM DrComputer on the TMC Forum - This was one of the first problems I reported to Tesla. On my drive home from the factory I too noticed the horrible "pressure buffeting" when all of the windows and sunroof were closed. I tried several experiments to see if I lowered the windows slightly or opened the sunroof if it would go away. It didn't. After discussing it with the LA service center and them with corporate they determined this is a known issue and is actually caused by rear hatch. If you open the rear hatch you will find two thumb screw type rubber dampers on each side of the hatch by the edge (not the solid plates they press against on the car itself). If the screws are not far enough out the hatch acts as a large speaker bouncing up and down as you drive over uneven roads creating this uncomfortable pressure feeling. Adjust them out far enough so the hatch closes tightly but not too far where the automatic closer will not shut because there is too much pressure. This adjustment, in combination with the rear parcel shelf to absorb vibration, greatly reduces the pressure buffeting problem

I tried the fix tonight and it solved the issue for me! What I experienced before the fix was a low pressure in my eardrums when the car would go over bumps and certain types of pavement, regardless if the windows were open or closed (even tried opening up the panoramic sunroof and all the windows to see if it would help, it didn't) In other cars, I'd feel a similar buffeting if I had a window open in a certain way and in a certain combination (one rear window open and all the others closed for example).

The two rubber screws on each side of the lift gate in my car were screwed all the way in (thus giving no extra support to the hatch over bumps in the road). I ended up loosening the screws (turned the screws to the left or counter-clockwise) to extend the screws further. I think in my case, I extended both screws about 1/4 inch or 3/8th of an inch. I extended them just to the point where the automatic lift gate wouldn't open back up. It makes the lift gate very snug against the rubber stops on the frame. I may experiment a bit to see how much I can retract the screws back into the lift gate to see where the threshold of buffeting is.

I don't have a rear parcel shelf, so I think once I get that delivered from my due bill, that may help reduce the low frequency noise even more. But I'm now a happy camper!

We got our car today and noticed this pressure buffeting problem right away. My wife complained about it too. We didn't remember this when we test drove the vehicle.

So I went out and played with the rubber screws a bit. It seems that my screws were set pretty far out and I could only turn them about a quarter turn before the hatch was not able to automatically close. It seems to have alleviated the buffeting problem slightly (or it could be that I'm more used to the buffeting now). Hopefully, the parcel shelf will help the situation, because this is very annoying.

I'm glad the fix to alleviate this discomfort was fairly simple, but I'm curious about the inconsistency from car to car in the original factory setting to begin with. I'm noticing a few small but unfinished items on my car on closer inspection that should have been picked up by quality control. The plastic cover for the fuse boxes under the frunk at the base of the windshield was not seated properly and allowed a portal for water entry on the passenger side. I also need to firmly close the front passenger door twice as hard as all the other doors to achieve proper closure. Small items that can be easily adjusted for sure, but I think they should have been recognized prior to shipment.

That passenger door issue is known, and the door can be adjusted at the service center so it's no different than the others. I misremember the detail of how it's done, though.

re Passenger door harder to close than others: I reported this the day after my delivery 12/10 and the service center adjusted the door the following week. That fixed the problem although some passengers are too 'gentle' closing the door. Thats a different situation than before the adjustment where it simply would not latch unless 'slammed' shut. So have them adjust your door and I think you will be happy.

Here is an update for everyone (This might help you fix your problem more Alex K)

(I posted this on the Tesla Motors club forum as well)...

Also an update for everyone on the setting of the rubber shims to resolve the pressure buffeting issue: I felt that after adjusting the rubber shims on my hatch that the hatch was putting a lot of pressure on the locking mechanism. I discovered that the plastic platforms that the shims sit upon when they close are also adjustable. I found that if I raised (extended them towards the moveable hatch) those a bit and lowered (retracted into the moveable hatch) the rubber shims, that helped with the pressure on the latch while keeping the buffeting with the windows closed issue minimized. It does take a bit of adjusting to get everything level and balanced when the hatch closes, so if you try the fix and it doesn't seem to completely resolve your issue, keep adjusting all 4 screws to get the hatch to close in balance with even pressure all around.

I believe once you get an even pressure about all four contact points, the buffeting is minimized as much as possible with that adjustment. I could see why they might rush that part of the QC at Tesla if they are trying to delivery cars fast. It could take quite a bit of trial and error to get it completely right.

I also noticed that my fix has reduced the funny sound I sometimes get with the HVAC system turned on at a medium range fan speed. It's the same pressure buffeting, so I think because the car is so tightly sealed, when the fan runs at a certain speed, it is causing the hatch to move in and out slightly as air is drawn into the car.

Can someone post a picture of which shims need adjusting?

I noticed a pressure on my head and ears immediately on entering the car on both test drives before we left the parking lot. Actually got a headache on the second test drive. The pressure was not altered during the drive or by opening a window. This is not a wind buffeting problem. Maybe a frequency issue from the electric motors?

One other person reported getting car sick when driving the Model S (but not ICE cars). Maybe both of you are sensitive to something?

Thanks for the inadvertent bump. I noticed it right away too, but it was tolerable, and I'm practically use to it now. But I can't wait to give the "fix" a try.

Got my MS Saturday. Head pressure for the whole family. Windows open or closed. Less pressure with Climate Control Off. One got sick (contributing factor may have been multiple 0-60 runs I admit). Told my salesperson who also felt it when I took her for a short ride. Never followed up as promised. Very annoying.

Thrilled to find this thread as I feared I was the only one. I will adjust bumpers today and report back.

I too noticed this immediately upon driving my car away from the SC the day of delivery. I assumed it was due to the precise computer engineering/robotic production methods that made the car so "air tight." As I'm not much of a fix it guy (although these adjs seems easy to most of you), could we get someone to post a quick YouTube video showing how these adjustments are made?

That would be helpful and much appreciated.

Another update... we received our parcel shelf about two weeks ago. Having it installed seems to help reduce the pressure problem even more.

I haven't posted a video to YouTube before, but I'll see if I can figure it out and post the method to adjust the rubber shims and the plastic caps on the rear hatch.

The good news is that the combination of the parcel shelf in place and the adjustments of the rear hatch shims was able to reduce the pressure buffeting in my car to the point where I consider it solved!

But the one thing it hasn't solved is if you set the HVAC system to push air to the windshield vent and to the vents in the dash and set the fan speed at a certain setting (can't remember exactly, but I think it's a speed above 4 or so) then there is a buffeting that will happen in the cabin. That particular set of conditions is rare to have in my car, so it's not a problem. When it happens, it will only happen for a short period of time and I can live with it because at least I have control over it and can turn the vents off or turn the fan speed down.

I've never had any pressure issues unless the windows are open. Wonder if I'm just less sensitive than some, or whether there's some difference in some of the cars?

Test: Drive in a closed, safe course with the rear hatch open. If the head-buffeting is absent, you have a pretty good indication that was the cause.

I, too, am relieved to have come across this thread. When I drove my car after first getting it, I commented to the customer service person immediately. I hadn't heard about this issue before, so I thought maybe it was just me. From then on, I was in denial -- just refusing to acknowledge that it continued to bother me.

Tried raising the bumpers about two turns counter clockwise with only minimal improvement. I have not tried to raise them further as I can already see that the trunk lid is riding too high and I can hear the lock straining to latch shut.

I can confirm with certainty that Brian H is 100% on the ball as the pressure buffeting stops the moment the trunk is opened both when I am in park or in motion. Not sure what to do next short of going in for service or at least waiting for delivery of my shelf.

I had the pressure buffeting issue and couldn't resolve it on my own by adjusting the 4 hatch stops. I took it to Fremont and they adjusted the latch, striker, and stops. Sound pressure issue is resolved - much quieter.

Mine car's buffeting was minor, but noticeable on rough roads. By pressing the trunk lid, I noticed the left side had much more play than the right. So i backed out (counter clock ) the rubber dampener on the body (cone shaped), and the dampener on the lid (the cylinder shaped) on the left side only.

Then I made sure both are tight against their respective stoppers by putting a long string or long piece of paper on the dampener, then close the trunk. If the string or paper can't be pulled out, they are tight enough. This should take some guess work out.

Now the trunk rest firmly, and the buffeting is gone. Drove the car in some nasty roads in Camden NJ today, no buffeting!

CC, great tip about the long string to see if they shims are tight against their respective stoppers, I'm going to give that a try. I'm happy with how minimal the buffeting is now in my car, but maybe I can adjust things a bit better with your method.

jlamano, thanks for the info about adjusting the latch, striker and stops, that's good to know as well.

@Blurry

The benefit of using a string or paper to test for tightness of the dampeners should help prevent over or under adjusting (raised the dampeners too high or not high enough).

Let me know how it works out for you. Hopefully you don't need to bring it in to the service center for the full adjustment.

I also noticed this ear popping / vibration the first time a drove my new Tesla home after delivery. When I called the service center, they told me to screw the 2 stoppers on the back hatch all the way in? which maybe helped a little. Then a Ranger came out to look at the car, told me he hadn't heard about it and the engineers he talked to acted like this wasn't a common known problem (which from this thread, it appears to be known) he spent all day working on the car, cut a 5inch hole in the back side panel to allow complete air access to the rear vent (told me this way only temporary, not to worry). I'm still having trouble on and off with severe percussion / vibration, tho less ear popping. I also noticed it seems to be worse between 30-50 mph, and when mildly coasting. certain roads are worse than others. someone commented that the car may have trouble deciding between accelerating and regenerative breaking if you are right in that sweet spot. I will try to adjust the stoppers on the back, and will try the string test to see if it seals correctly. The ranger told me the car was not properly QC tested, since the stickers were still on my tires. Also my car was delivered dirty, with a pair of old gloves in stuffed in the front shelf, so I guess they were in a hurry to ship it out. otherwise love the car.

UPDATE: I previously posted my issue was resolved, however the fix resulted in the lift gate sitting significantly higher than the quarter panels, which looked terrible. Fremont Service adjusted the lift gate fitment and now the buffeting is back. The ear popping is gone but it is very audible below 50 mph. Tesla is saying the problem cannot be resolved without misalignment of the lift gate. I’ve tried to tweak the adjustments but can’t get it to an acceptable level. Has anyone else received the same message from Tesla or resolved their issue?

I just had this item serviced (and corrected) on my 1 month old S85. The buffeting wasn't extreme, but noticeable. The tech told me that the larger, lower bumper stops should actually be screwed all the way in (tightened), and the adjustment should occur on the other bump stops located in the middle of the drip rails on the hatch, albeit at the Service Center. The lower bump stop adjustments should be a temporary fix (until you can bring it in to the Service Center) as I found myself inadvertently spinning these stops by simply wiping excess water in the rails after washing (and then having to readjust).


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