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Tesla and California Lemon Law

I picked up my car 3 weeks ago. So far, it has gone back the Los Angeles, CA service center 3 times for the same issue. And it is not just a small issue either. While I was driving on the freeway 2 weeks ago, the car suddenly pop up 5 errors on the screen. It says I have in traction control, stability control, parking brake error, lost brake regen, and passenger side air bag is on. Another time, I lost power steering in the parking lot as well. The service center is very nice and easy to work with. They picked up my car via a flatbed and dropped off a loaner for me.

After several days, they told me the tire sensors are malfunctioning and they replaced them all for me. Well, after only 2 days, I received similar error messages again. They took it back in the same day and told me they replaced my tire sensor module and also installed some sort of monitoring device on my car, just in case the problem came back again. Guess what, in 3 days of light driving, all of those problems came back again!

So far, the car has 800+ miles on it and I only drove about 200 miles of it. Today, they picked up the car and I got another awesome P85+ loaner to drive while the car is undergoing close examination by their tech and engineers. 3 weeks of ownership, 3 service center visit for the same dangerous problem! I posted my experience on Google Plus and one of the poster told me to check on local lemon law.

I want to know if anyone here share a similar experience here? And who should I contact and how to go about this? I looked up California Lemon Law and I'm pretty close to qualify for it. It states that if a car has been returned to the authorized dealer for repair of the same issue more than 4 times and don't have the car more than 30 days, I'm qualified under the California Lemon Law. I don't want to go this route and the valet service has been a life-saver. But I wonder if Tesla will ever fix my car? Imaging driving on the freeway at 70+ mpg and lost your traction, stability, and brake regen! I'm very concern about my family and my own safety!

Update 9-24-2013 5:40pm
I received a call from Vince. He told me that they have checked all the log from the special module they installed on my car, and they can't find anything wrong before and after my problem! So, the update is that they don't know what's wrong with my car. He also mentioned that he brought up my situation to the ownership and escalated the regional manager. I should get a call from them tomorrow.

Update 9-25-2013 5:30pm
Received a call from Vince and it's a no update. Technicians and engineers are still working hard to find out the issue with my car. I'm disappointed that I haven't heard anything from the ownership team or anyone else. Vince said someone should contact me soon. If not by tomorrow, he will bring this issue up again.

Update 9-26-2013 10:30am
Vince told me that Tesla flew an engineer to Los Angeles office to get to the bottom of problem. So, hopefully I'll get my car back soon.

Update 9-26-2013 4:00pm
I finally called the ownership experience team and reported my situation. Derek, the specialist, took notes on our conversation and he said this is not a normal Tesla MS behavior and he never heard anything like this before. He was able to look through all services notes and he immediately told me my case will be escalated to the top. And he brought up about California law and possible consideration of replacing my car. He gave me his direct number and told me I will hear from someone by Tuesday.

Update 9-26-2013 5:50pm
LA regional manager called me! He told me the national manager is aware of this case and all hands are on deck. He voiced the same safety concern and promised to give me a more solid answer by next Tuesday. An engineer had flew from the headquarter to investigate the issue and they are taking this case very seriously.

Update 9-26-2013 6:34pm
Good news! Vince just called and he told me the engineer was able to find a loose pin in the harness. It was interfering with the system and caused all of those system errors. They are ordering new parts and the car should be fixed by Monday.

Have not heard of ANYTHING like that.....
In fact Tesla has seemed to be one of the most reliable and well built cars made....
Better than any Mercedes or BMW that I've owned....

Sounds like you got a very rare experience.
Hope it gets better....

Sounds like the customer service is awesome though.....
that's another. Tesla plus

@celtrog, yep, the big take away for me is that they have excellent service and easy to work with. I mean, I can't complaint that I get to drive P85+ when my drive is in for a service. On another hand, I'm concern about the safety of my family. To a point, I am afraid to drive it on the freeway. Every time I get my car back, they told me the problem had been fixed. And they are not lying to me because I see the car has been test drive over 500+ miles. But it is frustrating that my regular commute (less than 15 miles a day) experiences this issue while they can't easily replicate that under heavy test drive.

Do you drive by an airport runway on your drive. Had a difficult problem years ago with brake failure on F15 fighter aircraft losing brakes on the taxi way. We finally figured out that when the aircraft taxied at the same speed and direction as a nearby ground radar antenna rotated it introduced EMI into the electronics and caused a temporary failure of the brakes that could never be duplicated in the shop. Fixed it by improving the shielding and bonding of the anti skid system wiring.

I know its a stretch but with all the electronics on the car a little EMI could cause funny problems that can't be duplicated.

@4rhansen, thanks for your feedback! :) And no, I wasn't close to an airport. The problem happened 3 times.

1st time: I was driving about 70 mph on 10 freeway.
2nd time: I was in a parking lot waiting for a car to back out of a space
3rd time: The car was off for over 2 hours while I was at my friend's place. 7 errors popped up when I turned on the car.

Why not exercise your lemon law rights? I had a Ford once that in retrospect I wish I had done so.

"The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (beginning with Civil Code section 1790) provides protection for consumers who lease or buy new motor vehicles. The law requires that if the manufacturer or its representative in this state, such as an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is required promptly to replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the lessee or buyer....A special provision, often called the "Lemon Law," helps determine what is a reasonable number of repair attempts for problems that substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. The "Lemon Law" applies to these problems if they arise during the first 18 months after the consumer received delivery of the vehicle or within the first 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first.....The "Lemon Law" presumption is a guide, not an absolute rule. A judge or arbitrator can assume that the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of chances to repair the vehicle if all of the conditions are met. "

The detailed info is at

@firerock - I mean the following in the most helpful way... there could be a small chance the way you operate the vehicle triggers an odd behaviour. You can replicate the problem three times in 200 miles and the test drivers can not replicate it in 500 miles. Try to remember what you did before it happened and that may help the SC to replicate the problem.
The reason why I say that I had two experiences not as severe but in a similar manner. First I had the handle auto present feature enabled... I often go into the garage and back out. Handles present and then retrack. I do that three times without opening the doors and handles will not present any longer and handles do not present on touch, I need to double press the fob roof to open the car ( fool me three times... ). Second in the beginning I played too much with the cruise control and all of sudden error messages popped up on the dash board - car still worked fine... but I had to turn the car off to clear the error messages.
Odd operation may not be your problem, but just in case it is then it would be helpful for all of our safety if TM knows about it and gets it fixed.

@firerock - you answered my question while I was typong.

@Dcp9142 thanks and I'll look into more about it soon. Do you think I should contact owner experience team first?

@Kleist actually, they are able to reproduce the problem and see them in my car log. What's frustrating is that they told me the problem had been resolved in every visit. Yet, I get those errors again within a few days. And yes, I was able to clear the problem after I turn off the car and turn it back on. Then the problem got worse and it came up during my drive. Then those errors wouldn't go away even I manually power off the car.

Sounds like the old Bill Gates comment: If cars where computers they would drive 2000 mp/h, get 200mpg and cost a 100 bucks.

GM Answered: That's true, but the car also would crash 2 times a day, wouldn't drive on side rodes and outside the state and sometimes just wouldn't turn left.

It's always scary when jokes turn into reality. Wished the price would be like in the quote too ;)


Your report on your MS quality problems came almost same time when lolachampcar's private thread reports on his friends' MS quality problems.

One can claim that these product quality problems are related to TM's growing pain. However, that a world class product lacking QC is actually a very dangerous sign that TM cannot ignore. Without keeping provide high quality products, TM may ultimately join its failed peers and gone in dust.

I would think that you should send your report of this thread directly to Mr. George Blankenship (who is VP of TM's ownership experience) at to bring his attention on this MS quality issue.

While we feel sorry that you have to go through this agony, we would very much like to know how TM resolves this for you and what has caused those problems. Good luck and thank you!

@firerock The worst part about this is that now you have a lack of confidence in your machine. That's a really hard thing to overcome. The fact that they couldn't fix it, three time, makes it way worse. You'll always be waiting for it to happen again and that's not a fun way to do anything . . . and this car is supposed to be fun. Safe, yes, but fun first.

I would seriously inquire about getting a different car from them without going through the legal hassles of the lemon law. As said above, gblankenship is the way to go on this, but how confident will you ever be in that car again?

I agree - speak to Tesla about getting a replacement car. In the meantime, make sure you get documentation from the service center from each visit that they see the issue in the logs and have fixed it.

If they are confident they have resolved the problem, they can simply use it for test drives or a loaner.

I'd be angry enough that my brand new 3-week old car was driven 500 miles by someone else, let alone the rest of the stuff you're dealing with... and it's still not fixed.

I have to agree with the others. Before bringing CA law in, you should try to escalate as high up the Tesla customer service chain as you can. Don't threaten to use lemon laws just yet, simply tell them you feel the car is unsafe due to the unsuccessful repair attempts and the severe nature of the issue and that you'd like to inquire about swapping it out.

I don't know if they'll do anything beyond assure you it's fixed again, but I think that's your first course of action.

I'd be willing to bet the mere mention of the words "lemon law" to someone high up the food chain at TM will have a dramatic and beneficial effect for the OP. That's surely a mark they will not want to have on their reputation.

My point was that you don't want to bring lemon law up too early. If you read accounts of attempting to invoke lemon law, as soon as it is mentioned the automaker completely cuts contact and hands the case to the lawyers. Obviously I can't say how Tesla would behave, but I'd try the honey approach before I resorted to the stick.


Do you know if these were false errors or real systems failures?

@Gizmotoy but I'd try the honey approach before I resorted to the stick.

Honey and vinegar
Carrot and stick

@ChristianGSo true! I guess you can say that I experienced a BSOD on my Tesla? :D

@jtodtman@gmail.comYes, I have to say I lost some confidence with the product. I especially worry that this will happen again while I am driving on the freeway.

@bradslee@yahoo.comThanks, I'll contact Mr. Blankenship later today.

@tes-sit's funny you mentioned about documentation. After my first visit, I don't receive a PDF of what has done to my car anymore. And I agree that if they are confident that the car has been repaired, they should feel confident to use it as a loaner.

@GizmotoyI agree with you that Lemon Law would be the last resort. Every time they released my car, they told me the problem had been fixed. And as I said, they drove over 500+ miles on my car and I have no reason to doubt them. But I'm surprised that considering everything is logged on the car, the problem keeps on coming back. They told me they checked all the wirings already and they didn't find any shorts nor pinched wires.

@Rte66I don't think anyone know the true error to the situation. But I can tell you the car (or computer) pretty much freaked out and turn off bunch of functions. It auto shut-off my stability control, traction control, brake regen, and turn on the passenger air bag when there's no one next me. Also, I lost power steering and the car was almost impossible to navigate. Luckily, that happened while I was in the office parking lot. At first, they told me it was the tire pressure sensors was misbehaving and throw off the whole system (even though I didn't get any low tire pressure warning). Then they told me it could be some module that monitors the tire pressures. So, I assume some hardware failure is creating this chain reaction from the car.

On a lighter side, maybe they should reformat the car?

Sounds like a bad ground!!

mrrjm- they told me they checked all the wires.

Using it as a loaner doesn't take much confidence...using it for test drives does!! :)

If they are no longer providing documentation of your service visits, document each visit with an email to Tesla describing the problem and their explanation of what was done.

Intermittent problems are difficult to diagnose and fix. Be patient, but persistent. Hopefully the miles you put on the loaner equal or exceed the miles they are putting on your car.

@ firerock,

Tesla does monitor these threads (I know from personal experience) and I would be surprised if you don't hear from someone very soon. I believe your situation may warrant a polite but direct email to Jerome Guillen and George Blankenship. I would also CC Elon Musk to ensure he is aware of what's happening downstream. You could even post something to Elon or Tesla's twitter accounts, but I would consider that as a last step before seeking protection under the law.

Early in production, someone over at TMC had a very bad delivery experience and initial problems with his vehicle. He voiced his concern to Tesla management, received a call from George apologizing and offering to build the customer a new vehicle. Now that was almost a year ago, so I don't know if Tesla would be as humble today, but you have an extreme situation that requires an escalated response to management. Your car's issues are obviously beyond the ability of the local service center to correct.

I would ask for a new car, in the meantime drive a P85+ loaner. Best of both worlds?

I am a new customer and I'm scheduled to receive my Model S in October. These issues are really concerning and I wonder if I've made a mistake by ordering this vehicle. I don't want to feel this way and I know Tesla does not want this type of reputation but this is the reality as of today. There is a whole laundry list of problems and the list is getting worse, not better. I do expect some hiccups from a new company but this is getting ridiculous and it can't be blamed on "growing pains" any longer. Tesla is going to have a hard fall if it doesn't get these issues fixed. I hope they are listening!

@firerock - You should have received an "Owners Rights" addendum to your final purchase documents. Reading the part for CA owners, I think you may qualify now, but you need to send written notice to Tesla:

"California Civil Code Section 1793.22(b) presumes that a manufacturer has had a reasonable number of repair attempts to conform the vehicle to its applicable warranties if within the first 18 months from delivery or the first 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first, (1) Tesla has made at least two unsuccessful repair attempts on a nonconformity that results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven; OR (2) Tesla has made four or more unsuccessful repair attempts on the same nonconformity (i.e., a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle); OR (3) the vehicle has been out of service for the repair of nonconformity for more than 30 calendar days. In the case of (1) or (2) above, if you want the presumption to apply, you must send written notice of the need to repair the nonconformity or non-conformities directly to Tesla at the address listed below."

@tes-s: I think I have been patient about the whole situation and I'm glad that the service center has been prompt on all my requests. And forget about mileage. My daily commute is less than 15 miles per day. But I sure enjoy driving the P85+ though.

@AmpedRealtor: The quality of my car has been great, other than that little 3-7 errors I get. If Tesla is monitoring the board, I hope they know that I'm patient but I'm concerned. I'll try to contact Mr. Blankenship later in the day. As for asking a new car, I doubt they will agree to that unless I go through the Lemon Law process. The loaner P85+ sure makes my life a lot better while waiting for my car to be fixed.

@stevenmaifert: Thank you sir! I will look that up when I get home!

@Wrief: What I try to say is their service has been top notch and my problem might be an isolated one. Will I recommend Tesla to anyone, absolutely! The car drives as good as it looks. And I love every minute while I'm driving it (minus the LA traffic). I don't have any other issues that others have mentioned on the board. Okay, the AM/FM radio sucks - it's not a product defect but bad antenna location or poor reception. Again, I have to reiterate that service center has been great and I get a loaner the same day I call them in. Now, they just need to fix the problem!

@jtodman: Learned something new. Can't say I've ever heard of either of those sayings before. I just knew things are attracted to honey, and afraid of being hit with sticks!


In any event, please keep us posted on the outcome.

I have complete confidence that TM will make it right.

Vince from Los Angeles service center called. He told me that they logged a lot of info on my car and they are in the process of uploading them to the engineering team.

During the phone call, I reiterate about my concern about safety and I brought about escalating this issue to higher up. I also mentioned about the possibility of getting a new car. He said he will bring this up to his manager and someone should contact me later.

Yeah, the flip side is that this is a rare instance of multiple persistent failures, and I would think Tesla would like to have the car back to really diagnose it in depth. As volume increases, the likelihood of someone experiencing similar failures increases, and I'm sure they're eager to fend that off!

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