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Underbelly protection from salt

This is my single largest worry.

Living in the Northeast, we get outrageous amounts of salt dumped on our roads to go with the snow and ice. I don't want to watch the battery pack under the floor of the Model S corroded by salt water and destroyed. Does anyone know for a fact what Tesla is doing to protect the battery pack from the masses of ice, snow, water, gravel, and salt which will be thrown up against the bottom of the car in typical driving? I've been assuming that there will be some sort of solid, hard protection plate, but does anyone know for sure?

I can tell you that aluminum- bare aluminum, machined- does not at ALL like salt exposure. Rinse it. Airplane fuselages use clad aluminum sheet for that reason (a 0.005" thick layer of pure aluminum is rolled with the sheet. 'Bare' to engineers means 'not clad.') The clad layer forms a tight aluminum oxide layer that is relatively corrosion resistant. Better than machined anyway. But if you drive in salt, rinse frequently. The owner's manual has a section on this.

The corrosion will also depend on the relative proximity of galvanic couples. For example, carbon fiber or titanium form a battery with aluminum in the presence of electrolyte. Salt water is a TERRIFIC electrolyte.

Presumably the carbon trim parts are well enough encapsulated to avoid forming the electric circuit with the aluminum body.

Steel- plain steel, or carbon steel, or alloy steel, corrodes easily in the presence of salt. Corrosion resistant steel (aka stainless) is better, but has mechanical properties inferior to the best alloy steels including those used in leaf springs.

Saltwater has lower surface tension than fresh water, it penetrates into the smallest crevices and it’s not possible to flush it out with fresh water.

Even though the aluminium body, the encapsulated batteries and the suspension components will withstand the salty brine, what about cables, connectors, bolts and joints? Places where salt can hide or galvanic reactions can occur.

Is the Model S protected against corrosion from the factory? Are there any warranties on this similar to what most other car manufacturers have?

Is it recommended to treat the Model S with penetrating oil, wax based protecting media or similar?

Should treatment as described above be avoided in order not to create problems for batteries, cabeling, motor and inverter?


Have you asked these questions of Tesla? In the mean time I suggest you keep your car out of the ocean. They are great questions particularly for those of us who drive on salted roads several months a year. I just wash my car a few times a week.

The battery body is not aluminum. It is steel, for body strength.

Haven't got any good answers from Tesla, but have not been nagging.

The battery box being made from steel does not reduce my concerns. Steel does rust very well in the presence of salt.

What are the experiences made by the owners who have driven their cars through the first winter. Have anybody had a look on the underside of your car yet?

Norway calling, still having salty roads over here. Regarding salt, we prep our Cars with "Tectyl Dinol" and it works perfectly !

Here some instructions and how Tectyl Dinol works, 100% effective !!!

For salty roads

Not at all a worry. Aluminium is less prone to oxidisation especially compared to steel and as is mentioned earlier in the thread, due to the forming of the aluminium oxide layer that is practically impenetrable. The Land Rover comparison is relevant. Also, don't forget the 8 year warranty on the battery.
Logic tells me that TM being the world leader in EV vehicles (!) will never risk reputation on something as basic as faulty battery packs, salt or no salt. Guaranteed, TM has considered this and taken necessary precautions for sure. Rose tinted spectacles? Perhaps, but have to have some belief in what I put my USD +100,000 into.

Judging by the rest of the (over designed) suspension, I'd have to agree with GeirT.

I assuming if the battery or plate is made out of aluminium after 10 to 15 years you probably have to replace the battery anyways. So I'm sure they will give you a new plate or better material that would be resistant. I don't think that salt will penatrate before that.

I don't have 100% faith that they have thought about the salt that cars in other parts of the country are exposed to. Just look at the falcon doors on the Model X. Cool design, but not practical for people who live in places where it snows on the car frequently for 5 months or more each year. It seems like the designers forget that the cars will be driven beyond the Bay Area....

Fastwalker; I'm in Norway too! Have spendt 1000's of NOK's on the products you mention to preserve my cars, unfortunately salt always wins the battle in the end.

In the meantime got answer from Tesla that the car is sufficiently protected against corrosion. They do however not have any specific warranty on this. Also, they do not recommend applying any aftermarket products to the car, i.e. don't put any Tectyl on the battery box.

So, we will just have to trust them that the salt will not bite. I just hope they have got some lessons learned from the cooperation with Mercedes. The E-class has been an expensive exercise for Mercedes in Norway, they have had to replace hundreds of doors, bonnets, wings etc.

It's steel, for strength. Maybe coated.

I THINK (do NOT know for fact) that the steel is internal structural components to the pack, and that the external paneling is all aluminum.

The Nat Geo Factory tour showed the steel battery pack at about the 42 min. mark. Other statements made it clear, the steel pack is a major contributer to frame rigidity. Definitely steel.

Doesn't mean that it's external Brian. There isn't one locally (yet) so I can't look for myself.

It is the external case for the batteries. Showed clearly in the video.

@Brian H

I was told at a Tesla Store that battery casing is aluminum, but side beams are steel.

This was confirmed by an owner who tested various parts of the car under-body using a magnet:

Regarding the Megafactories video, I think that the narrator talks about the battery pack frame, not casing.

I just had a look at my S on the rack at the service center. It rubbed a bit in the middle a month ago and I figured while I was there they might as well look under it. There are two side beams and one middle that are steal skid plates basically. I did no damage to the aluminum battery case, just scratched the skid plates which is why they are there.

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