NEWS

Getting Our Tesla Model Y Repaired Was Painless

tesla-model-y-2021-01-exterior-charging 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Corinne Hanshaw

After roughly two years of ownership and more than 20,000 miles of driving, our Tesla Model Y had accumulated enough issues that it was time to send it to a Tesla service center for the first time since we had last visited one to address a flat tire on a road trip. This time was less about an immediate problem and more the result of an accumulation of issues until we finally couldn’t stand them anymore. The process was remarkably easy, almost entirely painless and worthy of praise.

Related: Our Tesla Model Y in Cold Weather: How Was Range Affected?

Why Did We Need Service?

tesla-model-y-repairs-05 2021 Tesla Model Y |

The chief issue we encountered, and the one that finally prompted us to take our Model Y in for service, was a faulty rear-window regulator. The Model Y’s windows are frameless, so when you open a door, the window automatically lowers a small amount so that it’s not in the track attached to the body of the car; when the door is closed, the window automatically raises again to seal tightly. Unfortunately in our car, one window wasn’t doing this process correctly or consistently, leading the window to sometimes stay fully up when closing the door or not retracting when trying to open the door. It seems a miracle that we didn’t manage to shatter the glass itself, but the problem rendered one of the four doors effectively unusable. The window itself wouldn’t always roll up properly, either, as demonstrated above.

2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile 2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com photo by Brian Normile

There were other issues: an intermittent low coolant message that seemed to reduce the effectiveness of the air conditioning; a rear head restraint clip that I broke when I tried to insert the head restraint back into its receivers (because I am The Strongest Man in the World); raised leather on the back of the steering wheel that was irritating to the touch; and a squeaky steering column that made noise when adjusting it.

With our laundry list of issues, we took the most Tesla path possible to get them fixed: We went to a smartphone app. The Tesla app allows owners to schedule service appointments and has a helpful option to select from a list of common issues and then describe the specifics, and even provide photo or video documentation. With our issues entered, we found a convenient appointment time at one of Tesla’s nearby service centers.

The Service Appointment Experience

Chief Copy Editor Patrick Masterson handled the actual drop-off and pickup of the Model Y for two reasons: First, the service center we chose was fairly close to his home. Second, he had the car at the time.

Here’s how the appointment went, according to Masterson:

“The service appointment I took our Tesla in for was about as frictionless an experience as one can have. After scheduling via the Tesla app, I drove to the nearest service center about a mile from me one afternoon. Though there were several cars sitting in the lot behind the building, the space inside was clear of traffic and it was a fairly sedate scene as a handful of technicians went about their jobs.

“Following a brief check-in with one of the techs, I pulled our Model Y into the service bay, where he took notes as I pointed out and talked through each issue. After a brief discussion over what the repairs would involve and an initial estimate of what would be covered under warranty, the tech told me the repairs would be taken care of in about 24 hours (a second shift is employed at this location, though I’m not sure if they were utilized for our vehicle specifically); when completed, we’d get a notification in the Tesla app. From the time I first walked into the building to the time I walked out and home was about 15 minutes.

“Sure enough, almost exactly 24 hours from the time I walked out the door, a notification came up in the app that our car was ready for pickup. I walked over and checked in with the same tech, who told me my Model Y was sitting out in the lot among the rest; finding it was easy enough now that I know our license plate and a few telltale interior identifiers. At no point did I have to sign anything since the appointment and details were handled through the app at the point of scheduling. A mild point of confusion was that I was dropping off and picking up a car under Brian’s name, but even that was swiftly sorted. I couldn’t have been on the premises for pickup more than five minutes.”

Is Everything Fixed Now?

Not quite, unfortunately, but that’s because the Model Y decided to behave during its time at the service center; the squeaky steering column issue could not be replicated for the technician, so we left it alone for now. If it returns, perhaps we’ll try again.

Every other issue was indeed repaired and has remained issue-free since our visit. The service center staff used the app to communicate about — and seek authorization for — all repairs, and also to warn us that the replacement head restraint clip would be the only thing not covered under the Model Y’s warranty. The total cost of service was just $20 for that clip.

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Thoughts on the Experience

This was far and away the easiest and most streamlined car-repair experience I’ve had — and one of the shortest. Making an appointment and detailing the issues was straightforward, and I had confidence that the appointment would actually be honored when the car arrived at the service center. With other brands, our online service appointment experiences have often resulted in the service department at the dealership being completely unaware of the appointment or the issues with the car, and occasionally, the scheduling system has not communicated how much time it might take for the car to be evaluated and serviced. This is especially true when using a brand’s smartphone app. With Tesla, however, almost the entire process is done through the app — and it just works.

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Photo of Brian Normile
Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and Cars.com in 2013, and he became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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