You love your Tesla, but it’s recently started squeaking, and it’s driving you crazy! Don’t let it push you over the edge, read on, and let’s get to the bottom of what exactly is squeaking.
The squeaking in your Tesla could be caused by any of the following:
- Suspension Control Arm
- Dashboard Squeak
- Seatbelt Housing
- Normal Operating Sounds
In this article, we’ll look at the reason behind each squeak and the possible fix.
Tesla Suspension Control Arm Squeak
All mechanical items begin to squeak and rattle with age, wear and tear, or poor design. The Tesla is no exception, and in fact, owners would say that it is part of the Tesla charm that parts and components don’t quite fit together and sometimes squeak and rattle.
The main squeak complaint on the Tesla comes from the Control Arm of the Front Suspension.
The wishbone and bushings begin to make a very distinctive squeaking noise over time, especially when driving over speed bumps or any rough terrain.
The problem is caused by one of the following problems:
- Wear on rubber boots (Grease)
- Windscreen water drain hole location
Wear on the Rubber Boots
The control arm is located behind the front wheels, at the top of the suspension area, and is identifiable as it is the shape of a wishbone and is often referred to as such. It connects to the car by two small bushings/connections. The grease surrounding these bushings becomes dry over time, and the joints begin to squeak.
The singular end of the control arm is connected to a ball joint surrounded by a rubber boot filled with grease. This joint can also become dry and cause a squeaking noise.
Both of these joints become dry over time through general wear and tear, but it can be caused by the windscreen drain, which we’ll discuss below.
So how to fix this problem?
The go-to fix is to contact Tesla for a suspension refit. Out-of-warranty costs for this job can be upwards of $1000. But even within warranty, if Tesla finds undue wear on your control arm, they won’t complete the job for free just because it is squeaking but will charge for labor.
Tesla has recently stopped covering squeaks and noises under warranty. Unless you’re prepared to pay to find the cause of the squeak, we will have to suck it up and see it as part of the Tesla charm.
The other alternative is to complete the suspension and refit yourself. Only attempt this job if you are a qualified mechanic and have the very specific tools required for the job and also the tools to jack your Tesla.
Jacking a Tesla can be challenging as your Tesla doesn’t come with a jack! I have explained in detail what you need to jack your Tesla in another article which you can find here.
Windscreen Water Drain Hole
You may be wondering why we spoke about the windscreen drain hole and how it could be connected to your suspension control arm squeaking. The windscreen drain hole is located beside the control arm. Just to the right of the control arm is a hole. Its purpose is to drain excess water from the windscreen and away from the car.
However, the engineers at Tesla didn’t factor in that all this excess water would ultimately cause corrosion of the control arm and suspension unit. Tesla has no plans to alter the drain hole or redirect the excess water elsewhere.
However, the engineering company (Meyle) that supplies the suspension components have redesigned the unit and hope to be installing them in Models 3 and Y in early 2023.
The control arm is made of strengthened aluminum for greater safety and lower weight. The ball joint has also been redesigned so it no longer has a cavity at the top where water or moisture can collect.
Their bushings are also stronger to cope with the extra torque and weight of the Tesla.
Tesla Dashboard Squeak
The next squeak we’ll look at is the squeak in the dashboard. Although the squeak could be several things, the most common one is at the steering wheel and dashboard junction.
If you lower your steering wheel as much as possible, you’ll notice a joiner flap connecting the dashboard and steering wheel. It is there is conceal the steering column. However, the material (vegan leather) is held in place with two clips, which rub off the dash making a squeak.
The solution is to purchase some sticky back felt and place it on either end. This will dampen the noise, if not eliminate it.
The second dashboard squeak can be found where the infotainment screen meets the dash.
As you are driving, the movement in the car can cause the screen to agitate against the dash and cause an irritating squeak. The fix for this is similar to the above but without the sticky back. If you can find a small piece of card similar in color to your dash and place it between the two surfaces, the squeak will cease.
Seat Belt Housing Squeak
Before discussing seatbelt housing, I will say that I don’t advise you to fiddle around with this very important safety element.
However, if it is squeaking, it will drive you crazy as it’s right beside your ear!
The location of the seat belt housing on the B pillar is one of the reasons it rattles and squeaks. The side of the car is composed of 3 elements.
- The outer shell
- The chassis
- The inner shell
The inner shell is where the seat belt mechanism is housed. It has an aesthetic plastic housing around it within the car’s cabin.
The rattle or squeak is generally because the housing rubs off the internal belt holder.
You can carefully remove the housing, taking care not to damage any clips. Pretty much everything in your Tesla is held with plastic clips. Don’t tug too hard but gently prise each corner away.
When you remove it, you’ll see a shape like a cartoon spaceship. It is this rubbing against the casing that’s generating the noise.
Again my advice is to place some sticky felt on either side of the ‘space ship’ – not interfering with the belt in any way – and reinstall the outer housing, ensuring each clip clicks back into place securely.
Tesla Headrests Squeaking
An internal squeak a little harder to locate is from the rear headrest when in the extended position. The noise is caused by the bars on the headrest rubbing against the receiving bushings on the top of the seat.
There is a knack for stopping the squeaking noise
- Completely remove the offending headrest
- It may be more than one headrest – but usually the center one
- Gently force the two bars together
We’re not looking for any huge movement, just a slight difference.
When you place the bars back in the receivers, they fit more snugly, and Voila, the squeak is gone. This is down to the quality control at the factory not being as good as it should be because of time pressures to move the product onto the next stage and off the factory floor to the consumer.
The brakes on your Tesla are very important. They stop your car and also regenerate your battery. But most people don’t know how to check their brakes or even what to look for when investigating their brakes.
But if your brakes are wearing, you’ll hear a squeaking or even a squealing depending on how worn they are.
Let’s get a bit techy for a moment. Brakes are made of soft metal and a resin compound. They are located at each wheel and contained within a caliper, which is attached to a rotor which in turn is fixed to the wheel.
When you press the pedal, the pads are activated, and it slows/stops your car.
Pads wear out at different rates depending on the driver and the quality of your pads. But the car’s weight is also a factor, and the extra weight of your Tesla will increase wear and shorten its life.
When they start to wear, you will begin to hear a squealing noise. It is time to change your pads. The initial noise is a manufacturer’s metal tang on the brake pad.
It’s a way of indicating that your pads need to be changed before any damage occurs.
To keep an eye on your brake pads, you can do a visual inspection. Tesla rims allow you to see the whole brake mechanism without having to jack your car or remove the wheel.
A new brake pad is approximately 1/2″ thick. Anything less than 1/10″ needs to be replaced.
This is a job for the shop. Contact Tesla through the Tesla App, stating the problem, and book an appointment. Give as much detail as possible, including mileage and which wheel has the most wear.
If your pads seem good, the problem could be a trapped pebble behind the rotor. This could be causing an unusual noise. This noise differs from worn pads as it’s always there and not just when you apply the brake.
This is also a job for Tesla Service Center. Again easily booked through the app, but in the detail, you can point out that the pads are good and you think there is a pebble trapped.
Normal Operating Tesla Sounds
The main difference between an EV and an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) – apart from the lack of an engine – is the lack of operating noise. There is no engine noise in an EV, and this, in turn, tunes our ears to pick up all the other noises that ordinarily we wouldn’t hear driving an ICE.
Some of the squeaks and sounds are purely normal operational sounds. Different noises occur depending on what your Tesla is doing. Charging, driving, or parking. Just so we know what to listen for, we’ll briefly look at each.
Your Tesla high voltage battery, located in the underside of your car, is made up of 4500 lithium-ion cells. When charging occurs, these cells are activated and expand or contract to match the ambient temperature, generating noise similar to a clunk or a bang. This is a normal function and sound and nothing to be concerned about.
Noises such as whining or humming while driving is caused by elements in your Tesla activating the surroundings.
At lower speeds, the Pedestrian Warning System (if installed) makes a noise to alert people that a vehicle is near, either in drive or reverse. The most astounding thing people notice when they move to EVs is the lack of driving noise.
In car parks and quiet roads, pedestrians can be quite surprised to find a car directly behind them. Because of this, Tesla introduced an alert to overcome this.
If you come to a stop (traffic lights or a junction), you may hear a sound coming from the footwell. Again this is completely normal. The ‘Hold’ action is applied to the brake until you need to move off. This can be a little disconcerting if you’re not used to it.
Parking noises can be a bit like charging noises. The amount of technology and computers on board means that much cooling and climate control are required. The noise comes from the AC compressor, which works hard to keep everything at the correct temperature. Again completely normal.
Your wheels also might make some peculiar noises when you take them out of the park. This is the rotors releasing and is completely normal. It is more noticeable if your Tesla has been parked up for a while or if the weather has been bad.
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