You can’t please all the people all the time, no matter how hard you try. Tesla Model S owner Pete Cordaro tells Daily Kanban the left front ball joint of his car became separated from the upper control arm while driving slowly on a dirt road. He reports that NHTSA told him the ball joint was of poor quality and failed prematurely. Cordaro claims that Tesla was willing to split the cost of repair with him but only if he signed a non-disclosure agreement saying he would not report the issue to federal authorities.

Model S failed ball joint

Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration, said the agency is “examining the potential suspension issue on the Tesla Model S, and is seeking additional information from vehicle owners and the company.” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told the press yesterday that his agency is in “data collection mode.”

“Part of what we have to figure out is whether or not (non disclosure agreements) might have impeded people making (complaints),” Rosekind said, adding that the agency has been in touch with Tesla seeking information. “Our folks were on this right away.”

Tesla has responded in no uncertain terms via a post on the Tesla blog. it labels the claim that it requires customers to enter into non-disclosure agreements “preposterous.” It does say that is often agrees to provide service or repairs when it has no legal obligation to do so under the terms of its warranty agreement. Cordaro’s Model S was not covered by the Tesla factory warranty at the time of the incident in question.

When it steps up, it asks customers to sign a Goodwill Agreement acknowledging that the company has extended itself in an effort to solve an issue that goes beyond its legal obligation. In some jurisdictions, “evidence of repair” can be used against a company to prove liability if the matter later winds up in litigation. Tesla says its Goodwill Agreement is just a way to keep a customer from using a good faith attempt to keep the customer happy against it later in any legal proceedings.

The Tesla statement vigorously disputes that there is any defect in the suspension of its cars, citing the 5 star crash rating the Model S has earned in government tests. It does say the ball joint in question was heavily corroded, but says it has never discovered such a condition in any other car it has ever built. It then went on to savage the blogger at Daily Kanban who spread the news about Cordaro’s situation, but in the kindest possible way.

“Finally, it is worth noting that the blogger who fabricated this issue, which then caused negative and incorrect news to be written about Tesla by reputable institutions, is Edward Niedermayer. This is the same gentle soul who previously wrote a blog titled “Tesla Death Watch,” which starting on May 19, 2008 was counting the days until Tesla’s death. It has now been 2,944 days. We just checked our pulse and, much to his chagrin, appear to be alive. It is probably wise to take Mr. Niedermayer’s words with at least a small grain of salt.

“We don’t know if Mr. Niedermayer’s motivation is simply to set a world record for axe-grinding or whether he or his associates have something financial to gain by negatively affecting Tesla’s stock price, but it is important to highlight that there are several billion dollars in short sale bets against Tesla. This means that there is a strong financial incentive to greatly amplify minor issues and to create false issues from whole cloth.”

Tesla’s response concluded with these words. “That said, sometimes Tesla does make genuine mistakes. We are not and have never claimed to be perfect. However, we strongly believe in trying to do the right thing and, when we fall short, taking immediate corrective action.”

That corporate philosophy may be part of the reason nearly 400,000 people around the world have decided to place a reservation for a Tesla Model 3, a car that hasn’t even been completely designed yet. Tesla has created a reputation as a company that cares for its customers. It is working very hard to keep that reputation intact.

Source: Reuters,  Image credit: Pete Cordaro via YouTube