Why I returned my 2019 Tesla Model X?

IMG_5933Kids and we were very excited that we bought Tesla Model X (Long range with Full Self-Driving Capability) which was delivered to our door on June 18, 2019 in our Sunnyvale, CA house. In-fact our whole extended family including our parents were excited. They have never seen a car like that with Falcon wings and self-driving capability. Following Sunday, we took the car from Sunnyvale to Sacramento to visit our parents. While driving the car, I noticed a faint high pitch sound coming from front of the car. I immediately turned to my wife sitting next seat to confirm if she can hear it as well, she nodded. We tried to ignore it first by playing some music, and it seemed to get diminished. Noise was more prominent at higher speed from 60-80 mph range, but at lower speed it was barely noticeable. On the way back from Sacramento, the constant high pitch caused me a major headache. I decided to record it using my iPhone. Later I sent the recording to our Tesla representative, Mike Dao. From the beginning Mike has been very professional, quick to response and one point contact. “That doesn’t seem normal.” he replied quickly and suggested that bring the car to have a technician look at it. 

My wife brought the car to Tesla Fremont Center; they confirmed this is normal as it is a dual motor vehicle with one motor in the front, High pitched noise is caused by the current that motor demands. 

As a working hardware engineer professional, that explanation made sense to me, but found it totally unacceptable and disturbing that high pitch sound in the cabin supposed to be “normal” and Tesla do not have any fix for it. From my working experience in audio, I knew that noise frequency seems to be in 4kHz to 5kHz range. Since I have done the recording earlier, I decided to ran some FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) to isolate the noise frequency using a software tool called Adobe Audition.  FFT clearly show approximately 4kHz spike. Even though magnitude doesn’t seem that big but it is significant enough that if you have sensitive ears and listen to it constantly you will get annoyed pretty quickly. 

Spectrum of audio recording while driving on 1-80W toward San Francisco. Speed approximately 60 mph.

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 5.50.01 PM

You can also listen to the actual audio I recorded in the cabin while driving:

In conclusion, we loved the car features and wished Tesla has some solution to fix this problem. Honestly, this car is a step forward in the entire car history, and we would strongly consider it again once all these annoying little issues gets ironed out.

Interesting discussion on this topic is here:



About ExploreSilicon

My name is Kashif. I live in the heart of silicon valley and have been living here for a very long time. My passion is engineering, technology and traveling. My email is kashifjavaid@hotmail.com. Please feel free to contact if you have any suggestion or comments on any of my posts.
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6 Responses to Why I returned my 2019 Tesla Model X?

  1. Chung Lau says:

    Interesting that I hear the whine in the beginning of that clip, but it became much fainter starting at around the 7 second mark.

  2. Alex says:

    Only heard it at the beginning of the clip too. Good thing you are not head of procurement at an airline…you would have returned your entire fleet for that…lol. I have a 2015 Model S P90DL and I can get that same sound if I am in Range Mode at speeds below 62 mph / 100 kmh or not in range mode but cruising through 79.5 mph to 82 mph (128 to 132 kmh). For this to be annoying you have to have very low ambient noise, i.e. no music, very low AC, no conversation, little wind noise…and of course the right speed to trigger it. I have a Raven X Performance on order, probably won’t be returning it for that…especially since all other EV SUV alternatives out there are boring AF, have crappy specifications, and cannot be used on a road trip without your family abandoning you…

  3. Stephan Schaem says:

    I can confirm this. Its very noticeable. Its very disappointing how the Raven took a few step forwards and many steps back. (The seating being another downgrade VS previous models)
    At least, the road / wind noise (uncommonly loud) mostly drown the whine of the electric motor, but it still pierce through it that short of blasting the audio its always there 😦
    Its CRUCIAL that anyone to an extended test drive before buying a Tesla… they are great in many ways, but some aspect of them are really irritating. (And those cheap plastic seats.. Really ?!? in a $120k SUV ? Really ?)

    • Hi Stephan,

      Yes I was really disappointed by the Tesla lackluster response and refusal to take any action on this issue. But their return policy is unique and saved the day. I also agree on issues like second and third row seatings are really a downgrade when compared to other similar price tag SUV i.e new BMW X7.


  4. max says:

    You have very good ears, 72dB down at 4kHz is below the sound level of anything else around it. Your choice of course but you are rejecting 72dB down at 4kHz to have another car that has 50dB down at 400Hz-3kHz. seems like a religious statement.

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