In June 2016, Tesla Motors revised a nondisclosure clause in its customer-repair agreements for customers after a US regulator took issue with its language, Automotive News says. Tesla says it has at times paid for repairs on vehicles that weren't necessarily caused by vehicle defects and is denying that it has ever placed a gag order on customers whose repairs are paid for by Tesla. The company also says its Model S doesn't have any safety issues related to the sedan's suspension.
The issue stemmed from a Pennsylvania owner of a Model S who complained of suspension problems and said Tesla agreed to pay half of a $3,100 repair bill as long as the owner kept quiet about the agreement. Last week, the Daily Kanban ran a detailed account of the situation, which involved suspension arms that rusted out on the vehicle in question.
The US National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed the issue and subsequently said it couldn't find any safety issues with the Model S's suspension, but also called the non-disclosure agreement with the vehicle owner "troublesome," according to Reuters. Tesla then adjusted the language in the agreement to NHTSA's satisfaction.
"Tesla has never and would never ask a customer to sign a document to prevent them from talking to NHTSA or any other government agency. That is preposterous," the company wrote on a June 9 blog post. "When our customers tell us something went wrong with their car, we often cover it even if we find that the problem was not caused by the car and that we therefore have no obligations under the warranty." Tesla added that, in the case of a repair funded in part by Tesla, it asks for a "goodwill agreement" signature "to ensure that Tesla doesn't do a good deed, only to have that used against us in court for further gain."
Additionally, Tesla chief Elon Musk characteristically took to Twitter last week to reveal his take on the issue. Musk tweeted on June 10 that NHTSA confirmed that it didn't find safety issues with the Model S's suspension, and that "37 of 40 suspension complaints to NHTSA were fraudulent, i.e. false location or vehicle identification numbers were used."