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What are good ways to fix a rattling sound from plastic parts that happens intermittently on bumpy roads?

The rattle seems to come from the plastic cover around the steering column (2020 Tesla Model 3), although that hypothesis might be wrong. The top and bottom parts of the cover might be rattling against each other or against the steering column structure.

  • Put lube between the cover parts? What type of lube is suitable for plastic and long-lasting?
  • Put thin stick-on foam or vinyl between the two parts?
  • Put thick foam inside the cover to keep it tight?

plastic cover for a Tesla Model 3 steering column

Example rattle sound.

I want the materials on hand before opening the cover, although I might try driving without the cover to test this hypothesis. The rattle isn't consistent over the same road, so pushing on the cover and other dash parts while driving isn't a clear test. Squeezing the cover does not stop the rattle.

EDIT:

  • Pushing these cover parts around makes sounds similar to the rattle. That's encouraging for that hypothesis.
  • Squeezing these cover parts while driving does not seem to stop the rattle although it's hard to be sure since the rattle is intermittent. Also, tightening the one Torx screw from the outside didn't help. (It wasn't loose.)
  • I have not found other parts of the dash where pressing makes any similar sounds.

Warranty questions: The service center was unable to reproduce the problem, although I said it happened on a road near there, but then it did not happen that evening when I picked up the car.

Tesla owners report different warranty coverage policies on rattles from different service centers.

At the beginning of the Covid pandemic it was better to live with a rattle than have people work on it.

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  • Locate the source then secure as needed.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 28 at 6:15
  • It's impossible to say without seeing the part in its natural habitat. You could epoxy it but that won't do you much good if it keeps you from turning the wheel! You have to study the interaction of the different parts and customize a solution.
    – GdD
    Sep 28 at 8:03
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    On a car that's ~1 year old? Isn't that what warranties are for? Sep 28 at 9:01
  • Can you press on various areas of the steering column covers while driving to verify the noise is coming from there?
    – F Dryer
    Sep 28 at 16:29
  • @motosubatsu I added a note about warranty coverage.
    – Jerry101
    Sep 28 at 20:19
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Silicone spray in an aerosol can is a useful tool for stopping squeaks and rattles where plastics are moving against each other. It is also good for lubricating rubber window guide channels and door seals.

Try spraying a very small amount at the joints of the components that are making a noise.

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  • Not a good idea if the car is still under warranty though.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 28 at 10:52
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    I like this idea and will try it, esp. since it doesn't risk breaking anything while trying to find their hidden snap clips holding the parts together (in addition to one Torx screw).
    – Jerry101
    Sep 28 at 20:30
  • I removed the screw but did not manage to separate the cover parts at all with a putty knife, so no room to insert silicone lube :(. The photo BTW shows the cover upside down. I did stuff some foam into the back end at the bottom. That didn't reduce noise when manipulating the cover. Not road tested yet.
    – Jerry101
    Sep 29 at 5:51

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