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2013 Model S HV Battery Total Sudden Failure

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by DGates, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. DGates

    DGates Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2013
    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Hi,

    I've had my Model S since October 2013 and no real problems with it until just over a week ago, when the HV battery suddenly drained to 0 over several hours while the car was parked.

    My family and I were vacationing in Whistler, BC (from Vancouver). On Saturday July 14, it had been 2 days since it had been driven and was parked in a cool underground parkade with the battery at about 60% charge. My wife needed to run an errand with the car, and when she got to it, was greeted with a "Car shutting Down - Pull Over Safely" warning and the battery was showing 26%. It also was showing a "Battery Charge Level Will Be Restricted" warning. I was nowhere nearby (up on a glacier on Blackcomb mountain!) but she got on the phone with Tesla Roadside Assistance and Tesla Vancouver, and eventually they decided to send a flatbed to get the car. During the hour or so she spent on the phone, the battery level completely drained to 0.

    The flatbed took several hours to get to Whistler from Vancouver, and I was able to get down the mountain in time to meet with the driver. The car appeared to have auxiliary power (doors, windows, both computer screens working) but could not turn on or go into drive. The truck couldn't fit into the underground parking lot, so he tried to hook up a powerful charger to the 12V battery to see if it would let the car drive, but it didn't help. Eventually we managed to push the car in neutral out of the parkade and got it onto the flatbed, and the car was off to Vancouver Service Centre.

    Luckily we still had a week of accommodation left in Whistler, so getting a replacement car was not urgent (yet)

    The service Centre was closed by the time the car reached Vancouver, so it didn't get in until Monday morning. Eventually they said that the HV battery had completely failed and would need to be sent to Freemont to be repaired and I would be without the car for "maybe a couple months". I asked for a loaner to be sent up but they said they couldn't provide that. They told me I was approved for a rental from Enterprise in Squamish (45 min drive from where I was). So now I had to figure out how to get myself 60 km away to get a rental. With a family on 3 week summer vacation, we had a LOT of stuff that we had brought up and needed to get home. Also, as I started to call car rental places, I quickly discovered that getting a rental car during summer vacation season in BC on short notice was not going to happen. Every single rental place we tried had no cars available at all for the next week or more, let alone one large enough to fit all our stuff. The last resort may have been Vancouver International Airport.

    So now it was starting to seem we were going to be stranded in Whistler without accommodation. Tesla Vancouver was not able to find us any rental cars either, and was even suggesting that we might have to come home in a taxi! I started talking to people about the situation and managed to find somebody that was driving down to Vancouver later in the day (this was Tuesday now, 3 days since the car had been towed away). I called Tesla and said I could get a ride to Vancouver if they can give me a loaner, since there were no rental cars, and they weren't helping to figure out how to get us home. I got put on hold for about 15 mins, then when they came back on was told they they can't give me a loaner vehicle, but they have a "loaner battery" they can put in my car and if I can get a ride to Vancouver I can pick up my own car with loaner battery by the end of the day.

    So I took the ride from Whistler to Vancouver (left around 1pm and hit some brutal traffic) and sure enough they had swapped the battery and I could get my car back. They said the dead battery would be shipped to Freemont to be "refurbished" they would contact me again when it's back to swap it back in. They said this could take "up to a few months". After getting the car I had to turn around and drive straight back up to Whistler. I got on the road and then saw that the charge was only at 25% or so! Arrg, so I had to sit at an L2 charger for nearly an hour to get enough charge to make sure I could make it to the supercharger in Squamish. I probably could have made it - the computer said it would arrive with 5% remaining, but since it was a different battery I didn't want to take chances. Got to Squamish, and sat at the supercharger until battery was 90% then carried on to Whistler. So after all that, I finally arrived at around 9:30 pm, but at least had my car back and would be able to get my family and our stuff home a few days later.

    Our vacation is over now, and we're back in Vancouver since yesterday. Car seems to be working fine with the loaner battery, and I haven't heard anything from Tesla Vancouver yet.

    Overall, the experience with Tesla Roadside Assistance was great - they were really helpful and got the flatbed dispatched quickly. Experience with Tesla Vancouver was so-so. I would have expected them to be a bit more helpful in providing a loaner considering our situation, or more proactively figuring out how to get us home. I felt like once they heard I could get a ride to Vancouver they decided they could swap in the loaner battery, but otherwise weren't understanding the urgency of a family being stranded without transportation 130 km from home after the battery failed.

    I'm interested in people's thoughts or experiences with a problem like this. I'm also curious to hear what people think about where all the energy stored in the battery could have dissipated to that quickly. It seemed like it drained as quickly as driving at high speed for several hours would have done, but the car was parked!

    Thanks for reading, looking forward to hear thoughts on this experience!

    -Darryl
     
    • Informative x 1
  2. Hank42

    Hank42 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2012
    Messages:
    263
    Location:
    United States - NY
    Great write up. Glad to hear Tesla came through. I'd be interested to hear how your original battery swap-back goes.
    Also, maybe you could shed some light as to your charging habits and daily drive distance?
     
  3. DGates

    DGates Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2013
    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Yeah, some context will be helpful.

    The car is VIN P23xxx and has 82k km / 51k miles on it since October 2013. It's been serviced yearly by Tesla as part of the regular service plan, and I bought both extended warranty (thankfully!) and extended the service plan another 4 years.

    The only other issue I've had with it was fairly early on, the motor started making the high pitched whine that lots of people had issues with on the older cars. So they swapped in a new motor I think sometime late 2014 or so.

    Weekday use is pretty low, I live only about 10 min drive to work. I usually charge to 90% at work on Monday, then don't charge again until Friday. Sometimes will charge at home if I drive around more during the week, but rarely need to bother.

    We drive up to Whistler frequently for weekends and a few weeks a year which is 130 km away. Because of the mountainous roads to get there I charge to 100% at work on Friday, then drive up after work. Battery is generally 49-53% remaining when we get there, and usually is just parked for the weekend. The drive home is overall much more downhill, so we can get home on same charge and arrive with 10-15% usually.

    Whether at home or in Whistler, it's always parked inside and very rarely subject to temperatures higher than 30C. Winter temps here in Vancouver average 5-10C and when in Whistler can get down to -10C on occasion but usually closer to 0.

    This last trip we spent 3 weeks in Whistler, and the car sat most of the time. A couple days before it died, we had driven down to Squamish to run some errands, then charged at the supercharger to about 85-90%, then drove back to Whistler and had around 60% remaining. It sat for two days before my wife went to use it and found the battery problem described above.
     
  4. MP3Mike

    MP3Mike Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    6,149
    Location:
    Oregon
    Why are you thankful for buying the ESA? Since you say you have never needed it. Battery is covered for 8 years under the standard warranty.
     
  5. Evoforce

    Evoforce Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2017
    Messages:
    557
    Location:
    Fountain Hills AZ
    #5 Evoforce, Jul 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
    I was about 2500 miles from home when our HV battery (i believe contactor) failed. A year later, still driving on loaner battery and loving it. I get to drive on their dime while mine is repaired! We also couldn't find a rental car for a few days. But, had the rental for over a month on Tesla dime while we waited for the loaner pack and install. I probably could have asked for gas money reimbursement and hotel stay, but didn't.
     
  6. DGates

    DGates Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2013
    Messages:
    89
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Good point - I forgot the battery is covered for 8 years. Still like the peace of mind of the extended warranty, I have a pretty early Model S.
     
  7. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    9,864
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    The ESA was the best investment I could have made on my 2013 S85. I probably had $10,000 in door handle replacements alone. Numerous other covered repairs like a complete new pano roof when the mechanism failed, window regulator repairs, a tail light, corroded bits and pieces including wing mirrors, side signal repeaters, some hidden structural components and many, many, many other non-drivetrain repairs, although I did have a main contactor failure and 3 drive units.
     

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