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30 hour wait for recovery. Lessons learnt.

My Model 3 broke down on Thursday evening. The dreaded 12v failure.
Indications were messages like "Vehicle may not restart","Electrical system is unable to support all features" followed shortly afterwards by red warnings to pull over as the vehicle was about to shut down, which it did.
The good news was that this all happened whilst the vehicle was safely stopped at Amesbury superchargers. I had plugged the car in and after 3 minutes or so the charging stopped. I thought it was a faulty charging stall and so I unplugged and only noticed the real problem when the car wouldn't engage drive.
Bizarrely, just before the car went to sleep the windows started to open. I managed to close all bar one before power died completely. The window that remained open was fortunately on the lee side of the weather.


I phoned Tesla.
The call centre is in the Netherlands but they quickly saw from the telemetry data they had received before the car went to sleep that it was a recovery situation. They arranged for a hire car to be sent to me and arranged for the car to be recovered. Brilliant. OK so I had to hold for about 10 minutes initially to get through but that was it.
Since lockdown I have a routine of reading a bedtime story to the grandchildren via FaceTime and so I cancel that. I'm sure I missed it more than they did.
The hire car from Enterprise was with me within 90 minutes. I needed my driving licence and a credit card (£1 refunded charge) to get the hire car. I pondered all the occasions that I had previously left the house with neither in my possesion especially since I could pay for anything with Apple Pay on my Apple watch. Luckily I had my wallet which I seldom need to use nowadays with me. Although I was suitably dressed for the conditions the hire car meant I could now sit and wait for the recovery in the warm. A Vauxhall Corsa is not particularly comfortable but it has a good heater and Apple Car Play is a great feature.

Having read about this type of breakdown on this forum a couple of years ago I had bought a battery booster power bank (which includes a torch) and carried it in the car (although I hadn't checked its state of charge since last summer, it was thankfully indicating that it was still fully charged) I opened the round port on the front bumper and connected the booster which successfully popped the frunk. I then connected the booster to the 12v battery and, nothing happened. I must have repeated the connection about 10 times but still nothing. I'm not an electrical guru but clearly there will be wiggly amp explanation for this. @arg ??. I was hoping I could at least close the damned window and secure the car, but I couldn't.
An hour or so later the first truck arrives on the scene, lots of flashing lights and grubby DayGlo clothing, and it was a welcome sight but it soon became apparent that 'these new fangled electric cars' were not something the driver had any knowledge of and so we would wait for his buddy to turn up. The second wagon arrived, more flashing yellow lights and loads more DayGlo clothing and head torches. The driver of this wagon had 'done hundreds of these' and had brought an entourage to pass on his knowledge and wisdom. He explained to his audience how to pop the bonnet using a 12v booster and where to find the 12v battery. 'Is that the battery?' one of his apprentices asked pointing to the 12v battery, imagining that it was the sole power source for the entire car. His battery booster did however produce a satisfying clunk as the car seemed to re-energise and come back to life. The screen came on and I was also able to close the offending window. He proudly demonstrated how to get it in to TOW Mode once he had got round to finding the option on the new V11 menus, except that it wouldn't work. The selection was greyed out. No matter how hard he stood on the brake it wouldn't engage.
Despite two recovery vehicles being on scene they could only muster 2 skates to winch the car on to the low loader.
"We'll give it a go" was not a solution as far as I was concerned.
"I'll jack up the front to check if the front wheels are locked." I understood the logic but I pointed out to his audience the risk of damage to the main battery through careless jacking and produced a puck to show what was required to guarantee a safe lift. I showed the jacking instructions in the breakdown booklet and the expanse of red areas. The booklet was in the glovebox and I had managed to find out how to open the glovebox on the new screen menus before the car shutdown to get the Tesla breakdown phone number. Damn those software updates.
I had assumed they carried self-jacking skates but I suspect they actually only had the cheap ones that required the car to be jacked because recovery man no 1 expressed his concern about not having the correct kit and how it might be better to come back in the morning with all the required kit. If there is any doubt there is no doubt to my mind and I agreed and encouraged this plan of action. I would go home and they could return in the morning and finish the job.
I was a little uneasy that recovery man no 2 had not completely bought in to that option and I suspected that as soon as I was out of sight they would return and jack and winch and drag to their hearts content. I had to wait until they departed in any case as they had blocked the Corsa in. As I drove off I saw them watch me depart from the nearby garage forecourt. I went round the block and returned to the Tesla. The windows were down again! Once again I managed to get all bar one back up. The drivers door would not shut properly either. I decided to sit and wait in the warm Corsa for their return in the morning. I let Tesla know the plan (or more truthfully how unimpressed I was that they had sent such a poorly equipped and dodgy recovery company out to me and that I was now sitting guarding the insecure vehicle overnight).


I sat in the warm listening to an audio book that had remained unfinished for months as the Tesla iced up overnight.
Next morning dawned slowly. I can't remember the last time I had a breakfast at McDonalds but apparently they don't do a 'big breakfast' anymore, who knew? The coffee was OK though. The Apple watch battery had gone flat during the night and I don't carry a charger for it. I pay using my phone.
At 8am I called Tesla for an ETA. They rang me back at 9 to say the recovery company will contact me.
No they didn't.
I ring around cancelling this morning's engagements. A 2 minute job if I'm honest.
At 12:30 that audio book finally finished. Time to call Tesla again. This time I insisted that a new recovery contractor be appointed. Tesla fully understand and agree to set about finding an alternative.
I ring and cancel the dental appointment set for this afternoon. They aren't very happy and talk about charging me for the late cancellation. I explain I have broken down and I just know they don't believe me. New appointment made in April. April!
I start ringing around local recovery firms. It quickly became apparent that as soon as you mention Tesla they suddenly become unavailable. A chat with one chap revealed that he didn't have the special gloves and boots required for electric car recoveries. (!) One quoted £750 but it would be tomorrow.
Meanwhile Tesla had appointed a new firm to manage the recovery. This firm promptly called me and it soon became apparent that all they did was look at a map and appoint a local contractor who was ...... yup, none other than, the original outfit, Firm X. I declined that option.
I realised my travel insurance included RAC vehicle recovery and so I called them.
Not so fast grasshopper. This is 2022 and so you don't call them but log your breakdown online. Who knew? They SMS you the link after pressing option 1.
Filling in the form takes about 3 minutes and then you press send and then, ... well, nothing happened... They say you should receive a text and so, since I didn't get one, I go through the process again, and again and once more for luck. I download the app. It has the same form and the same result. I ring my wife to log the breakdown from the home computer and once again nothing happens. I ring the RAC. Eventually I am asked by the system whether this is about a previously reported breakdown, and I foolishly decide it is. And now comes the entertaining part because it asks you to say the registration of the vehicle.
The voice recognition results are so bad, so appallingly bad, it is frankly hilarious. I tried BBC english, NATO phonetics, a Scottish accent, and other accents that are not particularly PC. It eventually kicks you off the system and you have to start all over again. So unless you are Jeremy Clarkson and want to make a hilarious 30 minute TV programme about it, I recommend never to try this option. I later discover that if your breakdown has been properly logged it will recognise your phone number and so you don't actually have to endure this comic procedure. Anyway, I also eventually discover that if you hang on and on (and on) and select the vulnerable person option eventually you will speak to a helpful and charming human who will log all your details in the good old traditional manner. The phone is meanwhile pleasantly pinging away in the background with reassuring SMS confirmations. I take the opportunity to specifically mention to them that I would prefer an RAC badged recovery rather than a contractor but if a contractor is appointed it must not be Firm X. No problem, 'we shall keep you updated'. That wasn't quite true....
I call the local Tesla Service centre where the car will be recovered to. They are expecting me and have a Tesla loaner already allocated. They apparently close at 6 for the weekend but I would need to be there by 4:30 to get the loaner.
The hope of the car arriving there today slowly, but surely, fades as it grows dark again.
Around 5pm I get a phone call from Firm X who have now been told by Tesla that they are no longer required. That's 5pm the next day. I reminded them that they promised to be here first thing this morning. I had given my Tesla keycard to them the previous night when the plan was they would recover the car without me being there and they now to wanted to return the keycard. I said put it in the post but they wanted to hand it over personally. I told them I was in exactly the same place where they had effectively abandoned the car last night and that I had asked Tesla to cancel their participation because of their sub-optimal performance. I then discover they had now been appointed by the RAC to do the job! We mutually agree to cancel that.
Storytime for tonight is cancelled. 2 nights in a row missed. That hasn't happened before.
Back on to the RAC again thankfully without voice recognition being required and eventually speak to a human who apologises and promises to appoint someone else.
I get called by a Bournemouth based contractor who wasn't told it would be a 4 skate job and so can't do it.
Back to the RAC again.
I then get called by a contractor in Durham who says they will do the job on Monday. Durham. I'm in Hampshire. Monday? No thanks.
Back to the RAC again.
I'm giving up hope here. It's dark again and I'm not sure I can face another audio book, or a McDonalds. I keep Tesla in the loop and they say if I'm unsuccessful they will try again to resolve the situation, somehow.
At about 11pm I'm called by the RAC Specialist Intervention Team. These folk are the A team. They text you a direct dial phone number and are on your case.
Within 10 minutes I'm called by a contractor who knows who I am, where I am, what the car is and what needs to be done and will be with me within an hour.
About 10 minutes after that the Specialist Intervention Team call me to ask if I have heard from their contractor - genuine concern and a follow-up, I'm impressed.
This is what the RAC service should have been like 7 hours earlier!
The recovery wagon arrives. Yellow fashing lights and clean DayGlo clothing. This guy knows what he is doing and explains that he will wait for a colleague to turn up and they will do a 4 skate recovery. He also says that he will make sure the car is left inside the workshop at their yard until Monday when it will be moved to the Tesla Service centre. I'm quite happy to leave this guy to get on with the job. He turns out to be ex-Army and it shows.
Home 30 hours later. On the way I update Tesla.
To bed, to sleep, per chance to dream....

During my stay at Amesbury, quite a few people noticed the open window but only two of them actually bothered to investigate further. Thank you ladies.
I chatted with several people who were charging there that had tracked their car's journey from Fremont and China on this forum! Mr Miserable was not how they imagined! I take this as a compliment to my youthful dashing appearance rather than any alternative.
Only one young chap knew about the 12v failure and knew how to then pop the frunk.
During the 30 hours I estimate only about 80 cars visited the chargers and the busiest time was between 3 and 7pm. I would say about 50%- 60% were splash and dash and 15-20% were charge to 100%. Model S/X seemed to take forever.
I'm astonished at the speed some folk think is acceptable to drive at in a car park.
The chargers were also visited unsuccessfully by a brand new Hyundai Ioniq and a Model S without a V3 adaptor. A Polestar had a quick look as did an old Renault Zoe.
Litter at the site is a problem.
I saw that MIC Model 3's often produce steam from the front offside wheel arch when charging. I've not noticed this behaviour before but saw several new cars do it.


Lesson 1: Keep your phone charged or better still keep a charged USB power bank in your car incuding a charging cable (the hire car will probably not have wireless charging). Calling Tesla or the RAC requires long phone calls, most of it waiting on hold
Lesson 2: Keep warm clothing including a hat, in the car (or in the frunk). A headtorch I kept in the frunk was very useful despite the area being reasonably well lit.
Lesson 3: Keep a 12v booster battery in the car so you can access the frunk. Most can also be used as a USB powerbank for your phone. I thought it would provide 12v power to the car as well but I was disappointed to find it didn't.
Lesson 4: Don't totally rely on Tesla to recover you - they just use local contractors who may or may not be any good or able to arrive promptly. Membership of AA/RAC gives you options. You may already have such a membership as part of an annual travel insurance package.
Lesson 5: It's not such a burden to carry a slim wallet containing a credit card, driving licence and Tesla keycard, at the very least, with you always. Put your phone number in your wallet (lesson learnt from a previous experience).
Lesson 6: Don't expect a quick response. I was in not in a remote area. I had good 4G mobile coverage. It wasn't a weekend or Bank holiday. I was parked in a safe place with excellent facilities nearby. The Holiday Inn was great with decent coffee and food, albeit a little pricey but with a 10% discount for Tesla owners. The weather was OK, cold and wet and then icy, but it wasn't snowing or anything severe.
Lesson 7: Carry jacking pucks. Prevention is better than cure.
Lesson 8: Try and keep dental appointments if at all possible. There is a large backlog at the moment.
Lesson 9: If you've not had a McDonalds recently you are not missing anything.
Lesson 10: I'm not sold on audio books but they did help pass the time.

Today is Saturday, the car is still not at the service centre and won't arrive there until Monday. The story is not yet over but fingers crossed ....
Last edited by a moderator:
Oh my. That's an unwelcome adventure. Hope it gets fixed smoothly, and thank you for listing the lessons learnt.

I really ought to buy myself some pucks (your lesson 7). I've actually got a couple of sleeping bags in the hidden boot space ("just in case"), and keep a jacket in the boot too. I should stick in a head torch in too...

(I'm still hoping Telsa will add Audible support, might be the only way I get to listen to my backlog)


Well-Known Member
Jul 17, 2019
Bath, UK
I enjoyed reading that, despite the circumstances.

It occurred to me that despite working in IT I’ve never done a disaster recovery dry run when it comes to my cars. You take it for granted that you know what numbers to call, and the various parts you mentioned (I do have a set of pucks in the boot though).

A couple of observations:
  • 12v booster packs, in my experience, are designed to jump start cars, not to charge the 12v battery. It’s possible some might but typically that’s not their purpose. I’m not sure how much charge a 12v USB booster battery would put in a car battery to be honest. They are good for charging phones though.
  • Putting this booster pack in the car only works if you’re in it when it dies, like yours did. I would suspect that’s quite rare. More likely the car will die while you’re away from it, so you won’t be able to open the doors/boot to get to your booster park. For that reason people suggest taping up something like this in a plastic bag tied to the tow hook cable that’s inside the hole behind the bumper. That way you always have a battery handy to pop the bonnet.
Pretty incredible that you stayed with the car for that amount of time, although I would have thought about doing the same given the circumstances.
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Lurking somewhere up North
Jan 25, 2021
Who knows?
@Mr Miserable

This whole topic and the lack of warning you get from a 12v battery failure makes me slightly anxious about my Tesla Model 3.

Mr Miserable, can I ask how old your car is? How many miles you have ?

Is this something to be cautious about after a certain age of car?

Also is it worth buying a replacement 12v battery when the original is getting old and just keeping it in the boot of the car?


Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
mid wales
The biggest takes from this are having the courage to eat MacDonalds, the fortuitous act of breaking down at a services rather than welsh middle of nowhere and feeling the need to guard your car, Presumably with open windows no-one need break them and you could extract your belongings to the hire car.
I'd hope that under those circs I’d have told first lot to go get more skates.
Always difficult to second guess but I do carry dry snacks and basic breakdown and cleaning kit and blanket, torch etc. No-one could nick the Tesla easily so id have gone home and arranged a return time unless hundreds of miles from base.
Props to your tenacity.
Glad you're alright, I must admit I haven't heard about the 12v issue before this but I had similar issues after the accident last week (Lorry smash | Tesla Motors Club).

Just after the crash we wanted to move the car out of the road, it was 7:45am Tuesday morning on the main A38 so we were causing a big traffic jam, The car obviously wouldnt go in to drive but you couldnt shift to neutral either. I rang Tesla emergency line and they pointed me at towing mode which meant we could push it off the road, we later did this a second time so the truck could leave but by the time the recovery truck got there at 10:30 the 12v battery was nearly dead and wouldnt allow us to put it in towing mode.

A few moment after trying the windows started going down and the car shut down, I rang Tesla again and they advise and nothing could be done, the towing company would have to put it on dollys which would be ok if it wasnt on a grass verge. They called back a while later and advised putting a booster on the 12v battery and that did get the computer back on and the windows closed after a while.


Well-Known Member
Aug 19, 2019
Is it safe to keep booster batterys inside the car if temps reach 40c? (I know the car has Cabin Overheat Protection)
If so, is it best to keep it plugged in on the USB (not 12v as it's always live) inside the glovebox permantly to have a perm charge?
Your 9v to open the bonnet needs to be accessible. If the car shuts down when you’re outside then you’re stuffed. A booster would be best in the boot. (Though I don’t know what kind of “booster” we’re talking about here. )
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Active Member
Supporting Member
Feb 15, 2019
Given the excessive wait, was a Tesla mobile ranger an option or is that not a thing in the UK?

I’ve known them to come to people’s home and swap out 12v batteries. They would know the right processes and no towing required.

Thanks for the write up and sharing the story. It does make me think about planning and preparing for the scenario as a I have an aging 12v.


Mar 28, 2016
I think it is a fundamental flaw that a car with several KWs of reserve power can go down just because the 12v battery died.

Also have to agree with @Llama. that the lack of any prior warning or indications is worrying.

Can this happen while driving ? If so I'd say it is a safety risk.

Looks like there are unanswered questions - did anyone contact Tesla UK about it, as it seems common ?


Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
mid wales
The 12v is recharged from the main pack - so failure can be the DCto DC converter, the battery itself or the voltage control/fuse from that 12v to the car. Since powering the 12v battery worked we can eliminate that last thing. If one was at home/access to a battery charger (quite possible at a services?) then one could perhaps prove/eliminate the battery itself. Presumably Teslas remote diagnosis implied the main converter at fault or they could have sent out a new battery.

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