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Bad experience with flood waters

Arnold Panz

Model Sig 304, VIN 542
Apr 13, 2009
1,340
3
Miami, Florida
We've had over ten inches of rain today in Miami and the street I have to take to get to my development was completely flooded. I drove through slowly and got a warning message saying that my car needed service and "may not restart". When I got home the charge port opened, but wouldn't charge (got a red light instead of green around the port), though the car started again.

I'm hopeful that with time the water will drain and the car will work fine. This is bad news for the summer because that street floods easily and usually does so several times every summer. I really hope I didn't screw up the car (and am really glad the battery is warrantied no matter what!).
 

xhawk101

Active Member
Apr 16, 2012
1,155
254
Saint Petersburg fl
We've had over ten inches of rain today in Miami and the street I have to take to get to my development was completely flooded. I drove through slowly and got a warning message saying that my car needed service and "may not restart". When I got home the charge port opened, but wouldn't charge (got a red light instead of green around the port), though the car started again.

I'm hopeful that with time the water will drain and the car will work fine. This is bad news for the summer because that street floods easily and usually does so several times every summer. I really hope I didn't screw up the car (and am really glad the battery is warrantied no matter what!).

Scary


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
 

scaesare

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
8,240
13,170
NoVA
1) How deep was the water (height in inches? Above the bottom of the battery tray/bottom of car?)

2) Did you raise the suspension up (if you have air?)

3) Do you see any water draining under your car?


No offense, but that didn't seem like a real wise thing to do.
 

kinddog

Banned
Oct 8, 2012
536
2
Northern Virginia
this is exactly why i took the Highlander Hybrid today.

tropical storm drenching the entire east coast. possible flooding.


electric car + high standing water = nothing good

sorry, but please tell me you were aware of this BEFORE you went swimming with your Model S?!? call it a shortcoming... it's just reality.
 

Arnold Panz

Model Sig 304, VIN 542
Apr 13, 2009
1,340
3
Miami, Florida
1) How deep was the water (height in inches? Above the bottom of the battery tray/bottom of car?)

2) Did you raise the suspension up (if you have air?)

3) Do you see any water draining under your car?


No offense, but that didn't seem like a real wise thing to do.

1. The standing water at its highest was probably about two or two and a half feet -- it about covered the front of the car and most of my 21" rims.

2. I did raise the suspension, though at that point it wasn't helping that much. The scenes on the news right now are unbelievable. Hundreds/thousands of cars abandoned. My neighborhood apparently had about 14 inches of rain in about four hours, which is ungodly. I was at work 16 miles away and we probably had "only" two or three inches of rain there.

3. I didn't see anything happening under the car one way or another.

No offense taken! I didn't have much of a choice because I was in a line of cars and had no way of turning around or we all would have done so. I just figure I'll use my wife's SUV and go buy a ton of rice tomorrow and pour it over the car ;)

Seriously, I've lived here 15 years and never seen it this bad, including during hurricanes. And it just so happened that my neighborhood apparently got by far the worst of it. In hindsight I definitely would have left my car at work and gotten a ride home, but hindisght's 20/20 on things like this. It was only probably a couple hundred yards of flooded streets I drove through, and I'm hopeful the car will dry out tonight. I've tried starting the car a few times tonight and its been fine, but still won't charge. If I can't charge it tomorrow morning I'll likely take it by the Dania Service Center and see if they can dry it out enough to be able to charge it again. I've got over 180 miles left on my charge, so I'm fine for a couple of days.
 

EarlyAdopter

Active Member
Jun 24, 2012
2,818
2,047
Redmond, WA
1. The standing water at its highest was probably about two or two and a half feet -- it about covered the front of the car and most of my 21" rims.

Yikes! The fording depth on our SUV is rated at 20", so that was really deep.

On the flip side, amazing it didn't conk out right then and there. Puts one EV myth to bed.
 
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Stimyg

Member
Feb 17, 2013
80
0
New York
I wonder if its anything like cell phones when they get wet - in which case I'd leave it unplugged and unused and off for a few days so it can completely dry. And then and only then try to use or charge it. In any case I'd call tesla before doing anything else.

- - - Updated - - -

Also for future reference - in any car, you should never drive through standing water that deep. The slightest current could lift your car away. That is exactly how people die in floods, by trying to drive through standing water. You'd be much better off leaving your car and walking.
 

Aussie

Member
Feb 18, 2013
119
1
Was Norcal / Now Australia
1. The standing water at its highest was probably about two or two and a half feet.

I am sorry but this sounds like a job for a Toyota Landcruiser or Nissan Patrol but not for a Model S. But thanks for trying, it is a great data point. When you get your Model X, please try again and report back.

In all seriousness, I hope your car will be okay.
 
Last edited:

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,519
2,984
1. The standing water at its highest was probably about two or two and a half feet -- it about covered the front of the car and most of my 21" rims.
Holy ___. Please keep us posted as things change on the vehicle. I for one am very curious to see how yours fares in the next few days.
 

SCW-Greg

Active Member
Jun 13, 2012
1,842
215
Beaverton, OR
I wonder if its anything like cell phones when they get wet - in which case I'd leave it unplugged and unused and off for a few days so it can completely dry. And then and only then try to use or charge it. In any case I'd call tesla before doing anything else.

- - - Updated - - -

Also for future reference - in any car, you should never drive through standing water that deep. The slightest current could lift your car away. That is exactly how people die in floods, by trying to drive through standing water. You'd be much better off leaving your car and walking.

Exactly all these points by Stimyg... In spades!!!
It would have been better to force the turn around.

But now that the deed has been done, the best chance for full recovery is to let (or help) the car get *fully* dry. Do everything you can to *not* turn on/activate the car, until it is dry. What kills electronics is the arcing of electricity, via the water, to places it's never meant. Once dry, devices will operate normally.

It could be your chargers got wet? Inverter? Who knows. Give it time.
 
But now that the deed has been done, the best chance for full recovery is to let (or help) the car get *fully* dry. Do everything you can to *not* turn on/activate the car, until it is dry. What kills electronics is the arcing of electricity, via the water, to places it's never meant. Once dry, devices will operate normally.

Don't worry, the electronics won't be damaged.

Like most electric cars, the Tesla S has (very likely) an isolation monitoring device which checks the resistance between the HV-system and chassis/LV-system. The resistance has dropped due to moisture in the system so the vehicle's control unit doesn't allow charging. The car would probably shout down completely if there was any danger of arcing/flash-over between HV and chassis.

I suggest letting the car dry for a couple of days and visiting a Tesla service center.
 

NEWDL

R#350 R#1323 Sig23(traded) 8136, RWD LR 3, P3D
Jan 5, 2009
489
4
NE OHIO
Any update this morning as to status of the car?

Air circulation may help dry out the chassis in high humidity levels such as your area...

Have any box fans you can point at the car?

I would also leave it with the suspension high for maximum air flow under the car...

Just some things that come to mind... Best of luck!
 

dsm363

Roadster + Sig Model S
May 17, 2009
18,278
151
Nevada
I agree with everyone. I'm glad you are ok and hope the car is too but you should never try and go through water that deep. People get swept away in their cars all the time trying to go through deep water.
 

Arnold Panz

Model Sig 304, VIN 542
Apr 13, 2009
1,340
3
Miami, Florida
Thanks for all of the advice and concern. I never planned on driving through such deep water. My office is 16 miles away from my house and there wasn't so much as a large puddle anywhere near my office -- just scattered rain throughout the day. Apparently it was only my home town (North Miami Beach/Aventura area) that got so much rain, but I had no idea of that when I was driving home. I didn't see or hear of any flooding issues until I was less than a mile from home, and by that point I was on a one lane road with a curb on one side and wet grass/mud on the other, and a line of cars behind me. Basically, I was trapped, and it seemed my best/only option was to plow through the flood water (about 150-200 yards or so) and get to the entrance to my development, which has better drainage and had no puddles.

I called Tesla this morning and am getting the car to Dania this afternoon for them to look at it. As many have suggested, I assume that certain parts got wet that shouldn't have, including possibly the 12v battery, so I will have Tesla look at everything and make sure it's ok before using it again. For those who know, if your cellphone ever gets wet, just stick it in a bowl with dry rice and the rice attracts the water away from the phone, although it may be harder to do that with a whole car ;)

I'm very careful about flood waters, especially given where I live. This was a unique circumstance, and unfortunately unavoidable, although I'm trying to figure out how I could have gotten information before driving home. Most of what I reported was what I learned after the fact -- I had no idea there was any flooding anywhere until I was actually in it.
 

yobigd20

Well-Known Member
Oct 28, 2012
5,927
529
Skaneateles, NY
If that were me, I would have just put the car in park and blocked everyone and called for a flat bed. I wouldn't intentionally destroy a $100k car for the sake of not pissing a few people off.
 

SigGuy

Member
Feb 15, 2012
140
241
Los Angeles
In all fairness to OP, it's easy to say you'd turn back but the fact is that it sounds like other cars we're going through just fine. I believe that over the last couple of years I've heard Tesla answer the question of flood water by saying it was as safe as any other car and that the battery is very well protected. I'm disappointed to learn that may not be the case. Although living in LA, I'm more disappointed on behalf of the car's reputation than my own concern.
 

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