Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Battery runs out with 16% indicated range remaining

johnr

Member
Apr 14, 2009
362
324
Central California
rrimg.jpg


A couple days ago, while cruising along the freeway at 70mph my Model S abruptly shut off with no warning, claiming that the battery power was too low. There were no limit lines until the split second before it shut off. However, there should have been plenty of range remaining - the indicated battery charge level was 16%. It wasn't cold either - the outside temperature was 57 F.

Fortunately this happened just a few blocks from home. So, several minutes later upon completing my unscheduled cardio workout, the car was back home and plugged in so it could charge up. However, there was an error message on the dash saying "charge level will be restricted" and it wouldn't pull any more than 5 amps. Upon reaching an indicated 19% SOC it stopped altogether, claiming "charging complete".

ccimgfull.jpg


After unplugging and plugging in a few times, and then switching to a 120V trickle charge, a few hours later I was finally able to coax it up to 20% at which point it was able to start charging normally again.

So, there were two problems: (1) running out of juice at 16% SOC, and (2) the car was reluctant to get past 19% SOC after running out.

This was actually the second time this has happened. The first time was a couple weeks ago. It has gone below 16% a handful of times before but has never run out suddenly like this, and there were always limit lines to warn me that it was getting low.

I called the service center, and they checked remotely and said the vehicle isn't reporting any issues with the battery. I'm taking it to the service center next week, so we'll see how that goes.

I've always been very careful with the battery, or so I thought - attempting to stay within the 20-80% area as much as possible, and using range mode - so I certainly didn't expect this. Has anyone else experienced running out with significant remaining range? Any idea what could have gone wrong here?
 
Last edited:

widodh

Model S 85 and 100D
Moderator
Jan 23, 2011
6,860
2,824
Venlo, NL
It's good that you document the problem with your pictures.

Some time ago, I watched Bjørn Nyland's clip that his car shut down when the battery gauge showed that there's enough % for more.

It turned out that he needed a new battery.
There are multiple stories around this. It's not that the battery itself is broken, but it is probably a contactor or other component inside the pack.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: Canuck and Tam

Electric700

Active Member
May 21, 2013
1,782
444
Florida, United States
Johnr, can you try charging to 100% once and drive it immediately after the charge completes? The car should balance the battery, which might fix the issue. I normally do this once a year.

Also I don't use Range Mode because of lessened battery temperature management, but do have enabled Energy Saving, with Always connected off (it might take slightly longer to access your car using the app).

I hope this helps you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dhanson865

MorrisonHiker

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Mar 8, 2015
10,477
10,416
Colorado
View attachment 358070

A couple days ago, while cruising along the freeway at 70mph my Model S abruptly shut off with no warning, claiming that the battery power was too low. There were no limit lines until the split second before it shut off. However, there should have been plenty of range remaining - the indicated battery charge level was 16%. It wasn't cold either - the outside temperature was 57 F.

Fortunately this happened just a few blocks from home. So, several minutes later upon completing my unscheduled cardio workout, the car was back home and plugged in so it could charge up.

Does that mean you had to push it a couple of blocks to get it home?
 

gaswalla

Model S,3,X.. CT with Austin delivery
Sep 23, 2012
3,582
4,257
San Diego
Happened to me too.
Did a lot of reading - found information about multiple instances of this occurring. Was really surprised as a guy who used to have the guts to cruise into a supercharger at 5 miles left. Sounds like significant acceleration at less than 20% can cause a sudden voltage drop and cause issues with the battery range calculations.
My story: the service center is looking at the battery, there may be an issue.
OP: Do you have a lot of miles on this vehicle? Did you happen to accelerate hard before the event on the freeway?
 
  • Informative
Reactions: Canuck

johnr

Member
Apr 14, 2009
362
324
Central California
Johnr, can you try charging to 100% once and drive it immediately after the charge completes? The car should balance the battery, which might fix the issue. I normally do this once a year.
I was wondering if this might have to do with balancing. I actually did charge to 100% only once - ironically it was the night before this happened the first time. Maybe my effort to balance the cells with a full charge somehow backfired this time.

Does that mean you had to push it a couple of blocks to get it home?

That's right. It was an "unscheduled" workout.

Happened to me too.
OP: Do you have a lot of miles on this vehicle? Did you happen to accelerate hard before the event on the freeway?
Vehicle has 120,000 miles. No hard acceleration at all - just holding a steady 70 on level ground.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: hiroshiy and Canuck
Do the parking brakes lock up when this happens? Seems like major imbalance issue? 10-16% is still a lot of battery... It's more than the whole battery from my first Plug-in Hybrid!

Hope I don't see more reports of this as more people exceed 100k miles. I just picked up my high milage S with 102k miles with a battery that appears to be replaced less than 10k miles ago according to the SC service records.
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,105
9,197
Visalia, CA
...Do the parking brakes lock up...

By default, when there's no electricity to the brakes, they would be all locked tight. Brakes need electricity to free them up.

In this case, it sounds like the low power did not allow propulsion but it still allows other functions such as shifting gears to Neutral, brake and un-brake...
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
17,228
41,812
Oregon
By default, when there's no electricity to the brakes, they would be all locked tight. Brakes need electricity to free them up.

Nope, the parking brakes need power to apply or remove them. If you cut power they stay in whatever state they were in.

The service brakes are normal hydraulic brakes and will work without power. (But the brake booster is power based, so they will be more difficult to press.)
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
10,105
9,197
Visalia, CA
...Nope...

I was wrong in saying "all" which should be Electric Parking Brake only.

https://jalopnik.com/heres-how-electronic-parking-brakes-work-1828204278
"Another added advantage was protecting the vehicle “from unauthorized use,” as the brakes would be locked when the engine was switched off and only unlocked with the return of the electronic key."

https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/downloads/2016_Model_S_Emergency_Response_Guide_en.pdf
"NOTE: If the electrical system is not working, the electric parking brake cannot be released. Attempt to jump start the 12V battery. For instructions, call Tesla Roadside Assistance."

From the owner's manual:

6qXcjBI.jpg
 

johnr

Member
Apr 14, 2009
362
324
Central California
I've learned when you've run out of energy in a Tesla, the first thing you want to do as soon as the car has coasted to a stop is to set it to "tow mode". With brake applied, put it in park and select that option in the "service" menu on the touchscreen. This will make sure it stays in neutral - otherwise it'll apply the parking brake as soon as you get out of the car. This is very important, because it's only a matter of time (usually just a few short minutes) before the 12V battery dies as well - and once that happens you won't be able to put it in neutral.

I suspect my experience may have been merely a significant cell imbalance. After all, if there was a serious problem with the battery, Tesla says my car would have alerted me to it and they would have known about it over-the-air as well. When I take it to the service center this Thursday I'll find out for sure. Even if it was merely an imbalance, it would have to be very badly imbalanced to run out at that high a state of charge, and I would definitely want to learn the best practice for avoiding a recurrence. Well that's all speculation at this point. Will update you when I find out for sure what's going on.
 

tga

Active Member
Apr 8, 2014
4,061
3,087
New Hampshire
the first thing you want to do as soon as the car has coasted to a stop is to set it to "tow mode".
Be advised that tow mode leaves the car in neutral free-rolling. You'll need to chock the wheels or sit on the car with your foot on the brake until the tow truck arrives.

Do not leave a car that is in tow mode without chocking the wheels!

If you have to leave the car and can't chock the wheels, you might be better off leaving the parking brake on for safety. The tow driver can hook up a jumper battery to put it in tow mode, or just winch it up with the rear wheels locked or use dollies. It happens all the time; not a big deal.
 

AmpedRealtor

Well-Known Member
Jun 30, 2013
6,414
4,111
Phoenix, AZ
View attachment 358070

A couple days ago, while cruising along the freeway at 70mph my Model S abruptly shut off with no warning, claiming that the battery power was too low. There were no limit lines until the split second before it shut off. However, there should have been plenty of range remaining - the indicated battery charge level was 16%. It wasn't cold either - the outside temperature was 57 F.

Fortunately this happened just a few blocks from home. So, several minutes later upon completing my unscheduled cardio workout, the car was back home and plugged in so it could charge up. However, there was an error message on the dash saying "charge level will be restricted" and it wouldn't pull any more than 5 amps. Upon reaching an indicated 19% SOC it stopped altogether, claiming "charging complete".

View attachment 358073

After unplugging and plugging in a few times, and then switching to a 120V trickle charge, a few hours later I was finally able to coax it up to 20% at which point it was able to start charging normally again.

So, there were two problems: (1) running out of juice at 16% SOC, and (2) the car was reluctant to get past 19% SOC after running out.

This was actually the second time this has happened. The first time was a couple weeks ago. It has gone below 16% a handful of times before but has never run out suddenly like this, and there were always limit lines to warn me that it was getting low.

I called the service center, and they checked remotely and said the vehicle isn't reporting any issues with the battery. I'm taking it to the service center next week, so we'll see how that goes.

I've always been very careful with the battery, or so I thought - attempting to stay within the 20-80% area as much as possible, and using range mode - so I certainly didn't expect this. Has anyone else experienced running out with significant remaining range? Any idea what could have gone wrong here?
I'm guessing one or more failed battery modules. This is not something Tesla can diagnose remotely, unfortunately. Insist on a full battery diagnostic from the service center and ask them to check for a failed module within the pack. I think you'll be getting a new battery.
 
  • Helpful
Reactions: johnr and hiroshiy
Well here's the update: My car just got a new battery pack! They're telling me it's a brand new one, not refurbished, so hopefully it will add many years to the life of my car. There was indeed a problem with the original battery that necessitated a replacement, and although the symptoms were obvious, the car's computer failed to detect it. It got so bad that it actually died at Tejon Ranch on the way to the service center with 40% charge - due to a major cell imbalance it refused to charge so it had to be towed the rest of the way to Burbank. Since this was a defect covered under the 8-year battery warranty, there was no charge for the tow or for the battery replacement, and in the meantime I got another Model S as a loaner. On Monday morning I'll make the long trip down there to pick up the car. Looking forward to see how it turned out!
 
Last edited:

dark cloud

Active Member
Apr 14, 2018
2,149
2,506
BC
Well here's the update: My car just got a new battery pack! They're telling me it's a brand new one, not refurbished, so hopefully it will add many years to the life of my car. There was indeed a problem with the original battery that necessitated a replacement, and although the symptoms were obvious, the car's computer failed to detect it. It got so bad that it actually died at Tejon Ranch on the way to the service center with 40% charge - due to a major cell imbalance it refused to charge so it had to be towed the rest of the way to Burbank. Since this was a defect covered under the 8-year battery warranty, there was no charge for the tow or for the battery replacement, and in the meantime I got another Model S as a loaner. On Monday morning I'll make the long trip down there to pick up the car. Looking forward to see how it turned out!

That must be a relief. Which car (battery) do you own? And how does the warranty work on a new replacement battery: I don't think they give another 8 years on replacement batteries, or do they?
 

Eriamjh1138

Member
May 31, 2017
474
679
Michigan
If the battery percentage is calculated based on the total pack voltage and there is a SINGLE cell group inside a single battery module at minimum voltage level, then you will get the emergency shutdown. This is to prevent further damage to that cell group.

Charge balancing needs to occur, but I have never read about a way to force it or what conditions even trigger it on any Tesla.

Hopefully, that’s all it is. Otherwise, you may have a failed cell group in the pack needing replacement.

I recommend charging to 100%. It’s the most likely time that cell balancing occurs. Ignore all the warnings about how it is “bad for your battery”. Never balancing properly is bad, too. Give it a chance.
 

Products we're discussing on TMC...

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top