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Day 11, a little switch fails and my new car is unuseable!

Discussion in 'Model 3: Battery & Charging' started by Electric Joe, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Electric Joe

    Electric Joe Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    297
    Location:
    Howell, MI
    Executive summary: If you drive a Model S, X or 3 and the brake lights won't turn off, take this very seriously, because you might be in for a major inconvenience, or even long term battery damage.

    My Model 3 was working great (except for the defective turn signal stalk and intermittently inoperable HVAC blower) for the first 11 days of ownership. Then on Halloween someone at work came by my desk to say I left my headlights on. Odd... That's not really possible. Upon inspection I found that everything was on and the doors were not locked. I shut off everything individually and locked the doors with the key card, but the center display was still on, and so were the brake lights. I called Tesla and they scheduled a mobile tech to check on the car the next day. I drove home carefully that night knowing that stuck brake lights are essentially the same as having no brake lights. I resolved to drive my beater Prius (11 years old, 191k miles, zero issues ever). While I was at work the next day the tech went to my house and found a faulty brake switch, which apparently notifies the car when the brake pedal is being pressed, and ordered a new one, which takes about a week to arrive. He said he was able to get the brake lights to turn off, but after driving the car for a few minutes they came back on. Instead of doing the reset maneuver again, he left my car sitting with the headlights and heat on when he left my house. I returned home from work at 10pm to find the battery state-of-charge (SoC) getting low. Annoying, but fine. I'll just plug it in. But when the brake pedal is pressed, the charge port door cannot be opened. That means I can't charge the battery. I tried to do a full "Power Off" but there again, pressing the brake wakes the car, so it would not power off. Resetting the computer didn't help. So I turned off the heat, seat heaters, lights and dimmed the display to 0% hoping the 49% SoC would get the car through the next week of sitting in the garage waiting for the repair. It did not. With the car fully powered up the SoC dropped by about 12 points per day, so by Sunday I was in a panic when it was in single digits. I spent a lot of time reading these forums and watching YouTube videos trying to find some way to get the thing to take a charge or power off. Unfortunately everything I found was negated by pressing the brake pedal. I was desperate because I know that when the battery hits 0% SoC and goes into emergency shutdown mode, the parking brake can't be disengaged so towing is difficult. The doors can't easily be opened. The 12v battery will drain, which will kill the lead acid cells. And leaving a lithium ion battery fully discharged for days on end is bad for its longevity. All this because of a little switch that I imagine is a pretty simple $10 part. I wonder if this potential failure was ever considered during the design of the car.

    I should mention that I called Tesla at least once per day every day since this happened and they did nothing to help me. No tow truck, no emergency repair, no loaner, no calls back from my voice mails or from the people who said they would. On Saturday I thought I made progress when someone agreed to have the car towed to the nearest service center. He said he'd call me right back because he couldn't call the towing company while I was on the other line, and never did. No tow truck ever arrived. I never heard from him again. I've learned that "I'll call you back" is code for "My shift ended ten minutes ago and I'm outta here." (Do I sound like a jerk? I only say this because it has happened so many times over the years.)

    So on Sunday I was desperate to get the car to either power off or take a charge before it hit 0% SoC. I figured out how to access the 12v battery (easy) and disconnected the positive lead. Weirdly, nothing happened except for a fresh error on the display. I left it this way for a couple of hours but nothing changed. I pulled the manual charge port door release cable inside the trunk and more errors appeared on the display, but the little door didn't open. I then pried open the door with a special plastic tool (a pen) and winced as its little motor kept trying to close it against my grip. I plugged in a my UMC cable and the T logo turned blue for a second, then red, then I heard a very alarming CLUNK! come from the front of the car and everything went dark and quiet. Not quite the success I had hoped for, but at least it seemed to be fully powered off at 6% SoC. With the UMC still connected (I couldn't disconnect it now) I reconnected the positive cable to the 12v battery. To my amazement the car hummed to life and the computer booted up without any errors or complaints. There was a loud hum for about 2 minutes, but that stopped and the battery was charging! The brake lights were also off. I charged it to 90% and am confident it can survive until the repair guy returns, especially since it's still plugged in.

    Yes, that's long-winded, but I'm writing this more for myself than for anyone else. I was so annoyed and frustrated, then relieved that I had to tell someone who would understand. Thanks, Tesla community!

    Lessons learned
    • Stuck brake lights might indicate a really serious problem in a Tesla, namely, you can't power it down or charge it.
    • When talking to someone in tech support or customer service, get his/her callback number! If someone says he'll call you back, he probably won't.
    • If you're stuck troubleshooting your own car when it's in a severely uncooperative state, disconnect the 12v battery in the frunk and connect a charge cable to cause the car to freak out and power down. Reconnect the 12v battery and it'll boot up. This might break your car. I don't actually know for sure. Didn't seem to break mine.
     
    • Informative x 18
  2. cartwright

    cartwright Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2017
    Messages:
    242
    Location:
    San Diego
    That is pretty brutal. I sure hope Tesla is able to resolve service issues because it is a major weak spot. There are times when the service is fantastic, but I have had similar experiences where the person on the phone or face to face says everything you want to hear, but it all falls apart once you are off the line.
     
  3. 1.21GW

    1.21GW Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2018
    Messages:
    181
    Location:
    Michigan
    100% agree with lesson #2

    If someone from Tesla says they will call you back, they probably won’t
     
    • Like x 1
  4. Electric Joe

    Electric Joe Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    297
    Location:
    Howell, MI
    Quick update for anyone who read my long initial post and is interested -- Tesla towed my car to Cleveland, OH on Friday night and returned it to my garage on Thursday. A six day turnaround is pretty good, but I had no Tesla loaner, which was disappointing. They replaced the "body harness" (apparently a very large wiring harness) that was causing the brake switch(es) to get damaged. Tesla also replaced my defective turn signal stalk and the rear view mirror, which had dirt or something between the layers of glass upon delivery. They did not address the other concerns that I reported on delivery, however. (Damaged roof glass, dirty visor cloth, badly installed parking sensors, small paint defect.) In fact, when the car was returned to me I found a piece of trim not properly installed (I fixed it easily myself) and two pieces of trim with scratches/gouges in them. There are now additional dirty marks left on the interior. The dirt isn't necessarily a problem, but it's not something I expect from a company that boasts about its superior customer satisfaction, and feels disrespectful.

    I'm not here to slam Tesla. I love their mission and their products. I own some stock. I use my vacation days to attend meet-ups and help advertise the brand and promote EVs in general. But this experience from pre-delivery through my first month of ownership has been very bad.

    I'll try to post some photos to show what I'm talking about. I'm not sure if I can easily caption them here, but they show the dirty visor and headliner, paint defect, bad parking sensors, dirty interior, damaged edge of roof glass and damaged trim, post service visit.
    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg 8.jpg 9.jpg 10.jpg
     
    • Informative x 4
    • Like x 1
  5. Electric Joe

    Electric Joe Member

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    Howell, MI
    I see that the forum doesn't like some of my photos. They work if you click the thumbnail versions individually, even the "broken" ones, but the slideshow view doesn't work correctly.
     
  6. RGloverii

    RGloverii Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2018
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Michigan
    Wow. I'm really sorry to hear of the challenges you had with the M3. If I were in your position, I would be beyond upset. Hopefully your experience will help others if the brake petal issue pops up for them.

    Hopefully Tesla will quickly resolve all of the other issues you have documented. Overall, I have found the Michigan Rangers to be really good guys who are trying hard. And Cleveland also SEEMS to be trying hard, just vastly overworked right now. That doesn't make it ok when things aren't being fixed, but I don't think the individual employees there are entirely to blame.

    My MS continues to suffer from a minor sunroof water leak, even after being sent to Cleveland 3 times so far to correct it. Annoying for sure, but not nearly as crazy as your experience!
     
  7. alloverx

    alloverx Member

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    Location:
    Seattle
    I love your perseverance. Well done.
     
    • Like x 2
    • Love x 1
  8. Tezla1

    Tezla1 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2018
    Messages:
    93
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    My god. I feel your pain and really applaud you being able to keep your mind clear and stay patient.

    I’m taking delivery of my M3 in 2 days and I’m scared as hell after reading so many stories like yours.

    These are not $30,000 cars we are buying.
    These are $50-60k cars and we expect better service/care/communication & rightly so.

    I would escalate this up as far as you can and demand some type of explanation / apology - the point is, they can’t just take our money and treat us like s*** - we may love Tesla and it’s mission, but we need to stand up for basic principles
     
    • Like x 1
  9. Duke-U

    Duke-U Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    Tilburg, Netherlands
    Remember that you seldom read about flawless cars. If things are ok, there is very little reason to post here about everything that is ok. :rolleyes:

    Of all the 1000’s of cars they delivered the last couple of months, there bound to be mistakes. Luckely I got a flawless car which took me now more than 60.000 miles in less than 2 years of ownership.

    However they should take good care of you when things like this happen, and Tesla falls short on this in some cases. I would be very upset if this had happened to me. Let’s hope they learn and improve over time.
     
    • Like x 2
    • Helpful x 1
  10. Kenobi168

    Kenobi168 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    West Covina
    Electric Joe,

    Thank you so much for documenting your unfortunate mishaps with what was supposedly a wonderful EV experience for the benefit of all.

    What’s the current status of your stuck brake light situation with your model 3? Has it been finally resolved? Did the body/wiring harness replacement resolve the brake light issue? Was there anything else based on your own experience or Tesla’s diagnostics that point to other possible causes?

    Sorry to pile on these questions but your experience could be made more meaningful if you would continue to share your findings with those afflicted. My buddy has the same issue with his MS, and was frustrating and rendered his car undrivable on what is otherwise a great car. I sincerely hope you have this situation resolved, if not close to it.

    Much appreciated.

    Kenobi
     
  11. docdeb27

    docdeb27 M3 LR AWD Pearl White Prem Int.

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2018
    Messages:
    217
    Location:
    SHOREHAM
    Please note that for every bad post, there are thousands of us that aren't posting complaints because we have none. When I had an issue, I got calls back, a service guy at my house within an hour and a follow up. And I'm in NY! When I went to service facility to mount , balance snow tires and set TPMI the guys were awesome and very careful even wrapped my old tires in bags before placing them in my car. Enjoy the Tesla. It is a blast!!
     
    • Like x 1
  12. Electric Joe

    Electric Joe Member

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    Location:
    Howell, MI
    Yes, I acknowledge this. I've had some really impressive service visits, like the time I had my Model S in to have tire pressure sensors installed in my aftermarket wheels and Tesla instead upgraded my car ("old" 2012 version) to the new style tire pressure sensor computer that shows the actual pressure read-outs on the display-- for free. Or the time someone came out to my office to fix a problem and he also replaced my floor mats because they were so salty and gross-- free.
     
    • Like x 1
  13. Electric Joe

    Electric Joe Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
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    297
    Location:
    Howell, MI
    Since the repair using a new wire harness I have had no problems whatsoever, so that seems to have been the cause and the fix! I know my original post is very negative, but that's not out of malice. It was really a bad experience. Now that it's been working properly again for the past six weeks I'm pleased with the car feel less worried about continuing problems than I felt immediately following the repair.
     
    • Like x 1
  14. docdeb27

    docdeb27 M3 LR AWD Pearl White Prem Int.

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2018
    Messages:
    217
    Location:
    SHOREHAM
    I ..know. we rarely see these posts though. Glad you also have had great experiences.
     
  15. brkaus

    brkaus Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
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    5,306
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Interesting. Thanks for the report. Wonder if the 12v disconnect was just taking a bit of time for the power to bleed off before the car fully powered down. Or it depends on where it is in the charge the 12v cycle.
     
  16. Kenobi168

    Kenobi168 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    West Covina
    So glad the issue has finally been rectified. Thanks much for the update.
     

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