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Ferries, nighttime, winter, and the Model S lighting controls: not a good mix

Vger

Active Member
Apr 10, 2009
1,781
209
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Hi Fellow Canadians,

I wanted to alert you to an issue I have discovered with the way the exterior lighting controls function on the Model S in Canada, especially their handling of the daytime running light (DRL) requirement. I expect this will also affect Model S owners in Atlantic Canada.

Below is the full text of an email I sent today to Tesla Ownership, as well as to the leadership of Tesla Canada:

Dear Tesla Team,

Thanks for delivering to us and many others a superb automobile-- certainly the best all-around product we have owned or tested (and that includes Audi, Ferrari, Maserati, BMW, Lexus, Volvo, Acura and others).

----

Now for our urgent notice of a firmware issue with exterior lighting control in the Canadian specification cars:

We are well aware of the requirement in Canada for daytime running lights to be on at all times while the car is moving. However, there is an important and frequent scenario for those of us on the BC coast (already 40 Model S's with hundreds more to come!), that affects the implementation of this requirement.

While riding open-decked BC Ferries at night, we are strictly prohibited from using any exterior lights on the car, because it can blind the ship's captain and crew to the water surface, and make safe navigation impossible. Owners who leave on or turn on ANY lights are swiftly and publicly chastised by the ferry crew.

How is this a problem with Model S? As far as we can determine, the Model S has the following behaviours:

  1. If the headlights are set to "Auto", and it is dark out, the lights will only go out if the car is fully powered down.
  2. If the headlights are set to "Off", the bright LED DRL's will come on even if the car is in "Park", and will only go out if the car is fully powered down.
  3. If the car is powered down, just bumping the brake pedal before the car goes completely to sleep will bring the car back on, and the DRL's will suddenly-re-illuminate. This will also happen if one just rises out of the driver's seat and sits back down. Turning the lights off again requires navigating to the correct control panel on the touch screen and powering down the car again. This can take several precious seconds of potentially blinding light in the captain's eyes.
  4. Even if one manages to keep away from the brake pedal, and stay still in one's seat, until the car goes fully to sleep, one is left with no climate control and a freezing cold car in the winter.
We would strongly suggest that you revise this scheme as soon as possible with a firmware upgrade. It is acceptable to keep the DRL's off when the exterior lights are set to "Off" AND the car is in park.

See this section of the regulation (http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/acts-regulations/regulations-crc-c1038-sch-iv-108.htm):

Switching
(55) Daytime running lamps may switch off

  • (a) while the automatic transmission control is in the park or neutral position;
  • (b) while the parking brake is applied; or
  • (c) after the engine is started but before the vehicle is set in motion for the first time.


Transport Canada regulates both automobiles and the ferries in Canada, so I believe they would be very interested in solving this quandary ASAP. I know you are all very busy with other firmware bugs and upgrades, but this seems like an issue that deserves priority attention.


Thanks for all you do!

 

mknox

Well-Known Member
Aug 7, 2012
10,103
1,867
Toronto, ON
I wanted to alert you to an issue I have discovered with the way the exterior lighting controls function on the Model S in Canada, especially their handling of the daytime running light (DRL) requirement. I expect this will also affect Model S owners in Atlantic Canada.

Good catch. I wish more automakers would allow DRLs off when in park or not moving. My last few cars have had no way to disable the DRLs whenever the engine is on, even if in Park and with the Parking Brake on. (A few years back, one of my cars would turn the DRLs off if the Parking Brake was on). I would have to completely shut my current ICE car down to get the lights to go out in the circumstances you describe also.
 

Shorty

Member
Nov 16, 2012
191
61
Victoria BC
A little bit different on an ICE car since you have to turn off the engine on ferries anyways. AFAIK, the only open deck ferries in BC run on the minor routes which at least reduces the impact of the problem to just Vger! Having the DRL's off when the e-brake is engaged is pretty common with US cars that have been modified to comply with TC DRL requirements so I think that is a good suggestion.
 

AnOutsider

S532 # XS27
Apr 3, 2009
11,957
200
Kind of kills going to drive-in movies as well.

Yep, but to be fair, we took our A6 to a drive in too, and the dang car kept going to sleep after about 15 minutes. We'd have to restart the car and turn it back off (which would bring the lights back on for a bit). I felt bad, but eventually we realized if we just touched the radio or some function every so often it would keep the car awake.
 

Hobiemon

Member
Nov 28, 2012
45
0
Osoyoos BC Canada
Thanks Vger, as CDN # 508 I'm hopeful that by the time I get mine you will have all the bugs figured out for us future owners! I'm down to checking my "Tesla garage" about 50 times a day from 100!
 

Shorty

Member
Nov 16, 2012
191
61
Victoria BC
Thanks Vger, as CDN # 508 I'm hopeful that by the time I get mine you will have all the bugs figured out for us future owners! I'm down to checking my "Tesla garage" about 50 times a day from 100!

My "garage" says that my car is still being built but I received it 2 weeks ago!
 

Vger

Active Member
Apr 10, 2009
1,781
209
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
A little bit different on an ICE car since you have to turn off the engine on ferries anyways. AFAIK, the only open deck ferries in BC run on the minor routes which at least reduces the impact of the problem to just Vger! Having the DRL's off when the e-brake is engaged is pretty common with US cars that have been modified to comply with TC DRL requirements so I think that is a good suggestion.

With respect, Shorty, it does not just affect me, it affects anyone taking a Model S to any BC island smaller than Vancouver Island. BC Ferries operates 18 open-deck ferries, a majority of the fleet.

Also, the behaviour is much more insidious than that in an ICE, because you cannot turn an ICE back on by just squirming in your seat, or brushing the brake pedal with your foot!

It will also affect anyone who wants to rest in their car in an RV Park while charging, or any situation where you want your car warm and dark.
 
Last edited:

Orthonos

Member
Aug 8, 2012
79
2
Richmond, BC
I would think a simple solution, and one I have seen in some ICE cars, is simply to have DRL off when in park. That works well and should be relatively easy to implement (if gear=park then DRL=off else DRL=on essentially?) in the the next firmware update.
 

mknox

Well-Known Member
Aug 7, 2012
10,103
1,867
Toronto, ON
I would think a simple solution, and one I have seen in some ICE cars, is simply to have DRL off when in park. That works well and should be relatively easy to implement (if gear=park then DRL=off else DRL=on essentially?) in the the next firmware update.

Agreed. Canadian cars (at lease some) used to work like this years ago. Almost every car I've seen in the last few years had DRLs running at all times whenever the engine is running, whether in Park, with the Parking Brake on or what have you. One car I had would not put the DRLs on until you shifted to Drive, but having done that, there was no way to turn them off short of turning the engine off and re-starting.
 

Shorty

Member
Nov 16, 2012
191
61
Victoria BC
I would think a simple solution, and one I have seen in some ICE cars, is simply to have DRL off when in park. That works well and should be relatively easy to implement (if gear=park then DRL=off else DRL=on essentially?) in the the next firmware update.

Vger made a good point in that even if you put the car into park, tapping the brake pedal moves it out of park.

- - - Updated - - -

With respect, Shorty, it does not just affect me, it affects anyone taking a Model S to any BC island smaller than Vancouver Island. BC Ferries operates 18 open-deck ferries, a majority of the fleet.

Also, the behaviour is much more insidious than that in an ICE, because you cannot turn an ICE back on by just squirming in your seat, or brushing the brake pedal with your foot!

It will also affect anyone who wants to rest in their car in an RV Park while charging, or any situation where you want your car warm and dark.

BC has a population of 4.4M while all of the gulf islands combined have about 15,000. If 400 cars are delivered to BC as you suggest then statistically only 1 person is impacted!


Besides, you gulf islanders are used to being done over by BC Ferries :)
 

jerry33

(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Mar 8, 2012
19,635
22,290
Texas
BC has a population of 4.4M while all of the gulf islands combined have about 15,000. If 400 cars are delivered to BC as you suggest then statistically only 1 person is impacted!

You also have to count the tourists, they can swell the Gulf Islands population by several times.
 

Shorty

Member
Nov 16, 2012
191
61
Victoria BC
You also have to count the tourists, they can swell the Gulf Islands population by several times.

Vast majority of tourists come to Vancouver Island which does not use open deck ferries. Tourists also tend to travel over the summer months where lighting is less of an issue.
 

Vger

Active Member
Apr 10, 2009
1,781
209
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Vast majority of tourists come to Vancouver Island which does not use open deck ferries. Tourists also tend to travel over the summer months where lighting is less of an issue.

I really do not want to get into a pissing contest here, but I am rather flabbergasted why you are working so hard to invalidate my point. As I have made abundantly clear:

1) this problem can arise in quite a number of other situations;

2) the population of Tesla's living in or traveling in the Gulf Islands will certainly grow.

3) It does not only "affect" the driver, it affects the safety of everyone on the ferry that the offending car is also on.

4) As others have pointed out, this can EASILY be solved by a few lines of firmware code. One simply has to keep the DRL's off until the car is affirmatively put in "D" drive.

5) If the problem is not fixed now, it will likely affect the Model X, and the Gen III car as well.

I am not being selfish here, I am trying to improve a product I have great respect and even affection for. What harm is there in correcting this unnecessary behaviour? What is the trade-off?

What is your point, Shorty?
 

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