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

How far can I drive without coolant

I seem to have had a catastrophic coolant containment failure on my Model X. The car reports "coolant low" and there's a puddle of blue liquid under the car. Got a service appt for Thurs to have Tesla fix the leak and replenish the coolant.

But what I need to know is: would it be safe to drive up to the Service Center, and under what conditions? The distance is about 100 miles. It is winter here; I would cold-soak the car to start by leaving it out overnight. Turn regen as low as possible so as not to have more resistive losses in the battery. I don't need to supercharge or anything (I charged the car at home at 3kW so as not to overheat the cells).

Driving around town I'm not worried about at all. I'm sure that I could go some distance without risk -- but what is that distance? Usually driving that far, around 100 miles, is enough to heat the battery so that it supercharges optimally even in winter conditions, so it must be enough to get the battery warm. What if I went halfway and then left the car for a few hours to re-cool...

Anyway, thinking through scenarios. I can always get a tow up there but the car's out of warranty so I'd be paying out-of-pocket. Anyone have any experience/insight as to if it's okay to drive this 100miles and, if so, how?
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
10,151
19,944
California
I had a similar issue and asked the service center for their advice. They shrugged and said “it should be fine”, and it was.

It was a 50 mile trip for me, in winter. Don’t gun it, turn off regen, take it easy and I don’t see much of a problem, at least not with the battery. Coolant pump on the other hand might not be too happy with that… but 🤷🏼‍♂️
 
  • Helpful
Reactions: IdaX
You might want to go ahead and top off the coolant yourself before your trip. Some of it will drain onto the ground , but presumably will provide some protection for the batteries versus having the coolant run dry. Remove the 12 bolts holding front trunk basin with a 10mm socket. Tesla uses Zerex G48. You can get it at Napa auto parts. It takes about twenty minutes.

Talk to someone who works at your Service Center before driving out there to discuss if this is the best plan... and because this could potentially be a costly issue, I advise recording the conversation on your phone if it's legal in your state. The people at the Fremont call center are not always a reliable source for this kind of advice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ATPMSD

ShawnA

Active Member
Supporting Member
Nov 13, 2017
1,192
996
Edwardsburg, MI
Hi @IdaX ,

I seem to have had a catastrophic coolant containment failure on my Model X
Yikes!!! Listen to what you are saying...

What would it be like to say that you had a "catastrophic battery heating runaway?"

Many, many thousands of dollars if your battery bursts in to flames...

With time to prepare you should be able to get a good towing quote...
Why risk anything super bad happening???

Maybe chicken little - But be careful...
Whatever anyone says - YOU are on the hook for any damages...

Shawn
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brando
Yikes!!! Listen to what you are saying...

What would it be like to say that you had a "catastrophic battery heating runaway?"

Many, many thousands of dollars if your battery bursts in to flames...

With time to prepare you should be able to get a good towing quote...
Why risk anything super bad happening???

Maybe chicken little - But be careful...
Whatever anyone says - YOU are on the hook for any damages...
Now that I'm through the warranty I'm interested in pushing the envelope a bit. Without any coolant a Tesla battery becomes... a Nissan LEAF battery. No supercharging, obv, and don't want to push the battery unnecessarily. But what I expect is that if it gets hotter than it wants it will degrade faster, not that it will burst into flames. The cold temps here really help, though, as I'm not sure that I'd be as hot-to-trot to try it if the air-cooling were to 100oF hot pavement.

Anyway, planning on going for it. Will report back afterward!
 
Made the drive up this morning at 19oF. Cold-soaked the car on the driveway and it was covered in an inch of powdery snow this morning! No trouble at all on the drive. Regen was limited by the cold until about 15 miles out from the service center, so not enough time or load for it to have overheated I don't think. Snow on the car was melting by the end, tho, even around the wheel wells -- hard to say if this was sunlight or battery heat. Waiting for repair now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ucmndd
Turns out the scariest part of having no coolant wasn't the cooling. It was the heating!

I tried charging the night before, and the battery would only draw ~1kW, and that erratically, owing to the cold. Of course the car can heat up the battery. But the way that it does so ... is to heat the coolant and circulate it. I suspect we probably could have put the car in the closed garage with some heaters and maybe gotten it to take some e-, or maybe driven it around for awhile and then tried to get it to charge. Fortunately we had enough juice to get to the Service Center anyway (if not back) and so it wasn't a problem.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GtiMart

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