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I crashed my new model 3: here’s what I’ve learned so far.

sabf

Member
Aug 8, 2019
5
159
Melbourne
Ok, well I guess technically I didn't crash it. The villain in this story is clearly the guy who was driving behind, who had loads to room to stop, but for whatever reason, chose not to. This resulted in an almighty crash which scared the bejesus out of us, but thankfully everyone is fine with no injuries.

I've learned a few things about the process immediately following the crash which I think are worth sharing with you all, so here's my story:

We've had the model 3 for about 3 weeks. Flat out the most fun and best car I've ever owned or driven. So there we were out for a lovely Sunday drive when traffic ahead slowed, then slowed more then came quite quickly to a complete stop.

We had slowed almost to a stop and I had just enough time to see the car behind closing fast. It was probably only one or one and a half seconds, but seemed like an eternity to think about what I could do. Accelerate and try to give him more room, but risk crashing into the car in front? Accelerate and try to change lanes? No, too much traffic.. BANG!

The impact drove our car forward as the seat belt tensioners fired. My partner was in the passenger seat and it took a few seconds for our slow human brains to come to terms with what had just happened. Those seat belt tensioners really pull tight! Can't breathe properly. Smoke? Why is there smoke? Are you okay? Yes, okay, good, me too. A glance in the rear-view mirror and I saw that the guy who ran into us seemed okay too. Okay, that's good. Now what.

We quickly worked out that the smoke was from the seat belt tensioners firing, and our battery wasn't on fire. A good thing. There were a bunch of warnings on the screen: High voltage error, 12-Volt error, Warning: Car may shut down, Car may not drive, etc, etc. I don't remember them all.

We tried to move to out of traffic to the side of the road, but the car was in park and wouldn't move to drive or anything else. We were stuck.

After a few minutes the Transurban assistance vehicles arrived. I couldn't shift to neutral in order for them to tow us, but worked out that selecting tow mode from the service menu would allow the car to roll. However, selecting tow mode also turned off power steering for some reason, and that made it super difficult to move the car. The plan was to tow us for about 200 meters into the left-hand lane and then to safety, but tow mode would abruptly shut off and apply the brakes, shuddering us to a stop. New plan, get the car onto the tow truck while still in traffic. Eventually between switching to tow mode in order to roll the car and switching it off to get steering, we were able to get the car winched onto a flat bed tow truck and to safety.

Once off the freeway and deposited back on the side of the road (the Transurban truck isn't allowed to tow us anywhere but to safety) we got another tow truck. I was on the phone to the insurance and my partner handled the exchange of details with the other driver. So now I had to play this game again with the new tow truck. The new Tow driver didn't know how or want to drive our car, so I put the Car into Tow Mode, got winched up onto the second truck.

We went with the tow truck to the holding yard where we again used tow mode to allow the car to roll off the truck. We took of our stuff out of the car and locked it up. The iPhone App still worked and communicated with the car, but for some reason the GPS location was still showing the accident scene.

The lesson here: Make sure you know how tow mode works! I still don't understand why it shuts off power steering, or why it was shutting off every minute or so.

Back home later that evening we get a call from Tesla. The guy tells me that the car has a bunch of errors and is no longer visible on the network and asks is I know why. The car is now completely shut down. My app shows that it can't connect to the car and nor can Tesla. They tell me that in this shut down mode the car can't be unlocked using the app or the key cards anymore.

Lots of calls with the insurance company trying to explain what a Tesla is and that no, I don't have a physical key, and that the car is locked and I can't unlock it, etc, etc.

Next morning, lots of calls with the towing company who now want to move the car but need me to attend to unlock it. I try to explain that I can't unlock it.

I call Tesla customer support who inform me that the tow company should just use "gojacks" to move the car (these I discovered are like a skateboard with a jack built in which can be put under each wheel of the car so that it can be easily moved). So I call back the tow company and they basically say "what's a gojack". Apparently it's not something that Australian tow companies use.

Back on the phone to the insurance company to try to sort it out. They call a new preferred tow company to pick up the car. I'm reassured that this company knows how to move a Tesla and does it all the time. Okay good.

Next phone call is from the new tow company: "Hey, can you come here and unlock the car and put it in neutral so that we can tow it" Urgh... Lets do this dance again. I tell them that I can't unlock the car and that the car manufacturer recommends to use gojacks to move the car. "Wot Mate? a go-what?". Okay. Back to the insurance company.

After some more frantic calls to tow place, the insurer and my therapist, we now have the car moved to a Tesla approved repairer this afternoon. Apparently, the bulk of the delay was the tow company going out to buy some gojacks. Well, at least we all learned something.

So yeah, that's my story. Now I'm just sitting here sad and dejected because my new toy is broken, and it might be a while before I get to play with it again. Thanks for listening :)

TL;DR

1. Learn about how to use Tow Mode in your car. Your car might not be movable after an accident without it.

2. Apparently Australian tow companies don't use gojacks. If your car ends up completely shut down and needs a tow then you may need to teach them what a gojack is.

3. Be patient with your insurer. Teslas are new to them and a lot of the time the call centre workers are working off a script. That's the cost for being a (relatively) early adopter I guess.

Oh, and a huge shout out to the super awesome Transurban/Linkt emergency people who helped get us out of trouble and keep us safe immediately after the accident!
 

jkoya

NA2 NSX
Nov 21, 2018
3,626
1,569
Northern CA
Thanks for your post and sorry to hear about the accident. I was stopped for road construction on a highway when I was leasing a Honda Fit EV and was rear ended by a Mustang that couldn't stop in time. Scared the living daylights out of me ....
 

sabf

Member
Aug 8, 2019
5
159
Melbourne
I forgot to add one important point about the dash cam video of the crash.

I had a SSD drive connected for video/music, but the force of the impact from behind actually caused the USB cable to get pulled out of the socket and therefore the last minute of video didn’t write! I have great video for everything up to one minute before the crash.

So make sure you secure your dash cam drive properly, or maybe consider using a USB stick instead of an ssd. I assume a USB stick would be light enough that it wouldn’t get pulled out from the impact.
 

OzVic

Member
Jun 20, 2019
170
210
Australia
Any tricks for tow mode? My car had some 12V issues, and the icon just stayed greyed out. I told the tow company beforehand they'd need 'Dollys' as I can't get it out of Park or into Neutral, and they brought some out. They do Tesla's regularly though, so were prepared.

edit: My issue was I went into Tow mode and the "Transport Mode" button stayed greyed out no matter what I did. Did you have to hold it in for 30 seconds or a minute?
 
Last edited:
  • Informative
Reactions: Ulmo

miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,536
6,346
Los Altos, CA
I'm not 100% sure this works, but here's my suggestion: while the car still has power, pop the front trunk open. That allows access to the 12V battery under the cover at the base of the windscreen. Then the tow operator can jump it and then the card keys will work and tow mode will be available. Once any of the SRS system goes off, the traction battery will be isolated. Part of the repair will be resetting the high voltage battery interlock.

If the car is dead and won't unlock, open the round tow hook cover in the front bumper and apply 12V to the leads inside. That will pop the frunk open and allow jump starting the 12V battery.
 

baillies

Member
Apr 19, 2015
478
261
Sydney, Australia
Ok, well I guess technically I didn't crash it. The villain in this story is clearly the guy who was driving behind, who had loads to room to stop, but for whatever reason, chose not to. This resulted in an almighty crash which scared the bejesus out of us, but thankfully everyone is fine with no injuries.

I've learned a few things about the process immediately following the crash which I think are worth sharing with you all, so here's my story:

We've had the model 3 for about 3 weeks. Flat out the most fun and best car I've ever owned or driven. So there we were out for a lovely Sunday drive when traffic ahead slowed, then slowed more then came quite quickly to a complete stop.

We had slowed almost to a stop and I had just enough time to see the car behind closing fast. It was probably only one or one and a half seconds, but seemed like an eternity to think about what I could do. Accelerate and try to give him more room, but risk crashing into the car in front? Accelerate and try to change lanes? No, too much traffic.. BANG!

The impact drove our car forward as the seat belt tensioners fired. My partner was in the passenger seat and it took a few seconds for our slow human brains to come to terms with what had just happened. Those seat belt tensioners really pull tight! Can't breathe properly. Smoke? Why is there smoke? Are you okay? Yes, okay, good, me too. A glance in the rear-view mirror and I saw that the guy who ran into us seemed okay too. Okay, that's good. Now what.

We quickly worked out that the smoke was from the seat belt tensioners firing, and our battery wasn't on fire. A good thing. There were a bunch of warnings on the screen: High voltage error, 12-Volt error, Warning: Car may shut down, Car may not drive, etc, etc. I don't remember them all.

We tried to move to out of traffic to the side of the road, but the car was in park and wouldn't move to drive or anything else. We were stuck.

After a few minutes the Transurban assistance vehicles arrived. I couldn't shift to neutral in order for them to tow us, but worked out that selecting tow mode from the service menu would allow the car to roll. However, selecting tow mode also turned off power steering for some reason, and that made it super difficult to move the car. The plan was to tow us for about 200 meters into the left-hand lane and then to safety, but tow mode would abruptly shut off and apply the brakes, shuddering us to a stop. New plan, get the car onto the tow truck while still in traffic. Eventually between switching to tow mode in order to roll the car and switching it off to get steering, we were able to get the car winched onto a flat bed tow truck and to safety.

Once off the freeway and deposited back on the side of the road (the Transurban truck isn't allowed to tow us anywhere but to safety) we got another tow truck. I was on the phone to the insurance and my partner handled the exchange of details with the other driver. So now I had to play this game again with the new tow truck. The new Tow driver didn't know how or want to drive our car, so I put the Car into Tow Mode, got winched up onto the second truck.

We went with the tow truck to the holding yard where we again used tow mode to allow the car to roll off the truck. We took of our stuff out of the car and locked it up. The iPhone App still worked and communicated with the car, but for some reason the GPS location was still showing the accident scene.

The lesson here: Make sure you know how tow mode works! I still don't understand why it shuts off power steering, or why it was shutting off every minute or so.

Back home later that evening we get a call from Tesla. The guy tells me that the car has a bunch of errors and is no longer visible on the network and asks is I know why. The car is now completely shut down. My app shows that it can't connect to the car and nor can Tesla. They tell me that in this shut down mode the car can't be unlocked using the app or the key cards anymore.

Lots of calls with the insurance company trying to explain what a Tesla is and that no, I don't have a physical key, and that the car is locked and I can't unlock it, etc, etc.

Next morning, lots of calls with the towing company who now want to move the car but need me to attend to unlock it. I try to explain that I can't unlock it.

I call Tesla customer support who inform me that the tow company should just use "gojacks" to move the car (these I discovered are like a skateboard with a jack built in which can be put under each wheel of the car so that it can be easily moved). So I call back the tow company and they basically say "what's a gojack". Apparently it's not something that Australian tow companies use.

Back on the phone to the insurance company to try to sort it out. They call a new preferred tow company to pick up the car. I'm reassured that this company knows how to move a Tesla and does it all the time. Okay good.

Next phone call is from the new tow company: "Hey, can you come here and unlock the car and put it in neutral so that we can tow it" Urgh... Lets do this dance again. I tell them that I can't unlock the car and that the car manufacturer recommends to use gojacks to move the car. "Wot Mate? a go-what?". Okay. Back to the insurance company.

After some more frantic calls to tow place, the insurer and my therapist, we now have the car moved to a Tesla approved repairer this afternoon. Apparently, the bulk of the delay was the tow company going out to buy some gojacks. Well, at least we all learned something.

So yeah, that's my story. Now I'm just sitting here sad and dejected because my new toy is broken, and it might be a while before I get to play with it again. Thanks for listening :)

TL;DR

1. Learn about how to use Tow Mode in your car. Your car might not be movable after an accident without it.

2. Apparently Australian tow companies don't use gojacks. If your car ends up completely shut down and needs a tow then you may need to teach them what a gojack is.

3. Be patient with your insurer. Teslas are new to them and a lot of the time the call centre workers are working off a script. That's the cost for being a (relatively) early adopter I guess.

Oh, and a huge shout out to the super awesome Transurban/Linkt emergency people who helped get us out of trouble and keep us safe immediately after the accident!

Thanks for the informative post.

Did you read the "instruction for transporters" section of the owners manual? Not sure if this may have helped?

https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/files/model_3_owners_manual_north_america_en.pdf

There is also reference to a "Roadside assistance guide" in the glovebox. This is referenced in a few places including the "pushing the vehicle" section of the emergency response guide found here First Responders | Tesla

Not sure why Tesla does not display information like this on the screen when a crash is detected.
 

paulp

Active Member
Jul 23, 2015
3,072
1,508
Adelaide, Australia
I gave you a down vote.....I was sad that you had your tesla crashed and had to leave it in a strange place. Downvote was the closest choice to a sad face. Hope you get it back soon, and thats not tesla ‘soon’. Proper soon.
 
  • Disagree
Reactions: cfan

Gnat666

Member
Sep 19, 2019
71
85
Perth, Australia
I had a SSD drive connected for video/music, but the force of the impact from behind actually caused the USB cable to get pulled out of the socket and therefore the last minute of video didn’t write! I have great video for everything up to one minute before the crash.

All great tips, thanks, but this one is 1 I wouldn't have thought of! Cool.
But sad for your loss mate.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bluebay

Ulmo

Active Member
Jan 19, 2016
4,329
4,905
Vienna Woods, Aptos, California
Once off the freeway and deposited back on the side of the road (the Transurban truck isn't allowed to tow us anywhere but to safety) we got another tow truck.
Many USA states "solve" that by having corruptly chosen sweetheart monopoly deals with private towers that are allowed to come rescue you and tow you where you need to go, plus or minus. It's not really well organized, to be frank. I don't know if you can improve on that somehow. The idea of having to unload then immediately reload an electric car that's been in a crash seems monumentally stupid to me.
 
Last edited:

Vostok

Active Member
Jul 1, 2017
1,665
1,766
Sydney
This is my greatest fear - having a bingle and all the first responders and people on the end of phone lines not having a clue about what to do.
 

meowsers

Member
Jul 6, 2019
641
693
Australia
Many USA states "solve" that by having corruptly chosen sweetheart monopoly deals with private towers that are allowed to come rescue you and tow you where you need to go, plus or minus. It's not really well organized, to be frank. I don't know if you can improve on that somehow. The idea of having to unload then immediately reload an electric car that's been in a crash seems monumentally stupid to me.

The way most US states work is they have a "wrecker" list. They have a list of about 10 tow companies that they run down the list, so every accident goes to the next one and then back to the top of the list.
 
  • Love
Reactions: crustovich

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