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Introductory post and roadster questions

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by TigaFF, Jun 21, 2017.

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  1. TigaFF

    TigaFF Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2016
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    Location:
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    Greetings TMC
    Like many before, I have been lurking here trying to glean information before "going electric".

    Short personal vignette:
    My wife and I are in our late 60's - still working. We spent the last 5 years rebuilding an ocean going sailboat that had previously circumnavigated with the intention of doing the same. The 2008 financial crisis and other personal circumstances resulted in reducing the scope of our plans and we have sailed primarily in the Chesapeake Bay and nearby Atlantic. Work, age and grandchildren have focused our lives back on land. We live in Silver Spring, near the DC border.

    Automobile history:
    I have always be interested all things mechanical as has my wife. When we met I was driving a '74 911S and she, one of the first Datsan/Nissan Z 240s. We have mostly enjoyed rebuilding and driving older vehicles. Before we had children we rebuilt a 1954 R Type Bentley and used it as our only vehicle until our first child. The last "older vehicle" was a 1979 Bertone bodied 308 Dino which we sold when we concentrated on sailing. I have no interest in and get very little from having a luxury vehicle. My main hobby from 1968 until the late 1980's was racing an open wheel formula car (Forumla Ford) which we campaigned primarily in the Midwest SCCA national level. Our current vehicles are old (2003 Mini Cooper S and a 2002 VW Eurovan pop top). They have served us well and will be our last ICE vehicles. We are planning to add solar panels and Tesla Home batteries.

    Tesla
    I stood in line on March 31 and expect to be within the first 100,000. I'm in no hurry and really like the direction that both Hans and Elon have gone with styling both inside and out. I particularly like their focus on vehicle dynamics. In fact I hadn't followed Tesla closely until I walked by one of the Tesla stores and saw the "skateboard" I was amazed at the sophistication of the suspension. Far better than most upmarket vehicles that use struts in the front instead of double A arms. It is possible that we will switch our reservation to an X given adult children and a grandchild in the area.

    Roadster
    I would really like to have a Roadster as a daily driver and would appreciate some assistance from the Roadster community. My last everyday work car was a 2005 Lotus Elise (I am an unabashed Colin Chapman fan) that I used with great pleasure for 3 years commuting between Bethesda and Baltimore. I have inspected and driven 3 Roadsters.

    One 2.5 in Chicago that was very nice but the price is too high for us to consider a 3.0 battery upgrade which seems important if my wife are going to travel any distance. The car would be used primarily as my daily driver between DC and Baltimore (70 miles round trip). My wife and I would also like to take the occasional trip. I could see driving 200-300 miles in a day on country roads and stopping at the end of the day to recharge. It would seem that the battery upgrade is crucial to this sort of use given the lack of DC-DC recharging. The second car was a Very Orange 2.0 with approximately 1500 miles with a very high price and an unclear maintenance history.

    The vehicle I am looking closely at was taken in trade at a Jaguar dealer (oh dear!, I hadn't been in a car dealership in a long time -not a great way to spend one's only life). The car is also Very Orange, which I like, and has less that 2000 miles which, in my opinion, is often a problem. In my experience most seals don't like sitting in one place, especially not for 7 years. Shocks tend to leak and fail; brake calipers seize. The vehicles first and only visit back to the Tesla SC was in March of this year just before it was traded. It underwent the full yearly maintenance with findings as follows:

    1. Brakes were non - functional as expected and the hygroscopic brake fluid was black. Multiple flushes with synthetic brake fluid and they are functioning. On 2 separate test drives the brakes seem OK?. The car stays straight on heavy application of the brakes but they don't seem as effective as I would have expected. Certainly, not as good as my old Lotus Elise, but then I understand that they have to contend with an additional 1000 pounds. It is also possible that the pads are not fully bedded. I suspect that the original owner never used them especially hard considering the substantial regen and minimal mileage.
    Question: Wouldl the roadster community be concerned about the about the ABS mechanical pump sitting for years bathed in water contaminated brake fluid.

    2. The battery logs were downloaded and the maintenance report says that the battery is OK, but there is no quantitation given by the Tesla service center I plan on asking them to give me the C.A.C
    Question: Anything else to look at in the logs? (Assuming that the SC is willing to review them with me given that I don't own the car and the dealership still has the car in the original owner's name)

    3. The coolant system has never been serviced and has the original coolant (2010). It is my understanding that the coolant should be exchanged every 4 years. The lack of service is not good but I'm not sure that this is a show stopper.
    Comments?

    4. The TPMS system is non -functional which is not a surprise. It is my understanding from reading through related posts on TMC that it can be problematic and I assume the senders in the wheels need to be replaced to start.

    5. My greatest concern is the air conditioning. The second time we drove the car we used the AC. The ambiant temperature was low 80's F and I was traveling at a steady 60 MPH. Set the thermostat to maximum cold and recirculation. It was OK for about 10 minutes, the air was cold, but not fabulous, I understand that this is a marginal system. However, after 10 mins the air became warm with the fan still functioning fine as if the compressor had kicked out. After another 10 minutes the air became cold again but once again only stayed that way for about 10 minutes. The system has never been serviced and no written comment is provided during the recent Tesla service.
    Question: Is it possible that the system is just low in refrigerant?

    Finally, I have come to an impass with the Jaguar dealership and the Tesla service center nearby. I at first offered to pay for the Tesla SC to relook at the above systems and give me an estimate of the needed repairs. I was willing to spend up to $500 to get the answers without repair. They are willing to provide diagnosis at $175/hour and no estimate of time and what can be accomplised diagnostically in three hours. The Jaguar dealership is so far unwilling to spend any money for further assessement. I am ambivalent about spending to much on a car that I ultimately decide to reject more on principle than cost.

    All that said, I really like the car and it seems to run quite well. It is certainly more comfortable than my Elise. I may talk to the Tesla service center again to see if I can work out a better arrangement with a different service advisor.

    Any thoughts related to the viability of using Roadster for the near future is appreciated. I realize there is a lot that is unknowable and I have owned vehicles that have long been out of production, but most of them were quite low tech and parts were available. The Roadster is an unusual combination of high tech and obsolete.

    Thank you in advance for any advice.
     
    • Love x 2
  2. Roadster

    Roadster Member

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    Location:
    SoCal
    Welcome to TMC, @TigaFF. Always great to have another Roadster aficionado here!

    Is #658 perhaps the one your considering? If so, your cautious approach to a low mileage Roadster is merited. That said, definitely have the local Tesla SC perform a factory PPI for you and disclose to them every condition issue you know to date. IMPORTANT: make sure they have a certified Roadster tech on staff. Fellow members in your area can chime in on whether Tyson's Corner or Rockville have a bonafide Roadster guru in the respective shop.

    Some quick thoughts on your concerns:
    1. Brakes | To be expected and, yes, probably not fully bedded due to low/infrequent use. Black brake fluid is disconcerting so glad the system was flushed as well.
    2. Battery | The health of the ESS is by far the most critical thing to find out about; particularly with a low mileage example. If you can get the logs, there are some great parsing tools written by the good folks on this board that will help you analyze them yourself. Not sure if a 3.0 upgrade is necessary with a 70 mile roundtrip unless the CAC is woefully low.
    3. Coolant | Absolutely critical to the health of the ESS as well for thermal management. A flush and replacement is overdue on the car you're considering so make sure to mention this to the SC if you take it in for a PPI. FYI, Roadsters require propylene glycol which is difficult to find in stores these days.
    4. TPMS | Might just be the transmitter batteries but, again, something for the SC to check out.
    5. A/C | What you're experiencing with the fluctuating cooling is by design. The system is parasitic and routes cooling from the passenger cabin to the ESS for thermal management.
    Best of luck to you with your potential purchase!
     
    • Like x 1
  3. bolosky

    bolosky Member

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    Hi, and welcome. You seem like you've done your homework much better than many prospective Roadster owners.

    Roadster (the TMC member, not the car) did a pretty good job of answering your questions. I'd just like to add that the brakes on Roadsters are just plain weak. The car doesn't stop as well as you'd like, and especially doesn't stop as well as a much lighter Elise. Some of this is the brakes themselves, and some is the grip on the tires (you usually can get the ABS to engage, which means more grab from the brakes wouldn't help). You just need to be careful with it.

    You can also get some custom aftermarket rotors and pads that help.

    Check your CAC. If it's even somewhat reasonable for a 2000 mile car, you should have not the slightest problem doing 70 miles round trip. If it's not good enough to make that easy, then your battery is at end-of-life and needs to be replaced regardless, but it doesn't sound like that's happened in your case.
     
    • Like x 1
  4. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    Location:
    NE Tennessee
    The Pittsburgh Roadster may meet your needs and not too far of a drive for you Red 2.5 Tesla Roadster for sale in Pittsburgh, PA

    I do hear the brakes are weaker than the Elise due to the extra weight but I am still stock as I have little problem engaging ABS if I really need to.

    The coolant can go longer than 4 years, but mine, after about 7 started to foam some which caused some leakage so I would get it changed. I also would not be hesitant about a 140 mile ride with normal weather, Over 200 is where I get nervous.

    The A/C can be weak and it will switch between cabin and the battery. But I normally drive with the top off.

    The TPMS on the 2.X I hear is crappy and not sure of a good solution yet, fortunately I have the 1.5.

    After over 7 years I still love it. Good luck.
     
  5. TigaFF

    TigaFF Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    Thank you @Roadster and @bolosky for the most helpful information! The Roadster I am looking is indeed #658. I spoke to a service advisor at the Tyson Corner store a couple of weeks ago and they do have a Roadster Tech. In fact they were working on a 3.0 battery upgrade when I was there on a Saturday . I was told that all of the specialized tools for the Roadster were being concentrated at the Tyson service center rather than Rockville. The Rockville SC is closer to Silver Spring, but not a big deal.
    Just to clarify regarding the air conditioning: I understand that the A/C and cooling system share common components and that battery cooling will diminish cooling to the passenger compartment when required, however, 10-15 minutes of warm air to the passenger compartment seemed like a long time. My hope is that after 7 years of no service that the refrigerant level is just low and that the efficiency of the system can be improved. When operating properly can either of you comment on your opinion of the AC system?
     
  6. TigaFF

    TigaFF Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    @dhrivnak I am really glad to hear that you still love your Roadster. I enjoyed driving my Elise as an everyday car and found the Roadster even more appealing. I worry a little about Tesla's continued support but not enough to stop me from buying the car. Fortunately, my wife will enjoy the car as much as I do. Thank you for alerting me to the Pittsburgh 2.5. I have communicated with the owner, who was quite helpful. It is still on my list if the local car doesn't work out. I have to say I really like the "Very Orange"
     
  7. bolosky

    bolosky Member

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    It will switch the AC to cooling the battery if it thinks the battery is too warm. If the AC is weak, then presumably it will stay that way for longer than if the AC is strong. You may well need more refrigerant. That said, I don't have that much experience with the AC, because I live in Seattle and it doesn't usually get all that hot here most of the time. (The rest of the country seems to be baking, and it barely made 70 here yesterday.) It's seemed fine on the rare occasions that I've turned it on to do something other than help the defogger.
     
  8. gregd

    gregd Active Member

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    First, I must compliment your wife on her fine choice in cars. I owned a '72 240Z for many years, only moving to something larger when our second child arrived. Now they are grown, and a 2.0 Roadster occupies that place in the garage.

    To the topic at hand, in addition to the good suggestions already mentioned, after pulling the logs be sure to look for any alerts that might indicate a latent issue that's not yet visible in the cabin. Many are transient, and may be passed by at the SC. Especially are ones that are occuring more often over time. Every Roadster has a personality; mine seemed to not know how to keep the PEM airflow going right. Loose connectors were eventually diagnosed.

    Most importantly, Welcome!
     
  9. TigaFF

    TigaFF Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    @gregd, thank you for the suggestions re. the logs. I have to negotiate with the Jaguar dealer who has the car and the Virginia Tesla service center about an inspection that includes a download of the logs. I understand from reading the Roadster forum that there programs that allow one to review the log data in detail. I may need some help with interpretation if I can arrange a download. With regard to the 240Z, I enjoyed sharing the car with my wife before we had children. I look forward to finding a Roadster and so does she!

    @bolosky it would great if we had your weather here in Maryland but I think that I am going to need the AC at least some of the time. My plan is to ask the Jaguar dealer to split the cost of a PPI and AC service along with a log download. I am less worried about the TPMS.
     
  10. Roadster

    Roadster Member

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    @TigaFF, just checking in to see if you got #658 as it's no longer listed on Rosenthal's site. Let us know, thx!
     
  11. TigaFF

    TigaFF Supporting Member

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    @Roadster, work has interfered with my Roadster search. Currently traveling in Asia and was intending on negotiating with the Jaguar dealer to split the cost of an assessment of the AC/cooling system at the Tesla service center. I had already spoken with the service center in Virginia and was just waiting to get home to take the next step. So... the short answer to your question is: no. I am unfortunately not the new owner and the search continues.
    As I read through the site the idea of a 1.5 has become more appealing. I like the look of the early cars and since this will be a daily driver I don't want to have so much invested at the start that I am reluctant to have it be my daily driver. The higher quality PEM is a plus. I worry about the HVAC system on the early cars. I lost some hearing in my left ear driving the Elise for 4 years with the driver's window down and would at least like the option of using the AC. Also starting with less invested make the 3.0 upgrade more likely.

    Any thoughts from the 1.5 owners? @dhrivnak, I understand that you retrofitted sound deadening to your 1.5. Is that true and was it effective?

    There are a couple of very orange 1.5's on Autotrader. One in Scottsdale and the other in Texas. I plan to start by obtaining the service records.
     
    • Informative x 1
  12. Roadster

    Roadster Member

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    • Like x 1
  13. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I have owned a 1.5 for over 2 1/2 years. It is my "regular" car, though I now only work part time, but I have put about 23,000 miles on the car in that time period. I love it. I also have the 3.0 battery, which is extremely useful for me since I sometimes have work locations up to 175 miles from home. With the new battery I can easily cover that distance without have to stop to charge on the way.

    I live in a moderate climate and for me the HVAC system works adequately. You live where there are "real" winters and warmer more humid summers. So 1.5 owners in your region could provide more useful input than I can.

    Here is a photo of my Very Orange car on a local Roadster drive yesterday. If that is the color you want, don't settle for anything else, it is awesome!
    IMG_4110.JPG
     
  14. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    #14 dhrivnak, Jul 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
    Yes the soundproofing does help noticeably but the Roadster will never be a quiet car. Basically you remove the interior carpet and seats and cover with sound deadening and do so with the underbody pan and front wheel wells. The materials would be under $300 but a good 2-3 long days of labor. I see you are a day away. I might be talked into coming up to help if needed, it could be a nice side trip and pocket money.
     
    • Like x 1
  15. AnxietyRanger

    AnxietyRanger Well-Known Member

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    Great introductory post - loved it! Welcome to the forum! :)
     
  16. Rotarypower

    Rotarypower Member

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    I can attest to the pure awesomeness of a Very Orange Tesla Roadster! Yesterday, was washing the car, just had random people driving by my neighborhood street, get out of their car, and walk up to gawk at the car, and ask a million questions. I also drove to the Raleigh service center to see if they had a MS/X mobile charge cable, ha, even the parts guy was giddy seeing my car. Now that did surprise me!

    I also must say, during my extensive research for about a year, all I heard from roadster owners was how loud the car was, that being wind, tire, cooling, etc. I must say, that I have been pleasantly surprised that this really isn't so much the case, when compared to an equivalent type car (say like a Miata, etc). Now yeah, my Infiniti G37 is more quiet, but it also now seems like a land yacht and isn't nearly as fun to drive. You should be able to upgrade a 1.5 to be equal to or better than a 2.5 WRT sound deadening. So, yeah, I wouldn't let that dissuade you from getting a 1.5 as long as you are willing to do the work to upgrade. To me the loudest part of the car is the cooling system, there is a cacafoney of sounds that come and go (brake booster, PEM cooling, radiator fans, and one more A/C sound that is pretty loud in the cabin at odd times, but very infrequent (seems to steal cabin cooling, so maybe when the system switches to 100% battery demand)). Other than the cooling systems and brake booster (mostly at startup), sound is as expected in my opinion.

    Overall, the car is a blast. Also, I've always disliked convertibles, and never really considered them true "sports cars". Ha, the roadster has proven me so wrong. So it's been incredibly hot here in North Carolina during July, but timing is everything. I wait until the sun is down on the horizon, take the top off, and get my wife or young daughter, and go for a ride. I invent reasons to drive the car. It's soooo much fun. Get one!
     
    • Like x 2
  17. DeedWest

    DeedWest 2010 Roadster 2.0 - VIN 523

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    Location:
    North Dallas, TX
    I have viewed and inspected that Texas Very Orange 1.5 in question. VIN 241. Battery CAC was 154, it was in fabulous shape, has the Xenon Headlamp Retrofit, as well as the very expensive double-DIN conversion. If there was a 1.5 to grab on the market, it's this one.

    I would be happy to conduct another inspection and test drive for you, as I'm located 15 miles from that dealership.

    I have sent you a PM!
     
    • Like x 1
  18. Gary1M

    Gary1M Member

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    For a period of time Tesla offered as an optional retrofit Stage 1 and Stage 2 noise reduction kits hardware and installation which upgraded the 1.5 Roadster sound deadening insulation to 2.5 standards. From my personal experience, it definitely had a positive effect in quieting down the cabin noise from stock so is worth inquiring if any 1.5 Roadster you may be considering had purchased this retrofit.


    I’ve had my 1.5 since 2011 and, like Rotarypower says, it’s so much fun I look for excuses every day to take it for a drive and a Tesla grin.
     
  19. Curt

    Curt Roadster Signature #55

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    Location:
    Rockville, MD
    My 1.5 is my daily driver, and it has been mostly great.

    I live in Rockville, MD, and the Air Conditioning in a 1.5 is more than adequate for the Summers here - but only if you get the upgrade to the front cooling fans (adds a cowling to better direct air flow through the heat exchanger).

    Perhaps we could get @dhrivnak to come up and help us do the noise reduction on both of our 1.5s.
     
    • Like x 1
  20. hurd300403

    hurd300403 Member

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    Jul 28, 2016
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    nice to see so many MD/VA folks on here. I live in Baltimore (I'm a long time lurker first time posting) and just purchased roadster #660 w/ 3.0 conversion (shipping it all the way form Hawaii) and I couldn't more excited to get the car in my driveway.

    I appreciate all the questions as many of them I was curious about myself!
     

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