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loud buzzing while supercharging, then white smoke in the cabin?

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by mudfud, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. mudfud

    mudfud Member

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    hey guys. anyone had this happen? I spent Xmas afternoon waiting for a tow truck after the smoke filled the cabin.

    I was at the Vacaville SC after driving from Berkeley. temp was about 60F and I was charging from about 20% with a goal of 90%. luckily, I was sitting in the car when I heard a very loud buzzing. this came on and off for awhile, and I don't ever recall hearing this before while charging. at first, it did sound like the one posted here in another forum on loud buzzing sound.

    I opened the door to see if it was my car and the noise was REALLY loud. then, white smoke came into the cabin from under the dash.

    Ran to the back, found the green light still blinking, and unplugged. the smoke dissipated.

    With concern that something had overheated in the charging system, I called Tesla. they didn't want me to try to drive it, so I waited over 2 hours for a tow truck. I missed Xmas dinner but made it to west sacramento OK.

    next day, Rocklin SC checked out the car and said that it was fine. no diagnostic codes. they took covers off and looked around. they tried charging it in Roseville at the supercharger and did not hear the buzzing sound nor see smoke.

    I'm very disappointed in Tesla and this does not satisfy me, as I know that electrical burning smell, and I am wary of charging the car unattended.

    has anyone had a problem with a charger that smoked and had to be replaced?

    an electrical engineer friend said Tesla really needs to open the charger and look inside. I'm quite certain you could smell the bad module. one theory I have is that the loud fan buzzing only happens when things get really hot, and maybe one of the fans is bad?

    I plan to try again and have Fremont look at the car this week. If they don't find the problem, I guess I won't unplug next time until there is fire or melting, so they can find it...

    and a related question, does the final current into the battery have the same path whether we start with AC or DC? I wondered about being safe at home off 240vac at 40 amps, but figured the last charging control circuit might be the same? the lower current might be safe, though, with much less heating...

    I was loving the car until now. #54064
     
  2. hiroshiy

    hiroshiy Active Member

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    Glad you were OK... Tesla need to investigate throughly as this is potentiallt very dangerous situation.
     
  3. randompersonx

    randompersonx Member

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    Very sorry to hear about your experience!

    Glad everyone ultimately made it out safe.

    Please be more specific, "under the dash" meaning the footwell, or do you mean from inbetween the top cover of the dash and the main part of the dash?
    Is it possible it was coming in from the HVAC footwell vents?
    The Supercharger does not use the chargers built into your car, and follows a very different electrical path. Highly unlikely that it was caused by a problem with one of your on-board chargers. It could be a failing fan. It could be some electrical wiring failing. It could be the battery itself. There are other possibilities.

    Certainly safer, but I would have a problem sleeping with a car that might start a fire in my garage :(
    If you can charge it outside, I would -- at least until you verify that it survives a few charges from the normal charging system.

    If it is a problem with the electrical system, 40 Amps is much easier to handle than the 300 amps of the supercharger.


    Please keep us in the loop
     
  4. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    The SvC may not have been able to replicate the issue because your MSs SOC was much higher and hence the charge rate was lower. To conduct a full inspection I would recommend draining the battery down to near 0 and supercharging all the way to 90%.
     
  5. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

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    Supercharging bypasses the onboard chargers which are located under the rear seats. There is obviously a common path into the battery at some point. Did they pull the battery from the car?
     
  6. mudfud

    mudfud Member

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    Will do.

    - - - Updated - - -

    They say that they drained to 10% and charged to almost full.

    The battery was probably a bit warmer, however, when I started charging, as I had just driven about 60 miles.

    - - - Updated - - -

    No they did not tell me that they pulled the battery from the car. They started work at about 8 AM and I could tell they were supercharging by 10:15 AM. Would that be enough time to pull the panels, check under the frunk, check under the dash, pull the battery pack and drive 10 minutes to the charger? I know they took part of the dash apart and ran the HVAC to see if the smoke was coming from there.
     
  7. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Clearly something mechanical overheated while you were charging at the Vacaville SC and the overheating caused the smoke but whatever it was that overheated did not fully ignite. That said, the problem did not effect the ability of the car to charge properly nor did it produce any error codes.

    I would not be so disappointed in Tesla. They seriously tried to replicate the problem but were not able to. As I am sure you and any car owner can appreciate, mechanical problems can be intermittent.

    It has now been several days since your Vacaville SC experience. Surely you have charged somewhere since that time? I assume you have not had the problem reoccur.

    I too would be very nervous about leaving the car unattended while charging, in my garage at home or anywhere, so I certainly sympathize with your situation. Your post is the first time I have seen such a problem described on this forum.

    I have no obvious solution to offer you, but if it was my car I would only charge it when I could check on it every few minutes. Which obviously is extremely inconvenient.

    Or how about this? Put a smoke detector in the car, on the front lip of the center of the dash, when it is charging at home. Leave the windows down. Would that allow you to hear the detector go off in your house?

    If it does go off, shoot some video of the cabin with your phone to show to Tesla.
     
  8. mudfud

    mudfud Member

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    .

    Only one 30 amp charge since Xmas. I think to reproduce this, it will need to be supercharged. I will try to heat the battery up on my way to Fremont. If I can replicate the problem, they can watch the smoke themselves.

    I did send them video of the smoke already, but you can't tell where it's coming from since I did not let it continue.
     
  9. Cerie

    Cerie Member

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    I was supercharging at the Greenwich, CT supercharger about two weeks ago when I noticed a very loud buzzing and my steering wheel vibrating. My husband went out back and unplugged the supercharger and then replugged it in and it didn't happen again so I'm not sure if I had let it keep going on, the smoke would have started as well. I thought maybe the a/c compressor had come on but it being December in Connecticut, I'm not sure. I also took delivery in November so I've never had to use the a/c and don't know what it actually sounds/feels like.
     
  10. DrComputer

    DrComputer Member

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    Don't you remember the old saying "All electronics run on smoke... when the smoke comes out it stops working".
     
  11. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I know a lot of owners have added modifications - have you added anything or was the car 'as delivered'?
     
  12. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    This is going to sound really silly, but is it possible that it was something external to the car and the smoke just happened to infiltrate? I'm not saying this is even likely, but stranger things have happened (normally at stoplights when it's the vehicle next to me).
     
  13. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    I think Tesla should be treating this seriously. Another Tesla on fire at a proprietary charging site is not the PR that they need. Furthermore, one car catching on fire at a SpC is likely to bring down the entire SpC = not good.
     
  14. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    We're all jumping to an awful lot of conclusions here. You don't know that Tesla didn't treat this seriously. You also don't know the cause ... I'm still curious about any modifications to the car.

    Let's have the all the facts before passing judgment.
     
  15. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Good point, I didn't think of that when I wrote my earlier post. So to the OP: is it possible that there is some added wiring or modifications that could have been the source of the smoke?

    There have been quite a few Model S owners who have posted on TMC about adding interior lighting on sir own.
     
  16. William13

    William13 Member

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    Did the Service center actually use a supercharger (DC current) to replicate. Or were they using an HPWC? Few Service centers actually have superchargers

    - - - Updated - - -

    The post sounds like a fan went bad for one of the screens then melted. Did the service center check the all the cooling fans under the dash?
     
  17. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    Well there's no charging circuitry under or behind the dash; and melted/burned plastic (incl wire insulation) invariably generates black smoke not "white".

    Loud "buzzing" could easily be the cooling compressor running and there's a number of things that could cause the "smoke"; heck, if we're speculating, depending on the dew point it could just have easily been water vapor in the cool air, wouldn't be the first time that mistake was made.

    Regarding speculation, the OP stated that Tesla has inspected the vehicle and declared it fine. If the OP is still unhappy I'd advise to talk with Tesla again and I'm certain they'd go over things again.
     
  18. randompersonx

    randompersonx Member

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    Interesting theory. It's possible with the cooling system working on overtime due to supercharger, the temperature of the coils got so low that fog came out of the hvac vent. Did it smell like smoke?
     
  19. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Could this be the cause?
     
  20. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Well that is interesting. The OP installed an unfused subwoofer below the dash of his Model S (which was where he said the "white smoke" came from) and powered it from the 12v socket. Seems to me that his "smoke" could be related to that...and maybe the "buzzing" noise he described was coming from the jury-rigged subwoofer.

    ---------------------------------
    Originally Posted by mudfud

    I just installed a small enclosed woofer from sound ordinance. It's not super powerful, but it's enough bass increase for me.

    The unit fits in the corner pocket. I'll probably strap it into the corner so it doesn't bounce around.

    Power is from 12v auxiliary. The crutchfield techs think I should run a fused power line from the battery. I am waiting to see if I really do blow the 10 amp fuse that's in the lighter plug.

    Signal is from the front speakers. Woofer had a high input as well as a line input. Speaker wires on the right were a different color than teslatap's. Mine were grey/grey-black. The plug that is in teslatap's pictures is not plugged into anything in my car (late September 2014 production w new sensors).

    Good boost of bass. Adjustable w knob that runs to center console.
     

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