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Musings on crashing a Tesla

After 30 years of accident free driving, with not so much as a fender bender to my name, the winning streak finally ended in torrential rain on the 101 in la yesterday. Hitting standing water at 60mph I started a slide I couldn't control and ended up spinning rather gracefully sliding backwards and sideways into the sound wall. As we rushed towards the wall I felt very confident I would be protected by the car and that we would be ok. I just relaxed knowing there was nothing I could do but wait. The actual impact was not nearly as savage as I feared. I think we hit the rear corner first and somehow ended up perfectly parrallel to the wall just mm away. The whole drivers side was untouched, the wing mirror was literally 2 mm from the wall and undamaged.
First thing I noticed apart from the fact we were facing the wrong way in a freeway in driving rain (albeit on the hard shoulder) was the smell of burning from the explosive seatbelt pretensioners. No airbags were activated but the seatbelts kept me completely locked in place and no doubt saved a good deal of injury. My wife was in shock and had tried to shield her face from an airbag explosion, as a result her flailing arms somehow hit her head and gave her concussion, but serious injuries.

I called 911 and for once wasn't put on hold for 30 minutes. Soon after a good Samaritan stopped a big pick up behind us to give a bit of protection from on coming traffic.

The car computer was still running but parts started shutting down (I assume the explosive fuse went out). Very soon after a random tow truck with a very pushy driver tried to convince me to let him tow me on his flatbed. I firmly declined though it was a somewhat dangerous location. I called AAA and waited. Police arrived and tow truck driver kept trying to get me leave with him. I am sure he has no idea how to tow a Tesla. Paramedics came because my wife was kind of freaking out and in a lot of pain. Police were super helpful for once, tow truck driver left when police arrived. Another tow truck arrived and I told him to leave. Don't take the tow truck unless you call them! Finally highway patrol tow truck arrived. I had to decide whether to go with my wife to hospital or start with the car. I decided to get the car sorted and come back for the wife. It was a confusing situation though. Got towed in a standard tow truck (thankful for rear wheel drive only) off the freeway. AAA arrived an hour later. Fortunately I already knew of one official Tesla body shop that just happened to be 6.5 miles away(under my free tow limit of 7 miles). AAA sent a flatbed but the guy had no dolly for the car. He asked what I wanted to do and I said I was concerned about wrecking the car if we dragged it. I asked if he had towed Tesla before and he said he had. By then I had started to think more clearly and realised we had to get the car in tow mode but by then the car had completely shut down and was completely dead. AAA hooked up the 12v to open the trunk, then Jun ok started the 12 battery which eventually got the computer bag up and running so I could activate transport mode. This sets the car to be completely free rolling. At the body shop the computer had shut down but would but restart. I had left the driver window ajar but couldn't open the doors. No door would open which seems like a bad flaw. The manual release on the inside worked just fine but you have to be careful not to lock yourself out. We got the door open with a wire to manually open the driver door to retrieve items but never got the computer up and running again.

Sadly the car is almost certainly a write off despite surprisingly little external damage. The frame was bent by the impact.

Things I learned.
  • After a crash open a window so you can open the door.
  • Don't forget about opening the frunk to access 12v battery.
  • Put your phone in battery saver mode!
  • Don't trust random tow truck drivers unless it's a true emergency life and death type thing.
  • If you know you will crash, relax as much as possible and let fate decide.

So now I wait for Geico to decide what my car was worth.

Sadly my car was a real unicorn. A rare model 3 with free supercharging for life was s brilliant perk that got me to 80,000 miles with very little money spent.
I could buy a new car but I am thinking an older one with things like the infused premium connectivity, entertainment and eap would be better. I don't care about the colour or how new it is.

One other thing to note for all Tesla owners, you can never check your tire tread often enough... Especially the drive wheels. You might be shocked how bad they can get very quickly which definitely doesn't help in wet conditions..

Anyone want to sell a 2018 with eap and lowish miles?


"File:Blue Tesla Model 3.jpg" by DatTr0waway (edited by Deepdeepocean) is marked with CC0 1.0.
(Image added by TMC Admin for purpose of the Blog)
EEEP... I'd have gone with the Wife, glad to hear she went to hospital to get checked out. Wish you both the best in recovery. :)
It doesn't sound like she had any serious injuries. You can't do anything for her under those conditions. I'd have stayed with the car and my wife would have understood.
Mine was toast at the scene so I let them winch it onto the flatbed. It wasn't going to make it any worse. Do make sure you put down one of the front windows though. It makes cleaning the car out at the tow lot alot easier.
If you have things in the car, I'd suggest keeping the windows up to protect from others that come to clean out their vehicles.

The best option would be to borrow the tow yard's jump pack or bring a small 12v jump pack / 9v battery and pop the car from the front access wires.
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So glad that you & your family aren't seriously injured. Hopefully your wife doesn't have any lingering effects from the concussion.

All that said, *the* most important part of owning a Tesla is its safety record. We can argue all day long about this or that, but its ability to protect its occupants is paramount.

Now all that said, I did also want to thank you for knowing what to do! One of the volunteer efforts my local Tesla Owners' Club offers is training for first responder organizations. We've developed an entire program for them on how to respond to EVs - accidents, fire, extrications, all of that. So on behalf of all of us, thank you for helping the first responders handle your car safely!

For the rest of us, I'd ask that everyone do what @angelman did and read up on what to do in case of an accident here: Model 3 Owner's Manual | Tesla

If you're interested in more detail, lots of good First Responder material here as well: First Responders | Tesla

Thanks @angelman. Keeping your wits about you in such a situation is tough, and you did it with flying colors!
EEEP... I'd have gone with the Wife, glad to hear she went to hospital to get checked out. Wish you both the best in recovery. :)
Ha yes it was sorry if difficult decision. I decided there wasn't much I could do to help her at that point and she seemed uninjured and not in any danger. I decided I could be more useful if I went home and picked up the other car to be ready to take her home. When you are in shock it's a little hard to know the right or best thing to do.
I didn't realize you don't have to take the first tow truck that shows up, or the one that the cops call for you. Thought it'd be mandatory to clear the scene ASAP especially in busy places like LA. Good to know.
The cops will usually call AAA or if it's on the freeway, the metro provides a free tow to get you off the freeway. Their are private tow companies that seem to patrol the roads just looking for accidents (wouldn't be surprised if they have a police scanner). The tow trucks are usually pretty nice and shiny. I am sure insurance would probably cover the tow but I didn't want to chance it, especially since I already had called AAA. The tow guy also sported a very large gold chain which somehow didn't inspire confidence for some reason.
The tip about putting your window down I think is important. I don't really know why the doors won't open (Tesla should really have some kind of system to manually open the door in an emergency). I can't think of anything worse than getting our of the car in the rain and then not being able to get back in again, potentially with your phone, wallet etc. inside. It was very unclear what was happening as the car shut down. Everything seemed to be fine until it all just went dark. Maybe it was the initial tow off the freeway that triggered the shut down, or maybe the 12v battery got exhausted really fast.
Even silly things like knowing where the hazard lights are can be important, they are not especially obvious in the Tesla. After a crash, your brain is just mush really.
Hmmm, lets see, the well being of my wife or my f'd up Tesla... Sorry, but my wife comes first, every time!!
b.b.b.but free supercharging for life!!!!! I can't let that go without a fight.. the wife will still be there tomorrow.. free charging.. gone forever! kidding.. sort of :) My wife had a grand old time chatting to the paramedics, hospital staff. once they pumped her with enough Morphine she was happy as anything and probably had already forgotten she was married until i came back a couple of hours later.

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