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My Experience With a Flooded Model S in Houston

Discussion in 'Model S' started by ericonline, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. ericonline

    ericonline Member

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    Model S (70 RWD Coil Spring Suspension) flooded in my garage on August 27 in Houston. I thought I'd share details about my experience thus far that may be of interest to the community.

    The car ultimately sat in about 22 inches of water (measured from ground), probably 21 near the front and 23 near the back due to incline of garage.

    The car became incapacitated when the water level was barely at the front door sills (roughly 6 or 7 inches of water from ground). While trying to move the car I got a warning message about the 12v battery and the car would not shift from Park. At this point I could still open and close the doors as normal.

    When the water got higher, somewhere between 10 and 15 inches from ground, the car appeared to go into "Shutdown Mode". A horn like alarm sounded for a while and the car popped into front and rear hatch. Note: The Front Trunk was partially popped open but I couldn't open it fully. The rear hatch was fully unlocked.

    When the water rose to its peak level of approx 22 inches from the ground, it stayed near that level for quite a while - about 18 hours before any significant receding of water.

    At this point the car was completely unresponsive and my only entry was thru the rear hatch. To enter the rest of the car (aside from breaking window), I would have had to crawl through the hatch - then somehow undo 2 child car seats in order to lower the rear seat rest, then manually unlock the rear passenger doors (via the emergency wire since Child Safety lock was active) or through front doors. Of course while navigating through a dark, wet, and very dirty warm cabin.

    In the process of cleaning out my garage and cars the next day, I accidental closed the rear hatch partially and it latched so I could not get back in. (Yes, I felt like an idiot).

    Three days after the flood occurred I was able to get a Tesla Roadside Assistance guy to come by and open the driver door manually (Cost $195). From there we opened all the doors and began cleaning. Note: Since the windows cannot lower themselves they get pushed by the chrome trim and won't close as normal subsequently. The windows remain outside the upper chrome trim if you close the door.

    I don't think I can open the glovebox or front trunk as they remain locked.

    The lower portion of the back trunk held water like a bath tub. Three days after flood it was full of water. See picture of stuff floating in there.

    I'm writing this post four days after the flooding event. There is currently no place to send/service the car. The Tesla Service centers remain closed (There are two in Houston). One of the authorized body shops said they'll let Tesla owners store flooded cars with them but they'll just send them to Tesla when they reopen. Frankly not a big deal for me since I suspect my car is a lost cause, but perhaps frustrating for an owner whose car barely flooded.

    Just to be clear, I am in no way complaining about my experience here. But I thought some might be interested in what happens when a Model S is exposed to water, and some of the situations an owner with a flooded car may encounter.

    Note: I don't have a good picture of full 22 inch submersion since the power went out and the garage was dark at that point.

    Assuming this car is totaled there is no doubt we'll be getting at least one more Tesla (I suspect my other car is totaled as well). Either another Model S, Model 3, or both. I sent Elon Musk a message already requesting Expedited Delivery of Model 3s for Reservation Holders with flooded cars. Also, my house and family are fine - just the garage flooded. I feel very lucky. Flood Cars.jpg Flood Trunk.jpg
     
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  2. Struja

    Struja Member

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    Thanks for your post. I had actually wondered about the subject but in light of the seriousness of what is going on, I didn't want to raise the question.

    I am glad you (and hopefully) your family and friends are well. Good luck going forward!!!
     
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  3. Dameon

    Dameon Member

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    Sorry to hear about your flooded car. My garage (and house) flooded in Lafayette, LA, a few years ago, but it was probably more gradual than your event. I had time to jack up my cars in the garage and place CMU's (cinder blocks) under the tires. At the maximum water level, I had the cars on 3 CMU's... 24". The water crested at about 22", so the cars were spared. At the time, my wife had a Prius.

    My P90D is sitting in a Houston Service Center (the one to the Northwest I believe). Do you know if that SC flooded? I've been unable to get any info on the situation with the SC. I'm getting a little nervous.

    Your garage is 22" below your house? Typically there is only a slight difference (like 4", i.e. a 2x4 during the slab pour) in elevation between the garage and house. Kudos to you and/or your builder for the significant difference. Having been through a mandatory flood remodel (at my expense), I know you dodged a major bullet.
     
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  4. ericonline

    ericonline Member

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    "My P90D is sitting in a Houston Service Center (the one to the Northwest I believe). Do you know if that SC flooded? I've been unable to get any info on the situation with the SC. I'm getting a little nervous."

    Sorry, i don't have any info about that. I hope it's ok.


    "Your garage is 22" below your house? Typically there is only a slight difference (like 4", i.e. a 2x4 during the slab pour) in elevation between the garage and house. Kudos to you and/or your builder for the significant difference. Having been through a mandatory flood remodel (at my expense), I know you dodged a major bullet.[/QUOTE]"

    Yeah, the house is elevated about 4 feet with a pier and beam foundation. Common among newer homes in Houston in or near flood plains.
     
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  5. K-MTG

    K-MTG Sunshade Captain of TMC

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    I am curious if it would have been better to disconnect the 12V and power off the vehicle prior to the flood and just wait for the car to dry out?
     
  6. Ace007

    Ace007 Member

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    Its unfortunate that pretty much any car exposed to that level of funding will be totaled. Just to many electronic components that get destroyed by the water. Hopefully everybody is ok.
     
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  7. Dameon

    Dameon Member

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    Batteries don't like being submerged. I take on a lot of "battery" projects... computer/server UPS systems, building my own electric car, etc. and when my shop flooded a while back, the batteries on the floor had dropped from 12.x VDC to .04 VDC sitting in the water.

    A Tesla could probably survive if the batteries were disconnected (12v and HV) and the water stayed below any electrical connections. I think 20+" would be a problem regardless of battery connection status.
     
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  8. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    That's really unfortunate. A vehicle should be able to move with that level of water, not become stranded.
     
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  9. teddytoons

    teddytoons Member

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    Thank you for your report. Some friends and I were just discussing the possible plight of Teslas in Houston. I'm quite sure the the Teslaneering folks are way more curious than I am about this.:eek:
     
  10. flyhigh123

    flyhigh123 Member

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    Sorry to hear.

    as a thought, next time, buy some jack stands or ramps and maybe jack up car in case of flooding so its off the ground? I know 22" is a lot, but maybe a few concrete blocks etc?
     
  11. Dameon

    Dameon Member

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    For some owners, working on their car isn't an option (for whatever reason: knowledge, time, finances), so they typically wouldn't just "have" jack stands. Buying them when you realize a situation is upon you may be too late. Not expecting that your house will flood is yet another consideration. Finally, putting a car on jack stands can be a little precarious, plus there may not have been enough time, or maybe he wasn't at home during the flooding. Yes, hindsight is 20/20.

    I was fortunate in my flood that I was home, I do have mechanical knowledge, I did have a second (higher) vehicle to run to a nearby Lowe's for CMU's and the flood was very gradual.
     
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  12. buttershrimp

    buttershrimp Member

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    What a bummer. and not to be negative but I am kind of surprised the road service guy charged you to open the door... I hope you get a refund or a moved up the model 3 list.

    In the photo, I noticed another car in the garage? I may have missed the part of the story about the other car? very glad you guys are ok.
     
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  13. SMAlset

    SMAlset Member

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    Sorry to hear about your cars and thank goodness your local building code (I assume) had your house at a higher level. So hard to see so many homes flooded so glad you escaped that and no one in your family got stranded some where else like in one of the cars on a road. I appreciate you took the time to explain what happened.

    If your frunk is partially opened but not completely unlatched, I remember reading a thread on here about how to get it to release. Thread had pictures too.
     
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  14. NoMoGas

    NoMoGas Member

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    You can even get a garage lift if need be
     
  15. jelloslug

    jelloslug Active Member

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    There is a difference between a car moving though water that deep and a car sitting in water that deep.
     
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  16. Canuck

    Canuck Well-Known Member

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    It sounds to me like you, and everyone else affected by hurricane Harvey, have good reason to complain but I do admire your "just the facts" attitude. I hope I could keep as level headed going through what you have.

    Here's some information you might find helpful:

    Live in a Flood Zone? Make Sure You Have This

    It seems to me that Tesla is already too busy as is, and tending to all the flood damaged vehicles is going to make it even worse. It also seems that they are the only one who can do the repairs (unlike body shop repairs) so I can see if there's any grey area they will be telling insurers the vehicles are written off -- but that's just my guess. Once you know the repair cost, your insurer will look at the vehicle's actual cash value at the time of the loss, less its value as salvage -- to determine if repairing it is feasible. So there's room for discretion, especially with a Tesla where it's not possible to get competing repair quotes and I have no doubt the repairs will be costly from what you've described, likely making it a total loss. That's what I would want if it was my car.

    Best wishes to you, and if you need any help or advice along the way, just ask.
     
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  17. oktane

    oktane Banned

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    It's obvious that your car is totaled. Too bad there wasn't enough time to move it into a mutli-level parking garage or something. One of my flooding friends did that in anticipation for his Tesla. It's obvious that Teslas and water do not mix. Many people moved aircraft as well.

    Look on the bright side, at least you get a brand new car! (The down side is you will have AP2). :)
     
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  18. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    6-7 inches of water isn't even up to the hubs, and The S has 6 inches of ground clearance, so an inch or so above that shouldn't be getting into anything critical. Maybe it was closer to 9 or more inches which would make the pack at least half submerged, which might cause issues.
     
  19. Rahul

    Rahul Member

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    Given this report what I don't get is how this ever happened?

    Tesla Model S - Drive Through Flooded Tunnel


    Was this a hoax?
     
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  20. appleguru

    appleguru Member

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    No, likely very real... difference here is time of exposure. In that video, the car was exposed for less than a minute. In the op's case, the car was exposed to water for hours, giving the water a lot more time to get into places it shouldn't be (like inside the pack)
     
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