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Nightmarish Road Trip: LA to Phoenix

tinm

2020 Model S LR+ Owner
May 3, 2015
2,463
12,326
New Mexico, USA
First some facts: Model S 85, 2013, 109000 miles, running V9 still (they haven't sent my car V10 yet). No recent software changes, but the charging behavior of the car has definitely changed (see below about "Three Zeros" behavior).

This is my account of my trip home from LA on Friday 10/18. It starts at the Redondo Beach supercharger.

Redondo Beach.
The first thing was the left rear window. I'd just left the Redondo Beach supercharger and noticed I couldn't yet the window to close. I had to pull over in traffic, get out when the coast was clear, and manually pull up the window while using my left hand to reach to the driver's door area to pull the rear left window's button UP. That got it closed. Then I stuffed some paper napkin into the button area to remind me not to open the left rear window on the 1000-mile drive home. Why this window decided to fail at this particular moment, no idea. Then I headed out into heavy Friday traffic east on highway 91 for Riverside. . .

Riverside
Battery starting to get low, I found the Riverside supercharger location in a downtown parking garage. All "urban" 72kW chargers. I plugged in, and noticed what I now call The Three Zeros: 0 mi/hr, 0 mi, and 0 kW. And things just stayed that way for 10, 20, maybe 30 seconds. (This long pause during The Three Zeros is an entirely new phenomenon I've not seen in 6+ years of ownership.) Then after about 30 seconds the car said "Unable to charge." I tried again. Same thing. I drove to a different charger in a different parking spot. tried again, same thing. My range was low, not high enough to get to Palm Springs. So I decided to go to the San Bernadino location which was closest.

San Bernadino
I get there, notice the chargers are at the edge of a shopping mall's parking garage. I back in, plug in, get the Three Zeros, and wait 30 seconds. "Unable to charge." I move car to another spot and try another charger. Same thing. Now it is all starting to set in: it's a Friday afternoon in LA, I am supposed to be well on my way home to New Mexico by now, and I am stuck in San Bernadino unable to charge the car. I call Tesla Support. "Your wait time is . . . greater than one hour." I look up the number for the Palm Springs / Cathedral City Tesla Service Center. I get through, tell them what's going on, they aren't too keen on helping, tell me they can take a look maybe but I need to get there soon they close at 5. No way I can get there by 5. They tell me to call the Pomona service center who stay open later than 5. Pomona? Totally wrong direction--I'll be heading west when I need to get to Arizona. Anyway, I fire up Tesla's "Find Us" web page using my phone, and there is no Pomona service center listed! I google it and there it is (Tesla? why don't you list it?). I call, get through. Tell them the situation. Long story short, I'm told there's nothing they can do to help. I was basically turned away and it seemed like the last thing they wanted to deal with was a stranded Model S customer on Friday evening. Desperate, I called an old friend who's a manager at another service center far away. Told him the situation; he suggested I try yet another charger so I moved car to another spot, plugged in, pushed the plug in tight, wiggled it a bit, got the Three Zeros for 30 seconds, and, CHARGE! A slow charge though: capped strangely at 36kW. Took a lonnnngg time to get to 90%.

Cabazon
I decided to drive to Cabazon on the way to Palm Springs, figuring, if Cabazon fails, I'm stuck in Palm Springs and will have to find a hotel for the night and then visit the service center in the morning. The traffic on I-10 East is so awful I crawl along for like 2 hours to Cabazon. Finally get there. Plug in, get the Three Zeros for 30 seconds again, and "Unable to charge." Total nightmare. So I move car to another charger, plug in, and presto, charge!

Indio
I decided to stop again at nearby Indio, in the hopes that if the charger worked there too, I could load up and get to Quartzite just across the AZ state line. Indio turns out to be like Cabazon: several failed attempts and then it worked. So I charged enough to get to Quartzite with plenty of extra.

Quartzite
It's now like midnight or something. I arrive at Quartzite (located in a darkened fast food burger joint parking lot) and plug in. It starts charging at 20kW even though I am nearly empty. Then about 2 minutes in, screen says "Charging Stopped." About 30 seconds later, it resumes, at an achingly slow charge rate. Then a few minutes later, "Charging Stopped." So I get out of the car and notice the red color around the charge port. I move car to another charger. Nothing. No charge or anything. Dead. I move to a third charger. This time I get 51kW but that dwindles over time so it's a long charge. I see another Tesla owner has moved his S from one charger to another--probably experiencing same problem? Anyway I charge enough to get all the way to Buckeye AZ where I figure I'll stop for the night.

Buckeye
2am I get to Buckeye. I figure I will charge in the morning. I drive around and discover all the hotels sold out. So I drive 7 miles away from the interstate and find the Bates Motel-like "Buckeye Motor Hotel" where I sleep for 4 1/2 hours and then go to the Buckeye supercharger. Plug in, get the long wait with the Three Zeros, then "Unable to Charge." I try again. Same thing. I try a third time. It works this time -- and I charge. Then I am on the road heading for the Tempe service center which opens at 9am.

Tempe Service Center
I pull in around 9:30am, no appointment, and tell them the nightmare charging situation I've been having since LA. They tell me they're on a skeleton crew on Saturdays, no diagnosticians available, nothing they can do. But they do offer to check the logs and the logs show scrolling screenfuls after screenfuls of errors, faults, and alerts, many having to do with charging. So they take my car and offer to test it for a half hour on their inside service-only supercharger equivalent. Later, I learn that it charged fine, they charged it up to 90%. My choices were, stay in Phoenix for potentially a week or longer waiting for an appointment, or risk driving home. I risked it.

Rest of trip.
Every other supercharger worked the first time. Payson, then Holbrook, then Gallup, then Albuquerque -- all worked. So I got home around 10:30pm Saturday night.

QUESTIONS.
So, like, anyone experienced anything like this ever? I now have an appointment for El Paso service center set for Nov 13th -- the earliest date. Will the log files still be available for the Oct 18th incidents?
 
Last edited:

Alysashley79

Active Member
Oct 4, 2013
1,228
536
Seattle(ish) WA
I had a similar issue back in 2014 with my old p85 that I don’t have anymore. If I remember correctly the master charger was going out and needed to be replaced. It started at supers and then over the following week ended up being at home as well.

I don’t know how long they store the faults. I think it’s only a week. Can you call them and ask them to at least pull the logs and store them for when you get there.
 
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ran349

Member
Jun 28, 2016
443
301
SoCal
First some facts: Model S 85, 2013, 109000 miles, running V9 still (they haven't sent my car V10 yet). No recent software changes, but the charging behavior of the car has definitely changed (see below about "Three Zeros" behavior).

This is my account of my trip home from LA on Friday 10/18. It starts at the Redondo Beach supercharger.

Redondo Beach.
The first thing was the left rear window. I'd just left the Redondo Beach supercharger and noticed I couldn't yet the window to close. I had to pull over in traffic, get out when the coast was clear, and manually pull up the window while using my left hand to reach to the driver's door area to pull the rear left window's button UP. That got it closed. Then I stuffed some paper napkin into the button area to remind me not to open the left rear window on the 1000-mile drive home. Why this window decided to fail at this particular moment, no idea. Then I headed out into heavy Friday traffic east on highway 91 for Riverside. . .

Riverside
Battery starting to get low, I found the Riverside supercharger location in a downtown parking garage. All "urban" 72kW chargers. I plugged in, and noticed what I now call The Three Zeros: 0 mi/hr, 0 mi, and 0 kW. And things just stayed that way for 10, 20, maybe 30 seconds. (This long pause during The Three Zeros is an entirely new phenomenon I've not seen in 6+ years of ownership.) Then after about 30 seconds the car said "Unable to charge." I tried again. Same thing. I drove to a different charger in a different parking spot. tried again, same thing. My range was low, not high enough to get to Palm Springs. So I decided to go to the San Bernadino location which was closest.

San Bernadino
I get there, notice the chargers are at the edge of a shopping mall's parking garage. I back in, plug in, get the Three Zeros, and wait 30 seconds. "Unable to charge." I move car to another spot and try another charger. Same thing. Now it is all starting to set in: it's a Friday afternoon in LA, I am supposed to be well on my way home to New Mexico by now, and I am stuck in San Bernadino unable to charge the car. I call Tesla Support. "Your wait time is . . . greater than one hour." I look up the number for the Palm Springs / Cathedral City Tesla Service Center. I get through, tell them what's going on, they aren't too keen on helping, tell me they can take a look maybe but I need to get there soon they close at 5. No way I can get there by 5. They tell me to call the Pomona service center who stay open later than 5. Pomona? Totally wrong direction--I'll be heading west when I need to get to Arizona. Anyway, I fire up Tesla's "Find Us" web page using my phone, and there is no Pomona service center listed! I google it and there it is (Tesla? why don't you list it?). I call, get through. Tell them the situation. Long story short, I'm told there's nothing they can do to help. I was basically turned away and it seemed like the last thing they wanted to deal with was a stranded Model S customer on Friday evening. Desperate, I called an old friend who's a manager at another service center far away. Told him the situation; he suggested I try yet another charger so I moved car to another spot, plugged in, pushed the plug in tight, wiggled it a bit, got the Three Zeros for 30 seconds, and, CHARGE! A slow charge though: capped strangely at 36kW. Took a lonnnngg time to get to 90%.

Cabazon
I decided to drive to Cabazon on the way to Palm Springs, figuring, if Cabazon fails, I'm stuck in Palm Springs and will have to find a hotel for the night and then visit the service center in the morning. The traffic on I-10 East is so awful I crawl along for like 2 hours to Cabazon. Finally get there. Plug in, get the Three Zeros for 30 seconds again, and "Unable to charge." Total nightmare. So I move car to another charger, plug in, and presto, charge!

Indio
I decided to stop again at nearby Indio, in the hopes that if the charger worked there too, I could load up and get to Quartzite just across the AZ state line. Indio turns out to be like Cabazon: several failed attempts and then it worked. So I charged enough to get to Quartzite with plenty of extra.

Quartzite
It's now like midnight or something. I arrive at Quartzite (located in a darkened fast food burger joint parking lot) and plug in. It starts charging at 20kW even though I am nearly empty. Then about 2 minutes in, screen says "Charging Stopped." About 30 seconds later, it resumes, at an achingly slow charge rate. Then a few minutes later, "Charging Stopped." So I get out of the car and notice the red color around the charge port. I move car to another charger. Nothing. No charge or anything. Dead. I move to a third charger. This time I get 51kW but that dwindles over time so it's a long charge. I see another Tesla owner has moved his S from one charger to another--probably experiencing same problem? Anyway I charge enough to get all the way to Buckeye AZ where I figure I'll stop for the night.

Buckeye
2am I get to Buckeye. I figure I will charge in the morning. I drive around and discover all the hotels sold out. So I drive 7 miles away from the interstate and find the Bates Motel-like "Buckeye Motor Hotel" where I sleep for 4 1/2 hours and then go to the Buckeye supercharger. Plug in, get the long wait with the Three Zeros, then "Unable to Charge." I try again. Same thing. I try a third time. It works this time -- and I charge. Then I am on the road heading for the Tempe service center which opens at 9am.

Tempe Service Center
I pull in around 9:30am, no appointment, and tell them the nightmare charging situation I've been having since LA. They tell me they're on a skeleton crew on Saturdays, no diagnosticians available, nothing they can do. But they do offer to check the logs and the logs show scrolling screenfuls after screenfuls of errors, faults, and alerts, many having to do with charging. So they take my car and offer to test it for a half hour on their inside service-only supercharger equivalent. Later, I learn that it charged fine, they charged it up to 90%. My choices were, stay in Phoenix for potentially a week or longer waiting for an appointment, or risk driving home. I risked it.

Rest of trip.
Every other supercharger worked the first time. Payson, then Holbrook, then Gallup, then Albuquerque -- all worked. So I got home around 10:30pm Saturday night.

QUESTIONS.
So, like, anyone experienced anything like this ever? I now have an appointment for El Paso service center set for Nov 13th -- the earliest date. Will the log files still be available for the Oct 18th incidents?
I don't understand why you can't get from Redondo Beach to Palm Springs on a single charge with an S 85. It's only about 135 miles and I get there easily with my 70 D with a 90 % charge.
It would be easier to follow your story if you gave more numbers like rated miles charged and miles driven, driving efficiency, etc. for your trip.
Sorry about your horrible experience with the charging.
 

tinm

2020 Model S LR+ Owner
May 3, 2015
2,463
12,326
New Mexico, USA
I didn't start out from Redondo on a full or 90% charge. It was somewhat less, I don't recall how much. I just remember figuring, this is SoCal, there are plenty of other chargers along the way, why take all the time, etc. Big mistake! :)
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
7,022
13,812
California
FWIW I had a similar “three zeroes” problem out of the blue a month or two ago, and I’ve seen a few other similar reports. For me, I tried 5-6 insert/re-insert cycles across 2 different stalls at the supercharger and nothing worked until I rebooted the MCU while plugged into the supercharger, after which it immediately started charging normally.

Out of curiosity, did you ever try to reboot your MCU/IC? Maybe the service center did and that’s what enabled the smooth sailing for the rest of your trip?
 

tinm

2020 Model S LR+ Owner
May 3, 2015
2,463
12,326
New Mexico, USA
FWIW I had a similar “three zeroes” problem out of the blue a month or two ago, and I’ve seen a few other similar reports. For me, I tried 5-6 insert/re-insert cycles across 2 different stalls at the supercharger and nothing worked until I rebooted the MCU while plugged into the supercharger, after which it immediately started charging normally.

Out of curiosity, did you ever try to reboot your MCU/IC? Maybe the service center did and that’s what enabled the smooth sailing for the rest of your trip?

Great suggestion - nope, never rebooted the MCU. Will remember to do that should the "Unable to charge" come back.
 
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tinm

2020 Model S LR+ Owner
May 3, 2015
2,463
12,326
New Mexico, USA
Charging at home on a HPWC right now. Saw no Three Zeros pause—it started charging right away. Must be a DC high power thing.
 

BerTX

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
May 2, 2014
3,505
3,647
Texas/Washington
Charging at home on a HPWC right now. Saw no Three Zeros pause—it started charging right away. Must be a DC high power thing.
Have you checked your charge port to be sure it doesn't have a missing pin alignment guide? The tips of the pins should have a black plastic piece that aligns the handle onto the chargep pin. They frequently break off and the car has trouble Supercharging, while lower voltage charging often has no problem.
 
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Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
6,807
8,422
Boise, ID
Have you checked your charge port to be sure it doesn't have a missing pin alignment guide? The tips of the pins should have a black plastic piece that aligns the handle onto the chargep pin. They frequently break off and the car has trouble Supercharging, while lower voltage charging often has no problem.
Doesn't make sense and that's not how those symptoms show up. If the little plastic nubbin is jammed in somewhere, the handle really won't go in, and the car absolutely knows it and complains loudly about not being able to latch the connector. Lower voltage charging does not proceed with "no problem".
 

BerTX

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
May 2, 2014
3,505
3,647
Texas/Washington
Doesn't make sense and that's not how those symptoms show up. If the little plastic nubbin is jammed in somewhere, the handle really won't go in, and the car absolutely knows it and complains loudly about not being able to latch the connector. Lower voltage charging does not proceed with "no problem".
Sorry, I was relating my exact personal experience. I had this happen as we were leaving on a 2500 Mile road trip.

Took the car into the Service Center a few days before the trip. Charged at home several times with no issues, and charged to 100% before departing on the trip.

Upon arrival at the first Supercharge 90 miles away, the car would not charge. Tried every stall. Called Tesla and they said there was no issue with the charger. That's when I looked at my charge port and discovered the missing piece.

I was able to make it home, where I had no problem charging. Took the car in and they replaced the charge port, and no issues since.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it sure seemed to be causative.
 

tinm

2020 Model S LR+ Owner
May 3, 2015
2,463
12,326
New Mexico, USA
Could it be that Temps just cleaned up the port? Maybe there was dirt or some kind of arthropod in there.

I had visually inspected the charge port as well as various plugs and saw nothing out of the ordinary, when I was initially running into charging problems in the LA area on Friday.

On a separate note, as of a few days ago I have emailed and texted Tesla begging them to please download and save the car logs that have tons of errors and faults reflecting what I encountered on Friday/Saturday and I've gotten zero response. The first appointment I was able to set is Nov 13th (!). So the log files will no doubt be automatically dumped by then, and I will show up at service and they'll go, uh, everything looks fine, why are you here, we see nothing in the logs, duh.

Sigh.
 

maximizese

Member
Jan 16, 2018
490
479
California
Sorry you had to go through that; it's one of my fears about driving an EV long distance. I'll test out the local Supercharger the day before a road-trip to make sure everything is working properly to avoid a major headache. I figure our Tesla can wait in the garage for repairs while we fire up the old TDI instead.

It seems like you had to visit every Supercharger from Redondo to Tempe. From our 9 month experience with our 2013 S85 (purchased at Tempe), we've probably plugged into a Supercharger 30 times; had one red ring of "failure to charge," 2 random instances of garbled charging rates below 32kW, and 4 rather slow unpaired V2 charging sessions. In each case I tried unplugging, visually checking the plug and port, then replugging. Half the time, it takes a few tries to get it charge properly and the other times I wait for another stall.

The problem that we have is it's hard for us to tell if there's something wrong with our specific car (hardware or software) or the hardware at the Supercharger pedestal. It's interesting that Tesla Tempe told you about the error log. I find it bizarre that so many errors could have been logged without notification to you that something was not right; it seems like Tesla should have an onboard notification (MIL/CEL) or contacted you by phone or email via remote data scanning. That's the other thing that bothers me with Tesla is that I have no idea what's going on with the car. Everything may appear to be fine, but there might be lines of error or bad coding without any indication.

Hope you get this resolved.
 

Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
6,807
8,422
Boise, ID
Sorry, I was relating my exact personal experience. I had this happen as we were leaving on a 2500 Mile road trip.

Took the car into the Service Center a few days before the trip. Charged at home several times with no issues, and charged to 100% before departing on the trip.

Upon arrival at the first Supercharge 90 miles away, the car would not charge. Tried every stall. Called Tesla and they said there was no issue with the charger. That's when I looked at my charge port and discovered the missing piece.

I was able to make it home, where I had no problem charging. Took the car in and they replaced the charge port, and no issues since.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it sure seemed to be causative.
OK, I guess I believe you since you say that's how it happened. It does just surprise me that:
A. You wouldn't notice that your charging handle is clunking against something when it's only halfway in and

B. The car wouldn't be showing any kind of warning light or message when it can't latch. I've had that orange warning light on my port and a reduced rate of 16 amps a couple of times when it is almost but not quite all the way in and can't get that latching pin to go in.
 

Alysashley79

Active Member
Oct 4, 2013
1,228
536
Seattle(ish) WA
[QUOTE="tinm, post: 4135973, member: 35271"On a separate note, as of a few days ago I have emailed and texted Tesla begging them to please download and save the car logs that have tons of errors and faults reflecting what I encountered on Friday/Saturday and I've gotten zero response. The first appointment I was able to set is Nov 13th (!). So the log files will no doubt be automatically dumped by then, and I will show up at service and they'll go, uh, everything looks fine, why are you here, we see nothing in the logs, duh.

Sigh.[/QUOTE]

call them! Sit on hold until you get a human. They should be able to pull your logs right away. Would be a shame to drive 350 and not be able to replicate the issue,until the next long road trip. Twice they remotely diagnosed my charge port needs to be replaced remotely. (Not my current car)
 

BerTX

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
May 2, 2014
3,505
3,647
Texas/Washington
OK, I guess I believe you since you say that's how it happened. It does just surprise me that:
A. You wouldn't notice that your charging handle is clunking against something when it's only halfway in and

B. The car wouldn't be showing any kind of warning light or message when it can't latch. I've had that orange warning light on my port and a reduced rate of 16 amps a couple of times when it is almost but not quite all the way in and can't get that latching pin to go in.
On the HPWC, the pin did lock and there was no error. When Supercharging, the pin would lock and there was a charging error. I was relating a similar experience as a possibility to check. I realize the symptoms are not exactly the same.
 
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