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Our fun day in death valley

Jeweladdict

New Member
Oct 23, 2020
4
0
San Diego
Facebook memories are awesome. 2 years ago we were at disneyland. Last year we were in Zion and vegas. This year we were supposed to be in death valley for my wifes birthday trip. Let me explain what I meant about "were".

We woke up at 6am and started driving with the kids. This is our 3rd road trip in the tesla model x (2 previous ones were to big bear) and this would be the farthest. No worries though, plenty of charging everywhere, even death valley! The only hiccup was having the car randomly reboot while driving on the 215. Read about it before but first time it has happened to me. We got to baker at 9am for our first charging stop, had some breakfast and then noticed that our key fob wasn't working. Have no fear, we can start our car with our phone! Off we went with a full charge on our drive into death valley (while listening to some true crime podcasts).

We make it into badwater about 2 hours later,, having lost cell reception, we couldn't listen to anymore podcasts, luckily kids were asleep so it was nice and quiet. We park, and immediately the car switches to off mode. Take the kids out of the car and realize we are in trouble. We have no way of starting the car. The key fob is dead, no cell service, car is a brick. We tried putting the key fob in the cupholder, put it by the 12v charger, took our the battery, replaced the battery, tried everything in the manual. Started panicking. Started asking everyone if they had cell service, thinking we could somehow hot spot and start the car. Started looking for another tesla, hoping we could use their key fob battery. Started formulating a plan to hitchhike ( our true crime podcast was about a girl who got murdered... You guessed it, by hitchhiking). An hour later, I was sweaty (it was close to 80 degrees), almost sunburnt, but some motorcyclists were able to get me help from an RV with a cell phone signal booster. What actually ended up helping though was that the old couple had spare 3v coins batteries. They didn't fit our key fob, but we made it work by sandwiching our old battery on top. We were unbricked and were able to drive the last 17 miles to our hotel.

At the hotel we grabbed lunch and I immediately called tesla with the limited cell service. They told me I should delete the tesla app and reinstall so that I could use my phone as a bluetooth key. Love technology! Unfortunately the internet is horrible, and an hour later I was still at 18% on the download. Unfortunately, we were unable to unlock the car, or start it remotely anymore (no app) and tesla roadside service could only unlock it ( took them about 10 minutes of trying before they could do that due to bad 3G connectivity. They couldn't run remote diagnostics, didn't know why the car wasn't working, or why the key fob wasn't responding. Our only option was for them to send a tow truck from Las Vegas, and we would have to find our own transportation to vegas. There are no car rentals in death valley. Exasperated, stressed, tired and hungry (vanessa had lunch with the kids while I was debugging with tesla) we had to come up with a game plan.

Vanessa wanted to get out of death valley asap. We still had the bad fitting battery, we could start up the car, and we were worried that if we waited until tomorrow it wouldn't work. I didn't want to lose $500 on our hotel rooms so I had to call expedia, while at the hotel front desk, and play go between to try and get a refund. Thank God for sympathetic managers. linda johnson is a miracle worker and was able to work her magic and get us out of there free of charge (minus the $5 I spent for hotel WiFi to download the tesla app again). Oh yeah, the bluetooth key thing does work on the model X. Waiting on Elon to fix that.

So we left death valley, with only 160 miles of battery, with our tesla saying we would have 6% left by the time we got to vegas. As we drove, we kept getting messages saying to reduce our speed to 60mph if we wanted to reach our destination. It was a slow drive... At one point, we had less miles on our battery than we had to get to vegas. Thank God for regenerative breaks and downhill grades... We made it to the charger with 10 miles to spare.

Had dinner while supercharging, but then got dinged for parking... Weird.

Stopped at a battery store, bought 2 batteries, and now we are spending our vacation in vegas. So much for a stress-free vacation in death valley. Was really looking forward to hiking and seeing stars tonight. Oh well...

Oh yeah, we put the new battery in, and the key fob still says low battery. (Funny that I didn't get this warning anytime before today). We parked at valet, went in to register, and the valet came back saying the car won't open, or start. Good game... Hope tomorrow is better.

I always bring 2 keys on trips, but I didn't this time... I have only had my car since October, and I had to change the key battery in December already for both of my fobs. I had advance warning on those. This time I had no warning, and it doesn't look like a battery issue since the new one is bad. We had a software update last night, and I just had tesla service 4 days ago. Anyone know what's up? Any advice would be awesome.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
4,948
3,022
Northern California
There is a procedure in the manual for getting in and starting the car with a dead fob. It is on Page 16 of the manual found at MODEL X (tesla.com) . Sounds like you followed that and it did not work. I have followed it once or twice and it worked for me. The one thing the manual leaves off is it can take tens of seconds of holding against the outside to open the door, and potentially several attempts to find the magic position. And it can take a few minutes of sitting in the console for the fob to work.

Regarding the fob battery make sure you get the right one, the CR2354. They are hard to find. I usually order off Amazon and I carry a spare one because of their scarcity. Batteries+ sometimes has them. The CR2032 that is the same size has a lower rating and lifespan, and is the one you find at any store. I wish Tesla had used the CR2032, but I am sure they had a good reason for using the CR2354 instead.
 
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Mr. Jim

Member
Apr 13, 2019
101
25
Santa Barbara
WEHN YOU ORDER GET A BUNCH. I have 2 at home, 2 in the glove box and 2 in the frunk. The ones that were in the original fobs lasted about 2 months but I was near home when the light came on. As mentioned the batteries are hard to find and not in any local stores, at least around here .Mark you calendars when you install new ones so you can replace them before you need them. I set mine for 6 months. Like Jboy I get mine from batteries+.
 

mbp11

Member
Jan 30, 2019
380
208
SF Bay Area
OK, you guys, you got me spooked. I got a bunch from Amazon but now I am going to keep two in the glove compartment, and 4 in the refrigerator!
 

Rice&Curry

Member
May 9, 2018
145
81
San Jose
Good & advice, I just ordered a bunch of spare batteries for my MX, it is approaching 18 months on the new car and I was planning trip tp the Death Valley...would have gone earlier but for the stay at home mandate in CA.
 

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