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Safety mode when driving through standing water

anticitizen13.7

Not posting at TMC after 9/17/2018
Dec 22, 2012
3,638
5,870
United States
Oh and I wouldn't want to take an ICE through 1ft of water, never mind an EV! However, reading through the reports it seems that the Model S reacted better than most ICEs would have. Model S went into neutral, restarted and was fine afterwards. If an ICE had sucked in water, well.....

No kidding... I saw some photos of a set of connecting rods from a Civic Si w' CAI that sucked in water. Hydrolock is the surest way to completely destroy a gasoline motor.
 
"...Some standing water on I-880..."

That could mean anything, but it would be pretty unusual to be "moderate" on I-880. Until we know more specifics, it should just say "water".

Since that was my posting, I'll try to provide more specifics.

As I was driving, I didn't really see the water on the highway (between fighting the wipers, it being very dark and trying to concentrate on the traffic). I don't believe it was anywhere near 1 ft of water, but it was reasonably deep 4-6 inches perhaps.

Given the fact that the air suspension warning came on, it was probably alerting me to raise the suspension. Like I said, it all happened so fast I didn't get to read the message. The lights turning off for about a second and the car going into neutral were the biggest surprises.
 
Since that was my posting, I'll try to provide more specifics.

As I was driving, I didn't really see the water on the highway (between fighting the wipers, it being very dark and trying to concentrate on the traffic). I don't believe it was anywhere near 1 ft of water, but it was reasonably deep 4-6 inches perhaps.

Given the fact that the air suspension warning came on, it was probably alerting me to raise the suspension. Like I said, it all happened so fast I didn't get to read the message. The lights turning off for about a second and the car going into neutral were the biggest surprises.

In Miami, I will have these sorts of conditions every single day of the summer, and we don't think twice about it; it's "normal". I wouldn't call it "deep" or "moderate". I need to know if I need to do anything special with my car to protect against it going into neutral at 70 MPH on the Turnpike, and how it will affect range and safety.
 

mknox

Well-Known Member
Aug 7, 2012
10,104
1,900
Toronto, ON
If heavy rain and small puddles can cause this, it exacerbates my concern with how the car is going to deal with salt brine on wet slushy winter roads. This problem sounds like water getting into some system or other and causing a problem. Salt water is only going to be worse.

I was looking at the Model S "sled" in a Tesla store the other day and noticed that the electric parking brake and it's wiring is pretty exposed to the elements. Anyone think that this might be the root cause? This brake substitutes for a traditional parking pawl in a transmission, and if the car loses its ability to determine the state (on or off) of this brake, it may cause behavior as described in this thread.
 
...
Oh and I wouldn't want to take an ICE through 1ft of water, never mind an EV! However, reading through the reports it seems that the Model S reacted better than most ICEs would have. Model S went into neutral, restarted and was fine afterwards. If an ICE had sucked in water, well.....

You can crack an engine block on an ICE if it is really hot when you hit deep water (not sure what cars specifically) I'd imagine taking a 911 through 1 foot of water would be BAD. 1 foot of water would come in the doors of the S if you opened them...bad Idea. I saw many a deep puddle yesterday and managed to avoid all but the 4" deep ones.

I think the problem with deep water might be that the air intakes in the front of the car will scoop water straight into the heat exchanger maybe, just an idea
 

Doug_G

Lead Moderator
Global Moderator
Apr 2, 2010
17,888
3,416
Ottawa, Canada
The e-brake wiring is exposed, sure, but sealed. Automotive electrical systems have always been exposed to the elements. It's a solved problem.

My guess is that the car has some kind of immersion sensor, and a momentary splash is causing the firmware to freak out. If true they can fix it with an update.
 
Wow, what did I start!?

I have no idea how deep the water actually was. It should have been fine to drive through. And it clearly was, as the car is fine. No need to personally insult me and call me negligent.

I had no choice but to go through the water and 10 cars in front of me did the exact same thing. Could have been 6 inches? Could have been 12. They closed the road after as it was just getting worse. I'm sure I've gone through water like that in my Prius.

Oh and I'm on 4.0
 
Wow, what did I start!?

I have no idea how deep the water actually was. It should have been fine to drive through. And it clearly was, as the car is fine. No need to personally insult me and call me negligent.

I had no choice but to go through the water and 10 cars in front of me did the exact same thing. Could have been 6 inches? Could have been 12. They closed the road after as it was just getting worse. I'm sure I've gone through water like that in my Prius.

Oh and I'm on 4.0

Definitely no insult intended from me....
 

lolachampcar

Well-Known Member
Nov 26, 2012
6,294
8,378
WPB Florida
OK, let's get something straight.

I do not believe in magic particles. It has been my experience that technical issues occur for a reason. One person driving through a foot of water does not a concern make......... but we are not talking about just one person so I started a thread to discuss it.

This may very well be a non-issue and my hopes are that it is. However, if there is an issue then I think it is prudent to ask the members of this forum if any have had anything resembling a similar problem.

Yes, you can ignore a small problem nibbling at your ankle. You can even justify ignoring a potential problem nibbling at your ankle. If you are lucky, it goes away. I've never been lucky so my little nibblers grow up to bite me in the butt. I pay attention to nibblers until I am certain they are not an issue.

- - - Updated - - -

goaliemanshark,
Thank you for your post. Posts like yours give Tesla a chance to get out ahead of issues. I've not heard of any follow up calls from Tesla personel after delivery so the forum becomes doubly important in closing the feedback loop for problems that would not necessarily generate a service call.

- - - Updated - - -

With respect to the lights, neutral and such, some vehicle control modules will go through a full reset on certain faults. This is pure speculation but the sequence some have seen may be the self test sequence that normally lights all the warning lights and such when the car if first powered up. This would explain the head lights flickering, the various warning lights (suspension) and the move to neutral.

All modern automotive control modules will store fault codes. Some will light up the MIL (Check Engine Light) while others are simply stored for later use. I think the next step would be to check fault codes and see if there is any consistancy from incident to incident.
 
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Agree that some issues like this could be avoided if there was a comprehensive manual but I do have an answer......

I spoke to someone senior at Tesla today and he told me that, like any other car, going at speed through water high enough to hit the bumper is not a good idea. When it thinks it's being submerged, Model S puts itself into neutral and "safe mode" to prevent any big problems. All the customer has to do is put the car back into drive and there's no issue. The cars mentioned up-thread sound like they are performing exactly as they should, protecting themselves and the occupants.

As this was told to me by Tesla, I'm going to update the thread title to reflect that this is now a known safety procedure.



(P.S. my contact also pointed out that it's a performance sedan and not a Hummer! My exclamation mark)
 

JRP3

Hyperactive Member
Aug 20, 2007
23,908
67,045
Central New York
ICE vehicles don't do that when driving down the highway in the rain. What is the car protecting itself from, since it was able to continue on its way, do other ICE's on the same road need to protect themselves? This is obviously a glitch, maybe the car is just being "over" protective, but it's not welcome behavior.
 

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