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Tesla Model 3 Down: Won't Power Up, and is Inaccessible

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
This afternoon, I opened my app to check on the Model 3's charge status. I noticed it wasn't updating and hadn't updated since before 7am, about 9 hours earlier. I went out to the car and it was completely "dead." By that I mean unresponsive with no lights or activity. Tesla was originally sending a flatbed, but because we can't get inside to put it into tow mode, we both agreed waiting for a Ranger to come on Monday would be a better option.

A quick video demonstrating what it looks like:

[[ Mod note: edited title based on OPs request to remove the term 'bricked' which caused a lot of debate. All that was known was that the car wouldn't power up, but what went wrong hasn't been determined (yet). ]]

[[ Mod note: if you want to 'cut to the chase' and skip forward we eventually got this message from MarkS22:

"Update 2:

I'm able to discuss a little more without speculating. The latest is that a firmware error was the primary contributing factor that stopped the 12V from charging as designed. A new firmware, which fixes the issue I experienced, was loaded onto the car. This appears to have remedied the error. They replaced the 12V battery (as a precaution since it was fully drained) with a brand new one and have been monitoring its charge. As of now, it's holding a charge as expected. Since I'm not in a hurry, I did say it wouldn't be a problem to keep the car over the weekend to ensure the the 12V battery behaves as expected over a longer time frame. (They'll let it sit there and monitor the charge.)

So, while it was unfortunate that it happened to me, I think it also highlights the power of the ability to rapidly update firmware in the field. In theory, this update will prevent all future cars from having the same issue." ]]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

jsrawa

Active Member
Apr 11, 2016
1,083
807
Colorado
This afternoon, I opened my app to check on the Model 3's charge status. I noticed it wasn't updating and hadn't updated since before 7am, about 9 hours earlier. I went out to the car and it was completely "dead." By that I mean unresponsive with no lights or activity. Tesla was originally sending a flatbed, but because we can't get inside to put it into tow mode, we both agreed waiting for a Ranger to come on Monday would be a better option.

A quick video demonstrating what it looks like:

Wow, sorry to hear about the trouble. Keep us posted!
 
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MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
I'll keep everyone posted. I mean, could it be the 12v? Sure... but that would be strange for a vehicle that's less than 2 weeks old and plugged in. It's my understanding it should be trickle charging the 12v, especially considering it was well-charged and plugged in.

And, if the 12v can fail like this, there should be some backup method for the user to gain access to the car. When you rely completely on one failure point or the car becomes completely unacceptable, that seems like a design problem.

I don't want to jump the gun and speculate on the cause. Let's see what Tesla says on Monday. As you can see from my post history, I've pretty much universal praise for the Model 3. To those of you who haven't received yours yet, you're welcome for the beta testing. ;)
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
OP - Do you know what 'Bricked' actually means, in this context?

I do. I come from a programming background. Typically it would mean a corrupted firmware (or, traditionally, BIOS) that rendered the device un-bootable. In this case, I'm using the term more loosely because, for all intents and purposes, it's acting like it's bricked in that it's completely unresponsive (and appears to have no electrical activity) and cannot be fixed, to my knowledge, by the consumer.

In the body of my post, I did put "dead" in quotes and clarified "By that I mean unresponsive with no lights or activity."
 

cwerdna

Active Member
Jul 11, 2012
3,389
2,234
SF Bay Area, CA
Thanks!

Most (virtually all?) other vehicles which have systems like Smart Key System (Toyota parlance) or Intelligent Key (Nissan parlance) include a mechanical key in the fob and at least 1 key hole to allow unlocking of the door if the fob dies, or fob battery or 12 volt battery dies.

Also, it is absurd that Teslas lock their connector to their car during L1 and L2 AC charging and AFAIK, keep it locked w/o providing an option to the driver to either not lock or auto-unlock when done. It causes extra complications and need for coordination w/Tesla folks at my work who share the HPWCs we have.

Most other vehicles w/J1772 inlets except for a few current offenders like (some?) Kia Soul EV, some VW e-Golfs and the BMW 3-series PHEV either don't have any charging lock or give the driver a choice as to whether to lock, don't lock or unlock when done or just unlock when finished.
 

Dogwhistle

Member
Sep 8, 2015
182
345
Delaware
This afternoon, I opened my app to check on the Model 3's charge status. I noticed it wasn't updating and hadn't updated since before 7am, about 9 hours earlier. I went out to the car and it was completely "dead." By that I mean unresponsive with no lights or activity. Tesla was originally sending a flatbed, but because we can't get inside to put it into tow mode, we both agreed waiting for a Ranger to come on Monday would be a better option.

A quick video demonstrating what it looks like:
Use the tow hook hole to pop the frunk to access the 12v, then jump-start it to close the HV contactor.
 

Dogwhistle

Member
Sep 8, 2015
182
345
Delaware
4EF01C37-ED90-48FA-8240-790DDA020404.png
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
Use the tow hook hole to pop the frunk to access the 12v, then jump-start it to close the HV contactor.

Since it's safely in my garage and I have another vehicle accessible, it's not an emergency. I'm more concerned how the 12v could be dead after only two weeks while the main battery is being kept at 80%+ charge and plugged in to utility power (120v/15A, but utility nonetheless). I'd like them to make sure the battery isn't defective. (Is there a trickle charger to top off the 12v? If so, perhaps that's not functioning?) If it happened once, what's to stop it from happening again after a jump?
 

bonnie

I play a nice person on twitter.
Feb 6, 2011
16,427
9,740
Columbia River Gorge
I do. I come from a programming background. Typically it would mean a corrupted firmware (or, traditionally, BIOS) that rendered the device un-bootable. In this case, I'm using the term more loosely because, for all intents and purposes, it's acting like it's bricked in that it's completely unresponsive (and appears to have no electrical activity) and cannot be fixed, to my knowledge, by the consumer.

In the body of my post, I did put "dead" in quotes and clarified "By that I mean unresponsive with no lights or activity."
In terms of electric vehicles, saying your car is 'bricked' means that the main battery (not the 12V) is dead and non-recoverable. Can't be charged again. You're buying a new battery for your car.

Your car wasn't bricked :). And be glad for that!
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
Thanks!
Also, it is absurd that Teslas lock their connector to their car during L1 and L2 AC charging and AFAIK, keep it locked w/o providing an option to the driver to either not lock or auto-unlock when done. It causes extra complications and need for coordination w/Tesla folks at my work who share the HPWCs we have.

Yeah, luckily I'm on a mobile charger here. Tesla originally wanted to flatbed the car and bring it in. If I was connected to a hardwired charger, it would have to be fixed on-site or the charger would have to be removed. I just find it sub-optimal that the vehicle can literally be plugged into a working power outlet (and attached to a 75kWh battery) and not have enough power to open the doors or remove the charger cable. You'd think they'd be able to work around the problems of a legacy ICE that doesn't have redundant electrical power.
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,217
7,007
Delaware
Sounds like a drained or failed 12V battery. Putting power on the Frunk leads will quickly tell you that, since it'll pop the Frunk if there's no power but not if the car has 12V power. Assuming that's the problem, jumping the 12V should recover the car.

The 12V is charged when needed by a DC-DC converter off of the main pack in Teslas, including when the car is off (this is the main source of "vampire drain" - power to the DC-DC converter to charge the 12V and provide power to the various electronic bits.)

AFAIK there's no separate charger for the 12V (other EVs take different approaches - GM charges the 12V directly from the onboard charger module during charging, leaving the APM (their DC-DC converter) off when the car is off.)
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
9,936
4,850
Since it's safely in my garage and I have another vehicle accessible, it's not an emergency. I'm more concerned how the 12v could be dead after only two weeks while the main battery is being kept at 80%+ charge and plugged in to utility power (120v/15A, but utility nonetheless). I'd like them to make sure the battery isn't defective. (Is there a trickle charger to top off the 12v? If so, perhaps that's not functioning?) If it happened once, what's to stop it from happening again after a jump?
Well you asked for a way to access the car and that's the way. They made the external 12V a requirement likely because there were complaints about frunk security in the previous mechanical only methods.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
9,936
4,850
In terms of electric vehicles, saying your car is 'bricked' means that the main battery (not the 12V) is dead and non-recoverable. Can't be charged again. You're buying a new battery for your car.

Your car wasn't bricked :). And be glad for that!
Yeah, I got misled by the title too. I thought this was the first Model 3 that actually was "bricked".

I do. I come from a programming background. Typically it would mean a corrupted firmware (or, traditionally, BIOS) that rendered the device un-bootable. In this case, I'm using the term more loosely because, for all intents and purposes, it's acting like it's bricked in that it's completely unresponsive (and appears to have no electrical activity) and cannot be fixed, to my knowledge, by the consumer.

In the body of my post, I did put "dead" in quotes and clarified "By that I mean unresponsive with no lights or activity."
To the OP, here's some context to what "bricked" means specifically for EVs (and Tesla specifically). The word was loaned from the software context you mentioned, but in an EV the meaning is that the HV battery is completely dead from being overdischarged (and can't be easily recoverable without extreme methods like disassembling the pack and doing manual trickle recharging module by module and try to salvage some).
Tesla Battery Failures Make ‘Bricking’ a Buzzword
 

MarkS22

Member
Apr 6, 2015
796
1,985
Morris County, NJ
Yeah, I got misled by the title too. I thought this was the first Model 3 that actually was "bricked".

To the OP, here's some context to what "bricked" means specifically for EVs (and Tesla specifically). The word was loaned from the software context you mentioned, but in an EV the meaning is that the HV battery is completely dead (and can't be easily recoverable without extreme methods like disassembling the pack and doing manual trickle recharging module by module).
Tesla Battery Failures Make ‘Bricking’ a Buzzword

Duly noted. I always saw that referred to as "bricked battery," which I never said. In theory, anything with firmware or a severe hardware failure could be "bricked." I wasn't trying to be misleading, but rather describe a failure that results in the car being completely unresponsive without a method for the consumer to revive it on their own.

As has been pointed out, it's possible a jump-start of the 12v could remedy this situation, but Tesla Service did not recommend I attempt that. Instead, they want a Ranger to come out and inspect it personally.
 

Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
5,745
6,997
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sorry for your loss. I'm glad you have a backup. Thanks for being one of the first, if not THE first to have this issue, so that those of us that get a Model 3 later have a much less likely to have the issue happen for us. So sorry again, but also thanks. I appreciate you early adopters.

I know it was an issue on early Model S's. So you'd think that Tesla had figured out how to prevent this. Though it is possible that this is an entirely new situation where the 12v is having an issue.
 

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