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Tesla Model S: Test Drive Report

Discussion in 'Model S' started by avatar, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. avatar

    avatar Member

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    I was fortunate enough to be able to test drive a model S at the Washington State Bellevue Tesla store today. I had been looking forward to this experience for weeks and I wanted to put down my thoughts before my memories went stale:

    Here is the good and the bad:

    The bad:


    1. We walked down to the Garage where all the Model S's were parked. Unfortunately he had brought a key to a car that was parked behind other model S vehicles. He ran back up and got another set of keys for a car parked in the front. As soon as we got through this minor hiccup we were off to the races.
    2. The model S I had was brand new (new car smell and odometer at 50 miles). As we pulled out of the garage the brakes constantly had a high pitched squealing noise. It was a clear noise and unmistakeable on braking. I was concerned. Sales rep said the brakes had to "broken in" and sometimes made that noise on new cars. I did not believe him. Not sure if my car was faulty or if the sales rep was right but that concerned me. As I drove around more the squealing noise on braking seemed to go away. Still - first impressions matter. That was a little concerning.
    3. It was raining (as it often does here in Seattle :) ). The lack of AWD was really noticeable. The car tended to fishtail slightly and it had a hard time self correcting. Tesla should really get an AWD model or at least one with stability controls.
    4. Suspension controls were options available on the control panel but we were told "it doesn't really do anything right now but will in the future". If it doesn't do anything it shouldn't be displayed to the driver.
    5. This is a nit-pick - the rear view camera didn't have wipers. It got wet in the rain and the reverse camera mode wasn't very helpful. Proximity sensors would be nice too.

    The good:


    1. Sales rep was very friendly and helpful. Was a pleasure to work with.
    2. Car's ride was blissful. Smooth acceleration at every speed.
    3. Car's software was very nice. It has come a long way since the days of the beta models
    4. Car was incredibly silent.

    Bottom line: Awesome car. I would buy over a BMW or Audi any day. The noise on braking was SUPER concerning. It made it feel like the car was defective. Tesla should look into this.
     
  2. huntjo

    huntjo Member

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    The brake squealing does in fact go away. The rep was not lying.
     
  3. avatar

    avatar Member

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    That's a really bad driver experience then. They either need to expose customers to only broken in cars or fix so that this is not needed. I don't understand why they don't do that at the factory.
     
  4. Zextraterrestrial

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    #4 Zextraterrestrial, Apr 21, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
    +1

    about the brakes, you should look into it first, not Tesla. different pad material than you're used to
    you need to do some hard braking from 60 or 100 mph then they will be fine

    the fact that you get to test drive a car that has only 50 miles on it is pretty amazing. and you can floor it with out warming it up even!
     
  5. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I'm not sure what they can really do about it. If I go on a trip and use mostly regen, my brake squeal returns (briefly). Once you know what it is, and why it is, it becomes a compliment: "good job, you've been using regen instead of braking".
     
  6. Odenator

    Odenator P2607

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    You hardly use the brakes because of regen. This will be a issue in the NW because the brakes will CONSTANTLY build up corrosion because of the moisture. ICE cars don't have this problem because you constantly use the brakes. There isn't much that can be done about it except have the staff brake check the car every morning before giving test drives which is not realistic for something so minor.
     
  7. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    3. Can you elaborate on the underlined? That doesn't match my experience, if I'm understanding what you meant.
    4. Which "suspension controls"?

    Thanks.
     
  8. ppl

    ppl Member

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    I agree mine took about 1000 miles. I don't think you want to get a car with 1000 on it. Also I have driven in snow and very heavy rain. Unable to fish taile or for that matter hydroplane. The weight of the car and the control really are impressive

    - - - Updated - - -

    I think it takes that long for the squeal to go away because you rarely use the brake
     
  9. huntjo

    huntjo Member

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    Lol, you quoted yourself within the same post!:tongue:
     
  10. hvb

    hvb Member

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    I've also noticed the Model S fishtailing while my spouse was driving in the rain. Never happened in our Saab. Is this due to the real wheel drive?
     
  11. CapitalistOppressor

    CapitalistOppressor Active Member

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    It's also a common feature of high performance brakes, which the Model S uses. Here is a post from a forum discussing squeaky brakes on the BMW M5 -

    Posted here -

    Brakes Squeaking...oh my - M5POST - BMW M5 Forum

    Squeaky brakes are completely normal on cars using high end performance pads, and can be mitigated on the Model S with occasional hard stops from high speed. In exchange for squeaky brakes you get a car that stops faster than a BMW M5, despite being quite a bit heavier.
     
  12. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    Totally 100% normal and happens with EVERY car that sits around for a while. And it does go away.

    In a nutshell:
    A car sits in a lot (again, ANY car, honda, toyota, tesla, etc.). Car not used for a while. It rains. Rotors get rusty. Brakes squeal. Every single car that has disc brakes does this. Easy fix. Go 60 mph. Slam your brakes. Rotors now clean. No more rusty rotor. No more squeaky brakes.

    It would also go away with normal braking. It would just take a day or two of regular usage probably.

    - - - Updated - - -

    yup, get used to it.
     
  13. CapitalistOppressor

    CapitalistOppressor Active Member

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    That is certainly a factor, but its important to note that the Model S (even the standard models) is a high performance vehicle. In the case of airplanes there is a concept called "dynamic stability" which basically refers to how maneuverable the plane is. A 747 is very dynamically stable, while an F16 is very dynamically unstable.

    Despite its size, the Model S is much closer to being an F16 in the car world. With its near 50/50 weight distribution, it has much more in common with a rear engined Porsche (which also is very easy to fishtail) than it does with a typical front engined luxury barge. As a result, it is both much more controllable and much less controlled than most cars. That means its much more easy to get the car to drift (or fishtail in this case) but you also have a tremendous level of control while you are doing that. As a result once you are drifting its absurdly easy to straighten the car out, or to use the drift to do something fancy.

    It's great for experienced drivers, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable you need to make an effort to drive conservatively, because the car is quite capable of moving into a performance spectrum where a solid lock between the tires and the pavement is not desirable.

    I hesitate to say there is any kind of safety issue involved. If you fishtail a dynamically stable car you are in real danger. If you fishtail a Model S the car is going to basically go wherever you point the steering wheel and the instinctive driving response will tend to fix the problem. Either way you are better off driving conservatively until you are used to the car.
     
  14. avatar

    avatar Member

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    So when I looked up the options under car controls there was a little slider under which you could adjust the suspension. I asked the sales rep what that does and he said nothing right now but in the future you would be able to go from a tight to a loose suspension (so a tight drive to a floaty drive). I thought this is pretty awesome but was disappointed that an option appeared in the interface that is basically redundant until some future update. I thought back to what the rep told me and now I am not so certain he said it does "nothing". I think he said something along the lines of right now it raises and lowers the car but nothing really..and in the future it will allow you to choose between a a tight or floaty ride. Does anyone know about this setting toggle I am talking about?


    As for the fishtailing - It was raining and we were about to take the exist offramp on to the free way. We accelerated sharply and this caused some fishtailing. It was not actually beyond our control but it did make me think briefly I was losing control of the car. That made me think the car doesn't quite have stability controls yet that override the driver in those situations.
     
  15. Blurry_Eyed

    Blurry_Eyed MS Sig #267, MX Sig # 761

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    #15 Blurry_Eyed, Apr 21, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
    There is an air suspension control that allows you to set different heights of the air suspension 'Very High', 'High', 'Standard', 'Low' and 'Jack'. These are user selectable, but the car will automatically select the height settings depending on what speed it is traveling. The Low setting will kick in at highway speeds. Most of the rest of the time the car is in Standard height. High and Very high can be used at low speeds so you can get in and out of a steep driveway or if you are traveling at a slow speed over a rocky road. But once you exceed certain speed thresholds (I don't remember exactly, but I think it's something like 12 miles per hour and 19 mph) The suspension will lower. The control does not tighten the stiffness of the suspension. Perhaps they will do that in the future, but for now the control only adjusts the height of the car.

    I have a Performance Model S and I can make it fishtail in the rain around Seattle if I want to, but if I drive the car hard, the stability control does a masterful job of keeping the car from getting wildly out of control. You can manually turn off stability control, but I would not recommend doing that with the Model S. It has a tremendous amount of torque and you can get into trouble really fast if you turn off stability control.

    But if you drive the car normally, it is one of the most stable cars around, even in the wet conditions we have here in the Northwest. I personally have tremendous confidence driving the Model S around Seattle when it downpours and we get those pools of water in the tire ruts on I-5, I-405 and I-90 around here. I have not once felt the car hydroplane or feel out of control when driving on the freeway at speed in the rain. Also when driving on wet cloverleaf onramps, I've never felt like the backend was going to slip out if I drive the car smoothly in the turn. If you lift off the accelerator or are jerky with it, the car may seem a bit unstable for a moment (especially if you are not used to having regenerative braking kick in) but it returns to being stable quickly. I do have the 21" tires on my car.

    The fishtailing you experienced could also be caused because the tires on your car were not broken in yet. If you only had 50 miles on the car you test drove, I would think the tires still have some of that slippery coating that many new tires have. Also some of the cars that have been delivered have had high tire pressure (50 psi or higher) vs. the 42 PSI that the factory recommends (for the 21 inch tires, I'm not sure what the 19 in tire pressure is). Owners who have reported instability in their cars have sometimes found it was a tire pressure issue. Since the car is fairly new, they may have not checked out the tire pressure yet. When cars are carried on car carriers, they often will over-inflate the tires to help keep the cars more stable on the carrier. The stability control on the Performance car I have is a great blend between letting me be aggressive and keeping me from getting into trouble. But because the car has so much torque, you have to learn to trust the system when the car starts to slip. When you do punch it on an entrance ramp onto the freeway and the road is wet, you will get some wheel slip, but the Traction/Stability control kicks in quickly and all you have to do is keep the accelerator depressed and it will keep correcting for you automatically and limit your rate of acceleration to keep the car relatively stable.

    But what you experienced in your test drive was what you experienced, so you'll have to weigh what people here on the forum are telling you with your own experience. I will say that I've had my car since November, have over 8,000 miles on it driving in the worst part of the Seattle winter with lots of rain and wet conditions and the Model S is the most solid and confidence inspiring car I have ever driven. Even with the 21 inch tires, it rides like a dream, handles like a sports car and is stable enough so my wife doesn't yell at me when I drive 'spiritedly'!
     
  16. GeekGirls

    GeekGirls Kid in Candy Store

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    I just double checked my car, which is running current firmware, and there are definitely no settings along these lines. I can adjust the height of the suspension as I have the air suspension option. That works just fine. I can adjust the stiffness of the steering. There is no other option to adjust the suspension ... today. It's possible that the car you drove had prerelease firmware that represents a work in progress, though this seems unlikely. It's more likely the salesperson wasn't adequately trained on the meaning of the available settings.

    The car does have stability control. It will certainly let you apply a lot of torque, but it has never gotten away from me.
     
  17. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Part of the reason I asked for elaboration/clarification was so that I could respond usefully to your concerns.

    I think Blurry_Eyed masterfully addressed #4, hopefully counteracting the incomplete or confusing information you received from Tesla representatives.

    Regarding #3, I've experienced the vehicle hydroplaning (in ice and ever so slightly in rain) as well as the rear end fishtailing a little when taking a turn too fast on wet pavement. It can definitely get away from you a little*. The part that confused me in your original post was that you characterized the vehicle's response/recovery to such conditions in a poor light. In my experience, in contrast, the vehicle recovers from such conditions quite well. I find it different from my previous vehicles because it corrects so quickly that it can be somewhat jolting -- it reacts just before my instincts attempt to correct. I'm having to learn to let it do it's thing and then roll with it, rather than add human response that will likely be overcorrective. Perhaps you were experiencing something similar.

    * Additional note: In most cases, it was driver error (taking a wet turn too fast) or vision (not seeing the ice) that led to the "interesting" condition. The only such case that I can recall blaming the vehicle was when I found cruise control and traction control competing at 70 mph through wet patches on the highway (40 degree weather just before reaching the snowy areas); it was very disconcerting so I turned off cruise control for a few miles.
     
  18. kinddog

    kinddog Banned

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    nice work documenting this crucial part of the test-drive. definitely worthy of being one of your five "bad" points. perhaps you should email Elon about this? i think he would want to know...
     
  19. Zextraterrestrial

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    ya, why are they using keys for their S's? :tongue:
     
  20. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Europeans expect their performance cars to have squeaky brakes. Americans are anal about them being quiet, and as a result the stock pads installed on North American cars are pretty crappy.
     

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