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The "Dreaded Clunk" and a great service experience

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by stevezzzz, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    There were three of us in my Model S, enjoying a fall foliage tour of the Colorado high country, when I heard the 'dreaded clunk' and found myself guiding a glider to the side of the road last week. I'd just stepped on the accelerator to pass on a two-lane highway in the Arkansas River canyon north of Buena Vista when it happened: a loud clunk, instantaneous loss of power, and a bevy of alarms and warnings going off, all in the space of a second or two.

    There was no cell service in the canyon, of course, so I chocked the wheels, turned off the climate control, put the car in jack mode, had my passengers open their doors and set out the hazard triangle back up the road a piece. Told my passengers to sit tight, stuck my thumb out, and the seventh car that passed us headed back into town stopped for me. Wouldn't you know it: it's a guy driving a Volt. Real nice guy, hadn't even noticed mine was a Tesla, but we both got a good laugh out of it as he drove me back to the first place with enough cell service to get a connection.

    I called TM and punched in roadside assistance, but languished on hold too long, so I called my service center in Denver directly. Once we'd exchanged enough information to formulate a plan I had my Good Sam drive me back to the car, where we loaded Marcia and my sister into the back of the Volt (cozy) and headed for town. Bear (our high-tech mountain-man savior) dropped us at a local hotel and we settled in to wait for the flatbed that Denver SC had dispatched from a couple of hours away in Breckenridge, the closest outfit that they were confident understood Model S well enough to deal with any problems that might arise.

    The failure happened around 2:30pm; by 5:15 the tow truck had picked us up (it had a crew cab big enough for all of us) and we headed back out to the car. By this time the 12V was nearly dead and a jump box wouldn't bring up the voltage far enough to raise the suspension and put the car in Neutral (for some reason I'd been under the impression that Jack mode was all that was needed to accomplish those other things). But the car was on gravel and it was easy enough to winch it to the flatbed and skid it from there.

    Meanwhile, Denver SC had dispatched another flatbed with a loaner Model S to meet us in Avon (where our hotel was located) and around 7:30pm we swapped vehicles in a WalMart parking lot. The three of us toddled off to dinner in the loaner while Carey drove the flatbed with my S back to Denver for a pack swap that very evening. The guys stayed until 12:30am to complete the swap and perform a couple of outstanding SB's, then they put it on charge, went home for a few hours of sleep, finished checking out the car first thing in the morning, put it back on the flatbed and delivered it to me, two hours away in Avon, with 261 Rated miles showing on the newly-installed, refurbished A pack.

    Total elapsed time from pack failure to the return of the repaired car to my possession: just under 20 hours. That's exemplary service. To all the folks at the Denver SC, especially Dan, Scott, Robert and Carey: you guys are the best!


    The dreaded clunk:
    20141008-IMG_3970.jpg


    Bear and his Volt come to our rescue!
    20141008-IMG_3971.jpg


    Skidded onto the flatbed. :eek:
    20141008-IMG_3975.jpg


    My Sig S, restored and returned to me in the WalMart parking lot.
    20141009-IMG_4001.jpg
     
  2. Bighorn

    Bighorn Member

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    So another A contactor, presumably. What was your mileage? Do we know if B batteries are as susceptible?

    Not surprised at Denver's dedication--did they have any info on the new Boulder service center and how personnel are going to be allocated? Will their location remain open?
     
  3. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    Now this is truly exceptional service. I commend Tesla Service. Although you got an A in return, be happy that it was showing 261 rated (just ask walla2 about his swap experience).
     
  4. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    I must take exception to the "pass", given above, to Tesla because their service folks are performing well. The fact is these "A" batteries are a disgrace foisted upon us early adopters/supporters. And TM corporate has chosen to stonewall the issue. I'm still waiting for my "A" battery to be returned from the factory, and have been told not to expect any explanation on what they will be doing to the battery to make it right. The Service folks are being carefully instructed to not get engaged in a discussion on the issue. I would ask stevezzzz if his feelings would be the same if he was caught in severe weather and no good Sam happened along. This whole problem is so inconsistent with the beauty and amazing design of the MS. I guess I should be thankful that there is no ignition switch to be concerned about.
     
  5. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    Let me rephrase. I think the service that was performed (turn around in < 24 hrs all with driving 2 hours out of the way) is truly exceptional.

    I strongly disagree, however, with Tesla Corporate's policy of continuing to push out A packs. At this point, we have a very clear trend showing that the failure rate is substantially higher for those with original A packs compared to B and Ds. Not to mention the other points that are concerning. They ought to be replacing these packs with B or better at a minimum. Why they don't retire the A packs and use them for grid storage (and boy does Tesla have a huge need for that) is simply beyond me.
     
  6. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    I assume it was the contactors opening: there was no lurching or grinding, just a loud clunk and a sudden, total loss of thrust. Forgot to mention the mileage: 33k miles on a very early A pack.

    Haven't heard a thing lately concerning the much-anticipated Boulder SC; earlier in the year it seemed like it was nearly a done deal.
     
  7. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    Mine had 30K miles. And same exact experience. Hopefully you, unlike me, had passengers who had already drunk the Tesla KoolAid. One of the ladies in my car, very connected in our small community, was skeptical of electric cars to begin with. Now it's all been confirmed, in her mind.
     
  8. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    I'm a pragmatist. I'm not happy to have suffered a pack failure, though all the time I've devoted to participating in the forums prepared me mentally for the eventuality. Nor am I happy to have received a refurbed A pack as a replacement, though realistically, I don't expect Tesla to give away the latest technology just to make customers happy: they're a business, not a charity. Should I feel entitled to more than lip service to the idea that we Signature customers are somehow special? Probably, but I just don't. We got early cars, after all, and Tesla has fixed every problem I've encountered (not many, actually) in a timely, courteous and professional manner. This is the first time my S has been stranded on the side of the road; I've had other cars, also purchased new, that left me in the lurch a lot more often than once in 33K miles.

    I would very much like to know just what internal upgrades are incorporated in refurbishing these failed packs, because I would like to have some assurance that the issue I just encountered won't recur periodically until my warranty (and my extended warranty) expires and TM offers to sell me a new, late-rev pack out of warranty. That would really suck...
     
  9. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    Have there been failures of recent remanufactured "A" packs?

    The ID labels in the other thread both show a B revision, but they are completely different part numbers:

    12V battery issue- stranded at Mt Shasta supercharger

    If Tesla knows the reason for the higher failure rate, and has replaced the parts that cause the failures in the remanufactured packs so they should have the same failure rate as newer designs (unknown assumptions,) then why should Tesla take a battery from the production line and lose a full up car sale this year instead of fixing the battery so it gives the same reliability?
    Walter
     
  10. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    I'm not expecting them to do that. They could easily swap in a refurb B or D instead of an A, though. I agree that they shouldn't be swapping in brand new packs that would otherwise go into a production car sale.

    Also, addressing your other point, there have been a few folks who have received A packs after their first failure and have proceeded to have another failure. So I'm not too confident in Tesla's ability to locate the root cause of these A pack failures. Here's just one recent example:

    Just got my second _replacement_ battery - some graphs showing my degradation trends
     
  11. Kbsilver

    Kbsilver Member

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    If most of the failures are from A packs, then there will not be many refurbed B or D's to swap with.
     
  12. tom66

    tom66 Member

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    How do we know the refurbishment of the A packs doesn't fix the original issue?
     
  13. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    This is a very serious safety issue that Tesla is NOT taking seriously, most likely due to the costs involved. This is where I differ with Elon's claim that safety is first. Very clearly it is NOT first, because if it were, every owner with an A pack would be contacted for an update or at least an inspection to determine whether there is a latent problem waiting to happen. Losing all power, being told to pull over, etc. is happening with more frequency. If this occurs on the freeway in the fast lane, you could end up in a crash or possibly dead or severely injured.

    Thankfully nobody has suffered an accident or injury with this issue, but how long are we going to have to watch this issue progress before someone is injured or killed when the problem occurs at just the wrong time? GM had an issue with a key switch that caused cars to lose power and all power functions, resulting in several deaths. Here we have the makings of a very similar set of circumstances that could very well lead to a bad result.

    I think all owners with A packs should get together and force the issue with Tesla, or perhaps someone should consider filing a complaint with NHTSA. I'm quite surprised by the lack of outrage over this issue. Even Edmund's suffered the same problem, but Tesla did nothing for the rest of the fleet. I find their behavior here to contradict their claim of being proactive.
     
  14. islandbayy

    islandbayy Active Member

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    I hate to say it but I do agree with this. My 60kW A Pack failed under acceleration merging onto the freeway... Thank God it was 11pm with no traffic. I did get a 60kW B pack though, other then much quicker range loss then my original A pack, no problems so far.
     
  15. tom66

    tom66 Member

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    #15 tom66, Oct 18, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014
    I think it's worth noting there are differences.

    In the Model S, all safety critical systems are operated from the 12V battery. This means that in the event of a HV pack failure, the power steering, airbags, power brakes, stability control, ABS etc. will continue to work at full power for at least several minutes.

    In conventionally powered cars, these systems would lose power or suffer significantly reduced function. In GM's case, the ignition failure also resulted in the loss of airbags.

    Engine failure can happen with any vehicle, and that in itself is not necessarily a safety problem.
     
  16. apacheguy

    apacheguy Sig 255, VIN 320

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    Really? I could've sworn that most ICE work the same way as they are also backed by 12 V power. Pretty sure my old car had power steering function even when the engine switched off but the key was still in with 12 V power.

    i think the reason people are concerned is not because there are a few isolated incidences, but rather this has become a recurring theme suggesting underlying issues in reliability.
     
  17. napabill

    napabill Active Member

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    How long before the "press" gets hold of this and really creates a PR mess. Gunny-sacking it isn't going to make it go away. And I'm still waiting for word on my battery. September 27th and counting. And it's not on the Service Center. They are doing the best they can. But it's obvious TM Corporate has them muzzled. The mushroom theory of PR rules, once again.
     
  18. tom66

    tom66 Member

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    Most power steering pumps (at least in lower cost cars) are belt driven off the engine, so when the engine stops, you will lose power steering very quickly. Same for vacuum assisted brakes (though they may last a few pumps before running out completely.)
     
  19. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    Newer cars will keep power steering if the engine dies - the ones with electric power steering. Cars with hydraulic steering boost (anything built before ~2003, and many cars since including some built this year,) lose it.

    But that's not really relevant to tom66's point. The prior post was comparing Tesla's HV battery issues with GM's ignition switch problem. In the case of the ignition switch problem, all of those systems are turned off, because the car thinks it was turned off. The Model S isn't receiving false user input, so the safety systems stay live while the 12V battery lasts.
    Walter
     
  20. bluetinc

    bluetinc Member

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    Because Tesla hasn't told us what the issue is, or that it has been fixed.

    I agree that this issue is not at the same level as GM's, in which everything including the safety systems shut down, But, a number of these failures have taken place while on the wrong side of the double yellow (dashed), which is not the same as a steady state failure condition say when you are just cruising down the highway. I find it very disappointing and unacceptable that Tesla has decided to start trying to swap A packs back into the cars.

    Peter
     

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