2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,135
edited September 2014 in Tesla

image2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

This was to be my first night alone with the Tesla Model S. I was looking forward to a great time with a beautiful car. However, the Tesla had other plans.

Read the full story here



  • hybrishybris Member Posts: 365
    Good to hear that everyone is all right. Just wondering where is the 12v battery mounted in this thing?
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    First, the entire drivetrain was replaced, now this. I'm a big Tesla fan, but this ownership experience is not great. It had better be a simple fix. And Edmunds - DON'T leave us hanging as you've done with the Dart.
  • noburgersnoburgers Member Posts: 500
    I had to reread the post to see it said 12V battery, not the battery pack you charge to operate the car. I'm surprised that would kill the car--you would think it could rely on the other battery in a pinch.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    I've never really thought about it before, but given your experience here perhaps electric cars should have a small separate battery for the hazards rated for a minimum flash time.
  • publicpublic Member Posts: 2
    "While accelerating up the 101 north onramp, something happened. I'm not sure what as I'm not a tech guy. The best way to describe the feeling would be to compare it to a manual-transmission car stalling in first gear. The Tesla jerked violently forward, and then lost power"

    Telsa, unsafe at any speed.
  • bankerdannybankerdanny Member Posts: 1,021
    Or is that what the "12 volt battery" message means. Does the Tesla have a separate battery for some systems?
  • publicpublic Member Posts: 2
    Appears you are not the only journalist to have this issue. Vincent Everts a European auto journalist faced a similar breakdown:

    If we have multiple stories of this happening to people reviewing the vehicle it makes sense thing that these are not isolated incidents and present a real issue.
  • zimtheinvaderzimtheinvader Member Posts: 580
    On a side note, this is one reason I keep one of those flashlight/emergency strobe combo lights in all our cars. Even with the emergency flashers going they don't always draw the attention you'd want and even in a gas powered car the electrical systems can die. That way if I ever have to I can just pop the magnetic light in red strobe mode on the car and at least make it somewhat noticeable. Road flares are a nice old school backup too.
  • legacygtlegacygt Member Posts: 599
    Tesla has done a remarkable job delivering a relatively reliable car. I say "relatively" to emphasize that I'm factoring in their inexperience and some of the reliability issues associated with other luxury manufacturers. The more bells and whistles a car has the more that can go wrong. What I am more concerned about is the way the car became unresponsive to any inputs. This is a huge problem. As cars replace more and more mechanical systems with electronic ones, issues that may have been isolated in the past can impact everything the car should be able to do. Not being able to get a car into Neutral is a big deal. You should always be able to push a car to the side of the road when all else fails but that was not an option here as the car seems to have simply shut everything down.
  • stoneymonsterstoneymonster Member Posts: 28
    I'm curious, did Tesla ever replace the 12V battery on this car during a previous service visit? It's an early VIN, so it is likely it had the inferior battery that commonly failed. They had been proactive about replacing them, but some cars (like mine) didn't have them done for over a year.
    Cheap fix, but unfortunately potentially catastrophic when it fails like this.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365
    I have heard of this type of thing happening to other Tesla owners. Unfortunately, it is not an isolated or entirely rare incident. I'm just thankful mine has only had trim and infotainment issues. On a side note, the Model S is actually a lot wider than an S-Class (nearly 3 inches wider). Having owned both, I can tell you that the Benz actually feels like a much smaller car from behind the wheel.
  • tjpark01tjpark01 Member Posts: 5
    Boring and functional will always beat cool and broken.
  • greenponygreenpony Chicago, ILMember Posts: 531
    I'd rather have cool and functional.
  • throwbackthrowback Member Posts: 445
    tjpark01, that is why Camrys and carollas sell in the numbers they do
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    Most people don't realize that EVs contain a 12V battery which operates the accessories and gets the car 'started'. My Leaf has this arrangement, and I think they do it this way because every other car uses 12V bulbs, etc. The 12V battery is charged by the lithium ion pack. If the car has juice in the tank but the 12V battery is dead, it can be jumped by another car to get things going. If stoneymonster is right, this is an easy - but embarrassing - fix.
  • marcos9marcos9 Member Posts: 96
    I hope edmunds posts a follow up article on this. Crazy - someone could have been hurt or even killed.
  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    So this car has had two dead in the water failures now.
    Is that a record for Edmunds or was the Ferrari 308 worse?
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    If it's just the battery I'm surprised there's no on-board diagnostics or failsafe to account for it. This is a very dangerous failure mode. This car has been in California for most of its 18k mile life and it's already had a motor replacement, tire wear issues and now this. Inexcusable even for a new company.
  • se_riouslyse_riously Member Posts: 94
    It sounds like the Tesla is just like the Prius, where you cannot shift into neutral if the 12v battery is insufficiently charged to "startup" the vehicle. The real issue here is the sudden shutdown while the vehicle was in motion, since the drivetrain should be charging the 12v battery. A very likely culprit would be a 12v battery with bad cells not accepting the charge, but Tesla could (should given the vehicle's price?) have a system that monitors the 12v battery charging to avoid this type of sudden shutdown.
  • tubybntztubybntz Member Posts: 11
    How many miles range did you have when this happened?
  • greg128greg128 Member Posts: 463
    If had over $100k to spend on a car I sure would not buy this.

    As brilliant as Elon Musk is and as much as I appreciate the
    cutting-edge robotic technology evident in the Tesla factory; and as much as I want this American company to succeed, I also recognize the challenge of bringing to market such an innovative product.

    Obviously there are bugs than need to be worked out and I hope they are.
  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    "How many miles range did you have when this happened?"

    I would say zero.
  • lmbvettelmbvette South FloridaMember Posts: 93
    As others have noted, EV's have 12V batteries to run the accessories.

    I own a Chevy Volt and there have been numerous cases of Volt owners being stranded as a result of a dead 12V battery, exactly like what happens in regular ICE vehicles when the battery dies.

    Volts have been around since Fall of 2010, so lots of 3 and 4 year old vehicles, which is when a typical 12V battery fails. FYI, in the Volt the 12V battery does NOT charge while the vehicle is charging. Thus if you leave the car powered on over night it could conceivably run the battery down and you could have a fully charged 16.5 kwH battery and a full tank of gas and a car that won't start. LOL

    I'm surprised that EV makers have not figured out a way to eliminate the 12V battery. Why not have the ability for the HUGE battery to convert power over to 12V and save the 60 pounds of weight of a lead acid battery that needs to be replaced every 2-3 years.
    Don't worry about what other people think. Drive what makes you happy.
  • pommahpommah Member Posts: 71
    I'm surprised at the number of readers of this website - enthusiasts I would presume - who seem to be reveling in the teething problems of what's probably the most innovative vehicle on the road. A car that one of the site's writers says is the fastest he's ever driven. I would think they'd want Tesla to be a roaring success.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    Look at Scott Oldham's Twitter page realscottoldham. He tweeted about it and said it was all covered under warranty - this was almost a week ago...so wonder when the failure actually happened - ? The LT blog is becoming almost meaningless, what with them all tweeting about stuff in real time. Anyway...another entire powertrain replacement...at under 19k miles. So now the drama starts...wonder if they will succeed in getting an explanation of this or if they'll let Tesla tell them to piss off, like last time...
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Why would a regular 12V battery totally cripple the car? Why didn't they get a low battery warning earlier? And Tesla really needs to engineer better redundancies into their car. A car that relies so much on electronics and electrical power should have some way to keep instruments and hazards powered even if it becomes immobile. We all know a normal car can rely on the alternator if the battery fails and the battery can keep things going for a while if the alternator craps out.
  • red0011red0011 Member Posts: 1
    See "Tesla Owners Encounter Problems with 12-Volt Battery" --> http://www.plugincars.com/tesla-owners-encounter-ev-related-problems-12-volt-battery-129287.html
  • hybrishybris Member Posts: 365
    At work we have some early 2000's GMC 5500 TopKicks that when the battery dies you can't shift gears or turn off the parking brake so this particular problem is not new but it certainly needs to be fixed. I should always have the ability to turn the key to the ON position and roll my vehicle to a place of safety.
  • majin_ssj_ericmajin_ssj_eric Member Posts: 49
    Oh its the wave of the future! Lol, stupid electric cars! Ok, ok, troll comment I know (and of all the electric cars on the market the Tesla is definitely the only one I'd even think twice about buying) but this kind of story is exactly why I think electric vehicles are a stupid idea, at least right now. Battery tech is no where near where it needs to be IMO to make the jump from internal combustion to electric and it won't be any time soon either. What's more is that there is no need for this alarmist mission to get everyone out of their gas-burning vehicles. We still have plenty of oil and global warming has been completely debunked. Why can't we just keep buying the cars we really want instead of being guilt-tripped and forced into a new technology that is simply not ready for the big time yet???
  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    "See "Tesla Owners Encounter Problems with 12-Volt Battery" --> http://www.plugincars.com/tesla-owners-encounter-ev-related-problems-12-volt-battery-129287.html"

    Thanks for the link but this just highlights what is wrong with Edmunds Long Term tests. The idea is that they are meant to act like owners to give an owner's experience. Yet in most instances they do not read the owner's manuals and they make no effort to research the product. Any obstacle is thrown up as a mystery, whereas an actual owner would perform some research on the web for answers.

    Real issues are swept under the rug with no end explanation(Tesla driveline replacement, Jeep V6 cylinder head replacement, Dodge Dart's 'spark plug' failure, no follow up on a possible transmission issue on the Porsche). Some cars mysteriously no longer are mentioned, before the apparent end of their term (Lexus RX hybrid after a May 2008 fuel log entry of 20mpg average with a low of 15mpg ).

    It all smacks of cow-towing to the mfgs, simple as that.

    Edmunds was a unique site when it first started out. One that provided a source of pricing as well as reviews. But the pricing source no longer is unique. We can get that anywhere on the web and quite frankly the TMV, as shown by Edmunds editors themselves when they turn in a car, is marginal at best.
    So that leaves us with the reviews. And well, those are comical compared to the long established industry leaders. While they performance test a muscle car (here's looking at you CL65AMG), we get a video of the trunk closing.

    It is clear what has happened here once the editorials praising selected car dealerships started to appear. And when commenters on the LT blog provide more real information than the editors.
  • joefrompajoefrompa Member Posts: 64

    I agree - I used to visit insideline.com many times a day and use edmunds.com for research. I used to be a prolific commenter as well.

    Insideline.com was ruined by the move to "What's Hot". The layout is terrible, the commenting system is bad and full of bugs (I can't log-in from I.E. p must use firefox), and the general support and content has gone down hill. Lots of great stuff still, don't get me wrong, but the overall experience is like going from the Web in 2010 to the Web in 2003 - I browse and move on rather than browse and hang around.

    But my understanding was they wanted to emphasize Edmunds.com.

    Unfortunately, I've used Edmunds.com to perform research just like I used too....but now it's MUCH harder to get the information I'm seeking, I'm constantly provoked to give my information to an array of dealers, and some of the information is of far less utility than it used to be.

    So instead, I'm forced to go to INTERNET FORUMS for reliable information on cost, current deals, and a host of other info.
  • joner800joner800 Member Posts: 80
    1. was the battery charged before you took off for the evening?
    2. how did the tow truck get the car out of park when you were unable to do so?
    3. now that you messed up a $100k car, can i take your job at Edmunds?

  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    @pommah: Nobody is revelling in anything. You think that a car that dies on a onramp in the dark, with no way to safely move it out of the way, and the various problems it's had up to now is some kind of NBD joke?
  • tubybntztubybntz Member Posts: 11
    attn desmolicious: He wouldn't have driven it out with only a few miles on it.
  • nuievenuieve Member Posts: 43
    I'm sure Tesla will figure it out and updated their cars if this is a systemic issue. As for blinkers - they just need their own separate little battery.
  • ericheseriches Member Posts: 80
    @ desmolicious... Re: "So that leaves us with the reviews. And well, those are comical compared to the long established industry leaders." --> So that's how you really feel, Desmo? I can't believe you've read much on our site lately then. Our
  • patb2009patb2009 Member Posts: 1
    sounds like the controller got stuck and the drive motors went into
    a full drag which is why it became so difficult to operate.

    I suspect it's a bad 12V battery, like the others say, but it could
    be a wiring problem in the vehicle
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    @eriches - fair enough...but do you have any response to the first two-thirds of desmolicious' comment? I saw a Scott Oldham tweet to the effect of, "second powertrain replacement - 19k miles. Can you imagine if GM tried that?" Yeah - so? If E
  • vincentevvincentev Member Posts: 3
    I had almost the same experience but with me it was the main battery pack which failed. No big shock... just lots of the same warnings. Tesla gave me a replacement car in 25 minutes and picked up my car. Next day I had it back. Great service but expensive for Tesla... would nog like to have it every week.
    Made a video of it. kind of scary to have the car go slower with 1km/second. After 50 seconds I stood still on the highway. Video and article http://www.teslatransformation.nl/werkt-service-tesla-model-s-loopt-vast-snelweg/
  • vincentevvincentev Member Posts: 3
    I had almost the same experience but with me it was the main battery pack which failed. No big shock... just lots of the same warnings. Tesla gave me a replacement car in 25 minutes and picked up my car. Next day I had it back. Great service but expensive for Tesla... would nog like to have it every week.
    Made a video of it. kind of scary to have the car go slower with 1km/second. After 50 seconds I stood still on the highway. Video and article http://www.teslatransformation.nl/werkt-service-tesla-model-s-loopt-vast-snelweg/
Sign In or Register to comment.