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2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in Tesla

image2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

We inspect our own trailer hitch hardware to see if it can shed light on the recent Tesla Model S fire caused by a debris strike in Tennessee.

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  • kirkhilles_kirkhilles_ Member Posts: 151
    I'd be interested to see some tests at how an average sedan/sports sedan would handle something like that. I don't know if it would cause a fire, but might cause a great deal of damage.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Member Posts: 19,308
    How about a 3 way like this?

    Hoping this works.
    2023 Ford Explorer ST, 91 Mustang GT vert
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Member Posts: 19,308
    Didn't work. I see plenty of tow bars with a hitch ball on 3 of the 4 sides.
    2023 Ford Explorer ST, 91 Mustang GT vert
  • djwdjwdjwdjw Member Posts: 21
    Tesla has apparently decided to roll-out an firmware update without any supplied documenation that a) raises the LOW ride height to begin with and b) disables LOW at highway speed on all cars (previously this was the default at highway speed, now STD is). You should verify the details independently, but it appears this change was made to all Model S cars with the air suspension option. Done over the air, without owner permission/consent (the change was not documented in any release notes). Changes in secret - they must feel a sense of entitlement and arrogance to make any changes they want to owner's cars at any time. TesNSA?
  • stovt001_stovt001_ Member Posts: 799
    Amazing how gasoline powered cars burn to the ground due to damage or poor maintenance literally any day of the week, but an electric car does the same thing and everyone freaks out. Heck Ferrari 458s were burning down faster than they could build them when they were first released. The fact that it took a few minutes after he stopped (and after he drove for some time with the damage) just for the flames to appear is encouraging.
  • mercedesfanmercedesfan Member Posts: 365
    @stovt001, I completely agree about the overreaction, but electric cars are a unique case. I feel completely safe in my Model S because it is obvious Tesla did their job when it comes to isolating the battery pack. However, Li-ion batteries in general are
  • ebb2143ebb2143 Member Posts: 3
    Maybe the driver was describing a hitch with substantial height adjustment, like this: http://b.cdnbrm.com/images/products/large/hitch_accessories/trimax_aluminum_adjustable_ball_mount_hitch2.jpg
  • quadricyclequadricycle Member Posts: 827
    @mercedesfan: Ever witness HF exposure? Mean stuff, that. Back on topic, I agree that chemical fires need to be looked at seriously, and that the Tesla battery isn't all that bad in this regard. Specifically that it ignites slowly (people have always mana
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    "Any of the above objects could easily cause "serious harm" if hit by a standard car. After all, the sheetmetal under our heels is not much thicker than a half-dozen sheets of paper. We might not have feet left if we ran over one of these." None of the hitches you have shown would have been hit by the floor pan of a conventional car, for the simple reason that the floor pan of a car is not the lowest point of the underside of the car - any of these hitches would have been impacted by a front valence, radiator support, engine oil pan, crossmember or suspension parts. Go look at any number of your suspension walkaround photos you've done, Dan, and tell me why any of these hitches would have hit the passenger compartment floor rather than those components I named. Yes, I understand it's just speculation we're doing, because Tesla is not willing to talk about it...or about the drivetrain failures they are having.
  • adamb1adamb1 Member Posts: 122
    There is also the possibility of a 3-ball hitch that you rotate to change the size of the ball. I see those frequently on trucks here in TN. They are generally substantial and their configuration would allow them to sit in the described fashion.
  • duck87duck87 Member Posts: 649
    @kirkhilles: I can answer that- you can say goodbye either to your front bumper lip, the bumper itself, and/or the oil pan. I've never heard of an accident penetrating the floorpan, and you're probably more at risk of something coming through the firewall
  • hybrishybris Member Posts: 365

    This is a much more realistic "3 pointed thing" as these are popular with small business drivers.------------------------------------- Tri-balls as I have seen do have a tendency to almost always land when dropped with a ball up so this is very possible, unless the burning Tesla driver's description is off at its just a regular drawbar and ball.--------------------------------------------------------- In either case the weight distribution drawbar is big enough as you said that they wouldn't fit under most cars gas or electric and if you hit one you will know you hit something bad.------------
    I have doubts that hitting any of these in any other car would actually cause harm beyond floor pan damage let alone personal injury so maybe the guy is being more than a bit over zealous with the situation.
  • gslippygslippy Member Posts: 514
    I love how the experts come out of the woodwork to tell us that Tesla should strengthen the bottom of the car - so reactive. No amount of 'armor' plating improvements under the S will prevent spearing by an object like that.
  • greenponygreenpony Member Posts: 531
    So the guy clearly drove over some substantial piece of road debris, yet people are talking about a design flaw with the car?
  • socal_ericsocal_eric Member Posts: 189
    Tesla and the government should investigate the issue to see if there is a way to make the cars safer and reduce the chance of damage to the battery pack and other electronic that could lead to a fire, even if it is a rare event. With the electrification of many new models the research and design decisions may prove to make those types of vehicles safer. That said people and especially the media shouldn't jump on the bandwagon that there's necessarily a defect or problem with that car. Gasoline powered vehicle catch fire and while also extremely rare, there have been instances where road debris such as concrete rebar bouncing on the freeway has pierced the underbody and impaled/killed occupants.
  • bwakebwake Member Posts: 1

    Software companies do this all the time. Apple and Microsoft update your computer operating system automatically. You have to opt out to prevent it. Many applications software vendors do this too.

    As I understand it, Tesla Model S owners can cho
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