Drivetrain failure on a P85D loaner and a temporary solution

So, we brought my better half’s Roadster in for its annual service .  Since we scheduled our service a while back, we were able to request and receive a loaner. Our first loaner was a regular P85 and it was a nice ride.  However, while the Roadster was in for service, the guys at the service center found an issue when the car was headed back to us after completion of the service.

Roadster parts and service is a little bit more of a challenge to Tesla than Model S service.  The issue with the car is still ongoing and the fault has been isolated.  In the meantime, the loaner will be with us a little longer than expected.  Having never experienced Autopilot as a driver, I requested a swap out of loaners to an AP enabled one, should the service center be able to accommodate.  A while after the request, and about a week after we’ve been driving a standard classic Model S P85, we got word from the service center that an AP enabled Model S was available for a swap, so I hurried down to the Service Center to swap out the P85 loaner for a P85D loaner.

IMG_20160927_150103

IMG_20160927_143622

IMG_20160927_150111

Not a Ludicrous P90D, but still insane.

IMG_20160927_150744

So, aside from auto pilot, we also got Insane.  I’ve been through a few Insane launches previously, so I didn’t really care to try that again.  One of the things that struck me with this Model S is the upgraded TPMS system that these newer Model S has.  Older Model S TPMS did not indicate the status of each individual tire pressure.  The Roadster does, but early Model S did not.

IMG_20160930_123949

The car had firmware 7.1.

IMG_20160930_124003

One of the best tests for Autopilot is in stop and go traffic and you can see this loaner handling that fine.

IMG_20161005_112454

Speeding up when the traffic ahead starts to move faster.

IMG_20161005_112445

We took it out for the weekend.  Both the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (meetup, TMC, or Twitter) and Los Angeles (website or Twitter) decided to go Apple Picking in Yucaipa.  We figured it would be a great way to try out the autonomous features and get some experience with Auto Pilot since none of our current Tesla cars have it.  We met at the Rancho Cucamonga Supercharger and left for the Apple Farm from there.

IMG_3442

IMG_3445

IMG_3446

IMG_3447

IMG_3449

The caravan was fun, but we were in the back, and the group ahead of us got there a lot sooner than we did.

Here we are at the Apple Farm with the group.

IMG_3450

It was a great long trip to Rancho Cucamonga and Yucaipa.  The car performed admirably and I still was not as comfortable as others with the Auto Pilot.  It worked great, but I’m just too much of a control freak.  The car seems to sit closer to the right side of the lane than I do.  Either way, there’s a lot of coverage on AP and now that 8.0 is released and AP 2.0 is getting produced, I’m not adding anything to further the pro or con case for AutoPilot 1.0.

However, I can give some hints on what can be done should you encounter some trouble.  This is not an all-inclusive list, just a story of what happened to us and how we temporarily resolved it.

A few days after our club trip for Apple Picking.  Something distressing happened.  The drivetrain failed.   We were doing some errands locally.  I was making a left and had the PRND status on the driver dashboard go red, that was strange, so, I put the car on park, and the PRND status went to P.  I then switched back to D and it engaged.  Figured that this was a weird event, we decided to head home and swap cars.

Five minutes later, we were at a stop and the PRND status went red again.  Once again, I didn’t get a picture of the failure because of traffic.  Unfortunately for us, we were in Pacific Coast Highway at a stoplight.  Now this is a very busy road, and we were a little stressed at the speeds that people behind us were traveling before the stop.  We called Tesla Roadside Service to see what was going on.  Their solution was to send a tow truck to pick us up.  However, we were stalled in the middle of the street.  So, we called our service center and were advised to reset the car.  Now, it was too dangerous to get out of the car to do this.  Turning the car off would have turned off our hazard lights.

The service center had a novel and ingenious way of restarting the car to see if the car can fix itself.  While parked.  Brace yourself so that you can raise yourself off the seat.  Open and close the door quickly.  What this does is reset the vehicle.  The car went off and then turned back on.  Guess what.  It worked.  The drive train was able to be re-engaged.  We were a few minutes from home and were happy to get home unscathed.

Called Tesla back to redirect the tow to our home.

IMG_20161010_161505

As with any Tesla, the car needs to be towed by a flat bed.

IMG_20161010_162026

IMG_20161010_161505

IMG_20161010_162026

IMG_20161010_162030

It was an afternoon in Southern California, during Rush Hour…  So, we spoke with the service center and they were able to get us a replacement loaner.  No auto pilot, but a nice Silver P85.  Here is the P85D getting towed.

IMG_20161010_172148

IMG_20161010_172150

This loaner has the built in center console and I used to want one.  Now, I’m sure I prefer to have the open space.

IMG_20161010_174827

Bottom line is, the car is great, but if you ever find yourself in a situation where the drive train won’t engage.  Try a few things.

1) Put it in Park. (and then switch it back to gear.  This worked ONCE and wouldn’t again.)

2) Step out of the car and step back in. (or make it think that you do by lifting your bum off the seat, then open and then close the door.)  Car will go “off”. Then start the car as normal.

Hope that helps.

Oh yeah… Thanks for the reminder…

Two Roadster posts in a row… Must be some sort of record…

Well, I got the following in the mail the other day…

Thanks for the oil change reminder, Just Tires...  The @TeslaMotors Roadster doesn't need one #EV #EVBenefits

I guess having work done at non-Tesla locations subject one to some really interesting car offers.

A few months back, we found a nail in the Roadster’s tire. The tread was still good, and the leak was slow, so we had the tire patched at Just Tires.

This was an interesting repair because, the Roadster did not have a standard location to jack the car up to get the tire removed, so Just Tires refused to do the work… Initially.

So, I called the nearest Tesla Service Center (which was less than 2 miles from the Just Tires) and requested them to remove the tire, instead of doing it at their location, Tesla sent a Ranger to the Just Tires parking lot and removed the tire, waited for the repair to be done, and re-mounted the tire back on the Roadster. That’s the sort of service that’s somewhat screwy, but above and beyond. Tesla refuses to patch the tires, but understand that customers may opt to do this anyway (within reason) and the service center staff are reasonable enough to adjust and have workarounds that they help with.

Needless to say, I was happy with the work from Tesla.

Just Tires did a great job with the patch. They also patched the Model S a few months ago when I got a similar road debris issue with the Model S.

I think that Just Tires does have to figure out how to make their CRM system understand the needs of electric vehicle drivers may not be the same as internal combustion engine drivers.

The dangers of high mileage EV use… Battery replacement!

One of the folks that I like to read often is Tom Moloughney’s blog (Aka Electronaut One) and he’s been writing about Battery Capacity loss and giving some hints on how to help mitigate it. As many readers know, it would seem that I am one of the higher mileage Active E drivers. I’m currently a little over 30,000 miles in a little over 14 months. And I find it hard to follow some of his advice as I tend to have to drive the mileage that I do and can’t really get to where I’m going comfortably if I decide to only charge to 80% SOC, so… I don’t. Regardless, the dangers of high mileage EV use is Battery Replacement! So at a little over 30,000 miles these past 14 months and change on the EV portion of my hybrid garage.

Some of the things to consider as we’re nearing the second month of samples of my Volt inspired sample of my hybrid garage. In my initial month, I did approximately 85% Electric vs. 15% Gasoline. This past month so far, I’m closer to 70% Electric vs. 30% Gasoline and a lot of that was because I decided to be a little more Rage Sane than Range Insane to my drive to Morro Bay.

Regardless. If folks decide to look deeper into my samples, they would notice that I haven’t driven my approximately $0.20 to $0.25 per mile BMW X5. This was originally because of choice than anything else. I didn’t really need to haul anything larger, pick anyone up at the airport with lots of luggage, or just feel “bigger” than the rest of traffic. So, the car sat at the garage. Well. It’s a nearly 12 year old car. A couple of weeks ago, I figured to start it… And Lo and Behold, it wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. The last time I bought a battery was less than six years ago, but one of the dangers of running a hybrid garage is IGNORING your ICE vehicles. Granted, this was the same challenge when my HOV capable vehicle was a Honda Hybrid Civic. But that car was not nearly as fun to drive as ANY of my BMWs. So, I drove the X5 a little more than we do now.

The Morro Bay drive went convertible top because the weather was ideal for it. We could have easily spent more money and gone with the X5 because we were headed into Santa Barbara and Central Coast Wine Country and could’ve opted to have space for a few cases, comfortably.

Regardless, the battery died. It had to be replaced. Luckily, the last replacement still had nine months left on its warranty and we got a 9/72 partial refund on the older battery to make our replacement approximately $120 after taxes. Basically the refund covered $17 of a totally brand new battery.

This experience has gotten me thinking of Tom’s write up and battery replacement in general. Tesla has just released an enhancement to its service and repair program that includes an enhancement to the coverage of the battery pack. They’ve already spelled out the cost for the 60 KwH and the 85 KwH battery packs ($8,000 and $12,000 respectively, I believe.) The Nissan Leaf’s battery capacity warranty has been spelled out in terms of what to expect over time and mileage I believe. i.e. 80% SOC on year 5 or something like that.

BMW i needs to do the same thing for the battery packs for the i3 and i8 when the cars are released or even slightly before the release of the car. As Tom champions, I second the motion. Potential purchasers of the i3 (of which I continue to hold on to hope that our second EV will be, though that Fiat 500e sure looks aesthetically pleasing to me… even though the Fiat does remind me of a gumdrop, but I digress,) will need to be able to compare EVs to each other. However as the aforementioned Tom Moloughney wrote, the Fiat 500e and the i3’s battery systems are identical, so I don’t really need to compare these specific cars (unless there’s a change in how each company regulates the temperature of each vehicle.) for what the expected battery loss figures would be. It’s not just EVs that lose capacity/capability as it ages, ICE cars also lose power as the cars age. That’s just entropy in action. It’s just front and center to EVs. I don’t necessarily like to lease my cars, regardless of what fuel motivates it. I would much rather own it outright and just pay for the things that keep it moving.

So, barring such information on battery replacement from most manufacturers, it would just be the responsible thing to do to put away some of the “gasoline savings” aside into a fund for a rainy day. Whether one save approximately $10,000 (the figure between the two Model S published numbers) or less is entirely dependent on the EV owner’s resources and ability to save. I think that it is prudent to put aside half of what a future EV buyer saves on gasoline toward purchasing a replacement battery pack in the future. I didn’t come to this number through ANY analytical means, just a guess, if you will.

Godot no more!… Back from Oxnard! Woohoo

Back from Oxnard! Woohoo by dennis_p
Back from Oxnard! Woohoo, a photo by dennis_p on Flickr.

I’m back in the race for the top mileage again! Just in time for Christmas.

No further word except for a failed high voltage sensor!

Gave my dealer and BMW USA my piece of mind and suggestions on how to improve the process. Basically training and communication.

As well as my displeasure with the towing procedure!

Waiting for Godot… Day Nine!

Exclamation point at the end of the title because I was notified that I would get delivery yesterday. However, as is the case in the Beckett namesake that I’ve temporarily named my ActiveE after, I’m still waiting…

As was predicted by Electronut #1, Tom Moloughney, in the initial Oxnard bound post, “It could be something as minor as a bad sensor so keep the faith!”. The man is a “BMW EV Whisperer”. The only note from the guys at Oxnard that was communicated to my dealer was a failed sensor in the High Voltage system caused the issues.

I really appreciate our EV community and hope that the initial feel lasts as more and more people, hopefully, switch over to EV from ICE and some of the common courtesies become general practice. Even to Noobs (i.e. Plug Sharing, moving your vehicle from public chargers when the car is done charging, etc.)

Some are hoping for a White Christmas, others for their two front teeth… I’ll be glad when I can renounce the name Godot for my ActiveE!

Waiting for Godot… Day Eight…

Late yesterday afternoon, I received good news. Oxnard called back and said that Godot was on his way back to the dealership. They did not mention what was wrong nor what they did to fix the problem, nor what the problem was.

The only thing they told my dealership is that they wanted them to do an alignment on the wheels… (must have been an effect of the “tow” that BMW Assist did).

Either way, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Waiting for Godot… Oxnard Watch Day Seven…

So, today would be the anniversary of the first appearance of this aggressive Transmission Error that would not clear.

Yesterday, I got my first update since Oxnard received the car. And the update was – “Oxnard did not communicate anything yet.” Additionally, my Service Advisor tells me that they really operate in a vacuum there and in the past they would only hear when the work was done. I thanked him for calling and told him that this behavior is obviously not BMW level, but understand technical people and suggested that BMW needed to learn to communicate more.

I am hoping to have my car back before Christmas, but doubt it.