Model S Third Year Anniversary – November 8, 2016

I am drafting this post around 3pm Pacific/6pm Eastern on November 8, 2016 as the pundits and media discuss the initial returns of the current Presidential Election Cycle.  Everywhere else in the country folks are talking about Election Night 2016.  As I write this, we didn’t know who has won the race. The polls in California are not even closed.  It’s been a very challenging election season and I thought that it would be good to step away from all that and focus on something I really like to do.

…and that’s write about EVs and my experiences on this blog.

It so happens that November 8 is a significant day in our family.  It’s the day that we flew up to Fremont to pick up our Model S from the factory and started our ownership of the Model S.  This is one of the big benefits of Tesla, they’re an American company with a factory that actually builds its cars in California.

I did a bunch of “near real-time” posts on the blog that probably would have been best served by Twitter three years ago.  But if you’re interested in following that, just click above and follow the subsequent posts.

I decided to publish this post on November 10 to separate my car’s three year anniversary from Election Day and post-Election Day coverage and to emphasize that US produced electrons from the Sun has done its part to save me money and to ensure that we don’t create more veterans of wars for oil.  Energy independence means less need to go and fight wars, but I digress.

On November 7, 2016, we brought the Model S in for its annual service.  It was originally scheduled for the previous month, but the Roadster has been in for an extended period, so we tried to time it when the Roadster was going to be ready.  We brought the car in with slightly above 66,500 miles and picked up the car and brought it home with 66,569 miles on the odometer.

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So, what do they do for the three year service?  Well, apparently they match it against the mileage of the car.  Our car got service as if it was a five year old car at 62,500 mile service.

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We had prepaid our first four years of Model S service and were charged accordingly.

Ironically, when we were exiting the freeway to drive to the service center, the TPMS warning light went yellow and rather than stop and check it out ourselves, I figured to go ahead and drive to the service center directly and just report the notice to Tesla.  I’m glad to report that even though the tire had a nail in it, and Tesla’s previous policies were to replace the tire, the service center are now patching tires under certain conditions (in a nutshell as long as the sidewall is not compromised.)  We are still on our original set of four tires.  We even added a fifth one (that is usually in the frunk) and that one is at 8/32.  We’ll need to replace those four tires soon (Tesla recommends replacement at 3/32)

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The other thing that we reported to Tesla (and had reported it earlier in the year as well) is the continuing and increasing level of milling noise coming from the motor. Our previous request to repair this noise resulted in Tesla notifying us that the noise was within parameters. The last time this occurred was around 25,000 miles and it resulted in the motor being replaced. The noise is a constant whir that occurs between 20-35 mph (32-56 kph) and gradually lessens (though still existent) as the car approaches 55 mph (88 kph) and then is imperceptible to my ears.  The error was not as bad as the drivetrain failure on the loaner P85D but is quite irritating and I don’t know if it’s a symptom prior to a bigger failure.

This time around, apparently the noise has gotten to the point that Tesla Engineering has approved the replacement and we are waiting for the replacement part to arrive to re-schedule the repair.  Since we just got the car back today, there has not been an estimate on when the service center expects to receive the replacement motor.

In all, the car spent less than 24 hours at the service center and we were able to pick it up “good as new.”

So, how does our three year old car look?  Let’s compare to previous pictures at pickup at the factory.

Three Years Ago

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Today

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Three Years Ago

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Today

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Three Years Ago

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Today

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Three Years Ago

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Today

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So, our car still looks pretty close to how it looked when we picked it up three years ago. Not bad. In fact, if Tesla had not modified the fascia of 2016 Model S, I would dare say that our car would still look brand new.

With the service that we receive from Tesla, we can hopefully say the same for the car many years to come.

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.

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Not a Ludicrous P90D, but still insane.

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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.

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The car had firmware 7.1.

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

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Speeding up when the traffic ahead starts to move faster.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Inconsistent Tesla Service at Tesla Service Centers… (make that Coffee service)

…You’ve been click baited! 😉

I’ve had service on our cars done at pretty much all the Los Angeles and Orange County service centers open by the end of 2014.

And I’ve found that the coffee service at all the centers have been inconsistent.

So, what are the levels of coffee service at the centers?  I have it in three levels.

The first level can be found at the (old, pre-late 2014) Costa Mesa, Torrance, and Van Nuys location.  And we’ll call this level the Good level of coffee service.  I enjoy K-Cups and these centers all used a well stocked, well maintained K-cup machines.

Here are pictures from Van Nuys and Torrance:

Torrance:

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Van Nuys:

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The previous Costa Mesa Service Center had similar machines as well.

The second level first debuted in the Los Angeles and Orange County service center areas at the large West Los Angeles Service Center on Centinela. I would call this the Better level of coffee service. These are similar to the automated espresso/coffee machines found at some airport lounges.

The same machine that debuted in Centinela is pictured here from the “new” Costa Mesa Service Center.

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In fact, if you don’t like coffee… These machines can also do Hot Chocolate

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Or perhaps you DO like different kinds of coffee and coffee drinks

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or just coffee

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each of these options can be “boosted”

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However, what I’ve found is that the First one in the area continues to be the best one.

The original Service Center in West Los Angeles provide customers with the locations’ own Starbucks Gift Card to use to go and purchase Starbucks coffee from next door.

Now, this center continues to be rumored to be closing soon and be re-converted back into a showroom. So, until then, if you like Starbucks coffee and rate that as I do… Then, perhaps you would consider having your Tesla serviced at the West Los Angeles (Santa Monica Blvd.) location.

25,000 Mile Model S Service, and a replacement drivetrain

It’s been nine days since we celebrated our Model S First Year Anniversary.

With the Active E, we would’ve been in for five service calls at this point, the Model S has a more generous 12,500 or annually service plan.

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I try to time these appointments to be “on the dot”. This was a lot easier with the Active E, however, with the Model S, Tesla comes out to the office to pick up my car for the service, so I get it close and let the valet drive the car to the Service Center.

What is involved with the 25,000 mile (or two year service). Apparently more than the 12,500 mile/one year service. Tesla picked up the car earlier today. When I scheduled the appointment, I was advised that more things are done on the 25,000 mile than the 12,500 mile service, so I was prepared for the possibility that our car would spend the night at the Service Center. Aside from this normal service, I had a weird sound happen with the car about four to six weeks ago that I felt I can wait for the 25,000 mile service to have it taken care of.

Apparently, it’s a good thing that the car has an “unlimited” mile warranty on the drive train. Apparently the noise that I noticed in the car was a drive train error that requires Tesla to swap out the drive train and was given a late tomorrow estimate. I have an early dinner scheduled that may push the delivery of our Model S back another day, but it’s interesting to hear that Tesla chose to replace the drive train.

I hope to get more information when our Model S is returned to us.

It’s impressive to have Tesla make such a major component repair be approximately 24 hours for the work. I remember when similar challenges were occurring with the Active E community that many Electronauts had to wait a week or longer.

This repair just makes me think of things that Tesla doesn’t cover… Like a battery degradation warranty? Let’s get that going Tesla!

On another note… How do you get across the country without charging?

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Need to go downhill all the way… 999 Mile estimate? It’s kind of a cool graphic.

Eighteen make that Twenty thousand miles… in our Model S

Tesla service is awesome…

…generally speaking.

I see a blog post in my future for this... 18000 miles on our .@TeslaMotors Model S enroute to Vegas

It’s been awesome for me. The Service Center that I go to typically pick up the car and bring it back.

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After 18,000 miles (actually a little bit over 19,600  miles now) 20,020 miles of Tesla Model S ownership since November 2013 (Approximately 9 10 months) there are a few things that I have learned.

1)  I have way too much fun with the car to pause and write blog posts.

2)  Supercharging is the way to go.  Sure, I’d pay for a battery swap (when it becomes available) every now and then, but plan on the stop, and it will be fine.

3)  The car is not as BIG as I thought it was.  (i.e. I got used to it.)

4)  Plan on spending some time with the Service Center (SC) when you own the car, because you notice things and they’re so responsive and it’s so convenient when you have Ranger Service to have them come to you to fix whatever ails the car.  (if they can’t fix it onsite, they’ll take it back and forth from the SC for you.)

5) At a service interval of around 6,000 miles (because of the tires), I get to drive the car that much more than the Active E before it gets a “look”.

6) The lack of coat hooks still irritate me.

7) Air Suspension is awesome.  It lets me enter and exit my work parking garage without scraping the bottom.  Additionally, when parking in lots that have a high curb, I don’t have to worry about scraping the bumper or doors when I jack up the car.

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!