It's a brick.. What's true about this blog???

It's a brick.. What's true about this blog???

I'm a reservation holder for a Model S. A friend pointed me to this blogpost regarding the battery warranty that Tesla has.

What's true about this blog? Is it a BS story or do I have to worry?

Timo | February 22, 2012

Sounds bad. Owners should be at least warned what happens with fully depleted battery. I hope that that blog post isn't true, but unfortunately it does sound fake.

BYT | February 22, 2012

I wonder is TSLA's stock price drop over $1.25 is because of this post?

jbherman | February 22, 2012

@BYT-I'm sure it is...down even more now (1.82)

ThomasN | February 22, 2012

Could be a great buying opportunity

BYT | February 22, 2012

@ThomasN, I like the way you think!

AndyM | February 22, 2012

Isn't it sad when an article full of crap and fear can cause financial harm just by being published on the web? The pen, er, keyboard is mightier than the sword. And common sense, apparently.

BYT | February 22, 2012

This is true today about anything on the web, the blog has more power then it should and it causes everything from fluctuating stock prices to a bully killing someone socially online and causes young and easily influenced Tweens and Teens to do drastic things to themselves. Sad but true reality!

stephen.kamichik | February 22, 2012

The PEN is mightier than the SWORD!

Volker.Berlin | February 22, 2012

According to Stephen Smith of TM.....Tesla batteries can remain unplugged for weeks (even months), without reaching zero state of charge. Owners of Roadster 2.0 and all subsequent Tesla products can request that their vehicle alert Tesla if SOC falls to a low level. All Tesla vehicles emit visual and audible warnings if the battery pack falls below five percent SOC. (stephen.kamichi)

(Crossposting here b/c the other thread is private and this one is public.)

Volker.Berlin | February 22, 2012

GreenCarReports is covering the story... Which lets me hope that we will have a few definitive statements soon.

Dennisf | February 22, 2012

The following statement seems to be a bit suspicious:
" A third bricked Tesla Roadster apparently sits in its owner’s garage in Newport Beach, California. That owner allegedly had a similar prior incident with a BMW-produced electric vehicle. He claimed BMW replaced that vehicle, but Tesla refuses to do the same"

As far as I know BMW hasn't made an electric vehicle yet. The only car's that are tested at the moment are EV Mini's. But these are tests and the testers do not own the vehicle.

The link to greencarreports that Volker posted has a discussion under the article were some are saying that it is a BS story and that the battery will remain stable for a lot longer time that quoted in the article.

Volker.Berlin | February 22, 2012
Brian H | February 22, 2012

As the blog post points out, though, the "weeks or months" applies starting from fully charged state. If the battery is low to begin with, it would "brick" far sooner.

I wonder what the Leaf tech is that prevents full discharge, and why TM doesn't have it.

Crow | February 22, 2012

A responsible report would have done a better job of citing sources. This is an owner's forum...we don't have any complaints about this? Unnamed sources don't carry a lot of weight with me. I'm not losing any sleep over this.

Sudre_ | February 22, 2012

Down in the notes at the bottom of the article.
"A written Tesla report on one “bricked” Roadster documents that the vehicle went from 4% full to complete discharge in seven days"

If you are just walking away from your car at 4% then you obviously didn't read the manual or even the forum or listen to a sales rep.
Maybe this was the one that sat in the temporary garage. It did say he took it out for a drive first.... then the car sat for 6 weeks.

I do not ever plan on treating my car like this. Sounds like some of these folks have money to throw around when they purchase a 100K+ car and do not care about it enough to check in and see if it still has a charge at least once every week or two.

This honestly does not sound like a serious problem to me. It's sounds like neglect! lol

Just extrapolating the report. If you parked at an airport with 20% charge it would sit there for at least a months before risking brickville.

Crow | February 22, 2012

I don't know about y'all, but I have no intention of leaving my $100,000 car at the airport for even a day, let alone one month.

phb | February 22, 2012

"What, you mean I have to change the OIL my AMG Mercedes?! You didn't tell me that if I didn't change the oil it would eventually cause the engine to overheat and crack the block! What do you mean it's not covered under warranty? I need a whole new engine!"

The point I'm trying to make is that we have a lot of a posteriori knowledge about ICEs because we've grown up with them, the problem is that we assume that it's a priori knowledge. Basically, you grew up in a world that changed it's oil so you knew that all along and no one had to tell it to you. Electric cars are new and in 50 years anyone who bitches about damage done through not plugging it in for long periods of time will look just as ridiculous as the guy who doesn't ever change his oil does now.

Liz G | February 22, 2012

@phb Amen!

brianman | February 22, 2012

I'm confused by Nissan's comment:
"The Nissan LEAF battery pack will never discharge completely"

Why don't we just take a LEAF battery pack and make an infinite range EV? Apparently it will never discharge completely even if the rest of the universe decays.

brianman | February 22, 2012

AS one of the comments on that blog noted, the LEAF manual contradicts the assertion as well.

Klaus | February 22, 2012

After 100 years experience with ICEs you would think that checking the oil once in a while was pretty standard. NOT. My dumbass brother drove his Hyundai Accent until it quit, left smoking in a parking lot. Pushed it to a used car dealer who gave him $150 for the scrap metal. He just never got around to checking the oil level, let alone change it.

Some people will never understand what is required of them when purchasing a car. The same can be said about any other product. Cell phones being dropped in a toilet (little indicator tells the tech it was submerged and isn't covered under warranty), lap tops being left in strange places, i.e. on the beach in the sun, on the roof of a car and then driven off. I can go on and on about the stories I've heard just around my (extended) family. The big difference is that a cell phone ONLY cost 200-300 bucks to replace.

So whether the article is factual or not, I can't imagine anyone other than the extremely wealth (or stupid) who need some one to wipe their backsides, to treat a $60000 - $100000 car with anything but pampering care.

Having said that, I am sure TM will be a little more specific on battery care. Although from another post, the manual states that allowing the battery to go to zero charge will damage the battery. Does it really need to say how much damage? A non sealed lead acid battery will be damaged if the electrolyte isn't topped off and it too will not be covered under warranty.

Oh well, I've ranted long enough. Stupid people should not be allowed to handle equipment beyound their mental capacity. I hope I'm not that stupid.

Robert.Boston | February 22, 2012

How many "middle-class families" leave a car idle for months on end?

Is it reasonable to expect that you can simply ignore a manufacturer's instructions on safe operation of a product and then, after destroying the product through irresponsible abuse, ask the manufacturer to pay for your folly?

I have zero sympathy with this guy, too feckless to follow basic instructions on the care of an expensive item, and too quick to cry "victim" rather than fess up to his own stupidity.

Why can't people own up to their own mistakes, instead of finding someone else to blame?

brianman | February 22, 2012

@Robert - Culture of entitlement and irresponsibility.

Brian H | February 22, 2012

All that is true, but TM should be explicit. "NEVER allow the battery to fully discharge. It will be destroyed, and not replaced under warranty." Make it firm and fudge-free.

stephen.pace | February 22, 2012

+1 Brian H. If this blog is even close to true, I'm with you. Black box warnings up front along those lines. I for one DO plan to leave the car at the airport, and while I plan to find a lot with a charger, at 300 mile range, and 30 miles from the airport, I should have over 200 miles of discharge to go and have more than enough juice to get home. Still, I like the option for the car to text me if something anomalous comes up. Firmware options to 'reserve' the last 10% of the battery and/or automatically change the car to starvation mode would help too.

For Sig money, they should pay the AAA recharge trucks to come to you and charge it. :-)

stephen.kamichik | February 22, 2012

Five roadsters out of over 2000 is less than 0.25%. The article has made a mountain out of a mole hill.

olanmills | February 22, 2012

The thing I find wierd is that, you would think, as a final safety measure, the car should be able to turn itself off completely at an extremely low charge. Yes, this does mean that the temperature control system for the battery will be shut off, and the battery could be damaged by the exterior climate conditions, but it still seems better to risk this rather than run up against the 100% certain eventual battery death.

Timo | February 22, 2012

I wonder is Model S will have a cut-off switch which separates the battery from rest of the car if it gets really low state of charge. It is designed to be swappable and I bet it would not be a good thing to have electronics running with just plain plugging off the battery (like having your PC unplugged instead of shut down).

Completely separating battery would slow down the battery discharging quite a bit even if it is still discharging. Then all that remains is "shelf" discharging. Connection could be re-established from outside of battery by plugging it in again.

Anyway, Tesla should replace battery by warranty if there is "force majeure" case of letting it unplugged too long. Like someone got in a accident and is in coma for month or two. Also clear warning what will happen if it gets drained completely is in order. It is a limitation of the tech that car owner needs to be clearly aware.

People comparing this to oil change: Oil can be replaced without damaging engine if the car has been stationary too long. It doesn't cost you $40k to do that. Also you don't require oil change every time after just two weeks after a long trip. Plugging in is not comparable to that.

EcLectric | February 22, 2012

Some of you are missing the point.  What this 'brick' blog is simply pointing out, is that owning an electric car requires lots and lots of maintenance!  In order to make sure your electric car continues to work, you need to.. uh.. plug it in - every single night! Well, first of all, you need to park it in or near your garage.  Try that trick late on a Friday night!  Then you've got to find that charging doo-hickey, and plug that thing in.  And God help you if you don't pay your light bill!  Or if you plug it in using some extension cord you got at the dollar store that can't handle all that 'lectricity.  All this is simply too much!  Especially when you compare it with the simple maintenance you need for a good old gasoline car. 

Gasoline cars require very little maintenance.  All you have to do with that one is ... get some fresh oil!  ...

And get a lift and jack the thing up in the air.  Or you can live on the edge like I do and use the tire jack to lift it.  Heck! It hasn't fallen on me yet!  And then all you have to do is get out the old 13mm wrench, and darned if that bozo at Spiffy Lube didn't halfway strip it, but that's ok I've got vice-grips and then all you have to do is get a tray or bucket or something that will slide under there that you don't mind being covered with dirty oil all the time and then whip that little bolt out of there and get out of the way because that dirty oil's a comin' ... And then all you do is wait for a while underneath the hot, greasy car until all that oil comes out, and then reach up there just like Houdini and grab that filter and turn that thing while your arm has more angles than a geometry book... And then all you have to do is get another filter and put a little fresh oil on that seal so it doesn't leak, and reverse geometry that arm back up in there and put that filter back in and try to get that angle right so you don't strip it and then put the bolt back in and get some more oil and put some in according to how much the manual says and then put the car back down and then use that dipstick to check the level and try to figure out where the level is and if there's not enough then you simply add a little fresh oil and if there's too much...well did I mention I have vice grips?  Don't want to blow a seal... And then you're done! Simple.  ..  ... except you gotta get rid of that old oil in the tray... So you just have to get a gallon milk jug or two and a funnel... And now your car is running so nice that you don't mind sticking that oil jug on the front seat and taking it down to the old Spiffy Lube, where they will take it off your hands for a small fee.  And while you're out you can throw away the old filter and head for Pop Boys for another new filter (the new, improved, extra special kind for an extra buck) and a dozen more quarts of fresh oil.  Simple!

"Plug it in" ???!  Whaddaya think I got all day??

Tom A | February 22, 2012

It was my understanding that the Model S does not manage the temperature of the battery pack unless the car is "on" (driving, etc.) or unless the car is plugged in.

That might not be true for the Roadsters. The TM statement did make it a point to say that "Roadster 2.0" users didn't have to worry. Some of the examples in the original blog post mentioned earlier versions (#340). Perhaps they changed something between versions that significantly lowers the risk of becoming a brick?

Volker.Berlin | February 23, 2012

Well... as Timo pointed out, the key difference between ICE maintenance and battery maintenance -- simple as it sounds to plug it in -- is that I've never seen an ICE car wrecked by merely sitting in a garage. Yes, you may have some work to do before the car is up and running again if it was sitting for a long time, but if you do it, you're car is ready to go as ever.

This is different with the battery: If you leave it alone for too long, for whatever reason, the car is practically totaled. To dismiss this as RTFM may be adequate in some incidents, but inadequate in others.

I'm not worried to the point that I would reconsider my Model S reservation, but public awareness of the issue is (was until yesterday, anyway) certainly not up to par with its severity.

brianman | February 23, 2012

"I've never seen an ICE car wrecked by merely sitting in a garage"

Yah that would suck. Especially to the garage because someone ran into it.

Oh right, you didn't mean that...

But what you did mean should have been stated "car disabled" not "car wrecked".

And maybe you haven't but I have. Leave an ICE parked in the garage for 6 months (sometimes more) and the battery might be dead, and thus it won't start. What do you do? You buy a replacement battery.

Funny, that's the same thing you do with an EV.

The difference? The EV has a bigger battery, with a correspondingly bigger cost to replace.

Volker.Berlin | February 23, 2012

brianman, thanks for fixing "wrecked" - I was looking for a term that sounded like "bricked" (which I think has now become a technical term reserved for EVs and should not be used for ICEs ;-). You're right, I did not mean a physically deformed body, but "disabled" doesn't cut it either because there's a connotation that you can "enable" it again (at least with technical gear, as opposed to people). Thus the ICE may be disabled, but the EV is totaled (i.e., "bricked").

Whether the battery in the ICEs dies or not doesn't matter. In any case, if your are careful and do not actively make things worse, you can get your ICE running again for -- like 1% of it's purchase price? That's the bottom line, and it doesn't matter to the argument if for that money you buy a replacement battery or have an oil change (or both).

Volker.Berlin | February 23, 2012

The key here is active vs. passive. You cannot do serious harm to your ICE without acting. There is a different quality to the "brick" problem.

Volker.Berlin | February 23, 2012

Well, ignore my last post, please. Unfortunately I cannot delete it. I now feel it can be interpreted in ways I did not intend, and it may lead to hair-splitting contests.

brianman | February 23, 2012

"Thus the ICE may be disabled, but the EV is totaled (i.e., 'bricked')."

Again, we still don't agree here.

The EV isn't totaled when the battery is dead. In 8 years do you consider your Model S totaled? Or due for a battery replacement.

I think of it as the latter. Hopefully, the chassis, motor, electronics, etc. are all fine.

Volker.Berlin | February 23, 2012

In 8 years I hope that battery prices are down to a level where I consider replacing the battery. If replacement/repair cost are in the order of half the the original purchase price (where they are now), I will at least consider buying an entirely new vehicle. I bet your insurance has a similar approach to defining "totaled" (in case of some major damage that is covered under their terms).

Volker.Berlin | February 23, 2012

(A little off-topic, but in reply to your suggestion of replacing the battery instead of replacing the car after 8 years, I actually pursue a third approach: I intend to keep the car and the battery far beyond the 8 years covered by Tesla's battery warranty. There is a comfortable margin between the specified 300 mile range for the new battery, and a range where the car becomes useless. If treated nicely, I am convinced that battery degradation will be *far* less than 30% in 8 years, the number that is rumored to be attached to the warranty. That must be the absolute worst case, and then some, otherwise Tesla would run substantial risk with their 8-year unlimited miles warranty. If I consider a new car after a few years, I would be careful to sell my Model S some time before those 8 years, because I presume that at the end of the battery warranty, resale value will drop significantly, whether that's reasonable or not.)

nhurst | February 23, 2012

Some of us have spent considerable time pulling spark plugs to pour oil into cylinders to free frozen pistons - then spent considerable money when that didn't work. I would argue that abandoned ICE's can "brick" too.

Vawlkus | February 23, 2012

How does that idiot not trip over his shoelaces when he walks? And how in HELL did he earn enough money to buy a Roadster?

It's idiots like that that REALLY make me hate society. I don't own a Tesla, have never even SEEN the manual, and even I know to keep the thing plugged in -.-
The climate control for the battery takes power! Where did the moron think that power was coming from?!?!?!?!??!??! Wireless AC????????

I'm gonna go rant for a while now }B(

Crow | February 23, 2012

5 unnamed Roadster owners bricked their car and we didn't hear about it in this forum. I call BS. Relax people.

ThomasN | February 23, 2012

I'd speculate we haven't heard about these alleged incidents because people don't like to become poster children for making REALLY poor choices. I can imagine the car owners faces when they became suddenly self aware.

Robert.Boston | February 23, 2012

How many times have we heard on Car Talk someone 'fess up that they filled their gasser with diesel? There are lots of ways to cause serious harm to a vehicle through action or inaction.

I hope that all those car collectors with low-number Sig reservations are taking note and planning their storage facilities appropriately.

amluto | February 23, 2012

It seems like all of the commentary is missing the point. Li-ion batteries can lose capacity as a result of discharging too far. This is not Tesla's fault.

But the original article makes it sound like something very different is wrong: Tesla's charger can't recharge the battery if its charge drops too far.

There's an analogous distinction in an ICE car. In most (but not all) cars, if you discharge the battery *all* the way, you can still jump-start the car. But no matter how long you run it, the battery will never charge. (The exception is in cars with a self-excited alternator.) But when these batteries discharge fully, you can still recharge them by plugging them in to a trickle charger.

It's conceivable that, when Tesla's battery discharges too far, the charger stops working for an analogous reason. For example, the charger might need power from the battery to turn on in the first place. If so, this is a serious design error -- the battery is okay, if possibly damaged somewhat, but the charger is incapable of recharging it.

So... does anyone know?

Timo | February 23, 2012

It's not charger, it is in fact the battery that is dead. As in really dead, it can't be charged by anybody with anything. You need to replace it.

That's actually missing in Owners Manual. It doesn't say that you need to replace the battery if it gets 0% charge and can't be charged. It says

"Also, if you allow the Battery to fall to a critically low level it may not be possible to charge the vehicle. If you are unable to charge the vehicle, contact Tesla Motors."

That is not warning that you might need to replace the battery instead of repair it, so people might not take that seriously enough.

I find this mess very serious.

In next page there is also warning "DO NOT expose an unplugged vehicle to ambient temperatures below -20°F (-29°C) or above 120°F (49°C." which makes me think that I should not get Tesla EV, just in case that means "bricking" the car too.

Jason S | February 23, 2012

That's the really puzzling part: why is the battery dead rather than just needing a charge?

Sudre_ | February 23, 2012

Having used AA and AAA lithium batteries for many years I can tell you that if a lithium battery falls below a certain voltage level the charger will just not charge it. I think this is true of most all lithium batteries. I have no idea why.
It seems like whenever I pull the lithium AAA batteries out of my Dish remote at least one of the batteries has dropped below the chargeable level. I have saved them by placing the bad battery and a good battery in parallel and charging them together. The bad battery gets rather warm in the process but after about 15 to 20 minutes on the charger in parallel it can then be charged normally after it cools down. This is NOT something I would want to try on a 40kw+ battery pack.
Maybe Nissan has found some way for their charger to detect the problem then trickle charge the battery pack when it is in a low voltage level. It seems like it would drastically reduce the life of the battery because of how warm it gets.

As far as the temperature extremes go I think even ICE cars have similar temperature ranges. Not so much because of the engine but the battery and electronics in any car. Look at the recommended operating temperature for your PC or Tablet or Iphone.

Crow | February 23, 2012

I think TM needs to release the interior in the design center so we have something else to over analyze.

Klaus | February 23, 2012

@Kroneal, I agree.

TikiMan | February 23, 2012

Long story short... Just about EVERYTHING that is mechanical, if not properly maintained, could breakdown.

I have known a few of people who spend $$$$$$ having their ICE engines re-built after all the oil gummed up, because it was a ‘garage queen’ vehicle.

Hell, even $200k Rolex watches die, if you don’t wind them (DUH!)

My swimming pool requires daily to weekly maintenance over the summer, and monthly maintenance over the winter. Did I choose not to own a swimming pool because of that… HELL NO!

Any idiot that just assumes things just take-care of themselves, doesn’t deserve to own a Tesla!