Tesla in rain

Tesla in rain

I love my new Tesla so this is not a "hater" piece. There was a heavy rain in Naples as we were driving and we turned on to a side street. It was dark and we were unable to see the road clearly. We went through a puddle (deep, but too dark to tell how deep) and then quickly turned into a parking lot to get off the street. The car didn't start the next day and is now at the service center where they are telling me that Tesla will not cover the expensive damage under the warranty.
This was a normal driving experience, not a hurricane or a flood, and it seems to me that the car should be built to withstand this sort of minor situation.
Watch out for puddles!

amish.bhatia | 10. September 2013

They won't cover it? - this sounds like it could be a very real situation for many people. How fast did you go through the puddle? and was the battery completely submerged.
I keep hearing "water damage" stories while i'm waiting for my new tesla, and I'm starting to get kind of nervous....

pebell | 10. September 2013

If this is true, that's very disquieting. Can you be more detailed about the "expensive damage"?

cfOH | 10. September 2013

I'm sorry that your Model S has to be repaired.

That said, a "puddle" isn't going to affect the car. Submerging the entire undercarriage in a flooded street might. Did they specify what exactly what needs to be repaired/replaced? The battery pack is sealed, but some electrical components mounted under the frunk are not.

Honestly, if you don't know how deep the water was, I don't see how you can call it a "minor situation" with any certainty. For all anyone knows, you could've driven through 24" of water, something most cars, ICE or EV, wouldn't react well to.

jat | 10. September 2013

This is counter to Elon's statement that any non-intentional damage to the battery was covered. One of the tests at the factory is to drive through a wet test where water is sprayed at pressure from all angles. I have also driven through about 4" of fast-moving water when we had very heavy rain in Atlanta a couple of months ago, so I am highly skeptical of having a problem after driving through what could be described as a puddle.

mmkell | 10. September 2013

I will post when I know the exact damage. I am not saying that this was a small puddle....the water was pretty deep but we got out quickly and it was no worse than I have driven through in other cars. My point really is that the car did not sit in water for a long time, there was no apparent water on the inside of the car, and that if Tesla is going to design a car with electronic equipment in the undercarriage, then they should protect it better.
Again, I love the car but I am just posting so that other Tesla owners will take precautions in similar circumstances.

Thomas N. | 10. September 2013

I find this situation to be very real. I live in Southern California and as you may know, we rarely receive any rain at all, much less a substantial amount.

But a couple times a year we do receive a torrential downpour. I'd say in the past 10 years it's happened to me a dozen times. I've been caught out in the downpour and our streets are ill-equipped to drain that volume of water so flooding is everywhere. I'll turn down a surface street and it will be a foot deep.

I guess I'll have to watch the weather reports and take the SUV on those days, or perhaps be more vigilant on flooding. It was never much of a problem for my BMW 5-series.

There are a lot of variables in the OP's story that we'd need to know to make an informed decision.

MarioA | 10. September 2013

Would your car insurance cover this?

DTsea | 10. September 2013

did you stop, set the suspension to high?

big puddles of unknown depth are a hazard to any car.

J.T. | 10. September 2013

According to my broker, who feels not nearly enough of you have your insurance through him, the damage would be covered under the comprehensive portion of your insurance.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney | 10. September 2013

If you can't say how deep it was, why do you expect Tesla to cover the damage?

"This New Vehicle Limited Warranty does not cover any vehicle damage or malfunction directly or indirectly caused by... deep
water ... [or] Driving the vehicle... for any other purposes for which the vehicle is not designed
[also not covered is]
Any damage to the vehicle’s Battery, including damage directly or
indirectly caused by... Immersing any portion of the Battery in water or fluids"

Sounds like something that would be covered by comprehensive insurance or by suing an authority for inadequate lighting or signage.

Sorry for your bad luck.

lolachampcar | 10. September 2013


At the risk of taking flack, would you please follow up with exactly what the SC says about your car in addition to as much detail as possible about your car and the water. Of interest for me are things like did you have active air?, did you raise the car?, can you describe the water depth perhaps as referenced against the car or wheels? Would you be willing to provide the last digits of your ViN?

I ask this because I too live in Florida and get the very same frog chokers on this coast.


Mark22 | 10. September 2013

The title is inaccurate. The Tesla does fine in the rain, snow, and normal puddles.
Neither the Tesla, nor other cars, do well underwater.

You situation, was somewhere in the middle. Yet you can't quantify it or are unwilling to.

Driving into water of unknown depth is always a very bad idea.

Pungoteague_Dave | 10. September 2013

Wow. The TM defenders go after another one. Blaming the messenger is unworthy. Puddles are almost always of undetermined depth - that's the nature of puddles. After a half inch, no one knows whether the puddle has a pothole in the middle or not. There are times when safety concerns dictate using judgment based on other factors such as nearby curbs, poles, vegetation, indicated road transition in and out, and making a cautious. educated decision to proceed (assuming no moving water). I would be a bit less willing to wade into what looks like six inches with the S, and never more, but any car should be designed to take water up to its underbody pan and survive just fine.

Having been under the S at length, there are definitely electrical connections at the rear of the drive and battery systems that should not be submerged, and I haven't measured their height, but it seems they were 10 inches or more above the ground. It also looked like they are well sealed from splashes and drenching, but probably not for submersion.

Thanks for posting this - a good reminder to drive our cars a bit more cautiously than we would a similar ICE. | 10. September 2013

So I think the OP spinning the scenario as driving through a "puddle" and "minor situation" is going to raise some skepticism.

If I remember correctly, the MS has about 6" of ground clearance, so the OP was in a "puddle" that was at least six inches deep and at least 70" wide and for long enough for water to get be able in infiltrate the underbody panels. Considering the battery pack is essentially to floorpan for the car, I would guess the water needed to be at least 9-10 inches deep to reach anything interesting like the inverter, motor, coolant pumps, etc.

I too will be curious what got damaged. But, at the end of the day, one of those driver's ed things they teach you--don't head into water of an unknown depth.


mmkell | 10. September 2013

OK, I heard from Tesla and the insurance company. Bad news...$9930.00. Good news, the insurance covers it less the deductible.

Clearly, I did not deliberately drive into deep water. In heavy rain, at night, with limited visibility, everybody has unexpectedly hit water. I can't quantify it because I couldn't see it, so I just got out of there as fast as possible. All I am saying is that there was a lot of damage so be careful. I do have the air suspension but was too stupid to think ahead and raise the car...... | 10. September 2013

So, what got damaged. BTW, raising the car would not have saved the unsprung components like the inverter and motor.


redders | 10. September 2013

For all the geniuses who tell the poster that he shouldn't drive into water of unknown depth, what would you have done? Stop the car, get out and test it? Come on.

Looks like this is just a reminder that we need to be careful and just because the battery is sealed, we can't go through flooded areas.

Title should have been "driving on a flooded road".

Fred O | 10. September 2013 +1 thanks for posting, unlucky incident.
Pungoteague_Dave +1

AmpedRealtor | 10. September 2013

A good tip - if you are driving slowly, in poor visibility, and you suddenly find yourself driving into water, immediately back out the vehicle the way you came before it gets deeper. Proceeding forward through a puddle of unknown depth and in poor visibility is tempting fate. Glad insurance covered it, but consider it a lesson learned.

AmpedRealtor | 10. September 2013

@ omarsultan - when you raise the car's suspension, you raise everything that rides upon that suspension including the motor and inverter.

AmpedRealtor | 10. September 2013

@ redders - Back out the way you came as soon as you realize you're in water. Simple, no? The Model S is a car, not a submarine.

amish.bhatia | 10. September 2013

And what if you're in traffic....

Geert.Snijders | 10. September 2013

Well, at least we now know that PDC will be retrofitted for free to all Model S's and refunds be given to anyone who ordered the previously optional feature. As it is now clearly mandatory for operating the Model S without possibly damaging it in the wet...

PDC stands for, uuhhh anyone?

Puddle Depth Control ;D

DTsea | 10. September 2013

In traffic? STOP. Thats what the brakes are for.

ev4life | 10. September 2013

Would love to know what need repair. That number doesn't sound like the battery pack and suggests potentially the drive/inverter units were affected.

FWIW the entire battery/drive/inverter units are sealed so fluid shouldn't get in (they have a sealed coolant system on the inside) but there may be power connections that are vulnerable to shorting. | 10. September 2013


I am pretty sure the motor and inverter are unsprung--usually the drivetrain is.


bradslee | 10. September 2013

The OP said clearly that in his situation where under a heavy rain and no street lights, he could not see well the street surface and drove through a deep water puddle and damaged his MS. We should not blame him for failing taking any precaution to avoid the situation. It was just an unfortunate incident like any other car accidents.

I would thank him for posting this thread as a reminder to all MS owners that MS is not water proof from an unknown water puddle. DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH ANY UNKNOWN WATER PUDDLE!

hpatelmd | 10. September 2013

Looks like the OP was not as fortunate as this MS owner, also drove through deep water and for longer duration too:

Flyshacker | 10. September 2013

It's not a submarine? I'm canceling my order.

eddiemoy | 10. September 2013

we had flash flood recently and i went out to get breakfast at our local DD, went through over huge puddles and flooded areas in my MS. no issues to report.

jat | 10. September 2013

@omarsultan - the motor and inverter are mounted on the chassis, and are therefore "sprung" -- the unsprung components are the hub, brakes, tires, etc, since the springs (or other suspension components) can't isolate them from bumps in the road.

TomasT | 10. September 2013

Something similar happened to my Mercedes Benz. My girlfriend at the time drove it through a flooded area. Next day the car sounded really bad. Long story short, they had to replace the engine: $10k. The insurance company said they do not cover water damage, it was not an accident,, neither did Mercedes, even though the car was only 1 year old, warranty did not cover it.

tes-s | 10. September 2013

Driving into the puddle was a simple accident, covered by insurance, which makes sense. Just like accidently driving into a tree.

Not sure why there would be any expectation this would be covered by Tesla under warranty.

KennyB@US-FL | 10. September 2013

I'm wondering if this issue can be tied to the lack of visibility that the windshield wipers provide. If I remember correctly there have been other posters complaining that the windshield wipers do not provide adequate visibility especially during heavy downpours. Put that on top of a dark road covered in water=OP's situation. Living in South Florida, we have our share of deluges especially during the summer months (hurricane season), so I'm not surprised at mmkell's predicament. I am glad to see that insurance will cover the damage.

Best of luck getting your S back ASAP.


S4WRXTTCS | 10. September 2013

So essentially a car designed to slow global warming was killed by global warming?

Global Warming: +1
Tesla: 0

Disclaimer: Without knowing the depth of the "puddle" it's impossible for me to say whether the Tesla should have handled it. I do expect ANY car to handle a decent sized puddle, but not something like >10+ inches in depth. I feel horrible for the driver though because it can happen to any of us on a dark road, and bad visibility.

S4WRXTTCS | 10. September 2013

^ To me a rain storm that can create that kind of standing water is a flood, or a freak rain storm.

Of course it could be just a really terribly designed road.

danej | 10. September 2013

Some puddles are deeper than they look. | 10. September 2013

New Tesla Model W

michael1800 | 10. September 2013

If by new, you mean 1977.

EESROCK | 10. September 2013

@omarsultan: Great pic :)

By the way, I have the James Bond movie series to thank for our Tesla. My husband was a James Bond fan and loved the Lotus Esprits (he ended up getting a '77 back in '89). The Tesla company name showed up on our radar when we heard of Tesla making roadsters based on Lotus technology. When Tesla came out with the Model S, it became his next dream car. We now have it, and I love it too.

Pungoteague_Dave | 10. September 2013

Omarsultan, the drive components excepting the wheels and lower ends of the suspension and brakes, on virtually all cars, are part of the sprung elements and go up and down with the car body. If you set the Model S air suspension on High or Very High, the battery, motor and inverter all raise up.

mikefa | 11. September 2013

Tesla typically would go the extra mile to keep their customers satisfied and happy, so Yes we really do need more info to get a better understanding since this is a big concern for those of us who do have to frequently drive through wet areas with unavoidable puddles of water:

1) how fast were you going

2) since you can't tell how deep the puddle due to lack of street lighting, how long were you driving through the puddle before being able to pull into a parking lot?... a minute or two?

3) What exactly did Tesla SC say were the moisture damages?

Brian H | 11. September 2013

Seem to recall a funny story someone told about an ICE rental he and some buddies had years ago that went thru a deep puddle in a storm, and got hit with a bow wave from a bus going the other way. Water filled the cabin up to their chests. Let it sit and dry overnight, and it ran fine. Then returned it, but later got a call asking if it had been in a flood. When asked why they thought that, the rental people said the (sprung-flap covered) ashtrays in the doors were full of water.


alingaallambie | 18. Dezember 2014

Thanks all.It is a good tip,who feels not nearly enough of you have your insurance through him, the damage would be covered under the comprehensive portion of your insurance.Many probloms are arieses for a car, So it should be taken under warenty.

teslagiddy | 27. März 2015

You're not "too stupid to think ahead and raise the car" air suspension. Everybody has 20/20 hindsight. You'll be going over this incident for a long time saying "if only I had... (fill in the blank)." There are probably several points in time when you might have made a different decision which may or may not have changed the outcome. Thanks for the tip, I have a street where water collects when it rains in my neighborhood and will have to be careful.

Captain_Zap | 27. März 2015

Looks like a spam bump.

Boukman | 27. März 2015

@mmkell... So what EXACTLY happened to the car? Battery short circuited? Inverter got shot? What? What did the service people say happened? Since your car is not the only one that seemed to have had this problem, should we assumed that Tesla does not test their cars for this condition? Have you checked the user manual to see if there are any warnings?

Captain_Zap | 27. März 2015

The OP is a year an a half old.

teslagiddy | 27. März 2015

I need to learn from long time forum users like you. I'll watch the OP date!

drkeithg | 14. Mai 2019

I had a similar experience. Driving through rain covered road near my home, water splashed up on the aeroshield behind the rear wheels and torn it loose. I was only going about 20 mph and the water was "estimated" 2 inches deep. My Model S became undrivable because the plastic was grinding into the pavement and Tesla told me they couldn't come help for a week. Even then they said it wasn't covered. There are dozens of reports of this same thing occurring to people driving through what amounts to a puddle and sustaining damage to the plastic shielding. Obvious design flaw.