Service Manual? (as part of Lotus Cars NPI?)

edited August 2011 in Roadster
Where is the Service Manual for the Roadster 2.5? (and others)

Hello everyone,

Every time I buy a vehicle, I purchase the full Service Manual as soon as possible, sometimes even before the vehicle is delivered. Since I have kept various vehicles running as long as 11 years or even 21 years, a Service Manual can sometimes be the only hope for repair and continued operation.

I would have thought that Lotus Cars would have required that a Service Manual be produced as part of their NPI program (new product introduction). Honda and AM General have these, even if they're printed by a third party (Helm, in the case of Honda) or incredibly expensive ($500 for the full set of Service Parts Catalog and Service Manual, in the case of AM General). Other manufacturers surely have similar documentation so that their products can be maintained long after the warranty has expired and even when or where OEM service is not available.

I realize that Tesla Motors considers a lot of their technology as proprietary and I also realize that Tesla Motors probably prefers that owners always use Tesla Stores and Tesla Service for maintenance. But at some point in the distant future, I fully expect that this will not be an option, so I would like the insurance of full documentation.

I hope that Tesla Motors can respond officially to this request, if only to direct me to the proper channels within the company who can help. I did ask at my local Tesla Store, but everything they have available is marked with "proprietary" and thus everyone was reluctant to make anything available to me without official blessings. So, here I am taking the next step.


  • edited November -1
    The situation is different with a pure EV. The motor itself is essentially a simple AC rig, and then you're into electronics for the rest. Pretty hard to imagine much useful DIY repair work, at any time.
  • edited November -1
    If you look at any Service Manual, you'll see only one chapter devoted to the engine/motor, maybe two if electrical is broken out. The rest concern windows, seats, dash, hinges, doors, suspension, transaxle, steering, brakes, body, HVAC, and then electrical. Some manuals have only a few circuit diagrams on fold-out sheets, and my most recent ICE has a second Service Manual devoted entirely to electronic schematics.

    There isn't really as much difference as you claim. ICE cars have computers, too, and they do not reveal their proprietary circuits inside the box. The size of the computer shouldn't really matter since it's not revealed anyway.

    In other words, I don't have to imagine much useful DIY repair work: I've actually repaired non-engine components of my ICE vehicles using their Service Manuals for reference, and I see no reason to think that the non-motor components of the Roadster will be any more reliable.

    One of things that reminded me of my need for a Service Manual is that some bolts in the door came loose recently, something that did not happen until 20 years in my Honda. I used the Service Manual to find the procedure for removing the door panel, adjusting the windows, etc. I got my Tesla taken care of by my warranty, but 20 years down the road that won't be an option.
  • edited November -1
    One major difference between ICE car and EV is that EV has a high voltage electricity running inside it. Tweaking things where they should not be tweaked can lead to death by electrocution. Tesla just might not trust do-it-yourself handymen. There is a some sort of handbook how to change tires and stuff, but rest of the car should be left for professionals.

    Maybe they produce some sort of "service manual" for safe parts like door bolts at some point, but that is not high in their priorities.
  • qwkqwk
    edited November -1
    An ICE cars system is 12v. Tesla's is 375v. Voltage kills. There isn't going to be a manual anytime soon because most people are stupid and would fry themselves.
  • edited November -1
    Actually it's current that kills. You can take 10kV off the coil of a normal car without getting killed. And you could get service manuals for the Prius, which also has significant voltage and current. But of course, you should never do anything like working with a traction battery yourself, unless you're used to high voltage systems. It's not for the normal backyard mechanic.

    Furthermore, anything you did yourself to your relatively expensive Tesla would void any warranty.
  • edited November -1
    It requires both, voltage and current, because without first you don't get the second. Human body is kinda like voltage-depended resistor, it resists low voltages well, but offers very little resistance to high voltages. IIRC it is somewhere around 50V where you start to feel that "hey there might be electricity running thru this thing" and about 75V can kill you. 300+V definitely can kill if there is enough current in the system (like there is in EV:s).
  • edited November -1
    How can we expect the human body to evolve higher levels of electrical tolerance if we frustrate Darwinian selection?
  • edited November -1
    Yep Timo. Skin has a fairly high resistance (~100kOhm), but get the voltage above a certain level and the skin breaks down. Blood and internal tissues have a fairly low resistance.
  • edited November -1
    I feel like I am repeating myself here. I don't care whether the manual has 15 chapters or just the dozen or so non-motor, non-battery chapters. There is a great deal of stuff in the glider itself that has nothing to do with EV.

    I am not going to void the warranty because I'm talking about maintenance performed 10 years or 20 years down the road. At the moment, I have 4 vehicles. An 11-year-old, a 13-year-old, and a 21-year-old. I would not be able to service them properly if I had not obtained the official Service Manual when the vehicle was new.

    Tesla Motors already has to face up to the liabilities of dangerous voltages flowing through the car - that's why they cooperated to set new standards to mark the high voltage cables in bright orange, so that emergency response technicians do no electrocute themselves extracting passengers from a twisted EV.

    I'm just not buying any of these excuses.

    P.S. I've burned myself on 12 V system merely by having the misfortune of touching a car stereo power supply wire at the point where it was shorted to ground. The current that a healthy 12 V battery can put out is enough to start fires and certainly burn skin.
  • edited November -1
    And certainly a 12V car battery could kill you once it's burned through your skin in two of the necessary locations (e.g. on each of your hands touching the opposite poles. Although that's unlikely to happen.
  • edited November -1
    I don't think so. Even that internal organs provide less resistance they still provide several hundred ohms worth at 12V. That translates to few milliamps of current, and it is also DC, so I don't think you can get yourself killed by that. AC is more dangerous than DC.
  • edited November -1
    Anything over 6 mA through the heart is potentially lethal. 400 ohms resistance would give 30 mA. Now whether applied across the arms is that low is another question. Of course, AC is especially bad as it can upset heart rhythm. I've heard "tales" of someone getting killed by a 12V car battery, but of course that could be the equivalent of "urban legend". I don't think "Myth Busters" wants to test that though.
  • edited November -1
    I back up rsdio's initial request. Stop stating that EVs are different. Things break. There are written manuals how to fix them. Do you think the service rangers phone up the HQ?
    He is asking for the official way to obtain one of these "classified" manuals.
    And yes electricity is harmful but so is gasoline. I think it will take a long time before we have the first roadster owner tinkering his way to a Darwin award.
  • edited November -1
    It is a lot easier to electrocute yourself to death by 300+V electricity than with gasoline which needs additional spark before it even burns something. It is actually quite difficult to get yourself killed tinkering around ICE.
  • edited November -1
    DC is not safer than AC because your muscles contract due to the current flow and then you cannot let go. If you can't let go then you're dead. Technically, AC is safer than DC. The caveat is that we typically only see low voltages for DC and an order of magnitude higher voltages for AC. It's the high-voltage part of AC that kills, not the AC vs. DC thing. Now it sounds like Tesla versus Edison all over again, with Edison electrocuting an elephant to prove that AC is dangerous. It's been done.

    As for the safety issues of providing a Service Manual: If it's quite difficult to kill yourself with gasoline, then why can't we smoke at the filling station? ICE is only safe thanks to a significant amount of design that specifically makes it safe. EV is no different.

    My position is that it would be safer to give official procedures around the non-motor electronics sections of the vehicle than to leave people entirely on their own. If someone tries to fix their Roadster 3 years from now and accidentally stumbles across a high voltage wire, that's far worse than just providing a service manual that shows how to safely work on the car without getting into the electronics.
  • edited November -1
    P.S. Do any of you nay-sayers realize how much voltage it provided to the coil, distributor, and spark plugs on an ICE system?
  • edited November -1
    They probably do, but of course the current is very limited on them. However, I'm with you. Although I'd never do anything on my Tesla while it's under warranty, I may even want to do battery replacement when they get weak enough. The big issue with that is the weight. After all pulling and replacing the traction pack on a Prius only involves about 80 pounds for the pack.

    And of course, there are many parts that are non EV that may need work over the years.
  • edited November -1
    Nah. I think they're trying for the "Wonderful One-Hoss Shay" effect; everything the best quality, nothing wearing out first, until it finally shimmies and shakes and collapses in a pile of dust. ;)
  • edited November -1
    Reference to above:

    "Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
    That was built in such a logical way
    It ran a hundred years to a day,
    And then of a sudden it — ah, but stay,
    I’ll tell you what happened without delay,
    Scaring the parson into fits,
    Frightening people out of their wits, –
    Have you ever heard of that, I say?

  • edited November -1
    @rsdio, this is fact, not just hearsay, you can survive from currents nearly ten times higher with DC than with AC. AC causes just the same: contraction of muscles, so that is no different to DC. Muscles do not care which way current flows, if they get signal to contract, they do that. AC causes problems with heart that it messes up the signaling causing it to stop with much less current. Reason why you don't get stuck with AC is that with current high enough to cause you to get stuck you are already dead.

    For coil etc. high voltage, low current.

    For smoking in gas station, you might start a fire, and that might potentially burn out entire gas station. It hardly ever causes you to die to that fire. Gasoline is not explosive unless in gaseous form with right mixture of air and gasoline and in contained space. In liquid form it doesn't ignite very easily. With diesel you will have hard time to get it to ignite at all. Gasoline also burns rather slowly and not dramatically. Hollywood "car explosion" effects are greatly exaggerated, made with real explosives.
  • edited November -1
    The only voltages in a stationary Roadster will be DC. The PEM will only create the AC voltages when the wheels are turning. About the only way you're going to get AC voltages from a Roadster parked in a service bay are if you somehow trick the computer into thinking that it's in regeneration mode, and even then I doubt you'll get anything without turning the wheels.

    Don't get me wrong, the DC voltage from the ESS is incredibly dangerous, but all of this talk of AC voltages really seems to have nothing to do with potential service hazards.
  • edited November -1
    I needed to check what that "all of this talk about AC" was all about. It seems that I started it by stating that AC is more dangerous than DC, which I just meant that those really low amperage required to kill person that David was referring to were for AC, not for DC. It was just stating of obvious. Nobody actually said anywhere that you could get AC shock in EV.

    As usual discussion started to rift away from original topic. Common thing in free unmoderated forums.
  • edited November -1
    Thanks for reeling in the topic. It would be nice to hear Tesla Motors comment about a real auto Service Manual, even if it is limited to the components other than the battery and PEM.
  • edited November -1
    I have to agree I would VERY much want a user manual. I just had a problem where my hood would not open. Thanks to a helpful Ranger I was able to find out the cable release is reasonably easy to get to above the wheel well. A manual whould have showed me that. MANY repairs do not require going into the PEM. A manual would be most helpful. I have had one for every other car I have owned and have used then for reference.
  • edited November -1
    Isn't that in owners manual? It does have some repair instructions, but I have lost my download link to it (and I'm not Roadster owner, so can't say if it is standard with the car).
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