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AAA won't tow Tesla

AAA won't tow Tesla

We had an accident last night which resulted in the passenger side wheel control arm breaking rendering the car not able to be driven. We have had AAA service for many years so I called them asking for a flat bed truck. After a fifteen minute or so delay they returned my call and told me they can not tow Teslas, especially if they have been in an accident. The call center operator told me even though AAA are certified to tow Teslas, they are pondering their options to do so.
Tesla Road Service came to the rescue and provided a Seattle area specialist tow service to get the car onto a fly bed truck. As the front end was only four or five inches from the ground due to the broken control arm, the tow driver devised a way to create a block between the tow straps and underbody to gently lift the car.
Has anyone had such an experience with AAA or do you use Tesla Road Service?

arldent3300 | July 17, 2014

Wow, this is disturbing, but glad that Tesla Road Service came through for you. Wonder if they are worry because of the battery?! Ironically I added my new Tesla to our existing AAA-Texas car insurance. I need to call them back and verify this.

KevinR.co.us | July 17, 2014

Not good. I was also dismayed to see a generally negative Tesla article in the AAA magazine last month

http://encompassmag.com/2014/06/auto-tech-the-enigmatic-tesla-model-s/

tes-s | July 17, 2014

Don't Tesla road service and AAA call the same flatbed?

arldent3300 | July 17, 2014

@ KevinR

the article to me is completely worthless. It said nothing about performance of the MS. Seems like all he wanted to do was to write a negative article about the car. I wonder if he will also write similar articles about the Prius, i3 and i8. Guess they have to find a way to fill the pages of that magazine.

KevinR.co.us | July 17, 2014

@arldent

I agree-- normally I don't call attention to that stuff (or any articles in Seeking Alpha)

Rocky_H | July 17, 2014

@KevinR: Wow, I just read that article you linked to, and it's more than just a little negative. Someone else tried to link Tesla to horrible graphite mining in China, which they do not use as their source, and Tesla got them to print a retraction, since it was false. So then the author says "for these reasons and others", he brings up the Standard & Poor's "junk bond" rating. Huh? Even if it were true, how do bad environmental procedures lead to a bad financial rating of a bond?

DaphneGreen | July 17, 2014

Looks like someone's short TSLA. No one seems to complain about the lead in bullets that's spray all over in shooting ranges and left in lakes and rivers from fishing weights. Let's put this in perspective. Very few Tesla's are in serious enough accidents to cause leakage of the battery and when the batteries needs replacing, Tesla is taking the old ones back. I'd worry more about lead in the environment.

TeslaTap.com | July 17, 2014

AAA is just a business, and I can see it's in their best interest to be anti-Tesla. They make money on selling services that Tesla provides for free. In addition, like dealers service departments, they benefit from unreliable ICE cars. They like cars that break down often, run out of gas, require a jump or require towing. It's too bad they are going down this route, but it is understandable. They used to be a lot more active in progressive thinking.

podoffice | July 17, 2014

Had my car towed twice by AAA. Both times were for a flat tire that could not be fixed by normal fix a flat can.

Captain_Zap | July 17, 2014

We kept our AAA because of their emergency charging trucks. I'm going to give them a call about this event. If they say they don't tow, I'm cancelling.

The chance I'll need an emergency charge is virtually nil.

Captain_Zap | July 17, 2014

I just called AAA member services and they said that they definitely tow Teslas. They checked with a supervisor to verify.

jajabor | July 17, 2014

I just verified with AAA, too. One of their supervisors confirmed that Teslas are covered.

Jewsh | July 17, 2014

Sounds like there are a few unenlightened local managers at AAA. Sorry to hear about your unfortunate accident and AAA experience.

chevronb36 | July 17, 2014

I guess you call always call Tesla

Rocky_H | July 17, 2014

I was curious. In the manual, it mentioned that there is a tow hook somewhere in the frunk area that you can screw into a threaded hole that is behind the plastic front grill. I have looked around and haven't been able to find where that tow hook is. Any more specific recommendation where I should be looking?

Bighorn | July 17, 2014

@Rocky
I think the hook came in some time after VIN16K, so I can't help you there.

karmamule | July 17, 2014

You know it's not gonna be good when they get something fundamental like the base price wrong, especially when overstating it by $20,000 dollars. Yeah, that's a sign of quality research and fact checking right there.

TonyR63 | July 17, 2014

See page 136 in the new owner's manual. It give directions on how to hook up, if the car doesn't have a hook in the frunk.

Newmodel_s_owners_manual_na_english_5.9-1.pdf

WattsThatGrin | July 17, 2014

@Rocky
The hook is underneath the carpet.

Captain_Zap | July 17, 2014

I had AAA hesitate on the phone about towing my BMW when I told them that I needed a flat bed because it was so low to the ground. I persisted and then they said it would be a longer wait for a flatbed.

jlewis | July 17, 2014

At the end of the day it is a business decision for AAA and I see their hesitance to come.We bought the service years ago while our two daughters were at home and driving. We thought four drivers, four cars, two older cars, we will need help and we have used AAA a few times for dead batteries. In hind sight the call to AAA was knee-jerk. The Tesla Road Service folks were typical Tesla,,,,,, Awesome. An hour after the first call the Tesla rep called me back to make sure it was handled. We just bought the new BMW i3 so we have two new cars. The chance of us running out or juice is nill,like a couple of you have mentioned. I don't think we have a need for AAA any more.

Captain_Zap | July 18, 2014

Member since 1999 and continuing.

riceuguy | July 23, 2014

I'll be darned...I was unaware the S&P factored in pollution from Chinese graphite mines when reviewing bond ratings (or "Tesla as an investment," as the article says). Oh wait, that's right, they don't! I don't think this guy's a short...he's likely at least understand bond ratings. I think he was just too lazy to do much research other than to take the car for a quick drive.

mag249 | July 23, 2014

AAA, like most roadside companies, are basically just a dispatcher to a network of independent tow operators. As with most things, there are good tow operators and bad tow operators. This problem is exacerbated in low population density areas as well as very high density areas. The same operator may decline or "slow walk" a AAA call but jump right on a Tesla Roadside Service call due to contract pricing. I think your best bet is to always start with Tesla and then go to AAA rather then the other way around.

Panoz | July 23, 2014

I've been a member of AAA when the kids were driving on my policy, but I may cancel now. I emailed AAA using their website and mentioned the article, I'll post what they say in response (if they give any).

qblack1 | July 23, 2014

Towed me after a flat tire no questions asked. Flatbed. I drove it right onto the truck.

kalel65 | July 23, 2014

AAA pulsed me out of a small ditch covered with ice. They were a big help.

Panoz | July 24, 2014

I emailed the editor of Encompass magazine, stating I thought the article was inaccurate and misleading. His response (I've left my name and greeting line off, but you get the point):

"AAA Colorado fact-checked the Tesla Model S review at least four times before publishing it. We’re willing to consider printing a correction for any factual error you find in the review. We will not have the space necessary for printing contrary opinions, only corrections of factual error.

For the record, AAA Colorado is grateful for your membership, and we’re happy to serve you.

Like you, I admire the Tesla. It is an engineering marvel. If I had the means, I would strongly consider buying one. But I would do so knowing its distinctive carbon footprint and environmental impact.

The pollution problem with the Tesla is not just the toxicity of its batteries, but also the difficulty in recycling them. Traditional 12-volt car batteries are so much easier to recycle. It is the most recycled product in the world, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the U.S. alone, about 100 million auto batteries a year are replaced, and 99 percent of them are turned in for recycling.

Also, the electricity needed to recharge Tesla batteries has its own environmental impact. Perhaps you see the hundreds of coal-carrying train cars traveling south along I-25 every day. I do. Someone is burning that coal to generate the electricity that you and I consume. The idea of increased coal mining and coal burning to meet the demands of EVs upsets a lot of people.

Will the batteries in electric cars be improved someday—with less toxicity, and more sustainable power? Most certainly they will. Will someone solve the issue of recharging them, perhaps through solar recharging? Will Tesla improve its record for recycling? Elon Musk seems highly motivated, and innovative. Until he comes up with his solutions, the Tesla remains “enigmatic”—an engineering marvel with higher than expected environmental costs.

Tom Hess
Editor
EnCompass by AAA Colorado"

renwo S alset | July 24, 2014

SMinnihan. Long time no see, attaboy.

renwo S alset | July 24, 2014

P.S. Always nice to hear from the BMW sales staff.

KevinR.co.us | July 24, 2014

The original article was not enough to get me to cx AAA
The BS response by Hess is....

SCCRENDO | July 24, 2014

This has been the stock anti-Tesla argument. Sure some electricity is filthy. I am in California where electricity is pretty clean, yet my city imports cheap electricity from Utah generated from coal. My solution is solar panels. The answer is to clean up electricity. Easier than cleaning up gasoline. Yet some will even attack solar panels as being environmentally unfriendly.

The other issue commonly raised is the environmental cost of producing batteries. I have yet to see any environmental info on the cost of producing batteries but it defies common sense to think that this cost is higher than getting oil out of the ground and transporting it all over the place. Also what about the cost of war to protect our oil interests. Perhaps we are going to need to bomb countries for their lithium from now on.

Also who says lithium batteries cannot be recycled.
Glad to have SMinnihan back.

Thomas N. | July 24, 2014

I dumped them after 20 years just this past May. Don't need them anymore. I was paying something like $80 a year for my wife and myself and I think I had them change a tire one time.

Now with Tesla roadside service it's a no-brainer.

I did not like his response. What the hell does recyling a 12v battery have to do with Tesla batteries? Do you recycle a 12V one time in 8 years? I think I went through four of them on my previous car.

How about all that oil? Where does it go? I know out on the farm we used to just dump in on the dirt but that was a long time ago.

Panoz | July 24, 2014

I told Hess, in my response (which I edited many times) to please make next month's article about the toxicity of paint on Fords, the danger of gasoline tankers on I-25 and tail pipe emissions of the car he drove to work today.

I doubt I'll get a response.

I'm looking at WalMart's roadside service, it's $70 a year, they tow anything (I asked).

Panoz | July 24, 2014

@ SCCRENDO: good one! Lithium Wars, sounds like something from Star Trek...

SCCRENDO | July 24, 2014

Main reason I remain with AAA is that I do a lot of miles and like to hold onto my cars. At 40500 miles in little over 15 months I am going to be out of my extended warranty in 2 1/2 years. If I need a tow at that point what do I do?

Panoz | July 24, 2014

Walmart is now offering a road assistance service for $80 a year, and they'll tow Teslas. I'm going with them at my next renewal point.

SCCRENDO | July 24, 2014

AAA is cheaper I believe. Rather stay with the devil I know as long as they don't refuse to tow Teslas. The big question I suppose is how environmentally friendly is Walmart?

TeslaOwnerBlog | July 25, 2014

I have had AAA tow my Tesla and also Tesla towed it. They use the same service.

The drivers aren't always trained in what to do. More details here along with my tire woes.

http://teslaowner.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/normal-tire-wear/

HenryT2 | July 27, 2014

I sent this email to Encompass the website:

"Your information about the base price is wrong. There are several models available including a 60kWh model, an 85, and a performance model. Generally, most magazines quote the car with the smallest engine as the "base" model. In which case, the Tesla 60kWh is 69,900. But, perhaps because the author was quoting all the stats of the 85kWh, I could see the 85kWh's "base" being used. In which case, it's still 79,900 (not 89,900). Also, it's misleading given that the 7,500 federal incentive isn't mentioned which is not an insubstantial "standard" discount (which is likely to be usable by most who buy a $70K+ car).

Further, he got the price of the fully loaded car correct (I am assuming it's correct because it's $50 off from my cost but that might be due to different destination charges) but neglected to mention that this is PERFORMANCE PLUS model with every option available. He calls this the model with "seven-passenger seating, 21-inch alloy wheels, high fidelity sound system". This is somewhat akin to calling a Porsche 911 Turbo S a "Porsche 911 with custom floor mats and an upgraded sound system."

I understand errors occur. But when an article with a negative slant such as this one comes out, I would think you would go out of your way to make sure that the negative information is all correct. But all facts in favor of the car - such as lower base price and government incentives are erroneous or left out entirely while the negative "factual" information like the highest price model are misleading at best, one can hardly assume that the article and editorial staff, are not highly biased."

I doubt they'll care. The editor claims to have fact checked his article 4 times yet they missed the error on PRICE???

vgarbutt | July 29, 2014

On the matter of coal based electricity. If they watched the video on this on youtube's 'fully charged', they would see that ALL the electricity used to refine fuels is coal based. So in the case of gas cars, and diesel, the dirtiest form of electricity produces the dirtiest fuel we have. And that doesn't take into consideration the fuel to drive derricks, pump pipelines, ship on water or land, etc etc bla bla.
This is the rebuttal to those that say electricity generation is dirty.

vgarbutt | July 29, 2014

On the matter of coal based electricity. If they watched the video on this on youtube's 'fully charged', they would see that ALL the electricity used to refine fuels is coal based. So in the case of gas cars, and diesel, the dirtiest form of electricity produces the dirtiest fuel we have. And that doesn't take into consideration the fuel to drive derricks, pump pipelines, ship on water or land, etc etc bla bla.
This is the rebuttal to those that say electricity generation is dirty.

Aero1 | July 29, 2014

The article also seems to forget that many of us have solar panels that fully support our cars and thus provide energy independent of coal or gas or anything but sunlight. I'd love to see them compare my S to a gas car in that respect!