Model S owners manual

Model S owners manual

I have some thoughts on the format of the owners manual.
1. It can be hardbound and printed on recycled paper.
2. It can be a CDROM to be downloaded on our computers.
3. It can be a DVD in which videos explain the operation and functioning of the model S.
4. It can be downloaded as a PDF file from TM's website.
5. It can be installed on the model S hard-drive. It would be accessible via the APPS "button" on the infotainment screen.
Any other thoughts? Please comment.

clea | March 18, 2012

whatever form it takes i would prefer that it be downloadable and ensure that there is an app to read that format in the infotainment console. the decision to print it or burn it to a dvd/cd could be left to us.

Discoducky | March 18, 2012

I would be fully satisfied not having a hardbound physical copy. I'm gonna need space in the glove box!

What sounds ideal to me is that I could access it from the center display, it should be searchable, and TM should be able to push updates and I'd be notified when it's updated.

TM should also post to their website so it's readable/searchable from smartphones.

It could be built into "The App" as well.

David70 | March 18, 2012

A pdf (or some other widely available format) is fine with me.

stevenmaifert | March 18, 2012

Whatever format it takes, I hope it is available online for reservation holders before the first S is delivered. I'm a firm believer in RTFM before first operation of a complex piece of machinery or electronics and the S is all of that.

stephen.kamichik | March 18, 2012

I agree with stevenmaifert@a...

wtrask4 | March 18, 2012

PDF downloadable from

You could read it on the 17-inch screen or load it on your iPhone/ipad.

I would like to have access to the PDF before I take delivery of the car!

jbunn | March 18, 2012

I was so honored to have met the engineers, designers, it staff, press operators, plastics plant manager, ect at the Freemont. I'd love to have a signature page of the folks that rolled the first production car off the line, reproduced in our owners manual.

Volker.Berlin | March 18, 2012

I may be shocking you, but I'd prefer a hardbound physical copy, which I intend to read cover to cover. If I get a pdf only, I will print it anyway. In any case, all materials should also be available online. They may be protected for access by owners only, if Tesla deems that adequate, but I absolutely came to hate CDs/DVDs which only collect dust and are not as accessible as the web when needed.

BYT | March 18, 2012

I would actually love a 3rd option, kind of a Tesla Motors OnStar Service where I can use the Infotainment Screen to start a chat session with a Tesla Representative to ask a question and maybe they can (on the fly with the 3G connection in the car) help me assess or answer a question. Would be a really nice touch. Hope that I also wouldn't need a keyboard but to use voice instead.

phb | March 18, 2012

It needs to come in the car in some form. It's going to have lots of warnings in it and, for legal reasons, they should probably include a paper copy at least. I would also like to have it in a PDF so that I can view/search it on my iPad.

stephen.kamichik | March 18, 2012

I would like a hardcopy and a CDROM or DVD.

JohhnyS | March 18, 2012

I want a hard copy of the trouble shooting and how to sections to keep in the car. A DVD or on line version of the other stuff would be nice.

olanmills | March 18, 2012

I want a physical copy in a nice little cover. I've always liked that for some reason. I can only think of a few user maintenance items though: replacing and adjusting the headlights, replacing a cabin air filter, and removing the jack and spare tire. Will there even be a spare tire? I hope so.

cablechewer | March 18, 2012

Critical parts of the manual should be in hard-copy. That way if the infotainment screen is down and you want to read the troubleshooting section it is accessible on the paper copy in your glove box. I would focus on just the most basic and critical stuff in the hard-copy (like how to rig for towing, how to adjust mirrors, how to change a tire, a troubleshooting guide and how to call Tesla for help). The rest is more likely to change frequently and could be in electronic form.

I drive a lot of places with poor cell phone reception and worse data speeds. If I have to download a PDF on my phone there is a good chance it will take forever or outright fail.

Here is another thought - if they are really going to ship the cars in July they are probably getting really close to their deadline for getting hard-copies printed. If they are printing these the design and layout is probably set already.

TonyF | March 18, 2012

The topic of owner's manual was discussed in a previous thread several months ago and at that time I was nearly alone then in wanting a nice hard copy of the manual. Most replied that in today's age, it will likely be made available as an electric copy.

It is nice to read in this thread that several reservation holders want a hard copy of the manual. Great - me too. Cablechewer has a good point though - maybe we can get the critical information in hard copy form to keep in the car, (kind of like a "quick start guide" that come with many complex electronics). Then the comprehensive manual (maybe several hundred pages) could be kept up to date on line that we would be able to download and print if we want. In any event, I would like a complete owner's manual long before I take ownership of my "S" so I can study it hard and become familiar with everything long before I drive it off the Tesla store property.

Teoatawki | March 19, 2012

I think we already confirmed no jack, no spare, didn't we?

mklcolvin | March 19, 2012

I'm old-school here too. I've been a car nut all my life, and I've always loved poring through the owner's manuals of the cars that I've owned. I like the pouches that they come in - a high class pouch and owner's manual can say a lot about the car and the manufacturer.

mike | March 19, 2012

Hard copy in any reasonable format should do the trick. However, it would be beneficial to have access to a soft copy from the TM website for quick searches, etc.

Brian H | March 19, 2012

How about also an annoying/amusing SIRI-type AI on the system? With several choices of avatar and voice ...


petero | March 19, 2012

By the time my “S” reservation is filled (P3,916) I will hopefully be able to buy one of those black and yellow “ Tesla S for Dummies” books. Then I will understand what to do and how things work.

Sorry, I am not a rocket or computer scientist like most of you guys. Just a simple antiques dealer and former car salesman.

Manta | March 23, 2012

I agree with having the critical parts of the manual in hard copy. As far as the entire manual, I'll bet TM could do some cool things with Apple's iBooks 2 textbook format.

wbrown01 | March 24, 2012

I want to know if there will be a service manual. I work on my own car, I have never had my car serviced after warranty. I can't wait to work on a car where there is little need of heavy equipment, two guys can left that motor. I bet I can have the whole drive train on the floor in under an hour. There appears to be only 4 bolts holding the drive train, a few hoses and cables. With the simple TM design I will no longer hate working on my car. Yes I hate working on my car, that is one of the main reasons why I will love this EV. Other car makers are not doing this with their EVs, it is still a mess under the hood, TM design is going to be very hard to improve on. Ten years from now people like myself and that own a Model S will no longer spend there whole weekend working on these pieces of crape gasoline cars. The future is looking good for mankind.

Excuse me now,I need to finish installing the second turbo on my 2001 VW, at least I get to work outside.

Mike_ModelS_P457 | March 24, 2012

I think the hybrid approach is the way to go. A hard copy manual for critical path and some common things, and a deeper manual accessible via the infotainment system and on the web. I may be a nerd, but I can't wait to read the manual cover to cover. If there is an SDK of some sort I'm probably going to see how I can personalize my car.

I wouldn't go with the Apple iBooks paradigm, I'd look more to the IBM IBV tablet content method they used in their deeper studies (C-studies).

It looks like a normal PDF, but suddenly there is embedded video and infographics you can zoom and scrolling text within frames for deeper information. Seriously, if you haven't checked this thing out, you should. Download the CMO or CIO studies and play.

Manta | March 24, 2012

@Mike_ModelS_P457: I checked out the IBM IBV app, and unless I'm missing something, it looks like the studies have some of the same features as iBooks 2 textbooks (audio, video, interactive images, etc.).

Granted iBooks textbooks are only compatible with iPads right now, so as far as electronic formats go, the manual would need to be available in a universal format too (like PDF).

Volker.Berlin | March 25, 2012

wbrown01, I'm not sure that you can or should do any work on Tesla's drive train. It may be a relatively simple setup with relatively few parts, but I see two issues that may be steep hurdles to do any DIY on the drive train: The battery weighs more than an ICE engine (I have yet to see any numbers, but it's probably 1/4 of the car's curb weight, possibly more), and the drive train is high voltage area.

The good news is that you don't have to clean out and fix or adjust any turbos! There isn't a lot of maintenance to do in the first place, so you probably shouldn't worry whether or not you can do it yourself.

EdG | April 10, 2012

Came across this:!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2011-0174-0029
(click on View Attachment to the right of "Tesla Motors, Inc. - Comments")

from this page:

In lieu of having any parts of an owner's manual, I found it interesting reading. Thanks to engle at the TeslaMotorsClub site.

stevenmaifert | April 10, 2012

Looks like another case of government rule making lagging the technology it is designed to regulate. The rule should specify the desired outcome, not the means to achieve it. Leave that to the innovators.

MandL | April 11, 2012

My Kia Sorento manual has a bunch of QR codes in it that link to videos on how things work. I thought that was a pretty nice idea. I fully expect a searchable, interactive, multimedia owners manual on-board on the touchscreen. Best format IMO would be HTML5, content stored locally. An identical copy available for me to access online from my PC, iPad, Kindle Fire, etc. Please no proprietary or viewer-dependent formats.

DallasTXModelS | April 28, 2012

I would be happy with a pdf format available on the touchscreen as well as any internet connected computing device.

As a Reservation holder I'd like it be made available as soon as it is completed for me to look over while waiting for my Model S to be built and delivered. I hate sitting in a brand new vehicle reading where and how everything in the car works. I want to know everything there is to know about it the day that Tesla trailer pulls up in front of my house so I can get in it immediately and drive off.

jerry3 | April 29, 2012

In 2000 Toyota mailed me the Prius owners manual months before I got the car as a way to fill in the time. It was the same in 2003 for the 2004 Prius. I don't expect Tesla to have the same luxury as they are still ironing out some of the details, but a few weeks before delivery would be great and would make the delivery experience much better because all you'd have to pick up on the walk-through would be the new items not covered in the manual and the minor details that you missed while reading. Retention is much better with repetition. I'm guessing I'd read the manual at least ten times.

Brian H | April 29, 2012

It's easy to distribute updates digitally. Model S Owners' Manual editions 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. could all be sent out long before July!


Soflauthor | April 29, 2012

Given the timeline for release of the Model S, I have to believe that version 0.5 of the Owner's Manual is now complete and that TM's tech writers (or the contractor's they've hired to do the job) are continuing to polish the content.

I, for one, would be happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement (that would mean no posts about the Manual on this or any other forum until it is officially released) and get a pdf version of the User Manual, review it in detail, and send detailed comments back to TM. I have to believe that many of us on the list would be anxious to do the same.

As someone who writes college textbooks for a living (novels for fun :), I can state unequivocally that it's very, very helpful to get other eyes-on early the process. Makes for a much better end-product.

stephen.kamichik | April 29, 2012

Soflauthor....I am an electrical engineer/technical writer. I have seven published engineering books (available at Amazon) and I have written dozens of articles for various engineering and hobbyist magazines. I would also like to proof read the model s owners manual.

Soflauthor | April 29, 2012

@Stephen.K: I'm sure there are many others on this forum who would do an outstanding job of reviewing the Model S Owner's Manual (OM). But the ball is in TM's court.

If TM is monitoring this thread: Why not ask some of us -- possibly a dozen -- who have consistently demonstrated clear thinking on this forum to review the OM? It's absolutely NOT necessary to have a tech background, but it is necessary to think critically. Have us "apply" for the job, (e.g., 1 page CV), demand execution of a non-disclosure agreement, and ultimately get what I think might be very useful input before you release Version 1.0 of the OM.

Just a suggestion.

brianman | April 29, 2012

This would be an interesting perk for reservation holders...

blurry_eyed | May 2, 2012

This evening I sat in VIN #46 at the Bellevue Square store. It just arrived last night and has updated firmware. There is an onboard manual accessible through the touch screen. A lot of very interesting information in it. It's still a work in progress, and has sections where there are placeholders, but it has quite a bit of detail already.

Also the new firmware has many more controls in it that were what people were asking for - Adjustable regen (low or normal), adjustable steering, Ride height controls (For the air suspension), Traction control (On or off) etc.

TonyF | May 25, 2012

Now that we have a delivery date of June 22 set for the first Model S to be delivered, can we assume that the owner's manual will be ready by that time? If it is ready, is there any reason that current reservation holders should not have access to the owner's manual (logically through a download from the Tesla web site)? Since my reservation number (P1091) puts me at an October or November-ish delivery, I'd love to begin studying the owner's manual.

Can anyone think of a reason Tesla should not make the Owner's manual available to reservation holders?

Brian H | May 26, 2012

They haven't gotten around to writing one yet? Or, the Chinese→English translation isn't complete? Or, ...


Volker.Berlin | May 26, 2012

TonyF, the Roadster manual is available for download to everybody. I don't see why Tesla wouldn't do the same with the Model S' manual, though it may not happen on day one. Give them a few weeks after the first deliveries, and I'm sure it will be available.

jerry3 | May 26, 2012

There are some screen shots of the manual here:

It doesn't look very complete, and due to the interactive nature of the manual, It would make more sense to have it on this site (perhaps viewable by reservation holders and owners) rather than recreating the manual in a non-interactive format.

Teoatawki | May 26, 2012

Brian H - They haven't gotten around to writing one yet? Or, the Chinese→English translation isn't complete? Or, ...

I'm just hoping for English, rather than something that reads like it was translated from English to Korean then back.

jerry3 | May 27, 2012

Teoatawki, I don't think the language (at least not the English version) will be a problem because there is no offshore development.

ggr | May 27, 2012

Someone posted some screenshots of the manual over at

wbrown01 | May 28, 2012

Have you ever tried to find oil capacity or tire pressure in those hard copies, please make it a searchable form like a CD and place it in the Infotainment center.

jerry3 | May 28, 2012


It's certain that in any hard copy manual I've ever seen, whomever wrote the index never drove a car of any kind (or never actually looked at the manual).

pilotSteve | June 15, 2012

Do you suppose, with first production cars shipping 6/22, that the owner manual will be posted online for us to read while awaiting our deliveries? We can only hope... I have a lot of questions that could be answered before my test drive!

jerry3 | June 16, 2012

I would sure hope so--even if it's only available to reservation holders after signing in (although I don't know why it should be a secret). The Leaf manual is online, I read it three times while I was considering getting one.

boleoleo | June 16, 2012

No matter what format Tesla decides on, I'd love to see the manual also published for Amazon's Kindle. The Kindle app is available for iPhone, iPad, and other mobile devices so you could always have the manual immediately available. Both the Kindle Reader and the Kindle app are searchable including by keyword.

GeorgeA | June 16, 2012

The times I have used my car's owners manual is when there has been some sort of issue. You may be out of power or your 17" screen may not be accessible to access the manual. A safe backup is a hard copy in your glove box. We should get a hardbound copy.
As a result, I too want:

1. Hardbound copy of manual.
2. DVD with videos explaining various operations and functioning of the model S.
4. On TM's website as PDF download.
5. Preinstalled on model S hard-drive.

Since the S Model is more technically innovative than most other cars, it should make the manual available in these many formats. TM can always send buyers the hardcopy if not finished yet or if they are still working on the DVD video which would be sweet to have. This would act also as a marketing tool when you showed your friends the DVD.

steven.maes | June 17, 2012

FWIW, I found a video of the manual ...