Tesla Battery "BRICK" Claims

Tesla Battery "BRICK" Claims

I haven't seen any official replies to the claims on this from a blogger that seem to have reached viral proportion on internet. I am struggling to figure out why even at Zero charge you can not simply plug it back in and recover the battery. Would love to hear from anyone that has seen/felt the BRICK issue or knows this to be a false claim or near zero chance of actually happening.

Any details that can be shared from owners?

AndyM | 23 février 2012

Strong indicators of personal whining, er, bias in the article:

You may not be hearing from TM on this, if the lawyers are preparing a case. :)

Timo | 23 février 2012

Bias or not, issue is real. Tesla wont go to court for that, it would be losing battle.

How I see this is that Tesla has not made it clear enough that "damage to battery and it can't be charged" means that it needs to be replaced instead of (easily) repaired. And that it costs a lot to do that.

Vawlkus | 24 février 2012

I think it unbalances the battery cells in the pack, and that imbalance causes the pack to believe that the majority of the battery cells are bad. That would in turn, cause the pack to isolate those cells, and that many cells going bad would in turn make the pack think it had suffered catostrophic failure.

It's all supposition, but I'll bet it's pretty close to the truth.

jackhub | 24 février 2012

@ timo
How many people have bricked an ICE because they did not know it was necessary to drain the oil if the car sat for several months? I realize this would be unusual, but no more so than the circumstances under discussion here. I know of a student who studied abroad for a semester, returned, started his car and threw a rod! He didn't have a prayer in court! As with TM, the issue is covered in the owner's manual, but how many dealers tell you about it? And how many owners read the owner's manual.

jackhub | 24 février 2012

This fellow says he is a reservation holder. Let's have a little proof. If he is, he shoould repeat his complaint in one of these forums for reservation holders only.

DarrellH | 24 février 2012

I wish someone knowledgeable about this issue would respond. I'm getting questions about it from people that don't have EVs and/or don't follow EV news. That isn't good for the EV movement, especially Tesla.

Volker.Berlin | 24 février 2012

Tesla cared to publish a reply:

Excerpt: The earliest Roadsters will take over two months to discharge if parked at a 50 percent charge without being plugged in. From that starting point, Tesla has consistently innovated and improved our battery technology. For example, a Model S battery parked with 50 percent charge would approach full discharge only after about 12 months. Model S batteries also have the ability to protect themselves as they approach very low charge levels by going into a “deep sleep” mode that lowers the loss even further. A Model S will not allow its battery to fall below about 5 percent charge. At that point the car can still sit for many months. Of course you can drive a Model S to 0 percent charge, but even in that circumstance, if you plug it in within 30 days, the battery will recover normally.

Sudre_ | 25 février 2012

I still don't get the responses like Timo's.

You buy a car that cost over $100,000. If you fall to maintain the battery by keeping it charged above 0% you will void it's warranty. Then you park the car at a very low charge for a couple of months and don't even check on it once? You even signed/initialed a paper saying you understand the rules.

ANY car Ice or EV has special care when stored for long periods of time. It would be second nature for me to just call the dealer I bought my car from (ice or EV) and tell them I need to store my car for X months, what should I do? I would bet bet that the Tesla dealer would say, "Bring it on by and store it here and we will maintain the charge."

It's not about how easy it is to brick the vehicle since it is obviously very difficult to do or there would be a whole bunch of bricked Roadsters. It's about how much the people actually went out of the way to brick the vehicles by not following ANY of the recommendations in the manual, warranty or on the paper they signed.

Timo | 25 février 2012

What part of the "How I see this is that Tesla has not made it clear enough that "damage to battery and it can't be charged" means that it needs to be replaced instead of (easily) repaired. And that it costs a lot to do that." you didn't get?

Note that I didn't know about that paper about the rules you need to sign before this day. With that it needs a really stupid person not to get the signal that it is really stupid idea to not plug it in. My message still stands though. Nowhere I have seen warning that this bricking can happen, and it isn't repairable. Not before this blog about things got my attention.

Having done some guides to common people about technical things I have learned that you need to treat everyone like they are idiots even if they have doctorate or similar (and somehow try to do that without insulting them). Otherwise you don't get the message thru for everyone. No assumptions can be made that people can actually think. With more and more affordable BEV:s coming Tesla needs to learn that too. Problem multiplies when there are people with IQ less than their shoe number buying their cars.

It's like writing a message in broken venting machine. If you write there that it eats your money there is always someone that puts in money anyway. If you increase prices in it tenfold, and put a warning no-one puts money in it. You need to make it clear that it is not only stupid idea not to plug in the BEV, it also costs a lot of money. If someone still makes that mistake, then you can say that they really should learn to read. RTFM. Whatever.

BTW if you call two months a long period for ICE car, you are not living in same reality with me. I can leave for holiday trip for that long and all I do is park a car in garage and that's it. It still works when I come back, no special care needed. I bet that's how the person(s) that blog refers have treated their Roadsters.

Sudre_ | 25 février 2012

You have just proven my entire point for me Timo.... "It's like writing a message in broken venting machine. If you write there that it eats your money there is always someone that puts in money anyway"

I would argue that the Roadster does not cost tenfold compared to other cars in it's class. It's actually cheap in some cases. That means your "tenfold" argument is pointless. Still I think someone would still put in the money at tenfold more.

Tesla could have people sign papers acknowledging the car will explode if they leave it unplug and someone will still leave it unplug until it becomes a brick. I follow the philosophy that you can't fix stupid. I do not believe in the stickers on refrigerators that inform people not to carry them down stairs alone. People still carry them down stairs alone and get injured.
If I sign paper work to that affect the first thing I'd ask is why they need to call this out with a special piece of paper.

In winter here in St. Louis the cold weather means you have to pull your boat from the water and store it. There is special prep that has to be done to the boat. It does not matter if you are going to store it for 1 day or 6 months.
I have never heard of anyone complaining that the boat was ruined because they didn't preform the correct storage procedure. If you do not drain the water from the lines and it freezes the very next day the boat is ruined in one day and you are out of luck. The dealers do not have the purchasers sign special papers to the matter.

But it sounds like we just differ Timo and I can respect that.
You think that with enough written and verbal information that people will not do stupid things. Or if they know it will cost them what they consider large sums of money they will not do it.
I think you can disclose everything and stand there and make the person read out loud the entire manual before purchase and someone will still screw it up.

You are honestly telling me that you would spend over $100K on a car and sign that paper then let the car with a 25% charge sit for two months with out even checking on it once?
After signing that paper and having to store the car at 25% charge for 2 months you would not at least call Tesla for recommendations before hand?
Be honest.

JackB | 25 février 2012

Anyone know any stories of clean diesels being bricked by putting gasoline in the tank? I don't think it's a rare problem. Basic knowledge has always been important when it comes to fueling.


Timo | 25 février 2012

I would argue that the Roadster does not cost tenfold compared to other cars in it's class. It's actually cheap in some cases. That means your "tenfold" argument is pointless. Still I think someone would still put in the money at tenfold more.

God damn, how simply do I need to write this before you understand my point. I didn't talk about Tesla price. I didn't even use that as analog of the battery situation. I used it as example how to point out to stupid people what the consequences are. To get their attention to consequences of their actions before they make those actions. Everybody checks the price before putting money into venting machine. If the price is tenfold they notice that something is wrong. "WTF?" would probably be the first reaction.

You need to make it clear that you lose money. A lot of it in case of catastrophic battery failure (and yes, this time I'm talking about battery replacement price).

And I'm not talking about me. I'm not stupid. But there are people that are. Even rich people that are. Absent-minded people. Careless people. Well educated people that are blind to obvious unless you point it out by using something that they actually care about. People care about money (well, almost all people). Point out that they might lose it and they pay attention to what you are saying. Make it as obvious as you can. Use simple words. This is the lesson Tesla needs to learn (I hope they have by now. If not then Elon is not quite a smart as I think he is).

If someone still shoots himself to leg after all this then that case is beyond hope. As you say there will always be people like that. However you can reduce their number quite a bit by using things people pay attention to. Tell the possible consequences without softening the case.

I bet that blog case bricking came as big shock to that person and even bigger shock was that it cannot be repaired, you need a replacement. Nothing that I have seen Tesla write before that blog entered web goes straight to the point and warns about this possibility. Only "battery damage" and "might not accept charging" (or something like that). User manual even says that you should contact Tesla if that is the case, which suggests that Tesla could do something to it. If it had said that "contact Tesla to get replacement battery" then message might have been more clear what happens.

You could change the warning about not messing with the battery interior too by pointing out that it is high voltage system that can kill you. It does warn about that by using red triangle, but message itself does not say that consequence can be death. Sooner or later we will read a blog/news about someone losing his/her life after messing with that. In that case manual message is more clear, but I don't think it is clear enough.

Enough ranting...could probably go on forever about this.

ronlitvak | 25 février 2012

After I get my Model S, I suppose I'll just have to make a mental note: Ron, if you leave your car at the airport at 50% SOC, try to remember to pick it up in less than a year.

Of course, if I forget, the parking fees might cost me almost as much as the bricking.

This is about as much of a non-issue as I have ever heard. In considering an EV, there are real differences between ICE and there are complete non-issues. Real issues are range, re-charging times and availability. They balance against fuel costs of $.017 per mile (where I live) versus $.133 per mile (30 mpg at $4.00/gallon), quiet ride, stable drive with extraordinary low center of gravity, non-polluting, no oil changes, less maintenance.... well I could go on. Real differences versus red herrings.

SteveU | 25 février 2012

OK. So what does the Roadster manual say (I opened up my Roadster manual for the first time in over three years--I did read it "cover to cover" in PDF form before it was even printed and months before I had my Roadster)?

First on page 1-3 (in other words very close to the beginning--particularly since the first page of each section is a table of contents for that section) it defines some symbols. One of the symbols defined means "Caution: Indicates a situation in which bodily injury or damage to your vehicle, or both, could result if the caution is ignored." (I note that the "warning" symbol is for things that could kill you. I would agree with Tesla that this is more severe than damaging the vehicle.)

Section 5 is about charging. We can argue about whether section 5 is close enough to the front. It seems pretty reasonable to read this section if you have any questions about the day-to-day operation of an electric vehicle. The very first thing in the charging section (page 5-2) is a caution (see the symbol definition above) that says "Caution: If the Battery's charge level falls to 0%, it must be plugged in immediately. Failure to do so can permanently damage the Battery and this damage is not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. 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."

I do agree with what I think I understand to be Timo's point which is the existence of even one "bricked" Roadster battery is proof that this (and every other communication) on the subject was insufficient to communicate the necessary information to everyone. Whether the statements in the manual are sufficient is something each of you can decide on your own. Whether anything Tesla could have done would have prevented all cases of such mistakes by owners is also something you can each decide on your own.

davidcjones | 25 février 2012

I must agree with SteveU above. Section 5 seems pretty clear. I read my Roadster manual cover to cover when it was delivered, but as I pointed out on the Model S forum, when I bought my Roadster 2.5, I was told in no uncertain terms to never let it discharge to zero or it would kill the battery. I was also told of a customer in Wyoming left his car in a barn over the winter and despite Tesla's monitoring and trying to track him down (unsuccessful), the car did discharge to zero, killing the battery (this might be the "fifth" brick case referred to in the blog in question). I was told that he had to pay for replacement. So my salesman made it very, very clear about the dangers and the implications, both to the car and my wallet, of not keeping the battery charged.

I never felt that Tesla had hidden this issue from me, so I simply plug the car in almost every night.

Klaus | 25 février 2012

Timo, give it a rest. You don't own a roadster, so you haven't had the privilige of reading the manual. I have never seen a warranty that specifies how much money the owner will be out if he chooses to ignore the warnings. Have you EVER seen a warranty that states "if you fail to add oil to your engine and it is damaged you will have to pay XXX dollars to get it fixed"? No. We have all known for quite some time that thew battery packs in the Tesla Roadster is a considerable portion of the total worth of the car. The exact cost is not the issue. Maintaining it as discribed in the manual is. Having read it several times now, it is clear to me that NOT maintaining the battery will void the warranty. That is spelled out several times in the manual as well as the document that is required to be signed on delivery.

You obviously fall into the catagory of people that need a label on a bottle of paint thinner that says "Caution do not take internally as this might be hazardous to your health".

Timo | 26 février 2012

Roadster Owners Manual is in pdf-form in the net and was earlier downloadable from here. I have read it from cover to cover.

davidcjones and SteveU did get my point, I'm surprised you still didn't. It still isn't about me. Or about you for that matter.

Brian H | 26 février 2012

"If it had said that "contact Tesla to get replacement battery" then message might have been more clear what happens."

Grammar and clarity edit:
"If it had said, "contact Tesla to purchase a replacement battery," then the message might have been clearer about what happens."


Timo | 26 février 2012

Quite correct. :-)

Sudre_ | 26 février 2012

Yes I see Timo's point..... new warranty and manual for all EVs to save to idiots.

1) Do not submerge your vehicle in water. This will permanently damage the battery pack and you will have to spend exactly $(the amount to fix/replace) It may also cause severe bodily injury or death. If this happens there will be a charge of $(the amount to fix/replace)

2) Do not park your car under trees that might fall over during heavy wind storms. This might lead to the tree severally damaging your car or battery pack. If this happens there will be a charge of $(the amount to fix/replace)

3) Do not jury-rig any kind of power connections to your car in an attempt to charge or increase power. This could lead to damage to the car/battery pack and/or bodily injury or death. If this happens there will be a charge of $(the amount to fix/replace)

4) Do not replace the coolant in the vehicle with anything other than factory recommended coolant. This will cost $(the amount to fix/replace)

5) Do not attempt to push this car UP hill in neutral from behind. This could result in bodily injury or death.
(there should be a sticker on the rear bumper showing a stick figure pushing with a slash thru it)

6) Do not attempt to stop the vehicle from rolling down hill by getting in front of it and pushing. This could cause bodily injury or death.
(there should be a sticker on the both bumpers showing a stick figure pushing with a slash thru it)

7) Do not attempt to put any kind of petroleum product into the charge socket when the battery is out of charge. This could lead to severe injury or death and/or damage to the car/battery. This will cost $(the amount to fix/replace)

8) Do not attempt to wire your child's model car remote into the car and drive it around without a driver in the vehicle. This could cause property damage, bodily injury, and/or damage to the car/battery. Cost is undetermined but could exceed $100,000. for reference please see US Drone crash reports.

9) In case of vehicle fire do not attempt to pour water on the fire. This could cause severe personal injury or death. Call the appropriate fire services in your area.
(this one is realistic)

10) In case of vehicle fire do not attempt to drive the vehicle. Call the appropriate fire service in your area. This could cause severe personal injury or death.
(this one is realistic)

11) The EV manufacturer is not responsible for damage to your house caused by improper use or charging methods of the EV.

12) Do not allow your EV battery to sit at 0% charge for more than 14 days. This will ruin the battery pack and may require a new battery. The cost may exceed $40,000.

Anyone else want to add on any don't to the list. I targeted some really silly ones for fun but a few are in the same line as bricking.
I think the fire ones are very important since people will think an electric car should be safer since there is no exploding fuel.

Timo | 26 février 2012

Extract couple of the more exaggerated ones, and the really funny one about remote control and you actually have a lot better one than current one is. Unfortunately that is how you need to write a manual about what you should and should not do. It might feel stupid to anyone with half a brain, but that style actually works.

You might want to change wording in couple of places. Maybe add some explanation why something might happen instead of vague "might happen". Otherwise this is how you should write a manual.

davidslagle | 27 février 2012

I have several gasoline operated cars that are now bricks.The cost to refuel these vehicles is uncontrollable and has become unaffordable. I can't even sell them because their gas hogs. The cost for gas is the reason a person needs to search for a alternate source for propelling their transportation .Charging a Tesla off solar panels purchased with a federal solar panel rebate is another good reason to go electric. While your not charging the Tesla use the energy from your solar panels to power your home. Tesla never said it was cheaper to operate over the long haul but it does allow for your control of refueling expenses. You can also gain an asset in solar panels rather than watch the smoke from your oil burner fly away. Driving 100000 miles in a gas car @ $4.00/gal @15mpg = $26666, little technology to make promising advancements, and the drive train has 100000 miles on it! Can't even estimate the maintenance cost. That's all at today's prices. You'll soon get the picture or the middle east will own you. Stop this oil madness!

flar | 27 février 2012

I'd like to point out that the phrase "void your warranty" has lost much of its weight in today's world. It is usually a synonym for "the risk of something undesirable happening is something over 1% and we don't want to be legally required to be responsible for those chances". Using it for "not following these guidelines will result in a 80 to 90% chance of a serious financial blow" doesn't really seem to acknowledge the colloquial neutering of the phrase "warranty void".

You can void your warranty on many CE devices for having a sticker over a screw hole fall off (and by and large many good manufacturers still honor the warranty anyway unless they see signs of abuse in addition to the "warranty voiding" evidence). The sticker isn't keeping the item working, it is just one of the many incidental indicators that is used to track a warranty and one of the many "silly" ways that warranties can be voided, except that it often isn't really an issue in practice. Is that really a phrase that matches the consequences of keeping a charge to avoid catastrophic failure of your $40k battery pack?

+1 to adding some sort of "failing to do this will usually require the battery pack to be replaced at the owner's expense" language. I'm pretty sure they know the price and I don't think Timo was saying "owners don't know how much the battery pack costs", more that the language could leave them to believe that there could be a repair involved that would be much cheaper than a total battery replacement. If they know that the remedy is replacement and it is a very likely consequence, then they are likely to know it isn't something to toy with like opening your laptop to replace a non-user-serviceable part...

Brian H | 28 février 2012

I think you need to have a good long look at the data and text on .

jstack6 | 2 juillet 2016

This is not a problem on a model S.
Also on older Tesla cars you can charge them direct if they get too low and fix a brick.