Rain/Water causing Neutral/Warning Lights/Light Flicker/Errors

Rain/Water causing Neutral/Warning Lights/Light Flicker/Errors

There is a technical/mechanical issues thread but I wanted to highlight this potential problem. Hopefully the mods can leave it here for just a while to see if it is a real issue.

I have read in three different posts of a beep/buzzer/neutral/suspension error lights/posible display reset when a vehicle went through water. One was during a test drive, the second was on the way home from factory pick up and I believe the last was driving around town.

All the other issued raised are, in my opinion, little issues that will get sorted. Not one of them has really been drive dynamics related (of the type that NHTSA gets involved in). This is the first serious issue I have read about and was curious if anyone else has had anything like this happen.

These are the types of problems that drive recalls. Noramally, a problem must be solved before the recall can ocure and solving a potential problem like this is non trivial.

For the record, I'm not involved in any options trading. I have a car due in the next few weeks and am only a concerned customer.

Peter Spirgel | 24 dicembre 2012

I have had my car for almost 2 months and have never had such a problem.

TeslaOwnerBlog | 24 dicembre 2012

I never had this type of problem for 3 1/2 years with my Roadster either.

SMOP | 24 dicembre 2012

The Roadster is rock solid in water, I have driven it in ridiculous downpours; I was more worried that the fabric roof would leak or be blown off. I am surprised that Tesla did not come across these issues when doing cold weather testing. Perhaps the timeline was compressed significantly or some equipment was relocated in the final rev of the Model S.

sergiyz | 24 dicembre 2012

For what it's worth, there's a storm here in CA Bay Area that I haven't seen since 1997.
There's a lot of flooding everywhere, and I was driving all day yesterday (about 100 miles total) thru huge puddles of water under very heavy rain at times (not by choice, just had to be places).
I had zero problems with my Model S. It handled everything the weather has thrown at it.
The power consumption was pretty high, about 440Wh/mi since I had to run AC, headlights, wipers at full speed, and all the water creates extra rolling resistance.
The car was very stable on the road, couldn't imagine it would be that good.
I feel much more comfortable with the car in bad weather now, it was about as bad as it gets here.

pilotSteve | 24 dicembre 2012

Its rained (almost) continuously in Portland/Seattle area for the past two weeks. No problems what so ever in my first 1000 miles of driving. Lots of large puddles and splashing from other cars on I5 during the heavy rains. I think Tesla has the water-proofing down pat!

Sudre_ | 24 dicembre 2012

Sound more like a hype topic.

lolachampcar | 24 dicembre 2012

Some people in the know over on the TeslaMotorsClub forum spoke with Tesla regarding the events. Tesla indicated there is a battery protection mechanism that shuts down the battery whenever the car senses (emanate) submersion. Apparently the amount of water encountered in these events momentarily triggered the protection.

I am summarizing above but it appears that this is normal programmed protective behavior and not a problem.

MB3 | 24 dicembre 2012

If true, even if it was a fail-safe against battery damage, it is a problem. The battery shouldn't be in danger under those conditions. If this problem arises you should have the car serviced.

EcLectric | 25 dicembre 2012

I was driving in that CA storm @sergiyz mentioned. My right wheels were intermittently splashing through deep puddles in a gutter that were about 3 inches deep. Suddenly, I heard a triple-beep and the car stopped accelerating in response to the pedal. It slowed to about 10-15 mph and I had to pull out of traffic. Luckily there was a driveway close by and I pulled into it. I put it in park, then back into drive and it immediately went back to normal. It has been fine since. This was a rare storm for us with flash flood warnings and one of the first times I have heard the Emergency Broadcast System (when it wasn't a test), but from now on I will avoid deep puddles (the right lane) in the car when I can. If this is a protection from imminent immersion, then I think Tesla will have to make it a little less sensitive.

lolachampcar | 25 dicembre 2012

Others have said the car will go back into drive without delay or stopping.....

Sudre_ | 25 dicembre 2012

How do you feel the car will react to low water bridges? I don't drive over them much but there are times I have had to drive over up to 12 inches of water that was over a low water bridge. Something is telling me the car just did not like the speed. Crossing a low water bridge with water over it is done at <10 mph (no splash just a little wake). I am beginning to think this isn't a water splashing on something problem and more of hydroplaning detection.

EcLectric | 25 dicembre 2012

Hi Sudre,

Your idea is consistent with my experience. My right tires were definitely hydroplaning when the car slowed.

Robert22 | 25 dicembre 2012

I' ve never heard of an active hydroplaning detection system. This shouldn't be a difficult question for a service center to answer.

Wayne3 | 26 dicembre 2012

Had a similar experience while driving in rain, and reset to recover, but noticed that you can get the same effect if you accidentally bump the shifter down while steering (thus putting it in Neutral). I'll check this first if I ever experience again. Pressing shifter down to Drive setting recovers, of course.

Brian H | 26 dicembre 2012

It sounds like a very clever "indirect" hydroplaning recovery system. Kudos to TM if so!

Mark E | 26 dicembre 2012

Driving a regular road car through 12" of water? Pass. Especially if the water is flowing. It is extremely dangerous as the car can be washed away and you can't see holes under the water.

shs | 26 dicembre 2012

I read recently about a Porsche that "blew out its entire electrical system" driving through a similar puddle. Given what must be the very high voltages involved with the MS, I do wonder how well sealed the undercarriage is, and how deep a puddle one can handle.

EcLectric | 26 dicembre 2012

It's possible my experience was 'operator error'. I noticed yesterday that when the rain intensified suddenly that I automatically reached for the stalk on the right side, which is where the wiper stalk is on all my other cars. Pushing up one on the wiper stalk turns on the wipers, and I believe in Model S will put it in neutral. I will try putting it in neutral while moving forward, and if I get the triple-beep I heard... mystery solved!

Mark2131@CA-US | 26 dicembre 2012

I have definitely triggered "neutral" by accidentally flipping the right hand stalk for my wipers. Muscle memory is hard to defeat! I hit it down, and was surprised to find myself in neutral. Tapped it again, and back in gear.

My experience doesn't explain the "water induced" neutral from the original post, but it may explain
future events. Water. Puddle. Instinctive slap at wipers. Neutral. Uh oh!

Pungoteague_Dave | 26 dicembre 2012

Mark E,

There are many low water bridges in our area, also known as fording bridges. The stream bed is paved and you must drive across the active stream. Usually the local police can drop a gate when water s too deep for crossing. There are many of these in rural areas, but some are in cities. For example, there are two inside the Washington DC limits, in Rock Creek Park. Cars have to be able to drive in shallow moving water.

Mark E | 26 dicembre 2012

Pungoteague_Dave: We have the occasional one here as well, but they are generally closed well before 12" of water is running over them. To put it in perspective, the model S has 6" of ground clearance. at 12" the water is above the door sills.

Most cars door seals will leak water in under those circumstances, and with a number of ECUs in modern cars at or close to floor level, the damage can be substantial, even if the car keeps going.

12" of water moving across a road is incredibly dangerous - this is enough to wash most vehicles off of the road! If you don't believe me..

We have people drowned here often when crossing flooded roads, especially when they think that it isn't *that* deep!

A general rule of thumb is that moving water shouldn't be more than 4" deep and still water no more than 6". A proper 4WD off road vehicle can get away with more, but we are talking about regular passenger cars here.

Flooding the interior of your Tesla/BMW/Honda/whatever will most likely void the warranty, and insurance companies will generally write off any flooded vehicle as the cost of repairing all of the interior damage is so high.

If you still have any doubts, grab a ruler and hold it next to a normal car to see just how high up it comes. 12" (300mm) is very deep water to drive through.

What often happens is that the crossing appears safe, but the car is washed to the side where it is much deeper. Once the car starts to float it's game over, and if you are lucky you live.

EcLectric | 26 dicembre 2012

I tried flipping the stalk up while driving, and got the triple-beep and went into neutral. This confirms that this is the possible scenario for the experience I had the other day. I'll probably have to wait several years for an equivalent storm in the Bay Area to test my car going through a puddle like that again.

dtich | 27 dicembre 2012

hey electric, thanks for being honest about that. not that you wouldn't normally, but there are others who wouldn't necessarily come back and say what actually happened and thus let an unsubstantiated issue grow roots... don't need any more of that around these tesla bbs's... appreciate it.

Brian H | 27 dicembre 2012

If you're impatient to test it again, head down to the beach and ...

Volker.Berlin | 27 dicembre 2012

EcLectric, dtich +1

However, this resolves on issue only to leave us with another: Obviously, since this happened to more than just one person, Tesla needs to take measures to
- avoid accidentally putting the car into neutral,
- and clearly indicate what happened, when it happens, as to avoid situations where drivers come up with all kinds of "explanations".