driving thru water / flooded street is battery protected

driving thru water / flooded street is battery protected

is the battery protected / watersealed incase i drive thru a flooded street?

William13 | 12 juni 2012

Same question as prior posts. No worry. The floor will flood before the car fails.

David70 | 12 juni 2012

The plus side is that the battery pack (and car) is heavy enough that it won't start floating away, and you'll have enough traction to drive out of the deep part. Especially true if you have the air suspension and raise it as much as possible.

Brian H | 12 juni 2012

I wouldn't be too sure! A volume of water equal to the total cubic meters inside a Model S would weigh about that many tons. By Avogadro's principle, as soon as just over 2 tons of water are displaced (about 2 cubic meters) the S is floating.

Mark K | 13 juni 2012

By Archimedes principle, weight of volume of water displaced would be north of about 6,000 pounds (62 lbs / cu ft).

So if the weather seals were perfect (unlikely), the battery mass wouldn't sink it.

More practical consideration for the driver is whether would it keep running if the battery/motor/ drive electronics were partially submerged -

It looks like TM has housed all these critical parts with appropriate seals, so it's likely it would keep driving - for a while at least. That should be good enough to cross most washed-out intersections without stalling or damage.

Probably more resilient than an ICE car in this regard.

Timo | 13 juni 2012

Battery is liquid cooled and leaks are bad for cooling system so if water can't get out it is very unlikely that water getting in is any concern for actual battery. Only "weak spot" for underwater exploration are electric connectors outside the battery pack between it and rest of the car (battery swap requires connector there) and I believe they are also quite well protected against foreign contaminants like water.

MandL | 13 juni 2012

Then instead of the aero wheels, maybe we can get aqua wheels with fins for propulsion. Better get the tech package with the auto lift gate so I can deploy the emergency rudder easily.

bsimoes | 13 juni 2012

Worst case scenario: Open the pano roof, climb out and wait to be rescued! I think I've read somewhere that they call the chassis or whatever a surfboard design; maybe there is more to that than originally thought!

David70 | 13 juni 2012


I didn't say submerge the whole car. Just the batteries. It's still much heavier with the batteries than without them. and the higher the car, the less of anything but wheels are submerged.

stephen.pace | 13 juni 2012

@bsimoes, I think if you find yourself in deep water, you'll be unlikely to be able to open the panoroof due to sensors shutting down the battery. You'll need to use the MythBusters approach.

Living in a place that is prone to flash road flooding, I also had this concern, and (at least if you have air suspension), you can raise the car to 1.3" above normal which gives you a ride height of 7.4". Anything higher and the water can start seeping into the interior. In that case, Tesla says there are many sensors around components that will indicate water ingress, and that the car will do everything possible to protect itself and its occupants. The battery compartment and all high voltage connections are sealed and water tight, but they still don't recommend fording rivers. :-)

Brian H | 13 juni 2012

right, of course. Archimedes, not Avogadro. Brain short-circuit from discussion on another site. (;-p

The inflated tires would make a difference, too.

Instead of the emergency rudder, a twin props could be deployed. An extra-cost option with the Aqua-Tech package, available in late 2013. Alternatively, Aqua rims with flanges for APW (Advance Paddle Wheel) propulsion can be purchased.

stephen.pace | 13 juni 2012
Volker.Berlin | 13 juni 2012

stephen.pace, thank you for posting that link! All our inconveniences and worries are quite relative... Amazing people, amazing low tech, no jobs for wimps.

jbunn | 13 juni 2012

Ah, it's worse than that. Like a chicken, water is crossing the road to get to the other side, which often means it's moving. Sometimes swiftly. Get in deep moving water, and even partialy submerged tires take a significant amount of weight off the road. Then provide a lubricated interface between the rubber and the road, and tons of lateral force from the pressure of the moving water, and you're swept off the road into really deep water, really fast. Very dangerous scenario well before the battery is completly submerged.

BYT | 13 juni 2012

With that 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, you can displace a lot of that water from under the tires quickly... ;)

Brian H | 13 juni 2012

That's mudroad drivers, I think! Probably all guys with non-functioning forebrains (anticipation of consequences, etc.).

Driving across rivers in full spate is probably an adrenaline rush equivalent to a firefight. What some people will do to avoid boredom! ;)

Volker.Berlin | 13 juni 2012

Brian H, boredom is the least of these guys' problems.

Brian H | 13 juni 2012

Those used to high intensity combat or high-risk work find boredom to be a very real and agonizing problem. Very like the depression from going cold turkey off amphetamines. Race car drivers, downhill ski racers, etc., all talk about feeling "alive" when under threat. And unalive when not.

There's a saying, that there's nothing like the thrill of being shot at ... and missed!

BYT | 13 juni 2012

Ever since man hasn't had to run to save himself from a larger predator while hunting, we testosterone based life forms have been hungry for the thrill a close call provides.

EVMD | 15 augustus 2013

I got this from Nissan Leaf forum and I wondering if passing trought a flood, will damage the MS battery.

Last weekend my two month old Leaf was flooded during a freak rain storm that dropped 5.5 inches of rain in less than an hour. We were shopping and came out to find the car standing in the middle of a flood. The water reached a bit less than mid door height, front wheels fully submerged, rear wheels mostly submerged. I entered through the rear hatch and the water was up to the top of the console. Both front seats were saturated, as were the rear seats. The rear hatch area had 4-6 inches of standing water, partly covering the EVSE. The batteries were totally under water.

Car was towed to Nissan through their Leaf Customer service. The service team was exceptional (Southern States Nissan, Raleigh, NC) and worked with insurance company to resolve the claim. Nissan's service department found 7 pages of error codes after the flood. The water reached so high inside the car that when they opened the OBD compartment water flowed out of it. I didn't attempt to start the car, but the service department told me that after clearing some codes it did start, but then had several new codes appear.

After examining the codes, the car and the electrical problems the car was declared a total loss.

dvangstr | 16 maart 2014

Driving through water: A real world test, not theoretical.

There was some flash flooding in Plainfield, IL on 3/14/2014. I was driving my Model S 85. I tried driving through like many other cars were. I tried to go fast to use the tires to push the water.

It was deeper than I thought but the funny part was that the car started to float (If it floated across the whole way, I would've done it again with someone getting it on video).

Unfortunately, the "boat" sank and the tires took over again. When I got past the water, the display showed an error that the car needed servicing and that it may not restart.

I got home in about ten minutes with this message going away and returning sporadically. I called Tesla Service and they remotely pulled the logs. I got a call back in 20 minutes and the service tech told me that they need to come get the car because the battery was dying (even though it had ~110 miles of charge left). They gave me a loaner (no P85 or roadster, so they gave me a 60).

I got a call later and the service manager informed me that the seals that detect water were soaked because battery had water on top of it which is why the error codes were being thrown. They are going to let them dry over 24 hours and if needed, will replace them and connectors. Battery seems to be intact.

Moral of the story: If you have active suspension, put it on Very High and look to see how deep the water is by watching other cars. Don't risk it.

Thing to tell Tesla naysayers: Still an awesome car and the company really goes out of their way to take care of you.

AmpedRealtor | 16 maart 2014

I hit a big puddle and felt the force of water spray underneath the car and out both sides. I had no issues afterward.

Tâm | 16 maart 2014

For those who are brave enough to drive through a flooded area, I hope we all realize that this is not Elon's 007 James Bond amphibious submarine car!

May be your car insurance would cover but Tesla does not cover flood:

Conroy | 16 maart 2014

I would not want to risk driving through water that was deep enough to risk submerging any part of the battery. Water doesn't agree with lithium batteries or Tesla's brakes. There has been many reported Tesla brake problems in rain and snow.

I would hope Tesla's batteries resist water as much as reasonably possible. If water penetrates the battery cells, there is a likelihood of fire or explosion. Lithium batteries can react violently to water. Emergency responders have to take special precautions when fighting lithium fires, as water can flare up the flames and produce toxic fumes when combined with lithium batteries.

"NEVER place batteries in water, as this may cause the battery to rupture and release poisonous gasses. Furthermore, when the electrolyte is combined with water, there is the potential for hydrofluoric acid to form an extremely toxic and corrosive substance"

Ohmman | 16 maart 2014

This is another motivation for "turn around, don't drown." If all Tesla owners know this, they'll be less likely to chance it. Does that mean we'll be even safer?!

chrisdl | 17 maart 2014

Sorry to say, but that is wrong.
Indeed, lithium metal reacts violently to water. However, Tesla's LiIon battery cells do not contain any lithium and neither do any of the currently available LiIon batteries. Instead, the lithium ions are nowadays stored in another substance (usually a lithium metal oxide).

As a further proof of that, consider Tesla's emergency response instructions where they advise fire workers to cool down the battery with as much water as possible in case of a battery rupture, to prevent thermal runaway.

Furthermore, the link and quote you post have nothing to do with lithium's reaction to water. It talks specifically about the electrolyte.

chrisdl | 17 maart 2014

From the emergency response guide (by Tesla Motors):
"If the high voltage battery becomes involved in fire or is bent, twisted, damaged, or breached in any way, or if you suspect that the battery is heating, use large amounts of water to cool the battery. DO NOT extinguish fire with a small amount of water. Always establish or request an additional water supply."

Emphasis done by me.

Your turn ;-)

chrisdl | 17 maart 2014

Oh, and Lithium oxide is non-flammable. (Sorry, couldn't help myself; I still had to say that.)
Stop spreading FUD, people. You're not the only one, Conroy. This is not directly aimed at you.

Czech | 17 maart 2014

@ conroy
First off I serve on nuclear submarines and no we do not have the fancy extinguishers that you speak of. The way we fight a class D fire is ideally jettison over board but on a submarine that is near impossible so next step is copious amounts of water essentially you are not putting the fire out you are just cooling it until it goes out. Then secondly we do not fight battery fires with anything we do the opposite actually we shut all ventilation and air supply’s to the battery well and suffocate it. | 17 maart 2014

@conroy - Also can you identify the source where you say Elon had verbal attacks on firefighters? I've been following Tesla closely for 4-5 years, and never heard or seen a video of Elon attacking firefighters. It seems so wildly out of place to what I've seen of Elon.

wcalvin | 17 maart 2014

Apropos the Kent WA first fire, Tesla's press release bent over backward to avoid mentioning that firefighters had done the wrong thing in drilling three holes in the battery pack in the time before that video camera came on the scene.

chrisdl | 17 maart 2014

I must say, I love this :-)
It must be my masochist self, I know.
I didn't even realize I attacked your person, Conroy. You almost make me wish that I did.
Hang on, I have one: How old are you? 16?

AmpedRealtor | 17 maart 2014

@ Conroy - Your advice directly contradicts Tesla's first responder instructions that are posted clearly and on a very bright, yellow sticker under my hood.

I think it would be advisable to follow Tesla's instructions over those of someone in an online forum, especially when it comes to first responder issues, fires, etc. Conroy, if you feel that Tesla's instructions are incorrect, perhaps you should share your wealth of knowledge and expertise on the subject with Tesla's engineers. I'm sure they're all ears. | 17 maart 2014

@Conroy - Thanks for the link. I now see it was the poster you cited that made the inflammatory statement not Elon. Elon's statement was far more eloquent and reasonable. From an unedited portion of Elon's actual blog at

"When the fire department arrived, they observed standard procedure, which was to gain access to the source of the fire by puncturing holes in the top of the battery's protective metal plate and applying water. For the Model S lithium-ion battery, it was correct to apply water (vs. dry chemical extinguisher), but not to puncture the metal firewall, as the newly created holes allowed the flames to then vent upwards into the front trunk section of the Model S. Nonetheless, a combination of water followed by dry chemical extinguisher quickly brought the fire to an end."

I guess the question we all have here is why you are posting. Obviously you hate Elon, Tesla and the Model S.

Salute | 17 maart 2014

@Conroy seems to have an ax to grind which unfortunately discredits his comments. He may have valid points, or he maybe blowing smoke, but given his ranting its hard to accept the first.

AmpedRealtor | 17 maart 2014

Time to start flagging... another troll on our hands. Great!

Czech | 17 maart 2014

@ conroy
I am currently serving in the United States Navy and I never said we use any water in combating a battery fire and I also agree with you that adding water to a sealed space that could flash to steam would build pressure but as pressure in the compartment rises the temperature needed to make steam also rises. You don’t have to worry about oxygen and hydrogen building up in an open atmosphere such as the road versus the closed atmosphere of a submarine. I also agree that the practice of sealing the battery compartment is to protect the crew from toxic gases it also because we do not carry enough dry chemical to fight a battery fire and there is not enough access to fight it. On top of that the dry chemical extinguisher we have is extremely corrosive to electrical equipment and if we had a fire then there would be no way we could possibly salvage anything but if we suffocate the fire then we have the possibly to suppress the fire until it goes out then salvage cell that may not have been damaged.

NKYTA | 17 maart 2014

Where is mclary when you actually need him? ;-)

AmpedRealtor | 17 maart 2014

I agree that the forum needs better moderation, and better protection from hot heads who have axes to grind and jump on any little thing just to give Tesla or Musk a black eye. If you are a Model S owner, have been damaged by what you feel is a safety issue, then I would encourage you to file an NHTSA complaint. However, I suspect that none of the above applies to you. You are just here to cause trouble and incite. Please re-read your own posts, which actually began the hostile tone of attack.

Let's see... here we have Tesla Motors, a $30B company who designed the car from the ground up including the battery pack, giving first responders specific instructions on how to extinguish a battery fire. Then we have Conroy who is quoting media reports and internet voodoo, trying to say that Tesla has it wrong and that Tesla is lying to the public.

Let me please direct all of y'all (speaking Conroy's language) to something called Occam's Razor:'s_razor

So who is more likely to be correct, Conroy or Tesla? I rest.

chrisdl | 17 maart 2014

I see only one hostile, uncivilized, bigoted person here who resorts to name calling because, probably, he or she finds no other way to win.

Mathew98 | 17 maart 2014

Can we see the reincarnation of smith001 for who he really is? Just flag away the bonehead already.

kback | 17 maart 2014

@AmpedRealtor +1

Conroy - go away, you're not wanted here. Find somewhere else to post your inaccurate and inflammatory garbage.

Salute | 17 maart 2014

Its a little funny that @Conroy wants a better moderated forum when he/she would be the person booted.

chrisdl | 17 maart 2014

Inaccurate is giving her too much credit. She has no f-ing clue what she's talking about. People like her are the worst: they collect a bunch of "facts" from the press or where ever suits them and then use those to "prove" their right. What she said is so full of holes that you can fly a jumbo jet through it.

It's been a while since we had a real troll here.
Too bad the forum isn't moderated. Tesla, if you're reading this, do us a favor and revoke her account.

AmpedRealtor | 17 maart 2014

and now Conroy.

The tactics are the same. Agreed that the forum should be better moderated. We are tired of having to wade ankle deep through troll droppings.

Bighorn | 17 maart 2014

Conroy seems eerily familiar with the pre-emptive troll calling. She needs to go.

EmperorTytus | 17 maart 2014

I flagged several convoy posts. But I've never seen anything happen as a result. Does the post disappear after X number of flaggings? What is X?

Brian H | 17 maart 2014

Who's convoy?

SCCRENDO | 17 maart 2014

@amped. I agree. We have been on these boards for a while and suddenly out of the blue Conroy now appears. Seems to have a lot of vitriole against Tesla. While we don't all have to be hero worshipers on this forum his comments do seem to have some agenda. Conroy many of us suspect you to be a troll. If you are a real owner why don't you post your vin in a private forum otherwise many are just going to start flagging your posts and get you removed.

triss1 | 18 maart 2014


Your initial position seems to have been that water was dangerous to apply to the battery, as the lithium could explode:

I would hope Tesla's batteries resist water as much as reasonably possible. If water penetrates the battery cells, there is a likelihood of fire or explosion. Lithium batteries can react violently to water. Emergency responders have to take special precautions when fighting lithium fires, as water can flare up the flames and produce toxic fumes when combined with lithium batteries.

You then switched to talking about fire extinguishers on nuclear submarines and lithium chemistry. When both of those were shown to be wrong, you switched to the dangers of hydrogen, oxygen and steam.

In your last substantive post you quote a news report:

"In an incident report released under Washington state's public records law, firefighters wrote that they appeared to have Tuesday's fire under control, but the flames reignited. Crews found that water seemed to intensify the fire, so they began using a dry chemical extinguisher.

After dismantling the front end of the vehicle and puncturing holes in the battery pack, responders used a circular saw to cut an access hole in the front section to apply water to the battery, according to documents. Only then was the fire extinguished."

The second paragraph that you quoted makes it very clear that the fire department applied water to the battery. The battery did not explode--not from lithium reaction, hydrogen, oxygen or steam. The water may have initially intensified the fire, but it also eventually put out the fire. You have proven your own initial point incorrect.

When you find yourself in a hole, the first step to getting out is to stop digging.

chrisdl | 18 maart 2014

:-) I like that. I really didn't have the energy to reply anymore. So, thank you.