New Home Charging System

Just after I returned home with a new set of tires, my charging system failed.  If I plugged the connector inIMG_7072 I got an orange light at the charge port.  I plugged it in several times to no success. 

I’ve been charging on an odd system.  The original Roadster home charger connected to a Roadster to Model S cable.   The pricey orange connector costs $600 and failed several years ago – fortunately just days before its warranty expired.  These orange cables are no longer listed on the Tesla website, but I suspected this was the problem. 

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After a little more investigation, you can see that the pin to the right is a bit off center.  In reality the pin is quite loose, and moves around to the touch.

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I have been charging the car with 110 while waiting for an electrician to visit.  My first answer was to simply replace the Roadster system with a 220 outlet.  I knew I had 220 already in the garage feeding the Roadster outlet.  So I assumed this was an easy swap out. 

Unfortunately, the initial electrician DID NOT save the neutral wire.  They cut it off!  There was not enough space, so they just sliced it off.  So the simple 220 solution would not work as they would need a neutral wire to put in a conventional outlet, as many other devices need the ground wire. 

Fortunately, the Tesla wall charger does not require a neutral.  So I had two options according to the Tesla certified installer:

  1. Rewire this line with a new cable, which was not going to be cheap.  The line itself is very long.  Pay for both a very long new electrical cable and installation.  Or they could on both sides of the long wire patch in something to the cut off ground wire.
  2. Swap in a Tesla home charger.

Either option ended up being the same price, because of the cost of rewiring the house would in a sense pay for the Wall Charger.  Hourly electrician rates are very pricey here, and I’m well a terrible negotiator.  The Tesla Wall Charger has three advantages:  a separate cable other than my mobile charging cable – which I like to have in the car “just in case”, a longer cable which would be helpful in my large garage, and faster charging (not required but convenient).

Fixing the house wiring has the advantage of less technology always means less problems, and perhaps more stable in the long run.  But I decided the convenience of a charger slightly outweighed that difference.

If I had known ahead of time that the first electrician made a mess of this, I would have saved money and ordered the Tesla Wall Connector myself and then the electrician would have charged me a lot less labor time.

If anyone has a use for old but functioning Roadster chargers I now have two.  The one I used for many years, and one that they delivered to me with the car but I never touched and is still in  the original box.

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New Hankook Tires

Thank you to those who helped me make a decision on new tires for my 19” rims.  I decided to go with the Hankook tires.  

There were an abundance of reasons:

  1. None of the tires I have owned on the car overwhelmed me with being fantastic in handling or longevity.
  2. Tesla seriously considered Hankook to be the tires for the Model 3.
  3. Only one tire, the Michelin Primacy had the hope of getting more mileage out of my car.  They cost significantly more with a 45,000 mile warranty.  But I thought it would be likely the same price in the end as I know I’d never get that kind of mileage.  Warranties can often be a hassle.pricing.jpg
  4. The tire rack reviews for the Hankook seem fine.  California (except for a few months) does not get very much rain, so my performance focus was for dry pavement which the Hankook results are very close to the Michelins.reviews.jpg
  5. A strong endorsement from a responder to my last post.
  6. My local installer thinks Hankook is a good brand and puts them on a fair amount of other cars.
  7. Why not give this brand a try.

I am going to try to be more diligent about checking my tire pressure.  I have to do it manually as my Model S is six years old.

Need New Tires – 23,000 on 19’s

My car is approaching 88,000 miles and I knew it was time to have my tires rotated at a minimum.  My local tire mechanic unfortunately gave me the bad news that I need 4 new tires.  He said the tires were close to bald on the inside, but safe enough to drive for another week or two.

My car has had gone through a lot of tires.  This set will be the 5th set of tires along with two tires that were replaced because they had dangerous leaks, and two simpler nail repairs.

At 65,000 miles, I decided to change the 21” rims for 19” rims at a net cost of $985.  The price was so reasonable because Tesla gave me a 50% goodwill discount.  The car had been earlier plagued by horrific toe issues.  I still get more inside wear on the tires, but the wear is not anywhere as near as severe as in years past.  The good news is I have no curb rash on my 19″ rims, and the alignment has remained steady.

When I had 21” wheels, the four tire sets averaged 16,400 miles each.  This new set of tires with the 19” wheels has lasted me 23,000 miles.  I was hoping for more mileage, and I still cannot fathom that other owners can have tires that last 50,000 miles!  

I don’t drive particularly aggressively, or maybe I do and am unaware that others accelerate very gently???  The only thing that is perhaps unusual is the slope of the streets in the neighborhood is quite severe and very difficult to ride a bike up.  I have a close neighbor who just got a Model 3, so I’ll watch with keen interest when he needs new tires.

What is the most long lasting tire for the 19” rims?  The Michelin Pilot Sport 3 ($218)? Michelin Primacy MXM4 with a 45,000 mile warranty ($218)?  Yokohama Avid Ascend GT ($196)? Goodyear Eagle RS-A2 ($140)?  

Any advice is very appreciated!

A Nice Ding

In October 2016, I was at a restaurant on the coast with a very small parking lot.  After dinner I came out to the Tesla and found the following note.  The person even knew that my name is “owner”.

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The ding on my car was quite small and the only real way to repair it would be to get some touch up paint.  So I ordered the touch up paint, and the kind doctor who dinged my car sent me a check for the paint.

As I’m sure with many people, getting around to small unimportant tasks like fixing a ding in your car may take months before being executed, I had the little container of paint in my junk drawer in the kitchen.  Overtime after that junk door was opened, a chemical smell came out of it.  It took me a while to figure out that this little jar of paint truly reeked.  I moved the touch up paint to somewhere in my garage.  I have to admit now a year and a half later, I have yet to “repair” the tiny ding, or even notice its existence.

We are having so much political turmoil in the United States, and climate change is exacerbating the wildfires here in California.  In order to balance the news, I thought a post of such a considerate gesture on the part of a stranger was a good idea.

New Driver Door Handle Motor

A few days ago, I went to drive away, and alas I could not open the door.  The door handles all presented themselves, but the driver door would not open.  When I first got my low VIN car, my doors were haunted and opened by themselves.  Five years later, the driver door motor just wore out.

Door Handle Presents Itself But Door Won’t Open

I went to the passenger side rear door and it opened just fine.

I called Tesla and they confirmed that my driver door was stuck, and I made an appointment to have a mobile service person come to my home.

Using the Car with a Broken Door Handle

I had a few days between the break and the service appointment.  A few earlier appointments were available, but none that were particularly convenient.  So in the meantime, I still wanted to drive the car.

There are at least five ways to get into your car by yourself when you can’t open the passenger door listed in the order of the most amusing to the most convenient:

  1. Open the sunroof, crawl onto the roof, and drop down.
  2. Get into the passenger seat, and hurl yourself over to the driver’s seat.
  3. Get into the back seat, and manipulate the seat and your arms to open the front door.
  4. Get into the passenger seat, open the driver side door, leave the car, and hope that the door did not shut itself if you are parked at any angle (like parallel on a street).
  5. Get into the passenger seat, roll down the driver side door window, leave the car, and open the driver side door.

I only tried the last 3 methods.  I know as a teen I had crawled over from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat in a vehicle and found it harder than it looks.  Trying to open the door didn’t work as well as it sounds as the door tended to close itself.  The best way by far was to just open the window from the passenger seat, walk around the car to the driver’s side,  and easily open the door through the open window.

Service Call

The professional and friendly mechanic showed up in a Tesla promptly on time.  The total cost to replace one door handle motor is $740.  Unfortunately my car is out of warranty and I had to pocket the cost.  The service is the same price whether you take your car into the service center or have the more convenient mobile service fix your vehicle.

The actual service takes about one hour.

Mobile Service with a Tesla Model S

Unique Door Handles and Motors

I have a cheap streak and was contemplating moving one of the passenger seat door handle motors to the front seat.  I didn’t think I would do it at this stage, but I could imagine that if the car was much older, having a non-functioning back seat door opener would perhaps be acceptable.

Turns out, all four door handles are unique and all four motors in the door handle are unique!  Because of slight differences in the shapes, the plastic around the motor encasing is different.

Summary

I like the convenience of the mobile service; perhaps even more than the convenient valet service that sporadically occurs now.  I hope my new motor will last longer than 5 years.

Service – “Number 6”

My Model S is five years old and quickly approaching 80,000. My ICE and all of my other cars for the last 20 plus years give you little warnings “time for service” on the dash. I’ve often found these warnings to be a bit annoying, but I’ve been a bit trained to expect them. I sort of figured it was about time and took it in last week.

Tesla has two types of annual service inspections: odd numbered and even numbered. The odd numbered services: 1, 3, 5 etc… are lighter services, and the even numbered ones are more substantial. The prices for the Model S and Model X vary also $475 for the odd year services and $725 – $850 for the even number services.  When I bought the car, I did purchase a maintenance plan that was packaged at the time as a “four year service plan”.

As I have documented in detail on the blog, my car has been in for numerous times for issues with the 21” wheels and some other issues. Somehow my car was serviced at Year 1, Year 2 and Year 4 but I skipped the Year 3 and Year 5 service. I purchased the “4-Year Maintenance Plan” but the fine terms were never very clear to me. Technically the plan expired last month, but my service advisor permitted me to get the service done as part of the pre-purchased package. A friendly dashboard or email reminder that the plan was about to expire from Tesla would have been greatly appreciated.

Because of my well documented hassles with the 21” wheels, I did get a free 2 year 25,000 mile warranty plan. Luckily I did because I had my touchscreen replaced during that period. Now, I am driving the car with no warranty, and no maintenance plan. Because I had an extended warranty even for only two years, there is no option for me to extend my warranty any further.

Service Plans and Regular Service?

A question from this time forward is how often I should be servicing my Model S and in what manner.

Lets look in detail what happens at the less expensive odd year $475 services:

1. Key fob battery replacement
2. Wiper blade set replacement
3. Tire rotation
4. Wheel alignment check
5. Multi-point inspection

Key Fob Battery Replacement

I appreciate that the battery replacement is part of the service, but this task is quite easy to do on your own and is well documented.

Replacing Wiper Blades

Replacing wiper blades is an easy task. You can buy the wipers online, and easily install them in less than 10 minutes. This video is a good description of how to do it yourself.

Tire Management

Rotating tires, aligning the wheels, and buying new tires are somewhat generic tasks. I have a fabulous garage within walking distance of my home. I also order my tires through the internet instead of buying them through a garage or Tesla. So for any of these tasks, unless there is extenuating circumstances, I do not plan on doing tire work through Tesla. I’m so thrilled I bought 19” wheels to replace the 21” wheels. They now have 15,000 miles on them and have worn very evenly with all specifications at an even 5/32 across the board! Most likely in 6 months I’ll take them in to the local shop to have them rotated and replaced if necessary.

Multi-point Inspection

The most nebulous thing on the shorter maintenance is the multi-point inspection. I think for the most part these are done with just daily use of the car. You would notice if a door stopped opening, or the horn did not honk. Perhaps it is nice that they check these but seems really unnecessary every 12,500 miles.  Here is the full list of what is included in the multi-point inspection.

  1. Pulled logs and checked for active faults. Are there any active faults that the car would not warn you about that would only be found at a service center?
  2. Checked firmware version. Updated to the latest version.
  3. Performed function check of closures (moving glass, doors, trunks): Cleaned and lubricated latches.
  4. Tested and inspected charging with shop’s cable.
  5. Remoteless Keyless Entry
  6. Seat belts and latches
  7. Interior/ exterior lighting and horn
  8. Performed inspection of powertrain and chassis components.
  9. Checked fluid levels:  topped off washer fluid.  Brake and coolant levels optimal.

In summary, I can replace my fob battery, and windshield wipers if needed by myself. I’ll get my tires rotated down the street. I can top off my washer fluid, and I’m okay not having the powertrain and brake and coolant levels checked that often.  I’m more than comfortable skipping the multi-point inspection. So I have no plans to take my car in for service 7.

Even year maintenance

The even year maintenance, or once every 25,000 miles performs all the above operations plus ones that I would not do myself, and seem important enough.

1. A/C desiccant bag replacement
2. Battery coolant replacement (only every 50,000 miles)
3. Brake fluid replacement
4. Cabin air filter replacement

Conclusion

I’ll wait for about 8,000 miles and have my tires rotated. I’ll skip the odd numbered maintenance at Tesla, and wait around 25,000 miles for a regular maintenance.
So at around 105,000 miles I’ll have service 8 done, and I’ll pay it out of my pocket for $850.

Drive Unit Failure

Unlike most other early Model S drivers, my Tesla hummed along without any drive unit failure for 71,000 miles.  For a few months it had a very small whine, but other than that was quiet as can be.  I know the very early rotors like mine were machined by hand.  The drive unit is covered by an 8 year unlimited mile warranty.

But one late afternoon while driving up a steep hill, the Tesla ground down to a quick halt without any warning.  Fortunately this hill is my own long street with little traffic.  I tried to drive the car forward to no avail.  The car made 3 different spurious click clack and whirling sounds, and I quickly knew my drive unit was gone.  I tried to punch it three times before rolling back down closer to the curb to call Tesla.

At first Tesla could not confirm the drive unit failure because it had not yet reported its demise to the cloud.  We restarted the touchscreen, and then the failure was apparent.  A toe truck was called and I fortunately could walk home and wait the hour.

Tesla service fixed my car in only a few days to my surprise.  They also rotated my 19” wheels which are holding up well.  I also never had to set foot in the service center, which I appreciate a lot.  They simply valeted my car back.

The only fault with the service was that they did not automatically send me my service record.  I like to have a “written” electronic record.  I don’t have a great memory for details such as mileage, dates, and names, and I need a record to check when to rotate my wheels. The lack of service record was minor but it was enough to not give a glowing report on survey.  I subsequently received my service record.

I have kept most of my cars about 10-12 years.  I run them to the ground usually until they are not worth fixing anymore.  I am very happy with the Model S except its width, and I just don’t see any upcoming reason to replace it in the near future.  I suspect if my drive unit fails after the 8 year warranty, replacing the drive unit may not make financial sense, and then I might get a new car.  The cost to replace a drive unit at this point is unknown but could be quite significant.