Bluetooth Problem Fixed

Over the years I have experienced various minor problems with the bluetooth connection between my Tesla Model S and my IPhone 5.

The problems were very intermittent and at some point after being connected, the two stopped speaking to each other.  The difficulty with the problem was that there was no easy solution while driving.  I would reboot the touchscreen (holding both scroll steering wheel buttons down), reboot the center dash (holding both top steering wheel buttons down), and reboot (power down) the iPhone or clear the memory (power down button and home button) on the Iphone.  About 50% of the time, rebooting everything allowed the connection to restore immediately but sometimes I had to wait and run through the process again when it was more convenient.

It can be a little strange to drive while rebooting these screens.  They both go blank and you have no indication of your speed while driving.  For a short period of time the climate control is off and you will notice the minor difference in sound. The car still functions just fine, and I have rebooted the screens many times now and it feels normal.

When I went in for service for other issues, I would often mention my bluetooth issue, and the service department would look at it but could not reproduce my problem. At one point in my career I had to reproduce intermittent problems. Intermittent problems are always hard to reproduce, and software issues can rarely be fixed before they are reproduced.

I was told to not leave the phone in the pocket below the touchscreen or in the lower pockets in my cargo pants where I frequently keep my phone.  These locations below the touchscreen have a fair amount of interference. After these instructions, I drove either with the phone in the door pocket, in the back of my center console, or on the passenger seat.  But the problem still cropped up from time to time.  Since the problem was infrequent enough, I let it go until I started to get some warnings.  One error was on the dash (sorry the photo is so blurry) that said “Touchscreen Needs Service”.

Touchscreen Needs Service

Touchscreen Needs Service

The second message occurred a few weeks later on the touch screen “Bluetooth Not Functioning Correctly – Needs Service”.

Bluetooth Not Functioning Correctly Needs Service

Bluetooth Not Functioning Correctly Needs Service

I have learned over the years that the first thing I do with an unusual warning before rebooting the screens is to call or email Tesla.  They call pull the logs on the car and hopefully find the cause of my problems.

Since the car was now acknowledging its issues, the service department decided to look at my bluetooth issues again.(Other than the bluetooth, they checked the seatbelt pre-tensioners on the voluntary recall and they were fine)

In the vehicle and diagnostic logs, they did find an internal fault in the touchscreen.

“We’ve reopened your concern with our engineers and we will be replacing your touchscreen. With this replacement unit, you should have better connectivity with your bluetooth. The updated touchscreen has a built-in extended bluetooth antenna that your old touchscreen did not have. “

I’ve driven a couple of thousand miles since this service with no bluetooth problems.   I have been using my phone a lot more than I normally do as I need to answer calls for a volunteer gig this winter.  I also drove down to San Diego and listened an entire audiobook from the Iphone.

I was lucky my car was still under a warranty program as this touchscreen is a $5,000 part.  Very few owners have reported bluetooth issues on the forums so I don’t think this problem is widespread.

I think my car has had more problems than average, but I have an early VIN.  But I have also have gotten full valet service and the opportunity to test drive a lot of fabulous loaner cars!

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Service and Warranty

I have blogged about the Tesla service several times over the years.  I have found the service personnel very courteous and have given them in general high reviews as do other owners, who do not have a visible presence in the internet world.

My car went in again for service recently and I drove a 85 loaner with 19” wheels, coil suspension, parking sensors and a parcel shelf.

Ding on Loaner Vehicle

Ding on Loaner Vehicle

What was interesting about my recent service experience is that for the first time they are checking both vehicles for door dings and paint issues.  The valet said that some customers have complained about the clear coat leaving marks from rain spots.  This year has been so dry, outside of some freak summer rain in the early hours, I haven’t thought about rain.  The loaner with about 500 miles on it actually had a significant ding on the front of the car.

Car Needs Service

Car Needs Service

Unfortunately during my service, my loaner vehicle had a failure on the last day.  With the new firmware 5.12 on the loaner, I got a generic warning “Car Needs Service”.  The car was still completely drivable but the main screen was not responsive to touch and could not be rebooted.

Used Only 314 kWh/mile While Driving the Loaner

Used Only 314 kWh/mile While Driving the Loaner

A number of smart buyers are buying these loaner vehicles in order to get faster delivery and a slightly less expensive car.  I think buying a loaner from Tesla is a good option.  Surprisingly when I had this loaner, I drove it at only 314 Wh/mi, which is the lowest value I have ever driven since hypermiling in Utah.  In these 125 miles, I did only 20 miles of freeway driving and most of the miles were on boring and busy city streets.  Since the loaners are almost the identical car that one already owns, there is no reason to go on a joy ride.

Parcel Shelf

Parcel Shelf

I did notice the slight difference of the coil suspension and the 19” wheels but still found the loaner configuration a very nice option for someone who wants to save money in both the purchase and the tire wear.  This loaner was the first car with a parcel shelf, which I liked more than expected.  It was unobtrusive and easily hides things in the trunk — even if all you are hiding is reusable grocery bags.

Today I was very excited that they extended the warranty on the 85kWh model S for the drive unit to 8 years and infinite miles.  A number of owners had experienced issues with the drive units including another blogger, Dan Edmunds.  Many of these issues were relatively minor such as noise during acceleration.  Since the drive unit is sealed, the entire drive unit is replaced.  Today, Elon Musk made this warranty announcement including that it is retroactive for all Model S 85kWh vehicles!

Failed Power Adapter

Adapter Splayed Out on Garage Floor

Adapter Splayed Out on Garage Floor

In this blog, I have documented every small issue I have had with my Teslas.  I recently experienced another unusual issue, that I think could only effect a very small amount of Model S owners.  I have an uncommon setup where my high powered connector is the first Roadster version, and then I have an adapter from that plug to the Model S.  I chose to use an adapter instead of purchasing a new high powered wall connector. This setup had many benefits for me. The adapter was lower cost than a new high powered wall connector and is in effect an extension cord. I could still occasionally charge a Roadster at my home, and I did not have to hire an electrician.  There may be a very unusual case where I find a Roadster charge station while on the road, and I can charge my Model S from there using this adapter.  Everything had worked fine for about ten months.

Then one day late last year, I tried to plug my car in one day at home and struggled for a while. After a while of pulling it back and forth, I heard the audible click and the light changed at the port.

The next day when I got home, I struggled again with the same sequence.  I got to a strange point where the plug was physically connected to the car, but the Dashboard indicated that there was a problem with the connection.  I tried to jiggle the connection around a few times, and on the second day I simply could not even remove the cord from the car no matter how hard I pulled.  I played with it a few more times, and reboot the two screens.

Right Steering Column

Right Steering Column

To reboot the 17” display, you hold down both of the scroll bars on the steering wheel.  To reboot the speedometer display, you hold down both of the top buttons on each side of the steering wheel.

I was wondering if this was a problem with the new 5.8.4 software that I had just installed a few days earlier.  This software had an enhancement to watch for unexpected fluctuations in the input charge level due to bad house wiring.  A Tesla owner had a fire in the garage where their car was parked (the Tesla and connector were fine).  As a response to this incident, Tesla is sending all the owners of the Model S High Powered Wall Connectors new units with a thermal fuse.  The thermal fuse will prevent current from flowing if the wall socket region heats up for any reason.  I have no idea if my High Powered Wall Connector has a thermal fuse or not.  But after almost five years of use and a house that is less than ten years old, I am not concerned.

Vehicle Power - Power Off Button on Touch Screen

Vehicle Power Off

Neither of these two reboots worked.  I called the Tesla service number and the friendly person told me to reboot the main power also.  Rebooting the main power allowed me to remove the adaptor, but not charge the car.  Tesla could see that my car had an internal error about power.  Since I placed this call at night on a Sunday in the middle of the holiday season, the person on the phone could not find out any more information from the engineering department.

In the morning, I received a call back after the engineers looked at the car’s error logs.  A problem was detected in the physical adaptor cable.  That same day, I went to the service center and received a new cable free of charge as it was still under the one year warranty period.  I was told that my problem was a bit unusual, and the only suggestion they had was to not keep the cable wound tightly.  But I just keep the cable splayed out permanently in my garage as there is plenty of space.