My Tesla Model 3 Taken Out By A Seized Fast Charge Contactor

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Why is it that, typically whenever you attain a milestone and you might be actually blissful about it, issues go unhealthy afterwards? I not too long ago wrote a review of my Tesla Model 3 reaching 100,000 miles, with detailed TCO (Complete Price of Possession), and I stick by the conclusion that this automotive is wonderful. Nevertheless, what I assumed was a superb previous worn out 12-volt battery problem (leading to my automotive having to be towed to the service middle and keep there for a number of days) was really one thing completely totally different.

Since I so not too long ago wrote in regards to the automotive, I owe you this little story of what occurred subsequent. I by no means heard of this fault earlier than, so it’s in everybody’s curiosity to know it might probably occur — to any EV actually. I can’t blame Tesla for being a bit gradual on the service facet when it clearly prioritizes scheduled service. I get that. Communication through the app was efficient, however every week continues to be a very long time to attend. You actually know what you’ve gotten whenever you don’t have it. Which really simply tells you what an ideal product we’re coping with right here.

Journey to Copenhagen for a gathering. 330 km (205 miles). Chilly climate 3°C (37°F). Begin out with a recent nightly cost to 100% indicating a spread of 460 km (286 miles). Actual vary on motorway the entire journey at speeds between 100–130 km/h (62–81 mph) and at this low temperature is about 350 km (217 miles).

First cease at 230 km (143 miles) at V2 Supercharger for quarter-hour, leading to an emptied bladder and loads of vary to succeed in the vacation spot and again to this specific spot. Upon reaching my vacation spot, the navigation was solely off by 3 minutes.

Going again within the afternoon, I made a decision to succeed in a V3 Supercharge nearer to house. Vary was all the way down to 14 km (7 miles) at arrival, and the automotive charged actually quick. Began out at 254 kW, and after a toilet and occasional cease within the mall on the website of no more that 20 minutes, I used to be good to go along with 80% SOC (State Of Cost). However then…

“Can’t cost — disconnect and take a look at once more.” Picture by Jesper Berggreen.

I used to be unable to launch the cost plug and the cost indicator went crimson. The show mentioned “Unable to cost, launch plug and take a look at once more. (BMS_a174)” (My translation from Danish). OK, so I needed to do the manual release positioned up on the left by the trunk opening. Now, with the plug out, a brand new error appeared: “Charging is deactivated by guide launch, shut cost port and take a look at once more (CP_a035).” However the cost port had closed, so we the place now in a state of affairs the place the automotive had misplaced the notion of its personal elements.

At this level I attempted to drive, however was advised “Cost port must be closed to drive (BMS_a167),” which it was, after which a extra cryptic “Cost port can’t open with activated brake, launch brake pedal and take a look at once more (VCFRONT_a563).” Solely after a few restarts (maintain each scroll buttons on steering wheel for a number of seconds to make automotive restart itself), was I capable of drive, however with the messages of cost port being open (BMS_a167 and CP_a035) combating for display actual property the remainder of the way in which house.

Arriving house, the automotive wouldn’t take cost from my Tesla wall charger, it had a crimson cost gentle on the port with “Can’t cost (BMS_a063)” on the touchscreen, and it included some extra messages like “Management unit for local weather management wants service (VCFRONT_a447)” and “Electrical system unable to assist all features (VCFRONT_a192).”

I googled a bit, and I attempted to show off the automotive for a couple of minutes from the service menu after which wake it by urgent the brake pedal. No distinction. One suggestion was to depart the automotive in a single day with the cost plug in and hope it’d magically have come to its senses within the morning.

Nicely, the subsequent morning I discovered a message on my telephone despatched from the automotive at 4:00 am: “12 volt battery wants alternative, schedule service now.” Okay, that explains the automotive being confused, however too late — I discovered the automotive lifeless in my driveway, unresponsive to something, cost plug caught within the automotive. I used to be not even capable of open any doorways.

The hidden wires to use 12 volts to for emergency opening the frunk. Picture by Jesper Berggreen.

Now, be warned, the web is a blessing, as a result of you could find options to just about something, and I did. I discovered all of the directions on how you can open the frunk to get to the battery, however I did nothing. Why? As a result of at this level, if I made a single mistake and destroyed something, I’m certain my insurance coverage wouldn’t be blissful, particularly realizing that I’ve roadside help. So, I stored my arms behind my again and watched the good man with the tow truck do his factor.

Jumpstarting the 12-volt battery. Can keep on for lead-acid, however solely 20 seconds for li-ion! Picture by Jesper Berggreen.

Spoiler alert: It turned on the market was nothing fallacious with the 12V battery. Good factor I didn’t attempt to change it myself….

Responding to my enquiry about this, I’m advised by Tesla service that they can not promise the automotive might be prepared this week, however they are going to do what they’ll and let me know Friday. That is the purpose at which I really feel it has been some time with no progress and little data on the explanation for the breakdown.

8:30 am I get a message on the app that the automotive is prepared for pickup. The connected bill states {that a} Fast Charge Contactor assembly for the High Voltage Battery has been changed. I paid DKK 3,480 ($504) for the restore and picked up the automotive — after opening hours, so I didn’t get the possibility to speak to anybody.

This raises the query: Why did I get the “12 volt battery wants alternative, schedule service now” message? I’ve requested this query within the publish service suggestions kind to Tesla, however I don’t count on a solution aside from within the line of: Prognosis was carried out, faulty elements changed (that means the 12-volt battery continues to be superb).

My principle is that, as I had the automotive plugged within the night time it died, it might repeatedly attempt to provoke cost in useless because of the seized up quick cost contactor, thus draining the 12-volt battery to the purpose the place it might warn me it wanted changed. And because it was a freezing chilly night time, the voltage dropped so low the automotive finally shut down. Any concepts? And most significantly, can I depend on the automotive giving me the 12-volt lead-acid battery warning in due time, or ought to it’s changed preemptively each, say, 5 years?

Keep in mind, Mannequin 3s manufactured at Giga Shanghai earlier than roughly October 2021, and within the Fremont manufacturing facility earlier than roughly December 2021, are geared up with a lead-acid 12-volt battery (nominal voltage is definitely nearer to 14 volts). Since then, they’re geared up with a small lithium-ion battery (with a nominal voltage nearer to 16 volts), which supposedly lasts so much longer. Goes for Mannequin Y too I suppose.

However why would a contactor seize up within the first place? Nicely, I’m no skilled, however a lot of causes come to thoughts: Normal put on, in order that the surfaces within the contactor supplies can’t attain one another. Moisture, making transferring elements erode and get caught. Small sparks finally welding contactor surfaces collectively. Low voltage coils failure. I imply, I’ve seen many 12-volt contactors on my previous vehicles and motorbikes fail through the years, so it’s not like a very new problem. It’s simply actually annoying when it occurs.

Since plenty of used Teslas are operating up great mileage around the globe, I simply thought this specific incidence could possibly be of curiosity — to any EV proprietor, really. It additionally goes to indicate that error messages typically are a results of one thing totally totally different failing. So, sure, EVs break down too, however I nonetheless imagine ICEVs are extra fragile attributable to many extra potential factors of failure.

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