What If My EV Dies in a Parking Garage?

Supporters of EVs will tell you that an electric car is just like regular a car. For the most part, they’re right. You step on the pedal on the right and the car goes, you turn the wheel and the car turns, and the only real difference is what kind of fuel goes in it. We say stuff like that all the time, in fact. If we’re being completely honest, though, that’s only mostly true. 99% of the time the only difference is what kind of fuel goes into the car, but that last one percent exists as well.

As EV owners and fans know well, electric cars are indeed much more fun due to their instant torque, and also benefit from the convenience of home charging. However, there are also things that can be confusing for newcomers. To provide explanations on such matters, we’ve launched a segment called “Electric Car FAQs” to answer those oddball questions that come up one percent of the time. Today’s question: What if my Tesla has a total electrical failure in a parking garage?

Seems Pretty Specific

Total electrical failure in a garage that tow trucks can’t fit in… day 3. Advice welcome. (Details in comment) from teslammotors

If this installment of Electric Car FAQs seems oddly specific, that’s because it is — but I’m calling this an “FAQ” because it’s been forwarded to me as some sort of EV gotcha no less than four times this week, and I think that merits a response.

If you haven’t seen it already, what happened is this: a Redditor using the handle u/mcscreamy recently posted about an absolute horror show they experienced, wherein the batteries in their 2017 Tesla Model S (both the normal 12V one and the big 400V one) gave up the ghost while the car was inside a low-clearance parking garage, effectively trapping it there for several days while various attempts at resetting, jumpstarting, and even pushing the vehicle failed.

The saga started last Friday, when mcscreamy drove their Tesla to work, as usual. “Friday morning, I drove into my work parking garage in my 2017 Model S,” they write. “There were about 80 miles left on the battery. I got a series of warnings about ‘electrical system’ and ‘suspension’ and then the screens went dark and that care stopped dead. Soft and hard resets to no avail. And of course, it won’t move since the wheels are locked.”

As many of our fellow Redditors pointed out, this sounds a lot like a 12V battery failure. Easy enough, right? Pull up our Electric Car FAQs post about jumpstarting your EV, do your thing, and away you go, right?

Well, not in this case. “We are able to get power using a jump box and I was able to put the car into tow mode but it still won’t move,” writes mcscreamy. “It says neutral but even with four guys pushing it we can’t move it at all.”

The Community Moves In

Several Redditors moved quickly to try to help u/mcscreamy, whose Tesla had turned into “a 5,000 brick blocking the main driving lane” of the parking garage. Several remedies were suggested and tried, with a number of tow companies bowing out to avoid harming their rigs, the garage, the Tesla, or all three (remember that “low clearance” comment from earlier?). A tow company “doesn’t want to put the car on dollys [sic] and take it out of the garage, because the turns are very tight and they don’t want to accept the liability.”

Once everyone agreed that the risk was worth the reward, the Model S was lifted onto wheel dollies and then, unexpectedly, the wheels began rolling. “I have no idea why, but too mode finally worked. I was able to roll it down the ramps and got it safely out of the garage and towed to the service center. I will update once they tell me what actually went wrong.”

Stuff Like This Happens

So, not a happy ending, not a bad ending. The car spent three days in the middle of a driving lane in a parking garage with some electrical gremlin that finally went away, and we’ll get some answers soon. If something like this happened with a Land Rover — and, believe me, it has — no one would bat an eye. But because the car in question is an electric car (a Tesla, at that), the internet’s ready army of gas-holes leaps into action and points to this one-in-a-million event as a reason to not buy an electric car .

Guys, I shouldn’t have to be the one to tell you this, but the guys driving the tow trucks are not always the most up to date on the latest OTA software updates, and their unwillingness to “give it a go” is hardly reserved for electric cars.

Case in point: the Mosler Intruder GT2.

Image courtesy Mosler Motorsports.

A long, long time ago, yours truly used to work for a company called Mosler Automotive. They had a run of notoriety in racing circles throughout the late 1980s and into the 2000s with a number of high-end, ultra fast, composite monocoque sports cars that were so much incredibly faster than you probably think they were. They were conventional in execution, powered by the ubiquitous small-block Chevy V8 that’s been in production since the 1950s. The cars were also long (the V8 intruder, above, had a 117″ wheelbase), low (not a lot of clearance under that front splitter), and rare.

So rare, in fact, that when we hired a flatbed truck to take that yellow car (it was called the Mosler Raptor, at that point) to the Miami Auto Show, the driver wouldn’t take the car. The reason? He didn’t want to accept the obligation.

We were a long way from social media at that point, but can you really imagine anyone seeing a story about a truck driver refusing to haul an exotic car because of the potential liability being a news story? Would you, as an EV proponent (that’s an assumption, but you’re on CleanTechnica and you’ve read this far, so I feel like it’s a good one) forward a story about a Jaguar that’s locked in park stuck in an airport parking garage to your friends who drive ICE cars as a gotcha?

Of course not, because you’re not a mental patient.

If you’re interested in learning more about the fate of u/mcscreamy’s Tesla, and what the actual problem turns out to be, you can check out the thread at this link, and I’ve copied their original post (below) in case that disappears. Enjoy!

Total electrical failure in a garage that tow trucks can’t fit in… day 3. Advice welcome. (Details in comment)

Friday morning, I drove into my work parking garage in my 2017 model S. There were about 80 miles left on the battery. I got a series of warnings about “electrical system” and “suspension” and then the screens went dark and that care stopped dead. Soft and hard resets to no avail. And of course, it won’t move since the wheels are locked.

I spent all day Friday trying to get a tow – with multiple companies coming to the lot and turning away because the ceilings are so low.

By the time I found a company that could make it in, the 12V had died (I assume) as the doors won’t even open and there is no response to the key fob.

But even the company that can fit doesn’t want to put the car on dollys and take it out of the garage, because the turns are very tight and they don’t want to accept the liability.

Today, day 3, they are suggesting we try to jump the battery and get the car moving (or at least rolling) under its own power to make it out of the garage. But I am not entirely hopeful, since the screens were dead BEFORE the 12V died, and I couldn’t get it into neutral then either.

I called Tesla, who said they could have a mobile tech come out (they think a fuse blew)… on March 4th. Needless to say my garage is not happy with my 5000 pound brick blocking the main driving lane.

Any advice greatly appreciated!

Edit: Thanks for the great advice! As some of you noted, wheel dollies would work, but the tow company is concerned that we’ll lose control going down the tight ramps. My plan is to first try to get some charge into the 12V and maybe get it into neutral so i can steer it down. If that doesn’t work, we’ll use wheel dollies to move it to a parking space and wait for the mobile tech to come on the 4th.

Edit 2: we are able to get power using a jump box and I was able to put the car into tow mode but it still won’t move. It says neutral but even with four guys pushing it we can’t move it at all. It feels like the emergency brake is still on.

Edit 3: despite getting into tow mode, the car will not move. And now the main screens are no longer turning on. Though there is some power because the door handles work and the windows roll up and down. So the plan is to get it on some dollies and just roll it into a parking spot. There might be a tow company with a low profile enough truck to get this to the service center. But they’re not currently available so I’ll be waiting… In the meantime, there’s still the hope of Tesla mobile service in 5 more days… Will update when I know what’s going on! Thank you for all of your help.

Edit 4: Well when we were putting the wheels on Dolly’s, they started spinning. I have no idea why, but too mode finally worked. I was able to roll it down the ramps and got it safely out if the garage and towed to the service center. I will update once they tell me what actually went wrong. Thanks again for your support!

Source: r/teslammotors.


 

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