Michael SimariCar and Driver
- Our long-term Model 3 left us stranded on Christmas Day.
- The service center diagnosed the problem as a short in the rear inverter and replaced the entire rear-motor assembly, along with the blown fuse and the 12-volt battery.
- In less than a week that included two holidays, our car is back up and running.
In case you haven’t kept up with your favorite automotive publication over the holidays, our long-term Model 3 left us stranded on Christmas Day and had to be towed from southeastern Michigan to the closest service center in Toledo, Ohio.
We now have a full explanation of what happened: There was a short in the rear inverter, which the vehicle detected, and it blew the pyrotechnic high-voltage fuse to prevent damage to the battery. As we mentioned in the earlier story, the car had been parked for about an hour and a half when this happened, and we were alerted to the problem by a push notification from the Tesla app. Which is better than not getting a notification, but, nevertheless, we were marooned quite unexpectedly.
Given the holidays, we expected that there could be a significant delay to getting our car serviced, but—we’re guessing this isn’t a coincidence—within about three hours of publishing our initial story, the service center got a whole lot more responsive than it was at first. After not responding to our initial request for alternative transportation, they now offered up a choice of a loaner car, a rental car, or $100 a day in Uber credits. So we headed over to our local Enterprise office, where the guy at the counter told us, “Tesla will cover basically anything on our lot,” and sent us away in a BMW 3-series.
At that point, the service center said the parts should arrive in a day, which was New Year’s Eve, and that the car would be ready by January 2. However, we got confirmation that the work was done late in the day on the 31st, but not in time for us to get there before they closed at 5 p.m. That reminds us how the Tesla service experience has changed over the years. Back when we had our long-term Model S in 2015 and 2016, the service center would pick up and drop off our car, but now the car must be dropped off and picked up by the owner, and they’ll only truck it in if it can’t be driven, as in our recent case with the Model 3. So we made the roughly one-hour trek down to Toledo and back today; Tesla handles returning the rental car.
To fix our issue, the service center replaced the entire rear-motor assembly, along with the blown fuse and the 12-volt battery, which had been run down. In addition, the underbody aero shield, which was damaged by the tow-truck operator getting the car on or off the flatbed, was replaced, and they did a four-wheel alignment. In under a week that included two holidays, our car is back up and running.
It’s unclear why it took nearly three months and 5300 miles of driving for the short to present itself, but we hope we’re now in the clear.