Tesla Service: A 5 Star Yelp Review
Given the number of electrons wasted on Elon Musk’s recent joke to give JP Morgan a one star Yelp review, I’m going to write a review of our incredible Tesla Service experience from a couple of years ago.
An X-cellent Loaner
It was August 2017. I noticed that the steering wheel was out of alignment on our 2014 Model S 85. The Google parking lot has a lot of speed bumps. I probably drove over one at a weird angle and whacked the steering alignment. I scheduled a service appointment so Tesla could fix it. It should be a pretty simple ordeal.
My wife took the car in while I was at work. She calls me and says that Tesla’s diagnostics detected something wrong with the main 85kW battery. They do not recommend we drive it. They will hold it to troubleshoot the battery, and in the mean time, they have a Model X 90 loaner that we can borrow.
Cool, I thought. We cancelled our Signature Model X reservation from years ago. It’d be fun to have one for an extended test drive. Of course, we tried out the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Easter egg right away!
The very next day, we got a call back from Tesla. Can we bring it back? Someone just bought it.
The Story Gets Ludicrous
My wife drives the X back to Tesla Service, and they have a Model X 75 ready for us. The science nerds in the crowd might remember, there was a solar eclipse on August 21 in 2017, and it was passing through the Pacific NW. We had booked a viewing event at the Evergreen Museum in McMinnville, OR.
A Model X 75 has a range of 230 miles, 35 miles less than our S. We didn’t want to deal with range anxiety on this trip, so Allyson asked the service rep if they had a longer range X. Turns out they did. They had a low mileage Model X P100D with ludicrous mode!
For those that don’t speak Tesla Model numbers, the P100D stands for Performance 100kW battery with Dual motors. The line under the P100D means it’s with Ludicrous mode (which was faster than Insane mode). This was the top of the line SUV from Tesla, with a driving range of 295 miles and 0–60 time of 2.9 seconds! That’s correct, a SUV that’s faster than most exotic super cars. The MSRP on the vehicle sticker in the glove box had the car at $150,000. Great job Allyson!
I had a lot of fun in this car. I took a bunch of co-workers and friends on test drives. The 0–60 launches blew everyone’s minds. How could a SUV accelerate this fast!?! As a motorcyclist, I knew where the good roads are, and luckily, I didn’t receive any performance awards from the local authorities!
Even though this X was a loaner, we wanted to give it a name. It was all black and moved very fast, just like the solar eclipse that we are about to see! With that, Eclipse got its name. We just ordered a Model Y with Midnight Silver Metallic paint with delivery expected in June 2022. We will call it Eclipse as well.
The 2017 Solar Eclipse was passing through the continental US, starting off the west coast just south of Portland. The eclipse, or moon’s shadow, is only 70 miles wide. To see the full eclipse, you have to be within that band. At home near Seattle, we would only see a partial eclipse.
On Sunday August 20, we packed up the X and head down to McMinnville. There is a really cool aerospace museum there called the Evergreen Museum. It is where, in the airplanes building, you can find the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes’ famous wooden flying boat. It’s massive!
There are also three other buildings for space exploration, a theater, and a waterpark with a 747 on its roof. You literally climb into the airplane’s fuselage, and exit via the water slides. My older son loved the science museum, and the younger one loved the waterpark. This is a great museum for kids!
The Evergreen Museum was just within the edge of the total eclipse. It offered ample parking, clean bathrooms, and large fields to sit and enjoy the event. We found a nice open spot, setup some chairs, put on our solar glasses, and watched the sky.
The official time of the eclipse was 10:17:48am, when the eclipse will reach totality. As the moon begins to eclipse the sun, it is still very bright. However, if you look at your shadow, you can see the edges diffracted, as the suns rays have to bend around moon. If you are wearing solar glasses, you can actually see the moon partially covering the sun.
Then, totality. It’s not a complete darkness, but rather a darkening of the sky. The edges of the skyline is still lit. You can definitely feel the air cool down around you. Only during totality, it is safe to remove your solar glasses to look at the sun directly and see its corona. Since we were on the edge of the totality path, the eclipse only lasted a little over a minute. Just like that, it was over. Time to put the glasses on and watch the waning. The sky brightens again and the air warms. What a unique experience!
We spend a few hours at the museum so the traffic can dissipate. Since we have a long range Tesla, we had enough charge to drive back north via the backroads to the SuperCharger at Centralia, WA, where we last charged the car yesterday. If we had less range, we would have to drive south to the charger at the Woodburn Outlet, before driving back north on I-5 through Portland. I heard that traffic was backed up for hours around there!
When we got back from the solar eclipse, our Model S was still not ready. We already made plans in mid October to go to a Pokémon tournament in Vancouver, BC. I guess we have to take the X!
While in Vancouver, we meet up with my step mom and step sister for dim sum. Vancouver has such great Chinese food. After lunch we all go to a mall nearby. It was pretty busy and I finally find a parking spot. I put the car in reverse to use the car’s camera as I backup, making sure I stay inside the lines. Everything looks clear, until I hear a screeching scratching sound. WTH was that! I slam on the brakes.
Turns out this spot had a ventilation fan that hung down from the ceiling. Since the X was a tall SUV with a spoiler, the bottom of the fan was low enough to hit the car. Luckily I stopped the car immediately, or it would have hit the rear hatch glass as well. It’s pretty obvious now that there was a huge fan there, but guess where’s the car’s backup camera located? Below the spoiler, pointing down.
Pro tip: Always check your mirrors!
A Bigger Battery? Yes Please!
After we get back from Vancouver, we get a call from Tesla. Apparently they don’t make the 85kW battery pack anymore, so they temporarily put a 90kW battery in the car. We can pick up our car.
I go to Tesla to return the X and was like, hey, I’m really sorry but I scratched the spoiler. If you can give me an estimate, I’ll pay for it. The service folks hesitate for a second, then says to me, don’t worry about it. I was so shocked! It was completely my fault for scratching their $150K loaner, and I’m owning up to it. I guess for them, it’s not that much to repaint and not worth the hassle of paperwork.
Now that we got the 90kW battery pack, the range in our Model S actually went up by 5 miles to 270 miles. Just in time, as we planned a road trip to Las Vegas to see my family for Thanksgiving. A long the way, we stop at the new Gigafactory in Reno, NV. We got a private tour of the battery factory and checked out the brand new Model 3. We didn’t know at the time, but we would be able to order ours just a month later on 12/23/2017, and take delivery on MLK day 2018.
After the new year, I call Tesla back. Have you fixed our 85kW battery pack? When do you want to swap it back? Again, to my surprise, they said why don’t we just keep it. Bring the car in and they will update the car’s settings to 90kW and give us a new badge. What? For realz?
To summarize, Tesla preemptively detected a battery issue with our car (there weren’t any warning in the car), loaned us a $150K hyper SUV for over a month (where we drove to Portland AND Vancouver, BC), forgave me for scratching their new car, and gave us an upgrade to a brand new 90kW battery pack.
Did I mention this was all free, covered under warranty? I know that there are a lot of negative news about Tesla build quality or service, but Tesla went above and beyond for us.
It is now 2021 and the 90kW battery has not lost a single mile of range. I still get 270 miles on a full charge. In 2020 I paid for an upgrade to the main computer screen/entertainment unit. The hardware update also upgraded the 2014’s 3G technology to 4G LTE in 2020. Our 2014 model S literally feels like a new car!
Am I a Tesla fanboi? Yup. Guilty as charged. But with this level of service experience, why wouldn’t I be?