Tesla Model S Delivery Checklist and Buyers/Owners Guide

Last Update: 4-Apr-2014)

List created/maintained by @nickjhowe on TM and TMC forums.  Post a note to this thread if you want any changes. See end of document for revision history.

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NEWS!!

I’ve spent the last few months taking the info in the checklist and expanding it significantly.  It has turned into Owning Model S: The definitive guide to buying and owning the Tesla Model S, to be published in May.

There’s a new website (http://OwningModelS.com) that currently redirects you to the pre-order page, but in a few days will be live with lots of new information to supplement the book.  This checklist will stay here, but for those looking for a little more, or a present for a loved one, Owning Model S should do the trick!  Hope you enjoy!

If you don’t want to spend the $24.95 on the book, that’s OK.  The checklist and info that’s been developed over the last year to help you out will stay here, for free.

 

Introduction

The Tesla Motors Model S is a truly amazing, multi-award winning car.  And although in many ways it is a perfectly normal five seater premium sedan, in many other ways it is like no other car you’ve ever owned.  I put this document together originally as a checklist for new owners on delivery just to make sure everything is OK.  It has now grown to over 20 pages of information about buying, taking delivery of, and owning a Model S.

Image © Tesla Motors

I’ve tried to collect as much info as a can for prospective and current owners, based on real world driving experience from hundreds of owners (I’ve credited them where I can).  In doing so I’ve had to go into some detail about potential problems to look out for.  As such it appears that things are a lot worse than they really are.  The VAST MAJORITY of owners have no problems with delivery or ownership.  It would therefore be great if you can post the good experiences over at the ‘no problem thread’ on the TM Forum so that we don’t give the world a distorted view of this amazing car and company.  Thx!!  Nick Howe...

Table of Contents

Before you buy

Your delivery date can change - be ready!

Before you take delivery, get the charging solution installed

What about insurance?

The big day!!!!  When the car arrives, make sure you have everything you ordered, and there are no marks on the car (steps 1, 2 and 3)

Now make sure all the bits and pieces work properly

Delivery Questions

So what happens if I find something wrong (hopefully not!)

So how far can I really drive?

Long Distance Driving and Charging on the Go

Cleaning

User serviceable items

Customizing/Other things to do

Things you might not realize about your car/Tips and Tricks

Other Interesting Links

Superchargers

And when accidents happen

For anyone interested in the engineering and patents behind the batteries


Before you buy

A few things to think about before you buy the best car you’ve ever owned:

Your delivery date can change - be ready!

Not sure why I never included this in the list until now (July 4): DO NOT get fixated on a specific delivery day/time.  Your car may come early or be delayed.  The two biggest delay reasons are "the car is on a truck and the truck is stuck in XYZ, it will be another week..." or delays due to inspections or rework on the manufacturing line.  On the positive side you may get "I know we said it would be delivered next week, but it is already here. Can we deliver it tomorrow?"

My advice: get everything (including financing) ready early just in case you get a nice surprise.

You have been warned! :-)

Before you take delivery, get the charging solution installed


What about insurance?

As with any new entrant into the market, even one year after launch the insurance premiums are all over the map.  Quite a few companies still haven’t heard of the Model S.  The only advice I can give at this stage is head over to these URLs and do some reading. You might save yourself a bunch of money (Sorry this are mostly US-specific):

Note: when you finalize your car Tesla asks for proof of insurance.  YOU DON’T NEED TO INSURE THE MODEL S BEFORE DELIVERY.  They just need proof that you have SOME insurance - your existing car is fine.

The big day!!!!  When the car arrives, make sure you have everything you ordered, and there are no marks on the car (steps 1, 2 and 3)

The only things you might want to have handy before the car turns up are:

  1. Basic
  1. North America:
  1. J1772 adapter
  2. NEMA 5-15 110V adapter
  3. NEMA 14-50 240V adapter
  4. NEMA 6-50 adapter (only if the High Power Wall Connector ordered and not yet delivered)
  1. Europe:
  1. ????
  1. Optional Items
  1. Check installed options against purchased options on MVSA
  1. Wheels
  1. 19” Aerodynamic
  2. 19” Cyclone
  3. 21” Silver Turbine
  4. 21” Dark Grey Turbine
  1. Performance Plus package
  2. Tech package
  3. Ultra High Fidelity Sound package
  4. Leather Seats
  5. Performance Seats
  6. Extended Napa Leather Trim
  7. Alcantara Headliner
  8. Premium Interior Lighting
  9. Air suspension
  10. Super charging option
  11. Rear facing child seats
  12. Parcel Shelf
  13. Parking Sensors
  14. Fog Lights
  15. Carbon Fiber Spoiler
  16. Sub Zero Weather Package
  17. Yacht Floor
  18. 19” Michelin Primacy Tire Upgrade
  19. Paint Armour
  20. Security Package (Europe Only)
  21. Second set of wheels (usually for winter tires)
  22. High Performance Wall Charger and Twin [in-car] Chargers
  1. Check that the in-car displays on the instrument cluster and 17” show the correct vehicle color and options.  TM can update these remotely.
  2. Slacker username/password (you can use your own Slacker account it you prefer, but it can’t be a basic account)
  1. (Note Slacker is currently North America-only; a Europe alternative has been promised)

  1. Potential delivery problems reported on TM forums
  1. Bubbles Under Paint Armour (should go away on their own)
  1. some bubbles may not - installers use a hollow needle to deflate the larger ones. If TM installed your paint armour, get them to fix any bubbles.
  1. Dirt under clear coat
  2. Scratches in paint
  3. Frayed headliner
  4. Underside damage from loading/unloading
  5. Wheel scrapes
  6. Tire scrapes (my sidewall was damaged)
  7. Black, sticky ‘goop’ on the windows or on the sunroof.  Been reported by a couple of users.  The felt seal may have come free and the glue/sealant is sticking to the window.
  8. Misaligned hood or trunk lid.  Service can usually adjust this without issues.
  9. Poor radio reception (antenna was grounded to painted metal)
  10. Dirt/smudges on headliner/seats/trim from delivery driver

Now make sure all the bits and pieces work properly

  1. Things that might be problematic - make sure they work
  1. UMC latches and unlatches without problems
  1. Make sure you push the cable in.  Takes a bit of getting used to.  Can feel like it is in when it has stopped part way.
  1. Charge Port Cover opens consistently (mine sticks big time)
  1. (remember the sensor for the UMC button transmitter is in the tailgate edge about 18” above and to the left of the charge port, not in the charge port itself)
  1. Check mobile charger, make sure it works (bad chargers / cables have been reported)
  2. Set up HomeLink for garage door(s)
  1. Some people have found this to be difficult.  If you are having problems, hold your remote inside the middle of the frunk when you are trying to program the car.  Alternatively try against the front lip of the frunk and on the frunk floor, 2 inches to the driver's side of the frunk light.
  1. Smart Phone syncing - (most people have been able to get most phones to work, even clamshell phones.  If you are unable to pair, it could be a bluetooth problem.  Let Tesla Service know.)
  1. contacts
  2. bluetooth music streaming
  1. Windshield jets pointing too low
  1. Can be adjusted using a pin in the jet
  2. One owner reported no windshield fluid at delivery
  1. Windshield distortion or cracks (especially near passenger side half way up)
  1. Distortion in lower 1” is normal; cracks are not! :-)
  1. Tire Pressures too high (this is a common one) - should be 42 (with 21” wheels) or 45 (19”), not 54; check the label on the driver B pillar to get the right pressure for your car.
  2. All doors close properly (door misalignment reported)
  1. Workaround (especially for the passenger door) is to remove one of the two plastic bungs from the bottom of the door to eliminate back pressure when closing the door.
  1. All handles work properly (various handle problems reported)
  1. Typically a mechanical problem that requires replacing the handle
  2. Users have also reported that doors that don’t open when the handles are pulled can sometimes be solved by taking out the appropriate fuse (32, 40 or 41 - check the manual) for five minutes then replace.
  1. Windows don’t auto close the last inch when closing the door
  1. Try lowering the window all the way down, then all the way up; may reset the sensor.
  1. Rear seat belts dragging
  1. the left and right rear seat belts can sometimes scrape/drag when you pull them.  This is a faulty/missing part problem and there is a known fix for it.  TM has to order a new part.
  1. Condensation in the rear lights/reflectors
  1. Been reported by quite a few people.  Annoying, but doesn’t seem to cause any problems, per se.  Allegedly Tesla is working on a fix (new seals)
  1. Low frequency powerful rumbling when first turned on
  1. This is the A/C compressor vibrating against the frunk liner.  Service has a fix where they reposition the bracket.
  1. 12V battery failures
  1. The Model S uses a 12V battery to power the instruments, lights, etc.
  2. More importantly it is used to power the mechanical ‘contactors’ that connect the main battery to the drive train (that is the ‘clunk’ you hear when you turn on).  Therefore, if the 12V battery fails or is flat YOU CANNOT START THE CAR. Also the parking brake will be locked on.  You will need to attach a 12V supply to the posts behind the nose to avoid having to drag the car with the wheels locked.
  3. Tesla received a [very] bad batch of 12V batteries early on that fail, and there also seem to be “DC-DC” system problems that are causing good 12V batteries to fail.
  4. If you receive any 12V warnings, or your car is non-responsive IMMEDIATELY CALL TESLA SERVICE.  The ranger can replace the battery.
  1. A few users have reported problems with the map lights.  You might not realise it but each one is ‘pushable’ to turn on/off.  A handful of users reported problems at delivery or after a few days.  Give them all a push and make sure they work!
  2. A very small number of owners have reported issues that have been caused by loose fuses.  If you or your Delivery Specialist feel so inclined, it might be worth popping off the fuse cover in the frunk (the manual shows how to do it) and making sure all the fuses are seated properly.
  3. A small number of issues have been reported with the glove box sticking.  If you’ve check the owners manual in step 1 above, then you should already have figured out whether the glove box is OK!

  1. Potential Problems
  1. Tire wear - IMPORTANT - This is one to put in your diary for about 2 months time.  A number of cars have been reported to have excessive tire wear on the rears.  Make sure you check your tires at about 2000 miles and look at the inside shoulder of the rears.  If you see any significant signs of wear, head off to service immediately, get them to fix the car, and get the tires replaced for free.
  1. Wind noise due to misaligned windows - Service can usually correct this.
  2. Buffeting with windows open (this can be somewhat mitigated by adjusting the height of the bump stops on the tailgate - seems the tailgate can bounce and magnify the pressure waves).  Put a piece of paper between the tailgate and the bump stop and make sure you can’t pull it.  If you can, unscrew the bump stop a little and try again.
  3. EZ-Pass, Sunpass, other Toll tag.  The windshield in the S has a metallic film built into it that blocks the signal.  Some folks have been able to get them working either just to the right of or just below the mirror mount.  I had to get an external SunPass and mount it (zip ties and strong velcro) on the bumper behind the nose cone - works great.  If you have a thin, stick on transponder, one user (@bp) has managed to get it to work by sliding it up under the mirror mount and the headliner.
    UPDATE 9-Jul-2013 - news from the Menlo Park tech meeting suggests that some (1000 or so) windshields did NOT have the ‘signal hole’ and hence cause problems.  Newer cars should be OK for internal windshield mount in the dotted area.
  4. Radar detectors
  1. ‘Loose’ back end under acceleration.  Various owners have reported the back end pulling one way under acceleration, and the other under deceleration.  This has been tracked back to suspension problems during manufacture (loose bolts or bad bushings).  If the car doesn’t feel right, IMMEDIATELY CALL TESLA SERVICE. (see this thread)
  1. Floor mats - there have been at least three iterations of floor mats.  One type has a smooth underside and velcro at the back edge.  These are “temporary” mats, and only came in the front of the car.  They should be replaced at no charge for “new” mats.  The “new” mats have a stippled underside and no velcro; they have front and rear seat versions.  Unfortunately the new mats are as poor as the old maps.  The one for the passenger footwell has a habit of flopping/folding over under high acceleration.  The third type were “luxury” floor mats available in the online store; they were removed sometime during 2013.
  2. Trunk footwell cover - similar to the floor mats there are at least two versions.  Some cars were/are shipped with lightweight covers which flex when weight is applied.  New cars generally ship with a much more robust, heavier cover made of reinforced plastic.  The latter should be a free upgrade from the former.

Delivery Questions

  1. How does charging work? What do the colors on the charge port mean?
  1. Pulsing White - ready
  2. Pulsing Yellow - UMC not fully inserted
  3. Solid Blue- connected and communicating
  4. Pulsing Green - charging (can take a minute or two to start)
  5. Solid Green - charged up
  6. Red - Failure (possibly hardware)
  1. How to operate windshield wipers
  1. A quirk of the operation is that if you have it set to ‘auto’ it will do one swipe when you turn the car on to calibrate the rain sensor.  Careful it doesn’t scratch the glass if not raining.
  1. Connect the Model S to our Wifi network (v5.x software required) and ensure that signal strength is adequate for updates, etc.
  2. Connect smartphone to the model S system via Bluetooth.
  1. Are individual contacts lists downloadable.
  2. Please provide a brief tutorial on the phone system.
  3. How to access digital output of iPhone apps (e.g., Pandora)?
  1. Need demo of all functionality in steering wheel thumb switches
  1. Phone controls
  2. Audio/music controls
  3. How to change what the steering wheel switches control (if updated to v4.0)
  4. Other?
  1. How to modify the displays that appear next to the speedometer?
  1. What options do I have?
  1. How to adjust seat, mirrors, save driver profile(s)
  1. Include setup for side mirrors in backup mode - not intuitive how to do this - to set the mirrors for reversing you have to put the car in reverse, set the mirrors, then save.
  1. Provide a demo of the cruise control functionality.
  1. What displays/status information is provided and where can I display it?
  1. How is vehicle status information displayed (e.g., tire pressure warning)?
  2. Walk through all screen displays
  3. Download and demo iPhone/Android app
  1. iPhone App now in App Store
  2. Android app available in Google Play
  3. There is no official Tesla app on Windows Phone, but there are two owner-written apps:Tesla Connect for WP 7.5 and 8, and Tesla Commander for WP8 only.


So what happens if I find something wrong (hopefully not!)

Tell the Delivery Specialist.  Depending on the nature of the problem, either get it noted on the due bill, or in extremis refuse to accept the car.

Don't let the DS leave until you've been over the car with a fine tooth comb and you are completely satisfied.  Make sure you take a copy of the due bill if you can.  These guys are generally very good, so even if there are issues they'll make sure everything gets fixed ASAP.

If you spot anything after (s)he leaves, contact the DS and let them know, and make sure you email Ownership so there is a written record, and follow up with a phone call.  This is a pretty expensive piece of kit and you want it to be perfect.


You’ve got the car.  Now it’s time to drive.

So how far can I really drive?

Rod and Barbara on the TM forum in this thread have finally got to the bottom of the battery/range situation in the 85kWh car.  Here’s what they found.  It is a bit weird, so stick with it:

So, if you want to get your real range to match rated range as displayed in the car, you need to average 287 Wh/m.  But when you get to zero, you’ve still got 17 miles at 306 Wh/m (or just over 18 at 287)

The net-net from this is that the usable capacity of an 85kWh battery during range-charge, non-emergency driving is 75.9 kWh, and 67.4 kWh for a normal charge.  So if you divide that by your Wh/m consumption you should get an accurate estimation of range.  I’ve got a lifetime average 340 Wh/m so I would get 223 miles from a range charge.  YMMV.

Note: Much of this information has not been officially confirmed by Tesla and may be wrong, but does agree with everything many users have seen in the last few months.  The 15-17 mile ‘reserve’ was confirmed during the infamous “Broder incident.”



Long Distance Driving and Charging on the Go


Cleaning

After spending a not inconsiderable sum on your gorgeous new Model S, please don’t go to the local crappy drive through car wash and scratch it to hell.  Here’s a few suggestions how to keep your car pristine:


User serviceable items

There’s virtually nothing you can do except rotate the tires and fill the washer fluid.

If anyone finds anything, I’ll post it here.



Customizing/Other things to do

The TeslaTap website has a lot of info about tweaking your Model S, but I thought I’d include a list of most common things here.



Things you might not realize about your car/Tips and Tricks

Listen to Music

You can use your voice to search for and play selections from the lntemet music service Slacker. Begin your command with "Listen to" or “Play,” followed by the name of an album, artist, or combination.

Once a selection is made, you can then listen to a custom radio station based on your search results. Note that providing multiple cues in your voice command, such as artist plus song name, will often improve the voice recognifion accuracy.

Navigation

To navigate or search within the Maps app. say 'Drive to," "Navigate to," or “Where is," followed by an address, business name, business category, or landmark.

Call a contact

To place calls on a phone connected via Bluetooth, start your command with "Call" or “Dial,” followed by the contact's first and/or last names.

Note: according to @chrisdl on the TM forum, the parking brake screw drive actuators need electrical power to change state.  Hence, when your battery runs out, they remain in the position they were. If the P-brake was on, it stays on. If it was off, it stays off.

“We at Tesla are currently in progress of opening 20 additional Service Centers in the coming months, and are actively reducing the distance between our customers’ homes and the Tesla Service Centers. Despite our continuous expansion, we understand there will remain locations that are not in immediate proximity of one of our Service Centers.

Independent of the location of your home and the distance to the closest Service Center, you will be provided a loaner vehicle (depending on availability) or a replacement rental car when you drop off your Model S at one of our Service Centers. With our loaner car program, we focus on setting up every Service Center with a sufficient number of Model S loaners. However, in instances where demand exceeds the loaner availability, we are using replacement rentals to ensure customer mobility. We will follow up with our Service team to confirm this aspect of our policy.

Our valet program is in place for all customers within 50 miles of a Service Center. For customer living outside the range of 50 miles from one of our Service Centers, we offer the mobile ranger service at an additional charge, as indicated on our website.”


Other Interesting Links

Here are a few threads on the Tesla Motors forum and other websites that might be useful:



Superchargers

For your info, here's how a typical (in this case the Port St Lucie, FL) supercharger infrastructure is configured:

The eight bay setup takes a 12kV, 750kVA feed from the utility, steps it down to 480V three phase on site, pushes that into 2000A switchgear which feeds four (one for each pair of bays) SuperCharger units at 480V/200A. Each unit contains 12 [Model S] 10kW rectifiers for 120kW.

For safety reasons the 'pod' that the car plugs into is not energized until the cable has done a handshake, so if something accidentally flattens a pod or the cable is cut there is no danger.

Each unit is 120kW and will load balance between two bays - if two cars are at the same SOC they'll each get 60kW, whereas if one is empty and one is close to full it will split it 90/30. So...if you come into an SC station and there are several empty bays DO NOT park next to an existing car unless you first check the label on the SC - each one should be labeled 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc. If no labels, count! Avoid taking the same number if you can so you get the full 120kW.

Strictly speaking all old SCs are only 90kW, but are being upgraded. All new SCs are 120kW but will only push 90kW right now because the cars require a firmware update to take 120kW, and a tweak is needed at the SC station. No date on when the change is going to happen.

Tesla is exploring pushing the units to 150kW in the future.

Voltage and current to the car vary considerably, but some users have reported 255A, and 365V max.  This equates to 93 kW, so clearly we’ll expect to see higher when they step up to 120 kW.

To accelerate the build out SCs are being built without solar and without the 'spaceship' signage. Both are over 10' tall and therefore have additional zoning restrictions that delay the permitting process. Tesla is committed to getting the SCs out as fast, far and wide as possible and is currently limited by the permitting process. They are therefore doing everything to speed that part of the process up. At some point in the future when some unspecified criteria are met, TM will begin the process to add solar and signage to some/all (?) of the SCs.


And when accidents happen



For anyone interested in the engineering and patents behind the batteries

Dave Duff, the engineer responsible for key parts of the Model S electrical systems speaks at Stanford University about "Modular Engineering, Electric Cars and More". Really interesting talk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rGueTKezPZE#t=1210s

CapitalistOppressor on the TMC forum has an amazing write up on the details of the patents behind the battery pack, and the incredible ingenuity of Tesla that has massively increased safety while at the same time massively reducing cost: http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/17456-Amazing-Core-Tesla-Battery-IP-18650-Cell

And Ingineer on TMC has pictures of the internals of the RAV4 battery pack that match up with CapitalistOppressor’s explanations:  http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/13121-Inside-the-Tesla-battery-pack


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