How to charge a dead Tesla - Insane/Hilarious Story

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Minocqua, Mar 9, 2021.

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  1. Minocqua

    Minocqua New Member

    • Sometime in early Dec we decided to spend the winter in Park City. I had a brilliant money-saving idea to move my Model S from our NYC lot to a much cheaper NJ lot. Naturally I asked if they had an outlet, and they said yes. Well, my wife goes to park it on Dec 22nd and it's the tiniest storage space in the world, and the plug isn't right in the same space.

      We're leaving for Colorado the next day, so we sort of have to go with it, and I plan to have someone plug it in if/when necessary, as we have an extension cord. At this point in time I didn't realize two things: 1) Teslas have 2 batteries - a 12V and the main battery and 2) if you let both batteries die for several months, neither can ever be resuscitated. The 12V is only a few hundred dollars, but the main battery is $20k.
      We flew to Colorado on Dec 23rd. I'm not sure how many miles of charge/range it had left at that moment, but probably ~150. I checked my app on Jan 9th and it had 75 miles of charge. At this point I didn't know about the 2 batteries, but I've read enough to know you can't let a Tesla go dead for too long. I plan to text the parking attendant to have him plug the car in at some point in the next few weeks. Sadly, I kind of forget about it. I end up texting him on Feb 25th asking him to plug it in. It likely died sometime in late Jan. He plugs it in on Feb 27th for 24 hrs, but nothing happens. At this point I finally learn that you can't charge the main battery if the 12V is dead. So plugging it in did nothing.
      I go into serious Google mode. I come across this video on how to charge a dead Tesla and I buy a "jump box" on Amazon:

      After some more Googling I realize you can replace the 12V yourself when I come across this video:

      I buy the battery from Gruber and they assure me it will be delivered by Saturday to my NYC apt. I book a 24-hr trip to NYC (Sat to Sun). My plan is to jump the 12V, charge the main battery just a little bit and then pull the car out of the tiny garage. Then I will hire someone on Craigslist to replace the 12V and fly home. The guy that made the above 2 videos, KMan, also has a Facebook page, so I reached out to him to run my brilliant plan by him. Social media can be the worst, but it can also be the best. He ended up sending me several hundred helpful messages over the following 72 hrs. I couldn't have done any of this without him.
      The first problem with my plan is that I can't jump my 12V. Once it's been dead for this long, it's totally dead. So he tells me to buy a constant current charger instead, which I can just plug in to give the 12V some power. He finds a store in Salt Lake City that sells one. A few hrs before my flight I decide to check the shipping status of the replacement 12V. Luckily it is right on time, but sadly "on time" means Monday, not Saturday. After frantic calls to UPS and the battery store, I'm SOL. They got confused about whether or not the 2-day shipping option from UPS counts Saturday delivery. Let me tell you, IT DOES NOT. On the bright side, Gruber was gracious about their mistake and refunded me the difference in shipping costs.
      I cancel my Craigslist guy, but I decide not to cancel my trip. My new plan is to go out and just charge the Tesla, and then deal with changing the battery next month when I fly out for a longer visit. I swing by Harbor Freight on my way to the airport to buy the constant current charger. I'm a little nervous they won't let me on the plane, but they do. I land at 10 PM, rent a car and drive straight to the Tesla. In the first video I sent you KMan uses a couple of credit cards to pop off the nose cone. Well, after trying 5 credit cards for 15 minutes, I have completely mangled them all, but have not gotten the nose cone off. I drive to a nearby liquor store where the owner is not wearing a mask (sigh). I ask him if I can borrow a screwdriver, but he doesn't have one. I notice that he does have some toe nail clippers, and they look like they'd be perfect. I ask him if I can borrow them, and he surprisingly lets me. I go back and I get the nose cone off pretty easily.
      I hook up the constant current charger to the positive and negative. Because I'm CLEARLY NOT a car guy, I message KMan and ask him if I've set it up correctly. He informs me that the negative cable is on plastic, and won't work. I move it to metal, and I think I'm good to go.
      Wrong way:

      Right way:

      5 minutes after charging the 12V at 2 Amps, the whole Tesla comes to life! KMan wasn't even sure if any of this plan would work, so that was MUCH quicker/better than my expectations. I thought I was in the clear, and everything would go smoothly. To be continued . . .
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  3. Minocqua

    Minocqua New Member

    • I plugged the main charger in, but the battery was super cold, so it was only charging at 1-2 amps. It said the pace of the charge was 0-1 miles/hr. After an hr of charging, I was still stuck at 0 miles of range, but I decided to pull the car out of the garage so I wasn't charging via an extension cord. I was able to pull out, but after 10 feet, the car died. It was funny because I was also driving with the 12V charger sitting on the hood, so I had to be careful not to let it fall off. Not to mention my tires were getting tangled in the extension cord. I ended up charging 30 more minutes to move the car once more, but again it died after 5-10 feet of movement. I was able to plug the car directly into an outlet and avoid the extension cord, but the problem was that I was blocking 3 other garages. Also, it was still only charging at 1-2 amps. I decided to risk it and go home, and get some brief rest. I figured I would wake up and have at least a few miles of range. That's all I needed because there was an electric vehicle charger just a little over a mile away.
      I went to bed at 3:30 and woke up at 6:30. I pulled open the app and I was devastated to still see it stuck at 0 miles of range. At 8 I drove back to the car with a family friend, Chase. I pulled the car back in the garage so it wasn't blocking anyone. I also brought a space heater to try and heat up the garage, and thus the car/battery. I used a 3-way splitter and had a space heater running, a 12V charger charging at 10 amps, and the main battery charger charging at 1-2 amps (I wanted to be charging at higher, but the battery was still too cold). We drove back to NYC.
      KMan sent me a message that I might trip a breaker by using so much electricity on a single outlet, so we drove back to NJ. On the way, there was the first real break-through of the entire trip. The range was still at 0 miles, but the charging speed had jumped up to 9 amps (3 miles/hr). The battery must have finally warmed up. When we got to NJ I turned off the space heater as well as the 12V charger and then pulled the car back out of the garage to use the outlet directly. The charging speed moved up to 12 amps (4 miles/hr), which is the max you can get in a regular outlet! We went to have lunch and I figured it would finally start to go above 0 miles of range. After another hr, it was still stuck at 0, but I was running out of time to make my flight.
      We decided to risk it and drive to the EV charger 1.4 miles away. Chase followed me in the rental car. I drove like 25 MPH (an optimal speed for electric cars maximizing range), tried not to stop at stop signs, etc. My heart was beating SO fast. We ended up making it, but when we got there, the EV charger didn't work. Chase called support and was having no luck after 10 minutes. A police officer came by and I thought he was going to ask us to leave. We were technically trying to use the charger for the mayor of Passaic. Turns out the cop had just ordered a Model Y and wanted to ask a bunch of questions. After 5 more minutes on the phone Chase and the support lady SOMEHOW got the charger to work. Another break-through! This charger was charging the Tesla at 32 amps, or 20 miles/hr!
      After 45 minutes of charging at 32 amps, the range still said 0 miles!!!! However, there was one key thing that gave me a ton of hope. It initially said for the charge to be completely full it would take 13 hr, and after 45 minutes, it had gone down to 12 hrs and 15 minutes. So something was clearly happening. At this point I had missed my flight, but I knew I could make the last flight of the day 2 hrs later if I hustled. We decided to risk it and head to the nearest Tesla Supercharging station 10 miles away. I drove 35 MPH the entire way, even on the roads that had a 65 MPH speed limit. Let's just say there were 1-2 unhappy NJ drivers honking at me!

      We made it to the Supercharging station and I left in the rental car for the airport. Chase took over. He plugged it in and it started charging at 40 amps, or 209 miles/hr. After a very short amount of time, the range FINALLY went up from 0 miles. After 90 minutes the car was fully charged and he drove it back to the garage. There are a few different theories about why it kept displaying 0 miles of range when it was clearly above 0, but I think the best one was that it wasn't calculating the range properly because of how the algorithm works. Let's just say that having 2 dead batteries doesn't lead to a good estimate when you bring the car back to life. I made the last flight to UT and saved my main Tesla battery. Overall it was a successful trip, although pretty stressful/tiring.
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  4. Minocqua

    Minocqua New Member

    It looks like the images aren't working above. Here they are:

    Tiny Garage.jpeg Wrong Way - Charging Cables.png Right Way - Charging Cables.png

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