2013 Tesla Model S: Tire Woes, Part 1
September 19, 2013
The tire pressure warning on our 2013 Tesla Model S lit up the other day, apparently for the first time, just as I was leaving the house to go to a Nissan event. (Cool move, I thought, driving the Tesla Model S EV to go see the Nissan Leaf EV).
Despite the car's breathtaking price tag, the Model S's tire pressure monitor doesn't tell you which tire is low. It just says 'Hey! Go check all the tires!'
I did. And I found the left rear to be the culprit, down to 36 psi instead of the recommended 42 psi. So, I added air from my home compressor and was on my way.
Slow leak, I figured, or maybe even just normal long-term deflation making itself known. Sure enough, the warning light stayed unlit all day and the tire, now hot, checked out at 43 psi when I got home. So I kinda forgot about it, figuring the culprit had, indeed, been normal air loss and not a leak.
Next time I saw the light was that evening as I was taking my wife out to dinner.
We were already on the road when it lit up, so we pulled into a nearby independent gas station and found that (a) per California state law they'd only give air to people who bought gas from them, not an option on the all-electric Tesla, (b) their for-a-fee air pump needed four quarters and we only had two, and (c) the cashier cage was closed so we couldn't get change.
Next stop was a big combination Chevron station, convenience mart and McDonalds (no, that's not where we ate). But while I could find oil, Monster energy drink, cheap headphones, gasoline and a burger there, I couldn't find the air pump.
Fortunately, there's a Pep Boys auto parts store and tire shop next door, so we drove over in the fading light and pulled up to an empty bay.
The crew was busily getting ready to close. It was almost 8 p.m. But several stopped their chores and walked over to take a look at the Tesla. It was the first one that had ever pulled into the place, mechanic Fabrice Tschumi told me.
There's a big sign on the wall that says "Free Tire Pressure Check," so I figured asking for a quick shot of air wouldn't be presumptuous.
"No problem," said Tschumi, as he grabbed an air hose.
Then he paused and laughed a little. "This is what I get for saying not 10 minutes ago that we'd never see one of these in here."
The idea of a Tesla tire repair came up, he said, because he and a colleague were thumbing though a tire book and ran across the specs for the Tesla Model S.
He didn't get to repair the tire that night, but Tschumi did give us the air we needed, declining to accept a tip for the service. We made it to dinner and home without seeing the tire pressure warning again.
Until the next morning...
John O'Dell, Senior Editor @ 9,542 miles