- Our long-term Rivian R1T came to a complete stop and wouldn't budge.
- I attempted to restart the vehicle, but nothing worked.
- After it was towed away, Rivian found that the truck’s inverter was the culprit.
Our Long-Term 2022 Rivian R1T Quits Without Warning
A faulty inverter prevented our R1T from moving at all
We acquire vehicles for our long-term test program for the purpose of learning what it is like to live with them day-to-day. That includes indulging in the good times while also enduring the unpleasant moments. Case in point: the time our fellow editor, Brian Wong, was locked out of our $140,500 Lucid Air for several hours. This time, I was not locked out of our Rivian R1T, but I might as well have been because, out of nowhere, the truck became completely inoperable.
Charged, but without power
Luckily, I was already home and backing up into my parking spot when our R1T decided to call it quits. I was reversing and it all seemed OK until the truck came to an abrupt halt. I was caught off-guard because I didn’t get close to touching the gear stalk and inadvertently putting it into park, and there was no warning beforehand. In the past, we encountered a situation where this same R1T lost power on the highway, but we were later told by Rivian that it was a driver error and that the truck was accidentally shifted to neutral. So I wasn’t completely dismissing the possibility that I had bumped the lever. Before continuing, I must also note that everything else in the truck (infotainment, lights, other accessories) was still functioning normally — we just didn’t have any movement. The reason for that is that all the other systems are powered by 12-volt batteries and not the large powertrain battery.
I attempted to switch back into reverse after confirming the lack of warning notifications, but nothing happened. It simply did not let me shift into anything. I waited a few minutes and then I tried again: drive, reverse, neutral. Nothing worked, the pickup held fast in park. This time a distinct warning message immediately appeared after each attempt in this order:
“All-wheel drive permanently engaged. Service it soon.”
“Motor fault detected. Drive with caution and service immediately.” [If only I was able to actually drive. Sigh.]
“Driving disabled. Call a tow truck.” [OK. There it is. Commence dread.]
Trying everything to move our 7,150-pound truck
Aside from hopelessly moving the transmission stalk into different positions, we also tried out other solutions. I would be lying if I said I didn’t try to give it a quick shove. Obviously that merely swayed the heavy load. Anyway, my first logical attempt was to hop off the truck and lock it so it would shut down entirely. After waiting a few minutes, I unlocked the R1T and pulled the stalk, only to find that the same warning messages displayed with every pull of the stalk. I then resorted to a full vehicle reset. I wasn’t sure of the procedures, but after a quick Google search, I found the instructions courtesy of Rivian Tracker, but you can also find this information in the official owner’s manual (page 275 at the time of this story's publication) that is obtainable on Rivian’s website. Per Rivian Tracker:
"Hold the far left button on the steering wheel and the emergency flasher button for about 15 seconds. The entire computer will restart. According to Rivian support DO NOT RESET AGAIN FOR AT LEAST 1 HOUR after this procedure. There are multiple systems that may take a bit longer to fully come up after this reset."
The R1T rebooted successfully, but it didn’t solve our problem. I proceeded to call Rivian Support. The representative asked various questions to confirm the status of the truck and then asked me to perform a full reset again. Before moving on, I told the rep that I had just completed a full reset just minutes prior, and of the note I saw on Rivian Tracker regarding the length of time required between resets. He affirmed it would be OK to do it again and walked me through the same steps I had completed in the first attempt. Again, the truck restarted, but without any change to the driving status. At this point, I knew nothing was going to help, and I wanted the truck moved as soon as possible because it was blocking other parking spots in the lot. The representative sent out a tow truck to retrieve the truck and transport it to the nearest Rivian service center. Alas, the tow truck took approximately an hour and a half to arrive.
A faulty inverter was the gremlin
Our R1T was towed to the Rivian service center in El Segundo for a diagnosis. The following day, Rivian informed us there was a short in the front drive unit inverter that caused the truck to malfunction and ultimately cease driving. In basic terms, the inverter serves as a middleman and is in charge of converting DC (direct current) electricity that comes from the battery to AC (alternating current) electricity that the motors require to operate. It also runs the opposite way when regenerative braking comes into play. So when our truck’s system registered the fault in the inverter, it knew it wasn’t going to be able to convert the energy required to continue.
Rivian had to drop the entire front drive unit to replace the inverter. It took the service center about a week and a half to complete the repair. We asked Rivian what this procedure would cost if it had to be paid out-of-pocket (this time, it was covered by the warranty), but they would not give us a cost estimate since the inverter is currently not an over-the-counter part.
Our R1T coming to a sudden halt without warning was bothersome. The only relief was that I was already home and not out on public roads. That said, we do think that the system's logic is correct, preventing the truck from driving to mitigate any further damage to its drivetrain.