driving thru water / flooded street is battery protected

is the battery protected / watersealed incase i drive thru a flooded street?

Same question as prior posts. No worry. The floor will flood before the car fails.

The plus side is that the battery pack (and car) is heavy enough that it won't start floating away, and you'll have enough traction to drive out of the deep part. Especially true if you have the air suspension and raise it as much as possible.

I wouldn't be too sure! A volume of water equal to the total cubic meters inside a Model S would weigh about that many tons. By Avogadro's principle, as soon as just over 2 tons of water are displaced (about 2 cubic meters) the S is floating.

By Archimedes principle, weight of volume of water displaced would be north of about 6,000 pounds (62 lbs / cu ft).

So if the weather seals were perfect (unlikely), the battery mass wouldn't sink it.

More practical consideration for the driver is whether would it keep running if the battery/motor/ drive electronics were partially submerged -

It looks like TM has housed all these critical parts with appropriate seals, so it's likely it would keep driving - for a while at least. That should be good enough to cross most washed-out intersections without stalling or damage.

Probably more resilient than an ICE car in this regard.

Battery is liquid cooled and leaks are bad for cooling system so if water can't get out it is very unlikely that water getting in is any concern for actual battery. Only "weak spot" for underwater exploration are electric connectors outside the battery pack between it and rest of the car (battery swap requires connector there) and I believe they are also quite well protected against foreign contaminants like water.

Then instead of the aero wheels, maybe we can get aqua wheels with fins for propulsion. Better get the tech package with the auto lift gate so I can deploy the emergency rudder easily.

Worst case scenario: Open the pano roof, climb out and wait to be rescued! I think I've read somewhere that they call the chassis or whatever a surfboard design; maybe there is more to that than originally thought!


I didn't say submerge the whole car. Just the batteries. It's still much heavier with the batteries than without them. and the higher the car, the less of anything but wheels are submerged.

@bsimoes, I think if you find yourself in deep water, you'll be unlikely to be able to open the panoroof due to sensors shutting down the battery. You'll need to use the MythBusters approach.

Living in a place that is prone to flash road flooding, I also had this concern, and (at least if you have air suspension), you can raise the car to 1.3" above normal which gives you a ride height of 7.4". Anything higher and the water can start seeping into the interior. In that case, Tesla says there are many sensors around components that will indicate water ingress, and that the car will do everything possible to protect itself and its occupants. The battery compartment and all high voltage connections are sealed and water tight, but they still don't recommend fording rivers. :-)

right, of course. Archimedes, not Avogadro. Brain short-circuit from discussion on another site. (;-p

The inflated tires would make a difference, too.

Instead of the emergency rudder, a twin props could be deployed. An extra-cost option with the Aqua-Tech package, available in late 2013. Alternatively, Aqua rims with flanges for APW (Advance Paddle Wheel) propulsion can be purchased.

Eeh, props are overrated:

stephen.pace, thank you for posting that link! All our inconveniences and worries are quite relative... Amazing people, amazing low tech, no jobs for wimps.

Ah, it's worse than that. Like a chicken, water is crossing the road to get to the other side, which often means it's moving. Sometimes swiftly. Get in deep moving water, and even partialy submerged tires take a significant amount of weight off the road. Then provide a lubricated interface between the rubber and the road, and tons of lateral force from the pressure of the moving water, and you're swept off the road into really deep water, really fast. Very dangerous scenario well before the battery is completly submerged.

With that 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, you can displace a lot of that water from under the tires quickly... ;)

That's mudroad drivers, I think! Probably all guys with non-functioning forebrains (anticipation of consequences, etc.).

Driving across rivers in full spate is probably an adrenaline rush equivalent to a firefight. What some people will do to avoid boredom! ;)

Brian H, boredom is the least of these guys' problems.

Those used to high intensity combat or high-risk work find boredom to be a very real and agonizing problem. Very like the depression from going cold turkey off amphetamines. Race car drivers, downhill ski racers, etc., all talk about feeling "alive" when under threat. And unalive when not.

There's a saying, that there's nothing like the thrill of being shot at ... and missed!

Ever since man hasn't had to run to save himself from a larger predator while hunting, we testosterone based life forms have been hungry for the thrill a close call provides.

I got this from Nissan Leaf forum and I wondering if passing trought a flood, will damage the MS battery.

Last weekend my two month old Leaf was flooded during a freak rain storm that dropped 5.5 inches of rain in less than an hour. We were shopping and came out to find the car standing in the middle of a flood. The water reached a bit less than mid door height, front wheels fully submerged, rear wheels mostly submerged. I entered through the rear hatch and the water was up to the top of the console. Both front seats were saturated, as were the rear seats. The rear hatch area had 4-6 inches of standing water, partly covering the EVSE. The batteries were totally under water.

Car was towed to Nissan through their Leaf Customer service. The service team was exceptional (Southern States Nissan, Raleigh, NC) and worked with insurance company to resolve the claim. Nissan's service department found 7 pages of error codes after the flood. The water reached so high inside the car that when they opened the OBD compartment water flowed out of it. I didn't attempt to start the car, but the service department told me that after clearing some codes it did start, but then had several new codes appear.

After examining the codes, the car and the electrical problems the car was declared a total loss.

Driving through water: A real world test, not theoretical.

There was some flash flooding in Plainfield, IL on 3/14/2014. I was driving my Model S 85. I tried driving through like many other cars were. I tried to go fast to use the tires to push the water.

It was deeper than I thought but the funny part was that the car started to float (If it floated across the whole way, I would've done it again with someone getting it on video).

Unfortunately, the "boat" sank and the tires took over again. When I got past the water, the display showed an error that the car needed servicing and that it may not restart.

I got home in about ten minutes with this message going away and returning sporadically. I called Tesla Service and they remotely pulled the logs. I got a call back in 20 minutes and the service tech told me that they need to come get the car because the battery was dying (even though it had ~110 miles of charge left). They gave me a loaner (no P85 or roadster, so they gave me a 60).

I got a call later and the service manager informed me that the seals that detect water were soaked because battery had water on top of it which is why the error codes were being thrown. They are going to let them dry over 24 hours and if needed, will replace them and connectors. Battery seems to be intact.

Moral of the story: If you have active suspension, put it on Very High and look to see how deep the water is by watching other cars. Don't risk it.

Thing to tell Tesla naysayers: Still an awesome car and the company really goes out of their way to take care of you.

I hit a big puddle and felt the force of water spray underneath the car and out both sides. I had no issues afterward.

For those who are brave enough to drive through a flooded area, I hope we all realize that this is not Elon's 007 James Bond amphibious submarine car!

May be your car insurance would cover but Tesla does not cover flood:

I would not want to risk driving through water that was deep enough to risk submerging any part of the battery. Water doesn't agree with lithium batteries or Tesla's brakes. There has been many reported Tesla brake problems in rain and snow.

I would hope Tesla's batteries resist water as much as reasonably possible. If water penetrates the battery cells, there is a likelihood of fire or explosion. Lithium batteries can react violently to water. Emergency responders have to take special precautions when fighting lithium fires, as water can flare up the flames and produce toxic fumes when combined with lithium batteries.

"NEVER place batteries in water, as this may cause the battery to rupture and release poisonous gasses. Furthermore, when the electrolyte is combined with water, there is the potential for hydrofluoric acid to form an extremely toxic and corrosive substance"

This is another motivation for "turn around, don't drown." If all Tesla owners know this, they'll be less likely to chance it. Does that mean we'll be even safer?!

Sorry to say, but that is wrong.
Indeed, lithium metal reacts violently to water. However, Tesla's LiIon battery cells do not contain any lithium and neither do any of the currently available LiIon batteries. Instead, the lithium ions are nowadays stored in another substance (usually a lithium metal oxide).

As a further proof of that, consider Tesla's emergency response instructions where they advise fire workers to cool down the battery with as much water as possible in case of a battery rupture, to prevent thermal runaway.

Furthermore, the link and quote you post have nothing to do with lithium's reaction to water. It talks specifically about the electrolyte.

From the emergency response guide (by Tesla Motors):
"If the high voltage battery becomes involved in fire or is bent, twisted, damaged, or breached in any way, or if you suspect that the battery is heating, use large amounts of water to cool the battery. DO NOT extinguish fire with a small amount of water. Always establish or request an additional water supply."

Emphasis done by me.

Your turn ;-)

Oh, and Lithium oxide is non-flammable. (Sorry, couldn't help myself; I still had to say that.)
Stop spreading FUD, people. You're not the only one, Conroy. This is not directly aimed at you.

@ conroy
First off I serve on nuclear submarines and no we do not have the fancy extinguishers that you speak of. The way we fight a class D fire is ideally jettison over board but on a submarine that is near impossible so next step is copious amounts of water essentially you are not putting the fire out you are just cooling it until it goes out. Then secondly we do not fight battery fires with anything we do the opposite actually we shut all ventilation and air supply’s to the battery well and suffocate it.

@conroy - Also can you identify the source where you say Elon had verbal attacks on firefighters? I've been following Tesla closely for 4-5 years, and never heard or seen a video of Elon attacking firefighters. It seems so wildly out of place to what I've seen of Elon.

Apropos the Kent WA first fire, Tesla's press release bent over backward to avoid mentioning that firefighters had done the wrong thing in drilling three holes in the battery pack in the time before that video camera came on the scene.

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