I fly back to Colorado on a regular basis. So much so that it has become as routine as a daily commute. I live about 20 minutes from San Jose airport. Close proximity coupled with a few travel memberships, I’m door to gate in about 30 minutes. My travel routine is a well-oiled machine. Except for that one time. That one time my Tesla got a flat tire.
In January, I had a trip planned. Aside from a few mundane tasks related to owning a vehicle that is registered and stored in another state, my good friend was having a house warming party. I was looking forward to the change of scenery and spending a few days hanging out with friends.
About halfway through the drive to the airport Alex, our Model X P100D, starts complaining of low tire pressure. My husband and I had this happen before, due to temperature fluctuations and a faulty sensor, so we continued on our path, assuming this was the case again. Another mile down the road a 33 PSI warning.
Something is up. We exited the highway on to a local street. Waiting for the light to change Alex announces another PSI warning. The light changes and mid turn, 14 PSI! I’m trying to remember if we hit a big pot hole or something else that could have caused this rapid pressure loss. By the time we find parking Alex is at 0 psi. This is bad.
We had purchased the portable air compressor/tire repair kit from Tesla. A very compact and well designed unit. I was excited to have and opportunity to use it, so I hopped out, opened the frunk, grabbed the compressor, and made my way to the offending tire.
Upon close inspection there appeared to be no damage. No large holes. No objects puncturing the sidewalls or tread. No reason I could see for the flat. However, I knew something was up when I started to remove the valve stem cap and it hissed at me. Tell tale sign of valve stem damage. I wiggled the valve stem and again it hissed. Unfortunately, the tire repair kit was of no use in this situation. I hopped back in the car to consult with my husband. “Anders, We have to call Tesla Service.”
A few touches on the main display, a couple of rings and we’re in contact with a Service Rep. I wish I remembered his name, he was great. After making sure we were safe and didn’t need any medical assistance. He asked for our location and a few other details about the situation. After a minute or two on hold, he came back and said, “A truck is routed to you with a replacement wheel to get you back on the road.”
He explained that the truck will take our flat to the Santa Clara service center, where it will be fixed. They’ll call in a few days to arrange a time to bring it back to us and swap the repaired wheel for the loaner. Pleasantly surprised we didn’t have a tow in our future, we thanked him and ended the call.
In the past, we had AAA roadside assistance, so we were prepared for a few hours of waiting. Resigned to our fate, I took the time to make a few calls to sort out the plans that were affected by the detour. I obviously wasn’t going to make my flight.
After finishing up my calls and settling into the cozy warm seats of the X, I saw some yellow flashing lights navigating the road behind us and said, “I guess we’re not the only people needing a tow truck tonight.” I was thinking that it was a tow truck on it’s way to some other stranded motorist.
Much to my surprise it stopped right next to us. Me, in my eternal pessimism, assumed it was some roving towing company seeing our hazard lights as a way to make a quick buck.
Nope, wrong again. It was Alex with truck 41 of Finish Line Towing. (Yes, he has the same name as our car. It must be fate.) I was impressed with his speedy arrival. He went right to work and had the wheel swapped so quickly I suspect he may moonlight as a Formula One pit mechanic. Despite his expedient work he maintained professionalism and took great care not to damage the finish of the wheel. The swap took less than 10 minutes. A few minutes of paperwork, a huge thank you and hand shake for Alex and we were on our way. All in all it was 45 minutes from first point of contact with Tesla to back on the road. That’s pretty impressive. AAA could learn a few things from this.
Anyway, I didn’t make my flight, but to be honest I didn’t mind. I came away from the situation feeling much more at ease about having a car with no spare tire. A nagging worry I have had since I learned spare tires were becoming obsolete.
While the the initial Tesla Support rep said that the service center would follow up with us when the tire was fixed most, we ended up having to call the service center to check on it’s status a few days later. Since we already had the annual service scheduled for the following week, we arranged to keep the loaner wheel until then. The Model X could survive with mismatched wheel for a few more days.
If that had not been the case it might have been a little annoying to have to take the car in. However, the support during my “Oh no! I have a flat.” moment was flawless when it mattered most.
Tesla seems to have figured out the logistics of the many concerns I had with their unique approach to car ownership and care. It will be interesting to see if this scales when flocks of Model 3s are out on the road. I feel comfortable assuming they will. Tesla is changing the world in so many ways not only with innovative vehicles and energy solutions, but changing expectations and raising the bar for many industries. All in all I came away from this potentially stressful situation with a smile and yet another wave of satisfaction we made the right decision becoming a Tesla family.
Link to Finish Line Towing - http://finishlinetowing.com
Link to Tesla Tire Repair/compressor - https://shop.tesla.com/us/en/product/vehicle-accessories/model-s_x_3-tire-repair-kit.html?sku=1133009-00-A