PSA: Car wash warning

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#1
I just went and got a car wash and the floor on my passenger side had a puddle on it. Has anyone experienced this? It seems to be leaking right under the dashboard where your feet would be if you stretched them out. I attached 2 pictures.
mvimg_20181218_133757-jpg.19352
img_20181218_135325-jpg.19353
 

Sandy

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#2
I just went and got a car wash and the floor on my passenger side had a puddle on it. Has anyone experienced this? It seems to be leaking right under the dashboard where your feet would be if you stretched them out. I attached 2 pictures. View attachment 19352 View attachment 19352 View attachment 19353
It appears to have entered through the HVAC inlet below the wiper blades and made its way down through to the floor HVAC outlet at the top of the passenger footwell. Did you have the fan on high during the carwash?
 

NelsonD

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#4
I ran into a crappy situation yesterday so I wanted to pass this along and hopefully help others avoid some grief. I took my Model 3 to a touchless car wash for the first time as it's too cold out to be bucket washing right now. It's the type of car wash where you drive in and the overhead washing equipment moves around the car while the car remains stationary so you're not getting pulled along on a track. Once the washing finishes you drive ahead to several blowers that dry off your car for a minute or so before you exit.

Shortly after leaving the car wash I pulled up to a light and when accelerating from the intersection I heard some water sloshing around that I though was maybe caught in the door jambs so I didn't think too much of it. A couple of minutes later I hit another light and once again heard the same sound when pulling away. I looked down to find a bunch of water in the passenger footwell! To say I was confused would be an understatement. The car then proceeded to make some pretty crazy sounds. At first it sounded like a fan with a bad bearing or out of balance blade and then quickly escalated to an all out electrical whine as if something wasn't grounded properly. No error messages or anything on the screen, so I reluctantly limped the car home to see what the hell was going on.

First of all, here is the water in question:

1a-jpg.20602


It may not come through the picture, but it's significant. A little more investigating showed this as the source of the water:

2a-jpg.20603


I then proceeded to remove that panel by pulling the four pop rivets and found this:

3a-jpg.20604


What we have is a completely soaked underside to that panel including that filter (assuming that's what that is), the footwell light and the speaker in the upper left. After some colorful language I turned my attention to source of the problem. I looked around the windshield wiper area and didn't see anything out of the ordinary so I popped the hood and found this:

5-jpg.20605


You can clearly see the soap from the car wash. I then popped off the large cover to reveal this:

6-jpg.20606


It appears the car is drawing outside air via this intake, but water can also enter this way. I turned on the heater and proceeded to see puddled water at the bottom of this intake that was now bubbling because the heater was running and drawing air through it. The highlighted area is where it was sitting:

7a-jpg.20608


Zooming out a bit, it appears there is a drain hole in this vent area that supposed to address this:

8-jpg.20609


This however is apparently not sufficient and does not prevent water from entering the vent if that water is under any pressure like at a car wash or potentially during a hard rain. It could also be the blowers at the end of the wash forced the water in there. Any water that gets in there is then sucked into the car in an area with a lot of critical electronics (more than just that speaker and the light). I used my air compressor to blow out all the water inside the car. I then used the compressor to remove the excess water in and around this area under the hood and inside the vent. Once again water was back in the car confirming the source of the problem:

9-jpg.20611


It would appear I've stumbled across a pretty bad design flaw as under no conditions should water enter the car. My bigger concern was all the electronics that got wet, but so far no major issue as a result. I was pretty concerned by the audible sound problems (I can post up a video later) as that sounded terrible, but I think that was just because of the speaker getting wet. I called Tesla service and they weren't very helpful. First mobile tech appointment is 2/18 which is nuts, but the closest service center is 3 hours away and this doesn't appear to be a showstopper at the moment.

Moral of the story is be careful at certain car washes and under conditions of heavy rain. Really curious to see if Tesla comes up with a long term fix here, but it seems like I won't know anything else for over a month.
 

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iChris93

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#5
Wow. I am sorry to see that happened.

I have gone through several touch less washes, also my only option during winter, and I have not had any water intrusion like that.
 

ravisorg

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#6
That really sucks :/

I’ve been through those washes at least a dozen times and no apparent issues. I’d contact Tesla for a service appointment maybe, there might be something wrong with your specific car.
 

Achooo

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#8
This is terrible. Please, keep us updated on any new information you might find out. I'm going to avoid touchless washes for now. I had considered using touchless wash as an interim between home ONR washes, but I'll just stick it out and wash the car at home for now.
 

JasonF

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#9
I use lots of touchless car washes, and have never had this happen. It's possible some model variation may be in play, though.

Another factor may be that I try to keep the fan low and the outside air mix turned off, but not to keep water out, just because I don't like the soap smell to stay in the car for hours.
 

Frully

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#11
Brutal. I hope you find a solution and soon!

Question: Was the vehicle hvac/defog running at the time? I know running the defrost puts the fan up to 100% and that could be enough airflow to bring plenty of water in along with it. I know I'll be putting my hvac off during washes in the future.
 

MelindaV

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#12
Brutal. I hope you find a solution and soon!

Question: Was the vehicle hvac/defog running at the time? I know running the defrost puts the fan up to 100% and that could be enough airflow to bring plenty of water in along with it. I know I'll be putting my hvac off during washes in the future.
That combined with a high pressure car wash, I’m not surprised water would be sucked in thru the cabin air intake.
 

TrevP

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#13
Wow, I've been through lots of touchless car washes with my Tesla and have never had anything like that happen before. Seems very strange the water drain would go directly into the cabin like that. Are you sure you're not missing a drain tube or something?
 

NelsonD

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#14
Another factor may be that I try to keep the fan low and the outside air mix turned off, but not to keep water out, just because I don't like the soap smell to stay in the car for hours.
In the meantime that is a workaround to hopefully minimize or eliminate water getting in as the car must be washed from time to time. :)

Not running heat or air should hopefully allow that drain hole to do it's thing until/when Tesla offers a solution. This is just something I never thought or had to worry about before.
 

NelsonD

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#15
Wow, impressive the detail of how much you were able to track down the issue.
Thanks. I decided to channel my anger when this whole thing happened into something positive that might help others. Also, waiting over a month for Tesla to look at it wasn't going to happen so I had to get to the bottom of it. I was really perplexed how this was even possible and needed an answer.
 

NelsonD

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#16
Question: Was the vehicle hvac/defog running at the time? I know running the defrost puts the fan up to 100% and that could be enough airflow to bring plenty of water in along with it. I know I'll be putting my hvac off during washes in the future.
Heater was definitely running as I was sitting in the car obviously. Outside temp was probably in the 30s and inside temp set to 68 so heater/fan was not running on full blast as I'd driven the car for about 45 minutes at that point and it was plenty warm inside. I too will be turning the heater off in the future to be safe.
 

NelsonD

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#17
Wow, I've been through lots of touchless car washes with my Tesla and have never had anything like that happen before. Seems very strange the water drain would go directly into the cabin like that. Are you sure you're not missing a drain tube or something?
Not the greatest pic of that drain, but if the water does exit via the drain it would go into the "engine" bay and simply fall to the ground. The issue is if the water is under any kind of significant velocity it will bypass that drain and run (or get sucked in) to the car.
 

Jason@FreshStartDetail

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#18
Would it be reasonable to enlarge that drain hole without adverse effects? Imagine if that little hole gets plugged with pine needles or debris. A little hole like that wouldn't take much to clog. Then you'd have a serious water influx problem even during"normal" rainfall. Please post back after your appointment to give us an update. I appreciate your work on this so far.
 

MountainPass

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#19
Just went through a car wash today and became quite concerned when I saw this thread. When I worked on BMWs I noticed all the cabin air intakes pointed down, so the air has to be pulled upwards vertically, making it impossible for water to get in. This just appears to be a large funnel with a little drain hole in it!
 

fsKotte

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#20
I have taken mine through many touchless washes as you describe, and haven't experienced what you did (water leaking in the cabin), but I do hand-dry / touch up right after the wash, and I've always opened the frunk hood to dry the under-area, and I always see that vent panel you pointed out, and there's always a lot of water on it, and always wondered if it was an issue, if water got in there. I usually get in between the vent slats and dry those out with the microfiber towel I'm using to sort of touch-up dry the car.

I wonder if another short-term fix is to somehow cover that vent with a hand-towel or something before entering the touchless wash. After your post, and experience, I'm definitely going to look closely at the areas you point out, and may try covering up that frunk vent with a hand-towel. Not sure if just putting a towel over the vent will work - it may get blown off during the drying phase. But maybe worth a try, it might be held in place by the under-hood if thick enough.