Rivian R1T Bricked With No Warning Following a Software Update

Rivian R1T bricked with no warning following a software update 7 photos
Photo: Tucker74 via Rivian Forums | Edited
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Many Rivian R1T owners report dead 12-volt batteries following a software update earlier this month. When this happens, the truck bricks and locks out the drivers, who have no better choice than to call Rivian service. To fix the issue, the technicians replace the 12-volt batteries and recalibrate the system, but the costs are not always covered under warranty.
Rivian R1T has made the headlines as the first electric pickup truck in the U.S., although it wasn’t smooth sailing all the time. The truck appears more fragile than its owners expect, easily shedding body parts when encountering mundane situations like driving through a puddle. It was also reported that left unused, the R1T depletes the battery faster than other EVs. People have already penned a term for this: phantom drain.

Another problem has irked Rivian owners in the past couple of weeks. Many reported that their trucks had bricked without warning, even though the battery was properly charged. One owner said they charged their R1T in the evening, unplugged it in the morning, and two hours later, it locked up and shut down. This is just one of the many stories reported on Rivian forums and other social media channels.

In this case, the story had a happy ending, with Rivian Center fixing the issues without charging the customer. They also explained what happened. The latest software update contains a bug preventing communications between the high-voltage and 12-volt batteries. This prevents the latter from charging, so they get depleted. Because of the bug, the batteries cannot be “jump-started,” and only a replacement helps. Annoyingly, owners lose access to the car, as the doors cannot be opened normally.

To complicate things further, the batteries (there are two of them) need recalibrating after they are replaced, so a visit to the service center is almost guaranteed. Depending on your luck, Rivian may or may not cover the replacement costs. In the case described above, the problem was solved at no cost to the owner, but others weren’t so lucky. One Rivian Forums user described a similar issue that ended with a $1,000 bill for the battery replacement. Considering these are off-the-shelf lead-acid batteries, the price is greatly exaggerated.

According to the reports, the problem appeared after the 2023.6.2 update, although not all trucks that have it installed encountered the issue. Because the 12-volt batteries are regular SLA parts, they fail after getting depleted past a certain level. Still, this shouldn’t have happened while the high-voltage battery is still at a healthy state of charge and able to provide charging to the low-voltage battery.

Rivian is not the only car manufacturer that had a problem with the 12-volt battery. Tesla also experienced similar issues when the 12-volt batteries died prematurely. The EV market leader subsequently decided to replace lead-acid batteries with LFP parts. These are much better at surviving a deep discharge, making them last longer.

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About the author: Cristian Agatie
Cristian Agatie profile photo

After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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