The doctor was driving from Los Angeles to San Diego on October 7. She activated Autosteer for the first time and said the Model 3 was changing lanes every ten seconds or so. When she reached Camp Pendleton after stopping in Irvine for a late lunch, a car in front of hers slowed down. That was the trigger for her car to also decelerate and not move again.
An error popped up saying Autopilot was disengaged, but that was pretty much it. There was no warning that the vehicle was losing power, was out of charge, or anything like that. Before leaving, Brems made sure that her car would warn her if she had to stop in a Supercharger to get more power. It never advised her to do so, and when the vehicle stalled on the left lane of I-5 after a blind corner, there was very little she could do apart from calling 911.
Brems saw in the Tesla app that there was a service for roadside assistance for vehicles that stopped on the road. She selected it and received a text message 15 minutes later suggesting she call 911. She clarified she had just done that and that a tow truck was on its way. The person replying said they would close the request and told Brems to drop the car at the San Diego service center, which would be open on Monday.
The problem was that the doctor lives in Santa Monica, where Tesla has another service center. She asked if she could take her car there, but the request was already closed. She had to open a new one to ask about that and was informed that she could leave her car at the lot there and drop the keys in a drop box for the vehicle to be checked the following Monday, October 10. When the tow truck driver got there, the lot was closed, and there was no drop box for the keys. The vehicle was parked in front of the gates, and the truck driver left the keys under a trash box.
According to the Tesla Service Center, Brems was to blame because the vehicle failed for lack of charge – despite still having 29 miles of range when they analyzed the EV. The doctor tried to argue that it had 140 miles and about 40% of charge left. She showed them videos and pictures that proved that. Yet, she recorded a lady saying that she had to charge her car even after fully charging it at night, driving 90 miles, and having 140 miles left to drive when her vehicle stopped in the middle of the freeway.
The Tesla clerk insists that Brems should have checked the percentage because “even if you think you have 200-something miles in range, your battery percent life would be something different.” Yes, that’s on tape. The doctor was elegant enough to sum that up simply by saying: “That’s not normal.”
After this weird exchange with the company, Brems left the vehicle in the Tesla Service Center because she wants to return it. Tesla refuses to get the car back and return her money, while the doctor does not think it is an option to sell the vehicle with the defect it presents: she rightfully fears someone else may face the same life-threatening situation she did.
The other scenario is that there is “a really dangerous malfunction happening in cars” like hers, and she wants a reasonable answer for what it is. Now that her story is public, she may get one, as well as a request to sign a non-disclosure agreement if Tesla agrees to buy the Model 3 back. It would not be the first time.
My brand new model 3 stopped abruptly in the middle of the highway, only 90 miles into a full charge. @Tesla refuses to admit anything is wrong with their cars. Full video on YouTube. pic.twitter.com/ZkMg1eoGKp— Dr. Dana Brems, DPM (@footdocdana) October 14, 2022