PHOENIX, Az. (WTVO) — A Tesla owner claims he was “trapped” inside his Model Y on an extremely hot day and couldn’t get out when the battery died.
Rick Meggison, 73, said he got into the car, which was parked in his garage, in June. But once he got inside, the car’s power died.
“I couldn’t open the doors. I couldn’t lower the windows. The computer was dead, so I couldn’t open the glove box. I couldn’t open anything,” he told KNXV.
Meggison said the car’s main lithium-ion battery, which propels the car, had a plenty of range.
But, what happened is the 12-volt car battery, which powers the doors, display, and windows, had gone flat.
“Being caught in there for a couple hours could be dangerous,” he said.
Meggison ended up stuck in the car for about 20 minutes in 100 degree heat.
But he should have read his owner’s manual.
Although the interior door handles are electrically powered, Tesla cars do have a manual release lever for such events.
“It’s not labeled,” Meggison said. “You don’t know it’s there unless you know it’s there.”
Meggison was able to get out after calling his sister, who was somehow able to get the passenger door to open via the Tesla app.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers have filed similar complaints of becoming trapped in their Tesla cars with battery failure.
“The car was completely dead with my dogs inside. I live in Palm Springs. It was 90º and sunny outside,” one wrote in July.
The NHTSA says it urges owners to read their vehicle’s manual and become familiar with the car’s operation.
All electric vehicles use a large lithium-ion battery pack to power the vehicle’s propulsion, but use a standard 12-volt to run other interior systems, such as lights and the infotainment center.
But, unlike an internal combustion engine car, which can produce tell-tale signs of a weakened 12-volt battery — such as sluggish starter cranking — dead batteries in electric vehicles tend to drain until they’re dead.
Newer models have begun implementing sensors that detect when the voltage is getting low, and alert owners by an onboard message or via their app.