After buying the most expensive car in my life I was determined to take great care of it and wanted desperately to avoid anything to detract from its beauty. Despite my best efforts I’ve made mistakes. Here are 5 things for new owners to watch out for in the order I “experienced” them.
1. The car is long and low. Especially in the front. Be very careful pulling into parking spots.
I got my car with the technology package and parking sensors knowing I wanted to be extra careful parking the Model S. I was coming from a SUV which clears curbs by a mile and knew this would be a challenge. What I didn’t know that you should is that the parking sensors are not very responsive. You can pull into parking spots faster than the sensors will warn you and thats when driving responsibly.
Drive extra slow when pulling into parking spots
In this one I got lucky. I was about 2 weeks into ownership and pulled into a parking lot at a Panera. The curb was just high enough to scrape the undercarriage of my front but not high enough to crunch anything. It was a good warning i’ve taken seriously since.
2. The car is low and the tires are thin — give turns a wide radius.
A few weeks later pulling into parking lot I took a right turn into it a bit too tight and scraped the right rear wheel. Over the last few years I did this a couple times in my Acura SUV and always felt silly running over the curb but never did any damage. I’m not a careless driver but that turn is tight and sometimes people are coming out and you’re sort of forced to make a tight turn.
The Model S is a lot lower than the SUV and the wheels are a lot smaller. The standard 19″ wheels are very susceptible to what they call “curb rash” and I added some of my own. Since then I take that turn (and others like it) extra wide.
Take right turns wide around curbs to avoid “curb rash”
3. There’s no plastic bumper and you have to lift items cleanly into the rear hatch
Many cars have a plastic bumper in the rear you don’t mind a few scrapes on. Or the hatch opens and its flat and you don’t have to lift over a lip. The Model S requires you to lift up and over the lip and the back of the car is all beautiful aluminum. My family knew full well to be extra careful with the car, but one of my kid’s friends “dragged” a heavy duty ice skating bag up and into the back of the car. This left a long shallow mark on the back bumper. There’s no yelling at other people’s kids for stuff like that but had I known I could have prepared them.
Warn people to carefully lift up and into the front and rear cargo areas (especially kids) or be “kind” and help them with their bags.
4. The rear hatch lifts high and its hard to know its open. Don’t drive with it open.
This one pains me the most. Thanks to the need to charge i’ve had to back my Model S into my garage since day 1. All my other cars have been pulled into the garage. When you back them out you have to look back through the hatch. If the hatch is open you’d know before going anywhere. Also when the hatch is open on an ICE car and you start the engine you hear it. With a Model S its dead silent. So picture me getting home from work late as usual. I back in, pop the rear hatch to get my gym bag out and then remember an errand I have to run. I jump back in and close my drivers door and start to drive forgetting the hatch is open. Crunch.
I was in a rush, I was tired, I wasn’t thinking straight. But the normal things that would have warned me didn’t work with the Model S. I was facing the wrong way, it was super quiet. Wait, doesn’t it beep when the hatch is open when you put it in gear? Sometimes it does, but its not very loud. Also my car always beeps when I pull it into and out of the garage. The parking sensors go off with the proximity of the sides of the garage so i’ve grown used to extra beeps as I pull in or out and ignore them. The hatch open one isn’t distinctive and didn’t do its job. And despite the car being much lower than the SUV the hatch opens nice and high for ease of access. Too high in this case.
Pay extra attention to any warnings/beeps when shifting into drive or reverse.
This one was the most visible of the scrapes. It will take a body shop to fix and it won’t be cheap. Thats a post and project for another day.
5. Watch out for door dings. Pick your parking spots carefully.
Fortunately this is one i’ve avoided so far but it’s likely only a matter of time. The Model S doesn’t have a strip running horizontally along the middle of the door to catch the edges of inconsiderate people. The sides of the Model S are clean and sleek but the Model S is also pretty wide. To minimize risk of dings do the following:
- Try to find a spot with one edge along a curb or otherwise blocked from other cars. Better yet, find 2. But beware the pitfalls above.
- Park where nobody else wants to park — walk for your health. Admire your Model S sitting out by itself. Let it be a loner. Your Model S stands alone.
Do you have your own moments to share? I’d love to hear (and avoid) them. Drop me a line in the comments below.