Deciding to buy an electric car like Tesla is definitely a big step for you, with many things that can concern you, such as their battery life, range, or charging options available. However, one of the significant concerns of EV buyers is how well they can manage water. So, you may ask whether Teslas are waterproof or not.
Tesla is waterproof and prevents water ingress for a short time. The doors, windows, hood, or trunk are perfectly sealed and don’t let water in. The battery pack and motor are also sealed and encased to stay dry while driving in the water. Besides, Tesla has added a new feature called “boat mode” on Model S.
If you’re also curious about how well Teslas can manage water and if they’re waterproof, read this article. We’ll take a look at Tesla’s ability to drive through water and see if it can really submerge or not. We’ll also help you understand how safe Electric cars are in contact with water.
Table of Contents
- How Tesla Handles Water
- Can Tesla Survive Floods?
- The Submarine Mode
- Tesla’s Safety in Water
How Tesla Handles Water
Heavy rains, storms, and floods have been more frequent in recent years due to climate changes and global warming. These increased water-related disasters are a big issue for many drivers. While the engine of regular, gas-fueled cars can choke in deep waters due to air intake and exhaust pipes, electric cars – especially Teslas – do pretty well in water.
Real-life Cases of Tesla Cars in Water
At first, footage of a Tesla Model S driven through the flood in Kazakhstan in 2016 grabbed the attention of people around the world. It seemed unearthly how easily the Tesla was wading through the deep water while other regular combustion engine cars were stalled. Here is the footage to see:
It got so viral that it even made Elon Musk react on his Tweeter. He commented that Model S could float pretty well for a short time, and you can double a Model S Tesla as a boat. He even said that you could use the wheel rotation for propelling.
However, he explicitly recommends avoiding driving your Tesla through deep water – Tesla’s warranty doesn’t cover damages from floods or wading in deep water.
Now, several similar footages from Tesla has gone viral again. These videos are, in fact, from Tesla Gigafactory 3 performing flood tests in Shanghai, China. In one of these videos, we see a Tesla Model 3 easily wading through water that comes up to its wheels. Here is the video if you want to take a look at it:
China loves Tesla because people know how well their EVs can defy heavy rains and floods – better than any regular gas-fueled vehicle. Tesla’s electric engine doesn’t require exhaust and has no air intake. What’s more, its engine and battery pack are encased in the cabin floor and hence are fully sealed and waterproof.
However, many think the Model 3 Teslas in these videos, produced in Shanghai, might have been equipped with some new technology. The new feature called “boat mode” used in Tesla Model S allows the car to wade through water easily and even submerge in severe cases.
In Model S, all the battery pack, motor, and electronic parts are hidden 14 inches down the bottom of the car. So, it makes sense why Tesla Electric cars are able to ride through deep water so well without any problem. They’re waterproof enough to let you drive through some water and get to a safe place.
Water Damages to Tesla Cars
However, leaving your Tesla in water for a long time is not recommended. As a famous YouTuber dismantling a Tesla Model S flooded by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 shows in his video, it can become a real hazard. You can check his video here:
Sitting in saltwater for 10 days had waterlogged its battery pack, and four of the twenty modules weren’t in good condition – even one of the modules was so corroded that it exploded while taking out.
What’s apparent from his video is that even a well-sealed Tesla can eventually let water in and get seriously damaged. Some metal parts and wires were heavily corroded, and water residue was totally visible all over the interior.
According to the footage, long-time exposure to water had led to mold developing on seats, belts, carpets, and other soft parts, which are also a severe respiratory hazard.
The battery pack of a Tesla sitting in water for an extended period can carry a very high and even lethal voltage that requires professional experts to handle it. The lithium inside the battery cells is extremely flammable and can produce massive heat when exposed to water. Although battery cells are usually sealed well and watertight, long-term exposure to water can deteriorate them.
Can Tesla Survive Floods?
A water-resistant car is essential if you live in a region with heavy seasonal rains. Most combustion-engine vehicles aren’t suitable for wading and may stall in deep water except for some SUVs – due to their height. But if the water level gets to their exhaust, they will also choke.
However, electric cars are less prone to water because of the lack of air intake through exhaust and having electric motors well-sealed and hidden in their floors, and Tesla is a high-end example of them.
Tesla can survive floods and wade through deep water impressively. Its doors, windows, hood, and trunk are sealed and prevent water from getting in while driving through the flood. Besides, its battery pack and motor are also well-sealed and encased to stay dry in different situations of water exposure.
However, as we mentioned before, and as Elon Musk himself pointed out, it works only for a short time, and you should avoid long-term exposure of your Tesla to water – no matter what Model it is. Water is powerful in the long term and can corrode metal parts gradually and somehow find its way into the car.
It also provides a favorable environment for growing mold and other microorganisms, creating serious respiratory problems. So, try to avoid deep waters as long as you can and never leave your Tesla in flood for a long time – the sooner you take it out, the damages will be less severe.
The Submarine Mode
Do you remember the famous Lotus Esprit of James Bond? The car was nicknamed the “Wet Nelly” and used in underwater scenes. Well, it now belongs to Elon Musk. He was so fascinated by the car that he bought it in 2013.
But that’s not the end of the story. Inspired by James Bond and its famous submarine car, Musk developed a feature to allow other James Bond lovers like himself to experience driving a Lotus Esprit. The Tesla Model S has several hidden features, and one of them is an option that allows you to turn the display into a Lotus Esprit submersible.
If you hold your hand on the Tesla logo at the top of the car’s screen, a login menu will appear, and you should use the code “007” for transformation to James Bond mode. Then you can set the underwater depth in leagues.
However, you should know that it doesn’t really transform your car into a submarine and still avoid driving your Tesla through the water. It’s just a fun experience offered as a part of the v5.9 software upgrade to live your 007 agent fantasy.
So, never imagine it’s a real transforming feature and again avoid wading in water as much as possible.
Tesla’s Safety in Water
Not only Teslas, but almost all electric cars are pretty safe in the water; if not, no safety regulator body would allow them to get into the market. They pass a series of tests before being launched and gain the authorities’ trust.
You may have heard of some Tesla crashes on the road or other accidents, but there’s no record of people getting electroshocked. While the voltage of Tesla battery packs ranges from 300 to more than 400 Volts and direct contact with them can be lethal, several safety measures are in place to prevent hazards.
For example, circuit breakers would automatically disconnect the power and isolate the battery pack in case of any collision or short circuit; if a bit of water gets into the electrical system, these circuit breakers trip and shut off the power.
Even the simple act of shutting down the car can stop the power flow from batteries, so even the high-voltage cables would have no power. These cables are bright orange for extra safety, indicating avoiding contact.
As a high-end Electric car producer continually adding new features to its EVs, Tesla is now much better than ever and stands taller than other carmakers – especially in handling water. Teslas are so well-sealed and watertight that they can even submerge in water for a short time and wade easily through the flood. If frequent floods and heavy rains are your concern, too, Tesla can rescue you.
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