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Man In Tesla Model S Fire Explains What Happened

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the burn-it-up dept.

Transportation 526

An anonymous reader writes "The three recent Tesla fires have raised concerns with a lot of people. One person who isn't concerned, however, is Juris Shibayama, the man whose model S burned in Tennessee. He says: 'I would buy another one in a heartbeat.' From the article: 'Shibayama said that he struck a three-pronged trailer hitch in the middle lane of the interstate. He continued: "About 30-45 seconds later, there was a warning on the dashboard display saying, 'Car needs service. Car may not restart.' I continued to drive, hoping to get home. About one minute later, the message on the dashboard display read, 'Please pull over safely. Car is shutting down.'" He said he had time to remove his possessions, even though, he said: "About 5-10 seconds after getting out of the car, smoke started to come from the front underbody of the car."'"

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526 comments

They should upgrade the warning ... (5, Funny)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 5 months ago | (#45388353)

... to include "Car is about to burst into flame"

Re:They should upgrade the warning ... (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#45388457)

"A door is a jar," "The car is a flame," it's the same, only different.

Re:They should upgrade the warning ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388537)

lp0 on fire

Re:They should upgrade the warning ... (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#45388647)

"Please pull over safely and evacuate the vehicle immediately."

"Thank you for pressing the self-destruct button. This ship will self-destruct in 3 minutes"

Re:They should upgrade the warning ... (2)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 5 months ago | (#45388671)

"This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then explode."

Re:They should upgrade the warning ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388713)

Car to self destruct in 10..9..8...

Well... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388359)

At least it didn't bluescreen and lock him in the car.

Service with a Smile (5, Funny)

Stephen Thomas Kraus Jr (3382177) | about 5 months ago | (#45388365)

At least the car was upbeat and friendly about its impending doom!

Re:Service with a Smile (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388517)

At least the car was upbeat and friendly about its impending doom!

Absolutely. Factory default is nice mode.

I wonder what the Chicago plug-in sounds like.

You probably receive death threats even when the car isn't on fire so you feel right at home.

Re:Service with a Smile (0)

jamesh (87723) | about 5 months ago | (#45388767)

At least the car was upbeat and friendly about its impending doom!

If I was in charge the car would scream in pain.

"It burns! It burns! What have you done to me??? Oh the pain!"

is this a dupe article? (4, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | about 5 months ago | (#45388371)

Or is he going to buy a third Tesla after his first two caught fire?

Re:is this a dupe article? (2)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#45388427)

1) Buy Tesla car.
2) Short Tesla stock.
3) Burn Tesla car.
4) ???
5) Profit!

Re:is this a dupe article? (2)

karnal (22275) | about 5 months ago | (#45388633)

1) Buy Tesla Stock
2) Short Tesla Car
3) Car's on fire, there is no 3.
4) ???
5) Profit!

Low expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388437)

The man has some seriously low expectations of a car.

Re: Low expectations (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388563)

I've know two people had trucks catch fire in the last year or so.... A Chevy Silverado and a Ford F150. You know what stupid things they did to cause this? One was parked in the driveway outside his house the other was being driven down the interstate.... Where's the relentless news coverage on these incidents? Even better is the response from the companies, for letters stating it was not their fault.

Re:is this a dupe article? (1, Insightful)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 5 months ago | (#45388509)

Mod parent up - this same "proud Tesla owner" is not the third fire, probably the 2nd iirc. This guy had a spot on the front page right after the second fire, b/c it's "all good."

Let's get the facts:
  - 3 of these have caught fire and have made headlines
  - Cars catch on fire
  - Trying to push headlines that make it look like Tesla is the good guy, which they really are - see above two points - only make it seem like the opposite: you don't have to massage a pubic that understands the two key points by trying to somehow fluff it up over and over AND OVER AGAIN. After second fire: "Fiery Tesla Owner Says He'd Buy Again;" third fire: "Everyone take a breath, cars catch on fire all the time," and "Same guy from before said he would buy another, remember? He said it before, and don't forget he said it."

Chill. If the cars are deathtraps, we'll know soon enough...I mean, it's not like these were the only 3 bought right?

Re:is this a dupe article? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388561)

I don't have to massage a pubic?

So. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388375)

Translation - when you get in a WRECK your car does odd things. I am happy this person came forward and said "had a wreckand the car even warned me to RUN!"

Good design tesla.

huh? (0)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 5 months ago | (#45388381)

The guy got in an accident and figured he would just, you know, say screw it and drive home instead of stopping and reporting an accident?

Re:huh? (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#45388393)

No, cops would get rather annoyed if everyone called them just to tell them they hit something on the road way. He wasn't in an accident that involved another car and at the time he wasn't aware of how much damage had been done to his car. There was no reason to call the cops ever, only the fire department.

Re:huh? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 5 months ago | (#45388541)

In some states, you can't get your car fixed if the damage is over some arbitrary dollar amount without a police report.

I guess I figured the trailer hitch in question was attached to a vehicle of some kind. I guess we should take it to mean debris?

Re:huh? (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about 5 months ago | (#45388567)

Whereas here in Texas, they won't file a police report unless there's an injury or death, it seems like. If you want to make an insurance claim, the cops will give you a form you have to fill out and send to Austin.

Re:huh? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 5 months ago | (#45388639)

I guess I figured the trailer hitch in question was attached to a vehicle of some kind. I guess we should take it to mean debris?

Pretty much. While you might need to eventually get a police report, for a non-disabled car(remember it initially said it'd need repair, but worked) without any damage to anything of importance you can usually 'phone in' your police report. Heck, I remember one state you could do it on the web.

As for the hitch he hit, I can't help but picture it as a giant caltrop.

Re:huh? (4, Interesting)

PotatoHead (12771) | about 5 months ago | (#45388669)

Yes. Shit on the road.

All kinds of stuff happens and sometimes you don't have time or options to deal with it. So, it's a drive over and hope. Sucks, but there isn't too much we can do about the problem.

Here's a nice one:

It's a torrential rain kind of night. About 11:00 PM, on a rural highway, two lane, cars regularly passing in opposing lane. My brother in law was driving an old 70's Toyota Corolla. The engine in that thing was great, but the body was crapping out here and there. This was the mid 90's. Toyota has since beefed things up some, but their 70's era cars were awful thin in places. The Corolla was thin in the trunk.

This brother in law saw a few rust patches, but didn't think too much of it having driven some Chevy thing or other before. No worries. Well, he had a nice, big, heavy floor jack in the back of that Corolla because he lost the stock one. Besides, the floor jack could lift one end of the car in a pinch, which made tire rotation quicker. That, and a 4-way lug wrench, various cans of oil, etc... were all in this razor thin, rusted out trunk, just waiting to exit the car, which they did.

When it happened, he was moving about 60, nobody in front, headed to meet the rest of the family. Two or three vehicles were behind him, following close as people in my neck of the woods will often do. Out comes that jack. It probably weighed 25 pounds. He heard the clunk, and it actually wedged in a way that moved the rear of the car some, he saw sparks and then one of the lights behind him went out.

Now he's a dick, and just floored it. All he knows is that way too close tailgater got up close and very personal with that floor jack, and had to pull off the road. Some other cars in the other lane darted about and a few had pulled over that he could see in the rear mirror, while speeding away as quickly as he could.

When he arrived to tell the story, we opened the trunk, and he basically didn't have one anymore. All the stuff was gone, and the metal bits were bent this way and that along the edges. We think the trunk floor just dropped out and onto the road. The news featured the event and he worried about it for years. That jack took the first car right out! Bashed the drivers side light out, pierced the radiator, and ruined the drivers side tire before bouncing into traffic going the other direction where other fun 'n games proceeded to occur where it bounced into another one doing enough damage to the muffler and side panel to be ugly, and ended up pinned under a third where it ground to a stop.

Shit happens.

Probably that thing was not secured and just ended up on the road. So this guy is driving along, somebody changes lanes or something and there it is! He probably didn't have options. If he did, he would have not driven over it, unless it just dropped in such a way that left him no time.

Good Engineering Tesla (1, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#45388387)

Good job, lets of safety features worked as intended. I LOVE to see when these sort of active safety systems do their job.

Now move the fucking battery pack so this shit stops. 1/4" aluminum armor 'a good idea' and all, but only because you mounted the battery in a stupid fucking position. Treat it like the gas tank, since it too is the energy storage medium for the car and its most dangerous components. Gas tanks don't need 1/4" armor ... because they don't mount them where shit getting wedge under the car is going to penetrate them, neither should you.

Designing a new car from the ground up without all the old baggage of a 100 years of car building practices may seem like a great idea for efficiency, but its really not considering you're now going to RELEARN a BUNCH of shit that GM, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota and all the rest learned a long time ago.

Nothing Tesla is doing is new or groundbreaking, theres no reason for throwing the baby out in the bath water, which is what they've done.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#45388441)

I know more than one person who got a punctured gas tank. I know one guy who kept bondo-ing his gas tank because of the multiple holes in it and not wanting to replace it. Granted more than one was from light of-roading, but still, it happens and is common.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388573)

I know more than one person who got a punctured gas tank. I know one guy who kept bondo-ing his gas tank because of the multiple holes in it and not wanting to replace it. Granted more than one was from light of-roading, but still, it happens and is common.

Yes. About as common as eligible candidates appear on the radar for the Darwin Awards, which should tell you something about your friend Dr. Bondo there. I'd stand pretty far back with the camera if I were you when he gets a wild YouTube up his ass.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (5, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 5 months ago | (#45388447)

Why's the current location a big problem? The current location helps lower the Tesla's CG which is good in many other ways. For a "sports car" I'd say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

These class of cars crash and burn all the time (some even split in two). Google if you don't believe me. Heck even other conventional cars crash and burn too- A friend's friends were burnt to death in a BMW after a crash - they were stuck and couldn't get out.

This Tesla model seems really safe in comparison. Maybe add some thermal sensors, have a "car about to burn" warning and we're good to go.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388467)

Car will be vaporized in 5.....4.....3....

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#45388831)

tesla would split too if driven fast enough.

other sports cars(in same price range) though go faster easier - and then it's about engineering where it splits.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (3, Informative)

TWX (665546) | about 5 months ago | (#45388465)

Gas tanks have plagued automotive manufacturers as problematic for as long as cars have had them.

GM had sporadic issues with "saddle" fuel tanks mounted outboard of the frame rails of some of their pickup trucks. This got downplayed because Dateline couldn't properly reproduce the problems and ended up cheating to set them off, but the positioning got changed later.

Ford had several issues. Pintos had tanks mounted too-far aft, making them vulnerable to rear-end collisions. Ford also experimented with making the tank integral with the trunk floor, basically the trunk floor was also the top of the fuel tank itself, and collisions would rupture it. They further had problems with the Crown Victoria, when rear-ended with significant force, puncturing the tank.

All American automakers had trouble with tanks mounted with the fuel filler necks behind the license plates.

There have been incidents where debris on the road was kicked up so that it contacted the fuel tank underneath, rupturing it and causing a fire.

You are correct that Tesla needs to analyze why the batteries are being compromised from what should be survivable incidents, a car's batteries should be protected better to keep them from being damaged by even the most severe road debris. After all, a car could strike a concrete curb in a parking lot at high speed and high-center across it, or could be forced to take an evasive maneuver and strike something like a milemarker sign post and run that along under the car. These kinds of strikes shouldn't even particularly phase the car, let alone lead to its destruction.

Bad, Bad Strike (5, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | about 5 months ago | (#45388677)

You are correct that Tesla needs to analyze why the batteries are being compromised from what should be survivable incidents, a car's batteries should be protected better to keep them from being damaged by even the most severe road debris.

Actually, the described scenario of striking a multi-headed trailer hitch is probably WORSE than all that you described. It must of acted like a huge caltrop. You can't design for 'everything' and keep the car light enough to be functional.

Concrete curb - Odds are at least one of the wheels are going to hit the curb as well, raising the vehicle and lowering the strike area, and standard ones probably don't stick up as high as the hitch did. Even if not, you likely have a deflecting implact, not a puncturing one.

Road sign - These are generally constructed of mild steel and aluminum, as the worst the post has to withstand is the weather on the sign. In an impact it's going to be forced down of course, but then the rest of the sign will act as a lifting/distributing force on the car.

Trailer hitch - Designed to be able to haul trailers weighing 5k pounds and up, the balls are solid hardened steel and the post is generally at least 1/2 inch thick, again of hardened steel. Given the described hitch was a multi-ball type, it's entirely possible/probable that the thing weighed more than the average stop sign/post(excepting concrete), much less a mile marker. It probably impacted the car in a armor-piercing fashion much like a pike against a calvary charge.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#45388469)

Now move the fucking battery pack so this shit stops. 1/4" aluminum armor 'a good idea' and all, but only because you mounted the battery in a stupid fucking position. Treat it like the gas tank, since it too is the energy storage medium for the car and its most dangerous components. Gas tanks don't need 1/4" armor ... because they don't mount them where shit getting wedge under the car is going to penetrate them, neither should you.

Designing a new car from the ground up without all the old baggage of a 100 years of car building practices may seem like a great idea for efficiency, but its really not considering you're now going to RELEARN a BUNCH of shit that GM, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota and all the rest learned a long time ago.

Nothing Tesla is doing is new or groundbreaking, theres no reason for throwing the baby out in the bath water, which is what they've done.

Um, this is the tesla that burst into flame under the hood... nowhere near the battery pack. I'm pretty impressed that the sensors detected the fault so far ahead of the failure... now they just need to add some extra circuitry to completely disable electronics in areas that have an electrical fault (after the car is in park of course).

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (0)

plopez (54068) | about 5 months ago | (#45388497)

What they need now is an ejection seat to bet the idiotic driver out of the car in such a situation.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (4, Informative)

Wing_Zero (692394) | about 5 months ago | (#45388475)

Gas tanks don't need 1/4" armor ... because they don't mount them where shit getting wedge under the car is going to penetrate them, neither should you.

Obviously you haven't looked under a car before. Most gas tanks are mounted under the rear seat and VERY exposed, having only a couple straps and..... a piece of sheet metal (for a heat and debris shield) to protect it. (tanks nowadays are mostly made of plastic as well, so the casing on a battery is probably stronger. the plastic is soft, and flexes, so that helps)

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

plover (150551) | about 5 months ago | (#45388759)

The Tesla's battery packs contain lots of 18650 LiOn cells,which are commonly found in laptop batteries. They're protected by being individual, small cells, and are above a plate, but if you consider what happens if you smack them with a 20 pound chunk of steel at 70 MPH, they aren't going to survive, no matter what.

Re: Good Engineering Tesla (3, Insightful)

mojo-raisin (223411) | about 5 months ago | (#45388559)

What a know it all, arm chair commenter. Have you seen the overall model S safety and notice no one has any permanent injuries despite some crazy crashes? This is due to the regidity and strength of the skateboard battery.

You are quite good at using the word fuck, but that's all you know.

Re: Good Engineering Tesla (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 5 months ago | (#45388663)

Have you seen the overall model S safety and notice no one has any permanent injuries despite some crazy crashes?

I would like to read this overall safety record, what is the link for it, please?

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

meekg (30651) | about 5 months ago | (#45388683)

You mean put it in the back, where if you get rear-ended, it's in the line of fire?

At least at the bottom there's less risk of a massive impact, and it lowers the car's center of gravity.

"RELEARN a BUNCH of shit that GM, Ford, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota and all the rest learned a long time ago" - no thanks. Good opportunity to get around legacy hardware designed under circumstances that are often no longer relevant.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388707)

The problem is the batteries weight significantly more than a full gas tank, and compounding that issue is that the rest of the car is significantly lighter than is the case in a gas-engine car. So the battery pack ends up being a much larger proportion of the car's overall weight, and it becomes critical to keep that mass as low to the ground as possible for all sorts of other safety reasons that are more statistically significant than running over large objects that can puncture 1/4" armor plating. Keeping the mass low gives the car a lower CG, resulting in better rollover prevention and far superior handling than the car would have with it mounted higher and rearward like a gas tank.

Just going by the statistics of the situation and how well the safety systems have dealt with the isolated incidents, I don't think any design change is necessary at all. But if they were forced to make an appeasing design change due to the media hype, probably their best bet is just to increase the plating to 3/8" (at further construction and mpg cost, unfortunately).

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | about 5 months ago | (#45388717)

My thoughts too. Seems a reasonable outcome considering a nice hunk of metal came into serious contact with his car.

I like the low battery, maybe do some serious analysis on the armor plate and beef it all up. Or, like you say, move the whole works. Something. The FEA structural software can do amazing things these days. This problem can be engineered away.

Nice outcome for the driver. He got informed and could proceed to take appropriate action.

Gas cars just catch fire and escalate quickly for comparison. I'll bet he does get another one.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388797)

Now move the fucking battery pack so this shit stops. 1/4" aluminum armor 'a good idea' and all, but only because you mounted the battery in a stupid fucking position. Treat it like the gas tank, since it too is the energy storage medium for the car and its most dangerous components. Gas tanks don't need 1/4" armor ... because they don't mount them where shit getting wedge under the car is going to penetrate them, neither should you.

Moving the battery pack to a different location may well lead to additional accidents by way of suboptimal center of gravity. Appeasing outliers is not a strategy for maximizing safety of a vehicle.

Designing a new car from the ground up without all the old baggage of a 100 years of car building practices may seem like a great idea for efficiency, but its really not considering you're now going to RELEARN

Nonsense major vendors are playing it safe making surprisingly few changes to existing designs.

If you wanted to redesign everything from scratch you would replace all of the 100 year old shit with hub motors. Additional handling capabilities they can bring to the table are well worth addressing their engineering challenges. It is an inevitable evolution one all save few niche vendors are touching.

Re:Good Engineering Tesla (1)

Animats (122034) | about 5 months ago | (#45388825)

Now move the fucking battery pack so this shit stops. 1/4" aluminum armor 'a good idea' and all, but only because you mounted the battery in a stupid fucking position.

Moving the battery is a big deal; the whole car is designed around the battery. You want the battery low, to keep the CG down. In the Tesla Model S, the vehicle is below the floor pan. Stronger armor would help, but if the aluminum was replaced by steel, it would add 7 pounds per square foot to a battery pack that has about 30 square feet of bottom. So that's over 200 pounds. (It already weighs 4640 pounds empty.) Kevlar, maybe?

For a good overview of what the bottom side of a Tesla Model S battery is like, see this video for first responders. (Starts where they're showing a Tesla Model S on its side.) [youtube.com] Probably more than you ever wanted to know about how to deal with wrecked electric vehicles.

At least the car didn't say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388405)

"I feel much better now, Shibayama-san"

Bravo, Elon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388413)

Once again the haters are eating crow.
Tesla is the REVOLUTION the driving public has been waiting for, and nothing can stop them now!

Re:Bravo, Elon! (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 5 months ago | (#45388459)

I certainly hope so. They're still in the early adopter phase, though. I don't even have a driver's license so maybe by the time I do get it their cars will have come down in price.

concertinaed ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388519)

concertinaed ????? What the HELL?

Re:concertinaed ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388591)

followed by "however is, Juris Shibayama, "

amazing "editorial" work

Man who got a blow job explains what happened (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388525)

I was having a drink at the bar and I accidentally started a conversation with some lady. Half an hour and few drinks later, she offered to suck my dick. Against my better judgement (I was planning on recompiling my android kernel with some new optimization flags) I followed her into the men's room. She pulled down my pants and was about to suck my dick when her boyfriend kicked in the door and threatened to beat us both up! So I din't actually get a blow job. And I think she stole my wallet. But I tell people I got a blow job! :)

"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (2, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#45388531)

What exactly is a "three-pronged trailer hitch"? Google Images doesn't seem to have a clue, and it doesn't sound very functional. How does a trailer hitch with more than one "prong"/fulcrum do anything useful?

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388575)

An example:
http://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mounts/Curt/C45001.html

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (4, Informative)

Mr Z (6791) | about 5 months ago | (#45388581)

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#45388635)

Oh, I get it now: the three balls are different sizes to accommodate different loads and it's simply rotated in the receiver(?), right? I'm a trailer hitch simpleton.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about 5 months ago | (#45388701)

Yeah, pretty much. There's also a variety with three balls mounted in parallel. Sure, you'll pull loads slightly off center with such a hitch if you use the balls to either side, but not enough to make a big difference, apparently.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 5 months ago | (#45388799)

I'm sorry but i just don't trust those things for anything above the lightest load.. the way they are made ALL of the load is on the weld from the ball to draw bar. and honestly the welds look questionable.. especially when the ball and the drawbar look to be different grades of steel..

There are so many things i see when i look at that, no way i'm towing with one..

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

Mr Z (6791) | about 5 months ago | (#45388833)

But hey, they're strong enough to puncture a Tesla, so there you go. (FWIW, I don't tow a darn thing.)

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388585)

http://images.palcdn.com/hlr-system/WebPhotos/81/811/8114/8114944.jpg

These can land in various positions.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#45388613)

I'm a trailer hitch simpleton, I guess... how would the other two balls be used? Surely not all three at the same time?

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388673)

That's what your Mom thought until last night!

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (4, Funny)

ArbitraryName (3391191) | about 5 months ago | (#45388679)

They're three different size balls (that's what she said). You rotate it so the size you need is facing up.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388605)

It probably means a 3-position ball mount. That would be the part that comes off the the hitch receiver (the part on the vehicle) and that the trailer connects to. Usually they have 1 ball on them (there are several different sizes used depending on the weight of the trailer being towed). A 3-position unit has the three most common sizes permanently attached. Hitting a 25lb peice of steel at highway speeds doesn't seem like a minor event to me.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

elijahu (1421) | about 5 months ago | (#45388607)

Maybe he meant 3-ball or 3-way trailer hitch. Google Images will give you better, surprisingly G-rated results.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

elijahu (1421) | about 5 months ago | (#45388621)

Wow, a lot of slashdotters were apparently simultaneously familiar with trailer hitches (or had googled 3-way balls already).

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 months ago | (#45388729)

Well how do you move stuff around? Having said that I am surprised at how many size tow balls are in use in the USA.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

dasunt (249686) | about 5 months ago | (#45388809)

The tow ball size indicates the weight limit of the hitch.

Although there's so many options nowadays that the original purpose is probably invalidated.

Re:"three-pronged trailer hitch"? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 months ago | (#45388697)

Since the suspension of the Tesla S can apparently change the ground clearance, I wonder if the car could use radar or another type of sensor to try to avoid situations like this.

Stupid idiot messages (2, Insightful)

ortholattice (175065) | about 5 months ago | (#45388551)

A pet peeve with cars is the stupid engine light that gives no clue what the problem is. I have no idea if it's some lower-priority thing like a polution sensor slightly out of spec or something where I need to stop immediately to avoid engine damage. (I know you can buy the code readers, but I don't carry one around in my car typically.)

So the Tesla, with all its sophistication, says 'Car needs service. Car may not restart.' WTF? They might as well replace it with an engine light to save money.

I do agree that 'Please pull over safely. Car is shutting down.' is a little better, but not much.

Re:Stupid idiot messages (2)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | about 5 months ago | (#45388651)

Some cars flash their "check engine" light in specific sequences to indicate certain issues. So if it flashes, say, 3 long flashes followed by 4 short, you can look up the code "34" in the manual and get an idea of what the problem is. I know Mazda (used to?) do this.

Re:Stupid idiot messages (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 months ago | (#45388655)

Too much information can be a bad thing. You need to communicate these situations in a simple manner so that they don't distract the driver too much.

Re:Stupid idiot messages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388695)

Any car that has OBDII (Anything in the past 12 years) will flash light the CEL (Check Engine Light) when there is a major issue requiring you to pull over. If the light is solid lit, it can wait.

Re:Stupid idiot messages (4, Insightful)

ArbitraryName (3391191) | about 5 months ago | (#45388699)

You can leave a reader like this [dx.com] plugged in all the time (this is the exact one I have). A smartphone app connects to it via Bluetooth. Even when the car isn't throwing a code it can be great to have realtime data.

Re:Stupid idiot messages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388703)

I do agree that 'Please pull over safely. Car is shutting down.'
is a little better, but not much.

There is a pretty good reason for being reasonable with the warning though. It might cause a crash if the driver is distracted by DANGER! ABANDON CAR! ABANDON CAR!

Re:Stupid idiot messages (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 5 months ago | (#45388763)

A pet peeve with cars is the stupid engine light that gives no clue what the problem is. I have no idea if it's some lower-priority thing like a polution sensor slightly out of spec or something where I need to stop immediately to avoid engine damage. (I know you can buy the code readers, but I don't carry one around in my car typically.)

Given the years and number of manufacturers you should expect there to be variances in terms and functionality, from 'service engine' which means 'change your oil!', but in general a 'check engine' light is something minor that varies between 'won't pass a pollution test' to 'you're not getting the mileage you should'. It's when it starts flashing that you should pull over and call a tow truck.

Still... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388583)

In spite of the warnings, the car still caught fire.

Doo-dee-doo-dee-dah! Skip-to-ma-loo-dee-doo!

The car caught on fire.

god damn it man i need to fucking troll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388587)

and im banned from 4chan until 2014 holy fuck i hope dhcp gives me a new ip

Halt, then catch fire ... (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 months ago | (#45388661)

... in that order.

While a fire isn't desirable, this sounds like a good example of how to do it right.

Re:Halt, then catch fire ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388727)

Hey It's Still less dangerous than a Pinto http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto#Fuel_tank_defect

Electric vehicle in Tennesee program initiated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388725)

Now initializing self-destruct program in 30...29....28...27....

Will the insurance pay out on this? (1)

aphelion_rock (575206) | about 5 months ago | (#45388757)

The driver has admitted to driving the car after an accident, ignoring all warnings until told that the car had a problem so big that it was going to stop ( on fire). I would be interested in seeing the insurance companies response this this...

Re:Will the insurance pay out on this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45388807)

"Car needs service" and "car may not restart" sounds about as serious as having a piece of debris knock out your alternator. Especially if told "car may not restart" then heck yeah if it's running well ATM most folks would do the same: Try to limp it home.

Once it told him "GTFO" he did so, but before that it was just saying "Hey, somethings wrong, need to have a mechanic look at me tomorrow, and when you stop that's all she wrote I won't go any further."

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