Former Top Gear host James May took to YouTube in a video published Wednesday titled "James May's Tesla Model S has failed!" to include one of the top things he hates about his Model S. May, who has already made a video about the "dozen or so things he doesn't like about his Tesla" included another annoying issue with the car: Its 12-volt battery tends to die, transforming the vehicle into an electric brick.
May explains the Tesla has "two batteries." It has a "great big battery that powers the car, and it also has, here in the front, a conventional 12-volt battery that keeps all the systems alive." He said the car sat for a while and the 12-volt battery went "flat." Since the 12-volt battery powers the car's computer and locks, he could not unlock the front bonnet to charge the battery.
May then proposed the question: Why does the 12-volt battery go flat when it has a great big battery underneath the car?
He said Tesla provided him an answer that when the great big battery underneath the car is topped off, the car's charging system turns off and doesn't charge the 12-volt battery.
It took May about an hour to get into the front bonnet, where he had to remove part of the plastic wheel wells on the front driver and passenger side to pull emergency cords to unlock the bonnet. After that, he removed a ton more plastic and finally found the 12-volt battery buried deep inside.
May concludes to charge the 12-volt battery "you have to dismantle the car - it was about an hour's work - and frankly, it has pissed me off."
The former Top Gear host isn't the only one to experience 12-volt batteries dying in Teslas, locking owners out of their cars. The problem became so rampant that Elon Musk in late 2020 tweeted, "major software improvements are already in place to extend its life & more coming."
The 12-volt battery debacle hasn't been an isolated issue with just Tesla. Some Ford Mustang Mach-E have turned into "electric bricks" because of a software issue that would drain the 12-volt battery.
As for May, he said the solution is to attach a trickle charger cable to the Tesla's 12-volt battery and cut a hole through the plastic to make it easily accessible when the front bonnet is open.