Owners Tips

Goof of the Month: How to Gas Up Your Tesla

Welcome to Goof of the Month: our monthly dip into the world of automotive cluelessness, fearing for the worst, and stories about the need for drivers and shoppers to understand their vehicle, how to maintain it, and how it works.

This month? Oh boy.

The subject of this month’s story is a video that’s been making its rounds on the internets, uploaded to the LPE360 channel just before Christmas. Turn up the volume for the videographer’s hysterical laughter as he watches a Tesla driver at the gas station – parked at a gas pump – try and fill the car with gasoline.

There’s some confusion on the driver’s part as she attempts to concoct an action plan to fit the fuel nozzle into the pronged electrical outlet beneath her Model S’s “fuel” door.

This isn’t possible, because of course it isn’t.

Also, it’s a charmingly moronic idea.

Have you ever tried to slip your garden hose into an electrical outlet? Same idea – only garden hoses don’t deal with gasoline, which, by the way, is flammable.

We’ll also mention here that electricity can, at times, involve sparks. And as you experience every time you turn on a gasoline engine, the combination of gas and sparks causes explosions and fire.

If you somehow got your garden hose into an electrical outlet, you’d be electrocuted. This isn’t much fun. Water and electricity don’t mix. We learn that when we’re toddlers.

Pump gas into an electrical outlet, you’d likely be electrocuted, but also on fire for some amount of time before being blown to bits. There’s a finishing move like this in Mortal Kombat.

Determined if nothing else, none of this seems to stop the Tesla driver from trying.

We imagine this isn’t this poor gal’s only car. Or maybe it’s not even hers. After all, when you drop the big bucks on a Tesla, you’ve got to know that it, like, runs on electricity – not gasoline.

Not to unleash a radical new concept or anything, but not going to a gas station is literally one of the big reasons you buy a Tesla.

Anyhow, after about 90 seconds of confusion, repeated examination of the shapes of the involved componentry, accidental opening of the trunk, subsequent failure to close it, and a borked attempt to jam the fuel gun into the Tesla’s charging port, the subject of the video gives up.

She then does what humans often do when they give up, and gets out her phone. Maybe she was calling her mom. Or the owner of the car. Or Elon Musk for tech support. We’re not sure.

But before she dials, a heroic gas station attendant (or maybe it was a well-to-do passerby) flies onto the scene.

We can’t hear what he tells the Tesla gal, but we assume it’s something along the lines of “Good day ma’am! Pardon me, but your lustrous chariot from the future doesn’t drink gasoline, it drinks electrons! That’s because it’s electric, and very much a Tesla.”

The Model S driver has a laugh, glances around, hops back into the car, and car guys and car gals around the globe all choke and die a little inside.

The video cuts out before we see what happens next, but we figure she probably won’t make this mistake again.

It’s a crazy world we live in, people. Hug your mothers.

I asked Auto service technician John Kennard to weigh in on this story, as I often do.

After (apparently) spending his lunch break trying to get the video playing on his flip phone (Kennard is old-school), he asked his teenager to play it for him instead.

“We don’t work on Tesla cars here at the shop,” he says. “I’m pretty sure that those can only be serviced by Tesla, actually. But I can definitely tell you that the poor lady in the video is lucky she didn’t wind up needing skin grafts!”

“Even a little spark or something going on in that connector could have put everything up in flames. And that charging port is an input – as in, electricity flows in, not out. But there’s still an electrical current in there, sometimes, since the charging port has to communicate to the charger once the vehicle is plugged in. Plus, end of the day, it’s connected to a really big battery.”

“I’m not sure if it would have caught fire if she started to pump, but it’s certainly possible. Does the car in the video blow up? I hope it doesn’t blow up. Let’s not find out, please.”