Valet Mode Saves Tesla Model S P85D From Crazy Ferris Bueller Tire Shop Joy Ride

Aside from teaching us that life moves pretty fast and we should stop and look around once in a while so we don’t miss it, the 1987 cult classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reminded us what happens when teenagers — and underpaid garage staff — do when they get their hands on a really expensive, high-performance car.

Give some mechanics a high-end car, and they'll find it irresistible.

Give some mechanics a high-end car, and they’ll find it irresistible.

Which is one reason we’re sure that the original Tesla Roadster came with a valet mode that limited the performance of Tesla’s iconic two-seat sports car at the touch of a button — and why Tesla fans have been pleading with the Californian automaker for nearly three years to introduce valet mode on its super-sexy Model S luxury sedan.

If you don't want this happening with your Model S, remember to engage Valet Mode.

If you don’t want this happening with your Model S, remember to engage Valet Mode…

For those unfamiliar with the term, valet mode restricts the power and top speed of a car so that inexperienced drivers like newly qualified teenagers and valet parking attendants — who are usually also fairly young, inexperienced drivers themselves — from getting themselves into too much… trouble behind the wheel. It also of course, ensures that the owner of the car knows that their vehicle won’t mysteriously earn itself a speeding ticket while they’re away or try to take flight on the local roads.

As the video above from Tesla Model S P85D owner Andrew Batiuk shows, valet mode really does work.

As Batiuk explains in his YouTube video (via Autobloggreen), he dropped his prized electric car off at his local tire shop to have a faulty tire pressure monitoring system sensor replaced. A quick, five minute job which involves taking the offending wheel off the car, deflating the tire, removing the faulty sensor and then fitting a new one before inflating the tire and refitting the wheel back on the car before registering the new sensor with the car’s on-board computer, replacing the TPMS sensor is an everyday task for most tire shops and dealerships.

Indeed, most technicians carry out the work in double-quick time, some even offering to do it while you wait.

... or your Model S could end up like Cameron's Dad's Prized Ferrari.

… or your Model S could end up like Cameron’s Dad’s Prized Ferrari.

But in Batiuk’s case, he opted to leave the car at the shop and return later to pick it up, putting his car into valet mode before he left just_in_case the technicians found the lure of Tesla’s high-end flagship electric sedan too much.

The video, recorded by his car’s on-board dash cam, shows that Batiuk’s precaution was a sensible one.

The fun starts with the tire technicians spending a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to open the Tesla Model S P85D’s front trunk — or frunk. You can hear them discussing how to achieve this in the video, exchanging confusion over how there’s no visible hood pop mechanism. We’re not sure what they expect to find under there — although we’d guess some hope of finding a massive electric motor or perhaps the car’s powerful computer system — but their hunt is in vain, because as any Tesla Model S owner will tell you however, the frunk can be opened either from the Model S-shaped key fob, or via the car’s massive 17-inch centre touchscreen console.

Most tire shops are reputable places that will let you watch the repair. You can learn something too!

Most tire shops are reputable places that will let you watch the repair. You can learn something too!

In Valet mode however, the frunk is locked out completely, allowing owners to store personal effects under the hood without fearing that a parking attendant or garage mechanic will get to them.

After a short break in the footage — which Batiuk explains is the camera shutting itself off while the car is powered off — we see a technician and his buddy trying to take the Model S for a test drive to check the operation of the TPMS module.

That’s all well and good — and in the handbook for anyone replacing a tire pressure sensor in any car since it gives the car time to recalibrate the TPMS receiver and ensure the new unit is correctly registered. But it’s clear from the start that this particular test is about seeing just how fast the Tesla Model S P85D really is in the real world and experiencing its legendary 3.1-second 0-60 mph time first-hand.

After getting out of the sight of the workshop and the amassed crowd of coworkers outside to witness the expensive electric car silently glide off the lot, the technicians can be heard marvelling about the Model S’s smooth driving style and strong regenerative braking.

“Wow! It slows down automatically!,” enthuses one of the men in the car. “Holy f••k, you don’t even have to touch the brake!”

Shortly afterwards, we hear the joy-riding mechanics complain that the Model S P85D doesn’t feel like it has the 700 horsepower they thought it had, disappointed that it doesn’t seem all that fast. The video then ends, as they head back to the shop.

After picking up his car, Batiuk noticed a spike in his car’s energy usage chart, which records peak and average energy usage of the Model S over time. Timed precisely with the attempt by the technicians to floor his Model S, Batiuk replicated the spike exactly by burying his right foot to the floor with the car still in Valet mode.

Valet mode is your friend.

Valet mode is your friend.

It was obvious someone at the garage had attempted to push his car to its limits — and would probably have done so had he not engaged valet mode.

In a reply to the original video, Batiuk says that he forwarded the dash-cam clip to the shop in question, and was “satisfied with their response.” We’re not sure what that means — or indeed if the technicians involved found themselves looking for a new job the next day — but we’re glad that valet mode saved the day.

It’s worth noting too that valet mode in the Model S is only a fairly recent addition via an over-the-air software update to the car’s operating system. But given this video, we’re guessing all Tesla cars from now on will have that function included as standard.

Our advice? Always enable valet mode if your car has it — or just stick around the tire shop and watch the repair while you wait. In addition to making sure the job is done properly, you might even learn something you didn’t already know — and that’s always worth sticking around for.


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  • D. Harrower

    To play devil’s advocate for a second, it could have been innocent curiosity as to what was under the hood of an electric car that spurred the tech to look for a means to open it, not anything nefarious. After all, this is probably the first electric car they’ve worked on. Still, it was clearly NOT required in order to change a TPMS and they had no real business doing it.

    There is no excuse for the behavior on the test drive.

    One would think that the “VALET MODE” text in the instrument cluster would have clued them in that the car had been locked down. Is this feature that rare?

    • jeffsongster

      I think the feature is rare… but more likely… the comprehension of the word ‘Valet’ was not obvious to them. Didn’t sound like the sharpest tools in the shed.

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