I Traveled 550 Miles to Get Back Window Replaced in a Tesla!

We Dodged a Bullet
November 10, 2021
The Importance of ADAS
The Importance of ADAS
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I’ve been in the auto glass industry for 23 years and owned Glass Specialist for 19 years. So, you might ask yourself why in the world would I travel 550 miles to get my back window replaced? To answer this question, we need to back up a bit. Four years ago, we had our first potential guest call to get a quote for a windshield for their Tesla Model X. We had never done one before, so we were excited. Jason and Matt spent the next couple of days trying to find the glass. We were unsuccessful and had to tell our guest we were unable to accommodate them at this time.  This was crazy because we have been able to find glass for any modern car if we tried hard enough. I remember thinking it was okay because Tesla would be the only car we can’t do. Luckily, there were not very many Teslas, especially in Montana, and who wants an electric car anyways?  

As time went on, I started to notice more and more Teslas. I even had a couple friends buy them. They all had one thing in common.  If you asked them about their car, you had better be ready to sit down and listen to how great their car was for an hour! To the point where it would get annoying. They all loved talking about their cars and how great they were.  My friend Colby bought a Model S. I had so many questions, and he was always happy to answer them. Colby is a tech nerd and loves cars. He always had a new car, but he never had the same brand once. I remember him telling me he would drive Teslas forever. In fact, every Tesla owner I spoke with told me the same thing. “Once you have a Tesla you never go back.” I had not seen that cult-like brand following since Apple.  

Tesla Windshield Adventures

If you owned one it was rare to need any service. In fact, you don’t even need to change the oil. If you do need service, it is usually something minor and you can just wait for the Tesla service tech to come to Billings. They come to you and fix it at your house or work. However, if you needed glass replaced you had to travel to the closest service center (they are all an 8+ hour drive). This was the biggest con I could see with being a Tesla owner.  

I concluded we couldn’t ignore this movement. We must learn how to accommodate windshields, door glasses, and back glasses in Teslas. We were getting calls requesting quotes monthly in 2020. It hurt my soul to tell them they would have to travel and that we couldn’t help them. 

Our supplier was now making windshields for Tesla Model 3s. We ordered 5 of them, and I personally ordered a Tesla Model 3. I had never bought a car on a website before. It was shockingly easy! I could order a new car faster than I could order a pizza. When my car showed up, I quickly fell in love. I had now become that annoying person that wants to tell you about how great my car is! Most of my friends and my own mother ended up buying a Model 3 just to get me to shut up. Guess what? They all loved their cars! Seriously… no maintenance or gas stations. Just plug the car in at night like you do your cell phone and you’ve got 290+ miles. The car was the life of every event. It farted, danced, and I made memories singing karaoke with my daughter.   

Broken Back Window

One cold snowy day in December, I used my app to turn on the defrosters so it would melt off all the snow and warm up my car. When I hopped in my warm defrosted car, I noticed the back window had broken. NOOOOOOO!!  It was a stress crack from the combination of the heat and cold.  I was hoping we could get a back window so my team could replace it. I’m so picky about my car I really didn’t want anyone other than my team to replace the window. No luck! Nobody in the country had one and Tesla wouldn’t sell us one.  

I filled out a service claim online and a month later when a tech was in town, he stopped by to look. He said it would be covered under warranty, but I would have to travel to Salt Lake City to get it replaced. He set up the appointment for February 21st. A couple of days before the appointment a nasty winter storm was coming in. I considered canceling my appointment, but I didn’t want to wait two more months. 

I left early the day before my appointment. The roads were slick, so I took my time. I arrived safely with no hiccups. The next day when I showed up to my 9:00 am appointment they told me it would take a couple days. However, when I told them I came from Billings, Montana and would be waiting they said they would try and get it done that day. They informed me they do not have loaner cars but would give me a $100 voucher for an Uber so I could get back to the motel. When I got to the motel I realized since I didn’t go into settings and change my payment method my credit card was charged.  

By mid-afternoon I received a message on the Tesla app that said my car was done. I got on my uber app and saw they had canceled my voucher. Oh well if they did a good job I was okay with paying for the Uber. When I arrived, I closely inspected the work, and it looked great! It was totally up to my high standards.  

I took off the next day. The winter storm had gotten worse. My biggest concern was Idaho Falls through West Yellowstone to Bozeman. They had gotten a ton of snow and it was -5 degrees.  Idaho falls to West Yellowstone was cold and slippery, but the Tesla handled it well.  But… when I got to Yellowstone the chargers were down due to the storm. This was the first time I had experience an actual Tesla supercharger down.  I waited hours for it to get back up and running and then headed home.  

Now For The Scary Part Of The Trip

It had cooled down to -20 degrees, it was dark, and the wind made for very poor visibility. On top of that the roads had got even more slippery. If you have ever traveled that road you know it’s a narrow and winding dangerous road. As I started my journey for the last half of the trip my heater couldn’t seem to keep up and my windows started to fog up.  Then I got a message on the screen that informed me I needed to have my heater serviced AND WOULD NO LONGER WORK. NO NO NO. My heart started to race as my heater shut down completely. I was miles from any town with no cell phone service. I had 30 miles to the nearest town of Bozeman. The car quickly became EXTREMELY cold in the cabin.  The windshield froze almost instantly on the inside from the condensation, and I lost visibility. I had a railing on my right and oncoming traffic on the left. The oncoming headlights glaring in my window looked as if they were coming straight towards me. I was panicking!! I tried to use my hand to make a spot on the windscreen so I could see. This didn’t work. I had slowed way down, but I was not sure what part of the road I was on.  Was I in the oncoming traffic lane about to get smoked by the headlights glaring at me or was I about to hit the railing or go off the road?   I decided I needed to turn right. As I embraced for a wreck I could feel my right tires hitting snow and the car quickly came to a stop. There was a pull off area every one mile and I literally ended up safely on a turn off!!! THANK GOD!!!  

After I calmed down, I checked for cell phone service. Still nothing. I was so cold and needed to get to town. I turned on the AC and realized that would clear the windshield off if I had the windows cracked. I now had visibility and was on my way to Bozeman in a freezer on wheels. I had never been so happy to see a motel in my life!! I ran inside to warm up. I had an overwhelming feeling of being blessed. I am so lucky I didn’t wreck!  

I started searching the internet and found out it this was very common for my year of Tesla if the temperature got below -15 degrees. It also had a simple fix. I got the heater working in the morning and headed to Billings with no more hang-ups.  

Conclusion: Am I still a Tesla fan boy that thinks Tesla can do no wrong? NOPE, I am not. However, I still love my car and plan to keep it. I will never go on a road trip in the winter again though.  Next time I need glass replaced I will make sure my shop can do it. We have successfully replaced a Tesla windshield and look forward to having all glass needed for a Tesla by the end of this year.