HomeGuide$140,000 Tesla EV Locks The Owner Out After Battery Died, Here’s What...

$140,000 Tesla EV Locks The Owner Out After Battery Died, Here’s What Happened

What will you do if you are locked out of your car?

How about spending some $20,000 to get your access back to your car? Yes, that is what Tesla asked the troubled Model S owner.

Mario Zelaya, a Tesla Model S owner was locked out of his EV when the car’s battery died.

He says he was intentionally locked out of the car by Tesla as he was raising his voice over the fault in the Tesla Model S of 2013 and 2014 make.

Now that we have your attention, let’s figure out the situation a bit better. Read on!

What Happened?

Recently, in Canada, a Tesla Model S owner was locked out of his car after the battery died due to an alleged air-conditioning and battery pack placement design flaw. The owner of the Model S, Mario Zelaya shared a video on TikTok raising his issue. A new replacement battery that will solve this problem is estimated to cost CAD 26,000 or over USD 20,000.

The 2013 Tesla Model S cost him $140,000 and had clocked less than a million miles when the problems began in May 2022. Zelaya was shocked to see the quote for USD20,000 to get the battery pack replacement and get his vehicle running again.

Mario Zelaya posted the video on TikTok explaining his ordeal of Tesla Model S locking him out after the battery died. The series of videos shows him talking about the battery defect and calling Tesla “a piece of trash”.


My opinion: Tesla shut down my car over the air because my videos after refusing to pay for a new battery. #tesla #car

♬ original sound – Mario Zelaya

The video soon went viral as is the case with most such news involving “Tesla” in their subject lines gaining millions of views quickly.

In a similar incident, another Canadian Model S chose to explode his EV after he was given an estimate to replace the battery pack. That video by Tuomas Katainen went instantly viral too. Zelaya was thinking to do the same with his Tesla until he found a much better thing to do with it. Resale it!

Zelaya said there is definitely some foul play on Tesla’s part as the Model S from 2013 and 2014 makes have the issue with leaking water from the air conditioning into the battery pack. A design flaw that should have been the reason for Tesla to issue a recall. But did not happen.

The video states how Zelaya was unable to get into his car after the battery died that left him puzzled and furious. He said that he first got an alert of a high-voltage problem on the way to work in Burlington one fine day.

He drove to the Tesla Service Center that was closest to his location to get it checked. The first diagnostic was to ask him to get the drive, and AC unit replaced to ‘maybe’ fix the issue. He denied the possibility of this being the issue as he already got the unit replaced, so Tesla’s explanation could not possibly be the issue.

Zelaya received a generic explanation for why he needed a new battery pack with his estimate from Tesla.

Was it enough?

Even though the warranty ended 8 years after purchase, the vehicle is still nowhere near Tesla’s 150,000 miles that more recent Model S units cover in their warranty.

Zelaya took the help of Transport Canada to run an investigation on possible issues with the battery pack of his Model S. The report states that the Model S drain hose was positioned right on top of the battery pack. The documents suggest that this potentially looks like what occurred to Zelaya’s EV.

Did Tesla Lock the 2013 Model S Owner Out?

Although it may seem like something straight out of an episode of Black Mirror, it’s true that the Model S owner was locked out of his own vehicle.

Tesla EV Locks The Owner Out

But did Tesla do it?

No, we don’t think so. The possible reason for the lock-out could be because of the 12v battery issue. The dead battery pack is preventing him from getting in, not Tesla locking his doors from their end remotely or any other way.

The problem with his abrupt and destructive take on Tesla points some fingers at him as well. Many viewers pointed out ways and tricks to get into his car, but apparently, he had time to post the videos but not try them out.

Those tricks and ways are not as bad, but honestly, not being able to unlock your car because the battery stopped working could be incredibly frustrating and inconvenient.

According to the owner, Tesla once again insisted that the vehicle wasn’t their responsibility and told him to pay for the replacement of the battery pack as the car was out of warranty.

The TikTok videos by Zelaya also mentioned how he was more worried about the papers inside the car as he could not even prove ownership without them. But he found paying $30-40 to get the papers a much better deal instead of paying for the replacement.

What Was Wrong With the Battery?

Zelaya got Transport Canada involved, and that gave him enough proof to understand that the issue was the design of the Model S and nothing related to the drive unit.

The HVAC condenser dripping water onto the battery pack over time has completely rusted the external cover of the battery pack. Moisture has now entered the battery and destroyed it.

What should have been done after diagnosis in regular maintenance checks of such issues:

  • Remove the rusted battery and replace it with a new, dry one. In time.
  • Repairing the damaged HVAC system that is leaking water onto the battery.
  • Recall or design change.

But instead, Tesla chose to cover up the issue and deny anything being wrong with the Tesla Model S.

Zelaya said that the problem with the condenser and battery had probably been occurring for years, starting when the car was brand-new and under warranty.

However, Tesla wouldn’t have any reason to check if the battery was in good condition when customers brought their cars in for servicing.


Because they were not getting paid to do so! Or maybe Tesla did not want anyone to know about the flaws.


The doors on the Tesla Model S won’t unlock because the batteries powering the locking mechanism are dead and need to be replaced to get Zelaya access.

The 2013-2014 model of Tesla Model S cars reportedly had a design issue which has now led to the problem, he claims. Yes, there are some designs that may not be able to stand up to the use of road salt and -40 temperatures. However, this is something you run the risk of when owning a ten-year-old EV from (at the time) a novice California startup.

Zelaya is warning people to not choose Tesla as this possibly is better for them in the long run. His story does give an idea of how frustrating it could have been for him to go through the trauma. But, honestly, is it that big trouble (in today’s time) for an electric car that is around 10 years old?

How many electric cars do we have so far? & Number of Teslas on road?

Young startups aren’t known for making reliable cars. So FAR!

It’s also common knowledge that older EVs will need five-figure battery replacements at some point. Why?

The tech is evolving at lightning speed, and old EV owners would need to understand and accept these situations. This might not be ideal for the owners, but it’s not exactly news either.

We do feel the agitation of going through such a situation, but there definitely has been a revolution after Tesla came into the picture. More and more people are opting for electric cars, and Tesla cars are widely popular among EV lovers.

Let’s see how the story pans out for current and future Tesla Model S cars.

Purnima Rathi
Purnima Rathi
Purnima has a strong love for EVs. Whether it's classic cars or modern performance vehicles, she likes to write about anything with four wheels, especially if there's a cool story behind it.


  1. Less than a million miles…!!!
    How many gas or diesel vehicles go a million miles? Of course he could find a substantially cheaper used battery from a totalled vehicle. Nobody puts a new battery in a ten year vehicle, especially one that’s gone nearly a million miles, and with that many miles, he has saved the $20000 many times over in fuel costs.

    • In the story you’ll see that they report it wasn’t even to 150,000 miles.

      I believe the million miles comment comes from the fact that Musk keeps promising batteries that will last that long.

  2. “But, honestly, is it that big trouble (in today’s time) for an electric car that is around 10 years old?”


    My Ford is 17 years old. It has NEVER run repair bills anywhere near that high. Heck – gas, insurance, repairs, maintenance, even my purchase price (I got it at 9 years old) total still don’t go much over what that repair cost is.

    Those are absurd repair costs that ARE a big deal. He has a right to be furious.

    And this coming from someone who firmly believes EVs will take over nearly the entire vehicle market.


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