- Glenn Howerton said his Tesla was stuck in a parking garage for over 24 hours after his key fob broke.
- The actor detailed a frustrating experience where Tesla support failed to help him start the car.
- It’s unclear how much of the issue was user error versus an actual issue with the Tesla.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “A.P. Bio” star Glenn Howerton detailed a frustrating experience where his Tesla was stuck in a parking garage for over 24-hours in a podcast on Monday.
Howerton told his costars on “The Always Sunny Podcast” that he was locked out of his Tesla on Friday night after his key fob broke. The actor said he was also unable to connect to WiFi in the bottom floor of a Los Angeles parking garage in order to use the electric-car maker’s app for accessing the vehicle — a fail safe against issues with the key fob. On it’s website Tesla says for its Model X that “your phone and vehicle must both be actively connected to cellular service to allow the mobile app to communicate with your vehicle.”
“Tesla recommends that you always have a functional physical key readily available if parking in an area with limited or absent cellular service, such as an indoor parking garage,” the site says.
Tesla first introduced its keyless entry system in 2017 and other carmakers have followed suit, using Bluetooth technology to allow for keyless entry, but, unlike other automakers, Tesla does not supply drivers with a traditional key that can be inserted into the vehicle. Though, the carmaker can give owners more than one key fob. It’s unclear what Tesla model Howerton owns. Newer Tesla models do not require internet connectivity to use the app to open and start the car. The newer vehicles also come with key cards. Over the past few years, Tesla has also begun supplying drivers with backup key cards that can be used to get into the car and start it.
It’s unclear how much of the issue was user error versus an actual issue with the Tesla. Howerton noted he didn’t discover till the next day he could unlock the car by putting the key fob on a designated area on the vehicle.
“It sent me into a rage,” said Howerton, who has joked in the past on the podcast about his strong response to frustrating situations, noting there was a point in the ordeal where all he could do was scream. “Every step of the way throughout this journey, every single thing that could go wrong went wrong,” he added.
Spokespeople for Howerton and Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Insider ahead of publication.
Howerton said he was forced to leave the car at the parking garage overnight after replacing the battery for the key failed to fix the issue. The next morning, after studying the issue, he was able to get into the car by placing the key on a designated area on the vehicle, but Howerton said he was still unable to start the car as the key fob was having difficulty “talking to the car.”
The actor said even his early attempts to tow the car were foiled due to the low ceiling in the garage and because he was unable to put the car in Transport Mode, something Tesla requires to avoid “significant damage and overheating,” and in some cases, a fire.
A struggle to get Tesla support on the phone
For over eight hours on Saturday, Howerton said he camped out at the parking garage trying to fix the issue.
He also found it near-impossible to get in contact with Tesla’s support teams.
“I had a very difficult time getting through to any of these people,” Howerton said, noting he wasn’t able to get in contact with Tesla’s roadside assistance and vehicle support teams.
In a last-ditch effort to get in contact with Tesla support, he decided to call Tesla’s sales department, thinking a salesperson would at least pick up the phone. It worked, and he started “lacing into” a member of the company’s sales team.
“I was like, ‘You guys lost a customer today. I’ve been a Tesla customer for 10 years,'” he said.
The actor then described a situation where he was “tossed” back and forth between the two Tesla departments as he attempted to troubleshoot the issue.
“We’d get to the end of the call and they’d go: ‘I guess there’s nothing we can do,'” Howerton told his castmates. “And I was like: ‘What do you mean there’s nothing you can do?'”
Howerton, who said he eventually made peace with the ridiculous situation, said it wasn’t technology or Tesla support staff that resolved the issue — it was old-fashioned human ingenuity.
With the help of the parking garage staff, he eventually found a tow truck that was not only small enough to get into the parking garage, but could also jack the car up so that its wheels wouldn’t have to touch the ground.
Since, he said the key fob has yet to be fixed and he’s driven the car relying solely on Tesla’s app — meaning he’s been extra careful to avoid garages or any parking zones without WiFi.
The actor’s experience with Tesla is far from unheard of. Earlier this year, a Tesla owner told Insider he was locked out of his electric car after the battery died — an issue that he says would cost over $20,000 to fix. In August, Vox reported that owners have filed thousands of complaints about Tesla’s service centers. Last year, Insider reported that drivers were taking to social media to report issues with their brand new Teslas, including poor paint jobs and misaligned car panels.