Tesla Charging & Driving Tips

By Will Goodman

As the new owner of a 2016 Tesla Model S 90D for about 6 months now, I have fine-tuned a few things that have really improved my driving experience and efficiency. I would share with new Tesla owners or others who might be interested.

Charging: I charge to 90% at night as that is what the previous owner of the car told me he did. He charges every night at 10A on his L2 charger (which would normally turn off 32A) “to preserve battery life.” I noticed that when I started with 90%, my regenerative braking was tightened back, weak and anemic, which made me often have to hit my friction brakes until I reached down to about 84%. Then it would kick in nicely and strongly and allow for predictable almost single pedal driving, which I like. I changed my nightly charge to 80% (225 miles range) and started preconditioning on a scheduled charge at 32A. My regenerative braking is full force right out of the driveway now and gets me 6 miles range as I walk down my mountain road every morning. My cabin is heated by the charge (who else has noticed that?), And I leave it at 32A because the car is designed to handle 72A at night per. Tesla, so I think 1/2 of that amount is still safer. Maybe I will reconsider going back to 20A or 10A, but I feel more confident at a faster speed (in case of one of my frequent power outages in VT).

Pre-conditioning: I noticed that I started early in the morning below 72 degrees without having prepared the batteries and my rain brake was suffocated way back to almost zero the first few kilometers! I had to use my friction brakes practically all the way down my mountain every morning. This corresponded to an additional 6 miles range on the batteries per. My daily 25-30 mile commute. I did not regain the inertial regeneration because the batteries were cold. Since I started preconditioning, I only use 18 miles range on my 40 mi commute. That’s a pretty big win. I do not know how much extra it costs me on my electricity bill to “assume” versus “charge” that amount of range, but I see it and can not see any further noticeable electrical use on my charge. Will keep an eye on it and update later after a full month.

Driving style: I was initially very scared to “floor” this vehicle when the power scared me on my first try! LAUGH OUT LOUD. I got used to it though, and started enjoying the excitement and adrenaline rush at all this power and speed. Later I noticed that my average efficiency of 15 kilometers was 350 Wh / mi, which is a bit pathetic. So I started driving reasonably, kept my foot off the floor and used rain braking 99% of the time. My efficiency is now 200-220 Wh / mi on average, I must believe that this is a much better way to “preserve battery life” compared to charging at measly 10A. This machine is designed to charge at 135 kW, so I think I’m fine there. I know it’s frolicking on the accelerator very hard on the electrical system, so I will continue with my new self-imposed “chill” driving style (still in normal mode if I need or want it).

Area condition: I discovered that range mode simply reduces the power to the HVAC system and leaves more electric charge to drive. Now that winter is approaching, I turn this off when the mercury regularly drops below 32 ° F. HVAC in range mode is okay on a cold day, but rather anemic below 40 ° F. I had a very scary experience with my windshield, who suddenly froze after using the wipers and completely whitewashed my sight! The defrosts made almost no difference! Thank God for Autopilot! (Yes, I stopped panicking, but whew!) So, my plan is to turn around area condition from and keep the cabin at 68 ° F. Then use the seat and steering wheel heaters as an option. I want to tell you how this goes and how it affects my area. My commute is only 30 miles, so it’s not a big deal if it’s reduced by 50% or more! Plus pre-treatment of my batteries should also help on my morning trips.

Climate control: Speaking of my HVAC, I started using the “Schedule” feature to warm up the cabin while connected before my morning commute. Using the L2 adapter, it heats my car but maintains the range exactly 225 miles (80%). I do not connect the plug at work, so I just have to deal with it, but at least 50% of my trip gets that benefit. I can preheat before my commute home, but it uses battery power, requires the phone app, and I often turn it on at the last second, where it really makes very little difference anyway.

Charging network: I noticed that even during the last 6 months of ownership there is one lot several Teslas on the road. This means a lot more people are struggling to charge. Here’s a little etiquette …

  • Charge only what you need, do not top up unless you have to. It takes too long and makes others wait.
  • Do not connect directly next door another person charges at the same bank unless you have to. This cuts their collection rate and yours. (For example, an 8-bay station shares the 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B transformer. So if someone is connected to bank 1A or 1B, try using another bank that has both A and B available. You get full speed and does not affect the charging speed of the other driver. However, this only applies to 150 kW superchargers (V2). This is not true when you are on a V3 compressor (250 kW). They do not share power. Also city superchargers (72 If you press the Supercharger pin on your car card, it must indicate the type of charger you are using (150, 250 or 72 kW).
  • If you find a defective charger, call Tesla (877-798-3752) or report it using your Tesla app under Roadside Assistance. This helps all other drivers. Ask the facility if you can place one of their cones in front of the defective bay. If they do not have cones, tie the charging cable in a knot around the top of the bay as a sign of trouble. Nothing is more sad than watching person after person try only to charge to discover that the bay is defective.

This happened to me and no one reported it, placed a cone or even tried to warn other motorists! I was on a road trip and decided to charge at a certain station near the thruway with about 20% charge left. When I got there, two bays were dead and there was a long, disorganized line of people fighting for the stains as they emptied. I left the crazy scene on the way to the next nearest station, 59 miles away.

The image at the top is a screenshot of what I had left when I got to the next station. The car yelled at me all the way to drive under 65km / h to reach my destination, so I lowered to 55 mph just to be on the safe side. My power consumption dropped to 200 Wh / mi! If you are ever running out of charge, just drive slower and you can really stretch it. The slower you go, the less power you use. But turn on your turn signals for safety if you are driving slower than the traffic flow! I’ve also heard, but do not know for sure, that Tesla built in an area below 0 mi for those of us who like to push things. I hope to never find out for myself. It was very nerve-wracking even with 17 miles of range left!

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