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First Long Road Trip - Observations, Suggestions, Recommendations

Discussion in 'Model S' started by wdolson, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

    Jul 24, 2015
    Clark Co, WA
    I made my first road trip to California a week ago. I've just finally got enough time to write about it. For the most part, my Model S proved itself to be a wonderful road car.

    First off before leaving I wanted to add a couple of things for the trip. I normally leave the back seats folded down so the headrests don't get in my line of sight out the back. However, I wanted my luggage hidden from sight so I came up with a work around that worked quite well. I put the parcel shelf cover back in, and then took a black trash bag, attached a strip of Velcro to one edge and stuck it to the bottom of the parcel shelf. The Velcro stuck perfectly and to anyone looking in the windows, there was just something black stretching from the bottom of the parcel shelf to the floor. If I had needed to put the seats up to accommodate passengers in the back, the bag could easily be pushed out of the way. And the bag can be removed anytime by just ripping the Velcro off. I will probably got to a fabric store and get some black cloth for a little better looking screen in the future.

    I also wanted to put some things in an ice chest and wanted to put the ice chest down in the "smuggler's hold" under the floor behind the back wheels. I found this which fit perfectly:

    The length took up about half the space, which enabled me to put some other stuff down there. The width and height were perfect.

    Once I got on the road I noticed a number of things that either were issues Tesla needs to address, or suggestions for improvement.

    1) Autopilot with 8.0 - About 1/4 of the time when I approached a highway bridge, the car would start to steer into the bridge, then correct back to the lane, sometimes swerving back and forth like a drunk driver. I consider this a bug and never saw it with 7.1, though I didn't drive I-5 in California with 7.1.

    2) The radio on mute - This was an intermittent issue with 7.1, but it's now consistent with 8.0. When the radio is muted and I open the door, the radio comes back on. When I mute the radio, I want it to stay muted until I unmute it! This is very annoying!

    3) Notices on the instrument panel - Why does Tesla put all notices on the bottom middle of the screen? The way I need to adjust the seat to be comfortable, there is about a 1/2 inch high X 2 inch wide space on the bottom of the instrument area I can't see when I'm sitting normally. If these messages were anywhere else on the instrument panel they would be a lot more visible. I think the top center would be best.

    4) Touching the steering wheel on AP - With 8.0, the flashing boarder is a nice thing to prompt me to touch the steering wheel since I usually can't see the message. It took a while for me to learn just how much pressure to apply to the steering wheel to satisfy AP without turning off AP. I was thinking that the goal of the hold the steering wheel thing is to tell AP you're still alert and paying attention. I thought a better way to do it would be to prompt the driver to click one of the buttons on the steering wheel. This is more precise than having to move the steering wheel a certain amount, but not too much.

    5) Indicate when heating and cooling is on - With most cars with a climate control system like Tesla has, the driver and passengers aren't too concerned whether the heater is on or the A/C as long at the car is being kept to the temperature they set. However with an EV whether the A/C or heat is on can affect range, especially the heat. I would be very happy if there was an icon in the center screen around the climate controls that told me if the heat or the A/C was on. I might want to change the temperature to just run the vent, or may only want to heat for a short time before shutting it off.

    I drove 1800 miles in 4 days with nobody else to spell me. The longest single day was 600 miles. This was no pleasure trip, I had to drop in at work to help out with the current project and take care of my father's affairs. Some nights I was a zombie by the time I got into my hotel room. I was amazed though how I stood up to all the driving. The last time I did 700 miles in a day, with another driver to spell me, I was stove up by the time I got home and reached a point where I couldn't keep my eyes open about 60 miles from home. However, I was able to keep it all together and I even was feeling with it enough to dive into some work after I got home.

    Supercharging was a bit of a mixed bag. Along much of I-5 they are not placed optimally for a 90D. I had to stop at every one, but only needed short charges at most of them. Adding superchargers around Roseburg, OR and just north of Sacramento would make the trip more optimal for larger battery Teslas. Telsa is adding more and more superchargers between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in the San Joaquin Valley to a point where they are getting to be optimally spaced for a larger battery car.

    The superchargers in the Northwest are almost always full power when you plug in, but I ran into some problems with California superchargers and from the discussion in the California section of TMC, it sounds like a lot of people in CA are seeing problems. The first one I ran into was at Gilroy, CA. The power was bouncing all over the place between 8KW and 50KW with a lot more time spent at 8KW than 50KW. What was supposed to be a 15 minute charge took over an hour and a half and I was beginning to panic that something was wrong with my car. I was the only car on the entire bank of the supercharger for most of my time there.

    When I got to Atascadero, CA, the power was only 60KW despite being the only car on a supercharger pair I only got 60KW, but at least it was steady. I had to get some lunch, so by the time I got back I had enough to get to Morro Bay and back with some running around town energy.

    I saw limits the next morning at Atascadero again and then at Harris Ranch. When I got to Manteca, I Tesla tech was working on the superchargers. He had me pull into a stall that he had just worked on, but I got only 50KW of power. He was scratching his head. He had me move to another stall he had just worked on where I got 120KW and he took apart the first stall and found a bad wire in the control circuits.

    He and I talked and he had done a lot of work on one stall at Gilroy the afternoon before. It may be that I just had the bad luck of getting the one stall that needed heavy duty maintenance. Though getting limited to 60KW is not unusual in California these days.

    On the way back I did get only 60KW at Grants Pass, but it was fast enough as I had to eat breakfast. Springfield, OR was full speed, though traffic in town was a mess due to a football game that afternoon. I got the bate minimum I needed in Springfield and hit the road before traffic got worse.

    It was a stressful trip, but the car was the most pleasurable part of the trip. Usually it's the opposite, the car is the burden of the trip and the destination is the fun part.
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