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How often do Tesla owners run out of charge?

ggr

Expert in Dunning-Kruger Effect!
Mar 24, 2011
6,977
27,519
San Diego, CA
I'm assuming the OP is not an owner or lessee of a Tesla, so for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the data available to the operator of a Tesla, I give you a relatively simple case study in why we will very rarely run out of power on the road. . . a little more prosaic than empirical but I think the point is made.

On December 2, I took my wife and two of our kids to Indianapolis from Chicago for the Badgers v. OSU Big Ten Championship. The game did not go as planned. They would nearly make up for missing the playoff by beating Miami in their hostile home stadium in the Orange Bowl, but I digress.

For the first time in 9000 miles, I charged the S90D to 100% the night before our departure to Indy, and left with 293 miles of range in "Range Mode". The onboard Nav told me I'd make it to Lafayette SC with 35% remaining. The entire trip to Indy (including the two stops) was 215 miles. Given that we had lots of battery plus we knew we would hit the supercharger on the way, we had the tunes blasting and I was driving 10-12 over the speed limit. Didn't concern myself with range at all.

On the way down, we had time to stop at Three Floyds Brewery in Munster (highly recommend it), which is slightly out of the way, and arrive at the Lafayette SC with plenty of time and charge to spare. I topped off to around 75%, assuming I'd be able to make the round trip to Indy, take in the game, stop at the Carmel hotel waypoint, and then return to Lafayette on our way home for a full charge, which would give us time to eat breakfast and return to our northern suburb in time for a family event. Everything except the Badgers game that day went according to plan.

We proceeded NE to Carmel, north of Indy, to spend the night around midnight or 12:30 with around 110 miles of range, and that's when things got dicey. First, the nav was not up to date so access to a tucked away Marriott was not available based on the nav. I wasted 12-15 miles and had to be talked into the parking lot by a terrific graveyard shift Marriott employee.

The only Indy SC is on the SE end of town, and Lafeyette and Chicago are northwest of Indy, so if anything negatively impacted my consumption calculations for the return trip to the Lafayette SC, I would have to get up early, go the LaQuinta in SE Indy and charge for a bit to top off for the trip to Lafayette. I had effectively planned my estimated range on the way down, and knew I would have to be very accurate in my estimate to make it back to Lafayette in the morning, where I would need a full charge to make it to Chicago.

There were a couple outside factors that had me concerned about making it back to Lafayette the next morning in spite of the onboard Nav's apparent confidence- citing 88 miles of range for a 60 mile trip. On the way down, it was ~60 deg F. Overnight the temp plummeted to well below freezing and my car was parked outside. I woke up and the vampire drain was massive. Range loss of 10% on the 88 or so miles I went to bed with. I was 60 miles from Lafayette, and now had 70ish miles of range. I knew that with heat, 4 people in the car, a headwind and freezing temps we would be in trouble.

I got up early, bit the bullet, drove to SE Indy and charged it up, headed back to Carmel, picked up the family and headed to Lafayette. On the way to Lafayette I realized that the cold weather, wind and load factors were killing my range. I began to do some conservative math in my head and realized that the 150 miles from Lafayette to Chicago, was actually going to be tough if the conditions remained the same. So we charged to about 95% in Lafayette, and jumped on 65 to start our 150 mile journey.

The onboard Nav indicated I should have 25% remaining when I pulled into the driveway. 13 miles later, it said I would have 18% remaining. Holy crap. The lesson here is that if one monitors the information at one's disposal in the Tesla, one can problem solve before one is SOL. I immediately slowed down, turned down the heat, killed the seat warmers, and turned off the radio.

I moved to the slow lane, and 5 miles later, it was still dropping. . . I was going to run out of power- probably somewhere near Gary IN- not the place you want to park a Tesla with your family inside. I needed to do something. So I did. I found this guy:View attachment 271690

then this happened:

View attachment 271690 View attachment 271694

hung behind him for about 90 miles, watched estimated remaining battery climb into the 30% range, waved as he headed to Michigan as I hit the Chicago Skyway, and I actually had enough juice to haul ass home the rest of the way. :)

Any questions?
Not a question, but a statement... seatwarmers are your friends. They use very little power, you shouldn't have bothered turning them off. But of course the rear passengers would have hated you for not suffering with them.
 
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Skotty

2014 S P85 | 2020 3 P19"
Jun 27, 2013
2,438
1,751
Kansas City, MO
Have any of you had your Tesla run out of charge before it makes it to a charging station? How often does this happen? What do you do when it happens? I've heard there is a charge from Tesla's road side assistance to be towed to the nearest charging station.

Is this a common occurrence?

On par with running out of gas. If you run out of gas a lot, you might want to hold off on the switch to EVs. But if you don't run out of gas (I never have) then you should be fine. You do have to be a tad more careful as the car is a tad overly optimistic on it's range in my opinion. When taking a trip, use the nav and have the trip energy graph up, then pay attention to it's trend line (plus nav will start estimating based on the trend).
 
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Sully's8

Member
Jan 4, 2017
206
242
Metro Chicago
Not a question, but a statement... seatwarmers are your friends. They use very little power, you shouldn't have bothered turning them off. But of course the rear passengers would have hated you for not suffering with them.

Except that I have the subzero package so I can leave theirs on as well!
 
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Sully's8

Member
Jan 4, 2017
206
242
Metro Chicago
The simplest reason that Tesla drivers never run out of juice is that we all wake up with a "full tank" every day. Daily driving for most of us only consumes a relatively small fraction of the charge. After commuting to work and back, even with an errand or two thrown in, I still have >200 miles of range left. Then I plug it in and repeat.

Therefore it follows that the only opportunities we have to run out are in the rare occasions we go on trips.

Given I've driven 10k miles and have been at superchargers a total of about 5 times, the sample size of risky situations is infinitissmally smaller than if we were required to stop at superchargers exclusively, the way ICE vehicles depend on gas stations.

On that subject, I've read a few hilarious articles about how woefully inadequate the density of chargers is for EVs. The writers all seem to forget we charge at home and wake up with a "full tank."
 

jerry33

(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Mar 8, 2012
19,626
22,235
Texas
Therefore it follows that the only opportunities we have to run out are in the rare occasions we go on trips.

Given I've driven 10k miles and have been at superchargers a total of about 5 times, the sample size of risky situations is infinitissmally smaller than if we were required to stop at superchargers exclusively, the way ICE vehicles depend on gas stations.

On that subject, I've read a few hilarious articles about how woefully inadequate the density of chargers is for EVs. The writers all seem to forget we charge at home and wake up with a "full tank."
This.

And with the (to me new) Trip Graph, it's pretty easy to tell if you need to take action well before it becomes an issue.
 

Evthusiast

Member
Nov 3, 2017
48
72
California
I guess I would answer by asking how often do ICE owners run out of gas? A LOT. But you would have to be pretty dumb or not observant to run out of charge on a tesla.:D


What he said. I had an ICE car 5 years ago lol. I never ran out of gas. Always thought folks that procrastinate ran out of gas.
Never ran out of charge never ran out of gas. If your the type that shaves or puts on your makeup in the car while driving then you are probably the type to not pay attention to things in life that lead to running out of gas and or charge.
 
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gavine

Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast
Apr 1, 2014
2,587
2,115
Philadelphia, PA
The simplest reason that Tesla drivers never run out of juice is that we all wake up with a "full tank" every day. Daily driving for most of us only consumes a relatively small fraction of the charge. After commuting to work and back, even with an errand or two thrown in, I still have >200 miles of range left. Then I plug it in and repeat.

Therefore it follows that the only opportunities we have to run out are in the rare occasions we go on trips.

Given I've driven 10k miles and have been at superchargers a total of about 5 times, the sample size of risky situations is infinitissmally smaller than if we were required to stop at superchargers exclusively, the way ICE vehicles depend on gas stations.

On that subject, I've read a few hilarious articles about how woefully inadequate the density of chargers is for EVs. The writers all seem to forget we charge at home and wake up with a "full tank."

When people ask me about range anxiety, I ask them to think about the times when their car has a full tank of gas (or even 3/4) and on the days when that is the case, how often do they think about needing to get gas that day. They say “never” and I tell them that’s what it’s like. I also ask how often they need to fill their tank twice in the same day (which is basically analogous to charging outside of the house) and they say “never” or “very rarely”.
 

cwerdna

Active Member
Jul 11, 2012
3,434
2,289
SF Bay Area, CA
I'm assuming the OP is not an owner or lessee of a Tesla, so for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the data available to the operator of a Tesla,...
That's probably a safe assumption. And, it's semi-likely the OP will never read your reply either.

As I stated before and it's still true right now, per jkriesel, "jkriesel was last seen: Sep 7, 2017".
 
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rick

Member
Dec 12, 2013
69
55
madison wisconsin
We have had a Model S85 since 2013 and a Model X since 2016. We have driven from Madison Wisconsin to Minneapolis and Milwaukee many times and have done a road trip to eastern Pa. without difficulty. total miles >60,000. No problems . never ran out of juice. We don't think about it --not a problem. Plug it in at night--or every three days or so-takes 5 seconds- haven't been to a gas station in 4 years. If you take a road trip it's like you're in an airplane-you think ahead and don't run out of fuel-it's easy. We could leave home in ten minutes and drive to LA or Miami (it would not be quite as convenient today as with a gas car but soon it will be). The future is now.
 
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David99

Active Member
Jan 31, 2014
4,850
7,023
Brea, Orange County
Never in 144,000 miles and almost 4 years with my Model S.

I once was stuck in a blizzard that knocked over power lines and cause a large area to be out of power. My mistake to even drive in those conditions. Any sane person would have stopped and waited out the storm. I drove, without knowing, right into the area that had the power outage. Called Tesla and they said they can't even get a tow service because all gas stations are down and no one wants to drive into that area. They tried really hard and eventually found a tow service that picked me up and drove me and my car to the next Supercharger 90 miles away! For free!
 
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sakimano

Active Member
Mar 20, 2017
1,374
835
Ontario, Canada
how often do ICE drivers run out of fuel? I don't have empirical data but I'd suspect that the numbers of ICE drivers running out of fuel is proportionate if not higher than EV drivers running out of power.
I'd say the proportionate instances are WAAAAAY for a petrol car driver because the consequences are so small...there's gas everywhere and petrol containers can carry 5 litres of fuel, enough to get you to 100 gas stations. You can fix that situation in 30 minutes whereas with an EV you need to get your car towed / flatbedded to a charging point and then sit and wait for potentially 3 hrs (110 or something). That's no fun, costs a couple hundred bucks and lots of time.

I've run out of fuel 3 times in my life. It was a faulty fuel gauge once, a new car that just died right on E (rather than letting you go past E) once and inattention the other time, and it was always fixed within the space of an hr, at relatively little cost or inconvenience.

In my 2 teslas I've owned, the closest I've come to running out of range was 3 kms of range left getting home on a 20 km trip where I had 30 kms of range (consumption was hideous because it was freezing and I didn't realize how much juice the heat drained (about 20-30% from my testing). Going forward I don't think I will make that mistake and will be comfortably able to make any destination or I'll take measures to charge on the way etc.
 

sakimano

Active Member
Mar 20, 2017
1,374
835
Ontario, Canada
Never in 144,000 miles and almost 4 years with my Model S.

I once was stuck in a blizzard that knocked over power lines and cause a large area to be out of power. My mistake to even drive in those conditions. Any sane person would have stopped and waited out the storm. I drove, without knowing, right into the area that had the power outage. Called Tesla and they said they can't even get a tow service because all gas stations are down and no one wants to drive into that area. They tried really hard and eventually found a tow service that picked me up and drove me and my car to the next Supercharger 90 miles away! For free!
sorry, never or once? you said never then you described a time you had to get towed to a supercharger
 

Texas

Member
May 19, 2015
138
174
Houston, Texas
Three years on my Model S, and I’ve only had one close call. I misjudged my range and found myself at risk of running out well before the next Supercharger. I dropped my speed to exactly 55, let everyone pass me, turned off the AC, and made it with only 11 miles to go. Got my all-time best watt-hours/mile, however: 240 Watt-hours per mile, or 141 miles per gallon Equivalent.
 
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David99

Active Member
Jan 31, 2014
4,850
7,023
Brea, Orange County
sorry, never or once? you said never then you described a time you had to get towed to a supercharger

IIRC I had 60 miles left when I arrived at the Supercharger in Shamrock. I got stuck in the snow trying from the street onto the parking lot where the Supercharger was. After an hour of desperate attempts I finally made it. Only to find out the power was out in the entire town and surrounding areas. The next/nearest Supercharger was 90 miles away. It was a crazy winter storm and there was no way I could make it. So I spent the night in the car with the heater on oping for power the next day. Hotels were all closed. The next day I spent calling Tesla, the power company (asking when power will be restored) calling any possible nearby charging stations and RV parks but no one had power. At the end of the day Tesla finally was able to find a tow service that would take me to the next Supercharger. It was probably a $400-500 tow they swallowed. I had about 30 miles left when the two truck came. So I didn't run out. The power outage in the entire area got me stranded.
 

busaman

Member
Dec 12, 2016
237
93
suffolk UK
I got as low as 9 miles to SC 150 miles from home heavy snow and -3 makes a big difference on the range when i set off i had 150 miles on the charge and only 92 to cover minimal A/C and 55mph
 

wdolson

Well-Known Member
Jul 24, 2015
7,476
9,975
Clark Co, WA
In over 30 years of driving I have run out of gas. The first time in an intersection in downtown Los Angeles when I was 16. My father had been bugging me for days to refuel and he really chewed me out for it. It was a while until I ran out again!

But it did happen.

The lowest charge I've ever had in my Tesla is around 20% on a road trip. I had enough reserve to every supercharger I didn't really think about it much. If I had a 60 I might have been sweating a little, but newer cars combined with the number of superchargers out there, there isn't much to worry about.
 

S4WRXTTCS

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2015
5,390
6,113
Snohomish, WA
Not yet, but I'm way more careful about not missing my exit in the S than I am in an ICE.

Missing an exit on a freeway that doesn't have the next exit for 20+ miles is my biggest fear.
 

IdaX

Member
Dec 27, 2016
428
522
Moscow, Idaho
I run it down as low as 2-3% semi-regularly -- on long trip legs I use just about all of that battery that I paid for. But it's a planned thing. Depart slow, but once the next Supercharger gets closer you can crank up speed and heating with less worry.

I have owned 2 ICE cars before my Tesla and I ran them out once each. It seems harder to run out in the Tesla, though, in some sense in that it's got such accurate information about remaining charge.
 
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