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Issues on trip from AZ to NY and Back

My wife and I want to do a driving loop this summer from Arizona to New York and back. We have done overnight trips near home, but nothing long distance. So we decided to do a weekend trip to simulate the first leg of our upcoming loop and see what happened. A LOT did.

Many of you reading this will have done something like this before. We have in our ICE - three times before. What's different is the set of problems we encountered with the Tesla, our lack of knowledge about the trip planner and how supercharging works.

First, the Trip Planner assumes you want to get somewhere. So, it plans your supercharging to get you from Point A to Point B. We discovered that our Point B didn't have much to offer. That discovery meant we were looking for local charging options. A nearby Electrify America setup had CCS and CHAdeMo - no help there. We finally found a hotel that had a non-Tesla J1772 compatible charger.

On the next leg, we decided to charge over the amount needed to get to the next supercharger so we'd have enough juice when we got where we were going. Our fault for not thinking things through. (grumble...)

I have FSD Beta. Navigation and the operation of the car is easy. However, I 'exceeded' the speed limit for autopilot (80 mph on a highway with a speed limit of 75!), and the system shut down. By design it would not come up for the trip planned. I pulled over and did a system reset, then tried to resume my trip. Trip Planner changed its recommendation, routing us differently than it had to begin with. Very confusing.

I was able to resume FSD navigation - until it quit abruptly with just a 'ding' to tell me it had quit. I received a 'strange' message concerning one of the cameras: something about it not being able to see. I was without driver aids for hours - until I got cruise control back unexpectedly. Yes, something is wrong with the car.

We can't take a long trip with the car if it acts this way. Tesla's service network along our intended route is VERY thin.
Interesting. I always plan my trip with Google Maps before I go, printing out a series of stops that have superchargers. I already know my range, and my stops are quite a bit below that range, so we just drive to the next supercharger, charge, and move on down the road. All I can say is that I am so glad I don't use FSD Nav or NoA. I have already seen the supercharger a couple hundred miles away (and Google lets you visually look at it), so I just drive there. No need to have FSD try to figure it out.

I really don't have to print out where the superchargers are, because those all appear on my center screen anyway. And I can exceed the speed limit without consequence if there are no police on my route. Most of any trip is just LONG distances, with a short mile or two at the end where you might want more information, and you can zoom in to see those directions more clearly. If I am very worried about my next stop, I just put it into the Nav and it draws its blue line and off we go. It can hardly be easier.

Your cameras can quit unexpectedly with things like moisture (fog?) over the lens or sunshine on the camera side shining into the lens. Using your own eyes and not depending on the cameras solves a lot of problems.
Last time I took a long trip, I entered the end point into navigation, and it planned all the tops at SC along the way with no issues. I had also gone to "a better route planner" to see what it showed. www.abetterrouteplanner.com It tends to optimze for total charging time, rather than number of stops.
The SC along the way, in my experience, tend to be located primarily in shopping centers OR near locations with a log of nearby eateries.
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Superchargers are meant to get from Point A to B in a fast, efficient way and in that purpose, I think they are excellent. They aren't on "exploration" routes or on minor roads. This is true of pretty much all charging networks - over time they'll fill in but for now, stick to interstates or major roads.

AP/FSD will stop working if you exceed the speed limit (I think 85 is the trigger). You have to stop the car, put it in park and get out of the car. Re-enter it and it should work.

If a camera is occluded (fog/moisture, etc.) then you will get a warning that it's "unavailable" but depending on the severity, it may still work. For example, I'm in FSD beta and I'll get a warning that FSD is unavailable but regular AP still works. Either pull over and wipe the camera or just give it a few minutes and it will start working on its own (that's what I do).

It sounds like you have specific travel requirements/roads you want to use. Any EV will have charging limitations (for now). Tesla has the least because their charging network is the largest in the US. If you're not willing (or unable because of your destination) to adapt to the network as it is, then an EV is not the right vehicle for you. As for AP/FSD, just don't exceed the speed limit and you'll be fine. FSD has a limit of 80 for safety reasons; regular AP is 90. If 80 is too limiting for you, drop out of the FSD program and you can get up to 90.
Thanks for addressing all of my points. It helps - and my wife can read someone else's experience. We're definitely committed to EV and Tesla, and would like to have a hassle-free experience driving long distances in it.

The only specific requirements I had were to drive to point B - and that was planned to be on an interstate route covered by superchargers. My point B, however, was 65 miles past the last supercharger, and as I said, I didn't realise that I should have charged more to give me enough reserve to drive around town and get back to the supercharger on the way home. My bad for that.

The camera issue is problematic - and I do what you do. I had some service to the radar done near the camera's location, and I hope that it's just a matter fixing something disturbed by that service- did Tesla mess that up? Mobile Service will be here in a couple of days. We'll find out.... I didn't step out of the car, so thank you for that tip.

[rant on]The Owner's Manual tells me the speed limits. If operating on FSD, it's 80. If operating on NoA or AP, it's 90. What pisses me off is that we have to stop and try to reset things. That's penalizing the driver for doing something that might be necessary on an interstate. [rant off].
As someone else suggested, I use A Better Route Planner to map my journey. That will let me know the state of charge I will arrive with at a destination and then I need to know if that is enough charge or if I need to charger along the way.

I took a 6 day trip in my Model 3 LR in August into national parks and along Hwy 1 in CA where there are limited superchargers but it all went smoothly. I did camp three of those nights outside parks at a site with hook ups so the car charged overnight.

I’ve put over 25k miles on my car in less than 2 years, mostly from road trips. Using ABRP to map the route then looking at Tesla.com/findus to look at the supercharger spots and what amenities they offer. I add my own supercharger stops in ABRP for as many 250kw as I can find and plan out stops when I need food or a walking break. I take my huge dog with me so it helps to have stops to walk and I think charging to 80% or less then moving on (and arriving with 10-15% - or less, if you’re comfortable with it - so I hit the peak charging speed longer) allows me to have shorter drives than sitting in the car until it’s over 80%.
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My wife and I want to do a driving loop this summer from Arizona to New York and back. ...
Wife and I took in our MY from Green Valley (south of Tucson) to Cape Cod, and back, last year. Piece of cake. No lie. Don't quite understand your problems. Yeah, I checked with PlugShare and a little with ABRP. Mostly didn't need any of them during the trip.

How many miles do you want to do in a day? Google maps is your friend for that info. Pick the route of your choice first.

Try this. Figure on a five hundred mile per day trip (it's just easier all the way around!!). Sit in your Tesla and hit the right button on your steering wheel and command; "Navigate to Dallas TX" (made that up). See what the nav screen says. should lay it all out for you. Repeat each day of the trip.

Any questions I'll be happy to respond. Also wrote about three trips in EVs (Bolt, Cape to AZ, Tesla, AZ to Cape, Cape to AZ) in my book Electric Vehicles, What About Them?!? (a bit of a self-serving fact, sue me...). Lays out the trips for ya!

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OK, just looked up Sun City West. You're outside of Phoenix. Can't imagine why you'd have a problem going X-country in a Tesla from that location. Please share your destination location so I can help you figure this out.


Edit: Just put in Sun City West to NYC in Plugshare. You have a string of Superchargers along the entire route. ???


Jan 22, 2014
It sounds like the OPs biggest problem was not having a plan for charging at their destination. Routing programs help you get somewhere but they generally get you there with essentially zero charge.
Charging apps, of which plugshare.com is by far the best for the USA, are essential to use to find locations at your destination. The easiest case is if you have a hotel with destination charging, there is a Supercharger nearby, or you have a relative with a charger or dryer outlet.
I fully understand that some destinations are a challenge. I was working out of town and staying in a place without a destination charger at the hotel that was about 30 miles from where I was working and the nearest Supercharger was about 20 miles beyond where I was working. Luckily, there was a CHAdeMO that wasn't too far from the hotel that I was able to use every other day. Today, there is a Supercharger in the town with the hotel and a lot more hotels with destination charging so it is only getting easier.
I'm surprised that autopilot 'put you in the penalty box' at 80 mph on a 75 mph highway. On 70 mph or lower roads, I've seen it put people there for exceeding 90 mph but not 80 mph. On 75 mph or faster highways the threshold has always been well above 90 mph (not that I'd admit to knowing where it is). I don't have any experience with FSD beta though so, perhaps that's the difference.

as far as:
We can't take a long trip with the car if it acts this way.
It sounds like your autopilot failed on you but, I can hardly see how that would prevent you from taking a long trip. After all, your old cars didn't even have this feature and you were able to drive them manually. Your autopilot is in beta as promised so you can't expect it to be perfect and, clearly, it is still a while before it will be actually released.
Having driven from LA, CA to VA Beach, VA in 3 days, clearly, Teslas are capable of long distance driving. I have a lot of experience and was pushing it but I figure anyone can do these trips leisurely if you leave the charging stops a few minutes after the car says you should to give you peace of mind and plan for where you'll charge at your destination.
Have done 3 cross country road trips and found no issues. Planning a 10k mile roadtrip in May. All planned with ABRP. Find this very useful in planning hotel stops to get best prices.

This trip will include a New England loop trip. Also the trip back will use a VRBO while visiting my daughter in the wilds of Wisconsin. Kind of an EV dead spot will use the VRBO to charge up. We will also use a RV park in the Badlands.

Have slept in the car twice and found it quite comfortable but would not like to do this exclusively. This trip there are two nights planned in the car.

Have enhanced autopilot and find driving a breeze much less stressful than without. It’s amazing how much work you tend to do to keep the car between the lines. During Covid we had to make an unplanned trip to Huntsville Alabama to get the kid due to the dorms closing. First leg from Phoenix to Dallas. Got to the hotel and was not exhausted. Did do a couple of site seeing stops but still.

Bottom line I enjoy the planning and execution of my road trips. Always did this with an ICE car but not this detailed.

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