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long distance, coast to coast drive - tips, preparation

angelman

Member
Jul 7, 2018
268
252
los angeles
I am due to take up a job on the East coast and am planning to drive there from LA. I have driven long distance in my ICE car plenty of times though nothing on this scale (15 hour drives etc.) Since my M3 is in the shop with an unknown fairly catastrophic failure that they are hopefully going to fix in time, I wonder what if any preparation I should do to ensure a successful journey as I'll probably be driving alone.
I expect autopilot will help greatly and of course I'll be taking the supercharger route and expect to take a week to do the journey, no great rush. I was slightly concerned it took almost 2 hours to get help from Tesla (30-40 minutes on hold and an hour for tow truck) fortunately the car was at home. Had this been out in the desert with no AC or worse still with no reception.. I hate to think how things would be.
Of course practically speaking there isn't really anything one can do other than check the tires and not to forget the charge cable.

Also anyone East coast owners have advice for a Californian moving there for winter season? Most likely it is, park the car and take the train! Get new winter tyres? I have driven in snow in the mountains here with snow chains but I assume people don't drive around with chains over there on a daily basis. I don't have dual motor.
 

Robwoodruff

Member
Nov 21, 2016
161
371
Ohio
We find driving the Tesla long distance is much nicer than our old ICE car. We tend to stop every 2-3 hours and super charge for 20 minutes. We keep the battery between 20 and 80% unless we stop for dinner and charge to 100 or stay at a hotel with a destination charger and charge to 100%. The autopilot makes the drive much more relaxing and the map tell you where to go and how fast you can go to reach the next charger. Never had any problems.

Teslas drive great in the winter so you don't need to park and take the train. The traction control is very good. Winter tires are helpful from Dec to April in areas where it freezes every night.
 
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David99

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jan 31, 2014
4,875
7,225
Brea, Orange County
I have done about 100k miles worth of long road trips in my Tesla and learned a few things. It never failed. It never got me stranded.

Plan the trip out with EVTripplanner.com. You don't have to stick to the plan, but just so you have an idea where you will be at what time of the day and what's on your route.

Look for alternative charging options. It's very rare that a Supercharger is out, but it happens. If something goes wrong you want to have options.

Bring a tire repair kit (I recommend the DynaPlugs) and if you can, a spare tire. I once spend a whole weekend in a small town waiting for the tire shop to get the right size tire. For some reason the Model S uses an uncommon tire size. Not sure if the Model 3 uses a more common tire size.

Don't charge too much at each Supercharger. The more the battery fills up, the slower the charge rate thus you are spending more time charging. If you charge just as much as you need to make it to the next one, you are taking advantage of the fastest charging speed. Of course don't cut it too close. You want to have some buffer if something goes wrong. Same is true for very long legs to skip superchargers. If you rather do a very long leg and skip a supercharger you might end up taking more time than stopping at one in the middle. A long leg requires you to charge up the battery all the way. Especially charging over 70% takes much longer and you end up spending a lot of time.

When you take a longer break (lunch, sight seeing, sleeping), charge the car up as much as you can (leave the slider at 100%). While the car is waiting for you, it might as well charge and pick up more energy.

Snow shouldn't be an issue this time of the year.

I always bring a blanket and pillow. Sometimes I like to take a quick power nap at a supercharger bringing the seat back all the way. :)

Avoid junk food! It's so tempting at each supercharger. Resist it! :) Your body will thank you!

Bring pain meds, alcohol swabs, band aids.

A small portable car jack, gloves, a portable air compressor, a flashlight, knife, scissors and a few tools are always a good idea. I also have a contact cleaner spray bottle in my car. Some supercharger plugs are dirty.

Keep a few bottles of water in the trunk.
 
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ferdboyce

Member
Dec 14, 2013
110
123
Seattle WA
Very sorry to hear about the problem with your new M3, but having been a MS owner for 5+ years, I have a lot of confidence in our local Tesla service dept, and assume they are representative of most - if not all - Tesla service centers. We had an unfortunate event shortly after delivery of our first S, off road in the soft sand in the desert in AZ (a long story and I won't bore you), and called Tesla. They responded quickly and the tow truck arrived as described, in 45 min. Interestingly, right after I contacted Tesla, a helicopter appeared overhead and hovered (I never learned why). My wife didn't seem too surprised, but only wanted to know how Tesla had arrived on site so quickly.

I'll also second Robwoodruff (above) that you'll be delighted with how well a Tesla handles snowy roads. Even an ICE's almost imperceptible gear shifting when starting out in snow can cause wheel slip and loss of traction, while the Tesla's electric drive is completely seamless. In addition, the battery's weight and location add greatly to stability on slippery roads. Note though, that the battery doesn't like the cold and that, coupled with a brisk headwind, can greatly diminish range in winter. Even a hard rain can take it's toll . . . but all of that is true with an ICE as well, if not to the same degree.
 
I have done Los Angeles to Boston and back the last two summers. This year, the dog and I did the 3100 miles in less than 72 hours in my 100D Model X. The navigation route to the Superchargers is awesome. No planing is necessary, although be careful if it wants to route you through Canada. I tried to make sure that I had at least a 15% buffer to the next charger. You will quickly become confident in the battery range capabilities. I found that I stopped often at a closer supercharger than I had to - just to take a break.

We stopped every two hundred miles or so for a pit stop, exercise and food. The autopilot makes it so much more comfortable. I find that I actually drive slower in autopilot. Just put it on 5 or 10 mph over the limit, and you are not looking all over for the highway patrol. You can easily stop the warning every minute. Just have to use 60 quarters in a sock. The roads are a little too curvy through Colorado, though.

I had a camping mat, pillow and jumped in the back for an hour nap whenever necessary at a supercharger. Try to hit the major cities during the night to avoid traffic.
 

ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,285
4,282
Buford, GA
My recommendation is to stop and smell the roses along the way. As you indicated, planning on taking a week and stop and see things along the way, relieving a lot of pressure and have time to resolve problems if they occur.
Make sure that you have PlugShare available and the J-1772 adapter and look for hotels and restaurants near chargers.

BTW, East Coast is much bigger than California, so saying you are moving to the East Coast doesn't allow us to answer the winter driving question. In the South, winter isn't a thing that we worry about. In the Mid-Atlantic, it isn't that big of deal either, but does exist. Only in the upper latitudes is there really anything needed.
 

angelman

Member
Jul 7, 2018
268
252
los angeles
Thank you for all your great suggestions, really value the input. I am moving to Connecticut for 6 months and I believe it gets pretty cold and snowy up there in winter. Tesla is probably one of the few cars where one almost secretly hopes it has an issue, just so you can get a nice model s loaner to hoon around :) Despite the wait the service experience has thus far been great, of course we shall see how long it takes for them to resolve the problem. I am expecting it will take at least a week or two to get fixed, but that model S makes it a non issue really (unless I still don't have the car when I need to move). Charging advice is good. Any idea of the cost of a cross country trip using superchargers for model3? Just rough approximate.. $100..$200.. more? The company should cover the cost of the trip up to a point (though I see flights are only $350 or so so I doubt they would cover much more than that. I certainly hope to take a few scenic detours on the way and take it easy
 

tm3vt

Member
Sep 14, 2018
5
11
Vermont
Also anyone East coast owners have advice for a Californian moving there for winter season?

Hello angelman -

Enjoy your trip from CA to CT! We are envious! We definitely want to plan some long distance trips soon…

Re winter in CT…

We've lived in Vermont for many years. This will be our first winter with our Model 3. I’m guessing it will handle better than any car we've had before, including AWD vehicles (we have the Rear Wheel Drive, Long Range). Any car will do better with true winter tires but we choose to avoid that expense and will only drive the Tesla when the roads are cleared. We have an old Corolla for winter errands and lease our other cars. The reason is RUST. VT uses salt on the roads, as well as CT according to a search. All of our cars have rusted out within 10 years (they won't pass inspection here) and we want our Tesla to last forever!

We have advice from a few sources - one is a Tesla Ranger (there are no service centers in VT - the closest to us is 250 miles away in MA, so they send someone to our home - wonderful!) And the inspection station guy had some advice as well. To protect the car from rust, *rinse* it sometimes, especially the wheel wells. If salty snow gets packed in there, it will melt all over the exposed metal areas supporting the wheels. The main thing is to wash, wash, wash it in early spring before the weather heats up - they said this will go a long way to protecting the car.

The other bit of advice - they said *do not* use car washes in the winter! They usually are required to reclaim and recirculate the water, which will be very salty in the winter. Use the self-service sprayer bay or your own water source when washing or rinsing, at least until summer.

Good luck!
 
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RAM_Eh

Member
Dec 10, 2013
551
326
Toronto ON
Take your time, enjoy the sights along the way. Drive 12-13 hours a day max including charging (and side trips) and look for a hotel closest to the charger. Your mind and body will thank you. Don't sleep overnight in the car...tempting but really not worth it.
 

rhumbliner

Member
Sep 24, 2015
717
901
Las Vegas
Plan the trip out with EVTripplanner.com.

+1

As Dwight D Eisenhower famously said, “Planning is everything, the plan is nothing”.

We’ve made 6 coast-to-coast trips in our S so far and making a plan always gave us invaluable insight into our options. We’ve yet to follow the original plan, but the drives were much more enjoyable because we were able to spontaneously choose a different option.
 
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animorph

Active Member
Apr 1, 2016
2,164
1,586
Scottsdale, AZ
We've made two trips to Maryland and North Carolina in our X. Plan with EVTripPlanner or ABetterRoutePlanner on the web, or EVTO on your phone. That should give you a very good idea of your route and drive/charge time. The Tesla nav will tend to recommend fewer charge stops, which is probably not as time optimized since it uses the slower charging at higher states of charge. You can always just tell the nav to go to the next Supercharger on your list. The nav's charge remaining at destination was conservatively accurate for us in August this year, so I would trust that, with extra margin if it starts raining or you encounter headwinds.

My son used to live in Groton, CT. He used snow tires most winters, but I'm pretty sure he didn't get around to it one winter. Cold enough and snowy enough that they seem like a very good idea.
 
Do you think people might be interested in some sort of vlog/blog of the trip? Seems like maybe driving coast to coast on all electric power is still a little unusual and even more so in a model 3. If so what would be of interest? Hopefully there won't be too much drama of running out of juice, punctured tires etc. though that might make for more interesting content. Any thoughts on a good place/format for such a thing? I thought of contacting jalopnik maybe, or just throwing up some videos on youtube.
 

David99

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jan 31, 2014
4,875
7,225
Brea, Orange County
Do you think people might be interested in some sort of vlog/blog of the trip? Seems like maybe driving coast to coast on all electric power is still a little unusual and even more so in a model 3. If so what would be of interest? Hopefully there won't be too much drama of running out of juice, punctured tires etc. though that might make for more interesting content. Any thoughts on a good place/format for such a thing? I thought of contacting jalopnik maybe, or just throwing up some videos on youtube.

YouTube is full of roads trip videos in EVs. That seems to be the favorite topic to do a video about when you get an EV. But those videos are also popular. I'd say go ahead! I have done a few. Mostly I took a lot of video towards the beginning and then as the trip took longer, I did less and less videos and my voice became more and more tired LOL
I did one video driving 1000 miles in 24 hours. I ended up not publishing it as I was just coming across too depressed LOL
 

TexasEV

Well-Known Member
Jun 5, 2013
7,650
8,914
Austin, TX
Do you think people might be interested in some sort of vlog/blog of the trip? Seems like maybe driving coast to coast on all electric power is still a little unusual and even more so in a model 3. If so what would be of interest? Hopefully there won't be too much drama of running out of juice, punctured tires etc. though that might make for more interesting content. Any thoughts on a good place/format for such a thing? I thought of contacting jalopnik maybe, or just throwing up some videos on youtube.
Maybe in 2013, not in 2018. Model 3 owners sometimes seem to forget that there are tens of thousands of Model S owners out there who have preceded you.
 

ratsbew

Active Member
Mar 3, 2012
1,291
1,030
O'Fallon, IL
The only preparation I would recommend is to use abetterrouteplanner.com to get a general plan of where you intend to charge and overnight. Plan your overnight stops at destination chargers and charge to 100% there. You should be able to finish each day with only 2 supercharger stops...lunch and dinner (plus extra 5 minute supercharger stops for bathroom breaks). 300 mile starting range + two 150 mile superchargers + two 20 mile bathroom breaks gives you about 640 miles of driving with less than 1 hour of Supercharging (assuming you end up at your hotel essentially at 0 miles left). Take an extra few minutes at your long stops and you could pick up 200 miles for a total of 740 miles with maybe 1:30 total of supercharging.

I don't know about you, but a lunch stop is a bare minimum of 25 minutes for me and 35 minutes if I take it at a more casual pace. Dinner stop could easily be 45 minutes. The whole point I'm trying to make is that long trips in your Model 3 are super painless if you do even the slightest amount of planning and charge at natural breaks.

I've done MANY one day 600-800 mile drives in ICE cars and now in my Model 3 and I can say with authority that the Tesla style of road tripping with mandatory breaks is far superior from a physiological and psychological standpoint. Yes, it may take an extra 1hr to 1:30 to cover the same distance, but you'll feel much better afterward. Just leave a bit early or arrive a bit later. The breaks make the difference.
 

Evoforce

Active Member
Apr 19, 2017
1,557
1,934
Fountain Hills AZ
If you have a leisurely week. Why plan anything, but instead intend to hit points of interest. Your car navigation will tell you all you need without any sweat.

Traveling the beaten path, don't worry about charging adapters. Off the beaten path out to the boonies, adapters will give you comfort but still may not be needed. If you are out in said boonies, and are relying on destination EVSE's, attempt to book room ahead of time so you are possibly not out of luck. Also KOA campgrounds have neat little cabins that many times you can charge your car at the power 240 volt outlet on site. Just have your own linen.

Most posters above have done a good job of covering it all...except.. if your traction battery or 12 volt go bad, flairs, reflective triangles, flashing battery operated lights. Your car flashers will not work in this type of emergency. I learned the hard way about 2500 miles from home.

I am currently on a 6000 mile round trip from home (Model S) and have had 2 nail/screw intrusions into my tires. Luckily, both held air till time of repair at tire shop. I also keep tools, a jack, tire plugs, 12 volt compressor, bug spray, sun screen and tp.

I wish model 3 had a usable chademo adapter!!! Have fun and good luck!
 
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