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Preparing my Tesla Model 3 for a long [road] trip?

I was not sure in which sub-forum to post this in, but because it will partially involve charging, I put it here. (If admins want to move it to a different sub-forum, that's OK.)

I bought my 2021 Tesla Model 3 SR LFP last October, 2021. So about 10 months old. It is my first EV. As I am retired, don't drive it every day, no long trips yet, most drives short,it only has 3779 miles on it so far. I have never used a charging station, as with my small amount of driving it works to charge it at home, regular 120v AC.

However, I am planning a long car trip later this week. (LA area to SF bay area). I have multiple questions to prepare for the trip.

First of all, is there any maintenance I should have done or checked on before the trip? I have had no problems with the car. Should I get anything done or checked at a Tesla service place before the trip? Tires rotated? Anything else? Or just check tire pressure, which I can do myself? Anything else?

As I wrote, I have never used a charging station before. Any tips on that? I figure I will probably have to charge it twice between LA and SF? Is that correct? At what level of miles it says I have left should I charge it? Any recommendations for which routes between LA and SF might have more charging stations? Is it better (faster, cheaper, etc.?) to use a Tesla charging station than another brand? Any suggestions regarding charging in general, and on this particular trip, would be appreciated?

Any suggestions for long distance Tesla driving, and in particular on this route (even if a question I did not think of) would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 
Any suggestions for long distance Tesla driving, and in particular on this route (even if a question I did not think of) would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Trust the in-car navigation to route you to Supercharger stops.

Use the icons to find or learn about amenities around the Supercharger sites. For example, a nice place to pick up a meal or snack.

Use the Energy screen "Trip" page. When the in-car navigation is running the Trip screen will plot estimated use versus actual use as you go along the route. It's informative and fun to use.
 
Your super-charging speed will be a little bit faster if you use the in-navigation system to stipulate your next charge, because it will prep the the battery by pre-heating it before you get to the charger. Even if you don’t remember that last sentence, the car will remind you at some point as you are driving along.

I recommend you heavily consider something that only you can: figure out your optimal driving stretch times. Let’s say, for example, you are all charged up and there is a next charger coming up 80 miles away, then another charger after an additional 80 miles. What fits best with your driving style? Just riding the full 160 miles through and then charging back up to full again? Or driving 80 miles and spending less time charging before you get back on the road to the next charger? That kind of decision not only depends on your personal style but on moving-target-circumstances like have you eaten breakfast yet, do you need a restroom?

I’m interested in what you do because eventually I’ll be doing the same thing (in the same car, 1 month older than yours) except maybe only as far as Big Sur. The Highway 1 trip along the coast doesn’t look as full of charging options, so I will be especially interested to see how it goes if you choose that route.

Good luck!
 
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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
4,647
4,380
Maine
I was not sure in which sub-forum to post this in, but because it will partially involve charging, I put it here. (If admins want to move it to a different sub-forum, that's OK.)

I bought my 2021 Tesla Model 3 SR LFP last October, 2021. So about 10 months old. It is my first EV. As I am retired, don't drive it every day, no long trips yet, most drives short,it only has 3779 miles on it so far. I have never used a charging station, as with my small amount of driving it works to charge it at home, regular 120v AC.

However, I am planning a long car trip later this week. (LA area to SF bay area). I have multiple questions to prepare for the trip.

First of all, is there any maintenance I should have done or checked on before the trip? I have had no problems with the car. Should I get anything done or checked at a Tesla service place before the trip? Tires rotated? Anything else? Or just check tire pressure, which I can do myself? Anything else?

As I wrote, I have never used a charging station before. Any tips on that? I figure I will probably have to charge it twice between LA and SF? Is that correct? At what level of miles it says I have left should I charge it? Any recommendations for which routes between LA and SF might have more charging stations? Is it better (faster, cheaper, etc.?) to use a Tesla charging station than another brand? Any suggestions regarding charging in general, and on this particular trip, would be appreciated?

Any suggestions for long distance Tesla driving, and in particular on this route (even if a question I did not think of) would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
When you check your tire pressures, just check your tread wear to determine whether you need to do a rotation. At 3800 miles, unlikely; however there is anecdotal evidence that not all Model 3s are correctly aligned from the factory, so checking on wear is always a good habit.

Check out ABRP, to simulate your trip. It'll give you ideas on trip strategies, etc. The better your inputs, the better your outputs.
 

RayK

Safety Score 90 (Was 96!)
Apr 5, 2016
3,063
3,169
San Jose, CA
Treat your 3 like you would any vehicle when planning a long trip:
  • Inspect your tires. Look for uneven wear, physical damage (nails, screws, etc.) and as others have said, check pressures. Compare those readings with what the car tells you when you have been driving a short distance (tire pressure display does not work when parked). Know that you do NOT have a factory spare tire so either have a good roadside service (e.g., AAA) or carry a plug kit and a portable air compressor.
  • Carry a small tool kit; screwdrivers, socket wrench set, pliers, etc.
  • Make sure that your windshield washer reservoir is full and the wiper blades in good condition. You can also bring along a roll of paper towels and glass cleaner (to wipe off your headlights and clean the windows/mirrors other than the windshield).
Tesla-centric notes:
  • Your trip will require at least one Supercharging stop. Use the car's navigation system to tell you when/where to stop to charge. I would "top off" the battery (90-100%) just prior to beginning so you can have more options on where to stop.
  • You probably will have a choice between US-101 or I-5. PCH/CA 1 is a scenic drive but will take you hours longer. If you have a preference but the car routes you on the opposite freeway, set a waypoint so that it forces the car's navigation to use your preferred route. For example, if you would rather go up 101 then set an intermediate destination of Santa Barbara or Santa Maria. I don't know where you are in L.A. but the car will probably select the closest highway as the route for you.
  • Previous advice to use/consult A Better Route Planner is highly suggested. You will get a more accurate result if you tailor the program's settings to match your car's performance (under Advanced Settings). One of the items is your car's Reference Consumption figure (in Watt-hours per mile). Your car should have this number in the odometer menu.
  • Best use advice when Supercharging is to run the car's battery charge level down as low as you are comfortable (i.e., 20-25% left) and to charge the car only enough to get you to your next stop. I would avoid charging the car more than 80-85% as that will increase the time spent at the Supercharger.
  • If you have a mobile connector you might want to bring it along. Realistically, you probably won't need it as the routes up to NorCal are covered very well by the Supercharger network. It can come in handy if your eventual destination here in the Bay Area has outlets that you can use.
  • You probably should bring along the J1772 adapter. That will allow you to charge at Level 2 stations (like at grocery stores or malls). Most of those are free.
  • I would take your car to a local Supercharger before your trip and verify that it can be charged. You should have already added a credit card to your Tesla account but you do NOT want to have any issues with Supercharger access while traveling. It's just one more headache that can be avoided with a little planning.
Several years ago we drove down to L.A. to visit friends and go to Disneyland. All trips in the past 40+ years I went down US-101. However, with the Tesla, the nav routed me to I-5, mostly because our destination was in Glendale. I knew about the Kettleman City Supercharger and I wanted to see it. It is one of the best examples of what the Supercharger system offers. I highly recommend it. Here are the current Supercharger locations between here and there: (grayed out icons are planned locations)

1659889975471.png


Good coverage on either route. Have a safe trip!
 
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RayK

Safety Score 90 (Was 96!)
Apr 5, 2016
3,063
3,169
San Jose, CA
Preferable? I'd say "Yes". Right now, the only other two options that are possible for DC fast charging would be to use a CHAdeMO adapter (pricey if you can find one; >$500 and limited to 50kW) or IF your car is CCS enabled, then you would need the CCS adapter (~$200). You probably would also need to be registered with whatever charging network you find (EVgo, ChargePoint, etc.). Using the Supercharger system is basically plug-and-go. Billing is done automatically to the credit card registered with your Tesla account.

Are they faster? Some CCS systems can be faster but again, you'll need the adapter and your car must already have the proper electronic control unit (ECU) connected to charge port. Not sure if your late 2021 car has the proper equipment. You can check by looking under the "Software/Additional vehicle information" section of the on-screen display and looking for "CCS adapter support".
 
Trust the in-car navigation to route you to Supercharger stops.

Use the icons to find or learn about amenities around the Supercharger sites. For example, a nice place to pick up a meal or snack.

Use the Energy screen "Trip" page. When the in-car navigation is running the Trip screen will plot estimated use versus actual use as you go along the route. It's informative and fun to use.
The energy page is no longer available. I have 2022.20.7. A voice command "energy" no longer brings it up.
 
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The energy page is no longer available. I have 2022.20.7. A voice command "energy" no longer brings it up.
It's available on my 2021 Model 3 SR+. I have its shortcut in my bottom menu bar and it works fine.

I've read about a missing energy page on some Model S cars. I don't own a Model S so I only have anecdotal information. Do you own a Model S?
 
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It's available on my 2021 Model 3 SR+. I have its shortcut in my bottom menu bar and it works fine.

I've read about a missing energy page on some Model S cars. I don't own a Model S so I only have anecdotal information. Do you own a Model S?
Yes, my Feb 2022 MSLR no longer makes the energy app available. It was taken away with a software upgrade (downgrade). The energy app was never available to me by navigating to a shortcut, that never existed on my S. I accessed it with the voice command "show energy app". Now that command no longer works.
 
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Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
8,575
11,124
Boise, ID
Are the Tesla Superchargers preferable to other charging stations? Faster?
Yes.
For the other charging stations, there is one plug type that is slow charging (called J1772) that your car does come with an adapter for. Not at all something you want to use on a trip unless you are already planning to be parked for a few hours. For the other fast charging stations, they would require other kinds of adapters that your car doesn't come with, and are very difficult to get, and cost several hundred dollars. So also not a good option.

Also, the other important tip since you haven't traveled with an electric car yet. You will have in your mind the gas car habit of "Fill 'er up!" Don't. That is going to be annoying and slow. Batteries fill very fast in the lower half to two thirds or so, but slow quite a lot when they are getting above 70-80% or more. It is not worth your time trying to recharge all the way to 100%--horribly annoying. So for fastest trip speed, you really only need to recharge most of it, like to 70% or something and then go. If you have the trip in Navigation, it will go ahead and tell you anyway, but I'm explaining why in case it seemed unusual.
 
  • Best use advice when Supercharging is to run the car's battery charge level down as low as you are comfortable (i.e., 20-25% left) and to charge the car only enough to get you to your next stop. I would avoid charging the car more than 80-85% as that will increase the time spent at the Supercharger.

If using the car's navigation to schedule SuperCharger stops, it seems to target 10-15% left for a stop, probably in order to get the highest charging speeds (since charging speeds are faster when there is less charge already in the battery).

On the way, you want to charge enough to comfortably get to your next charging stop, but on the last charging stop to reach your destination, you may want to adjust the amount of charging so that you arrive at your destination with enough charge for your expected local driving there.

Are the Tesla Superchargers preferable to other charging stations? Faster?
For road-tripping Tesla drivers, Tesla SuperChargers are typically the most convenient where available, since the car navigation includes them in routing. Some other chargers (e.g. Electrify America, EVgo, ChargePoint) may also require or prefer setting up accounts to pay for the charging (Tesla SuperChargers are supposed to charge the credit card in your Tesla account). Some Tesla SuperChargers are crowded, so there are some situations where finding a nearby non-Tesla charger may be desirable if you can use it (see below).

Other charging options:
  • "Destination" chargers that may be found at hotels, stores, malls, etc that charge at 3-7 kW, sometimes for free to entice EV drivers to the hotels, stores, malls, etc. Some have Tesla plugs, while others have J1772 plugs that require the J1772 adapter that is included with the car. These chargers are also sometimes found at workplaces, but only for use by employees.
  • CHAdeMO fast chargers when using the CHAdeMO adapter. However, the adapter is rare and expensive these days, although some EVgo stations have them built in to provide Tesla plugs. CHAdeMO charging speed in the US is probably only up to 50 kW, significantly slower than Tesla SuperChargers.
  • CCS1 fast chargers when using a CCS1 adapter, if your car has that capability (look around in the menus for the information about whether that is present on your car). However, the official Tesla CCS1 adapter is not officially for sale in the US yet (but there are also third party adapters). CCS1 charging stations vary in maximum speed from 24 kW to 350 kW.
  • Mobile connector with plug adapter. The included 5-15 (typical household outlet) adapter will let you charge at about 1 kW. Some other adapters may be purchased if there are higher power outlets (e.g. dryer outlets in houses, or RV outlets at campgrounds) that you want to use. The mobile connector will choose a charging speed based on the plug adapter used.
PlugShare - EV Charging Station Map - Find a place to charge may be helpful if you want to find these non-Tesla charging options.
 
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It seems like the most potentially useful set of additional items could be:
  • Jack that fits under the car's jack points (with jack pads / hockey pucks / whatever).
  • Jack pads / hockey pucks / whatever pads for under the car's jack points.
  • Pump.
  • Tire plugging kit.
  • 21mm deep socket with a long handle socket wrench for it.
  • Gloves.
Since there is no spare tire, sealant goo may not work with the foam liner in the tires, and the tires do not have a self-sealing feature, it may be desirable to be able to plug a puncture.
 

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