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Road Trip Advice - Inexperienced Driver

Need comments from the experts.

Situation: Wife has a wedding to go to at the end of January and we'd like for her to take the P85D leaving me with the twins and the minivan. This is a drive from Nashville to Greenville, SC. Luckily there are a number of superchargers on the way. Here's the math.

Home to Knoxville SC - 183 miles
Knoxville SC to Asheville SC - 126 miles
Asheville to Greenville SC - 64 miles

My wife isn't a Tesla enthusiast. She likes the car because of the power, comfort, style, etc. She is going to want to get on the highway and drive without worrying about range. In the minivan she would likely have the heat at 68 and do ~80 MPH. For those who don't know the area, the drive to Knoxville from Nashville is a straight shot with minor elevation changes and is posted 70 MPH basically the whole way.

The calculator on the Tesla site shows that at 70 MPH, heat on, 32-degrees the range should be 219. I wonder if this is accurate and also what whether she will be able to push it up to 80 MPH. EV Trip Planner calculates that at 32-degrees outside and 68-degrees in the car that the trip will use 245 rated miles. (EVTP says that at 50 degrees it would be 226 rated miles. The average day time high for that time of year is probably closer to 50 than 30).

Should I be worried that this trip is too close to the limits to make it comfortable for her? I don't want her to have to drive 60 mph just so she can drive the Tesla. Or am I overthinking it and she will make it driving normally but should avoid any stretches of doing more than 80 and would be better off just to cruise at 75? Maybe we make the decision based on the weather - if it's going to be warm she takes the Tesla?

Happy holidays and thanks in advance.


(S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20
Supporting Member
Mar 8, 2012
Almost everyone plays it safe on the first road trip in their new Tesla. I suggest starting the trip driving slower than normal and then increasing speed if the trip graph is looking good. A lot will depend upon the temperature at the end of January. Cold air is dense and reduces range. Note that regardless of temperature there is a big jump in energy usage between 70 and 80 mph.


Out of warranty...
Supporting Member
Oct 22, 2012
Santa Barbara/New York
This trip and supercharge distances are a piece of cake provided you start out with 100%. She will not want to charge to 100% at supercharge stops, maybe 80 or 85, that last 15 takes a while. I would not be worried with the tesla, but I would tell her in no uncertain terms to stick to 75 or less this first trip, to put next supercharger in the nav, and to totally trust the 17" energy app trip graph. It's predictions are great. If it says things getting marginal, slow down. Unlikely on this trip though.
Road tripping in the Tesla is a lot easier than people make it sound. If you're seriously worrying about running the heater, or going 70mph vs 75mph with the 85kw or 90kw battery, you're doing something wrong :D. Sure, it gets easier over time, and you start doing some fun math in your head and get better at predicting than the car does, but here is all you really need to know:

  1. Put your final destination in the nav. It will automatically route you through superchargers, you don't need to be entering in the "next" one yourself.
  2. When the car tells you that you "have enough energy to continue on your trip" don't listen. Instead, keep the energy app open on the "trip" tab and look at the predicted charge remaining at your next stop. The car loves to tell you that leaving the supercharger with 6% or 8% predicted remaining at your next stop is OK. Hang out for 10-15 more minutes and wait for that predicted charge to be 25% or so.
  3. Now that you're leaving with a safe buffer, drive 80mph, with the heat on, in the freezing cold, uphill, with a headwind, without worrying about anything. You'll watch that 25% turn in to 20%, then 15%, then 10%, and maybe even single digits as you go. It will eventually level out and hold. If it drops below 6-7%, then you can finally slow down a bit, and it will start climbing back up.

Doing the above, I drove from California to Utah and back with parts of the trip below 10F, snowing, uphill, in a headwind, with the heat blasting, going 85mph, and aside from it being "scary" watching the trip graph keep dropping, everything was fine. By the 3rd supercharger stop, I had gotten the hang of it, and it was almost a game to see if you could "predict" where the predicted charge remaining would eventually level off at. As I got better and better at doing this, it became fun instead of scary.

The bottom line is as long as you don't leave the supercharger with a stupid amount of predicted range remaining (like 6%...thanks Tesla nav), you really have nothing to worry about.

P.S. If you're charging at a supercharger and your next stop is another supercharger, there is no downside to "overcharging" a little (assuming you're not going above 80-90% where it gets really slow). You're either going to charge more now or charge more at your next stop. It's not like you're saving any time by leaving "early" and it will just make you anxious the whole time you're driving worrying about stupid things like running your heater. Sticking around for 10 extra minutes never hurts.

As for your exact trip:

Range charge to 100% before she leaves for that initial 183 mile leg. She can pretty much drive however she wants and get there safely if she leaves at 100%. The other legs are such short distances it's cake.
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MSLR, W/W 21s FSD 1145 DEL 11/26 VIN MF454
Supporting Member
Mar 24, 2013
Seminole, FL
I drove my 60 in 28° weather about the same distance to max range, although I did not have the heater on (well, not all the time)... I did 70-75mph and didn't experience an unusually high drain on rated miles. I would say as long as temps are closer to 40s and 50s I wouldn't be concerned, although I would suggest driving <80mph...


Well-Known Member
May 3, 2015
Snohomish, WA
Here is what I'd do in your shoes

Have her do the following. I'm a strong believer in having people do things themselves. I don't care if it's a husband doing laundry, or a wife changing oil. Of course I'm not married so maybe this is why. :)

1.) Turn off the range assurance. It's a pile of crap that's just going to get in the way, and cause problems.
2.) Set the Battery charge setting to 90% for the small legs, and 95-100% for the 183 ones.
3.) Always enter in the next leg of the trip into the navigation
4.) Show her how to use the Trip tab under the energy meter. Tell her to occasionally check this to make sure it's not using way more energy than expected, and to slow down in increments of 5mph if it does.
5.) Use the TPMS system to occasionally check for slow leaks.
6.) Turn on range mode.

There are only a few concerns that I have when road tripping with the Tesla. The first concern is missing an exit. There are some cases where if you miss an exit it could seriously cause problems because you have to keep going to the next exit, and then go back. The other concern is closed roads/highways causing unanticipated detours.

So optionally use plugshare to find backup charging solutions just in case.

From the distances listed I think it's a great starter journey, and I don't see any red flags. Everything should be fine.
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Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
P.S. If you're charging at a supercharger and your next stop is another supercharger, there is no downside to "overcharging" a little (assuming you're not going above 80-90% where it gets really slow). You're either going to charge more now or charge more at your next stop. It's not like you're saving any time by leaving "early" and it will just make you anxious the whole time you're driving worrying about stupid things like running your heater. Sticking around for 10 extra minutes never hurts.

In the SpC videos I've seen, like this timelapse from Bjorn, the supercharger session starts tapering in the 40% range - this session that peaked at just over 100 kW is down to ~76 kW at 50%, ~62 kW at 60%, and only 51 kW as he passes through 70%.

There isn't a lot of harm from charging longer, but you are saving time if you don't - five minutes of charging here might be only two or three minutes of charging at the next stop.

Is the time saved worth the worrying done? That's a personal choice, and I'm not making a specific recommendation there - just pointing out that you are in fact losing time by overcharging, in progressively increasing amounts as you get further up the battery. The only thing it costs is a little time, though.
We've taken 4 long distance (1,000 miles or greater) trips in our car since we got it in late June. Most of these have included long stretches away from the Supercharger network, and in bad weather. Here's my tips for maximizing range, and reducing stress:

For long distance stretches:
- Before you leave, charge the car to 100%, timing it so you leave as soon as the car reaches completely full. Not only does this give you a full charge, it makes sure the battery is fully at temperature.
- Before you leave, condition the cabin. If its cold out, heat the cabin to 80 degrees so that everything is nice and toasty.
- When you leave with your warm n toasty cabin, turn the HVAC OFF, not down. If you turn the HVAC down to 70 or so, it will actually cool the cabin down to 70 immediately. If you just turn the system off, the car will cool down on its own as you drive. Turn on the seat heaters and then turn the heater back on when you really need it (and make sure its not still set to 80!). Of course, if you have fogging problems, you'll have to use the system, so set the temps accordingly. (I've actually just stepped the temps down by increments of 3 degrees over time, paying attention to the fan speeds, and the energy graph in the dash.)
- Set your next destination in the navigation, check to make sure the route is correct, and then drive with the Energy graph showing. You can easily control how much energy you will end up with. If you drive slower at the beginning of your drive, that's more energy you'll have for later. I tend to drive slower at first, just to make sure I don't run into unforeseen problems down the road (like bad weather, lower than expected temps, or bad headwinds). If its clear I'm going to make it, I'll drive faster.

If you have a string of Superchargers with easy driving ranges between them, give yourself a 20-25% charge buffer and it should allow you to drive how you'd like (within reason). Think ahead on when you're going to eat lunch or make extended stops, and try to take advantage of the car being on the charger longer at those stops. It may allow you to skip a charger afterwards.

Here's a comparison of our driving times:
From Salt Lake City to Truckee, CA: Google Maps says 7 hrs, 25 minutes. We did it in 10 hrs, 20 mins. This was longer than anticipated due to needing to charge additional time to account for colder temps. Driving speeds were 70-80 mph.

Larkspur to Medford, OR, Google maps told us it would be 5 hours, 30 minutes of driving. I lumped 2 hours for charging onto that and rounded up, and we gave ourselves 8 hours for the drive. We made it in 8hrs, 20mins, which was primarily due to a longer-than-anticipated lunch stop (our restaurant service being incredibly slow). Had everything gone exactly as planned, we would have done it in 8 hours even or less.


Nobody mentioned that Knoxville-Asheville begins with a very curvy rapid climb through mountains.if you start from Knoxville with q00% and do not control speed in the climb it is easy to seen25% or sonSOC before reaching the summit. After the summit you'll gain range due to regeneration until about 20 miles or so out of Asheville. It's not a problem under normal conditions but can be disconcerting and does demand discretion. The other legs are no problem.

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