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Road trip LA to Denver

Fisherjbf

New Member
Jun 30, 2021
1
0
Los Angeles
I just received my model 3 (long distance) and I am planning a road trip in August from Los Angeles to Denver. I wanted to stop at Zion and Arches national Park.

Any tips about places to stop and places to charge and anything else I need to know about taking this car long distances would be welcome and appreciated.
 

freeAgent

Member
Oct 29, 2020
145
127
SoCal
You can plan ahead by using ABetterRoutePlanner (website and/or phone app). The speed at which you drive has a large impact on your range, so I find it's easiest to just cruise on Autopilot at either the speed limit or no more than 70mph. While you're driving, pull up the "Energy" app to see a real-time chart of your usage and estimate of how much you'll have remaining by the time you reach you next charging stop (or destination). If you see it dropping to an uncomfortably low level (for me, that is <10%), you can adjust your speed down to compensate early on in the trip. I watch that chart regularly so I'm not surprised by a warning when it's already too late and needing to restrict the car to dangerously low speeds in order to make it to a charger. Charging also slows down pretty dramatically as the charge level rises, so don't charge to 90%+ unless you need to do so.

I just drove my LR from Los Angeles to Bend, OR and found that Tesla's estimates of how much power I would need (the car will tell you when you have enough charge to make it to either your destination or the next waypoint when you're Supercharging) were a bit optimistic, but only by a few percentage points. I always gave it an extra 5-10% because I wanted to be extra cautious while driving through unpopulated desert areas where the nearest charger may be easily over 100 miles away. That served me well. I think I was consuming on the high side because it was insanely hot and my car was packed full of luggage plus my wife and child.
 

freeAgent

Member
Oct 29, 2020
145
127
SoCal
Oh, one other thing... Sentry Mode will automatically turn off if your battery drops to 20% or lower. If you're parked overnight at a hotel, keep that in mind. If you're worried about phantom drain, then turn off Sentry Mode entirely as it's a huge hog. You may also want to disable the cabin overheat protection since it isn't necessary and you can just turn on the climate control from the Tesla app a minute or two before you get into your car if you want it to be pre-cooled.
 
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Frank99

April 2018 Model 3 LR RWD, EAP, FSD
Apr 7, 2016
311
408
Arizona
Hoover dam is just a short jog out of Las Vegas, and is a pretty cool view.

Use ABRP before you leave, use the in car nav on the road. Take music on a flash drive or your phone, because there’s lots of road out there with no cell coverage thus no streaming. Keep a couple of bottles of water in the car because breaking down in the summer can be life threatening. Long trips on AP are great for learning about some of the cars functions, like the trip page of the energy graph. The trip will take about 15-20% longer than if you were driving an ICE, but AP will make up for it. Turn “require lane change confirmation” ON until you get comfortable with how/when the car wants to change lanes. Print out a current list of known voice commands and play with them on the road-helps while away the time. None of the games will work except solitaire. If you wanna drive 80, you’re gonna have to charge longer than the car tells you - you might have to plan on arriving with 25% battery in order to get where you’re going with 5-10%. The fastest way to make time is to plan to arrive with about 10% battery left at the next supercharger - the battery charges faster when low, and slowest as it gets fuller. However, planning on 10% can lead to stress if you run into weather (rain, wind) and aren’t paying attention, so until you get comfortable with the energy graph I’d recommend planning to arrive with 20% battery. If the car tells you to slow down in order to make it to the next chargers, pay attention to it. Note that nav is perfectly happy to drop you at your destination with 10% battery left-even if you need 20% to get back to the closest charger. Consider charging at the closest sc to your destination on the way so you don’t get caught by this.

Above all, keep on grinning. The Model 3 LR is a great road tripping machine.
 

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
10,409
12,653
San Diego
I just received my model 3 (long distance) and I am planning a road trip in August from Los Angeles to Denver. I wanted to stop at Zion and Arches national Park.
Any tips about places to stop and places to charge and anything else I need to know about taking this car long distances would be welcome and appreciated.

Lots of good tips from @Frank99 and @freeAgent . I disagree that it takes 15-20% longer than an ICE, but it does depend on the people involved. When traveling with my wife & dogs it doesn't really slow us down at all, as there is so much to take care of at each stop, and we have to stop periodically anyway. If I were by myself it's about 10% slower than it would be with a gas vehicle, unless I am doing a maximum-speed, maximum-stress run in an ICE (no stopping for drive-through meals or bathroom breaks: gas stops only) - then maybe it's 15% slower.

1) Use ABetterRoutePlanner as others have suggested, in advance. Familiarize yourself with the options, consider adding the app to your phone and saving your plan. The in-car nav does not do waypoints, so using ABRP is really the only way to manage these types of stops. Expect huge delays in Zion and Arches if you visit at the wrong time. For long stops in the parks, remember to account for feature drain of the vehicle (AC, Sentry, etc.) which will impact your ability to reach your next charging stop.

2) Use the car nav, but remember it will hide Superchargers from you - use the button on the lower right to have it show all the superchargers, and press it again to return you to your current route. The navigation in the car is not set up to provide minimum travel time - usually it results in minimum number of stops, which is different.

3) Car estimates are good, but recommend adding an extra 5-10%, especially for long segments, add 10% more, after it says "enough charge to max it to your next stop". When you get comfortable with the predictions, then you can shave off charge - but remember weather conditions can change.

4) It's entirely fine and optimal to discharge to 5-10%, but it is better to start at 10-15% arrival estimate or even 15-20%, and then drive very fast to target closer to 5-10% at the Supercharger. (As others have mentioned, use the Energy ->Trip screen to monitor your progress and changes in projected arrival charge.)

5) If you have a headwind, or inclement weather, expect major impacts to efficiency. Tuck in behind someone (preferably with a large frontal area) traveling your speed, if necessary, at maximum follow distance. It will help substantially.

6) Drive as fast as you want. If the speed limits allow it, drive comfortably above it, as you would a normal vehicle. This is the way to travel fastest. If you find that you're having to monitor your charge level and slowing down as a result, that means you're not charging enough! Fix it at the next charging stop, by spending a few extra minutes, for faster, stress-free travel.

7) Find hotels with L2 charging and call ahead to determine availability & reliability - but don't count on them.

8) Monitor the in-car nav CAREFULLY for any "limited service" or disabled Supercharger stations along your route. This can happen, and it is good to know hundreds of miles in advance.

9) Use 250kW charging stations whenever possible. They are in better condition and more reliable than 150kW stations, and they are much faster for that reason and due to their higher peak rate. For the 150kW stations, ALWAYS monitor to make sure you hit max charge rate (unless you are sharing with other vehicles) before leaving the vehicle. Note the station labeling on 150kW stations and avoid splitting charge rate with other vehicles (pick a different number, a number that is unused). Remember that stations without the TESLA logo lit are disabled (easy to tell at night - in the daytime you can tell by looking very closely while shading a letter with your hands).

10) Familiarize yourself with the charge taper of your car (published here) so you understand what to expect for a given SoC. At most Supercharger stops you'll probably not exceed 80% SoC (but it depends where you are traveling exactly - in the desert Southwest for certain routes you may well be charging to close to 100%).

11) Avoid traveling near major cities on heavy travel days (holidays etc.), to avoid Supercharger congestion.

12) Less of an issue in summer, but be SURE to navigate to Superchargers to allow warming of the battery to occur. (It can still be an issue in summer.) Also, try to avoid Supercharging in the morning when the battery has cooled - charge it immediately after driving whenever possible rather than waiting. This is to ensure the battery is warm and charges quickly. If you're not in a rush in the morning this is less of an issue, but if you are expecting maximum rate you'll be in for a surprise.

It's not a problem at all to travel 700-900 miles in a day in the Model 3. Very doable. 1100 miles in a day is possible, but it makes for a very long day.
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,704
3,362
Maine
Lots of good tips from @Frank99 and @freeAgent . I disagree that it takes 15-20% longer than an ICE, but it does depend on the people involved. When traveling with my wife & dogs it doesn't really slow us down at all, as there is so much to take care of at each stop, and we have to stop periodically anyway. If I were by myself it's about 10% slower than it would be with a gas vehicle, unless I am doing a maximum-speed, maximum-stress run in an ICE (no stopping for drive-through meals or bathroom breaks: gas stops only) - then maybe it's 15% slower.

1) Use ABetterRoutePlanner as others have suggested, in advance. Familiarize yourself with the options, consider adding the app to your phone and saving your plan. The in-car nav does not do waypoints, so using ABRP is really the only way to manage these types of stops. Expect huge delays in Zion and Arches if you visit at the wrong time. For long stops in the parks, remember to account for feature drain of the vehicle (AC, Sentry, etc.) which will impact your ability to reach your next charging stop.

2) Use the car nav, but remember it will hide Superchargers from you - use the button on the lower right to have it show all the superchargers, and press it again to return you to your current route. The navigation in the car is not set up to provide minimum travel time - usually it results in minimum number of stops, which is different.

3) Car estimates are good, but recommend adding an extra 5-10%, especially for long segments, add 10% more, after it says "enough charge to max it to your next stop". When you get comfortable with the predictions, then you can shave off charge - but remember weather conditions can change.

4) It's entirely fine and optimal to discharge to 5-10%, but it is better to start at 10-15% arrival estimate or even 15-20%, and then drive very fast to target closer to 5-10% at the Supercharger. (As others have mentioned, use the Energy ->Trip screen to monitor your progress and changes in projected arrival charge.)

5) If you have a headwind, or inclement weather, expect major impacts to efficiency. Tuck in behind someone (preferably with a large frontal area) traveling your speed, if necessary, at maximum follow distance. It will help substantially.

6) Drive as fast as you want. If the speed limits allow it, drive comfortably above it, as you would a normal vehicle. This is the way to travel fastest. If you find that you're having to monitor your charge level and slowing down as a result, that means you're not charging enough! Fix it at the next charging stop, by spending a few extra minutes, for faster, stress-free travel.

7) Find hotels with L2 charging and call ahead to determine availability & reliability - but don't count on them.

8) Monitor the in-car nav CAREFULLY for any "limited service" or disabled Supercharger stations along your route. This can happen, and it is good to know hundreds of miles in advance.

9) Use 250kW charging stations whenever possible. They are in better condition and more reliable than 150kW stations, and they are much faster for that reason and due to their higher peak rate. For the 150kW stations, ALWAYS monitor to make sure you hit max charge rate (unless you are sharing with other vehicles) before leaving the vehicle. Note the station labeling on 150kW stations and avoid splitting charge rate with other vehicles (pick a different number, a number that is unused). Remember that stations without the TESLA logo lit are disabled (easy to tell at night - in the daytime you can tell by looking very closely while shading a letter with your hands).

10) Familiarize yourself with the charge taper of your car (published here) so you understand what to expect for a given SoC. At most Supercharger stops you'll probably not exceed 80% SoC (but it depends where you are traveling exactly - in the desert Southwest for certain routes you may well be charging to close to 100%).

11) Avoid traveling near major cities on heavy travel days (holidays etc.), to avoid Supercharger congestion.

12) Less of an issue in summer, but be SURE to navigate to Superchargers to allow warming of the battery to occur. (It can still be an issue in summer.) Also, try to avoid Supercharging in the morning when the battery has cooled - charge it immediately after driving whenever possible rather than waiting. This is to ensure the battery is warm and charges quickly. If you're not in a rush in the morning this is less of an issue, but if you are expecting maximum rate you'll be in for a surprise.

It's not a problem at all to travel 700-900 miles in a day in the Model 3. Very doable. 1100 miles in a day is possible, but it makes for a very long day.
This should be a sticky.
 

freeAgent

Member
Oct 29, 2020
145
127
SoCal
One update: I finished my trip between LA and Bend and while the car had been underestimating my charge needed while headed North by 5-10% per stop, it was overestimating the needed charge while headed South by about the same amount. Perhaps it was due to wind or some other factors (we took an eastern route North and the central CA route South, so we were on different roads most of the trip), but I still think that adding 5-10% to Tesla's "ready to continue trip" charge level is a good practice. It also allows you to make unplanned stops without sweating about your charge level too much.
 

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