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Running out of charge

dgilbertdds

Member
Oct 10, 2019
5
1
Atlanta
What are the options if you run out of charge while on a trip? Call Tesla? Do they have roadside assistance portable chargers? Does Tesla have towing to nearest charger? Call AAA?
 

fmm

Member
May 19, 2015
92
102
Philadelphia, PA
stop somewhere and plug in?

but seriously, download Plugshare and use it to see what's around you at any given moment - there are spots to plug in virtually everywhere. not all superchargers or even fast chargers - but plugins that could provide enough power to get you to the next fast charger if needed. personally, I've never been in this position but if you are a new owner I understand the concern.
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,515
3,551
Colorado, USA
You call Tesla roadside, they tell you it will be 2.5 hours until they can get a tow truck there and to call local authorities who will then put you in touch with local tow truck companies who will arrive in 20min. You will then waste weeks/months trying to get reimbursed for your tow truck charge that the Tesla rep told you would be simple and "pre-authorized" the reimbursement. (source: this just happened to us & we're still out the charge)

In our case, during a 10-hour road trip, the car didn't once tell us to slow down on this leg of the journey. Suddenly, 7.6 miles from the next Supercharger the car lost all power. A warning popped up saying that the car was shutting down and to pull over someplace safe and we were coasting. No place was safe as we were on I70 through the mountains of Colorado and we were forced to sit on the shoulder with cars whizzing past at 75mph+ to wait for a tow truck. The car showed 13 miles of range even when it died and we were 7.6 miles to the Supercharger. Had the car ONCE told us to slow down like it's done so many times in the past we would have known we weren't good to go. Instead... not a peep until... dead!

So it's not always as simple as just knowing where to plug in and plugging in. It should also be noted that our P85D has about 230ish miles of range when full and this particular leg between Superchargers is 86.8 miles. IMO there was little way to know/plan/prepare for what happened to us. Over 25 years from now I've never run out of an energy source and been on the side of the road so it doesn't just happen to those who are careless.
 
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ewoodrick

Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
5,285
3,732
Buford, GA
Pretty much the same as if you run out of gas.

But why would you do so? If you are navigating, the car will have been warning for a long time. And ehiwh not fast, there are 120V plugs all over the place.
 
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swegman

Active Member
Mar 27, 2012
1,580
1,620
The car showed 13 miles of range even when it died and we were 7.6 miles to the Supercharger. Had the car ONCE told us to slow down like it's done so many times in the past we would have known we weren't good to go. Instead... not a peep until... dead!

I wonder whether you may have pressed the accelerator “hard” for something, such as, for example, a rapid acceleration when the car died.

I was recently in a situation (after my battery was capped) where I had about 25 miles to get to the next supercharger but the car indicated I only had 18 miles of range left. I slowed down to 45 mph and was gentle with the accelerator pedal. About 2-1/2 miles from the charger, the range indicator dropped to 0 miles. I drove those last few miles at 25 mph and was extra gentle to make sure the energy drain on the battery was as little as possible and I made it to the charger. When your battery level is very low, any action (such as pressing the accelerator to pass a car) that results in an “instantaneous” large energy requirement can cause the car to shut down to protect the battery.
 

ajdelange

Active Member
Dec 10, 2018
1,077
540
Virginia/Quebec
It should also be noted that our P85D has about 230ish miles of range when full and this particular leg between Superchargers is 86.8 miles.
Needless to say I am as frightened as anyone else about arriving in this situation and so would like to understand better what happened here. What did the energy graph show as you neared the SC? Was the actual SoC vs miles curve tracking close to the SoC curve and then suddenly took a dive 7.6 miles short of the SC? What was that display showing when the shutdown warning popped up?

Were conditions such that actual Wh/mi were appreciably higher than average such as going uphill, driving into a head wind or on a wet road surface? Are you sure you understand the distinction between rated range, average range and the different available averaging time constants?

If you monitor the energy graph and know how to interpret it you aren't going to get into this kind of trouble unless there is a system failure and there is really nothing you can do about that except, perhaps, through surveillance, detect that it is imminent but that doesn't always work either. I've had, for example, squirrels gnaw through the fuel line on my ICE pickup.
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,515
3,551
Colorado, USA
I wonder whether you may have pressed the accelerator “hard” for something, such as, for example, a rapid acceleration when the car died.

I was recently in a situation (after my battery was capped) where I had about 25 miles to get to the next supercharger but the car indicated I only had 18 miles of range left. I slowed down to 45 mph and was gentle with the accelerator pedal. About 2-1/2 miles from the charger, the range indicator dropped to 0 miles. I drove those last few miles at 25 mph and was extra gentle to make sure the energy drain on the battery was as little as possible and I made it to the charger. When your battery level is very low, any action (such as pressing the accelerator to pass a car) that results in an “instantaneous” large energy requirement can cause the car to shut down to protect the battery.
Nope. AP was enabled and we were actually coasting downhill when it died. There was absolutely zero warning before it happened. 7.6 miles to go, 13 miles of range.... dead.
 

meomyo

Member
Nov 30, 2017
667
233
colorado
I wonder whether you may have pressed the accelerator “hard” for something, such as, for example, a rapid acceleration when the car died.

I was recently in a situation (after my battery was capped) where I had about 25 miles to get to the next supercharger but the car indicated I only had 18 miles of range left. I slowed down to 45 mph and was gentle with the accelerator pedal. About 2-1/2 miles from the charger, the range indicator dropped to 0 miles. I drove those last few miles at 25 mph and was extra gentle to make sure the energy drain on the battery was as little as possible and I made it to the charger. When your battery level is very low, any action (such as pressing the accelerator to pass a car) that results in an “instantaneous” large energy requirement can cause the car to shut down to protect the battery.
wow what a nightmare situation for sure. on trips i am too paranoid to run it down to under 30 miles left. even 20-25 remaing gives me the shakes. So when i charge at sc i always wait till it says i will have at least 30% left after i arrive to the next charger. Cant trust any gauges.
 
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meomyo

Member
Nov 30, 2017
667
233
colorado
Nope. AP was enabled and we were actually coasting downhill when it died. There was absolutely zero warning before it happened. 7.6 miles to go, 13 miles of range.... dead.
Why would you run it to even 13 miles left? No offence but that seems risky with an ev. I hate this fact about ev as you never know what that battery gauge really means.Like on a laptop.
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,515
3,551
Colorado, USA
Why would you run it to even 13 miles left? No offence but that seems risky with an ev. I hate this fact about ev as you never know what that battery gauge really means.Like on a laptop.

Your post makes it seem like there's a Supercharger on every corner like a gas station or California or something. You live in Colorado. You know better. We stayed at the Supercharger we were at until lit said we were good to go to get to the next one. We even stayed an extra 20 min beyond that just to make sure we had more than enough since we weren't in any hurry. Not really sure how you presume we could have avoided that as if it was operator error. In hindsight it's really easy to say "well, should have just stayed there longer" but is that really the solution is that everyone sit at Superchargers a full hour beyond when it says you're good to go to make it to the next one?
 

Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
6,432
7,647
Boise, ID
Not really sure how you presume we could have avoided that as if it was operator error. In hindsight it's really easy to say "well, should have just stayed there longer" but is that really the solution is that everyone sit at Superchargers a full hour beyond when it says you're good to go to make it to the next one?
Sigh. Why do you assume there is only one knob to twist to manage this? You're talking about how long you stayed at the Supercharger, but then nothing about how fast you drove for the next couple of hours along your way. A few miles per hour speed difference over the course of a couple of hours makes significant differences in your remaining range. Tweak your speed to continue to leave yourself enough margin.

You want to talk I-70 in Colorado? Great. Because last year, I had to deal with quite this difficulty there on I-70 in February at freezing outside temperatures. I was at Grand Junction, and I put in a nav destination farther over in Kansas, and the stupid car trip planner selected that I would go all the way straight through to Silverthorne(!), which is mostly uphill, in freezing temperatures, 209 miles, with my old S85. It was saying I needed to fill up to 100% and arrive with only 7%, which I knew seemed like an unrealistic prediction, given the cold temperature. That is when I learned about its other terrible behavior as I scanned carefully along the route to see if there was a closer Supercharger in the middle. It HIDES the Superchargers it thinks you should skip!!!!! So I didn't know Glenwood Springs was available right there halfway in the middle until days later. So...I made it work. I kept my heat low, and my cruise control at some stupid 10-15 mph below the speed limit, which extended the range enough to make it happen. It sucked a little, but I thought I didn't have another choice, so I did what was necessary. You didn't have it that bad, so probably should have kept more than a 13 mile (about 5%) margin.

Sorry, that this is kind of a rabbit trail that is a little about planning for the future, with not going with 5% margins. I do still agree with you that this should not be normal or expected that the car shuts off with 5% still showing available. When it's down to the last 1 or 2%, though, the risk level is just getting really high for counting on measurement accuracy to be that precise. It's a little unrealistic.
 
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ajdelange

Active Member
Dec 10, 2018
1,077
540
Virginia/Quebec
We stayed at the Supercharger we were at until lit said we were good to go to get to the next one. We even stayed an extra 20 min beyond that just to make sure we had more than enough since we weren't in any hurry.
Very prudent.

In hindsight it's really easy to say "well, should have just stayed there longer" but is that really the solution is that everyone sit at Superchargers a full hour beyond when it says you're good to go to make it to the next one?
No, the solution is to charge until the energy display shows a comfortable margin and to continue to monitor that display, which will update the arrival SoC estimate continuously, as you go and at the same time show you graphically and at every step whether actual consumption is better or worse than the forecast. I see these posts occasionally and they terrify me. They seem to imply that the actual curve follows the forecast curve until some point close to the destination and then suddenly plummets below it but no one will confirm that this is what actually happens. That's what I'm try to find out. Is that what happened?
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,296
6,865
Canyon Lake,CA
Owners soon learn the electric consumption of their cars.

Most charging is done in their garages, nearby Superchargers or any one of the hundreds of thousands commercial and plug share options.

Worst case, a little extra charge can be achieved by plugging into any of the millions of 120V outlets. They are everywhere. Just get enough juice to limp to a Supercharger or other fast charger.

Some people want to push the limits of their batteries. These are usually the ones that run out, but not inexpectidly.

I have run out of gas several times, but never juice.
 

dgilbertdds

Member
Oct 10, 2019
5
1
Atlanta
Wow. I guess my question wasn’t stupid after all. Great answers. Keep up the discussion until it sinks in as to how to properly monitor and which screen to watch. We are all here for each other so please be polite to each other!
 

dgilbertdds

Member
Oct 10, 2019
5
1
Atlanta
stop somewhere and plug in?

but seriously, download Plugshare and use it to see what's around you at any given moment - there are spots to plug in virtually everywhere. not all superchargers or even fast chargers - but plugins that could provide enough power to get you to the next fast charger if needed. personally, I've never been in this position but if you are a new owner I understand the concern.
Thanks. Great tip!
 

ajdelange

Active Member
Dec 10, 2018
1,077
540
Virginia/Quebec
No, certainly not a stupid question. The obvious answer to it is "don't run out of charge on a trip". The way to insure that you don't run out of charge on a trip is plan it so that you won't if conditions are normal, be wary if conditions are not "normal" (wet road, headwinds, cold temperatures), to be aware of what charging opportunities lie along your route, and to monitor progress as you go. Know your car and what it consumes under ideal, wet road and cold conditions. Get TeslaWinds and check on headwind conditions from time to time as you drive. Monitor that Trip Energy display.

As an example, I'll be heading south soon and plan to recharge for the first time in Brattleboro, VT and then Kingston, NY. I know there is an SC in Lebanon, NH and if my margin at Brattleboro starts to disappear before I get to Lebanon I can stop there. If thunderstorms are forecast along the route I will determine my margin at Brattleboro based on 420 Wh/mi (what I get in wet weather) rather than 310 (which is what I use in dry). With a little practice you will learn to do simple calculations in your head based on your car's configuration, performance and your experience with it. E.g. if I have 120 miles to go I know I'm going to need about 36 % battery to arrive empty ( I get 3.3 miles per percent). If I've got more than 36% 120 mi out I know that I'll probably be fine at the destination. If rain is forecast I'd better allow an extra 1/3 consumption for that, update my estimated need to 36 + 12 = 48 % and, unless I have comfortably more than 48% now, make the determination to duck into Lebanon to pick up some more charge. I know a-priori that there are some not terribly convenient J1772 chargers between Lebanon and Brattleboro. The time to know that is before you go. You don't need every detail, of course, just a general idea as to what you might do if things deviate from what you expect. I will note that all these things were things I learned to do as part of pilot training. I have posted them before here and gotten angry responses from people who say thet don't want to do all this stuff - they want the car to do it for them and if they run out of juice the car is flawed. Do all this stuff and you won't run out of juice (unless there is a mechanical failure and that can happen - you can also get a flat tire).

From Brattleboro to Kingston we go through the Green Mountain National Forrest and there aren't any SC's in there. But there is a CHAdeMO charger in Bennington and a couple of campgrounds with 14-50R hookups for trailers/RVs. Nervous about all this when I first started driving the Tesla I bought all the adapters, including the CHAdeMO at $450. I charged at Bennington not because I had to but because I wanted to see if the damn thing worked. It has turned out that I have charged at almost as many CHAdeMO stations as Super Chargers (this has, of course, to do with where we have traveled) and would recommend having that one on board as well as the others as more and more of these stations are coming on line around the country.
 

ohmman

Plaid-ish Moderator
Feb 13, 2014
10,085
18,302
North Bay, CA
I've never run out with my S or X, though I've cut it very close a number of times when pulling my camper with the X. In some cases, there are very few options between charging locations and you just have to go slow and hope for the best. My X90D only has about 235 miles of total range left, and when I pull the camper, that is more like 115 miles of range. The last time I was coming between Corning and Vacaville, I had to unhitch and drop the camper to make it. I still cut it within 6 miles of range, which I agree is inadvisable. A long range X is in our future, just holding out as long as I can.

With an untethered Tesla, you usually have plenty of capacity to give yourself a good buffer for arrival without sacrificing too much time at the Supercharger. I typically shoot for a 20% SOC at arrival, which gives me enough capacity to deal with unexpected headwinds, etc. After traveling extensively with a camper behind the X, taking road trips without it seems like child's play.
 

Ostrichsak

Active Member
Sep 6, 2018
3,515
3,551
Colorado, USA
Sigh. Why do you assume there is only one knob to twist to manage this? You're talking about how long you stayed at the Supercharger, but then nothing about how fast you drove for the next couple of hours along your way. A few miles per hour speed difference over the course of a couple of hours makes significant differences in your remaining range. Tweak your speed to continue to leave yourself enough margin.

You want to talk I-70 in Colorado? Great. Because last year, I had to deal with quite this difficulty there on I-70 in February at freezing outside temperatures. I was at Grand Junction, and I put in a nav destination farther over in Kansas, and the stupid car trip planner selected that I would go all the way straight through to Silverthorne(!), which is mostly uphill, in freezing temperatures, 209 miles, with my old S85. It was saying I needed to fill up to 100% and arrive with only 7%, which I knew seemed like an unrealistic prediction, given the cold temperature. That is when I learned about its other terrible behavior as I scanned carefully along the route to see if there was a closer Supercharger in the middle. It HIDES the Superchargers it thinks you should skip!!!!! So I didn't know Glenwood Springs was available right there halfway in the middle until days later. So...I made it work. I kept my heat low, and my cruise control at some stupid 10-15 mph below the speed limit, which extended the range enough to make it happen. It sucked a little, but I thought I didn't have another choice, so I did what was necessary. You didn't have it that bad, so probably should have kept more than a 13 mile (about 5%) margin.

Sorry, that this is kind of a rabbit trail that is a little about planning for the future, with not going with 5% margins. I do still agree with you that this should not be normal or expected that the car shuts off with 5% still showing available. When it's down to the last 1 or 2%, though, the risk level is just getting really high for counting on measurement accuracy to be that precise. It's a little unrealistic.

The temperature was in the 70's (80's in Utah) so we weren't talking about cold temperatures here. I'm aware of how that can negatively impact range estimates. This isn't our first road trip in a Tesla either and it is rather modest compared to the length of the other trips we've taken: 2,500 miles, 4,000 miles, etc. This was a 400 miles trip in perfectly good weather at standard highway speeds. By no means would anyone here sit even longer than I did at Superchargers. In fact, I think most would have stayed for even less time than I did.

What you seem to keep glossing over here is that the car knew where the next stop was and gave me the go ahead to leave for the next destination. I hate to do this but let me use caps so you can clearly understand the facts:

I STAYED AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES ON A SUPERCHARGER BEYOND WHEN THE CAR SAID I WAS SAFE TO PROCEED TO THE NEXT STOP. AT NO POINT DID IT TELL ME TO DECREASE MY SPEED TO REACH MY DESTINATION. NOT ONCE.

As I stated previously, we've been on other road trips where these messages came up and I obeyed them and even tend to go below just to be sure. In most cases I arrived with WAY more juice than it thought I would but I was fine with that because better safe than sorry.

There is absolutely no way any normal owner would suspect they might run out given those facts. If your range says you have 2-3x times more range than you need in warmer temperatures from the moment you leave the Supercharger and during your entire trip with no downward trend in this ratio there's absolutely no way you would ever suspect you may run out.

I think it's hard for some to realize that this thing is more volatile than they assume and only an irresponsible driver could run out. It gives them comfort to assign a label because they're not that type of person so it couldn't possibly happen to them. I know because this was my thought... right up until it happened to me under normal circumstances when I was being extra careful.
 

ajdelange

Active Member
Dec 10, 2018
1,077
540
Virginia/Quebec
There is absolutely no way any normal owner would suspect they might run out given those facts. If your range says you have 2-3x times more range than you need in warmer temperatures from the moment you leave the Supercharger and during your entire trip with no downward trend in this ratio there's absolutely no way you would ever suspect you may run out.
We could debate whether I am normal or not (and I'm sure my wife would be more than happy to contribute her views) but if I saw the ratio of range available to needed range (distance to go) remain constant I would immediately know there was a problem and take action. Lets use the 3x ratio. Starting at 30 miles out we'd see:

30 Mi to Go 90 Mi range
20 Mi to Go 60 Mi range
10 Mi to Go 30 Mi range

It's clear from this that you are losing 30 miles of range for every 10 miles you drive. Something is sucking tons of power and you will need to add charge if you want to be sure of making it. Under more normal circumstances you would expect actual usage to be approximately the same as miles driven and data would look more like:

30 Mi to Go 90 Mi range Ratio 3
20 Mi to Go 80 Mi range Ratio 4
10 Mi to Go 70 Mi range Ratio 7

The ratio should be growing. Note that I wouldn't be looking at the ratio of miles to go to range remaining on the battery. I'd be looking at the consumption graph which gives me the same information without me having to do any math. And I'd think the normal driver would be doing that too which is why Tesla provides that graph.


I think it's hard for some to realize that this thing is more volatile than they assume...
I have seen consumptions of as low as 160 and as high as 450 Wh/mi. That's almost a factor of 3. Yes, Very volatile indeed. No different, actually, than an ICE vehicle except that driving condition variability gets masked by the loss of 4/5 of the energy carried to waste heat.

...and only an irresponsible driver could run out.
One might say it is the responsibility of drivers to understand the magnitude of this variability which they should come to do by observing their consumption as they learn to drive it. But my wife, for example, will never get to that point because she has no idea what a Watt is let alone a Watt hour. I do not consider her irresponsible. If it involves numbers, she can't do it. I know she isn't the only one like that. She's more of a poet than a physicist.


It gives them comfort to assign a label because they're not that type of person so it couldn't possibly happen to them. I know because this was my thought... right up until it happened to me under normal circumstances when I was being extra careful.
If your miles to go and miles available stayed in a constant ratio as you have stated you weren't under normal circumstances. Your car was consuming energy at more than its rated consumption. This could have been because of external conditions (e.g. wet road) or it could have been because of a fault in your BMS or some other component. In the former case what you saw is normal. In the latter the vehicle needs service. You were unaware of this probably because you were not looking at the consumption graph i.e. you did not use all the information available to you for whatever reason. I don't think labeling people is really appropriate here but if I had to bin you I'd put you with the poets.

But poets need cars too and so it seems that the vehicle's software needs improvements in order to provide more and better warnings than it does about impending situations such as the one you got into. This would help the poets as well as the physicists who are not, perhaps, always as attentive as they should be. The car knows where it is, what the grade there is and has cameras that can see whether it is raining or not (or just sense the windshield wipers). It can get (though it would cost Tesla a bunch to get it) the local wind vector, It knows how much battery it has left, how far you have to go and whether the ratio between those two is growing fast enough.
 
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North75

Member
Mar 28, 2017
608
739
MA
The temperature was in the 70's (80's in Utah) so we weren't talking about cold temperatures here. I'm aware of how that can negatively impact range estimates. This isn't our first road trip in a Tesla either and it is rather modest compared to the length of the other trips we've taken: 2,500 miles, 4,000 miles, etc. This was a 400 miles trip in perfectly good weather at standard highway speeds. By no means would anyone here sit even longer than I did at Superchargers. In fact, I think most would have stayed for even less time than I did.

What you seem to keep glossing over here is that the car knew where the next stop was and gave me the go ahead to leave for the next destination. I hate to do this but let me use caps so you can clearly understand the facts:

I STAYED AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES ON A SUPERCHARGER BEYOND WHEN THE CAR SAID I WAS SAFE TO PROCEED TO THE NEXT STOP. AT NO POINT DID IT TELL ME TO DECREASE MY SPEED TO REACH MY DESTINATION. NOT ONCE.

As I stated previously, we've been on other road trips where these messages came up and I obeyed them and even tend to go below just to be sure. In most cases I arrived with WAY more juice than it thought I would but I was fine with that because better safe than sorry.

There is absolutely no way any normal owner would suspect they might run out given those facts. If your range says you have 2-3x times more range than you need in warmer temperatures from the moment you leave the Supercharger and during your entire trip with no downward trend in this ratio there's absolutely no way you would ever suspect you may run out.

I think it's hard for some to realize that this thing is more volatile than they assume and only an irresponsible driver could run out. It gives them comfort to assign a label because they're not that type of person so it couldn't possibly happen to them. I know because this was my thought... right up until it happened to me under normal circumstances when I was being extra careful.
I've read of other owner's running into similar situations to this. It's unfortunate. Not sure what can be done about it.
Obviously the car didn't tell you to slow down because it apparently also thought you had 13 miles of range left with only 7 miles to go, which "should" have been fine.

My only question is that is it related to the age of your car and the battery chemistry or battery management system that was used at the time?
Have their been any similar reports to cars with the newer 100 kWH packs? (or on Model 3 packs)

I suspect that Tesla is continually tweaking things with the batteries and batter management systems. I'm hoping that they are better with this issue (whatever it is) than they were in 2014.
 

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