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Superchargers are not very reliable still, it appears

verygreen

Curious member
Jan 16, 2017
2,945
11,510
TN
I just completed my second roadtrip (previous one being a year ago) and it again was plagued with superchager problems.

While a year ago the most common problem was overheating handle resulting in reduced charging rate, this time it changed (perhaps the handle problem is also still there and it's just a more colder weather that masked it).

So this year I experienced: Supercharger stalls that just give you ~50kW and that's it, even at very low SoC, you try another stall and that one might work fine - I guess with low contention it's just a bit annoying and robs you of a minute or two. Also a stall might not work at all from time to time.

The other problem is a lot worse - at random the car would report that supercharging stopped and you need to unplug and replug to restart. I had this happen 3 times at one place which was just mildly annoying because I was staying in the car so it was quick. Then on the way back I got the "charge interrupted" message while at a restaurant (also like 5 minutes walk away from the supercharger site) - that one was pretty bad, basically it was quite some dead time that I hoped the car would be charging when it did not - so after I returned back to the car - the stall was also dead and I needed to try another one or the charging to resume. (why does the app need to tell me to replug when you'd hope the car would at least try a few times to restart on it's own and the app would offer the option to restart the session too?) If this become any sort of real frequent occurrence, the whole promise of "do some other thing while the car is charging" becomes a lie and you would need to babysit the car instead.

I also had one occurrence of a slow charging that I cannot attribute to handle overhead because it was not really hot to the touch, just at about 65% SoC the rate dropped to like 80kW and kept dropping from there.

Don't get me wrong, having those superchargers around is still a great thing and it does enable long-range travel, but the problem is the travel time (and charging time too) becomes a lot less predictable (as if 40 minute charges were not annoying compared to 5 minute gas fill-ups already) and then it also leads (for me at least) to leaving with lower SoC that I might have had otherwise and having some range anxiety later (causing me to also slow down and losing even more time as the result).

Screenshot_20180426-183011.png IMG_20180426_184503.jpg

Another observation - compared to last year where I did not see any other Tesla cars at Superchargers at all, this time always had 2-3 other cars around me all the time. Surprisingly, oftentimes with people in them the whole time.
 

zmarty

Member
Jun 25, 2017
220
676
Kirkland, WA
I'm out of the loop, did you get another Model X now?

Thanks for describing your experience, I fear this will be a problem when I get my Model 3.
 

kingjamez

Member
Apr 4, 2017
368
697
Fairfax, VA
I just completed my second roadtrip (previous one being a year ago) and it again was plagued with superchager problems.
The overall theme of my response is that, yes there are a few problems... that said.
The SuperCharger network is VASTLY/ VASTLY better than any of the other networks out there [cough, cough Blink]...
While a year ago the most common problem was overheating handle resulting in reduced charging rate, this time it changed (perhaps the handle problem is also still there and it's just a more colder weather that masked it).

How do you know the handle overheating was the problem? High resistance could be in your car's DC contacts too.

So this year I experienced: Supercharger stalls that just give you ~50kW and that's it, even at very low SoC, you try another stall and that one might work fine - I guess with low contention it's just a bit annoying and robs you of a minute or two. Also a stall might not work at all from time to time.
This does happen.
The other problem is a lot worse - at random the car would report that supercharging stopped and you need to unplug and replug to restart. I had this happen 3 times at one place which was just mildly annoying because I was staying in the car so it was quick. Then on the way back I got the "charge interrupted" message while at a restaurant (also like 5 minutes walk away from the supercharger site) - that one was pretty bad, basically it was quite some dead time that I hoped the car would be charging when it did not - so after I returned back to the car - the stall was also dead and I needed to try another one or the charging to resume. (why does the app need to tell me to replug when you'd hope the car would at least try a few times to restart on it's own and the app would offer the option to restart the session too?) If this become any sort of real frequent occurrence, the whole promise of "do some other thing while the car is charging" becomes a lie and you would need to babysit the car instead.
I've never had this happen. Over 3 Teslas and many road trips, this has never happened to me. From your other issues, I think you may have an issue with your DC contacts in the charge port.

I also had one occurrence of a slow charging that I cannot attribute to handle overhead because it was not really hot to the touch, just at about 65% SoC the rate dropped to like 80kW and kept dropping from there
This is normal. On my current 75kWh pack I get the full ~94kW up to around 45-50% SOC and it tapers from there. That's the correct charge profile for the chemistry

-jim
 

verygreen

Curious member
Jan 16, 2017
2,945
11,510
TN
The SuperCharger network is VASTLY/ VASTLY better than any of the other networks out there [cough, cough Blink]...

Yes, it's a great thing and I totally agree. It's just still not as great as it seems to be frequently portrayed (read, there's still quite a bit of work to do not on the obvious expansion front, but also on reliability and usability).

How do you know the handle overheating was the problem? High resistance could be in your car's DC contacts too.

The handle overheating problem was widely documented last year in multiple TMC threads. E.g. here: Superchargers super-slow (check towards the end as the spring/summer posts starts)

I've never had this happen. Over 3 Teslas and many road trips, this has never happened to me. From your other issues, I think you may have an issue with your DC contacts in the charge port.

I don't think it has anything to do with my car (current or the previous one that I used during my first roadtrip).

This is normal. On my current 75kWh pack I get the full ~94kW up to around 45-50% SOC and it tapers from there. That's the correct charge profile for the chemistry

Hm.. I think on my other sessions (and I have a 100D) the onset of tapering was quite a bit later, but granted I did not keep great notes to show you exact numbers.
 
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365gtb4

Member
Jun 5, 2015
152
133
Redlands
I've been to over a hundred different superchargers. 3 trips coast to coast, many smaller trips, almost no problems. Once in a while a supercharger will deliver low power, I just move to another. I estimate about 25k miles on superchargers on my two Teslas. I've tried Chademo and other types, all have been poor performers and expensive. Hands down Tesla is the best by a wide margin.
 

JSergeant

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2014
1,568
3,475
New Jersey
I just completed my second roadtrip (previous one being a year ago) and it again
Which Supercharger locations did you experience the problems at? I've done a lot of road trips since 2013 in two different Model S's (I've visited 456 different locations, some multiple times) and I've generally found the Superchargers to be reasonably trouble free. I did just do an 11 day trip down the East side of the country from NJ to South Florida and around to Louisiana and back up to NJ via MS, AL, TN, VA, WV. I had issues at 4 or 5 SpC locations out of about 60, but those were mostly bad stalls where it was clear there was an issue within a few minutes so I switched to another stall and it worked fine. I called in all the issues to Tesla. Did you report your problems?

I did notice in TN - Dickson in particular and one other location (I forget which) that they had a number of stalls where the charging cables were not seating in the receptacles, so the charging plug ends were lying on the ground and were quite dirty. I had never seen that before in any of my travels, so I wonder if there was a bad batch, or there had been some vandalism.

The tapering you describe sounds fairly normal.
 

CuriousG

Active Member
Dec 1, 2015
1,532
1,561
Elk Grove, CA
The problem with Superchargers I've run into is that sometimes it would produce an error code so you're unable to charge there so then you would have to move to another stall. The next car that goes in that spot has no problem. Maybe I need Tesla to change out my charging port but it doesn't happen enough that I could probably convince them to do the work.
 

brkaus

Well-Known Member
Jul 8, 2014
8,081
6,644
Austin, TX
The problem with Superchargers I've run into is that sometimes it would produce an error code so you're unable to charge there so then you would have to move to another stall. The next car that goes in that spot has no problem. Maybe I need Tesla to change out my charging port but it doesn't happen enough that I could probably convince them to do the work.
contact cleaner?
 

TaoJones

Beyond Driven
Nov 10, 2014
3,064
3,028
The Americas
Compared to some other DC chargers out there, it’d say Tesla SuCs are VERY reliable

Except that’s not the point. This isn’t a race to the bottom of minimum “better than”.

This is sounding the alarm that SC experiential quality has indeed lessened as a function of usage and, by extension, greater maintenance, monitoring, and resolution requirements.

In the past year alone, one trip that retraced my path into British Columbia and beyond was markedly more fraught with poor pedestal and site experiences relative to years prior.

I’ve encountered few sites that were completely down (or completely impacted due to poor supply) , but in each case, no advance warning was given (either via phone in one case or via Nav in the other) despite ample opportunity. In fact, one site (Erie, PA) had been largely down per Plugshare for over a week. As I found out near midnight in the rain after booking a room for the night that I wouldn’t see for the next 3 hours.

Less than 2 weeks ago, Quartzsite, AZ was a problem, and it didn’t just materialize out of thin air that day. When I charged there on a Friday night (only car there as is usually the case in that tumbleweed-laden location), the pedestal quit after a half hour. Moving to another pedestal competed the needed charge, albeit at a slower rate than expected. Not 2 days later, what do I find? A full SC, at least 1 bad pedestal from the get, numerous pedestals that stopped and required restarting repeatedly. and up to 5 cars waiting.

No advance warning, with which I could easily have charged extra at Buckeye or Phoenix East. Instead, Indio and Cabazon were also clogged.

My approach during road trips now is to wait until the first bad pedestal. Then I call Tesla for a snapshot health report for the next 7-10 SCs along my route. Sometimes it’s easier for them to tell me which pedestals are best avoided, and sometimes which are best to use.

Point is that those 5 minutes spent on the phone save me hours that a) would be avoided with better automation and b) would be otherwise lost playing pedestal and site roulette.

About that automation thing. There’s a now-moldy feature request to give us better per pedestal intelligence with green/yellow/red relative health indicators, and to follow through with color changed or flashing SC icons when an entire site is impacted. People can’t be expected to tap on every SC icon, and by the time they pop up on their own, it’s too late.

If we accept as a given that greater use will lead to greater instances of bad pedestals and impacted sites (for all manner of reasons), then it would seem reasonable to attack the problem from multiple vectors. See feature requests above.

Give the driver as much information as possible in real time to make manual adjustments until that fanciful day when routing and charge limit/good to go messages are automagically adjusted to account for aberrations.

Because year over year, things are getting worse - things defined as negative charging incidents per road trip.

I am reminded of an encounter with an SC tech at Primm. A genial yet focused fellow, he was newly over from the Benelux region (Europe) whereat, he noted, they had gotten faults in that region down to a nice low number. Tesla flew him over to Texas, and he was in the process of looping through Utah, AZ, and NV (fixing SCs) that day before stopping for dinner in Vegas. They needed the help and so here he was for a month or so.

That was 2 years ago.

Again, it’s not about masking the problem by comparing SCs with anything else. It’s about recognizing a decrease in experiential quality and driving a path to improvement (pardon the pun) from where we are today to the level we were at, and then beyond that.

Relentless, continuous, measurable improvement in the face of continued growth needs to be the mindset and the objective.

Hey, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.
 

S4WRXTTCS

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2015
5,708
6,836
Snohomish, WA
Would be interesting to see how they vary among vintage/duty cycle/environment/etc.

I haven't had too many issues around the PNW. Very occasionally I'll get one that has a lower than expected charge, and I'll have to move stalls. I've experienced the unexpected stop in charge maybe once in almost 3 years of ownership. It very easily could have been multiple times at one stall where I gave up, and tried another.

I'm not sure how average my experience is because Tesla upgraded/added stalls to the superchargers I most commonly use (Centralia, Woodburn, Springfield, etc). Plus weather wise the PNW is probably pretty easy on Superchargers.

I'd say my confidence in a Supercharger LOCATION is roughly around 95% or so, and my confidence in the stall I pick is probably 70-80% or so.

Tesla could improve this a lot through UI changes to let me know which stalls are problematic, and if I should expect any site issues. It did warn me correctly one day when they were upgrading chargers that it was only running at 50% capacity (half the stalls were being upgraded) so that was nice.

With Chademo my confidence is around 5%. In fact I've never successfully charged at a Chademo charger without having to retry. If I ever charge at a Chademo charger I allocate 30 min just to messing with it, and it's not like I can move stalls because there isn't anywhere to move to.

Tesla should most certainly make the Supercharger maintenance a huge priority as it serves as the backbone for the entire ownership experience. Even if a person doesn't supercharge often. The very existence of them makes getting a competitor like a Bolt or Leaf a tough pill to swallow.
 

verygreen

Curious member
Jan 16, 2017
2,945
11,510
TN
Which Supercharger locations did you experience the problems at?
Indianapolis on the Victory Dr - on one occasion had a slow stall and a stall that did not start charging at all. On another oocasion in that same place - the interrupting charging that did not restart until I moved to another stall (and lost me a bunch of time since I was at a restaurant when it occured).
Chicago Country Club Hills Supercharger - two "slow" stalls, and then another one that finally was not slow had the "charging interrupted" for 3 times (but restarted ok after unplug/replug procedure).
Lexington, KY supercharger - a slow stall and then another one that started to taper sooner than usual (but then again, that was only once out of two charges. Interesting note - another Tesla came to it at about the same time I did and their AC did not kick on to overdrive which is a sure sign of a low charging rate in my experience, but I don't know what their SoC was, so I don't know if that was to be expected or not).

Which leaves just one SC I had zero problems at (or did not notice because it was cold and I attributed slower charge rates to battery heating) - Chicago Bolingbrook location.

I guess in hindsight I should have reported some of those problems too, but I did not. One would hope Tesla has enough telemetry to get automatic reports.

Again, just to restate, there's currently nothing better than Tesla Supercharger network, but it looks like you can hardly depend on the actual "30-40 minutes and continue driving" promise. About an hour per stop time allocation is more safe it appears. And with more and more usage over those superchargers playing the "I'll just try another stall" might not be an option anymore (or at least not available every time).
 

verygreen

Curious member
Jan 16, 2017
2,945
11,510
TN
btw for the contended "sooner than usual tapering" finally found a hard number. so I arrived at the supercharger at 9:20pm and departed at 10:10pm = 50 minutes. My SoC at supercharger arrival and at destination arrival was identical at ~2% (6 miles left = somewhere around 2kWh +- 0.3kWh). total consumption for this leg was 72.8 kWh, so this is how much I got in those 50 minutes.

IMG_20180427_010009.jpg
 

hill

Active Member
Apr 21, 2015
1,339
747
Lake Forest, CA
Indianapolis on the Victory Dr - on one occasion had a slow stall and a stall that did not start charging at all. On another oocasion in that same place - the interrupting charging that did not restart until I moved to another stall .....snip.....
by far - urban areas are the worst. Yesterday at Fountain Valley Calif - 3 empty stalls .... well yea of course they're empty - green light, but no power. All 3 were already called in.
.
 
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apacheguy

S Sig #255
Oct 21, 2012
5,091
1,294
So Cal
Compared to some other DC chargers out there, it’d say Tesla SuCs are VERY reliable

I’ve charged at several EvGo, Greenlots, and Blink DCFC. I’ve found that once you are connected to these chargers, they deliver a consistent and reliable charge. Granted, they do not charge as fast as a supercharger, but I’ve never had one completely drop out on me or randomly throttle to 50% capacity.
 
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scottf200

Active Member
Feb 3, 2013
4,215
4,048
Chicagoland ModelX S603
Indianapolis on the Victory Dr - on one occasion had a slow stall and a stall that did not start charging at all. On another occasion in that same place - the interrupting charging that did not restart until I moved to another stall (and lost me a bunch of time since I was at a restaurant when it occurred).
By coincidence, I charged at Indianapolis on Sat and Sun both at the same stall right by the fenced in equipment. On Sat I got over 110 kWh but on Sun I was getting a steady 52 kWh. Both were at the same stall. Sun didn't matter as we ate at the Japanese restaurant where they are cooking in front of you so it takes longer :)
 
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Unpilot

Sell order in at $5999.99
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2017
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A Coast
If used the Indy Victory drive SC several times. Charge rate was variable for sure.
I will also be there this Saturday mid morning.

I will try and get a better read on ROC then.
 

MarcusMaximus

Active Member
Jan 2, 2017
3,789
16,747
Los Gatos
I had a similar, terrible experience at the Harris Ranch SC on Sunday night. Plugged in at 9% charge and, after a while, noticed the car was still at <25% and was charging at 60kW. Unplugged and found the handle was hot. Moved to a different charger, rate shot up to 94kW for about 2 minutes before plummeting to 27kW and staying there. Moved again and finally got one that maintained 90+kW until the normal taper set in.

It's consistently the Harris Ranch charger that gives me problems, so I'll probably start just trying to use Kettleman City and avoid HR like the plague.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
7,596
Canyon Lake,CA
I would say that overall, Supercharger experiences are good 99% of the time.

Most of the problems seem to be at the most crowded spots. Chargers are heavily worked, and some are better than others.

More issues on heavy travel weekends, like New Years, Thanksgiving, or special events in Vegas.

See lots more chargers being opened up every day. Many of them are being only used to 10% capacity.

Good example is the legacy Harris Ranch location. Great food, restrooms and gift shop make it a heavily used location, while 20 miles away is the huge, 40 stall with Solar and Barista coffee, that usually run at 20% capacity or less.

In congested Temecula the Promenade Mall chargers can get some heavy use, but 20 miles up the road the much bigger and newer Lake Elsinore Outlet Mall location is mostly empty.

On longer trips, travelers will never mention the many Superchargers that give great service, but post negatively if one Supercharger is not at peak performance.
 

MarcusMaximus

Active Member
Jan 2, 2017
3,789
16,747
Los Gatos
I would say that overall, Supercharger experiences are good 99% of the time.

Most of the problems seem to be at the most crowded spots. Chargers are heavily worked, and some are better than others.

More issues on heavy travel weekends, like New Years, Thanksgiving, or special events in Vegas.

See lots more chargers being opened up every day. Many of them are being only used to 10% capacity.

Good example is the legacy Harris Ranch location. Great food, restrooms and gift shop make it a heavily used location, while 20 miles away is the huge, 40 stall with Solar and Barista coffee, that usually run at 20% capacity or less.

In congested Temecula the Promenade Mall chargers can get some heavy use, but 20 miles up the road the much bigger and newer Lake Elsinore Outlet Mall location is mostly empty.

On longer trips, travelers will never mention the many Superchargers that give great service, but post negatively if one Supercharger is not at peak performance.

In this spirit, I'll add here that the new charger at Casa De Fruta was awesome, I was able to charge enough to get all the way to Bakersfield while getting dinner for my daughter at the Santa Ana supercharger, and, yes, Kettleman city is also consistently a great experience.
 
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