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JDOhio

Member
Dec 1, 2019
24
24
Ohio
I was excited to make my first long range trip in my Model 3. It felt like a challenge and an opportunity to learn about the car. I did some research on Supercharger locations, miles between them, and hotels with Tesla Destination chargers. I discovered that the Trip Planner can do most of that and more. I also learned a little more about this car.


The Trip Planner
When we started our trip, I doubted the Trip Planner recommendations because I believed the range of the car to be 250 miles. I think this trip helped me understand that the range of the car is rated at 250 miles by an independent organization. Regardless of the source of energy that moves the car, your range will vary.

At the start of the trip, I specified a Supercharger destination in the Trip Planner which I thought was within the range of the car. However, the Trip Planner showed a short, intermediate Supercharger stop. Using the Trip chart to monitor available charge, it helped us decide to stop at the intermediate Supercharger where we charged to almost full capacity.

We also updated the Trip Planner by specifying a Supercharger at our final destination rather than the next Supercharger. The Trip Planner showed the route, and two Supercharger stops in between. Monitoring the charge and knowing other Superchargers on the route gave me some confidence should we need an intermediate stop. While the Trip Planner route accurately estimated the charge required, we were usually at the Supercharger locations eating or walking which extended the charging time. I want to note also that we had fair weather and mild temperatures.

I had one particularly interesting experience. We had stayed the night in Wisconsin Dells, WI and the temperature had dropped to near freezing overnight. The Level 2 charger at the hotel completed charging the car just before we left in the morning.
We started for a Supercharger north of Chicago, IL. As we drove south, the temperature climbed into the 40s and the Trip chart indicated we might make it to a Supercharger in Chicago estimating the battery would have about 20% charge upon arrival. As we approached the Wisconsin-Illinois border, the estimate on the Trip chart had fallen. The car also made recommendations on the Touchscreen to drive slower which I chose to ignore.
I was thinking about stopping at the Supercharger in Rockford, IL (which is more than halfway to the Chicago Supercharger). I thought that if I wanted to make a change, I should do it soon because the battery needed to pre-condition. I decided to go a few more miles before making any changes. However, the Trip Planner changed the route for me indicating a stop in Rockford. Very cool, but why did that happen?

When I returned home, I consulted the manual. It says that the Trip Planner is monitoring the charge and distance to nearby Superchargers. In this case, it determined the available charge was not enough to get to the Chicago Supercharger and updated the route.

Lastly, when we stopped at the Supercharger while using the Trip Planner, we noticed the car would charge to a certain point. It would not stop charging, but it indicated you could make it to the next Trip Planner destination. It’s as if there are two modes: one charging mode for the trip, and regular charging mode. Just something we noticed.

Trip Planner Learnings
  • Specify the final destination to the Trip Planner
  • Monitor the available charge in the Trip chart
  • Low temperatures, near and below freezing, reduce available charge
  • Experiment with the Trip Planner to understand how it can help you
Auto Pilot
The majority of the miles on this trip were done on Auto Pilot. I changed lanes, drove through some construction where the lanes were narrow or traffic density high, and drove to the Superchargers.

I’m convinced the steering wheel does not sense my hands on it. I don’t mind the request from the Auto Pilot to nudge the wheel; I think it’s safer that way.

There are some challenges. While crossing a bridge south of Chicago, the shadows of the bridge infrastructure might have been interpreted as something in the road. The car slowed briefly and then resumed the programmed speed. That could be dangerous if there are cars behind me not expecting brake lights.

When passing an on-ramp in the right lane, the painted lane lines vary. Most have a solid line along the right side of the ramp. Some ramps have either nothing or a dotted line indicating the edge of the highway lane. Many times, Auto Pilot selects the solid line on the ramp which makes the lane appear wider to the Auto Pilot algorithm. It centers the car in the wide line. Eventually, the car centers up to the driving lane but this behavior is sometimes unnerving.


Speed Limit Detection
This feature failed a couple of scenarios. We were on a three lane highway traveling in the far left lane. Speed limit signs were usually located along the far right lane. When I watched, the Speed Limit sign was not detected. This was mildly annoying in one instance because the Touchscreen showed the speed limit as 45 when the speed limit was actually 70.

When driving through construction zones, some zones had a variable speed limit which appeared on electric signs. These were not detected regardless of their position along the road.

Lastly, we passed one speed limit sign that stated a 65 MPH limit for trucks (cars were 70 MPH). The Speed Limit Detection did not discriminate and set the limit to 65.


Google Maps Error
If you stop at the Maumee, Ohio Supercharger, the last turn is to the right (look for the HyVee on the right). The navigation said to turn left. We turned left and could not locate the Supercharger. An Enterprise Rent-A-Car associate, probably familiar with Teslas coming into his lot, pointed us in the right direction.


Trip Planner Improvements
In the list of planned stops appearing in the Trip Planner, there is not much information. I would like to see the distance (the actual distance) to the next stop.

When using the Trip Planner, I would like the Touchscreen to display the current capacity (which it does to the lower right of the speed) and the estimated capacity at the next stop. I found myself checking the Trip chart frequently for that estimate.


Other Thoughts
I strongly recommend you display the capacity of the battery in percentage rather than distance. Percentage is a much better indicator of range.

I did not know there was a trunk button to the right of the rear camera. I wondered how my wife was opening the trunk when she was back there. A trunk button. Go figure.
 

Resist

Member
Mar 24, 2019
420
214
San Luis Obispo
It's true, the steering wheel does not sense your hands on it, on autopilot. What it does sense is torque applied to the steering wheel, which is exactly what it is supposed to do.

And yes, no one should use the battery display showing miles. Using battery percentage is just like using a gas gauge on an ICE vehicle and that's what everyone should be looking at. Using the display in miles will only disappoint you because that number changes easily based on many factors as you drive such as speed, road incline and air temperature.
 
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PeterE

Member
Dec 9, 2013
9
18
CA
It's true, the steering wheel does not sense your hands on it, on autopilot. What it does sense is torque applied to the steering wheel, which is exactly what it is supposed to do.

And yes, no one should use the battery display showing miles. Using battery percentage is just like using a gas gauge on an ICE vehicle and that's what everyone should be looking at. Using the display in miles will only disappoint you because that number changes easily based on many factors as you drive such as speed, road incline and air temperature.


I have posted this info elsewhere on the forum, but I discovered on a youtube video that the steering wheel will recognize your hand on it if you use your left hand and place it, even only lightly if you want, at the bottom of the steering wheel just to the left of the downward spoke. After the latest software update, I was concerned that it was not detecting it as well but it seems to have settled in again. By the way, no torque is required...simply placing the hand on the wheel at the designated spot...
 
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bugg

New Member
Oct 10, 2020
4
0
Raleigh, NC
I have posted this info elsewhere on the forum, but I discovered on a youtube video that the steering wheel will recognize your hand on it if you use your left hand and place it, even only lightly if you want, at the bottom of the steering wheel just to the left of the downward spoke. After the latest software update, I was concerned that it was not detecting it as well but it seems to have settled in again. By the way, no torque is required...simply placing the hand on the wheel at the designated spot...
Link to the video?
 

PeterE

Member
Dec 9, 2013
9
18
CA
Link to the video?
I honestly don't remember. It was not an official Tesla video, it was one of those "10 things to know about your Model 3" or something to that effect. You don't need the link. Simply try it. You may be surprised, as I was, to see that it works...
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,286
6,826
Canyon Lake,CA
Maybe it's just me, but I would never use Autopilot on a strangly striped bridge.

I use mine only on the easy stuff. When things get challenging or danerous I take over manual control.
 
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Resist

Member
Mar 24, 2019
420
214
San Luis Obispo
I have posted this info elsewhere on the forum, but I discovered on a youtube video that the steering wheel will recognize your hand on it if you use your left hand and place it, even only lightly if you want, at the bottom of the steering wheel just to the left of the downward spoke. After the latest software update, I was concerned that it was not detecting it as well but it seems to have settled in again. By the way, no torque is required...simply placing the hand on the wheel at the designated spot...
It's not actually sensing your hand on the steering wheel, as I said it's sensing torque. And your hand resting on the area you stated allows it to sense that torque, think of it as resistance. Torque isn't just actual movement of the steering wheel by you. By resting your hand on the one of the downward spokes, it senses torque. That's why people have been able to fool the sensor by using ankle weights or oranges on the steering wheel.
 

Zcd1

Member
Sep 2, 2018
719
827
Walloon Lake, MI / LaQuinta, CA
Experience is the best teacher with regards to the in-car trip planner. It's mostly very good, but can also be misleading at times, which one learns over time.

I regularly do a 400-mile trip in my Model 3 Performance. At the outset of the trip, the car often suggests a single charging stop about 1/2 way, but experience has shown me that:
1) the car generally won't reach the planned stop without significantly reducing cruising speed (to below the posted speed limit, in fact)
2) 2 stops spaced about 135-140 miles apart requires less time overall.
 

Koolio46

Member
Aug 26, 2020
468
193
Boston, MA
For trip planning, I’d also recommend looking at abetterrouteplanner, too. It’ll estimate your range (based on settings you can change, such as wh/mi) and show you the supercharger stops and estimate charge time.
 
Sep 29, 2020
19
11
Birmingham, AL
For trip planning, I’d also recommend looking at abetterrouteplanner, too. It’ll estimate your range (based on settings you can change, such as wh/mi) and show you the supercharger stops and estimate charge time.

I second this. ABRP is nice because it lets you plan a multiple leg trip like if you want to go from your house to a hotel, it will list that day's stops but you can also have it add the next day's destination and it will calculate that as well and let you have your whole travel//charge/stop itinerary planned out with estimated charging costs before you hit the road.
 

DaveRZ

Member
Nov 19, 2019
166
224
Murrieta, CA
One tip: Our cars (and just about all rechargeable batteries) charge fastest when very low on charge (11% - 45%). You can actually save a little time by stopping more frequently at superchargers and keeping your charge low. Basically using the "bottom half" of your battery capacity. So imagine stopping at a supercharger with about 10% charge left (or a little more if you're squeamish), then selecting another SC about 100-ish miles away, then charging to whatever level the car needs to get you there with 10% left again. When you're already going to stop for awhile (like a meal break), then charge up to a higher level and take a longer leg.

Watch any of Out of Spec Motoring's road trip videos on youtube for great advice on road trip charging.
 
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