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Towing a boat/ Raleigh Service Center

Mark in NC

Member
Sep 18, 2020
12
3
USA
Long post, hope ya'll don't mind...

Out of the blue I got a text asking if I wanted to test drive a Tesla. After doing some follow up I said yes to the service rep (Ashton). I was nervous about the whole thing - but he knew I had ordered a Cybertruck and the address of the pickup was the "new" Tesla center in Raleigh and it turns out everything was legit.

Ashton told me the MY could tow my 3,000 lb boat and offered to let me take one home to verify it would work. We set up an appointment on a Sunday afternoon with "someone else" (he couldn't meet me there) and my wife and I drove 20 minutes to pick up the car. When we got there I was told there was no MY in Raleigh that had a hitch and they didn't know anything about my appointment. They did know Ashton though...

So, we test drove a very dirty Performance MY instead. It was horrible - it was like driving a bucking bronco. The acceleration was incredible - and made my wife sick. I tried to set cruise control and the car jerked us into the center of the lane (towards other cars). I then saw it was running beta software and I had put it in autopilot. The braking was in full regenerative which I knew about but didn't expect. When we got back my wife saw water on the inside of the window and the rep said Tesla isn't known for build quality but "software and safety". On the ride home my wife asked if I was disappointed and I say "yes".

Fast forward a week and Ashton contacted me again. He apologized and set up another overnight test drive (MY long-range with towing package). I reluctantly agreed to try again. This time the car was clean, easy to drive and was overall fantastic. Towing the boat was a mixed bag. I put it in tow mode and it had no problems pulling the boat or getting it up and down the ramp. However, I was surprised at how much the boat moved the car around. It would be replacing an xTerra where you can't even really tell the boat it back there. You could really feel the boat in the MY, especially when braking or maintaining speed. Speed limit is 45 to the boat ramp and I think I would be very nervous towing above 45 mph. It also ate up the battery, although not quite as much as I expected (about 20% for the 40 minute round trip drive).

So, take aways:
- Very mixed results at Tesla Raleigh, NC
- Probably should not let someone test drive the performance MY running beta software the first time they ever drive one
- It can tow a 3,000 lb boat but it feels like the car is really working at it
- I'm ordering a long range MY and looking forward to the Cybertruck
 
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fly4fun

Member
Jul 28, 2020
37
41
Colorado
Regenerative braking takes a little practice. I about made myself sick on my MY test drive, but it smoothed out after just a few minutes of driving with it. It can be turned off, though. I wonder if the second test drive had it turned off.
Just curious, does your boat trailer have electric brakes? Did the MY have a brake controller?
 

cypho

Member
Dec 20, 2018
798
934
USA
Is 3000lbs the weight of your boat+motor+trailer+fuel+water+gear, or is that the advertised dry hull weight?

Either way, you were essentially at, or over the vehicles weight limit so I'm not surprised that it felt less competent than your xterra at only 60% of it's load limit.
 

Mark in NC

Member
Sep 18, 2020
12
3
USA
I had full regenerative braking for the second test drive. It was a little strange at first but not too hard to get the hang of it. Even worked well in towing mode and was fun to drive without the boat. It had autopilot which convinced me to add that to my order.

The dry hull weight of the boat is 2,600. I added in trailer weight, fuel, etc and rounded up to 3,000 (close, but under the 3,500 limit). The MY manual suggests trailer braking for this much weight. So, you are right, not unexpected for it to move the car around at least a little bit.

The MY supports brake controllers but this test drive did not have a controller. I wanted to see if it was possible to safely get the boat to/from the lake and I believe that is safe, although it may be a little hard on the car.

We're debating whether to keep the xTerra just to tow the boat. The MY will work for the short trip to the lake but I'm not sure about the hour trip to the boat shop. The car moved around quite a bit which I think would only get worse at highway speeds with all that air resistance behind it. Also I'm a little worried about putting that kind of stress on the car.
 

Mark in NC

Member
Sep 18, 2020
12
3
USA
RE: first test drive
The performance MY just seemed super sensitive to everything and I definitely wasn't expecting it right out of the parking lot. Not sure what all was configured with the beta software but it sure surprised me...especially since I wasn't told it was I was driving the performance model or anything about the autopilot software. In fact, the only instructions were how to adjust the side mirrors and how to get it out of park.

I didn't mean to engage autopilot (I thought I was using cruise control). Looking back, I think the MY was trying to stop at green lights and when I tried to change lanes the autopilot also jerked it back into center of the lane. Combine that with the first experience of aggressive regenerative braking and the car was just felt really hard to control...especially in moderately heavy traffic.

The second MY (long range) test drive went much, much better.
 
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Pluugd

Member
Jul 2, 2020
14
4
Scottsdale
RE: first test drive
The performance MY just seemed super sensitive to everything and I definitely wasn't expecting it right out of the parking lot. Not sure what all was configured with the beta software but it sure surprised me...especially since I wasn't told it was I was driving the performance model or anything about the autopilot software. In fact, the only instructions were how to adjust the side mirrors and how to get it out of park.

I didn't mean to engage autopilot (I thought I was using cruise control). Looking back, I think the MY was trying to stop at green lights and when I tried to change lanes the autopilot also jerked it back into center of the lane. Combine that with the first experience of aggressive regenerative braking and the car was just felt really hard to control...especially in moderately heavy traffic.

The second MY (long range) test drive went much, much better.
Just so you’re aware when you are seeing “beta” software the only thing that is in “beta” is the actual auto pilot itself there is no Tesla out there that doesn’t say “beta” here. Tesla doesn’t let a single regular customer be an actual beta test customer. They use the term beta in order to set expectations that the car driving itself is not perfect and you should always be paying attention and ready to take over. Every other function of the vehicle is not in a beta test and is exactly how every other will be.
 
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iamnid

Member
Dec 4, 2019
714
679
Riverside, CA
It had autopilot which convinced me to add that to my order.

Unless I'm mistaken, autopilot is standard and not something you need to add. Full Self driving is something you can add but it doesn't sound like that's what you used at any point in your description. The car will maintain a set speed and stay in the lane with the standard autopilot -- no need to upgrade or add anything for that.
 

acarney

Active Member
Jul 9, 2019
2,728
1,695
Richland, WA
I've never been in a Performance, but every time I read one of these comments I think that I need to drop by a Tesla center and ask to test drive something, lol. My first Tesla was an SR+ and I was impressive that even the "entry" Tesla was funny and sporty feeling, now I'm moving to a Long Range Model Y so I'll get to experience dual motor and the AWD characteristics of a Tesla and hopefully it'll feel just as sport, if not a little more so (supposedly half a second faster to sixity... though every comparison video I've seen on youtube has it against Performance vehicles and then makes the "base" Y look slow...)
 

Mark in NC

Member
Sep 18, 2020
12
3
USA
Oh, I didn't know the beta label is everywhere. Good to know! We didn't have a lot of time to look things over - I was there shortly before closing because we thought we were getting an overnight test drive. I know the Performance MY is not the fastest Tesla but it was enough acceleration to make my wife queasy ("don't do that again!"). I don't remember seeing "beta" on the long range MY.

The LR MY was also pretty quick and really fun to drive. It handled just like I would expect, it never really did anything crazy. I ordered the $8000 self driving - maybe not the smartest thing in the world but it will be used for a lot of trips and a 45 minute work commute so that seems like a great safety feature for me. I figure it won't ever get cheaper. Plus, I liked that the test car asked to move over to pass slow traffic and then did it all when I hit the turn signal. Is there some way to set it to change lanes without having to hit the signal?

Sorry I got the term "autopilot" confused - I'm pretty sure the LR MY had full self drive since it changed lanes all by itself, right? Not really sure about the Performance model - it was doing all kinds of unexpected things in the 10 minute test drive so I have no idea what was going on (other than I saw the "beta" in the middle of the screen when the car turned on).

I guess it didn't help that we had just witnessed a 7 car crash on the highway right in front of us on the way to the Tesla dealer - we were already a bit on edge...
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,342
14,008
West Vancouver, British Columbia
I then saw it was running beta software and I had put it in autopilot
Since Tesla introduced the first version of Autopilot in 2014 it has always shown as “Beta” in the car interface. Always.

I fault the Tesla employee who let you take the car for a test for not explaining how to use Autopilot. They need to go over the basics and anyone who has never owned a Tesla will find it completely different from any car they have ever driven. Obviously.

Also, Autopilot on the Performance Y is identical to the standard Y. The difference you felt between the two cars is likely in part explained by the difference in tire sizes; the Performance Y tires give a much harsher ride. The suspensions are the same.
Unless I'm mistaken, autopilot is standard and not something you need to add.
Auto Steer and TACC are standard. Those two features are a subset of all Autopilot features which are only available with the Full Self Driving option.*

* Tesla has a temporary promotional offer running right now for Enhanced Auto Pilot (EAP) but that is ending on Sep 30. See Tesla reintroduces 'Enhanced Autopilot' — offering cheaper alternative to 'Full Self-Driving' - Electrek I own two Teslas, both of which have EAP.
 

Koolio46

Member
Aug 26, 2020
493
206
Boston, MA
The MY supports brake controllers but this test drive did not have a controller. I wanted to see if it was possible to safely get the boat to/from the lake and I believe that is safe, although it may be a little hard on the car.

I came across this from a fellow TMC member who used this as their trailer brake controller. A lot easier than installing one under the steering wheel: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JQ99SD...colid=IN31RKLFFMOJ&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it
 

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