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What I Learned About My Model 3 on a 3,409 Mile Road Trip

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by barjohn, Jul 30, 2018.

  1. barjohn

    barjohn Member

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    Location:
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    Road trip from Riverside, CA to Mount Rushmore, SD and Back in a Model 3

    First a few basic facts:

    1. Round trip Mileage: 3,409
    2. Average WH/mile: 249
    3. Firmware VER: 2018.24.1
    4. Route with Stops:
    a. Riverside, CA to St. George, UT
    b. To Grand Junction, CO
    c. To Vail, CO
    d. To Hartsel, CO
    e. To Parker, CO
    f. To Douglas, WY
    g. To Keystone, SD
    h. To Rapid City, SD
    i. To Laramie, WY
    j. To Steamboat Springs, CO
    k. To Grand Junction, CO
    l. To: Riverside, CA

    There were many side trips in the Keystone and Rapid City areas to Custer National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Hill City, Rushmore Monument, Bear Land USA, Sturgis, SD, and Spearfish Canyon, SD.

    The 3 performed flawlessly without any problems occurring, most importantly problems that would have required service or a tow. This speaks well of the fundamental design. It was at times a bit scary when we were in areas with no cell phone coverage on either AT&T for the car or Verizon for our iPhone Xs and miles from any where with no other vehicles to be seen; more on this a little later.

    The only real traffic jam we encountered was on the return leg from about 10 miles east of Prim to about a mile west of Prim caused by a semi catching fire that burned it to the ground (It wasn’t a Tesla so that is probably the reason you didn’t see it on the national news). That was a long hour plus in 115 degree weather crawling along. EAP was a big help.

    I used TeslaFi to track my progress. I was a bit disappointed in “AbetterRoutePlanner.com” in that when I needed it, it quit routing and started very strange behavior. Before I left it was working fine but the first time I needed it, it wouldn’t work and has not worked since on either my laptop or my home computer. It always says it can’t find a route. I found the on board route planner very accurate in estimating usage and arrival charge. Routing is another issue.

    I have no doubt it always picked the shortest route; however, many times we were routed on gravel roads or county roads that were barely, if ever, maintained and we were often in the middle of nowhere on two lane roads with no other traffic, no farms, no cell coverage and this sometimes lasted for over 50 miles. Needless to say, a breakdown would have been catastrophic. Thank goodness the 3 never faltered. A feature needs to be added to the navigation to not use secondary roads and or to provide a warning that the only path to the destination requires the use of secondary roads. An extra nice feature would be the ability to have it text the information to a trusted party saying starting route on county road XXX, possibly no cell coverage for YY miles if no response in x hours please call Tesla Service for help. In some cases temperatures were over 100 degrees and being stranded in a vehicle that failed with no AC could be dangerous. On a positive note, we saw areas of the country we would never have seen from the Interstates or state highways.

    I had a clear bra installed about a month prior to our trip and I then ceramic coated the entire car my self. It was amazing that I was able to keep the car looking nice the entire trip with a spray bottle with ONR and about 6 micro fiber cloths. One time I did have to use a self-cleaning spray wash but the other times I was able to do it without having to find a self serve car wash. The biggest issue was bugs, lots and lots of bugs on the front nose but they cleaned off pretty easily. I used Gyeon Cure on all of the glass and it worked fantastically in the rain and for cleaning off the bugs with the ONR/water spray. It works better than RainX with no wiper chatter and my glass always looked great. It is also a lot easier to apply.

    Auto Pilot was a hit and miss proposition. I can’t say it was never helpful but there were issues. On relatively long straight stretches it worked pretty well but the nagging feature is a pain. Having to consciously keep a resistance to what the wheel wants to do it sometimes more tiring than just driving it yourself. In states where the exit ramps and on ramps have a dashed line across the openings there was never an issue of it trying to exit the highway when it shouldn’t but where they were absent it was unpredictable and required taking control on a couple of occasions. Surprisingly, I thought AP did better on some nice two-lane roads where it slowed down for curves and seemed to stay in the right place 98% of the time provided the curves were not too sharp. On twisty mountain roads, I never felt comfortable using AP as there were too many hairpin turns and lanes turning into a single lane through tunnels and other anomalies. Even at 20mph I wasn’t brave enough to trust it. Maybe it would have worked but it freaked my wife out often enough that I didn’t want to test her patience with the system. Twice we got the collision warning. Once we were approaching a blind hairpin curve and a large bus came around the curve and appeared to be heading toward us. It sounded the collision alarm and slammed on the brakes. Scared the hell out of my wife. The second time, we were on a narrow country road with a group of bicyclists and I was going past them as one veered a little to close to us again sounding the collision alarm and slamming on the brakes while steering us a little away from him. Fortunately, no phantom braking events the entire trip. On the interstates, it seldom slows down for curves, even when the sign shows a change in speed limit (not just a suggested safe speed). I found the speed limit displayed was wrong about 50% of the time. A Google map just hasn’t updated the maps in these areas. One time I was on a state gravel road that ended at a friends ranch but Google maps showed the road continuing for miles past the ranch. It doesn’t and the owner told me he has sent multiple emails to Google to try and get it changed to no avail. Even though there is a gate and fencing with no trespassing signs he has had people put their bikes over the fence and try and argue that it is a public state road. It isn’t.

    The bottom line on AP is that it needs to:

    1. Be more predictable and consistent in its behavior, this is key to inspiring confidence in the system
    2. In the 3 use the interior camera or a different sensor to determine hands on the wheel/attention to the road
    3. Slow down for curves the way a human driver does or if the speed limit changes
    4. Start the turn in sooner and more gradually in turns instead of waiting until the last possible moment to turn
    5. Reduce nag frequency-it can be very tiring to constantly get this warning even though your hands are on the wheel. Adding a touch sensor strip all the way around the wheel might help solve this problem
    6. In both cases where I got collision warnings I was on TACC, not EAP, and I was aware of the situation and in control but the collision warning startles you and could cause you to react in a detrimental way. I realize false warnings are bound to occur; however, sounding the alarm should be the first action. Steering avoidance should be the second action if the driver takes no action followed by full application of the brakes as the third action. Not slamming and releasing the brakes as it currently does. If you are about to collide you want to stop the car if possible while steering away from the collision source. I don’t get the logic behind slam and release.

    At the present time, I cannot reliably predict if the system will open or close my garage door, try and exit on an off ramp or where it will steer if the lane suddenly widens or merges into another lane, when it will apply the brakes on its own (phantom braking), what behavior to expect on an imminent collision and what triggers it to think so, when it will nag me even though I have both hands on the wheel, and if I can trust it to stop for a stationary obstacle in my path that wasn’t previously moving. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t help on occasion, especially in stop & go traffic but it needs to do more. Mine never seems to see a parking space unless there clearly isn’t one in which case it sees one being there. The cameras are barely used. I was doing a lane change and didn’t see a car rapidly approaching in my blind area and the car started doing the lane change before I turned it sharply away to avoid a collision (no collision warning sounded).

    Trip Charging Costs: The round trip charging cost was $123.62 or $0.0363 per mile.


    Comfort for Road Trips:

    The Model 3 is a very comfortable car for travel. The seats are exceptionally comfortable and neither my wife nor I ever felt discomfort from the seats or the interior. We drove in temperatures from 117 degrees down to about 70 degrees. I have not added any tinting to the windows or roof. There were a few times in the over 100 degree temperatures with the sun coming from in front where we had to turn up the fan speed to 7 or 8 with the temp set to 70 but it usually cooled us down enough so we were fine after a few minutes. The storage was more than adequate. We traveled for 13 days with a carry on suitcase for each of us; a backpack and a backpack sized soft case and a small shoe bag. They all fit comfortably in the trunk with the seats up. In the Frunk I placed cleaning supplies, a small cooler with snacks and emergency tools. In the sub trunk in the rear, I had my camera gear, portable air compressor, the Tesla charger, an emergency blanket and a few other miscellaneous items. I have an organizer for trunk and frunk.

    We reclined the seats for naps while charging or we went and ate.

    We mostly followed the speed limit or occasionally 5-10mph over the limit and an occasional 100mph when passing on two lane roads. It gets there very fast.

    The suspension can be a bit harsh on some road surfaces, especially washboard gravel roads that can shake your teeth out. Overall, it is not horrible or unbearable.

    In strong crosswinds, the car is occasionally moved and the wind noise gets substantially louder.


    The Unexpected:

    One situation that I never thought about and that anyone undertaking such a trip needs to think about is the frequently violent hail storms that can suddenly occur in this part of the country. These aren’t tiny pebble size hail but very large and heavy hail that can destroy windshields, glass roofs and hoods. I was lucky in that the first one I encountered was while we were staying at a B&B and the owner allowed my to park my car in his carport when the possibility of a large storm came up. We did get hail but fortunately it was not large enough to do damage and my car was safely under their carport. After that close encounter, I tended to park my car close to the entry to motels/hotels (that did not have protected parking) and to obtain permission to park my car under their portico should a storm come up. You can see the dents in the hoods and roofs of many cars in the area. South Dakota, Wyoming and parts of Colorado apparently have these storms frequently in the summer time. I still wonder what I would do if caught out in one. Various locals suggested looking for a car wash or gas station to park under and wait out the storm. Maybe some of you from these areas have a better solution.


    Conclusion:

    Visiting Mount Rushmore and the National parks we were able to see in the time we had is a very worthwhile adventure. It is inspiring and humbling to see what men were able to accomplish by dedicating their life to a vision. Now take your Tesla and go have a fun adventure, there is nothing like it.
     
    • Like x 28
    • Informative x 17
    • Love x 5
    • Helpful x 4
  2. BrianBradford

    BrianBradford Member

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  3. duy.duck

    duy.duck Member

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    Great write up. Thank you!
     
  4. ℬête Noire

    ℬête Noire Active Member

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    Large, broad trees can take the edge off of it if you can find one, though they aren't complete protection. Underpasses also tend to become quite popular, so careful when driving at the start of hail coming down and coming up on those as they are likely already occupied to some level.
     
  5. barjohn

    barjohn Member

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    A few things I forgot to mention, I saw very few Teslas on this trip, the most were in the Denver area. I was surprised that there would only be no one at the Super Chargers or only 1 or occasionally 2. St George Utah and Baker, CA had the most at 2. The Tesla owners I encountered and got to talk to were friendly and nice. One I met at the charger in Green River had a 2 digit VIN and had put 150,000 miles on his S and the battery had failed and Tesla replaced it at no charge and he was planning on getting another 150,000 miles out of it. Once outside of the city area like Denver, there were very few underpasses on the interstates I was on. Many of the roads were two lane country roads with no underpasses and no trees that were accessible, so no shelter from hail I could see. I thought about carrying some rolled up egg crate foam to lay over the vulnerable areas and covering the foam with the blanket I carry but I have no idea whether it would work. One person I spoke with said that was what insurance is for; however, he didn't realize that a smashed windshield or roof 500+ miles from the nearest Tesla service center and no spares even if closer would have ended my trip and stranded me.
     
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  6. ℬête Noire

    ℬête Noire Active Member

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    #6 ℬête Noire, Jul 31, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
    Pretty much. *shrug*

    You've not seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? "Congrats, your Roadster open-top arrived a couple years early." ;)

    636470492672015583-CANDY-2.JPG

    Joking aside I expect the roof would still be functional. It is dual layered, there are people driving with cracked glass on top. You might want to tape it for moisture reasons but it'd be drivable. Windshield gets a bit more dodgy if it's busted all over but that's really not much different than the people living out there. Lots of open space, and your odds of getting walloped by the very damaging stuff isn't higher than hitting the ditch, it just feels like it because you don't feel like you are as in control of that situation.
     
  7. barjohn

    barjohn Member

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    I have seen it, many years ago. :) Now have you seen the bugs in these areas. It was a constant battle to keep the windshield and front clear of bugs...lots and lots of bugs. We have so few in CA. Lots of nuts and fruits though! :)
     
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  8. ℬête Noire

    ℬête Noire Active Member

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    #8 ℬête Noire, Jul 31, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
    Agreed that bugs, in season, are going to be the issue. Welcome to a healthy planet. ;)

    Speaking of which, have you checked the radiator fins? I don't know exactly what the design is on the M3 and how suspectable it is but that's where I'd be most concerned about bugs, clogging it up. Don't want to let that sit and set. Were you hitting adult grasshoppers, those things are massive glue balls.

    EDIT: I'd really like to hear about what the radiator looks like, if there was any meaningful bug build-up in there. When I finally get mine I plan a trip that passes through that general area.
     
  9. Aellinsar

    Aellinsar Member

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    Thanks for the write up. My AP experience matches yours so far. It's nice to have, IMO, but has a lot of shortcomings. It's really hard to justify $5k for it.
     
    • Like x 4
  10. Irish

    Irish New Member

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    Location:
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    Barjohn, great update and many thanks. Taking a 4,000 mi trip in October (VA to NM RT) and this helps.
     
  11. gilscales

    gilscales Member

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    #11 gilscales, Jul 31, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
    Just visited my brother out in Oroville,CA in one of several smaller road trips (3 months and 8,700 miles) While on that trip we visited the Sly creek reservoir for boating, I did not want to force my 6'4" son to have to sit in the back seat of my brothers extended cab truck so we followed him in our model 3, along the route we had to pull over for my wife to handle a business call as cell service began to fail, we had programed the route earlier so it seemed no problem if we caught up later, we were routed off to a poorly maintained road (Lumpkin road) strewn full of wheel bending potholes and then to Golden trout crossing which turned out to be a fire road filled with softball size rocks and we traveled down that road 1 mile or more thinking it would open back up to paved road soon, we then turned around, got back on to Lumpkin and decided to go the route of going further away to Little grass valley reservoir then through La Porte and back to Sly creek, along the Way we spotted a HUGE bear crossing the road that just stopped in the middle about 200 ft from us, we stopped the car and for about 5 seconds I told my wife "LOOK AT THAT BEAR! QUICK GET A PICTURE" all she said was "A BEAR, OH MY GOD!" we missed the pic, we had no service after we pulled over 2 hours earlier and it was quit the adventure that was unnerving at best, my right arm had some deep fingernail marks as my wife was more than concerned for our safety! the "thank goodness the car never faltered" in your paragraph above was never more true for us that day and cannot agree more with you that something needs to be addressed about this!

    Oh and NO it does not always pick the shortest route as it added 10 miles to our route if we completed the fire road which we would not have been able to and after we reached Little grass valley it said we had 72 miles instead of about 20 plus to go to reach our final destination as it wanted to route us in a HUGE circle and back to that impassable road!

    I looked at my phone with google maps later and it showed the correct route so not sure what map service Tesla is using.

    here is the google map satellite view so you can see what road we were routed on to
    Google Maps
    Look at Golden trout, it turns into WOODS! after a short while, not even a road! I can't imagine what would have happened to us if the car failed there!

    On a side note we want to do your exact road trip in a couple of weeks if we can with a stop at Pikes Peak just to see one of the highest paved roads in the states and I had no idea of the hail possibilities so thank you for the heads up!
     
    • Informative x 2
  12. barjohn

    barjohn Member

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    I just looked and the black dams are up and covered with bugs. I assume the radiator behind is also covered with bugs. I am going out of town today in my other electric car (A Bolt) so I can't take the time to clean the radiator today but I will check it tomorrow and update with my findings when i take it outside of the garage and spray it down..
     
  13. ℬête Noire

    ℬête Noire Active Member

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    My experience with heavily bug ridden radiators says a soaking and then pressure washer from behind is the one true way (this is why running with a bug screen is not uncommon in that kind of area).

    With modern ICE vehicles you do often have to remove cowling in the engine compartment to do this, because of how much engineering goes into air flow these days. Not sure how you'd get in at the back of the radiator on a Model 3 though, without lifting it up? It has very low clearance underneath. Or you have to lift the frunk bin out maybe? Not sure how hard that is with the Model 3 frunk bin?
     
  14. roguenode

    roguenode Member

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    Great write up! I have added and removed EAP from my order a couple of times and still have the edit button available. I am not often in traffic or on interstates, save for a handful of trips a year. I don't know if it's worth $5k to me, but I wonder how that might affect my ability to sell the car 3-4 years from now.

    It sounds like you were in some very rural areas, I live in the mountains where there is no cell coverage at all and spotty gps in the canyons. Does the mapping and routing work when there is no cell and did you notice any other issues when connectivity was not present?
     
  15. Tewoo

    Tewoo New Member

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    Great post. Did your clear bra survive the trip.
     
  16. mongo

    mongo Well-Known Member

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    From the video I've seen, it looks like the external air is ducted from the lower air inlets up to the radiator and condenser which are reclined in the frunk. Seems like the first bend would prevent high speed bugs from reaching the fins.
     
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  17. gilscales

    gilscales Member

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    From my experience the maps still worked but not nearly as well and could not zoom in for detail, just worked all the way zoomed out and not on satellite for me, also it would pause then re set at times
     
    • Informative x 3
  18. tinm

    tinm 2013 S85 Owner

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    As for hail storms, I live in New Mexico and we get 'em as well. Always makes me nervous for my car.

    I wish there were "hail bags" -- air bags embedded in various front, side, top, and back exterior compartments that, when you press a big red button and the car is in Park, all pop open and surround the car in six inches of an instantly-inflated protective bubble, to prevent any hail damage to the car. Of course, pressing a small "retract" button would cause all the airbags to deflate and quietly return to their designated compartments for the next hail onslaught.
     
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  19. BlueM3AWD

    BlueM3AWD Member

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    Fantastic write up! Thank you for sharing
     
  20. ℬête Noire

    ℬête Noire Active Member

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    I had dug up and was watching the very video to try piece it together. It does look like there could be ducting as you suggest, to at least avoid the 70mph mash effect. The radiator is definitely reclined at the least, rather than facing flat into the forward direction. So maybe if you can coax the car to open the shutters you can just power wash that ducting clear and you're all good? Looks like you'd have to pull that plastic housing apart to properly check and clean periodically if you were operating in ongoing dusty conditions, driving through vegetation of some sort (tumble weeds ;) ), etc.
     

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