calm body of lake between mountains

Road Trip Records, Tesla notes and important tools

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Since getting our Tesla’s it’s been massive road trip city. Previous with gasoline cars a drive of 10 hours would leave me complete exhausted.

Pre-Tesla Records

The first really long trip sans parents I ever took was from NJ to Hilton Head Island. That was an epic 757 miles with two people splitting the driving.

Our previous record days have been cross country in 4 days so that was 2,806 miles in 5 days. We did have to stop short in Minneapolis due to a blizzard that we almost passed if we were six hours earlier but that’s another story. In any case it was a paean to Ken and a delivery trip for Calvin with two of sharing the driving.

Life With Tesla

The light switch went on with autopilot on the Tesla. Suddenly those 14 hour rides just didn’t see so far. And now I could do them all with maybe an hour sleep break. So that’s 13 hours in the saddle so hear are some records. This includes charging time and potty breaks of course and lunches (pre covid)

  1. Seattle to Salt Lake City (and for a 30 hour visit). Ok, that’s a crazy one but it was doable. That’s a 866-mile ride one way in 15 hours or so.
  2. San Diego to Mt Shasta to Seattle. 703 miles and felt really good. Good enough to do 536 the next day and go work out 🙂
  3. Sonoma to Berkeley to Eugene OR. Ok that was a bit crazy but done and dusted at 625 miles and then 285 the next day
  4. Seattle to Golden BC. 513 miles but not on freeways so over 12 hours of drive time.

Notes on driving a Tesla Model 3 2018 in the snow

Wow, you can tell Tesla was designed in sunny California, here are some notes about driving through two big snowstorms and where the temperatures were as a low as -11C in the passes and -5C on the road. There are some great tips out there particularly if you have to leave the car out in the cold (we were lucky to be garaged on this trip).

  1. Make sure you start the climate control for your car early and often! The book says do it an hour ahead of time, but even with an hour of battery recharging, I find that it will still show limited regen.
  2. If you get snow and slush, you will find the radar is going to get slush build-up and when this happens, the entire cruise control and automatic driving just shuts off. You don’t even get speed monitoring. The only solution is to stop and brush it off. I’m surprised that there isn’t a heating element there to at least get the temperatures up.
  3. The front fender cameras get fogged up. This could be a design defect on ours, but the front fender cameras have condensation so they will turn off. The result is that automatic lane change gets disabled.
  4. The wipers do not work well in the snow. You should turn automatic wiping off anyway so you don’t scrape the ice and burn the motors. But even if your windshield is OK, we found that at least with 2018.48.10, that it was way too slow during the night with snow and sleet.
  5. Turn off the automatic switching of the high beam headlights. It should detect there is snow or fog but doesn’t, so you get blinded when it switches to high beam. Foglights do work well however so make sure those are on.
  6. Have a tire pressure refiller, this didn’t happen to us, but the temperature of the tires do vary a lot in the cold.
  7. As ofter times mentioned, recharging in the cold is much slower, we found in the deep cold that turning on the car didn’t help much, so even with Supercharger V3, max charge rates were definitely much slower.

Tesla winter accessories

OK here are some of the mandatories, most of these are pretty obvious, but still:

  1. Snow Tires. Yes, they really do make a difference. If you want to see reviews check out Tirerack.com, but we’ve loved the Pirelli Sottozero which has a Tesla version with sound control. And yes, you should get 18″ rims which are called minus sizing if you have Model 3 Performance with 20″ rims. Some folks get narrower tires if you are going to get through the snow.
  2. Chains. Yes, they are pretty optional with snow tires, but if you want to be really safe, there are chains that are designed for Tesla. They used to have Pewar chains for $115, but they just switched to breathtakingly expensive $135 Konig chains for 18″ and 19″ wheels.
  3. Multi-tool. You do need one in your cabin as well and you really can’t go wrong with Leatherman. The P2 looks pretty awesome, I’ve had lots of these and the Skeleton is nice as a slimmer tool.
  4. Helko Tire Pump. This thing is pretty great. The main thing is don’t bend the inflator too much, I ended up getting a weak point there and the tube broke. It looks like it is pretty hard to replace that tube, so the first thing to do is not to jam the tube into the small opening, let it breath!

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