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Figure 2: Author's Wife Mary, Dog Zuni, Model 3- Pictographs - Buckhorn Wash - San Rafael Swell Utah - March 17, 2020 (Fritz Hasler Photo)

Cars

9 Ways My Fantastic Tesla Model 3 Can Be Improved

I am a Tesla fanboy with nearly 50,000 miles put on my dual-motor Model 3 Long Range in two years. I also sprang $6,000 for “Full Self Driving,” which now costs $10,000. I am a technology nerd and wanted to experience every bit of Tesla’s automation. However, I figured I would never be able to afford it later on from my retirement income. Yay! I also saved $4,000 buying it earlier. The amazing thing: My wife and I are in love with our Tesla Model 3 as much today as when we first purchased it. My wife’s favorite thing is “Dog Mode,” which she uses constantly for our small brown rescue dog. She loves the sign that says the temperature is 75 degrees, the dog is safe, and “My owner will be back soon.”

The car accelerates like a rocket, so merging, passing on two-lane roads, and making that next stoplight are no longer a problem. Autosteer is like a rock, the smart cruise control is really smart, and Navigate on Autopilot works great on limited access highways.

I have organized several Tesla/EV promotion events. The most recent was this year in little Three Lakes Wisconsin’s 4th of July parade. We had four Model S, one Model X pulling a 100-year-old restored wooden & formerly steam-powered boat now converted to electricity, my Model 3 carrying two electric bikes on a Saris tray-type bike rack, and an electric golf cart leading the way with my Electric Avenue sign.

Electric Avenue EV promotion on July 4, 2021. Decorated Model S and celebrants.

Electric Avenue EV promotion on July 4, 2021. Red, white, & blue (out of view) Teslas with two electric.

Electric Avenue EV promotion on July 4, 2021. White Mode X pulling restored wooden boat — formerly steam powered, now electric.

In the 50,000 miles that I have driven my Model 3 over two years, I have had only one relatively minor unforced repair. The left front suspension was squeaking. The part was replaced under warranty at the Salt Lake City Service Center. When the Tesla mobile repairman came to my house in St George, UT to, investigate, I had him replace the cabin filter. Unless you have exactly the correct tools, a YouTube video, are very handy, and have a couple of hours, don’t try this yourself.

The car eats tires. It is so heavy that I got only 20,000 miles out of the original tires. Of course, I had to launch the car numerous times soon after I got it to demonstrate the fantastic acceleration to friends. Also, unlike most gas cars, the back tires on my dual-motor car wear out faster. For my second set of tires, I will get about 30,000 miles out of my Goodyear 55,000 mile Eagle Touring All Season tires which I bought for $577.93. I will have to replace them soon because there is little tread left. I believe the thin tires are contributing to the high noise level in the car.

I am waiting with high anticipation for the general release of Tesla “Feature Complete” Full Self Driving on City Streets that Elon has been promising for years, months, weeks, days, and most recently ~4 weeks.

Here is my list of ways the car could be improved: I have picked things I would like to see done to the car that most likely won’t be addressed by V10.

  1. The navigation system on my Model 3 is excellent. The satellite map is gorgeous on the beautiful screen. I can verbally ask for a business or address and it almost always finds it correctly. However, there are features that Apple Maps gives me that are missing with Tesla Navigation. Apple Maps gives me a primary and two alternate routes that I can choose from. I would like that on my Tesla. Apple maps will also find addresses in my iPhone address book. My Tesla will play music flawlessly from my iPhone. Why can’t it pull up addresses? I believe there is a way to add them one at a time to the Tesla navigation, but why can’t the brilliant Tesla software engineers figure out a way to automatically access my address book. Example command: “Navigate to Joe Blow’s House from my address book?” Furthermore: I also really think it should be possible to add waypoints to my route or even drag the route to include a city on my route like you can with Google Maps.
  2. Noise: My Model 3 is much noisier than my brother’s Model S. The sound system is fantastic, it’s fabulous when stopped or at low speeds, but I need to pump the volume up high to get any sense of the great sound system when driving on the highway. I paid over $50,000 for my Model 3. It is luxurious in many ways that I never experienced on my Camrys, Highlander, etc. But for that price, I would expect a quiet car.
  3. Lake and river names: We spend summers in the Minnesota/Wisconsin 10,000+ lakes area where we are constantly winding our way between lakes. Tesla’s gorgeous navigation maps don’t include the names of lakes and rivers. When I am crossing a huge river, I would like to know if it’s the Mississippi or the St. Croix. Apple Maps gives lake names.
  4. I would like to be able to routinely set the speed for more than 5 mph over the speed limit when using autosteer. Normally the car refuses to exceed the speed limit by more than 5 mph. My reason is as follows: In my area in the back woods of Northern Wisconsin, many times the navigation thinks the speed limit is 40 mph or even 25 when it should be 55 mph on a country road. I believe this is caused by errors in the database used by the navigation. It means that the smart cruise control is unusable in those situations. I am very spoiled normally not having to do this manually. Of course, correcting the database would be the best way to solve the problem, but I have no idea how to get this done. A solution that Tesla could implement immediately is to allow me to set the speed at more than 5 mph over the limit.
  5. When I enter a town, my Model 3 automatically slows down from 60 to 35 mph, or often 25 mph. This is really nice because it prevents me from getting a speeding ticket. However, when I leave the town, I have to manually raise the speed back up to 60 mph. I can do this on my HW3 computer Model 3 by touching the 55 mph sign on the display. However, the car sees, reads, and displays the 55 mph speed limit. I would be really like to have the option of having the car raise the speed back up automatically.
  6. If a vehicle is crossing your path that will be well clear of you before you come to it, the car will brake. I would really appreciate it if Tesla could fix this. (Note: this happens consistently and if I remember to do it, I have learned to keep some pressure on the accelerator pedal to stop it from happening.)
  7. I would like to be able to choose a standard regenerative stop at a stoplight, stop sign, or behind a stopped car. Currently, this stopping function uses the brakes and is too abrupt except for areas with heavy aggressive traffic. I would like to be able to choose for the car to calculate just when to start standard regenerative braking so that it stops perfectly right at the stoplight, stop sign, or behind a waiting automobile.
  8. From a Model 3 Performance Owner: There isn’t a safe and comfortable (for me) place to put my right foot when Autopilot is active. There are several positions that seem fairly comfortable but are not necessarily safe. Can the first half inch of travel on the accelerator pedal be ignored when AP is active?
  9. From a Model 3 Performance Owner: If I pause the audio, I don’t want the car to start it up again automatically. If it pauses for other reasons (incoming call, warning msg., etc.), then the car can go ahead and restart it. Often when I get back into the car after having paused the audio on the previous drive, it will start playing automatically. For example, I may pause an audio book in a good spot before arriving home at night. The next morning, if I open the door (to put something in the car or to grab my snow scraper), before getting into the seat, it may start playing before I’ve had a chance to scrape the snow or whatever and when I finally get in and sit down, I may have missed several minutes and have to rewind (often a painful process) to try to figure out where I was.

Electric Avenue EV promotion on July 4, 2018. Electric golf cart with sign ready to roll.

Electric Avenue EV promotion on July 4, 2018. Electric golf cart, Tesla Model S Ludicrous, 2018 Nissan Leaf, electric golf cart.

All images by the author.

 
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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.

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