Life With Tesla After 60,000 Miles: What I’ve Learned

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My wife and I are still just as thrilled with our Tesla Model 3 as we were the day we took delivery on October 22, 2019. My odometer now reads 60,220 miles. The ultra-smooth and quiet rocket-like acceleration and multiple software updates culminating in Full Self Driving (Beta) have kept us excited for the entire two years and 4 months. We have driven coast to coast from North Carolina to California and made multiple round trips from Utah to Wisconsin. We’ve never found a Supercharger full or out of order. You just plug in and Tesla bills your credit card automatically. We are able to drive the same 500 miles per day that we did with our gas cars.

Tesla Model 3 Maintenance Costs

My full warrantee ran out at 50,000 miles. My battery and drive system warrantee will run out fairly soon at 80,000 miles.

I’ve ignored the incessant advertising from Car Shield to buy an extended warrantee. I’m going naked because I’m counting on the simplicity of electric drive compared to the complexity of a gasoline motor system and transmission to keep maintenance costs to a minimum. I have also taken care by limiting the state of charge (SoC) of my battery to between 20% and 80% as much as possible to keep my battery healthy. I charge to 90% about an hour before long trips, but I have never charged to 100%.

I had to replace one squeaky front suspension joint, which was covered by the warrantee. My only maintenance costs have been tires and wheel alignment. I’m on my third set of tires because of the heavy weight of the car and perhaps my acceleration demos for friends and family. I have spent $1143.37 on tires (the second set is still almost new) and $480 for wheel alignment twice. I do 95% of my L2 charging in my garage, which I estimate costs about 1/3 the price of gas for a similar-size car.

Figure 2: Tesla FSD (Beta) graphical interface. Left turn at a busy intersection. Note: green left turn signal, projected path, lane markers, red curb, and cars with tail lights. Saint George, Utah. December 21, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

Tesla “Full Self Driving” (Beta)

The longer I drive with FSD (Beta), the more I learn about what it can do and what it can’t do.

I downloaded FSD (Beta) on November 23, 2021, and will soon complete 3 months of obsessively driving every day with versions V10.5 and 10.8. I have read about V10.9 and V10.10, but I haven’t been offered those downloads yet.

Note: FSD (Beta) will give you autosteer on any road, not just roads with painted lines like the regular autosteer that is on every Tesla. I spent $6,000 for FSD when I bought the car, which gave me automatic navigation on limited access highways from the beginning. But now, amazing FSD (Beta) will also drive my car automatically on city streets from my current location (in front of my driveway or the Walmart parking lot) to any location I pick or enter into my navigation.

It has driven me automatically with only one intervention from our house in Saint George, Utah, the 45 miles to spectacular Zion National Park (See Figure 1). It has driven me from my house in Lindon, Utah, the 3.9 miles on city streets to my daughter’s house in Pleasant Grove — I never touched the steering wheel on this one. It has driven me the 18 miles on the winding road with two hairpin turns up and down Big Cottonwood to the Brighton Ski Resort where I teach — again, without having to touch the steering wheel, accelerator, or brakes. It will now successfully navigate rotaries/roundabouts.

If you are patient and there is no other traffic, FSD (Beta) will make most trips with no intervention. It is particularly good navigating at stoplights. It is surprisingly good handling 4-way stop signs.

It will require intervention when there is cross traffic or a driver behind you at rotaries and stop signs. You won’t need to touch the steering wheel, but you will need to give a little acceleration to convince the system to proceed when it is being too timid/cautious.

When Does FSD (Beta) Screw Up?

Note that the system is very consistent, so once you observe a screwup, you can count on it behaving the same way every time. This means that you can almost always predict when the system will fail, and you can simply take over for a few seconds and turn FSD (Beta) back on again.

  • At some stop signs, your car will stop ~20 ft before the sign and then creep slowly forward.
  • At rotaries, your car will come to a complete stop before entering, even when the rotary is empty. A car behind you will be expecting you to yield instead of stopping.
  • I have observed one stop sign in Saint George, Utah, where the system will consistently run the stop sign.
  • In a number of situations, the system will put you in the wrong lane.
    • At some long, curving intersections, the car will choose the wrong lane on the other side.
    • When you turn onto a street with a wide shoulder lane/bike lane, your car will turn into that lane instead of the traffic lane. Note: Usually the car will change to the correct lane after about 50 yards
    • There is one road in Orem, Utah, where the right lane ends and makes you make a right turn even though the navigation requires a merge to the left to keep going straight.
    • Sometimes, particularly with heavy traffic, the system fails to get into the turn lane soon enough to make the turn.
    • If there is construction or a new road, your car will fail to navigate correctly, because the map it is using is out of date.
    • Going east on 7200 South in Murry, Utah, your car will miss the onramp onto I-15 South. I don’t have an explanation.

When My Tesla Model 3 Can Substitute for a Full-Size F-150 Pickup Truck

A third party receiver plus a tow bar or bike rack and a good sized trailer lets my Model 3 substitute for a much bigger vehicle.

Figure 3: Tesla Model 3 pulling utility trailer carrying electric golf cart — Three Lakes, Wisconsin. September 30, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

A good size trailer can let you use your Model 3 to haul a golf cart, as shown above, tow a 3000 lb ski boat (see Figure 4), or haul 8×12 ft professional size wallboard. 363 horsepower from the dual-motor drive allows you to pull a heavy boat out of the water so easily you don’t even feel it.

Figure 4: My Tesla Model 3 easily pulling my 3000 lb competition ski boat out of the water. Three Lakes, Wisconsin. October 4, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.
Figure 5: My Tesla Model 3 hauling two e-bikes on a tray-type carrier attached to receiver in Three Lakes, Wisconsin. October 5, 2021. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

With a good tray-type bike rack installed in your receiver, you can haul two good sized mountain e-bikes. Unfortunately, the much increased aerodynamic drag from the bikes greatly reduces range, but my dual-motor Model 3 has 310 miles nominal range, so I can still travel cross-country because Tesla Superchargers are usually spaced every 100 miles or less.

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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler

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.

Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler has 111 posts and counting. See all posts by Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler