Category Archives: Personal Posts

5-Year Review of the Model 3: Battery Pack Status  

April 2023. California.

Part 4 of my 5-year review on the Model 3

When we got our car in April 2018 it had 310 miles of rated range. A software update in 2019 increased the usable portion of the pack giving us 325 miles of range. After 67,000 miles and 5 years years of travels a full charge on our 2018 RWD Model 3 now reports 291 miles of rated range.

Rated range of our Model 3 after a full charge over 5 years.

*Rated range is based on EPA testing and is the estimate of how many miles the average person can drive based on the amount of energy stored in the battery pack.

The rated range of my battery pack dropped pretty quickly from 325 to about 300 miles at the end of 2020. I don’t know whether that was actual degradation, or if Tesla changed their method for calculating range, or if they increased the size of the buffer on the packs. Whatever the case, over the last 2 years my range has slowly gone down about 5 miles per year from 300 miles to 291 miles. Compared to the peak 325 miles of range I’m at 89.5% of capacity, and compared to the initial 310 miles I’m at 93% of initial capacity.

How I charge my car: 90% of my charging has been at home on a 240 Volt 30 amp clothes dryer outlet. I drive 50-60 miles a day and charge for 2 hours each morning before I leave for work. On a daily basis I’m usually operating between 40 – 70% SOC. I only use Superchargers for out of town trips, and that adds up to 10% of the energy used to charge my car so far. The full charge at year 5 was the 5th time I’ve charged to 100%.

I was hoping for less degradation. I called Tesla, they analyzed my battery pack and said I’m at 0.4% below average for cars similar to mine – within the normal range, just a bit below average. Whatever the case, in the real world 291 miles of range is not a problem for me. We have plenty of range for the most common trip we take: 180-200 mile round trip visits to the Bay Area. Example: A couple weeks ago we visited the California Academy of Sciences. For that trip Ieft home with a 90% charge (260 miles) and after 198 miles of driving we arrrived home with 84 miles in the pack.

After 5 years a 90% charge still provides plenty of range for our day trips – in this case 198 mile round trip to visit a favorite museum. In mild and warm weather I usually beat rated range estimates (we drove 198 actual miles but only used 176 miles of rated range from the pack).

291 miles of range is also plenty of range for my road tripping – I usually operate between 30-80% SOC on the road. The longest distance I’ve driven so far between charging sessions is 238 miles. On road trips I average about 150 miles between Superchargers, with the longest distance between Superchargers at 223 miles. And the longest I’ve driven from a Supercharger to a Level 2 destination charger was 177 miles. So 291 miles of rated range has been more than enough for me.

Battery Health: A relatively new company, Recurrent Auto, is addressing battery health, primarily for used car buyers. From their website: “Today the health of an electric vehicle battery is a black box. Recurrent is working to change that by collaborating with thousands of EV drivers and introducing advanced machine learning (to evaluate the battery health for individual cars)”. I signed up for their service and below I’ve pasted screen captures showing Recurrent’s evaluation of my battery pack. I got 291 miles on a full charge – they estimated 289 miles.

Expected Range and Battery Health of my battery pack from Recurrent.

Recurrent provides a comparison of how your battery pack compares to other cars of the same make and build in their database, recommend charging habits to promote longevity of your pack, and graph out your State of Charge over time so you can take stock of your charging habits.

Comparison of my battery pack’s estimated range compared to other Model 3s with a similar build in Recurrent’s database, and graph showing my State of Charge over time.

Calculating battery pack capacity: Tesla’s Rated Range calculation relies on the BMS estimate of capacity. A post on Tesla Motor Club states that the Model 3 pack needs 3-6 hours of downtime (car completely off, contactors open) for the BMS to make the best evaluation of capacity, and describes a method to recalibrate Rated Range in the Model 3. According to this post it involves letting the car sit for 3-6 hours, completely off, so the HV contactors are open – and this should be done at a variety of charge states. HV contactors are not open when the car is using energy for things like cooling the cabin or sentry mode – features I use while parked at work. My car is completely ‘off’ for a good 8 hours overnight in the garage, but my SOC is usually between 40-70% on a day by day basis. Following advice from this post I should let my pack get to both a higher and lower SOC, let it sit over night and check if that impacts rated range estimates. If I notice a change I’ll update this post. But again, let me stress that 291 miles gets the job done for me.

This is Part 4 of my 5-year review. The review is broken up into short posts on different aspects of owning the Model 3. Additional posts will be linked below as they go live. Topics covered include:

5-Year Review of the Model 3: Day 1

April 2023. California.

This is Part 1 of my 5-year review. The review will be broken up into short posts covering different aspects of owning the Model 3. New posts will be linked below as they go live. Topics will cover:

5 years ago in April 2018 I picked up our Model 3 from the Fremont showroom. After taking a tour of the factory I drove 120 miles home to pick up my kids from soccer practice. I’d been driving an EV for 5 years by that time so I was used to instant torque and acceleration, but that first drive was like piloting a rocket ship.

Picking up my car from the showroom in Fremont.

My family didn’t know I was picking up the car that day so I met the kids at their practice and followed them down the street with camera rolling to catch their reaction:

BTW, kids still like the car…. Looking back it’s remarkable that I ordered this car sight unseen. I waited 2 years from order to delivery and it was worth the wait, and not just because early orders came with a scale model in the center console. I provide more details in a separate post, but in short I love this car.

5 Year Review of the Model 3: Quality & Reliability

April 2023. California. 

Part 3 of my 5-year review on the Model 3

My car has held up well. The car is solid outside and in, the drive is comfortable, smooth, and cabin is quiet. The car is pretty much the same as 5 years ago. It’s been reliable, hasn’t broken down, left me stranded on the roadside, or needed any major repairs.

Items fixed under warranty:

  • Piece of rubber came off gear selector stalk
  • 2 door handles replaced
  • Rear view camera wiring harness replaced

Items fixed on my dime

  • Charge flap replaced ($220)

The little motor that opens and closes the charge flap quit. I could still open and close the flab by hand, so charging the car was not an issue. But it wouldn’t open when you pressed the button on a Tesla charging cable, or open by using the car’s center screen or through the phone app. I set up a mobile service visit and they replaced the whole assembly while I was at work for $220. Incidentally, my charge flap never entirely worked right. If you gently push on the bottom of the charge flap it’s supposed to open – a magnet in the bottom of the flap is part of that function. The technician who replaced my charging flap pointed out that the magnet was missing on mine. So that little part was missing when I picked up the car from the factory and I didn’t really notice because otherwise the charge flap worked.

The cabin is in good condition, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the driver seat heating coils are visible. Seat heating works fine, but the wear is notable:

Regular maintenance:

  • 12 volt battery replaced after 4 years ($128)
  • Wipers replaced ($54)
  • cabin air filters replaced ($38)
  • New set of tires ($1100)
  • Front end re-torqued ($97.50)

Minor complaints

I have 18″ aero wheels and the hubcaps are noisy. When driving at low speeds I hear rattling all around the car and have realized it’s the hubcaps. They have freedom of movement and apparently bump up against the rim when I’m driving slowly. I don’t hear the noise at highway speed and that’s either because centrifugal force at higher speeds keep the hubcaps in place, or road noise at higher speeds covers the sounds. I didn’t notice the sound earlier on but it’s become more noticeable over time. Perhaps the redesigned hubcaps are better.

All of my hubcaps move like this and I can hear noise when driving at low speeds on city streets, smooth or bumpy.

This is Part 3 of my 5-year review. The review is broken up into short posts on different aspects of owning the Model 3. Additional posts will be linked below as they go live. Topics covered include:

5-Year Review of the Model 3: Charging

April 2023. California.

Part 5 of my 5-year review on the Model 3

Charging at home: I charge my EV in the garage each night. I’ve used 2 approaches for daily charging over the last 5 years. And for those new to EVs, I don’t sit around waiting for my car to charge, it charges during the night while I’m sleeping. I wake up with the car ready for the day ahead of us. I bought a splitter for my clothes dryer outlet from EVSEAdapters and have the clothes dryer and my Model 3 mobile connector plugged into the same outlet. We don’t dry clothes overnight or early weekday mornings so we don’t have to worry about tripping the circuit.

I use this splitter to share the same circuit for drying clothes and charging our EVs. Works well for us.

1) For the first 2 or 3 years I had my charge limit set at 60% for daily driving and scheduled charging to start at 3AM when electricity prices were low. I charge on a 30 Amp clothes dryer outlet and about 2 hours of charging would get the car back to 60% SOC each night.

2) Before going on road trips I’d set the charge limit at 90% to make use of the range we’d need to reach our destinations. After getting back from one of our trips I forgot to reset the SOC and just kept the charge limit at 90% the past 2 years. I don’t need the range of a 90% charge for daily driving – in fact I prefer keeping my battery at a lower SOC in the hopes it increases longevity – less time at higher voltage for the cells. So what I do now is charge for 2 hours before leaving for work. I scheduled the car to start charging at 6AM, and I get 2 hours of charging before I leave at 8AM. That adds about 50 miles to the pack, which is enough for the day. RecurrentAuto can track your State of Charge over time so you can see your charging habits on a graph.

State of Charge of my Model 3 over a one month period. Data from RecurrentAuto.

Note: There are many ways to approach daily charging, this is what works for me.

Road Trips: First thing I do for road trips is plan my charging stops using ABetterRoutePlanner. Great resource, check it out. On long road trips I average about 150 miles between Supercharging stops and a little over 20 minutes charging time per stop. I use the stops to grab a bite to eat or stretch my legs. At each Supercharger I usually charge up to the distance of the next leg plus 100 miles. That extra 100 miles in the pack doesn’t give me the fastest charging times but it does give me added flexibility in case of unplanned detours. I’ve done road trips alone and with the family – in one case covering 800 miles in a day with the whole family on board and it worked out well.

DC charging on road trips using Tesla’s Supercharger network is dead simple. Park, plug, grab a cup of coffee, and soon after get back on the road refreshed. The Supercharger network was the #1 reason I ordered the Model 3. The range of the Model 3 combined with the Supercharging network has allowed to visit a number of places we’d been wanting to visit – all while driving a low emission vehicle.

This is Part 5 of my 5-year review. The review is broken up into short posts on different aspects of owning the Model 3. Additional posts will be linked below as they go live. Topics covered include:

5-Year Review of the Model 3: Energy Use and Emissions

April 2023. California.

Part 6 of my 5-year review on the Model 3

We’ve just completed 5 years of driving our 2018 Model 3. This post estimates energy use and carbon emissions from charging our electric car. I calculated the amount of CO2 released from power plants to generate electricity to charge our car using data published by the US Energy Information Administration.

Continue reading

2012 Rav4 EV: The End of a Chapter (for us)

July 2020. Central Valley, CA.

We bought our first EV in 2013: a new 2012 Toyota Rav4 EV. We absolutely loved that car. The Rav was our daily driver and #1 family car. In July 2020, after 7+ years and 88,000 miles of travel, we sold our Rav. This was the end of a chapter for us, but the beginning of a new chapter for another family. This short post recaps our thoughts on this car and how selling our 7 year old EV worked for us.

Continue reading

To Monterey in an EV: Then and Now

July 2021. Monterey, CA.

Five years ago we drove our Rav4 EV to Monterey to cool off and visit the aquarium. We’d added QC Charge‘s JdeMO DC charging port to our Rav, which greatly reduced charging time and made the trip doable. The kids got to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other landmark buildings in the area. Great trip, and all electric thanks to QC Charge.

Continue reading

Volkswagen ID.4: First Impressions

June 2021, Virginia. Guest writer Courtney Noctor describes her new Volkswagen ID.4.

First impressions

I picked up my first EV – a Volkswagen ID.4 Pro – several weeks ago and I am obsessed with it. The ID.4 is a cute little crossover SUV that is similar in size to a sedan but very spacious. It has 30 ft3 of storage behind the back seats, and 64 ft3 of storage with the back seats folded down.

Continue reading