5 important things I’ve learned after driving my Tesla Model Y, for 5 months. I’ve been driving my 2020 Tesla Model Y for 5 months now – and I still absolutely love this car. And in that time of driving my Model Y, I discovered these 5 things that were surprising to me — things I wish I had known earlier.

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Red Tesla in Fog
Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

I’ve been driving my 2020 Tesla Model Y for 5 months now – and I still absolutely love this car.

I love the instant torque, the fact that it’s all electric and every time I engage in autopilot, it still brings a smile to my face.

And in the course of driving my Model Y for these past 5 month, I discovered these 5 things that were surprising to me — things I wish I had known earlier.

Now, these aren’t necessarily good or bad things — they are just surprising things that I didn’t know about, until I experienced them within the last few months.

So here are the 5 important things I’ve learned after driving my Tesla Model Y, for 5 months.

1) Supercharger Etiquette

So jumping right into it, the 1st important thing I’ve learn in my 5 months of driving my Tesla Model Y, is Super Charger Etiquette.

Row of Teslas charging
Credit: Tesla.com

Supercharging is amazing and thanks to Tesla’s vast supercharger network, if you live in a major city, chances are, you are always within about 25 miles of one of these stations. 

But if you mostly charge at home and don’t frequently visit these stations, you might not know that there is an implicit etiquette here, that is followed by your fellow Tesla owners.

No Parking Next To A Charging Tesla

The first of these etiquette rules is that, if possible, try not to park in a stall that is directly next to an already charging Tesla vehicle.

The origin of this rule came from back in the day, when V2 superchargers were first being rolled out. If you were to pull into one of these V2 superchargers, you would notice that the stalls there would always be paired — meaning that 2 slots would share the max output of one charger unit, between the two.

V2 supercharger
Credit: Newsweek.com

And you could tell when you’ve pulled into a V2 charger because the units would be labeled 1A/1B or 2A/2B — indicating that they were linked. And if you were to pull into a 1B slot when there is already a vehicle charging in 1A, you would effectively slow the charging speed for both of your vehicles.

This led to the unspoken etiquette rule that says — if possible, try not to park right next to another Tesla vehicle at a super charger. Now in early 2020, Tesla unveiled their 3rd generation superchargers, their V3s and these don’t have this problem — so if you pull up to one of those, it doesn’t matter if you park next to another car or not. But since there are still more V2s superchargers out there and it’ll take some time for Tesla to build out all of their V3 locations — chances are, you are still going to be in closer proximity to a V2 station vs a V3 station in the short term. So if that’s the case, and you happen to pull up to a V2, try to park away from other Tesla vehicles — that is, of course, if you have that option.

No Idle at Superchargers

The second of these etiquette rules is to make sure you promptly vacate your spot after you are done charging — otherwise you’ll incur idle charges, separately from Tesla.

As you can imagine, with the growing number of Tesla vehicles on the road — the demand for superchargers is growing at an exponential rate. If you happen to live in a large city, it’s not unusual to see a line forming at superchargers, with Teslas sitting on the side, waiting for their turn.

So as a matter of courtesy, you should never stay in a charging slot longer than you need to charge. And if you happen to sit idle, after your vehicle has stopped charging, Tesla will actually charge you an idle fee.

The fee parameters, from Tesla, is as follows:

For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur an idle fee. If the car is moved within 5 minutes, the fee is waived. Idle fees only apply when a Supercharger station is at 50% capacity or more. Idle fees double when the station is at 100% capacity.

So when you charge at a supercharger, just make sure you leave within 5 minutes, after your vehicle reached your desired charging capacity. And if you happen to physically leave your vehicle as it’s charging, just make sure you check into your Tesla app and make it back in time before your vehicle is done.

Tesla App on phone
Credit: Tesla.com

Indicate Broken Chargers

The last piece of supercharger etiquette is that if you pull into a stall and notice the charger is broken or not working properly, be sure to wrap the charger cord along the top of the unit or leave it on the ground.

Broken supercharger
Image Of Broken Supercharger

This is the universal signal that Tesla owners use, to alert other Tesla owners that this stall is faulty. It helps identify dead spots for those coming in to charge and also helps Tesla repair crews quickly identify which stalls they need to fix.

2) Battery Pre-conditioning For Charge

Sticking with the supercharging theme, the 2nd important thing I learned in my 5 months of Tesla ownership — is that if you select the right Supercharger location on the Tesla Navigation map, as you are heading over to that supercharger location, your car will actually pre-condition the battery to be at optimal temperatures to achieve the fastest charge.

Tesla Navigation Screenshot
Preconditioning Battery For Faster Charge

This feature was announced at a Tesla customer event back in March of 2020, so it may not be news to some of you, but one nuance I discovered, was that in your navigation, if you do not select the exact supercharger location, as indicated by Tesla Navigation, your battery won’t actually pre-condition on the way there.

Let’s take for example, the Linq V3 superchargers in Las Vegas. (It’s located at the Linq Promenade, right next to the strip.)

And let’s also say that you want to go there to charge your vehicle and you began the search for this supercharger by simply typing in “Linq promenade super charger” or “Linq Vegas supercharger” or something else similar.

On the Tesla Navigation map, there would would be numerous choices that would pop up — and they would all pretty much take you to the same spot, that same Linq supercharger. But only one of these selections would be the exact right choice that also prompts the battery to precondition as you are driving over there.

So you see, when you are on the road and looking for superchargers, it’s important to use the supercharger icon (found on the lower right of the map) to find your next supercharger as opposed to typing in a description of the desired Tesla supercharger on the map. Searching on the map may lead you to find the supercharger you need, but it may not be the exactly labeled location that your Tesla Navigation recognizes as the supercharger — and that means the vehicle won’t know to start the pre-conditioning process for your battery.

It’s a minor detail, a small nuance, but I thought it might be worth noting here — just in case you were searching for superchargers on the map like I was, and was confused as to why the preconditioning wasn’t happening.

3) Tesla Service is great…but…

At number 3, I’ve learned that the Tesla Service process is really good — except for one annoying flaw.

If you’ve ever had to schedule a service appointment with Tesla (if you’ve taken an early build of the Model Y, I’m pretty sure you have), you’ll know how seamless and efficient their service process is.

Tesla Service Request on App
Credit: Tesla.com

Starting from the service request, it’s all done in the app and it’s pretty straight forward. You simply navigate to the service section of the Tesla app and you select which category your request falls into and type in a description of your issue. Then, that automatically goes to a service technician at your nearest Tesla service center and they either schedule a mobile service unit to come out to your location, set up an appointment time for you to come into the main service center or message you within the app to ask any follow up questions.

And that’s where the annoying part comes up.

You see, one flaw that the Tesla app has, is that when a service technician messages you through the app — for some reason, it doesn’t provide you a push notification on your phone. The only way to know if you’ve gotten a message is, to just randomly go into the app and scroll down to the service section and check to see if there is a red dot there, indicating that you’ve got some unread messages.

Tesla App Showing Unread Messages
Red Dot In Service Section Denotes Unread Messages

But unless you do this periodically throughout your day, you’d never know that the service team was reaching out to you.

In all honesty, whenever I do have a service request in, I do consciously check the app once or twice a day — it’s not that big of a deal to do that. But it would be nice if the app developers would simply edit the app to allow for these notifications. Not a huge deal at all, but again, just thought it’d be worth mentioning.

4) Max Capacity Changes by Temp

At number 4, I didn’t realize that cold temperature affected the total max capacity of the Tesla Model Y.

Let me give you some context here.

Everyone knows that when the temperature get really cold, the batteries in your Tesla vehicles are less effective and you tend to lose range.

Icy Highway
Icy Weather Like This Kills Your Battery Range

And I knew this too — I’ve read and heard of many stories where battery drainage would be faster than normal in colder regions, and that it would literally kill the range that you’re accustomed to, in your Tesla vehicle. But what I didn’t realize was that the total capacity you could charge to, would also decrease.

During this past winter, one morning I was surprised to see that my long range Model Y had only charged to 301 miles — despite being plugged in all night. That means I’ve lost over 25 miles of range in the capacity. (326 miles is the normal full capacity.)

A little concerned, I contacted the service department and they told me that this is actually normal when it gets really cold (we had dropped to about 35 deg F). So given the loss in total charging capacity, and the more rapid drainage of the battery during cold weather, this past winter, I’ve guessed that I’ve lost about 20%–30% of my total range, on a regular basis, due to the temperature.

Luckily, I have the long range version of the Model Y so I still have plenty of range to cover all of my daily activities, but if you had the standard range Model 3 and if you commute a long ways on a regular basis, I could see how this might cause you to have a little bit of range anxiety — at least in the winter.

5) Autosteer disengage

And lastly, in my 5 months of Tesla ownership, I learned something really important about how the self driving and autopilot modes behave.

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I break autopilot by taking over on the steering wheel, it usually means I’m reacting to something. I’m usually swerving to avoid something on the road or compensating for autosteer not reading the roads correctly.

Driver inside Tesla
Credit: StoryBlocks

And in these cases, when I take over from autosteer, I expect to have full control of my vehicle, but what I’ve noticed, is that when you break autopilot with just the steering wheel, the cruise control that manages my speed, is still active. This means that it slows down or accelerates based on the computer’s algorithm and not my input.

When I first encountered this — it was a bit surprising for me, given that if you break autopilot on any of the other 2 methods, everything returns to the driver’s control.

When you hit the brake, both autosteer and cruise control are disengaged.

When you hit up on the drive stock, again both autosteer and cruise control are disengaged.

I guess I expected the same when I broke autosteer with just the steering wheel as well. But it’s important to note that cruise control remains activated in this case.

It’s not huge deal as I’ve now generally created a habit of pulling up on the drive stock every time I break autopilot, whether it’s by the steering wheel or by the brakes — but when it first happened to me, it did give me just a bit of a startle, as it began to accelerate, all of a sudden, without my input.

And there you have it — 5 new & important things that I’ve learned by driving my Model Y for the past 5 months. And as I mentioned above, I still love my Model Y and wouldn’t trade it in for any other car out there.

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The content here is strictly the opinion of Daniel’s Brew and is for entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered professional financial, investment or career advice. Investing and career decisions are personal choices that each individual must make for themselves in accordance with their situation and long term plans. Daniel’s Brew will not be held liable for any outcome as a result of anyone following the opinions provided in this content.

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