If in this report you see any typos, misspellings, factual errors or other types of errors, please let me know.
Please include the web address (URL) of the report in which you found the error. Thank you! Send your email to:
steve @ teslatouring.com
After a brief stay at our vacation house in Anaheim Hills, California, we are heading back to our home in Vancouver, Washington, with stopovers to visit friends and family in Silicon Valley and Ashland, Oregon.
I decided to try "A Better Routeplanner" ( https://abetterrouteplanner.com/ ) that was recommended by Carl Morrison. You can see Carl's Tesla Model 3 reports and photos at: http://www.teslatouring.com/carl/ . Normally I do my own spreadsheet of what stops I'll make on Tesla roadtrips. I pick out places that I want to explore often selecting Tesla Supercharger locations that I may not have previously visited. I also try to pick out Tesla Supercharger locations that have desirable restaurants rather than just some fast food nearby. I don't think I've every used the Tesla Route Planner that is built into the Tesla console.
This time I decided to try the "A Better Routeplanner (ABRP)" recommendations to see if it could get me to my destinations faster. I think it accomplished its goal as our trip only took 7 and 1/2 hours including charging time, maybe a record time from our Anaheim vacation house to Silicon Valley. However, the traffic was pretty light. We only ran into a few short traffic delays. Though, it may have been even faster had I adhered exactly to the ABRP recommendations. I usually like to charge the battery up to double the amount of miles to my next charging stop. I like to be prepared for any unexpected delays, or if I decide to make a detour off the route if something looks interesting. Once when crossing the nation I saw a sign for the "Continental Divide" and had to divert to that attraction. It was a major diversion that I would not have been able to visit if I had not charged to double what I needed. So if I had followed ABRP exactly, this trip would have taken even less time.
The maximum charge that can be put on my 2016 Tesla Model X P90DL battery is 234 miles. When I took delivery of this Tesla back in March of 2016, I was able to charge the battery to 248 miles. So, it looks like battery degradation has lost 14 miles of range over 4-1/2 years and more than 50,000 miles of driving. That is a loss of about 3 miles of driving range per year. If it continues at this rate then I should still have over 200 miles of range ten years from now in 2030 and with probably over 150,000 miles on the odometer.
We had a number of paintings, prints, and other artwork that we decided to move from our vacation house to our home in Vancouver, Washington. Unfortunately we didn't decide to load them into the Model X until after we had packed everything else we were taking. Thus, we just placed the artwork on top of and in front of our suitcases. One of the artwork items was made up of a number of abstract metal pieces welded together. This item kept rattling all the way to our first stop. While the car was charging I got out a couple of blankets that I keep in the frunk (front trunk) and put them between and on top of this artwork item. This did completely stop the rattling for the rest of our trip. We used the restrooms here which are between and shared by the Ihop and the Easy Trip Food Store.
I was only going to charge up to 194 miles but had reached 204 miles by the time we finished lunch. A few extra miles of charge on the battery never hurts.
First, let me say that I always keep my hands on the steering wheel while in AutoPilot as Tesla requires. Maybe once in a while I'll take my hands off the wheel for 10 seconds or so in order to do something that is easier done with 2 hands, like switching between my regular eyeglasses and sun glasses, but that is about it. The first Tesla that I ever purchased was in 2013 and it was a Tesla Model S 80. AutoPilot did not exist at that time. At that time Tesla did not offer any sort of advanced driving features that were already common in many vehicles of the day. It had regular cruise control but not one that would automatically slow down and speed up to keep a safe distance from the car in front. It didn't even have proximity sensors. My 2012 Toyota Sienna Limited Minivan had both of these features, one of which was called "Radar" cruise control. That is why in 2015 I upgraded to a Tesla Model S P85DL. That car did have the intelligent cruise control but Tesla had not yet released the AutoPilot feature.
The AutoPilot feature eventually did appear in my 2015 Tesla Model S P85DL through one of Tesla's regular over-the-air updates. Tesla said you must keep your hands on the wheel or the feature would automatically turn off after a few warnings. Since I always kept my hands on the wheel, I was surprised that it would often warn me that my hands were not on the wheel. I thought I wasn't gripping the wheel tight enough and started putting a death grip on the steering wheel. But that did seem to help at all. It was only through trial-and-error that I figured if I put a little bit of right or left torque pressure on the wheel that the warnings would stop. I got into the habit of switching the torque from right to left frequently. Tesla eventually figured out that warning people to keep their hands on the wheel was not an adequate message or was a misleading message. It is not keeping your hands on the wheel that Autopilot monitors, but rather whether or not torque is being applied to the wheel. You need to keep a bit of right or left pressure on the steering wheel in order for Autopilot to detect that your hands are on the steering wheel.
Keeping a bit of torque on the steering wheel can be a little of a balancing act, but you do get used to it. If you put too much torque on the steering wheel, the AutoPilot will assume you want to disable it and take manual control so it will automatically disengage. If you put too light a torque on the steering wheel, Autopilot will not detect your hands are on the steering wheel and will issue a warning. But now, instead of warning you to put your hands on the steering wheel, it warns you to apply pressure to the steering wheel. I don't think it says to "apply torque" so some drivers are still confused and try to push on the steering wheel, which doesn't help.
I tend to apply very light torque to the steering wheel to keep AutoPilot turned on. Sometimes I forget to apply torque, though my hands are always on the steering wheel. AutoPilot will begin to warn me with the "Apply Pressure" message. I'll usually see this message and apply pressure. Sometimes I miss the message, but AutoPilot gets more insistent by flashing a light around the entire dash control panel. That always gets my attention and reminds me to apply torque. If I were to ignore these warnings, which I never ignore, the AutoPilot will totally disengage and warn me that AutoPilot will no longer be available for the rest of the trip. It will refuse to re-engage until I complete stop the car, get out of the car, and get back into the car.
But I learned something on this trip that I was not aware of. On this stretch of our trip Autopilot reminded me that my torque pressure on the wheel was too light. Actually, it doesn't know my torque was too light. It just thinks my hands are not on the steering wheel at all, which is never true. Thus it warned my a number of times to apply pressure and each and every time I did apply more torque pressure. But, there must be a limit as too how many times it will issue the warning. I never ignored the warning and always applied more pressure each time I got the warning. Regardless, the Autopilot disengaged anyway and notified me that it would not be available for the rest of the trip. I thought Autopilot would only do that if you continued to ignored its warnings. But I guess it will even disengage if you pay attention and apply torque on every warning, but there have been too many warnings. That was a surprise to me. I didn't want to make a stop just to be able re-engage Autopilot so I remained on manual driving until we got to our next charging stop.
We selected to stay at the Double Tree in Newark as we had previously stayed here on our trip down from Vancouver, Washington, to Anaheim, California, and we liked our stay here. This hotel has 4 Tesla Destination Chargers that can supply up to 70 amps. We like to leave our Tesla plugged in overnight to charge. It is very rare to see more than one or two Tesla cars charging. Most of the time there are no Tesla cars at the chargers so I don't feel I'm blocking any Tesla vehicles from charging while leaving my Tesla plugged in overnight. There are also dozens of Tesla Superchargers at multiple locations just a few miles from the hotel. Charging is free. You are supposed to be a hotel guest in order to use these chargers, but there is nothing to prevent anyone from just plugging in and charging, even if not staying at the hotel.
During this trip I noticed there is a crack in the big Tesla Model X windshield. I never heard any rock hit the window during this trip so was surprised that there would be a crack. Eventually I found were a rock had hit at the bottom of the crack. Several weeks or months ago a rock had hit the windshield and made a tremendously loud noise. I thought for sure the windshield had been damaged. But, from the driver seat I looked everywhere on the windshield and saw no damage. What I didn't realize is that on the Tesla Model X the windshield extends beyond the dashboard. Thus there is about an inch of windshield that can only be seen from outside the car, not from the inside. This is where the rock had hit. This damaged spot could have been there for weeks or months and only initiated a crack to grow in the windshield after the vibrations from this long roadtrip.
We immediately called Safelite in Fremont to see if they could repair the damage. They suggested we drive to the nearest Safelite location so they could evaluate if it could be repaired or would need to be replaced. One quick look at it and they said the windshield would have to be replaced. However, they also said that Tesla will not ship them any windshields and that we would have to take it to Tesla itself to have it replaced. They did apply a special round piece of tape to the pit in the windshield for free for us which they said would help prevent the crack from growing.
When I got back to the hotel I looked up the Tesla Model X on the Safelite website and they had extensive information about replacing Tesla Model X windshields! That was certainly a surprise to me since the Fremont Safelite shop told me that don't replace Tesla Model X windshields. I suspected that maybe it is only Safelite locations right in or near the hometown of the Tesla Factory, Fremont, where Tesla refuses to ship Tesla Model X windshields. That would sort of make sense to me. If someone lives in the Bay Area, they can just take their Tesla Model X to a nearby Tesla Repair Shop. But, I doubt that Tesla itself has the equipment or talent all over the nation or the world to replace windshields. So in these other locations it would make sense for Tesla to ship windshields to expert windshield replacement shops to do the work.
I contacted a Safelite shop near my home in Vancouver, Washington, and sure enough they could get the Tesla Model X windshield and replace it right at my own home! After they got some detailed info about my particular Tesla Model X using my VIN, the quoted me a price of about $1900 and said they could order the proper windshield from Tesla and install it. As mentioned on their website, the front camera would need to be re-calibrated after the new windshield is installed. They said Tesla does this part for $50 and said they have an arrangement with Tesla and would make the appointment for us. They also said they get the replacement windshields direct from Tesla.
We went to dinner with a friend at a Lazy Dog Restaurant that is in Newark, only about a mile from our hotel. While driving there I noticed on my Tesla screen that there is a Tesla Supercharger location right at the same location as the Lazy Dog Restaurant! Since it had only been a short while since our arrival at the hotel, our Tesla was still below 100 miles of charge. I figured if the Tesla Supercharger was close enough, we could just park and charge there and walk to the Lazy Dog Restaurant.
It turned out that the Tesla Supercharger was right at the Lazy Dog Restaurant outdoor patio. We could even see our Tesla from where we were seated at the outdoor patio! I figured I would walk over to my Tesla as soon as it was charged and move it out of the charging space. But, seeing that there were always several empty charging spaces the entire time we were dining, I decided to wait until we finished eating before moving out of the charging space. If while eating I had ever noticed that there were no empty charging spaces, I definitely would have moved my car out. But, all the charging spaces never got anywhere near being full.
I knew that there was a penalty at some busy Tesla Supercharging locations for leaving your Tesla plugged in and parked after it had finished charging but I didn't see any notification that this was one of those locations. However, later that night I received a text warning from Tesla that I had left my Tesla idle in the charging spot for 20 minutes and there would normally be a 50 cent per minute penalty for the first 20 minutes and $1 per minute thereafter. Fortunately they also said they waive the penalty on the first incident. In the future I'll be sure to move my Tesla out of a Supercharging spot as soon as it is done charging even if there is no indication that there is a penalty and even if it is not a busy Tesla Supercharging location.
Click on each photo above for a larger image.