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My Tesla Model 3 story (very long)

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Re: My Tesla Model 3 story (very long)

#31 Post by rkawakami » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:13 am

So to catch up...

After my posting in late July 2018, I've put on about 13,000 miles. Most of it has been the commute to and from work (13 miles each way). Longest trip was a run down to Disneyland in October 2018. I also did a one-day trip up to Squaw Valley to ski on July 4th of this year. Used the Tesla Supercharger network on those trips. I will be going to Yosemite next week and have already planned out the route. That's one thing about owning a Tesla; for long distance trips you do need to pre-plan your route to be sure that you end up near a Supercharger before the car runs out of range. Fortunately it's easily done using the GPS system in the car. There are also other trip planning sites on the web that you can use. You do need to enter in what kind of car your have, your estimated maximum speed, the temperature, the extra weight you might be carrying. You can establish waypoints prior to your ultimate destination, something that is still not possible to do with the car's navigation system, and define what your starting charge level is (i.e., range) and what you expect to have left at each waypoint and your final destination. Half an hour Supercharging session, when the car is nearly depleted, adds 150-180 miles. So you can basically drive three hours, stop for a charge, bio break and food and then continue your trip. It's quite different than driving an ICE (internal combustion engine) or even a hybrid. Those vehicles can stop at any gas station, for only a few minutes, then continue on. The maximum range on my car is just over 300 miles. That's with optimal conditions; level roads, moderate temperatures, wind speed, weight, etc. Many ICE cars can easily get 400 miles out of a tank. And they have gas stations on almost every corner so they are not worried about finding the next place to fill up.

So far I've not run into any drivetrain problem with the car. In other words, no problem with the battery or motor. The only things that have required a service center visit was the aforementioned TPMS warning light that was lit upon delivery (techs reset it), a mis-aligned driver side rear window and a flat repair (also driver side rear). There was a problem with the car not being able to receive and install firmware updates. That was fixed by the service center, over the air, by re-formatting the SD card that's installed somewhere in the car. Since then I've received updates without any problems. There have been some minor issues with the screen blanking out a random times (I think about 3 times so far) but it has always come back, either by simply waiting or doing a reboot.

One major problem people have had with the car is it seems to be a theft magnet. The rear quarter windows can be broken, then the thief reaches in and releases the back seat latch and folds it down (to look into the trunk). If there appears to be something of value, the rear window is broken and they lean in to grab whatever they can. The original factory alarm will not be triggered in this case; it only goes off if the car doors are opened. It became so much of an issue that Tesla designed Sentry Mode. It uses three of the car's built in cameras (front facing, right and left rearward) to record video to a USB flash drive. If a threat is detected, namely a loud sound heard by the interior microphone, the video is stored in a special folder on the drive where it can't be overwritten, the car's lights flash and loud music is played on the sound system.

For cases of theft of the vehicle, Tesla released Pin To Drive. If enabled, you have the enter a 4-digit PIN code every time the car is put into Drive. So if the thief manages to steal your phone, cardkey or fob, they still have to know the PIN code to move the car.

Both of these features were added via over-the-air updates. For free. That's the main benefit for a car that was designed from the ground up to have the capability of being improved by sending new software out over the air. They have also spent some time and effort, needlessly IMO, in adding a couple of classic Atari arcade games (Centipede, Super Breakout, Missing Command, Asteroids). You can play them while parked at a Supercharger and entertain yourself. I want them to concentrate on correcting bugs in the system or adding new safety features, before they worry about games.

I know I said a long time ago that I wasn't interested in the autopilot and self-driving modes and that was the reason why I didn't initially buy them. I've since changed my mind :) . After owning the car for several weeks, I got an email offering a free trial of the Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) option. That allows the car to keep pace with a vehicle in front (aka, Traffic Aware Cruise Control - TACC). There's also a lane-keeping function that steers the car within the marked lane boundaries (Auto Steer - AS). An auto lane-change function is included. When using TACC and AS, you simply move the turn signal lever to the lane you wish to move into and the car will execute the lane change (after checking to see if it is safe to do so). One of the other features of EAP is the ability to use autopilot to follow a planned route, or Navigate on Autopilot (NoA). You tell the car what your destination is and the car will follow the route using Autopilot, as long as you're on the highway/freeway. It will take highway-to-highway on and off ramps and change lanes. But once you leave the freeway and return to city streets, the system disengages and you must take over. I agreed to the free trial and the car was updated within a day. After using EAP for several days I decided to buy the option. And I've been using it almost every day. Stop-and-go traffic in the morning is eased when using TACC. I just keep the car in the lane and the cruise control maintains distance and speed to the car in front. The trip I made to LA was partially done on EAP. My wife was with me on the trip and she still doesn't trust the system so I had to keep it off most of the time (shhh... don't tell her but I think I had the system active for about 100 miles).

The Full Self Driving (FSD) mode was a harder sell. I bought that a couple of weeks ago when Tesla said the price would be going up in the future. Along with the purchase was a hardware upgrade to the new HW3.0 system. Supposedly it is a simple swap of the on-board computer/vision system to one that runs about 10 times faster. Recent Model 3 cars already have the 3.0 system; buying FSD includes the new hardware when (hopefully, not IF) the FSD package is deemed worthy enough to release. It will probably be several months before that happens and I'm okay to wait it out.

Well, that's about all I have for now. It shouldn't be a year before I show up here again :) .
Ray Kawakami
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