Welcome to the FAQ page. Below are the answers to some of the most common questions, as a new owner, you may have.
Do I need to buy the Tesla HPWC (charger) to charge my car? No. Most owners put in a standard 14-50 outlet, which is a 240v/50 amp circuit.
What advantage is there to having the Tesla HPWC? The HPWC comes with its own cable, which means you can leave the UMC that your car came with, in the trunk. Though in light of the ever-increasing supercharger density, traveling with your cable is quickly becoming unnecessary.
How often do I need to rotate my tires? Despite what it says on Tesla’s website which is “every 6,250 miles or 6 months rotate your tires”, the service center will only recommend rotating the tires once the difference in tread wear between the front and rear tires is 2/32″ or more. In other words, even they do not go by the “…or 6 months” rule. So, just check yourself or have your tire tread checked every 6,250 miles.
How long does a set of tires last? There is no easy answer to this because this depends on how you drive, where you drive the most (highway or around town), does your car have all season or performance tires and which model you have. Obviously the heavier a vehicle is, the more tire wear there will be. Typically, people tend to get less miles out of their first set of tires because they are having fun with all the acceleration the car has. To get the most from your tires, don’t punch it at traffic lights/stop signs. If you want to “stretch your leg”… 🙂 it’s better to lean heavily on the accelerator once you are already moving. Also, when slowing down, learn to ease off the accelerator versus waiting to the last minute to lift off the accelerator quickly, to get full regen. Many Model S owners get 35,000 – 40,000 miles from a set of tires. You can expect to get more miles out of your second set of tires because by then hopefully, you will have had your “fun” with the acceleration and have developed better acceleration/deceleration habits.
Do I need winter tires? The simple answer is no. If you haven’t used winter tires before, then you don’t “need” them now. However, with that said and this really applies to rear-wheel-drive cars, you will benefit from having winter tires and that is due to the torque our motors produce. AWD cars will benefit as well, but as I just mentioned, between RWD and AWD, a RWD car would see the most benefit.
Do I need to buy the lifting pucks I keep hearing about? Yes and no….. 🙂 If you are having someone that has not worked on a Tesla before, then you will need to provide them these pucks, which will assure that they position the lift arms in the correct spot. If you are looking to lift your own car, then you don’t need them because you can use a scrap piece of plywood or pine (any soft wood) to place between your floor jack and the lift point under the car.
After charging, why did my rated miles go down? As you are aware, our cars are essentially I-Pads on wheels. Upon completion of charging, the computers still need power as the car is always on standby. Meaning it is awaiting to sense your key FOB/phone and turn on immediately. So that will use up some battery power/range. Generally speaking about 1-2 miles overnight is normal. If using Sentry Mode, you can expect a loss of about 1 mile of range per hour due to all of the sensors and cameras being on standby.
How much range loss can I expect in the winter? Generally speaking, 30%. However, really it doesn’t matter because even with that “loss”, you will still have plenty for your typically daily driving. If you go on a road trip, it still doesn’t matter because superchargers are plentiful.
How much should I charge my car to? Simple question, complicated answer….. Without having to take up an hour of your time to read everything about our batteries and the factors affecting the longevity of the battery, do the following. Charge to 90% on a daily basis and as time goes by and you develop a sense of what your travels require, step it down to 80% if you want. I have my charge level set to 70%.
Why is the Tesla app not connecting to my car? There can be a couple of different reasons. There are times when the Tesla server running the app is down and there is nothing you can do about it. Typically, you will get a server error message. Another reason is being in a bad cell area. Sometimes your app just needs a good old reset, and you can do this one of two ways. First try just closing out the app. Give it a minute and reopen it. If that doesn’t work, delete the app and reload it.
What kind of cleaning/waxing products should I use? The same exact ones you have been using on your previous cars. There is absolutely nothing special about the paint, glass or tires that requires anything other than what you have been using in the past.
What are the key factors to cause battery degradation? Heat. Our lithium-ion batteries don’t like too much heat. How that heat is generated simply put, is from electrons going in and out of the battery at really fast rates. So, punching it at every chance you get, is akin to revving a gas engine really high, what is often called “red-lining”. This causes stress on the batteries. Also, having/using the battery when it is at a low SOC (state of charge), like being below 15-20%. Having the battery sit at anything higher than 90% for hours on end is also not a good idea. Make it a habit to keep your SOC between 20 – 80%.
Is charging at 240V or any other AC charging, less harmful than supercharging? This touches on what I mentioned above about heat. Daily supercharging, over time will have negative effect because again, it generates heat. This is why when you are navigating to a supercharger, the car pre-conditions the battery. Particularly in the summer, if the battery is too warm/hot, the car is going to cool it down to mitigate the effects of the heat that is going to be generated from DC fast charging. Now, the following is an extreme case, but it goes to what I just said. Years ago, there was an outfit call Teslaloop that shuttled people from LA to Las Vegas. The company would supercharge to 100%, immediately drive, get it done to nearly 0, supercharge again, rinse repeat. They ended up killing the battery. Tesla basically told them that they need to stop charging that way because they weren’t giving the battery pack a chance to rest. So, back to the question. 240V/120V charging in relative terms, is trickle charging and that is best for one’s daily charging.
Should one wait to until the battery gets low to charge up or plug in everyday? Plug in every day. Even Tesla has said for years, “a plugged in Tesla is a happy Tesla”. Unlike the old nickel-cadmium batteries, our batteries do not develop a memory from constant “top offs”.
What is the pre-conditioning alert I get? As mentioned above, that is the BMS (battery management system) preparing your battery to accept a whole lot of voltage/current. This actually, per Tesla, saves you about 20% of time because the car doesn’t have to throttle back the charging speed(time) to account for either a cold or hot battery. Keep this in mind, this pre-conditioning will only happen when your next stop is a Tesla supercharger, and it is in your nav system as such. So even if you know where a supercharger is, still use the nav system to potentially benefit from this pre-conditioning.
How do charging cycles factor in? At one point I had learn years ago and since forgotten for sure, that the 85 kWh packs had a life span of 1,000 cycles. Clearly don’t quote me on that. Even if that is spot on correct, the newer batteries have longer “life spans” but I don’t know what the expected life cycles are. A “cycle” is how many times the battery is charged up to 100%. Now, not in a literal sense, let’s say each time you charge up you add 20%. After 5 times of charging, that equals 1 cycle. At least that is my understanding of the cycles.
For more in depth answers / tips, check out the Ownership Tip Guide.