While electric vehicles like Tesla have continued to grow in sales exponentially in recent years, they remain a relatively new concept for many consumers. A majority of consumers purchasing EVs have never previously owned one, and may not as informed on the charging and battery maintenance practices associated with EV ownership. Your battery pack’s health is vital to the longevity of the EV. Here some tips to help you get the most range out of your Tesla.
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Displayed Tesla range vs. actual Tesla range
The range of your Tesla is how far it can travel based on how much energy its battery has stored from a given charge. This range varies based upon a multitude of driving conditions, as well as outside factors of which we will dig into below.
To begin, it’s important to recognize that the displayed range in your Tesla is based on fixed test data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and not your own personal driving methods.
It’s common for this range to fluctuate based on the battery itself and the Tesla’s computer as it calculates your driving conditions against this fixed EPA range.
The actual range of your Tesla mostly depends on your road environment and the way in which you drive. According to Tesla, the best way to monitor your personal range is with the Energy app, on your EV touchscreen.
As you drive, the Energy app analyzes your EVs driving patterns and uses that data to project personalized range estimates. It can then utilize your driving data to anticipate your charging needs for a given trip. Sort of like a carbon-conscious version of KITT from Knight Rider.
Tips for maintaining your Tesla’s range
While each driver’s environmental conditions and driving patterns will affect their Tesla’s mile range differently, there are several habits you can adopt to help keep your battery at max efficiency.
Furthermore, there are certain driving conditions (avoidable and not) you can try to limit, to avoid extra strain on your Tesla’s battery life.
For example, here are some less than ideal conditions that can put additional strain on your battery:
- Driving at high speeds
- Stop and go traffic (Looking at you, Los Angeles)
- Persistent short trips
- Uphill driving
- Inclement weather, e.g. rain, snow, headwinds
Adopt a daily charging routine
Consistent charging habits can do wonders for your Tesla’s battery. At the very least, they can help maintain range if not improve it.
First and foremost, maintain a regular charging routine using a low-voltage AC home charger. This will put less strain on the battery in comparison to DC Supercharging. Save the faster, high voltage charges for times when you’re out on the road and need to recharge quickly.
When charging the battery, your SoC (State of Charge) is imperative. For best results, do not go higher than a 90% charge or lower than 20%. Opinions vary on this stat, though – some drivers stay between 15% and 95% while others swear by going no higher than an 85% charge.
That’s something you can figure out for yourself as you navigate the nascent realm of EV ownership, how exciting for you.
Regardless, the only time you may want to consider juicing up to 100% is before a long road trip to get the maximum range possible. Even then, it’s best to get that SoC to 100% immediately before you depart, to avoid it sitting that juiced up for too long.
Here are some additional Tesla charging resources for you:
- How long does it take to charge a Tesla?
- How much does it cost to charge a Tesla?
- How to tell if your Tesla qualifies for free Supercharging
Another reason to try to keep your battery around 90% charge is that anything further will limit your Tesla’s Regenerative Braking capabilities. This is another tremendous tool that comes standard on your Tesla to help maximize its energy efficiency.
Regen braking uses the vehicle’s own motor as a generator to convert the kinetic energy discharged during deceleration back into stored battery energy. As the vehicle then accelerates, it uses that regen energy rather than the precious kilowatt reserves in its battery.
In previous versions of Tesla’s user interface, there was choice under “Driving” settings to choose either “low” or “standard” regenerative braking. However, that option to choose was removed as new Tesla models began to roll out in 2020. Currently, regenerative braking is permanently set to standard.
Reduce aerodynamic drag
Some of these options may be easier said than done, but every little bit can make a difference when it comes to EV efficiency. You’ll probably bend these rules a bit more than the others, but at least keep them in the back of your mind.
First, remove roof or rear racks whenever they’re not in use. Yes, that sounds like a chore, but you don’t need your snowboard rack in July… just sayin’.
If it’s equipped on your Tesla, you can change your air suspension setting to “low” or “very low” when driving at highway speeds. This lowers the height of your EV and, as a result, reduces drag.
Lastly, keep the windows up when driving if you can. Conversely, try to avoid high A/C whenever possible too. Kind of a catch-22, we know.
There will most certainly be perfect spring days that call for the old “4-65 A/C” (four windows down at 65 mph), and unbearably hot summer days that beg for your interior to resemble an igloo. Simply keep these tips in mind, and try to avoid these habits often, but not always.
Battery tips for cold weather
Speaking of weather, cold climates can have a seriously adverse effect on your Tesla’s range and battery longevity. Cold = bad for batteries, as it slows down the chemical reactions within the cells.
A cold battery charges slower as well. Here are some tips for you poor souls who have to bundle up four months a year (five months if you’re in Chicago).
Whenever possible, store your Tesla somewhere with warmer temperatures. Garages aren’t normally heated with the rest of the house, but can still provide more solace from Jack Frost than sitting in a driveway or on a street.
The warmer you can keep your Tesla, and more importantly, its battery, the better its long-term range will be.
Heat is your friend, so keep your Tesla plugged in whenever you can. This helps the battery retain heat and space for more charge.
Don’t worry about overcharging – the vehicle’s computer will monitor that for you. Plus, you can also monitor it in the Tesla app from anywhere.
To that note, warming your battery up before each trip can conserve energy. Preheat your car by activating preconditioning in the Tesla app. You ideally want your vehicle plugged in and charging while you precondition too.
Finally and much like the air conditioning, limit the use of high cabin heat. You can use seat heaters to keep the cabin warm as a smart and efficient alternative.
Additional tips for maximizing Tesla range
- Maintain even tire pressure – Tesla recommends between 42-45 PSI (cold), depending on the model
- Travel light – remove unnecessary cargo whenever possible. Either donate those kettlebells or actually use them – they serve no purpose rolling around in your trunk!
- Disable features you don’t need or aren’t using, e.g. Sentry Mode, Cabin Overheat Protection, etc.
- Try to avoid charging your phone in the center console unless absolutely necessary
- Utilize Scheduled Departure to help keep your battery warm and preconditioned for better efficiency
- Model X and Model S owners can use Range Mode in their Driving settings – It conserves energy by limiting the power of the climate control system.
Tesla battery degredation
While the measures listed above will certainly help prolong the life and range of your Tesla’s battery, it’s not uncommon for your vehicle’s estimated range to decrease over time. That is one of the hard truths of batteries… at least for now.
Unless you never drive your Tesla over 50 mph, use heat or A/C, charge your phone, or break your ideal SoC range, you’re going to see degradation in some capacity.
According to Tesla, you may see a gradual, but natural decrease in range at full charge. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, everything depends on the factors you and your Tesla face and how often.
Situations such as Supercharging regularly, consistent lengthy trips, and aging of the battery can all take their toll.
Luckily, you have the cheat codes now. Follow these tips to the best of your ability to go long and far in your Tesla.
Sure, there might be certain hardware issues that are out of your control. If one of those issues is causing battery degradation, however, your Tesla is programmed to inform you, so it can be fixed immediately.
So drive smart with the windows up, drive safely at a low drag, and whatever you do, keep that battery warm!
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