First four weeks of ownership

Discussion in 'Tesla Experiences' started by JimmT, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. JimmT

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    Today is exactly 4 weeks since I picked up my M3, hereafter referred to as T-16 (haven’t bulls-eyed any womprats yet) from the Fremont delivery center. I thought I’d share my experiences for all prospective owners. This is long, so you can read the tldr below and skip everything else if you don’t want the gory details.

    Tldr: The Model 3 is the best car I’ve ever owned and exceeds my high expectations. I haven’t run into any major problems reported on the forums; I’d definitely buy it again.

    Specs
    T-16: Midnight Silver with 18” wheels and Premium Upgrade package, no EAP (did not purchase Autopilot). 1,737 miles, averaging 243 Wh/mi. Firmware: 18.21.9 VIN: 256XX

    Previous cars owned: Acura TL 2000; purchased in Nov. 1999 and drove 212,000 miles. I drove an Acura Integra 4-door before the TL for 8-9 years, and another Acura Integra 2-door before the 4-door. My wife just recently bought a Honda CRV; before the CRV, she had a Honda Odyssey for 15 years and 150,000 miles. As you can see, we were a Honda family before the Tesla, so most of my driving comparisons are with the above cars.

    Buying Experience
    I ordered online on Day 1 and was invited to configure on April 18th. I got a call from Tesla three days before the car was ready and scrambled to get payment done asap. I guess I could’ve taken a slightly later delivery but I couldn’t wait to get the car as I was afraid my Acura would die any day. The TL had served me reliably for over eighteen years, but in the last year or so, it had occasional problems when starting and my biggest fear was that it would die before my M3 would be ready. All in all, the Acura was a great and reliable car and I was a little sad when I sold it to Carmax a week after I took delivery of T-16.

    Picked up T-16 on May 26 at the Fremont Delivery Center. The process was smooth and quick, but I felt rushed by the sales rep. He was clearly in a hurry to move us along and passed us off as soon as we handed him payment. To be fair, I didn’t have too many questions since I had been watching YouTube videos and hanging out on forums for the past year. We didn’t get any kind of explanation on how to use the car or any of its features. I gave the car a quick once-over and everything seemed fine. I drove it home and immediately took off the Aero caps and installed the center caps and lug nut covers that had arrived the day before. Talk about great timing!

    Exterior
    I love the look of T-16, it feels very sleek and futuristic. The nose has a shark-like appearance when viewed in profile, which I think is the best angle.

    I didn’t know what panel gaps were until I started reading Tesla forums and sites a year ago. I’m happy to say that T-16 is perfect in that regard. I’ve hand-washed the car almost every weekend and have gone over every inch very carefully. The only problems I’ve found are a few paint blemishes on the rear passenger door that are only visible from a certain angle. I don’t think they’re worth mentioning to Tesla and I haven’t had any other reason for a service call.

    Interior
    T-16’s interior is also without any obvious defects, I checked for the A-pillar bulge and can’t see any problems on mine. I also have the new version of the rear seats with the thicker cushions.

    Speaking of the rear seats, I do feel the angle or position of the seats would not be comfortable on a long trip for adults. It’s a little difficult to describe, but it feels like there’s not enough thigh support as the seats don’t angle up high enough. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom, plus there’s no middle hump, so those are all pluses. For short trips or children, I think it’s fine. A tall co-worker (>6’3”) said the headroom is much better than the rear of his Volt but the seats are not as supportive.

    I love the touchscreen and the minimalist design of the interior. It’s one of the reasons that I was attracted to the car. My wife and I have been shopping cars for the last year or so and I find most modern cars to be overwrought with buttons and knobs. In contrast, T-16’s dashboard is just so much more serene and lets me focus on driving.

    The stereo and speakers are great, better than the Bose system in my old Acura TL which I thought was pretty good. The sound clarity is very good and it can get very loud without any distortion. Playing music over Bluetooth from my iPhone sounds fantastic and I don’t really hear any loss of quality in comparison to the USB CarPlay connection in the CRV. The stereo as a whole, blows away the CRV in every other regard. I also didn’t anticipate how nice it is to have all the streaming music options from Tesla. I’ve had lots of fun exploring different genres of music and both my wife and daughter enjoy the selection of tunes as well.

    I didn’t have any trouble acclimating to the center screen but I would say adjusting the sideview mirrors is a bit troublesome if you’re driving the car. Fortunately, that’s something you just really need to do only once and then the positions are saved to your profile.

    The front seats are very comfortable and easy to adjust; in conjunction with the steering wheel’s customizability, it’s easy to find a comfortable seating position for almost anyone.

    One minor nit is the shiny finish of the center console. As many others have mentioned, the piano black is a fingerprint and dust magnet. I purchased a Matte Black wrap kit from Amazon:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CZL8ZR5/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


    I had some trouble putting the cup section on so I found a local tint shop to do it for me at a cost of $40. The final result looks amazing, like it came from the factory and I’m really happy that I don’t have to wipe off fingerprints every time I drive the car (OCD showing).

    Driving Experience
    I test drove a M3 before buying (You You’s M3 that got smashed in Europe), so I knew what to expect from the acceleration. That said, it’s still a blast to step on the pedal and I definitely get a grin every time I do it. It’s so easy to reach 70 mph and not even realize you’re going that fast due to the car’s stability. I love driving T-16 and I look for every opportunity to drive the car; it’s become the only car we use on the weekends and I don’t even mind visiting the in-laws anymore. That tells you how much I love driving the car.

    I’ve given several co-workers and family members a ride and every time I floor the pedal, I get squeals of delight. Everyone is amazed by the acceleration and comparisons to rollercoasters are quite common. One of my coworkers is a car buff and has a Mustang V-8 that’s his pride and joy. He was really impressed by T-16’s quickness and grudgingly admitted that it would probably smoke his Mustang.

    My daily commute is around 25 miles roundtrip and much of it is in heavy traffic (880 from Fremont to San Jose for those of you in the SF Bay Area). However, I’ve realized one of the benefits of slow moving traffic is much higher efficiency due to regen braking. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t really mind the traffic as I’ve gamified the commute to see how efficient I can be in T-16.

    I took my first road trip recently and drove to Los Angeles and back, a trip I’ve probably made dozens of times. For the first time ever, I had a car that had zero problems with the Grapevine section. In all my other cars, I usually pulled over to one of the right lanes to let the faster cars pass me. This time, I was the fastest car; it’s so amazing to accelerate going uphill and not feel any strain coming from the car. As a bonus, you get a lot of regen energy on the way downhill.

    As you can see, I’ve come to realize that I enjoy driving T-16 in any kind of situation. The torque is continually amazing and regen braking is great once you get the hang of it (took me about 10 minutes to get comfortable and a few days to really use it well). The cornering is very tight and I haven’t felt any body roll. The ride feels a bit firmer than the Acura TL but not unpleasantly so, it’s more plush than any of the Integras I drove. For reference, T-16 was delivered with its tires inflated to 45 psi and I haven’t felt the need to adjust the tire pressure.

    Wind noise is comparable to my Acura TL, which is to say it doesn’t bother me, especially with the stereo playing. At low speeds, the car is very quiet. I hit a high of 111 mph during the road trip to LA; at that speed, you could definitely hear a lot of wind and tire noise, but I don’t expect most folks to be driving over 100 mph on a continual basis.

    I also tried out cruise control on the trip and it worked fine. Since I don’t have Autopilot, it’s just basic speed maintenance. In this regard, T-16 is actually lagging our Honda CRV. We recently took the CRV on a trip all around California to visit college campuses. During the trip, I discovered the CRV’s cruise control feature has the ability to maintain a set distance and will automatically slow down or speed up (kind of like Autopilot). The CRV doesn’t do any steering, but it wasn’t bad.

    I didn’t buy Autopilot for a couple of reasons. Number one, the cost of the M3 is already at the high end of what I’m willing to pay for a car. Number two, I figure Autopilot will only get better with more testing and development; based on my experience with software development, I think I’ll wait for version 5.0 at least before plunking down my hard-earned cash.

    Charging
    Before T-16 arrived, I called several local electricians to get quotes for installing a NEMA 14-50 charger so that I would get the maximum amps when charging. The Tesla charger was a bit more than I wanted to spend, so I didn’t really consider it.

    Well, it turns out that my main panel needs some major upgrades before I can install a NEMA 14-50 outlet and most of the quotes were in the >$3000 range. I would’ve been fine with spending ~$1000 but $3K was way too much for my budget.

    I also realized that the 4-5 miles per hour from a regular 120 outlet would cover my daily commute if I charge every night. I have ChargePoint chargers at work but they’re not free.

    In addition to the standard outlet at home, I’ve also used free charging at the local BART station and Target stores on the weekends. These provide 20-30 miles per hour of charge and it’s easy enough for me to use when I’m out shopping or dining. I definitely recommend getting the ChargePoint and Plugshare apps for your smartphones. They make it easy to locate nearby chargers. Finally, I live very close to the Tesla factory itself and there’s a bunch of superchargers available there if I want to pay for a quick charge.

    More recently, I bought the NEMA 14-30 adaptor from Tesla and charged from my dryer outlet. This works pretty well and provides ~22 miles per hour of charging. The only drawback is that I have to unplug the dryer and plug in the UMC. To avoid this, I ordered a Dryer Buddy from:

    https://www.bsaelectronics.com


    This will allow me to keep both the dryer and Tesla UMC plugged into one outlet at the same time. The Dryer Buddy model I bought won’t let the Tesla UMC have any power if the dryer is in use. This solution is essentially what one electrician recommended for my house, except that he was going to charge me $3600 instead of the $300 I spent on the Dryer Buddy.

    The Dryer Buddy is supposed to arrive next week and I’ll post an update once I’ve used it. Brad Apelgren is the owner of BSA and he works out of his house. He’s a great guy and super responsive via email.

    All in all, I’d recommend thinking carefully about your daily commute before spending any major money to install a custom outlet. Depending on your location, you might be able to find free local charging that’s relatively convenient. Also, there’s no need to get the best and most powerful solution. Even at a rate of 20 miles per hour charging, one night of charging will be enough for almost an entire week of my commute. Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on the length of your commute but it’s worth considering alternatives.

    With regard to vampire drain, I was seeing 4-5 miles per night when I first brought T-16 home. More recently, I’ve only been getting 1 mile drain per night. I think the biggest difference is that I’ve stopped checking the Tesla app once I get home and park T-16. The first week or so, I couldn’t help checking the app every now and then to see how things were going. I think the constant waking up was causing the drain. Now, I take a snapshot of the app or touchscreen when I park it at night and then once again in the morning before I go to work. This way, I can track the drain over time on my phone.

    As for supercharging, I used them for the first time during my road trip to Los Angeles. They’re super easy to use and unlike the ChargePoint stations, you just plug in and charge. There’s no messing around with the app or an adaptor. On average, I spent about $10 for thirty minutes of charging, which generally provided about ~150 miles of range (could be wrong about the number as I didn’t write them down). I charged a total of four times but I was only charged for three of them by Tesla. No complaints there.

    I still think in terms of miles and not kWh or Wh/mi; I just finally figured out that it costs around $0.06 per mile to drive T-16. That’s based on my mileage and power usage to date; it’s probably a little less than six cents since I didn’t deduct the free charges I’ve used. In comparison, the CRV is around $0.12 per mile; it’s EPA MPG is 30 city/highway combined.

    I put on the Aero caps yesterday and I’m planning to drive the next 1500 miles with them on to see how much of a difference they make.

    Minor Annoyances
    In terms of major problems, I haven’t encountered any so far. I took the road trip to LA after two weeks partly to shake out the car and see if I could surface any problems and fortunately, nothing bad happened.

    I’ve had a few instances where my iPhone X hasn’t been recognized as a key but I suspect the problem may be due to my wife or daughter’s phones. This only seems to happen when they’re nearby with their phones (which are also used as keys). Maybe the car recognizes one phone first and doesn’t respond to any else?

    I keep the keycard on me as backup and I’d say 99% of the time, I don’t have any problems with the phone as key. It’s allowed me to carry fewer things in my pocket.

    In my mind, the one thing that I wish could be better is closing the frunk. The whole design of closing the frunk feels out of place given the elegance of all the other elements in the car. The fact that you have to place your hands on specific areas of the hood and use the right amount of force, feels so clunky. I like having the frunk, I just wish there was a more elegant way to close the hood.

    Community
    One of the unanticipated pleasures of owning T-16 has been the amazing Tesla online community. I read Tesla Motors Club, the Tesla forums and the Tesla reddit stuff, but the Tesla Model 3 Owners Club is by far the best of all. I’ve learned so much from the forums here, like SoFlaModel3’s two bucket method of car washing (which I do every weekend now) and the existence of the Dryer Buddy. Everyone is just so friendly and helpful here, this is really a great resource for all current and prospective owners.

    Conclusion
    Thanks if you’ve made it this far; as you can hopefully tell, I love this car! It checks all the boxes I wanted from a car: drives superbly; is efficient (no gas at all); is high-tech (I don’t miss CarPlay); rides comfortably and looks great.

    This was not only my first EV, but it’s also the most expensive car I’ve ever purchased. I spent the past year following the forums and researching everything I could about EVs, hybrids, etc. I’m glad that I waited for the car and I’d definitely buy it again. Maybe I can convince my wife to get the Y?
     
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