Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you have a suggestion for an addition to the FAQ page, please leave it in the comments.


Why did the green light around the charging port turn off?  Is the car still charging?

It is normal behavior.  Once you lock you car and walk away, the light turns off, presumably to avoid unnecessary attention.  By the way, you can set up the Tesla app on your phone to notify you of charging stops unexpectedly.

How much should I charge every day?

Tesla considers the daily charging range to be between 50% to 90%.  Minimally, you should charge enough to meet your daily driving needs plus an buffer for unexpected trips.  That being said, if Tesla did not think its OK to charge to 90% every day, I don’t think they would allow you to set that as an option. Charging to 100% every day can lead to increased battery degradation and you car will warn you of that if you charge to 100% for more than a couple of days in a row. Sometimes, life is unpredictable and you need to do that and its not the end of the world, but try to avoid it whenever possible. Regardless, plug your car in every day.

Is it bad to Supercharge every day?

No, per Tesla’s guidance, Supercharging every day is not a problem as long as you are not charging to 100% every day.

What are “paired” Superchargers?

A single Supercharger is shared across two charging stalls.  If you look at the charging stalls, you will notice they are numbered 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc.  The two stalls that share a number (i.e. 2A and 2B) are shared.  This matters because the charging capacity is shared unevenly between the two stalls.  Whoever plugs in first (doesn’t matter if its A or B) gets the majority of the charging capacity.  Whoever plugs in second gets a minimum level of charging.  As the first car’s battery fills up and its charging rate slows down, the second car will get the freed-up capacity.  When you drive up to a Supercharger, try and find an unpaired stall–it will give you faster charging.


How much range do I lose sitting in traffic?

You actually lose very little range sitting in traffic.  With a typical car, the engine is always running and consuming gasoline whether you are moving or not.  With an EV, the motor only draws power when the car is actually moving.  Otherwise, the draw is limited to things like AC or heat, the stereo, headlights, etc.  The biggest things to watch are climate control and battery temperature management.  Heating and cooling the cabin will have some impact on range, although turning on range mode will help limit the impact.  The biggest concern is rapidly dropping ambient temperatures which cause the battery warmer to kick in.  The car will warn you its doing this, but it will cause a sudden, unexpected drop in battery capacity when the heater kicks in.


Should I display “Range” or “Energy” in the instrument cluster?

There is no right answer to this–it comes down to what you are more comfortable with.  When you buy a new car, you are never quite sure what a quarter tank of gas means”  can you do your commute and grab groceries on the way home?. As you live with your car, you get an intuitive feel for how much driving you can do with a quarter tank of gas.  The same is true for displaying the battery capacity. For new owners, “range” is probably a good place to start since “miles” is easy to relate to. Over time, as owners develop an feel for their driving and its impact on range, they prefer to display energy–they have developed an intuitive feel for what 25% charge means to them.  Why? The “energy” display is the actual state of charge (SoC) of your battery.  The “range” display is an approximation.  While it is a pretty good approximation, it does entail some squishiness.


What is One-Pedal Driving?

Tesla uses regenerative braking which means as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator, the car begins to slow down as the car converts your momentum into electricity and charges the battery.   Many owners learn to use this behavior to control vehicle speed without needing to use the car’s brakes to slow down.  For a bit more detail on regenerative braking, check out this post.

Why am I seeing a huge spike on the energy app?

20140320_202834Sometimes owners will see a spike on the energy app that will cause them concern.  The thing to recognize is that graph shows energy consumed graphed against distance.  So, if the car consumes a moderate amount of energy, but the distance is very small, the energy usage will show as a spike.  Often you will see a spike like this when you are first driving and the heat or AC are going full blast (high usage) but you have not gone very far (short distance).  If your car is in the shop, they can also accidentally create a similar spike as they are working on the car (they have the doors open, etc so the car is using power, but only move the car a sort distance).  If you are concerned about joy-riding, the easiest thing you can do is decidedly low-tech and have them note the odometer reading on the work order and make sure you set valet mode.


Where do I need to hold the steering wheel to avoid the AutoPilot warnings?

It does not matter where you hold the steering wheel, the car actually detects the torque on the steering wheel that naturally occurs when you are holding the wheel.  If you are getting a “hold the wheel” warning, give the steering a little jiggle.

Random Stuff

When Does the Tesla App Activate?

Typically it takes a couple of days for the smartphone app to get activated.

How do I get software updates?

Sit back and do nothing. :).  SW updates are automatically pushed out to cars as long as they are internet connected (either cellular or wifi). The order that Tesla pushes out an update seems to be somewhat of mystery, but, rest assured, eventually you’ll it.  In theory, cars that are wi-fi connected will get updates limited to cellular connections. Once your car has received the software updated, you will get a notification in the car and on your smartphone (if you have it configured) and you will have the option to start the upgrade immediately or delay it until that night.

Are 3rd-party apps (i.e. non-Tesla) safe to use?

There are a number of 3rd-party apps available and this site highlights a couple of them that have proven to be useful and/or fun.  The primary concern with any third party app is protection of your credentials.  Be very wary of any app that asks for your credentials since if they are compromised, all sorts of havoc can ensue.  Just because an apps asks for your credentials does not mean its “bad”, but if you don’t already know what questions to ask to evaluate an app, then be very careful.  Often its helpful to check either Tesla Motors Club or the Tesla Owner Forums to see what experiences other ones have had.

Do I really need my key fob, can’t I just use my smartphone app?

The short answer is yes. Say you use the app to unlock you car. Your phone does not directly communicate with your car to unlock the doors.  Instead, the app talks to Tesla’s data center, which then sends a message to your car to unlock the doors.  If you find yourself in a place where there is weak or non-existent internet access, you will not be able to unlock or start your car.  On the other hand, your key fob can always unlock and start you car, even if the key fob battery is dead.

Can I take my car through the car wash?

You don’t have to worry about getting zapped taking your Tesla through the car wash.  The high voltage electrical components are sealed against the elements so you don’t have to worry about wet weather, car washes or driving through flooded roadways (although you really should avoid that in any car).  The reason not take your car through the car wash is that they can be notoriously tough on your car’s finish.  Touchless car washes  can be easier on the finish but the high-pressure water they use can sometimes cause other problems.  Bottom line, if you are going to use a car wash, find a quality one one with well maintained equipment.

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