My Tesla Model 3 at 1 Year and 22,000 Miles

Dall-E Rendition of “an oil painting by Monet of a dark gray Tesla model 3 driving down a country road in the evening”

I have hit the one year mark with my Tesla Model 3 AWD. Between driving to work and several road trips, I’ve put over 22,000 miles on it.

Positives

  • Operating Cost – I’m still averaging $60-$70 a month to charge the car at home. I did have to put new tires on the car but I would have to have done that anyway (at least it now comes with free tire rotations). I also purchased new wiper blades and air filters.
  • Time Savings – This was an unexpected benefit. I love never having to think about when I need to stop for gas during my normal commute, and never having to do things like get oil changes.
  • Battery Drain – We took a trip out west for a family wedding, and left the car sitting in the airport parking lot for 10 days in the summer heat. I wasn’t sure how the car would react to sitting that long. In that time, the car only lost 5 miles of range. It was a non-issue.
  • Range – Range still appears to be 100% of what it was when I purchased the car. I’ve been following good battery preservation practices: Only charging to 75% when I’m not traveling and only supercharging when traveling.
  • Ease of Travel – The last long trip with the car was the first time my wife traveled with me. She was impressed with how easy it was to find charging and how little extra time it took.
  • Enhanced Autopilot – One of the gambles I took when I purchased the car was not getting the Full Self Driving (FSD) beta. It was expensive, and I have my doubts that Tesla will truly get it working without LiDAR. That said, it came with a lot of additional non-FSD features like Navigate on Autopilot, AutoPark, automatic lane changes, and Summon. My bet was that at some point, Tesla would split those out into a separate feature set that could be purchased cheaper. Earlier this year they did exactly that, making Enhanced Autopilot available for half the cost.

Negatives

  • Musty Air Filters – Tesla claims you only have to replace the cabin air filters every two years, but my car started to smell like a gym locker when the A/C first started up. This is apparently a common problem at about the one year mark, and the solution is to replace the air filters early. Doing that was relatively simple and took care of the problem.
  • Minor Fit & Finish Issues – There are some small things. Nothing even worth making a separate trip to the service center for. I’ll save them for the next time I’m there for something else.
  • Availability of Charging – Where we live this is a non-issue, but there are still some parts of the country where an EV is not practical. For example we recently took a trip where we drove a rental car from Albuquerque to Carlsbad, then to Roswell and back to Albuquerque. This trip would be impossible in an EV currently as there is no public charging in Carlsbad or Roswell. Actually, you could probably pull it off in an Aptera.

Frequently Asked Questions

One of the things that really amuses my wife is how often strangers will just start asking us questions about the car. I don’t mind answering questions at all. My whole goal in getting an EV was to understand them, so of course I’m happy to share knowledge and observations.

So with that, here are some frequently asked questions after a year of ownership:

  • Q: Do you worry about running out of power?
    A: Do you worry about running out of gas? Seriously, I actually worry less about that type of thing now. I leave every morning with 260 miles of range because I charge to 75% when commuting. I never have to think if today is the day I need to stop along the way to fill up the car, or where I need to stop to get the best price. I go to work, I drive home, and I plug in the car again. Imagine leaving every morning with a full tank.
  • Q: Do you worry about crashing on Autopilot?
    A: Like any enhanced driving feature, you’re still supposed to be paying attention. Autopilot is great for highway driving under normal conditions, and I was surprised at how positively it impacted long trips. Under abnormal conditions you should not be using Autopilot. This includes bad weather and construction zones.
  • Q: Do you worry about battery fires?
    A: EVs catch fire less frequently than gas cars. They just end up on the news when they do.
  • Q: What happens to the battery after it wears out?
    A: It will likely get recycled. The elements in batteries are too valuable to just throw in a landfill, and already multiple companies are being created to recycle those batteries. In fact, these companies say recycling batteries from consumer electronics is their bigger priority right now. There’s also been some promising research into revitalizing old batteries.

Conclusion

I am declaring this experiment a success. In fact, I can’t imagine going back to a gas car as my daily driver. Our next plan is to replace my wife’s car with an EV sometime in 2023.

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