Thinking about buying a Model X, have questions

Thinking about buying a Model X, have questions

Hey guys. Electric car newbie here. I've been trying to do research but I still know very little at this point. I live in Northeastern South Dakota. Currently we have a Chevy Suburban for hauling around our 3 kids. We will be looking to trade it off in the next 8 to 12 months. I've been looking really really hard at the Model X. I would love to go to an electric car. However I have a few issues/questions mostly due to the fact that I live in such a remote area.

First problem is lack of charging abilities where I live. Now I would probably opt for the 100D with the high amp charger because of the amount of miles that we drive in a year and the added range. But even then I think we would still have issues. For around home and daily commuting the X would work great. Plug it in at home every night and we are more than good to go. The issues come when we want to take trips. We travel to Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Minneapolis fairly often. Rapid City would be fine, as there are Superchargers on I-90 on the way there, easily within range. Sioux Falls we could get there by utilizing the Supercharger in Mitchell, but there's nothing in Sioux Falls and I don't know if we could go from Mitchell to Sioux Falls, run around town for a couple of days, and make it back to Mitchell. Then the big one is Minneapolis. We take highway 212 through Watertown and across Minnesota to Minneapolis. There is very very little for chargers along that route! I know that Tesla claims 295 miles of range, but I also know through reading that I will never see that 295 except on perfect, ideal conditions. What is the realistic amount of range that I could plan for on a trip? Also, if I have the high amp charger, how fast will the car recharge on J1772 or on RV plug ins? Because that will be what I'll be forced to track down while on the road. There are plenty of campgrounds along the way that I could stop and utilize an RV plug.

Second problem is lack of dealerships. The closest one is in Minneapolis. A 5 hour drive and I already detailed the difficulty we would have in getting there due to lack of charging along the way. What is the reliability of the Model X like? I usually end up in Minneapolis 2 to 3 times a year. If the reliability is good and I can plan some maintenance while there things work out pretty well. However, if they require a lot of maintenance and I'm going to have lots of problems having a dealer that far away could become a major issue.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this. Sorry if any of these are stupid questions. As I said, I'm very new to the whole electric car thing. Hopefully you guys can alleviate some of my concerns and I'll end up joining your ranks in the next year or so!

burdogg | February 9, 2017

I don't have time to answer everything but will give this short reply now and maybe come back :)

The high amperage charger does not good for RV plugs. Even the J1772 usually won't give you more for the high amp charger. While your car can take more amps - the plug delivering the amps has to be able to push more as well. RV plugs are 50 amp, so are only going to push the 40 amp, which is what the car can handle without the high amp charger. J1772 you have to find a level 2 that pushes 80 amps to utilize the high amperage charger. SO it just depends on what j1772 plug you get (I am not an expert on this type of plug, but my understanding, most are not up to the 80 amp task).

I live 180 miles from the closest service center and have an S and and X. S has had 0 problems. My X was delivered in Dec and I need to take it in for the seat heaters to be fixed, just not working quite right (the back gets warm then stops, seat part gets extra hot). Other than that, I have had no problems. I think it is rare to have an emergency problem that needs fixed that you couldn't schedule it for the times you plan to be in the area.

As far as your trips, I don't have any good answers for you right this second. You can also use to see all the chargers known to be available for you. 8-10 months too there could be more superchargers pop up for you. I don't know the area and have to run right this minute so can't really research this out for you more. May try later :)

Bighorn | February 9, 2017

I know folks who've managed with a Model S in Estelline for a couple years now. Maybe not quite as remote, but there were far fewer chargers back then. Lots of us deal with remote service centers--mine is 10 hours away.

patswin | February 9, 2017

Like burdogg mentioned, plug share is a great app for finding chargers. In Sioux Falls you have a couple of options. First is a 14-50 Jena charger at Yankton Trails park (I think you will get at 26miles per hour charge on this). There is also a Nissan dealer with charger (likely 21 miles per hour charge). When traveling to Minneapolis you would need to stop at Clearwater super charger. It is about 210 miles from Aberdeen if your in that area. Warmer weather would be no problem but if you did this in January it might be pushing it. Not sure as I have never driven my x in extreme cold. As far as issues I have not had any until burdogg mentioned seat heater problem he has. Apparently I have same issue but certainly not a big deal. Thanks burdogg, funny I was just wondering about that the other day. Thought it was strange back of seat did not heat up

eric.zucker | February 9, 2017

Hi hahler2, and welcome to this group. I understand your concerns, and they are quite legitimate, no stupid questions at all.

You are correct in stating that charging at home is a no brainer for all local trips. You'll find that very convenient and practical. Long trips depend really on where you're headed.

There is a Web page to suggest Supercharger locations to Tesla. It can help you on the long term.

In the meantime you may want to consider a CHAdeMO adapter, which lets you semi-fast charge at more locations, if that helps. EVtripplanner, and Plugshare are good resources to see what charging is available where.

Check out to see where Superchargers currently are, and where there are planned ones in the next few months. Really useful.

AC charging is slower, that means overnight stays before you can move on. If you can draw the full 72A from the mains, you will be charging at 14kW, so the 100 kWh battery fills up in about 7 hours, assuming you start from empty. Of course if the circuit allows less current, it will be proportionally slower.

The car is really smart, and tells you at what speed you should drive if it thinks you might not make it to the next supercharger. That is, if you are using the built-in navigation of course.

Tesla has (or used to have) a ranger service to maintain cars on site. This can help if you're away from a service center. Ask them if still available.

My Model X is a P90DL, I got it Aug 31st. I'm about 45 minutes away from the nearest service center, and I've been there a few times, switching to winter tires, the front right DRL failed and was replaced, and I plan to go there next to upgrade my battery to 100 kWh when they get it.

I drive my X daily to work, we went on a three day,1000 mile road trip once; another 400 mile one. it's been performing beautifully and reliably so far.

You are on the right track, doing your homework, studying your travel habits, and determining if an electric car is right for you at this point in time. Only you can make that decision - In my case my own concerns turned out to be exaggerated and switching to an electric car was much easier than I anticipated.

burdogg | February 9, 2017

@hawkeyecustom - so my seat heating issue is both driver and passenger - the back starts to get hot before the seat but as the seat starts to heat up, the back stops and goes away while the seat gets really hot - is this your same issue? I am going in tomorrow and will hopefully get it fixed (my S does not do this and is what made me start asking if this was normal. I still wonder if this is normal for the X or not, they say it should be the same as the S, so going in to hopefully get it fixed)

Op - It is important to spend some time checking out where you would be traveling and how the charging would really work out and if it is feasible. This is the most important part in my opinion if you are planning on this being your travel vehicle. Use the plugshare sight to see if there is CHAdeMO charging (It is like superchargers, just not as fast, but faster than the J1772 or 14-50, as it is a straight DC to DC charging.) If there is, that can help on your trips as well. Also, please don't hesitate to continue to ask - as some of the statements you may not understand and if so, it is ok to ask for explanation as to what we mean - example - @eric mentioned his DRL failed - some may not realize that that means his Daytime Running Light on right side failed. Anyway, just some more thoughts for you (and I didn't want to hijack your thread completely with my seat heater question :)

Model_D | February 9, 2017

One important thing to consider in cold climates is the temperature of the garage the EV is in. A heated garage and almost always returning it to the garage will give you a much better cold weather EV experience. If you park in a detached unheated garage then drive to work and let it sit in freezing temps you will experience a big loss of range compared to rated range. Now someone that works from home and parks in the garage will probably have a different view.

@burrdog We experience the same thing. My wife likes that the bottom stays hot and the back seems to stay just above body temperature. I like my Ford that stays warm in the mid to lower back along with the bottom.

burdogg | February 9, 2017

I am really wondering if this is a different way of managing the seat heat and not an error. It seems to cycle on long trips to - the bottom seat will eventually stop heating, but then come back on. Same with the back, sometimes it heats back up a little (but never to a full three setting). It seems odd. Service didn't have an answer for me - other than it should be the same as the S and it is not. We shall see I guess :)

hahler2 | February 9, 2017

Thank you everyone for the fast responses.

Lets see where to start. The cold weather is DEFINITELY a concern. I don't know how familiar you guys are with the climate in this area of the country but it tends to get quite cold in the winter time. We had a stretch this year where the high temp didn't get above 0 for over 3 weeks. Through a little wind on top of that and it doesn't take much to get to -30 and -40 wind chills. The car would sit in an insulated, but not heated garage. Wouldn't take much to heat it though as it's already insulated. But even without heat it usually stays above 40 even during the coldest times of the winter. While my wife is at work it would be sitting outside though as this would primarily be her car.

As far as the traveling to Minneapolis, I do live near the Aberdeen area. I could go that way and stop at Clearwater. Also going down to I-90 and going through Worthington and using the Worthington and Mitchell Superchargers would be an option as well, though both would add significant driving time. I've been looking at the plug share website. Even looking for J1772 and 14-50 there's not really much for options either on our normal travel route. And I'm not sure they would be good options. Even on the J1772 chargers if it's 21 miles an hour, that's a pretty long stop to try and find something to do to entertain kids while waiting for car to charge up. And I would assume a 14-50 RV plug will be even slower correct? If you guys are pulling up websites to search for chargers I live near Ashton, SD if that helps. I've been doing a lot of searching and just not sure if it will work or not. Taking my pickup with an ICE is always an option for some of these trips as well but would prefer to get as much use out of the X as possible if we had one. Also, no need to worry about overwhelming me with mechanical info. I'm pretty good with that stuff and do most of the maintenance on my vehicles. If I don't understand something I'll ask!

Thanks again!

hahler2 | February 9, 2017

Forgot to ask about the trip to Sioux Falls. It's 73 miles from Mitchell supercharger to Sioux Falls. If I topped off to 90 percent at Mitchell would it be feasible to drive to Sioux Falls, do any running around we have for a couple of days and make it back to Mitchell on one charge?

patswin | February 9, 2017

@hahler2 for Sioux Falls trip that seems reasonable. Might want or need to stop at park to charge up for an hour or two if battery starts to get to low. Plugging in to a 14-50 nema charger will get you 26-27 miles of charge per hour so quicker than typical j plug
@burdogg yes mine is exact same so maybe it is by design but the bottom gets so hot at setting 3 I have to turn it down. Curious as to what sc says about it

hahler2 | February 9, 2017

My thoughts on Sioux Falls would be that I would just need to find a hotel that is EV friendly. Even if it's only 110 if I left the car plugged in all night while we are sleeping it should add more than enough range to cover driving around town and alleviate any range anxiety issues.

I've been searching, where do I find this website to recommend Supercharger locations? If there was one in Watertown, SD that would fix almost all my travel issues.

inconel | February 9, 2017

As you already mentioned stopping on the way to recharge on J1772 or RV plugs is simply not practical. They are only practical for a "quick" recharge to get a few more miles or as an overnight destination chargers.
To be conservative in really cold weather you can count 40% loss so a full charge will give you about 180 actual miles. If you don't have access to supercharger or Chademo within that distance I would take the ICE car in winter. Summer is different of course.

patswin | February 9, 2017

PlugShare app shows a candle wood inn and suites in Sioux Falls with a charger, also bbb lodge. There is a supercharger app as well that shows all existing Superchargers, ones under construction and ones permit for construction has been pulled. Nothing shown for Watertown right now

patswin | February 9, 2017

Sorry, bbb lodge is in chancellor. I would get the plug share app and play around with it to help see what options you have.

hahler2 | February 9, 2017

Thank you all for the advice. Will look into everything. Next step is the next time I'm in Minneapolis I'm going to schedule a test drive and see what I can learn from the dealership!

TSammy | February 9, 2017

OP, Model X is an awesome vehicle. It will re-charge your personal battery,,,

But, and this is serious:

If you are buying an X for your wife and 2 kids, you had better have HER do the test drive. If she does not come out of that experience shouting: "I must have this car!!!", do not buy it.

The inconveniences that you will need to deal with, while they seem minor to an auto industry savvy car-person, will drive a reluctant mother bonkers. Divorce is a likely outcome.

You better have a serious reason, and a full-scale buy-in from the mother with 2 kids before you take away her Suburban (combination rolling nursery and tank).


burdogg | February 9, 2017

I would agree with alex - but also state from my own experience - once you test drive it, you might be in trouble because it will be all you think about until you decide to purchase (my experience and many others on here too :)

But even if you drool over it, make sure it makes logistical sense for your travel situation.

hahler2 | February 9, 2017

3 kids actually. Which is why we are considering the X and not the S. I don't think 5 would fit very well in the S. At least, not for longer trips. Especially with our size. No one is over weight but all very tall. I'm 6'3, wife is 5'10, my 5th grader is already 5'5 and it looks like the 2 younger ones will be very tall also. But yes, wife approval is an extremely big factor. I'm very tech and mechanical savvy. But she would have to be comfortable driving and using it. I know that talking about it she's not very hip to it. But it's because she doesn't understand the tech or how to use it. So we will see how that goes! I love our Suburban but hate the fuel mileage, which is what got me started looking at Tesla.

TSammy | February 9, 2017

@burrdogg... you are so right. After test drive I walked around in a fog until I orddered mine. (almost a whole hour).
But then all I did day and night was get ready for the "car". Researched and installed the HPWC. Shopped insurance over and over. Ordered 5KW solar service to handle the extra usage for charging. Mapped every supercharger route to wherever I might want to go, etc., etc.
Read this forum until I fell in love with @lillibean and hate with @vperl.
Of course, I had no life before my 'X;, now whenever I want to sleep, I take a night drive to the all night diner and drink decaf... by the time I get home I am relaxed and smiling and fall asleep easily.
My advice to OP remains: i.e. do not buy the car of your dreams for your wife and kids if it is not their dream also.

hahler2 | February 9, 2017

Agree completely Alex. It's great advice!

poloX | February 9, 2017

lol Alex. So true. Most of us are all like kids once again waiting for Xmas gifts every time Elon is about to do something to the car. I forgot who even sat in the car for over 1 hr watching the F/W update in the middle of the night. But after I read that, I did it too. The car makes all kind of noise, flashed all lights on all buttons and reboots a few times. The outdoor tempt sensor when away the longest time. Anyway, BUY IT, you won't regret. You get to be kids all over again. lol

poloX | February 9, 2017

...and in the last few weeks, because auto steering only works on freeway but below 45mph and then 50mph from last week. We all hate traffic jam so much , right? Not anymore, please jam so I can slow down and activate my auto steering. :o)

hahler2 | February 10, 2017

Lol. Closest thing we have around here to a traffic jam is if someone's cows get on the highway!

One thing I've noticed is the following that Tesla and Elon Musk have reminds me of Apple and Steve Jobs (and I'm a huge Apple guy so that's a compliment).

hahler2 | February 10, 2017

I'm confused though. You say Autosteer only works below 45. I thought the whole autopilot thing as supposed to work on highway and interestates? They make it sound like on the website that you can get in the car, punch in an address, and the car will do the rest.

Jama | February 10, 2017

X is not for you.

hahler2 | February 10, 2017

Why do you say that Jama?

MasterT | February 10, 2017

@hahler2 because if you get the X with your current expectations and knowledge, you'd be greatly disappointed.

Unfortunately, while Tesla claims to be not like your local dealership with pressure sales tactics, it might be worse in other regards - information. What you see on the website is not what you get - the autopilot is still being developed and implemented by small pieces. While the car is great, it's not polished as a regular buyer would expect. You need to head over to and spend a lot of time reading current issues

Tesla referral code: get $1,000.00 off of your Tesla by using my referral link (

lilbean | February 10, 2017

alex.sammy, :o)
hahler, I'm afraid the third row may be uncomfortable for your tall family. I've heard complaints about very little leg room in the third row. It doesn't bother me but then again, my Dad had a TransAm when I was a child.

burdogg | February 10, 2017

MasterT - not necessarily true. I got my model S knowing some things, but I knew nothing of these forums. I test drove one after placing my order, but in my one week cancellation window just in case. LOVE my car. So just because some one is not all knowing about the car, does not mean they will be disappointed.

To answer your question hahler2 that no one on here will - they are giving you a cold shoulder for not knowing that autopilot features are slowly being rolled out. Short history - Autopilot was first introduced with 1 camera and 1 radar in Octoberish 2015. Mobileye was working with Tesla and it works pretty well - but as a driver assist. In 2016 mid to late - Mobileye and Tesla broke up. October 2016 Tesla announced their new autopilot, called Enhanced Autopilot (that does more than their original) and Full Self Driving - working with NVIDIA, and with 8 cameras (only 4 for Enhanced Autopilot, 8 for Full Self Driving, FSD). With this change, the hardware went out onto all the new cars at that time - but the software still needed to be tried and tested (This is how the first autopilot was done too). As a result - all new cars being delivered had NO autpilot functions, just cruise control. Since the first of January, Tesla has slowly been rolling out the autopilot features. It is still not fully up and running. Autosteer was first only allowed to be 45 mph AND on Divided, limited access highways as the software continues to run in shadow mode and becomes tested and approved - all in the name of safety. They have since upped the speed to 50 mph as of last Sunday. We are hoping in the next couple weeks that the speed restriction goes away, and then hopefully allow it on any street. It is coming, just a slow steady process and to make sure it is safe.

This has caused a lot of whining and frustration by some. But there you have it, and just because you didn't know this does not make you unqualified to own a Tesla.

In regards to the seating as lilbean has pointed out - it is a little tight but with a 6 seater, I would think you would be fine - as one person sits in the very back and has the whole space in the middle to stretch their legs. But, you really need to see it in person and figure this out for yourself. I am not trying to sell you on getting this vehicle, because it may not be for you. I just don't think I should say it isn't for you just because you are not a Tesla know all :)

Hope that helps with some things and again, sounds like you have time to sort things out still, test drive it, look at it and determine if it really is best for you or not :) | February 10, 2017

I had one minor door latch problem (common early production issue, since corrected) shortly after delivery 8 months ago. Since then the car has been perfect. No service needed.

You will have to be resourceful when making certain trips due to your location. May not be worth the trouble but it is a great cat and the most fun I have ever had with a car, including doing a holiday song and dance for my friends and neighbors.😊 | February 10, 2017

Great "car" that is.

MasterT | February 10, 2017

@burdogg - agree, I've oversimplified and overgeneralized a bit, but you have to agree that X has a bit more small quirks than S and could potentially present more issues to an uninformed consumer.

burdogg | February 10, 2017

Wait - I didn't see the video of you doing a holiday song and dance with your car :) Picts to prove it :)

burdogg | February 10, 2017

@MasterT - Not sure at this point - maybe potentially as it is a lot more engineering to it :) But I have heard of nothing wrong with X's to like my issue, the seat heater not working properly (it works, just not completely the way it should, I almost wish I would have just left it alone because it worked fine enough, now just worried with them having my car :) I have heard still little things as well with the S just recently which is interesting.

I think what MasterT if I am correct, is getting at is the fit and finish for the most part? Early on, there were a lot of issues, and from the sounds of things around here at least, it must have gotten much better as there has not been much discussions as of late. But yes, you add falcon wing doors and you are asking for some possible issues that didn't exist with the S :) It is important though to be informed and know pluses and minuses so you are not completely unhappy. I think you will find though, as long as you are prepared that "something" MIGHT be off and know that it might cause a little inconvenience to you to have to take it in as some point, and you are fine with that, then that is all we are trying to address for you. You may have zero problems too :) Most that have had problems still love their car and would buy it again. It comes down to what your tolerance level is. (But as has been said elsewhere too, other manufacturers are not perfect with every vehicle either :)

l.slavy | February 10, 2017

If you don't have a SC near you and the car is not in perfect shape, you will have to drive 5 hours to drop the car, pick up a loaner, drive 5 hours back in the loaner + 10 more hours to pick up the fixed car.

This is assuming the car is still driveable.

From what I read, most people need some kind adjustments done in the first few months of ownership.

hahler2 | February 10, 2017

Burdogg thank you for the excellent explanation on the autopilot situation. I'm honestly not even sure if I would get the autopilot options as I like to drive and not sure I could ever get comfortable with letting the computer do it. Maybe I would you never know.

MasterT I'm definitely not a Tesla know it all. But I'm aware that they're a bit different and have some quirks. Plus that's why I'm here. To learn about them. I'm very tech savvy and a decent mechanic too so I'll have no problem picking this stuff up. But I need to make sure that it's the right fit for me and my family. And that it's something my wife can be comfortable with too. It's a lot of money to spend on a vehicle only to find out that it won't work for us. There will definitely be at least one test drive, if not more in our future to go through some things like leg room, charging, how to drives, ect.

I've been doing a lot of reading at I'm reading that extreme cold can definitely be an issue, especially when it comes to range. So that's a big negative for here as it gets very cold in the winter, especially with wind chill. I'm leaning towards not getting one this time around and maybe giving them a couple more years to improve battery technology and expand the supercharger network. But I've got a year or so to decide and a lot can change between now and then! Until then I'll continue to do my due diligence and ask questions.

burdogg | February 10, 2017

Good idea hahler2 - stick around and keep learning. It is a lot of money and you don't want to spend that much just for a commuter and still have to spend more for something to take on long trips :)

burdogg | February 10, 2017

Oh and autopilot is amazing and you do learn to let it work and it makes the drive so nice - especially if any of your trips are into the city with high congestion. I spent over an hour on a freeway to go 20 miles and it was actually a delight - the autopilot did all the stop and go work for me, I didn't have to worry about it. You know, start moving forward, slam on the breaks, inch forward, a little more, then more, then stop. Then all of a sudden drive up to 30 mph and slam on brakes again. Yep, was actually nice and relaxing. So autopilot is a delight, even in the country where I live - I love it :) (This is the first autopilot too, and this new one should be even better)

NumberOne | February 10, 2017

With AP1, AP works on all marked roads. i.e. lines on both sides of the lane you are driving in. AP2 will do the same thing, and will have more functionality. They web site indicates that you can just punch in an address, but that feature is not available yet, although the functionality is built into the car. My car has AP1, and I am quite happy with it. Of course AP2.0 is better and would have been nice to have, but I doubt that any AP will be able to avoid potholes or debris in the road for some time.

NumberOne | February 10, 2017

Of course I posted my comment long after writing it, so it is kind of redundant now.

hahler2 | February 10, 2017

Yeah I can see where in stop and go traffic it would make life so much less stressful.

I farm for a living and these days all of our equipment is autosteer. You pull into a field, set a line, and it drives itself perfectly straight. Some of the newer tractors take it even a step farther where when you get to the end of the field it will lift the implement, turn around, put the implement back in the ground and start going across the field. The operator does nothing but sit there. When we first got it the difference that autosteer made in operator fatigue was unbelievable. It's just that after having experience with a system like that I would struggle with letting a car drive itself. So much more to have to worry about and watch out for. Not to mention much higher speeds.

Jama | February 11, 2017


Your first and second problem.

ken | February 11, 2017

when travel out of supercharger area, i often use EVGO, its available in most metro city location.