Making my first long distance drive in the Model 3

Making my first long distance drive in the Model 3

HI Everyone,

Next weekend my wife and I will be making our first long distance drive in our Model 3 (LR AWD) and was hoping to get some advise from you all. I was wanting to know if it would be better to charge to 90% and then wake up and charge the remaining 10% while we get ready and pack up the car or should be just leave it at 90% and just start driving? I heard by going to 100%, I would lose regen braking, is that correct? We will be driving from Pittsburgh, PA to West Orange, NJ (a little more than 300 miles). Also, when entering our destination address in for navigation purposes, will we have options on which route to take (I believe Google allows this when using my phone) or will the Tesla just give us one choice?

Thanks in Advance!!

CharleyBC | 13 mai 2019

Enjoy! I love long trips in our 3.

Your plan to do the last 10% as you're getting ready to leave is common, if you need the full 100% for your adventure. But with your trip being over 300 miles, you're right about at the limit anyway. So pick a Supercharger along the way, and take a break there. The car can help with this, though I often pick a location in advance. There are several along I-80, which looks like your likely route.

Many enjoy Check it out.

Have fun!

Pkalhan | 13 mai 2019

thanks @CharleyBC...much appreciated!!

kevin_rf | 13 mai 2019

I would plan on at least one super charge stop, so why go to 100%, me 90% or 95% would be enough. Maybe a stop in either Harrisburg or Allentown, though Allentown might be pushing it a bit.

Also, you a tool like EvTripper planner or similar and play with the superchargers. I don't like living on the battery edge, so I usually plan 200ish mile legs.

Pkalhan | 13 mai 2019

Hi @kevin_rf, yeah...I think for this first trip, I will be a little cautious just to make sure I get there OK even if it take me a bit longer. I am thinking it will be more enjoyable than taking our 2010 Honda CRV which after awhile made you feel like it you sitting on cement lol.

PhillyGal | 13 mai 2019

I only go to 100 when I intend to go somewhere without a charge stop (eg: round trip Philly to Harrisburg.) In your case, you'll want to stop at least once anyway so charge to 90 and plan for your meal break to coincide with a charger.

Actually - I'm one of those crazies who stops at every charger possible so I'd drink water to my heart's content, stop at every charger along the way for the 5-10 minutes it takes to use the rest room, and not think twice about how much range is left. Then when it's time to eat, I'd charge higher than the other stops, since a meal takes longer than a rest room stop anyway. (Just be sure to move your car if your meal takes longer than the charge.)

Enjoy! I suspect this will not be your last trip. I got hooked on the ease of Tesla travel after our first trip, which was Feb 2015 in an ice storm when there were far fewer chargers. In other words, if it was easy then, it's a breeze now in warmer weather and with a ton more chargers.

PhillyGal | 13 mai 2019

Because I love ya, here's what I would do in your shoes:

Start at 90% and do an hour and a half of driving, give or take
Arrive at Breezewood super charger with 150+ miles of rated range. Use the rest room, charge for 5-10 minutes..
~200 miles of rated range
Drive another 1.25 hours to the Harrisburg charger. (Skip Carlisle because it's just a Sheetz.)
Eat lunch in that plaza (or at Sheetz, ha) and charge for 30 minutes or so.
~300 miles of rated range
Rest room stop on the highway if needed - don't stop at Allentown charger because you have to leave the Turnpike
Arrive at your destination with ~150 rated range.

Zero worry of range, one real meal, plenty of chance for a rest room.

johnw | 13 mai 2019

My one tip from my first 4000 mile road trip- I tried to plan to reach hotels at 10% and exclusively use hotels with destination chargers. This mostly worked, but one hotel said it had 3 chargers and it did- but all 3 were out of order. Call ahead to make sure their chargers are in working order. Also, most front desk people have no clue they even have chargers so you may have to speak to a manager to confirm.

johnw | 13 mai 2019

Depending on your tolerance for range-risk, it's more time efficient to only charge as much as you need to reach your next supercharger at around 10%. As you've probably noticed, supercharging is fastest when the battery is low. As it is goes beyond 50% charge the speed of charging drops. I tried to never charge at a rate of less than 70 miles per hour (other than when staying at a hotel or if I was otherwise occupied like meals) because you're effectively losing out on time. It would take you less time overall to drive to the next charger and charge at a higher rate. Hope that makes sense.

Lorenzryanc | 13 mai 2019

When you charge to 90%+ You will lose most/all regen braking so be prepared. At <90% the car practically stops itself with little additional braking, above 90, you'll need a lot more brake. Just be aware of it and it'll come back as you burn through battery.

Slow will get you there. Remember, speed will eat through your range. Anything over 65 or so will increase wh/mile. I'd say plan for one stop and just enjoy the ride and AP :D

Pkalhan | 13 mai 2019

@PhillyGal...that was awesome!! THANK YOU lol. I do not mind stopping anywhere to eat but the wifey is a vegetarian so getting off the turnpike and charging up with only a Wendy's as an option is not ideal. if we could stop at some of those rest stations on the turnpike (Breezewood has a nice rest station but it may be too early for us to stop and eat...maybe not though with my ever expanding belly :( ) that would be ideal.

Effopec | 13 mai 2019

Planning a trip like this depends on how much driving you will do at your destination and the charging options there. I've made several 200-250 mile trips which can be done on a single charge, but you get there "on fumes" (on electrons?). So I generally stop at the SC closest to the destination to fill up, unless I know for sure I can charge at my hotel or another location there. If you are staying at a hotel check out Plugshare for hotels with destination chargers. Nothing beats arriving at a hotel late at night with an empty tank and waking up with a full one.

I definitely enjoy road trips more with the Tesla than I did before, but you do need to do a bit more planning as there isn't a charger on every corner - yet.

peldor427 | 13 mai 2019

Lots of good advice here. I'm trying to post a summary of my first long trip last weekend but having some permission errors. I just went 1200+ miles in a weekend including 700+ in a single day, experimenting with superchargers vs. destination chargers. Charging that batteries to 100% will of course eliminate/limit regenerative braking since they can't be charged over 100%. I would always charge to 100% for the first leg of a long trip just for the extra security or to try and skip an extra stop, but people have a point that if you know that you don't need anywhere near that level of charge to your first stop then there's no need. But regenerative braking will be back to normal as soon as you start to use some of that charge, which doesn't take long.

I had a weird trip in the sense that the most direct route was <500 miles but didn't have a supercharger until almost the 400 mile mark, while there were two nearly identical longer routes over 700+ miles that had 4-6 superchargers on the route. The mapping service in the car would vary which route it offered me so when I had a preferred route I forced it by setting an intermediate destination instead of the final destination. I experimented with taking the shorter, lower speed route that required a destination charger on Friday and the Interstate supercharger route on the return trip.

Once your at your intermediate stops, I'd only charge to 80-85% unless you need more for the next leg or just want a longer break, because the charging stations charge more slowly closer to 100%. And plan to have at least 20% reserve at each stop if this is your first trip. Speed and acceleration make a big difference in how far you can travel on one charge, so you can go easy if indications show that you will be cutting it close on remaining charge. My predicted remaining charge seemed to drop 5% or more within 10 miles after leaving each supercharger and I was fairly careful with my acceleration.


Kathy Applebaum | 13 mai 2019

For trips, I go to 100% during my normal charge. Sure, I lose regen for about 5 miles -- I can deal with that. I don't worry about getting that 100% to happen 30 seconds before I leave. That's too much hassle. (Full disclosure -- I live in a warm climate).

I don't sweat about getting the battery as low as possible before making a charging stop -- I need bio breaks every few hours, so I just head to a charger then and let it charge. Is it the fastest charging possible? No. Do I care? No, because the car is always ready before I finish my restroom trip / dog walk / snack acquisition foray.

The tl;dr here is don't over think it unless that makes you happy. :) Enjoy the trip and charge when you can.

Pkalhan | 13 mai 2019

Thanks everyone for the great advise!! I so very much appreciate it. We will be staying at my wife's friend's house and there seems to be a lot of superchargers there so I was thinking before getting to the house, charge up a bit and then get to our destination. I usually drive about 70 to 75 mph which I do not think is too bad. I am pumped man!!

teslu3 | 13 mai 2019

I did a long road trip last month, 4200 miles. Charged to 90% the night before, then to ~96% just before leaving.
Drove through Anzo Borego and had over 20% left at the first super charger. PhillyGal reminds me of my wife: drive for a couple of hours to the next SC and enjoy a bio-break. They tend to be a mile or so off the highway, not inconvenient and often a chance to see interesting sights you would not normally see. Stopped overnight at hotels close to a SC: left wife at hotel getting ready to leave while I spent about 30 minutes at the nearby SC cleaning the car and planning ( the day. Typically charged to 70 or 80%, rarely went under 20% to the next SC - despite 80MPH limits in TX. Did charge to 90% for the Denton to Childress TX leg.

Bighorn | 13 mai 2019

Leave with 90%—charge along the way to 60-80%, the lower, the better for efficiency. Plan to arrive at chargers with 20% ish. 30 if there’s a headwind or rain or cold. Harrisburg has a Weis grocery store with decent selection (if you’re nice to the checker, they’ll give you the affinity card discount) and a so-so bathroom hidden in the back.

Bighorn | 13 mai 2019


Bighorn | 13 mai 2019

Mostly 2010 to 2013

Bighorn | 13 mai 2019

Sorry—ignore the last 2 entries

terry.k.morrow | 13 mai 2019

Did an 1800 mi round trip in early April. Lots of variables affected my range and efficiency (I averaged 286 Wh/mi) but honestly there’s a relatively expansive charging grid available. Super chargers are pretty much where you need them to be...other options are hit and miss but get the job done overnight typically. I agree with others—enjoy the trip and AP.
I used it for probably 80 percent of my highway driving on the long trip.

Reflex | 13 mai 2019

Remember that you won't be getting 300 miles of range on the freeway.
With my MR it's 70% of the posted range, nowhere near 300 miles if that translates!

terry.k.morrow | 13 mai 2019

Most users do better than 70% efficiency in these more mild months. I got closer to 85% efficiency on my trip. And higher if I slowed down just a tad (from day 75 to 71 mph). That said, I agree that you’ll be thinking about your stops at around 200 miles if you have long range.

ODWms | 14 mai 2019

I realize everyone has differing experiences. But I have no problem getting at or close to rated range, even with my PD3. If I drive conservatively enough, especially in and around town, I can even get higher than rated. Will I get 310 miles, driving 75 - 80 mph on the expressway? No. But then I wouldn’t expect to.

PhillyGal | 14 mai 2019

Please do come back and tell us how it went!

Keeping a little journal of your charge stops (time and rated range when you arrived, how long you were plugged in, rated range when you left) will help to illustrate just how easy trips are.

I made a whole YouTube video about charge times on a trip to Canada once - if you skip to the end I have a screen shot of my log. Many stops were ~15 minutes. And this was in an S. The 3 is more efficient.

rdh37 | 14 mai 2019

I found that regen braking is more useful than the extra miles from charging to 100%. Unless you need those miles, from 90% to 100%, to get to the first available supercharger or your destination, leave home about 90% and have your "normal" braking. My experience is that full supercharging stations (yes, I stopped at one) charge slowly (121 mph in my case). So at those I only stayed a few minutes. When I found a completely empty station, I charged at 461 mph. In fact, just stopping for a bio break and to get water, the car charged beyond what I need to comfortably get back home. As a general rule, I start looking for a "fill up" at around 40% but then I am risk averse. No range anxiety for me as I am on the east coast and there are superchargers all over the place. Take advantage of the Tesla nav and the other available sites to plan your route. Most of all, enjoy your trip. Have a nice day.

M3BlueGeorgia | 14 mai 2019

Only charge to 100% before leaving if you need that to get to the first planned Supercharger stop.

In my case, if going to Savannah I have to charge at Macon regardless, so I don't even bother too much with my departure charge level as anything above 60% gets me to Macon with a safe margin.

However, going to Florida (from Atlanta) I'll skip Macon and drive through to Tifton. Tifton is a stretch at high speed on I-75, so will try to start that trip as close to 100% as possible, though anything above 95% is safe.

Earlier advice is very solid: Plan your trip using
Then use the built-in navigator during your trip.

Pkalhan | 14 mai 2019

HI again everyone, thanks again for all the great advice. I agree that I need to do a little planning before leaving. I need to see how far the first supercharger is before I leave. I think that will set the tone for how the rest of the trip goes. I will keep you all posted on my journey. It is exciting. I am just looking forward to a long trip in a car with comfortable seats for a change!! LOL