Our first trip on the highway with Mr. Tess

Yesterday we took route 89 from Burlington to Barre, VT in our Tesla Model 3, or TM3, as it is often referred to on Tesla forums. This was the first time we have driven more than a couple of miles on the highway. I tried adaptive cruise control and self-steering mode but wasn’t all that comfortable with either one. Self steering is especially disappointing to me. There is too much correcting and I feel like it tends to have an uncomfortable bias for the center line. I would rather that it had a bias for the right side of the lane, especially when traffic is passing! Another thing that bothers me is that the maximum number, 7, for car separation seems uncomfortably close to me.

The adaptive cruise control can be a bit weird as well. For example, often when approaching a bride, the car would slow down for no reason, as though it was having a hard time what kind of danger the bridge might pose. Hopefully it’s a matter of information getting fed back to the neural network so that the next time taking the same route, things should go smoother.

And speaking of smooth, this car is so smooth it’s delightful. I believe, all electric cars are probably wonderfully smooth compared to ICE (acronym for Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

While Wichada was painting at the quarry, I drove around a bit looking for Lawson’t store where I was told I could get a map of hiking trails in the area. This included some fairly steep hills. I was curious to see how good a job the regenerative braking would handle the downhills. I was pleased to discover that I didn’t need to put my foot on the brake at all! They call this one foot driving because except for emergency stops, you can let the motor do all the braking just by letting up on the accelerator. In fact, it takes a while to learn not to let up on the accelerator too much in order to slow down more gradually. Since I’ve gotten used to it I think it’s great!

Another thing that takes some getting used to is starting from a stop. For a few days, when starting off I was a bit too abrupt, but after a while you learn to lighten your touch and you can start very, very smoothly!

I had a bit of a scare when parking at the little pull over area by the quarry where Wichada and the rest of the class were painting. I pulled into that area several times during the day in my comings and goings. I noticed a black area on the ground which I instinctively avoided but one time I tried parking at a different angle and believe I inadvertently drove right over the black spot. After I got out I looked at that spot closely and found that someone had burned something there and the blackness was the remnants of that fire. That’s OK but I was horrified to see that the entire area, and somewhat beyond, was littered with sheet rock nails. I was extremely worried that a tire could have been punctured. I eventually took the car up the road to check the tire pressures (There is a readout on the display of the tire pressures.) Fortunately, there wasn’t any change so I was lucky!

The reason I was so concerned with this incident is that the model 3 doesn’t have a spare tire. I was going to buy the compressor and tire repair tool that Tesla sells but learned that it won’t even work to patch a tire because Tesla tires come with a wide strip of foam on the inside of the tire designed to reduce road noise. Tesla’s tire repair kit plugs the puncture by introducing a sealant into the tire. Foam covering the area where a puncture is most likely to occur will prevent the sealant from covering the area. Another alternative is a tire plug kit but some forum members say, even that would prevent a proper repair.

On the way back to Burlington I decided to check out the superchargers in Berlin which were on our way back and not far from the quarries. The navigation said that we would still have 38% charge by the time we got home so we didn’t have to charge there but I wanted to do it for the experience.

On the way to the super chargers I noticed that the humming/whining noise that is only occasionally noticeable at certain speeds, was quite audible and nearly continuous. I also noticed a message pop up on the left hand of the display saying that the battery was being pre-conditioned for charging. It took me a while to put that message and the whining together and realize that the whining  must be related to the pre-conditioning process. Perhaps it was using degenerative braking to heat the battery or something like that.

The directions from navigation weren’t quite clear and we missed the entrance to the Comfort Inn parking lot, instead entering a huge Maplewoods/Irving gas station/convenience store complex. It DID seem a little bizarre that electric charging stations would co-exist with gas pumps. In fact they were very close to one another but I had to go back one entrance to the Comfort Inn. After entering, I could see the Tesla chargers clearly at the back corner of the Comfort Inn parking lot. There were also some non-Tesla chargers nearby.

Charging was great. We pulled in with about 50% charge and after plugging in, the car’s charging page said it would be done in 20 minutes. To be clear, that’s only a 30% charge since I try not to charge over 80%, that being best for battery longevity. Wichada and I were looking for something on the web browser and before we knew it, half of that time was gone. Then I got out to stretch my legs and by the time I returned to the car it was charged to 80%.

Sure enough, the pre-conditioning extra noise was no longer present after leaving the charger!

Author: korkiley

Systems Administrator at University of Vermont (retired as of 7/1/2012) Married Favorite Activities: Condor Glider Online Competition, Developing web sites, making espresso, and keeping a blog

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