Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

A road trip with an EV? Are you sure?

Last year we had booked a trip for a month, but unfortunately corona came around and the trip got cancelled.
Because the world is still not without Corona, we decided this year without reservations and with a tent in the back of the Tesla to do a road trip to the South of France.

We were asked by friends and family whether that was wise with a Tesla (EV). Well, we haven’t done it before and we hadn’t used Tesla trips before, but I can tell you one thing, The Tesla Trips is almost worth taking a Tesla alone.

  • Because of the Tesla trips we had an automatic stop of around 15-20 minutes every 1.5 – 2 hours.
  • The stops are almost all at a hotel that is no more than 1 to 2 km from the highway.
  • These stops are quieter than a gas station and generally much cleaner.
  • Because you automatically have a stop, you don’t have to think about when and where you will stop and you automatically arrive at your destination.
  • I don’t know if this is something new for 2021, but Tesla added extra chargers that charged faster than most (250kw) at busy locations. There were no waiting lines to charge.

Tips and tricks for a road trip with a Tesla from my own experience

The tips and tricks are from my own experience. I have no idea what is common knowledge, and what we should have done.

If you have any good tips for me, I’d love to hear them!


Use the adaptive cruise control as much as possible

This ensures that the battery is used more efficiently and even recharges during downhill.
On the signs at the deeper downhill there are signs with ‘Use engine braking’. By using the cruise control, the Tesla automatically brakes via regenerative braking.

In a battery-powered electric vehicle, regenerative braking (also called regen) is the conversion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. It is braking because it also serves to slow the vehicle. It is regenerative because the energy is recaptured in the battery where it can be used again.
Source: Tesla.com

You can see it on your Display when the battery is charging.

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience
Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Use regenerative braking as much as possible

Tesla removed the option to lower regenerative braking for newer Tesla’s, but in my car I still have the option to set this option to low or standard.

If you have to drive for hours on the highway, this option does not make much sense and it is better to use the cruise control as indicated above, but if you drive on country roads or through a city with many stops, it is wise to use this option to set to standard.

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience
Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Like the cruise control, the battery is charged when the car brakes.


Drive the speed limit indicated on the signs

You don’t have to save battery to arrive at the next supercharger or final destination. The calculation on how much battery life you have left is done on the speed that you are allowed to drive on the road.

On road trips in the past we often drove around 110-120 on highways in order to reduce the cost of petrol.
Charging at Tesla superchargers costs so little that the difference is almost nil when you go below the indicated speed. So stick to the speeds that you are allowed to drive as long as you feel comfortable with it.

We made this mistake on the way there and in the end we had 45% left when we got to our first destination.


Don’t set the air conditioner to a ridiculously low temperature

The air conditioner uses a lot of battery. When you set the air conditioning to a ridiculously low temperature, it costs even more energy and in no time you are too cold and you turn the air conditioning up again, which in turn costs battery. Maintain a temperature that remains pleasant.

I usually set the air conditioning to 21 degrees (69.8F).


Do not forget to check your navigation settings!

We were just before Paris when we came across roadworks signs.
Finally, before turning onto the main road, we were diverted to a country road. Around 23:00 on unlit country roads, where a Dutchman is not used to drive on.
This cost us a lot of energy, and guess what? It wasn’t roadworks, but Avoid Tolls was on!

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Check your navigation settings before you start your trip!


Maintain your car before you start the roadtrip

Don’t forget to check your tire pressure and make sure you have enough rider wiper fluid.

I didn’t do this and during the ride the wiper fluid ran out.
Especially during a road trip in a country where they speak virtually no English, and where your car is covered in flies, and birds use your car as a toilet, it is wise to have this.


Will you sleep a night your car? Don’t forget to turn on camp mode!

We started driving around 7:00 PM. Around 00:00 AM we were in Paris and we wanted to get some sleep. Without thinking too much about it, we forgot to turn on camp mode.

I can tell you that when you’re asleep and the car suddenly thinks there’s a serious break-in, you’re wide awake…


Extra trips for when you use the Tesla as a closet and locker and for when you sleep in a small tent

We didn’t just use the car as a means of transport. The tent was for 2 to 3 people and little space for suitcases, so we also used the Tesla as a closet and locker.

On the back seats were our suitcases and in the glove box were the passports, ID cards, etc.. The nice thing about the glove box in a Tesla is that you can set a pin code on it.
This means that you could leave the car unlocked for a while without having to worry about the valuables.

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience
Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

some of these tips may be a bit exaggerated, but for me it was useful. I could not charge at the campsites via 230 volts or the chargers at the campsite were not linked to my lease company.

We opened the car on average 50-60 times a day. This costs us without the tips below over 20% each day. And that while the Tesla was not driving, we had to improvise. We had 1 time that we had to leave the campsite with a half hour drive to a supercharger near Narbonne to prevent that we would be left with an empty battery.

Using the options below my battery went down by 1 percent per day.

All of these settings are done when the car is in Easy Entry mode (Some are not profile bound).


Turn off the Air Condition

When you open the car to grab a t-shirt, the air condition does not have to turn on. This will continue for a while after you close the doors again. This causes unnecessary energy consumption and the air conditioning is a huge energy consumption.

Have you driven the Tesla again? Don’t forget to turn off the air conditioner again.


Turn off the Music

The same goes for the music.
Or are you so eager to listen to your favourite music when you grab a t-shirt?


Turn off all Lights

All lights in and outside the car turn on automatically when you open the doors. None of this is necessary if you just want to grab a t-shirt. This was certainly a big energy consumption when you opened the car doors several times.

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience
Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Turn off Display Brightness

Do you use the Display when putting on a t-shirt? No, so the Display brightness can also be set to 0%.

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience
Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Turn off Sentry Mode

Sentry mode is a nice setting to have when your car is parked somewhere, but it is inconvenient next to your tent.
Every time you walk past it you trigger a sensor. The car then turns on the lights and starts recording.
This ensures a significant energy consumption of your battery.

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience
Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Turn off the Security Alarm & Cabin Overheat Protection

The security alarm itself is nice to have. Only when you sleep in a tent next to your car is it not necessary. And by disabling the Security Alarm, you can also disable Cabin Overheat Protection.

Cabin Overheat Protection maintains the cabin temperature under 40 degrees (105 Fahrenheit) while parked for up to 12 hours after you leave.
No A/C mode consumes less energy but temperature may exceed 40 degrees (105 Fahrenheit).
This feature does not operate when the battery reaches 20% or less.

Source: Tesla

Road trip with Tesla (M3) tips and tricks from my own experience

Disable Bluetooth when you sleep in your tent

Turn off Bluetooth on your phone.
This is not a way to save battery, but to ensure that people cannot enter your car uninvited while you are sleeping with your phone next to you.

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Bas Wijdenes

My name is Bas Wijdenes and I work as a PowerShell Automation Engineer. My main focus is PowerShell, Azure AD, Azure Infrastructure, Server Management, and Exchange (Online).

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