Third winter with my electric vehicle

I’ve had the Model S for two and a half years now, and it has about 39,000 miles on the odometer. It’s a 2016 90D with the first-generation sensor set and 19-inch wheels.

Here are some thoughts in the car’s third winter.

Its factory tires got to the end of their useful live at 38,000 miles, and I replaced them with the same make and model of tire. Town Fair Tire charged me about $160 a tire. Notice that it takes about four days for a local tire shop to get the W-rated tires from their warehouse. Notice also that the tire shop uses a manual saying to inflate the tires to about 36psi. It’s probably smart to tell them to check the placard on the door post in place of their manual.

The battery is losing a bit of range as it ages. I  typically set the charge target at 70%. When the car was new, the dashboard said I had 202 miles with that charge level. Now it says I have about 197. This is guesswork.

It runs OK no matter what the outside temperature down to about -5F.

When the  temperature is below about 38F the car consumes far more power than when it’s warmer. When it’s about 70F, I get about 270wH per mile. But, when it’s cold I get more like 400wH per mile. I’ve experimented with leaving the cabin cold, and that doesn’t seem to make much difference. It would be nice to have a bit more information about where the power goes.

  • Is it  going into the motors to overcome the resistance of denser air or stiffer, cold, tires?
  • Is it going into cabin heat?
  • Is it going into battery heat?
  • Is it used to overcome higher internal resistance in a cold battery?
  • Or what?

My number one wish for a new user interface feature is a more useful power status display. It would be great to know where the power goes, and to be able to see a history of power taken on board by charging, and expended by driving.

The seat heaters get too hot on any setting other than the lowest. It would be good to rework the settings so the lowest and middle settings are slightly cooler.

With the recent UI update, the button to turn on and off the steering wheel heat is buried too deeply.

Whenever there’s snow or ice, the rear view mirror retraction mechanisms freeze up and jam. So, I turn  the feature off in the winter, and leave the mirrors deployed. There’s a small glitch. though. The summon feature retracts the mirrors. But they  stay retracted when I hop in to drive, requiring manual deployment.

The windshield washer spray pattern doesn’t reach the top of the driver’s side glass.

The dimmest setting on the displays is too bright when driving in rural areas without streetlights, and interferes with the dark-adaptation of my eyes. This could be fixed by making the displays a little dimmer when set to 0%, or by making them redder to reduce the amount of short-wavelength light they emit.

It would be nice if the center-panel display could be switched off entirely when it’s not in use.

I’ve  learned that autopilot (adaptive cruise control and lane-holding) will not engage in rain or snow;  I guess the front-facing camera can’t see lane stripes or other vehicles well enough to engage.

I had the chance to drive a Nissan vehicle with their Safety Shield features. Tesla has done a far better job of integrating sensor data into their displays. Driving the Nissan on a narrow road (CA 16 from Santa Cruz to Los Gatos) makes it generate continuous, irritating, and distracting side-proximity warnings.

Oh yeah. The sound system. Grumble. I use the Stitcher and Apple Podcast apps on my iPhone when driving, and the car’s user interface is primitive.

In particular, it’s hard to shut down podcasts when parking the car. I have to mute the sound and switch the sound system to radio. Why? The car’s bluetooth seizes the phone and restarts podcasts too aggressively when I walk near the vehicle.This problem can be mitigated by switching the sound system to Radio before leaving the  car. But the volume level is much louder for the radio, so I have to mute the sound before switching. An off button would fix this problem. So would a sound-system mode that connected via USB rather than bluetooth.

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