2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: It Sells Itself

July 23, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

This may come as a disappointment to some, but we've sold our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S. A number of readers wanted us to keep the car for reasons ranging from "I want to see what else happens" to "the Model S is the only car worth reading about on this blog."

There was never a dull moment with our Model S, and while it wasn't my decision to sell it, I can understand why it had to go. First, we've already learned the lessons from this car. It is an impressive technological achievement, but Tesla needs to iron out its quality problems.

Second, we've already set our sights on buying two other vehicles: a 2015 Ford Mustang and a 2015 Ford F-150. Selling the Model S will make it possible for us to add two cars to the fleet and provide twice the content for our readers.

And third, we received not one but two offers for the Tesla and that was too good to pass up. Here's how it happened.

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2013 Tesla Model S: The Rest of the Story

July 21, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

You got the first half of the story from Dan and Kurt.

Here's the rest of the cross country run in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S:
2013 Tesla Model S Coast-to-Coast Road Trip

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2013 Tesla Model S: Drive Unit IV: The Milling

July 08, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Just a few days after his epic, cross-country Supercharger-fueled road trip in our 2013 Tesla Model S, Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing, sent me the following text:

"It should go in for a post-trip check-up tomorrow, after I wash it. We started to hear a noise in the last 500 miles. And those new tires should be rotated too."

Dan and Kurt are preparing a full update on their trip for publication in a few days. They made it there in record time, breaking Tesla's own cross-country run by several hours. We let them sleep for a while when they got back but they are now working on photos and such.

Dan later told me about an error message he saw on the car's touchscreen: "Bluetooth not functioning correctly, needs service."

We were going to begin the process of selling the car, so it was important to have these things sorted out before listing it. I sent an email to my manager, letting her know this would take up most of my day and quipped, "It'll probably need a new touchscreen and drive unit."

Turns out, I wasn't too far off.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Model X Update

June 19, 2014

Tesla

Back in January, we made a $40,000 deposit for a Tesla Model X Signature. We hadn't heard much from Tesla since then, even after it was quietly delayed into 2015. That changed when we received the following e-mail.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Los Angeles to New York in Pictures

June 17, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Here is a photo essay of our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S during our cross-country road trip using the newly completed Tesla supercharger network. This is recreated from the live Twitter feed for those of you who don't use Twitter.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Coast-to-Coast Trip

June 13, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

We're finally going to do it. Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr and I are preparing to drive our 2013 Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to New York City following the path dictated by the Supercharger network.

Our original goal is simple: depart Los Angeles on Friday night after game five of the Stanley Cup is over and arrive in New York before the puck drops in Madison Square Garden on Monday night for game six. That gives us 69 hours to play with.

The Rangers have some work to do if this is going to pan out. They've got to win game five in Los Angeles. It's all over if the Kings take Friday's game at the Staples Center.

In which case we'll still make the drive. We don't have tickets for game six anyway. It's only just an excuse at this point.

And yes, this trip represents another reason why we just replaced all four tires.

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2013 Tesla Model S: New Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires

June 12, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Truth be told, only one tire on our 2013 Tesla Model S was down to the wear bars and needed to be replaced. You may remember that we got out of sequence a few months ago when we replaced a single tire that was damaged. The other three have about 3,000 miles left.

So the question was this: two tires or four?

We were leaning toward four because of the noise problem that cropped up recently. Tesla service surmised that odd (and subtle) heal-toe tire wear was playing a role after they conducted back-to-back test drives with new tires and wheels they had on the shelf.

The deal was sealed when Matt Edmonds, a friend over at Tire Rack, suggested we try the Michelin Pilot Super Sport, a tire that's newly available in 245/35ZR21, the very size we need.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Durable Interior

June 12, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

While there are mixed opinions about the style and practicality of some features on the interior of our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, the materials are certainly durable. After 16 months in our fleet and nearly 23,000 miles on the odometer, our Tesla's interior surfaces are holding up well.

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2013 Tesla Model S: CarMax Offer

June 6, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

We thought we would bide our time while waiting for the debut of the Tesla Model X by keeping our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S a while longer. But we have pretty much covered all the bases on this car and quite frankly, we're getting that itch to buy something new. We were pretty sure that selling this car would replenish our coffers. But we weren't exactly sure how much we'd get. No one had any pricing data on the car.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Our long-term Chevrolet Volt and Fiat 500 were in the same uncharted waters back when we sold them. Would we get top dollar for our Model S? Take a wild guess before you hit the jump.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Our Thermally-Fused NEMA 14-50 Adaptor Has Finally Arrived

June 5, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

A package came today, and it was from Tesla Motors. Inside was a replacement NEMA 14-50 charge cord adaptor for our 2013 Tesla Model S.

Don't remember the story? It dates back to late last year and involved a couple of near-miss fire incidents during charging with a 240-volt NEMA 14-50 wall receptacle and the matching plug adaptor that Tesla provides with each Model S charge cord.

The incidents were ultimately blamed on faulty NEMA 14-50 wall receptacle installations, possible DIY jobs by amateur electricians. Indeed the parts required to install a NEMA 14-50 receptacle are temptingly cheap at places like Home Depot and Lowes. Thing is, you can't buy experience and an electrician's training at those places.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Five EV Questions

June 4, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

When you drive the 2013 Tesla Model S you'd better be ready for questions. Over the past year driving this EV, and the three years driving my 2011 Nissan Leaf SL, I've fielded hundreds of questions. They almost always come in the same order. The #1 most common question is — you guessed it — "How far will it go on a full charge?"

The #2 most common question might surprise you.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cost of Gas vs. Electricity

June 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Americans hate high gas prices. Hate, hate, hate them. Presidencies have been toppled by the inability to provide cheap gas. Just ask Jimmy Carter. So you would think Americans would embrace EVs. Not so. Or at least, not yet. Maybe the problem is no one puts a real dollar sign on the savings.

I decided to look at the fuel cost of driving our 2013 Tesla Model S 23,000 miles compared to driving the BMW 7 Series, (19 mpg combined) over the same distance. Remember, this is fuel cost only.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Clean Screen

June 2, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm kind of a neat freak about having clean glass. Since the touchscreen in our 2013 Tesla Model S is nearly as big as a home TV, it quickly gets decorated with nasty looking fingerprints and smears.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Laundry List Service Visit

May 30, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

None of our most recent 2013 Tesla Model S complaints were very significant. Taken separately, each one could wait. The vanity mirror hinges had cracked, but they still worked and hadn't fallen off. Ed heard a creak in the steering. We needed to have the new Underbody Shield kit installed. I recently heard a loud buzzing when the air conditioner kicked on in hot weather.

And then we started to hear a sort of raspy noise under hard acceleration. That tipped the scales. We made our appointment.

Here's what the Tesla Service Center did in addition to installing the Underbody Shield Kit, which was covered previously.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Underbody (Battery) Shield Kit Installed

May 27, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

It's coming up on two months since Tesla rolled out their mechanical response to the pair of weird debris-caused battery fires that occurred last year. The situation didn't seem dire, so we chose not to rush out to be the first on our block to have the new Underbody Shield Kit installed on our 2013 Tesla Model S. Better to wait until the initial stampede subsided, until the pipeline had plenty of parts in it.

We finally took it in last week. Well, actually, the concierge came to us and picked it up. That's the advantage of being three miles from a Tesla Service Center.

I hoisted the car up on our Rotary lift and removed the plastic underbody soon after it came back so I could see what they'd done. The shot above shows the new pieces.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharger Network Still Growing

May 26, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

The list of far-flung places we can drive our 2013 Tesla Model S continues to grow as more Supercharger stations are added. There are 94 in the Continental US at the moment, which is two more than I saw when I checked this map last week and about 40 more than there were this past New Year's Day.

The latest Supercharger addition that affects us is the new one in San Juan Capistrano, the place with the mission, the swallows and former President Nixon's western White House. This one puts San Diego within easy range for a round trip with no top-up required to get back home.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Driving Impressions and 20,000-Mile Update

April 16, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

It's a rare day when the keys to our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S end up in my pocket. I have a long commute perfect for adding miles to our long-term cars, and it was during only my second outing with the Tesla that it finally hit the 20,000-mile marker.

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2013 Tesla Model S: When to Choose Max Charge

April 15, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

For the past two and a half years I've been driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf SL and I'm sold on electric cars. But as the months go by, I feel more and more restricted by the range. There are several places I routinely want to go that are about 80 miles away, 160 round trip. So we're not talking full-on road trip, just too far for the Leaf. That's why, when I saw the 2013 Tesla Model S was available, I decided to stay electric but push beyond my normal boundaries. Still, I wanted every bit of security I could get.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Creaking Steering Rack

April 10, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

With well over 20,000 miles on the odometer, our 2013 Tesla Model S has some solid wear on it. At this point I would expect a few squeaks and creaks to pop up in the interior, but the noise I heard last night wasn't like that at all.

The noise I heard was coming from the steering rack, but only as it approached full lock. It was a loud creak, too, not a faint tick that turning up the radio would cure.

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2013 Tesla Model S: I Want a Regen Rheostat

March 28, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

...or maybe it's technically a digital potentiometer. Either way, the default "Standard" and "Low" settings for regenerative braking on the 2013 Tesla Model S just aren't enough.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Premium Center Console

March 24, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

One of the gripes we and other Tesla Model S owners have is the lack of interior storage. As it comes from the factory, you have two medium-sized cupholders, a glovebox and a short walled tray that is mounted to the floor where other cars would have a center console. For $650, you can have Tesla install something called a Yacht floor, which lines that floor tray with matching interior wood trim and strips of rubber that run lengthwise. For the same price, there's also something called the Premium Center Console.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Most Annoying Feature

March 11, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Excluding multiple battery failure, the 2013 Tesla Model S's most annoying feature, or lack thereof, is this: no volume knob. Elon and friends have over-thought many aspects of this car, some for good (giganto multimedia display, acceleration as dreamy as a box of Whip-Its) and some for ill.

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2013 Tesla Model S: No Distance Lines on Backup Screen

March 10, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla says that its Model S is the only car with an HQ backup screen. That much is true, but something on that HQ screen is missing.

There are no distance lines to let you know how far you are from the car behind you. There is also no projected path for the Model S when it is in reverse.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Steering Wheel Controls

March 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

It seems I have something against steering wheel controls lately. I last complained about the button layout in our Mazda 3. This time, it's our 2013 Tesla Model S.

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2013 Tesla Model S: How Much Range Is Lost When Parked?

February 28, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

One of the frequently asked questions I get about electric vehicles goes like this: "What happens to the battery when the car sits parked? How many miles does is lose just sitting there?"

OK, that was two questions, but still.

A couple of weeks ago I deliberately checked out the 2013 Tesla Model S for a trip I took to Puerto Rico to test the upcoming 2014 Mini Cooper.

The Model S was my ride to the airport, and it sat idle in an LAX parking structure for three days while I flew south for the winter. Tesla's handy iPhone app confirmed it had 204 miles of range as I boarded the Wally Park airport shuttle.

How much would it have when I came back?

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2013 Tesla Model S: It Does Have Homelink, But...

February 27, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a few missing features in the 2013 Tesla Model S. As some Model S owners pointed out in the comments, I erroneously included the Homelink universal garage door opener amongst them. I was clearly wrong: the Tesla does in fact have Homelink built into the uber touchscreen that controls everything else in the car. I should've known, despite Homelink in every other car consisting of three physical buttons on the visor, mirror or headliner near the sunroof controls.

However, as it turns out, the problem isn't that the Tesla Model S is missing Homelink, but that it's rather complicated.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Is the Third Drive Unit the Charm?

February 20, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

When we last left our 2013 Tesla Model S, it was on the back of a flat-bed tow truck, having died on my colleague, Matt Jones. It spent the night in a tow yard and was delivered to the Tesla service department in West Los Angeles the following morning.

Vince, our service advisor, was great about giving me updates throughout the course of the day. "We're getting a bunch of faults from the drive unit and main battery pack," said Vince. "Our technicians are taking a look at it now. I'll call you when I have more information."

It sounded serious.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Stuck on the Freeway

February 19, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

This was to be my first date with the 2013 Tesla Model S. I've admired this car from afar, and quite honestly, I'd been looking forward to some Tesla seat time since being hired at Edmunds.com. Finally, my chance had come. Just the two of us. Alone. It was destined to be a special night. Me, the Tesla, and the highway.

Well, I'm sure I'm not the first guy to have a dream date go sour.

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2013 Tesla Model S: It's Still Impressive

February 11, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

With new supercharger stations opening daily, our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S has been clocking quite a few miles as of late. It has seen several road trips, and I don't see it in the office nearly as much. I hadn't driven our Tesla in ages, but when I got back into it recently, I remembered exactly how much I love this car.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Carpool Stickers Are Losing Their Usefulness

February 7, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

When the carpool stickers for our 2013 Tesla Model S finally arrived last summer I was thrilled. With a 35-mile commute each way down one of the busiest freeways in L.A., I saw myself shaving a nice chunk off of it each night as I breezed by in the far left lane.

The reality has been completely different.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Weak Black Levels

February 6, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Savvy TV shoppers may learn about tech terms like luminance, contrast ratio and refresh rates. Then there are black levels, and that's what leads me to the 2013 Tesla Model S.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Missing Common Features

February 5, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

I've previously written about the 2013 Tesla Model S's missing coat hooks and grab handles. I've also expressed my puzzlement about the bowling alley that runs between the front seats.

After driving the Tesla Model S this past weekend, I noticed a few more common equipment omissions. Just like the Mercedes CLA, the Tesla does not have a drop-down rear center armrest. Given the Tesla's higher price and vastly more usable rear seat space, it's an even more glaring omission here.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Will the Wife Fit?

February 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Jacquot and Monticello are forever pondering, "Will the Bike Fit?" Or rather, will a mountain bike fit in the trunk of the long-term car in question. That's not what I'm seeking to answer today.

Now normally, I wouldn't ponder whether my wife will fit in the trunk of a car. Generally speaking, doing so would indicate that I have either, A) Murdered her or B) Attempted to smuggle her out of East Germany. In this case, the 2013 Tesla Model S provides a third option.

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2013 Tesla Model S: I-5 Charging Station Review

January 30, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

So I've been meaning to write this up for awhile: a quick review of each of the Supercharger stations we stopped off at to charge our 2013 Tesla Model S during a holiday road trip from L.A. to Corvallis, Oregon.

Editor Dan Edmunds pretty much did the same run JayKav and I did back in November but I figured I'd focus more on what exactly there is to do at these stations while you're waiting for your car to charge.

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2013 Tesla Model S: A Different Tire Issue

January 24, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

What is it with our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S and its rear tires? First the premature wear issue that destroyed the two rears, then a bubble that destroyed the driver-side rear, now this.

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light came on while driving. Before I could pull off to check into it, the light extinguished. Forgot about it until the next day when this alert flashed up while still in the driveway.

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2013 Tesla Model S: A Typical Supercharger Dinner

January 17, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

We're headed south on the way home from Oregon. The Supercharger at Vacaville, California is dead ahead. We decided against dinner at our last stop, but we're good and hungry now. And we're in the mood for a break.

I back our 2013 Tesla Model S into one of the eight supercharger slots located along one edge of the lot at Vacaville Premium Outlets, hop out and plug in. Electricity begins flowing before everyone else finishes sorting themselves out and exits the car. Time: 7:32 p.m.; remaining range: 13 miles

After a short discussion we decide to eat at Mel's Diner. It's not on the Vacaville Supercharger webpage that my wife consulted in the car on the way in, but Google says it's just behind the narrow strip of outlet stores to our left.

We do an end-around past the row of shops, traverse Mel's parking lot and go inside. The hostess seats us after a brief wait. Our waiter comes by after a couple of minutes and takes our drink orders while we continue to peruse our menus.

Our drinks arrive a couple of minutes later. At this point I decide to see how the car is doing while my wife and kids order food. Then I ask for a patty melt, medium well, with fries and a side salad.
Time: 7:45 p.m. (13 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 77; new range: 90 miles

The salads arrive. No, that one's mine. She had the ranch.
Time: 7:51 p.m. (19 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 107; new range: 120 miles

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2013 Tesla Model S: Wall Adapter Replacement Program

January 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last Friday, Tesla Motors announced a replacement program for wall charger adapters. Apparently there have been several reports of smoke in the vicinity of the wall plug, and at least one owner was burned when trying to unplug his car when he saw said smoke.

Early media reports were all over the map, with accompanying photos depicting the High Powered Wall Connector (HPWC) or a Tesla Supercharger. Neither is involved. They're fine.

And while the issue is related to the home charge cord that comes with the car, the cord itself is fine, too. The issue is instead related to the use of the NEMA 14-50 wall adapter that can be snapped onto the end of it. That's the part that's being replaced.

That's the adapter I was using at Dad's place in Oregon. In fact, I had a minor charge issue myself while I was there. See the next page for more on that.

Tesla says the adapter isn't really at issue. They instead blame the incidents on substandard or faulty home wiring.

"These are very rare events, but occasionally the wiring isn't done right," CEO Elon Musk said. "We want people to have absolute comfort, so we're going to be providing them with an upgraded adapter."

The upgraded adapter, which will be mailed to Tesla owners in the next two weeks, is functionally identical to the one pictured above, but with a thermal fuse imbedded inside to cut power if overheating is detected.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cheap Electricity on the Oregon Coast

January 14, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Dad has plenty of power in his Oregon coast garage. It's more of a shop, really. Beyond the usual hand tools he's got a mill, a lathe, a humungous 6.5-hp air compressor and a nice welder. And he happens to have a NEMA 14-50 "RV" socket, too, and that made it easy to drive our 2013 Tesla Model S every day during our stay.

Sure, a garden-variety 120-volt, 12-amp garage plug would have worked, but the resulting slow charge rate couldn't possibly fill the battery overnight. The Tesla's unique configurable charge cord with its included NEMA 14-50 wall adapter can access 240-volt power at up to 40 amps. Volts times amps equals watts, so that works out to a very healthy maximum delivery rate of 9.6 kilowatts.

And so we awoke to a full battery every morning. We could drive as much as we liked. Good thing, too, because the weather was gorgeous and the stunning viewpoints are numerous.

But it gets better. Dad's electricity rates are low. He pays just 7.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in summer and 7.94 cents in winter. These rates apply at all hours. Taxes and transmission costs are included, too.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Electric Holiday Road Trip

January 13, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Twice a year my family heads north to Oregon to visit my parents on the spectacular yet remote southern Oregon coast. Each time we take a different car from the long-term fleet, and this time it was the 2103 Tesla Model S sedan.

We couldn't have done this in August because the Tesla Supercharger network hadn't yet been finished north of Sacramento, California. Our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe was drafted instead.

By November Tesla had added Superchargers all the way north to Canada. Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh beat me to trial-run honors by traveling to Corvallis, Oregon during the Thanksgiving break.

But I was still curious. Would the Tesla Model S and its battery charging requirement significantly alter our usual trip timing, Supercharger network notwithstanding?

There was only one way to find out, but my wife and daughters were not terribly excited about being roped into this experiment. Would I regret this decision after subjecting them to unwanted extra travel time? Would it take forever? Would I never hear the end of it?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Road Trip Recharging Strategy

January 10, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

A few commenters were critical of the recharging strategy I employed during my 2,000-mile road trip in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S. Namely, I'd fill only partway, putting in enough miles to reach the next Supercharger, plus an extra buffer. For this I was chastised as an EV newbie and tut-tutted for not doing complete charges.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharger Waiting Room

January 9, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

This photo was taken at Harris Ranch on the return leg of my 2,000-mile road trip in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S.

As you can see, the next Tesla to pull up to this bank of Superchargers is pretty much boned. All of the chargers are taken, and none of the other vehicle owners are in sight. They're off snoozing or eating or playing jai-alai somewhere, apparently oblivious to the plight befalling the next Tesla driver seeking a juice fix.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cold Weather Performance

January 8, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

While in Corvallis, OR, during my road trip, I had the opportunity to drive our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S in cold-ish weather. That is, sub- freezing but not single digits. So, brisk rather than brutally cold. Jacket and hat weather.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Huge Improvements in Release v5.8

January 2, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

For the most part, what your car has in terms of features and controls on the day you buy it is fixed until the day it goes to the scrapyard. Not so with our 2013 Tesla Model S.

Like the apps or operating system of the typical smartphone, new features and enhancements can be pushed out at any time. The car is built to be upgradeable with new software and firmware versions that are pushed out over the 3G network with which the car communicates. Like your smartphone, all you must do is acknowledge and accept the new download...then wait.

Version 5.8 was released last week, and it brought with it numerous upgrades.

Example: This wiper service mode did not previously exist. This "button" I'm pointing to on the screen is all new. The timing was perfect because our Model S needed new wiper blades, and I was able to park the wipers in the up position with this new feature so I could easily remove the blades before taking them inside the local auto parts store.

But this is not the most significant of the v5.8 improvements...

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2013 Tesla Model S: Beyond 15,000 Miles

January 1, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S sailed past the 15,000-mile mark, exactly 10 months to the day since it joined our long-term test fleet.

On the one hand, this lags slightly behind the pace necessary to reach 20,000 miles in one year, our usual stated goal. Its 12-month total is on track to settle in at 18,000 miles if the current mileage accumulation rate persists.

On the other hand, no other electric car we've hosted in our fleet has come even half this close. This current mileage figure is unprecedented in our experience.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Car Key Shows Signs of Wear

December 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Car keys have a tough life. They spend the bulk of their time rustling around in pockets and purses. They rattle up against adjacent house keys on the same ring. And they sometimes get dropped.

Modern push-start smart-entry key systems have evolved away from serrated teeth. As a result they stay firmly planted in one's pocket or purse more of the time. But they still endure a lot of handling and jostling.

The "key" to our 2013 Model S is of this basic type, but like everything else on the Tesla it's a bit different. It's smooth and seamless. You can't see the three embedded buttons for the frunk, doors and hatch.

That's how it started, anyway. With use, circumferential seams began to emerge. The one for the doors split all the way around and fell off, revealing the actual button below.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Tire Sidewall Bubble

December 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Ruh roh. In Corvallis, OR, at the halfway point of my road trip, my attentive friend at Spriso Motorsports pointed out that the driver-side rear tire of our long-term 2012 Tesla Model S had a little bump in the sidewall. The bubble appears far more prominent in the purposefully lit, super-ultra macro photo above than it did in real life. Guy's got some eyeballs on him.

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2013 Tesla Model S: We Bought Snow Tires

December 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We don't plan on shying away from cold and snowy weather when it comes to driving our 2013 Tesla Model S this winter.

In the immediate future I'm driving it north to Oregon over the holidays. And we plan on taking advantage of the cross-country possibilities of the ever-expanding Supercharger network, which is scheduled to establish its first link across the northern plains states in time for this winter's auto show season.

But our P85 Model S Performance rolls on an uncommon tire size: 245/35R21, to be exact. Furthermore, there aren't many places to buy winter tires in Southern California. Tirerack.com is our best source.

Why did we go with Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 winter tires? They were the only ones they had in that size.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Road Trip Range Anxiety

December 20, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Admission: I sort of cringe at the expression "range anxiety." It's a trite, too-easy sound bite in any discussion of EVs. But in this case, it's apt.

It happened during the 139-mile stretch between the Superchargers at Grant's Pass, OR, and Eugene, OR during my recent road trip in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Shimmy

December 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

During my road trip, I drove over some coarse pavement. At the time, I thought what I was feeling through the seat of my pants and the steering wheel rim was simply road texture.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Side-View Mirror Reflection

December 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

When the sun is in just the right (wrong) position in the sky, our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S throws a big-time glare right in your face. The source? The flat, highly polished chrome-like arm that anchors the side-view mirror to the car. This is no little dazzle, either. It's really obnoxious. I noticed this on the return leg of my road trip as I was heading south on I-5.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Road Trip Dynamics

December 13, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Okay, so what is our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S like to drive on a long freeway road trip, putting aside the particulars of its unconventional refueling?

In some ways, it's brilliant. Its instantaneous and seamless flood of torque is just wonderfully, brutally effective when you want to pop into holes in traffic or put some distance between you and a brain-dead I-5 driver. But that's not all. See, in the Tesla you can be stealthy. Hit the throttle in a conventional car and the soaring engine noise tips your hand. Mat the Tesla's accelerator and the car simply shoots forward. Very rapidly, I might add.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Trip Planning Is Key

December 12, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Perhaps unsurprisingly, taking a road trip in an EV like our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S requires planning. I needed to know the Supercharger locations and the distance between them.

I started out on the Supercharger landing page on Tesla's Web site. Strangely, the map there cannot be zoomed, nor are the location markers live. The map is simply an image. To sort out the actual Supercharger locations you scroll down and search the listings for one that sounds like it might be in general vicinity of location you're squinting at on the map. Chances are it's in a town you've never heard of. Good luck.

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2013 Tesla Model S: 2,000-Mile Road Trip

December 11, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Over the holiday I drove our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S on its longest road trip yet, a 2,000-mile jaunt to Corvallis, OR, and back to Los Angeles. It dawned on me the week prior (before I'd decided which car to take) to my departure that my route would take me right along the path of Superchargers along Interstate 5.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Graphical Brains

December 09, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

This year's L.A. Auto Show added an extra day for something called the Connected Car Expo. The Expo put a spotlight on emerging technology in the automotive industry and I was fortunate enough to be asked to help moderate a few small discussion groups. One of the first attendees I encountered was Samuel Tao, Director of Product Management, Automotive from Nvidia.

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2013 Tesla Model S: HPWC Default Charge Rate 80 Amps Again

December 06, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Since the April-May timeframe all Tesla Model S sedans like ours have been operating under firmware restrictions that dialed back the default charging rate of Tesla's HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) to 60 amps instead of the 80 amps they were designed to deliver.

This was done because fuses were popping left and right inside the early HPWCs. Tesla sent out the charging restriction in one of their periodic over-the-air firmware updates as a temporary fix while they worked out a hardware solution.

All of this went down without a recall because the fault was not onboard the car itself. And a large number of Model S owners were oblivious because they do not own or use a Tesla HPWC for charging.

Because ours was one of many HPWCs affected, the 60-amp default remained in effect even after our replacement unit with uprated fuses was installed. We've been able to charge at 80 amps, but only after manually punching up the charge rate to 80 amps after first pushing past an "Are you sure?" screen each and every time.

Until last week.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Welcoming the Electric Future

December 03, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Recently I was chatting with a friend who wanted to know what I thought of our 2013 Tesla Model S, so I ran through some high points. He seemed impressed, but concluded that he "couldn't ever own a car that doesn't have a cool-sounding engine, like a V8."

I get where he was coming from. Sound can be a key element of a car's personality, particularly if you're a car enthusiast. But having spent multiple days in our Model S, I've come to greatly appreciate the opposite: the silence.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Wrong Album Art for Podcasts

December 02, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Let's clear this up right away: I don't have any Adam and the Ants on my iPhone. I only have two of their albums on vinyl at home.

I first ran into the problem I'm about to describe when we tested Elon Musk's own Tesla Model S last year. It started soon after I paired my iPhone, being extremely careful not to delete Elon's in the process, and began streaming audio.

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2013 Tesla Model S: A Holiday Gift

November 29, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

With the holidays just around the corner we figured it was time to start putting together a gift guide that will help you select automotive-themed tokens of affection for your nearest and dearest. This year we decided to go big or go home.

In addition to more practical selections like utensil sets for tailgaters and a deluxe road safety kit, we've included some high-dollar items for those with very deep pockets. For example, there's a Ferrari surfboard that will set you back almost two grand, and a Lamborghini Murcielago desk that, at over $10,000, doesn't come cheap.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Popular with the Rich

November 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A lot of cars turn heads on the road but I've noticed that our 2013 Tesla Model S tends to attract attention from people who look like they could genuinely afford to buy one. That guy in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class who's crawling down the 10 freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the lane next to me? Yeah, he's swiveling his head to get a look. Eyes on the road, buddy. People with means can be a pretty jaded bunch so it speaks well of the Model S that it's able to stand out and catch the eye of this hard-to-impress demographic.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Software 5.8 Update, Low Ride Height Disabled

November 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Recently our 2013 Tesla Model S received notification (through its cellular connection) that a software update was available. Just like on a PC, you can download it immediately and install, or schedule a time of your choosing.

As you can see in the photo, the update added a variety of new enhancements. But there's one thing that isn't listed: as of 5.8, Tesla changed the way the vehicle's ride height adjusts lower using the air suspension at high speed.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging at Home With a NEMA 14-50 Outlet

November 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last month we posted an update on our 2013 Tesla Model S about charging at an RV park. Basically, we used the Model S's included charge cord adapter to connect and recharge from a NEMA 14-50 receptacle, which is a four-prong, 240-volt outlet (yeah, pretty much a dryer outlet).

In the update Dan Edmunds wrote after successfully charging our Model S at the RV park, "You could even have an electrician install a 240V, 50-amp NEMA 14-50 receptacle in your garage instead of paying a grand or more for an SAE-compliant Level 2 charge station."

Well, I just happen to have exactly that setup at my house.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Mild Driveway Scrape

November 21, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Six inches. That's how much ground clearance our 2013 Tesla Model S has according to the spec sheet. In light of recent events, Tesla is quick to point out this isn't terribly low compared to other cars. That's true on the face of it, but there's always more to this singular number than meets the eye.

The first question is "Where's the low point?" On a 4x4 it's usually the bulbous axle differential housing. Sometimes it's a shock absorber bracket. There's far more clearance under the middle of the vehicle. Sedans are different. The low point is usually some hanging part of the exhaust system. The rocker panel below the door isn't usually the limiting factor, but it's not far off. Still, you've got to get down on hands and knees and peer underneath to identify the point of first contact.

Knowing this, I was surprised when our 2013 Tesla Models S grounded out (mildly) when negotiating the above driveway, which didn't appear to be particularly unusual when I approached. Yes, the sidewalk is a bit higher than the parking lot, but I certainly didn't feel the need to come at it diagonally as I might have if I'd been in a lowered machine.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Is This the Sort of Trailer Hitch He Hit?

November 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We've all heard about the most recent Tesla fire, the one that happened in Tennessee over a week ago. The driver reportedly remains a Tesla fan after hitting a "rusty three-prong trailer hitch" that was "sticking up with the ball up in the air."

As he tells it, he couldn't miss the object, which subsequently passed under the car and made hard contact. "I felt a firm "thud" as the hitch struck the bottom of the car, and it felt as though it even lifted the car up in the air."

But I haven't yet found a photograph of the actual "rusty three-prong trailer hitch" in question.

We do a lot of towing tests here at Edmunds, so we have a collection of hitch equipment in our garage. I went downstairs and inspected what we had to see if any of it made sense.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Making Sense of the Energy Displays

November 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

If you've been following the updates on our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, you've likely seen a few pictures similar to the one above. This displayed squiggly line might look like it's charting Tesla's stock prices, but it's actually showing you real-time tracking of the car's energy consumption.

On one hand, it's easy to just drive the Tesla until you recharge (or run out of juice) and not worry about what your "fuel economy" is. But if you want to know what your Tesla is actually doing, and how your driving style affects it, you need to understand what's being displayed on this screen.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Superchargers or eHarmony

November 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm going to make a guess here, but it seems entirely possible that parking your Tesla Model S at a shiny new Tesla supercharger station could be a great way to meet people you'd like to date.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Noise Is Gone

November 11, 2013

 2013 Tesla Model S

Our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S had a disconcerting, warbly-grindy noise. Subsequently, its electric drive unit was identified by the dealer as the source of the noise (bearings? Motor?), and so was replaced under warranty.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Looking at the Battery Pack From Below

November 7, 2013

 2013 Tesla Model S

Reports of a third Tesla Model S fire are just filtering in, and the Tesla forums are bogged down with extra traffic, presumably from news media trying to figure out what's going on.

I'm curious, too, so I put our 2013 Model S long-term test car up on our Rotary lift for a look around.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Rear Visibility Is Poor

November 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

This has been mentioned before, but it jumped out at me again after not driving our Tesla Model S for a while. Compared to most other sedans in its class, the rearward visibility in our Model S is terrible.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Door Handle Won't Retract

November 6, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The driver door handle on our 2013 Tesla Model S wouldn't retract yesterday. Normally, as you walk away from the car the handles retract and the doors lock. I initially thought this was related to our recent service. This was the handle mechanism the dealer replaced.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Ominous Noise Fixed

November 4, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

"Our 2013 Tesla Model S is making an ominous noise under acceleration and deceleration. It originates from the rear of the car and seems to be getting worse." That was our last post addressing this mystery.

Here is how it was fixed...

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharger Network Now Links San Diego to Vancouver B.C.

November 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Three new supercharger stations that just opened in northern California and southern Oregon now make it possible to drive our 2013 Tesla Model S from Mexico to Canada. I'll settle for Christmas with my parents on the Oregon coast, though. All I need now is a set of winter tires.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Visiting an Historical Fire House

October 31, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

These days every fire station seems to have paramedics, squads of elite firemen with extra medical training and equipment. It's something we take for granted when we talk about first responders these days.

But my late fireman friend Howard was always quick to point out that there was a time not so long ago when the idea of handing over such responsibility to firemen was brand new, revolutionary and controversial. That point in time in the early 1970s was captured by a TV show that was called Emergency!.

The Los Angeles County Fire department's new paramedic program was dramatized in this very popular NBC TV program. During its five-season run, fire chiefs and mayors across the country were inspired to develop similar capabilities after watching the show. Many of them called the production company and L.A. County Fire for advice.

I recently found out that the fictional Station 51, home of Squad 51, is a real operational station I drive past on the 405 freeway every day. I happened to be in our 2013 Tesla Model S when I decided to pop on over for a quick look.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Door Opens Automatically

October 24, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

When I shift our 2013 Tesla Model S into park, the driver door opens automatically. The door doesn't open fully, just to the first detent. This is not the first time it's happened.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Ominous Noise

October 21, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S is making an ominous noise under acceleration and deceleration. It originates from the rear of the car and seems to be getting worse. Listen to the two videos to see what I mean. One version is at low speed and the other at higher speed. We have an appointment scheduled to see the dealer today. We'll let you know what we learn.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Monitoring the Rear Wheel Alignment

October 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

You've already heard that the rear suspension of our 2013 Tesla Model S went out of alignment. For reasons unknown, the rear wheels slipped from 3/16-inch toe-in to 3/8-inch toe-out, which shredded the inside edge of the rear tires in dramatic fashion. Now it's got brand-new tires and the toe-in has been corrected, but we're still not sure when (or why) things went south.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging at an RV Park

October 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S can do many things other EVs can't, and you're looking at one of them. Here it's plugged in to the 240V shore power receptacle at an RV park in a space with full hookups. It's made to do this, which is another sign that Tesla is thinking way outside the box that defines other electric vehicles and their limited capabilities.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Deliveries Arriving Daily

October 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I used to drive our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S to work and feel different, unique and even kinda special. I used to wave when I saw another Tesla owner, and because there were so few Model S sedans on the road, I'd get a wave back. While the electric supercar sedan still gets plenty of attention, it definitely seems like less of an oddity lately.

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2013 Tesla Model S: What's The Best Color?

October 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

When I first saw our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, I didn't pay much attention to the color. I liked the design, and that's what caught my attention.

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2013 Tesla Model S: 10,000 Mile Update

October 8, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We took delivery of our 2013 Tesla Model S on February 19th. Seven months and seven days later we have driven the car over 10,000 miles.

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2013 Tesla Model S: How Quickly Does a Supercharger Charge?

October 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A couple of months ago I made a lame attempt to measure how quickly a Tesla Supercharger dumps electricity into a 2013 Tesla Model S battery. I was hoping to figure out how much downtime to expect on a long trip because I'm planning to take our Model S on my annual year-end holiday trip to Oregon as soon as the Supercharger network expands and connects the dots.

But my visit to the Hawthorne Supercharger at Tesla HQ was a spur of the moment decision. I hadn't really worked out a procedure before I arrived. And my results were inconclusive because of the comings and goings of other cars charging in adjacent spots.

Since then I've worked out a simple method, and a couple weeks ago I tried it on a short weekend trip to Monterey. The site was the new Supercharger in Buellton, California, and I was able to get clean data because no other Tesla vehicles were charging while our car was there.

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2013 Tesla Model S: A Gift Card To Buy Some Jeans

October 4, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We received an unexpected gift from Tesla recently. It is a $100 discount card to buy 7 For All Mankind jeans. I wondered if this was meant to smooth things over after our tire incident, but there was no note attached.

You must spend $250 however, in order for the $100 discount to kick in. I hadn't heard of the brand, and I wondered how much one could get for $250. After a quick visit to the company Web site, I learned it's not very much.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Weekend Road Trip to Monterey, Return Trip

October 2, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The reason Tracy and I went to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was simple: We had tickets to the Grand Am race weekend. It's a great event. The racing is excellent and the crowds aren't nearly as intense as they are on a MotoGP weekend. It's easier to get around in town on Cannery Row, too.

Our hotel's Level 2 charger was a decided advantage, a necessity in fact. We needed the extra juice to make it to the track each day. And we needed to replace some of the miles we used getting to the track so we could get far enough down the road to reach the Supercharger network.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Weekend Road Trip to Monterey, Part One

October 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A couple of weekends ago my wife and I dashed out of town to watch the Grand Am races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. And we drove up and back in our 2013 Tesla Model S, the only pure electric vehicle on the market that can make the 750-mile round trip in anything approaching a normal time scale.

Best part: Fuel for the trip cost us exactly zero dollars and zero cents.

Tesla Superchargers at Tejon Ranch and Atascadero got us up there, and the one in Buellton got us home. In between, overnight charges on our hotels' free Level 2 charger kept the Model S topped up for our daily runs to the track.

Here's how it went on the trip north.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Tire Wear Post-Mortem

September 27, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

By now you've read all about the rear tires on our 2013 Tesla Model S and a how a TPMS warning alerted us to a leak. Our P245/35R21 Continentals only had 9,550 miles on them at the time, so we expected something like a nail and a $50 repair. The photo above shows just how wrong we were. And both tires looked pretty much the same.

As soon as I saw this photo I knew the missed rotation had little to do with what went wrong. It was obviously a wheel misalignment issue, and I asked John to make sure to get an alignment printout so I could see what had gone wrong.

Look at the tire again, ignoring, if you can, the mangled inside edge. Concentrate on the face of it. The tire looks to be somewhat evenly worn across its width, with maybe a little less tread depth at the inner wear bar than the outer one.

It appears that things were reasonably OK for a decent amount of time, and then something went horribly wrong. At some point the extreme inside edge began wearing at an entirely different angle, as if the tires suddenly got thrust into some kind of weird pencil sharpener.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Tire Woes, Part 3

September 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I'd been feeling a bit like Joe Btfsplk, an old comic strip character who wandered around with a rain cloud over his head jinxing everything he touched.

I'd picked up our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, planning to get reacquainted with the powerful electric drive system and all the car's high-tech electronics during the week and then put it through its paces on a 700-mile weekend trip up to the central California coast and the Paso Robles wine country.

Instead, I spent much of the week wrestling with a Tesla tire issue involving extreme wear on the car's optional 21-inch Continental performance tires. The inner shoulders of both rear tires were so severely worn at 9,550 miles that the steel cord was exposed all the way around.

Premature Model S tire wear of varying degrees is a problem that others who've ordered the performance tire option have also experienced, some complaining on Tesla's owners forum of rear rubber wearing out as early as 1,500 miles.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Tire Woes, Part 2

September 20, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

They say the third time's a charm. Not so with our long-term Tesla Model S and its rear tires.

The third time the tire pressure warning light lit up, I decided there must be an issue beyond normal air loss. I drove slowly to a tire shop near home and asked them to check the left rear for a leak.

What transpired was a bit shocking, as you can see from the photo above.

It's no wonder air was escaping. The inside edge of the left rear tire, and the right rear as well, it turned out, was chamfered by irregular wear to the point there was no rubber left. The steel cords were showing through.

"You need new tires," the service tech announced.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Tire Woes, Part 1

September 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The tire pressure warning on our 2013 Tesla Model S lit up the other day, apparently for the first time, just as I was leaving the house to go to a Nissan event. (Cool move, I thought, driving the Tesla Model S EV to go see the Nissan Leaf EV).

Despite the car's breathtaking price tag, the Model S's tire pressure monitor doesn't tell you which tire is low. It just says 'Hey! Go check all the tires!'

I did. And I found the left rear to be the culprit, down to 36 psi instead of the recommended 42 psi. So, I added air from my home compressor and was on my way.

Slow leak, I figured, or maybe even just normal long-term deflation making itself known. Sure enough, the warning light stayed unlit all day and the tire, now hot, checked out at 43 psi when I got home. So I kinda forgot about it, figuring the culprit had, indeed, been normal air loss and not a leak.

Next time I saw the light was that evening as I was taking my wife out to dinner.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Power Window Poltergeist?

September 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

What the...? This is the second time this has happened. The morning of our recent Monterey road trip I walked out to our 2013 Tesla Model S to find all four windows fully open.

After I checked the interior for cats, my next thought was directed at Mike Magrath and his itchy trigger finger. He has the Tesla app and this car's login profile on his iPhone, too, and he's been known to remotely honk a horn or three at inopportune moments. He must be up to his old tricks again.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Hurts To Sit Down

September 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last time I drove a Tesla Model S was in June 2012 at the production model roll-off. Then it was all giddy fun and giddy-up-and-go for the 15 minutes they let us have a car. This time I'm driving our long-term 2013 Model S. With a more critical eye. And a very sore thigh bone.

It must be the way I get into the car as no one else on the team seams to have been bothered. But each time I drop into the Tesla's driver seat I graze my left thigh, just below the hip, on a protruding bit of upholstered metal on the rear edge of the driver's door cutout.

That little bump-out is part of the Tesla's interior design, but it also is, literally, a pain in my butt.

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2013 Tesla Model S: High Power Wall Connector Is Up and Running

September 13, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

As of last week, our Tesla HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) is finally up and running. And it's fast. It can send electricity into our 2013 Tesla Model S's battery some 2.7 times faster than standard Level 2 charging equipment. That's because it's built to draw 80 amps through a 100-amp circuit instead of the usual 30 amps through a 40-amp breaker.

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2013 Tesla Model S: It's Wide

September 4, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

With the mirrors folded in on our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, it is 77.3 inches wide. That is only 3 inches shy of being as wide as our long-term Chevy Silverado.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Beauty is in the Details

September 3, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

When we first acquired our 2013 Tesla Model S, Ed Hellwig pointed out A Few Flaws in the Craftsmanship. While I agree that the Tesla has some fit-and-finish issues, I think the Model S is appealing not just because it's electric, but because of design details that are subtle, timeless and beautiful.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Tailgate Party

August 30, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The rear jump seats in our 2013 Tesla Model S are intended for children, but that didn't stop me from using them for a tailgate party. Intent on impressing my college buddies, I picked up the keys to the Model S last weekend and headed for Angels Stadium. Spoiler: They loved it.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Fancy a Drive to Mt. Rushmore?

August 29, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

According to the Tesla Motors Web site, this is what its supercharger map will look like come this winter. So, anyone fancy a drive to Mt. Rushmore? Perhaps we could drive to the Detroit Auto Show in January and I can carry onto my home and native land in Toronto. Of course, it'll require driving through tropical South Dakota in January, but sure beats gasoline, right?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Ample Charge Port Door Warnings

August 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

This morning while driving into work in our 2013 Tesla Model S, I must've passed a dozen other Teslas. That's not really a surprise. They're everywhere on the west side of L.A.

Of these dozen or so $100K EVs I saw, two had a noticeable issue: The charge port / EV plug door was hanging open. I know that the Model S won't let you put the car into drive if the plug is plugged in, but was it possible that they forgot some type of warning — there's no "check engine" light that I've seen — for when the door has been left hanging in the breeze?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Is This the Safest Car Sold?

August 21, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

In a recent update we noted how the 2013 Tesla Model S earned a top five-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's battery of tests.

Interestingly, Tesla posted a press release about those results a few days ago. Basically, Tesla claims that the Model S not only gets a five-star rating, it has the best scores of any car sold, period.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Regenerative Braking

August 20, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last week's two-night adventure in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S proved fruitful in demonstrating one of the car's better features: adjustable regenerative braking and one way it could be improved.

I began experimenting with the two modes (Standard and Low) on my way home from work and it was immediately clear that the "Standard" setting is far more aggressive. Enough so, in fact, that I began to wonder if the brakes lights were triggered simply by lifting off the throttle. So, I did an experiment to find out.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Interior Storage

August 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

If for no other reason, I love the Model S for this single piece of packaging brilliance. That, I submit, is a real center storage bin.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Testing the Jump Seats

August 16, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Yesterday I put my five-year-old in the Tesla's rear jump seat. It was met with a mixed review.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Chickening Out

August 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The Monterey Bay Historics weekend is fast approaching and I've been on the fence on what car to take. Scott's already called the SLS AMG which would, obviously, be my first pick. It's a great drive and the SLS is perfect for those roads. Most everything else we have will hold all of my luggage, get more than 11 mpg and just be too easy.

"What about the Tesla?" I thought.

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part Three

August 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The drive back to L.A. from San Francisco gave us a lot more freedom than the drive up. We didn't have to be back in town at a scheduled time, so we could take our time. Despite this, we managed to head out of town by 10:00 a.m.

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part Two

August 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Just like the first leg of the L.A. to San Francisco road trip, The Tesla would easily make it to the second supercharger stop at Harris Ranch. A mere 116 miles with my 262 estimated range miles.

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part One

August 13, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I think I'm getting better with road trips. Between the Grand National trip from Memphis and my L.A. to Napa and back in a day, these things are a less of a big deal. Of course, I'm always up for a challenge.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Crash Test Scores

August 12, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The 2013 Tesla Model S electric sedan has earned the highest five-star rating on crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received perfect scores in the frontal, side and rollover crash tests.

Click through to see video of the crash tests from the NHTSA Web site...

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2013 Tesla Model S: Ask Us Anything

August 12, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Join us today (Monday 8/12) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time / 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time for a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).

We'll be taking questions about our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Audio Review

August 9, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S is equipped with the optional $950 Sound Studio package. It includes a 12-speaker, 580-watt stereo with Dolby Pro Logic 7.1 surround sound, a music storage hard drive and XM satellite radio preparation.

The voice command connected to the internet radio will play virtually any song you can think of (provided it's in the Stitcher database), and the touchscreen certainly isn't lacking in square-footage, but what's the sound quality like?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Revised High Powered Wall Connector In-Hand

July 31, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Just over a month ago we found out that our as-yet-uninstalled Tesla HPWC (High Powered Wall Connector) contained a flaw that would prevent it from working at the 80-amp charge rate it's supposed to. Internal fuses were blowing in customer units in the field, leading Tesla to send out a software update to all vehicles to prevent them from drawing more than 60 amps until they had a fix.

We learned about all this through a Tesla message board, but we'd heard nothing from Tesla directly. So we put our installation plans on hold and gave them a call to find out when we might get our hands on a revised one.

It arrived on my desk while I was on a business trip last week, about 4 weeks after I put in the call.

Here's what a new HPWC with "the fix" looks like inside.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Fingers Stuck in the Door Handle

July 30, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

This 11-second video I made of the Tesla Model S door handles got lots of comments and questions on YouTube and Reddit.

The Reddit community mostly asked about their operation in icy weather conditions (which I can't test at the moment) and also wanted to know what happens if you get your fingers stuck in there when it closes.

So, I tested it. I can tell you this before you watch the video. The door handles do not detect an "intruder" and pop back out automatically. They continue to close.

Click through for the video...

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2013 Tesla Model S: HOV Stickers

July 29, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Clean air stickers on our filthy 2013 Tesla Model S. First stop is the car wash. Next stop is the HOV-lane to bypass as much traffic as possible. We may even wait until rush hour just so it feels more satisfying.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Too Few Cupholders

July 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A few nights ago the Oldham's pushed aside our daily intake of skinless grilled chicken breasts and kale smoothies and hit the drive-thru at the local Jack in the Box where breakfast is served 24/7 and the new slogan is Go Big or Go Hungry.

We went big.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging Network Extended

July 23, 2013

2013 Dodge Dart

Dan Edmunds approaches me once a year to reserve a car for his annual family tour of the northwestern states. This year he asked for our 2013 Tesla Model S. A week or so later he changed his mind, citing the lack of supercharging stations along his route. The extra time required to refill at civilian charging stations didn't fit into his time schedule.

Now Tesla has announced an extension of its supercharger network in the Pacific Northwest. Dan may want to rethink his plans.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Uphill, Downhill

July 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Here's a shot of the Energy Consumption screen after driving up and down a steep hill in Palos Verdes, CA.

The normal fully charged estimated range offered by the Tesla Model S is based on maintaining an average of 300 Wh/mi (Watt-hours per mile), the gray line you see going across the screen. Most of my driving style rests above that line, not usually as high as the average in this photo showing 439.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Back Seat Review

July 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S Performance

Two of my friend's birthdays are one day apart in July. So, I piled the gang into our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S and drove them to a local restaurant for a celebratory dinner.

I asked for a review of the back seat after having three adults sitting across. The tallest of the group is 6'1" and he was sitting behind the front passenger seat. He said there was plenty of hip and elbow room but the way the ceiling is shaped, he had to tilt his head to the side to avoid it touching the top. He added that if he was sitting in the middle, under the glass sunroof, he would've been fine.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Have App, Will Play

July 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm fairly obsessed with the iPhone app for our 2013 Tesla Model S. Every once in a while I just check in to see how the car is doing. It's like having a baby monitor for your car.

I noticed that it loses some estimated range just being parked overnight. Not sure if it is consuming a small amount of energy while it rests or if it adjusting itself based on my driving style from my latest trip. Either way, I check the app occasionally to see where I stand.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Broken Sunroof Fixed Quickly

July 16, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Late last week our 2013 Tesla Model S suffered a jammed sunroof because the pop-up wind deflector had inexplicably broken in two. The piece that was left behind fell into such a position that it jammed up the works.

Someone at Tesla got wind of this after I posted a tweet on my personal Twitter account, and they sent me a message on Saturday. I promptly emailed them the same pictures I'd taken for the "Broken Sunroof" post that went up a few days ago.

On Monday I got word back that the local service center probably had the part in hand, they wouldn't know for sure until they eyeballed it themselves. So, we set up a Tuesday appointment for 12:30 pm. The local service center is only a couple of miles away, and they have a concierge service, so they sent someone over to pick it up so I could keep on working.

The guy's credentials checked out, and he knew the story without prompting, but I was still a bit nervous when I handed over the key. This sort of dealer valet service isn't new, but I'd never personally used anything like it before.

So I spied on him as he drove away. I followed his progress back to the service center on the Tesla iPhone app.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: Door Handles

July 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S Performance

Love 'em or hate 'em, the door handles on the 2013 Tesla Model S are unique and add to the space-age vibe of the car.

Click through for an 11-second video of the driver door handle in action.

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2013 Tesla Model S Performance: My First Time

July 11, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I don't know why it has taken me this long to drive our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S. But somehow it worked out that way. I had Dan give me a run-down so I wouldn't screw anything up.

Despite reading all of the posts in our long-term section, driving this car is new to me. So bear with me if I repeat observations that other editors have made.

Let's start at the beginning. I didn't have to use the key fob to open the door. As my hand got close to the recessed door handle, it popped out for my use. As I slid into the driver seat, the car started. Dan told me the car starts when your body hits the seat. You turn the car off the same way. Get out and it shuts off.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Broken Sunroof

July 10, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

My daughter was curious about the all-glass sunroof in our 2013 Tesla Model S. So I opened it for her, or tried to.

It jammed at 21-percent open and went no farther. I closed it without incident and tried once more. Same result, except just 20 percent this time.

The trouble seemed to originate on the driver's side just above my head where I could hear a faint click. And I could see the glass panel pull up short on my side, too, as the whole mess cocked sideways a tiny bit before the action ground to a premature halt.

I saw what was going on in short order once we all exited the car at home. But it was also abundantly clear that I wasn't going to be able to fix it myself. This looked to be a job for the Tesla service center.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharger Charging: How Fast Is Fast?

July 9, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I've been very interested in the ins and outs of rapid charging at a Tesla Supercharger station ever since they first announced the build-out of the Supercharger network. I've become even more interested of late, because I'm considering taking the 2013 Tesla Model S on my next bi-annual trip to the remote Oregon Coast to visit my parents.

The Supercharger network will loom large during this journey, and I need to know exactly what I can expect in terms of downtime at each stop.

Tesla's claims for charging speed are not absolute. Weasel-words like "up to" and "as fast as" pepper the discussion. One says a Supercharger will "provide half a charge in about 20 minutes." At the Supercharger unveiling they said they could "provide 3 hours of driving in as little as 30 minutes."

These claims are astounding, even if they prove to be half true in less-than-perfect conditions. But they didn't give me the specificity I needed to plan my trip.

So I headed to the nearby Hawthorne supercharger with our 2013 Tesla Model S, arriving with just 29 miles in the tank. My plan was to take screen grabs from the Tesla iPhone app at intervals as it charged, then put everything in Excel and graph them when I got home.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Commentary from the Public

July 4, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S gets much more attention than any car in our fleet. I easily get ten times more questions about the Tesla than even our immaculate 1987 Buick GN or the shouty-SLS. You simply can't get out of it without someone saying something, snapping a photo, or turning to their friends and pointing out what's just pulled up.

Click through to read a few of the interesting remarks I heard during a few days in the Model S.

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Comments

  • eclogite eclogite Posts:

    Saw one of these pulling into a local hiking and biking park yesterday when we were doing a creek cleanup. Damn good looking car. Completely unaffordable, but damn good looking.

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