2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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: High Power Wall Connector Flaw

July 2, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

More than one person has quizzed me about it over the last couple of weeks, including my boss's boss, whose title is a three-letter acronym beginning with "C" and ending with "O".

"Why is that still sitting on your desk?" they ask, pointing at the white cardboard box containing the HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) we bought with our 2013 Tesla Model S.

"Uhhh...it's complicated?"

A Tesla HPWC draws 240V single-phase power at 80 amps through a 100-amp circuit breaker, enough juice to refill an empty 85kWh Model S battery and restore its 265 miles of maximum driving range in just over four hours. Put another way, a Model S charges at up to 62 mph through a HPWC, as in 62 miles of driving for every hour on the plug.

Our Coulomb Level 2 charge station draws 30 amps through a 40-amp circuit, plenty for all other EVs on the market. But it takes over a dozen hours to refill an empty Model S. Slow as this sounds, it would do until we got our HPWC installed. Many Edmunds staffers drive less than 50 miles overnight, which the Coulomb can deal with in less than 3 hours.

That's great, but why is it still sitting on your desk, Dan?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Late to the Party

July 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

"Dear Customer,

Your High Power Wall Connector (HPWC) did not ship with a cable organizer. Once the cable organizer part is available in February, we will ship you one.

"As an alternative to installing the cable organizer next to your HPWC, Tesla recommends coiling the cable around the exterior of the HPWC. The shape of the connector is designed to secure the coiled cable against the mounting surface."

This was a note we received from Tesla — in late April. That's when our HPWC arrived, a couple of months after we got the car. Model S cars may be speedy, but the shipping of parts that go with them is another story. We finally got the cable organizer this week, four months after the promised delivery date.

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2013 Tesla Model S: First 5,000 Miles

June 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We've officially driven our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S 5,000 miles since we purchased the electric sedan back in January.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Screen Blanks Out Again

May 29, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The primary display screen on our 2013 Tesla Model S went blank, again. If you are keeping track, this is the third outage in three months of ownership. A recap follows...

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2013 Tesla Model S: TPMS Gets Confused

May 13, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We recently performed the first track-test of our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, and during the 60-0 mph braking test, this message flashed up on the screen and on the instrument panel as well.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Moisture Discovered in Reverse Lamp Lens

May 10, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Yup, our 2013 Tesla Model S is an exceptional car for myriad reasons, but just like any other car, sometimes a vigorous washing or cracked lens allows moisture to get behind or condense onto the lenses of lights. I'm not going to attempt the repair myself. We'll put it on the list for the next scheduled service visit.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Software Update

May 9, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I sat in the car. It awoke and alerted me that it wanted a new software update. Neato. Even neater, you don't need to visit the dealer/service technician and it does it wirelessly. Because it requires the car be parked for up to two hours, the car allows the update to be scheduled during the wee hours of the night. I assume it all worked at 1:00 a.m. as it was programmed to do.

Click through to see what the software update entailed.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Recharging From an Outdoor Electrical Outlet

May 8, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

After driving our 2013 Tesla Model S home, I snapped this photo and sent it to Director of Vehicle Testing, Dan Edmunds along with "We don't have clearance Clarence. I'll check the garage for a nearby outlet minus cover." To which Dan replied, "If nothing pans out, I guess you'll have to charge without recording."

It turns out our "Kill A Watt EZ" gauge we use to record how much electricity goes into the car's batteries won't mate with my outdoor outlet with the big, flappy rain cover.

Click through to see what my electricity usage looked like after I plugged in the Tesla.

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2013 Tesla Model S: What's Wrong With This Picture?

May 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Only eagle-eyed readers will spot what's wrong with this photo. Can you?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Visiting the Tejon Ranch Supercharger

April 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

There I was, taking the long way to Moab, Utah in our 2012 Jeep Wrangler. My first stop was Buttonwillow Raceway to help out at the SCCA road races, but before I got there I peeled off Interstate 5 at Laval Road in Tejon Ranch for some sustenance.

"There's a Tesla Supercharger around here somewhere," I thought to myself.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Free Gas

April 23, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

What if you went to a mall and there was a gas pump with a sign saying, "Go ahead and fill up! It's free!" That's what it was like to drive the Tesla to Las Vegas. Free fuel in Barstow. Free fuel in Las Vegas.

And how much is that worth? Gas for a 2013 BMW 7 Series getting 22 mpg combined and requiring premium at $4.17 a gallon would be $123 for the 650-mile trip. For the Tesla, fuel costs would be $0. But there is the time and hassle of charging.

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2013 Tesla Model S: 2-Speed Cruise

April 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I'm a big fan of cruise control for two reasons: it reduces fatigue on long drives and it helps keep you at a legal speed. On my trip to Las Vegas I discovered that our Tesla Model S has a super cruise control system. The graphics are great and the system actually offers two speeds. One bump gives you the customary 1 mph increase/decrease. But if you push it through a detent, you get an approximately 5 mph plus or minus jump.

There was one other feature of the cruise control that I liked.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharged

April 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I felt a little apprehensive when I left my house early on a Sunday morning. I had to reach Tesla's supercharger in Barstow 128 miles away over the Cajon Pass, elevation 4,190 feet. I dialed down the cruise control to 65 mph as I climbed the long grade. But other than that, I cruised at 70 mph.

It was a good thing I read the Tesla forums because there were no signs directing me to the superchargers. They were, as other owners had posted, behind the Chili's restaurant. I pulled in, hooked up and checked the charge screen: jackpot! I was getting 300 miles of charge every hour.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Car Wash Fun

April 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

If you take a Tesla Model S to an automatic car wash, leave a little extra time for the staff to freak out.

Since you have to be sitting in the Tesla's seat for it to move forward, someone really has to ride in it. After a bit of conversation, where they tried to decide who would be the rider, I volunteered to be the one sitting in the car.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Street Legal

April 16, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

With a car this expensive and this beautiful we couldn't bring ourselves to drill holes in the front bumper for the license plate bracket. So we called the Tesla service center in Los Angeles and asked if they could do it. The cheerful receptionist checked with the techs and said to just stop by any old time.

The service center is only accessible down a tight alley so we just parked at a meter and waltzed into the service center unannounced.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Less Maintenance, More Money?

April 10, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Part of the appeal of driving an electric vehicle is that you never have to worry about oil changes, smog checks and spark plugs. "With just one moving piece in the motor, compared to hundreds in a gas engine, there are fewer things that can go wrong," says the Tesla site. "That translates to less maintenance and service over time."

Nissan also uses this as a selling point in this Leaf commercial called the "New Maintenance."

But a closer look at Tesla's service pricing shows that less maintenance doesn't necessarily equal less cost.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Navigation Outage

April 8, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

It started slow. The Tesla's web-based navigation seemed to miss a couple of sections as it updated. Then more gray squares kept appearing as I made my way home. On the drive into Edmunds HQ in the morning, the whole navigation map was one big gray square.

Sigh.

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2013 Tesla Model S: New Touchscreen Bug Surfaces

March 8, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Really? I thought we were done with this. I'm looking at the new replacement touchscreen on our 2013 Tesla Model S and I can hardly believe my eyes.

Oh, it works. It hasn't burnt out (or whatever) again. But just look at the camera image.

Don't see it? Look closer. The image is misaligned, out of its designated window. And its new unauthorized position has it partially obscuring important virtual touchscreen buttons. Plus it looks gross.

Only the camera does this. If I turn it off and choose any other display screen it all works normally.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Plays Any Song by Voice Activation?

March 2, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

In a recent interview/product show-off with Bloomberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off a feature of the Model S even we as owners didn't know about: Press and hold the voice button, and the Tesla Model S will play any song you ask it for.

Of course, the Tesla doesn't have the world's largest hard drive, rather, the Model S is constantly connected to the Internet where it can take advantage of Stitcher Internet radio. It works great when Elon is demo'ing it for a smitten TV reporter. Does it work as well when we try?

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2013 Tesla Model S: The Key

February 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Like virtually everything else having to do with the 2013 Tesla Model S, the folks at Tesla have decided that a normal key wasn't good enough and have given us this.

Look at it. It's slick, it's shiny and it has no visible buttons. It does, however, just like a fresh baby, have a bunch of soft spots on its dome that are made for pressing.

Pressing the front squishy spot opens the frunk. Double tapping the rear "button" opens the powered trunk (it stops with a single tap) and the top one locks/unlocks the door. Holding the middle button down for a few seconds will open all the windows. Of course, with the Tech Package, the Tesla Model S automatically locks/unlocks the doors, so the key may not ever be necessary.

But, with the exception of the faux buttonlessness of it all, it's kind of old hat. What makes this one unique is that there's no spare key hidden inside.

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