4th Year Anniversary

April 28, 2022

Looking good for a 4-year old
(Click to enlarge)

Today marks four years since we took delivery of Correcaminos. I can still say that it is the best car I have ever owned. I also have to say, however, that its features and functions have taken a definite step backwards with the updates it has received over this last year. For example, Autopilot is now behaving more erratically than ever, with an increase in “phantom braking” events, disconcerting spasms when other cars merge next to it, and unexpected tendencies to ping-pong when trying to change lanes. I can only speculate that such problems are because Tesla has decided to disable radar sensors and rely solely on cameras with its driver assist software. It is almost as though it has developed Tourette syndrome, and is more unpredictable than when we first bought it. There are times when it scares the begeezus out of Tamara, so much so that she is starting to encourage me to consider other makes for our next electric vehicle. I can’t say that I blame her.

Here I should also mention that, since I paid for Full Self Driving years ago, I have been approved as a Beta tester, and engage those functions on occasion to help add to Tesla’s database. Tamara, however, won’t get in the car with me if I intend to use it, for FSD only multiplies the instances when I have to intervene and take over. I hear in the forums that other testers think it is almost ready to be released, but I adamantly disagree. I don’t think it will reach that stage of development for many years to come. Regardless, I can state this much unequivocally: if we ever do get another Tesla in the future, I will not pay the new whopping price of $12,000 for FSD. It is simply not worth it. I was able to test out the free basic version of Autopilot in a rental Model 3 Standard Range a few months ago, and found its driver assist features to be more than adequate, as reliable and predictable as when we first bought Correcaminos. As they say, we live and learn in life.

As of today, Correcaminos’ has piled up this many mile on the odometer:

Readers might note that the close-up photo of the odometer above is markedly different than in previous anniversary reports. This is because several months ago Tesla updated the user-interface on the touchscreen. I say updated, but in truth I deem it a lamentable downgrade. It is now necessary to touch buttons to go through several screens to finally see the features and functions one is looking for —like the miles one has driven since the last charge, the kWh used, the air pressure in the tires, the bluetooth connections, or even the seat heaters. The display now has a row of buttons along the bottom of the screen, a poor decision since you have to look all the way down there to use them, dangerously taking your eyes of the road while fumbling with the controls. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what in the world the UI programmers were thinking with these “improvements.” Did Tesla hire a team of video game nerds to come up with this design? Whoever they are, they evidently have never heard the sage adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Because of a horde of angry complaints from owners over these changes, CEO Elon Musk tweeted months ago that they will soon release an update to fix the problems… but I have yet to see it.

If I dig down through multiple screen in that UI, I can find that I have used 13,831 kWh to drive the above distance. Simple division thus tells me that I have accumulated an average of 4.02 miles-per-kWh. The EPA claims that there are 33.7 kWh of energy in one gallon of gasoline, so my comparable energy efficiency to date is:

4.02 x 33.7 = 135 MPGe

Obviously, no ICE could come close to that efficiency. That average still remains higher than the EPA estimate of 3.85 miles-per-kWh for my Model 3, but it is dropping from previous years. Indeed, this last year Correcaminos only averaged 3.69, as shown in this yearly table:

I attribute this to the fact that I drove on numerous interstates at freeway speeds to take a cross-country trip last fall to visit my daughters in Texas, Alabama, and North Carolina. We also drove twice to Sacramento to visit Tamara’s family in July and December, as well as two camping trips in June and August, and even a visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Here is a table that shows how four years of miles and kWh calculate on a daily basis:

I wish I could say that all our kWh have come from our rooftop solar, but that is no longer the case. When on roadtrips, we have to rely on Tesla’s Superchargers, and the vast majority of them are still connected to the grid, despite Elon Musk’s promise that they would eventually equip all of them with solar canopies, like in the photo at the top of the page. Below are summaries of the greenhouse emissions and fuel costs since taking delivery, with comparisons if instead we had also charged from the grid at home or kept our previous Subaru Outback.

Although on roadtrips we still produce emissions, at least our solar array at home and driving a much more efficient electric car is helping to mitigate the climate crisis. And to think that naysayers, fossil fools, shorts, and FUD’sters always try to tell me that my Model 3 is just as dirty and costs as much to fuel as an average gasoline car. Math doesn’t lie!

Such trolls likewise post petrolganda far and wide that my Model 3’s battery will deteriorate so quickly that I’ll need to replace it, for a premium price, after only 5 years. Yet another lie! I have extrapolated Correcaminos’ capacity every time I charge, and this graph plots the results to date:

Evidently, the battery still retains about 93% capacity. It is true, nonetheless, that it unmistakably started dropping faster during the fourth year than in previous years. What I have noticed, as you can see in the annotated arrows in the graph, is that most dips have occurred after software updates and service appointments, as though Tesla is altering the algorithms to calculate range and thus capacity. At this rate, I project that the battery will have lost 10% by the time it crossed the 8-year 100,000-mile Battery and Drive Unit warranty. That’s still much better than with my previous LEAF’s battery, which lost its fourth capacity bar at 65.3% after only 52,601 miles —and consequently had to be replaced under warranty.

And speaking of which, readers will remember that I am now in a dispute with Tesla about what battery components are covered in its Battery and Drive Unit warranty. Specifically, the PCS in the High-Voltage Battery Service Panel in Correcaminos started to fail several months ago, yet Tesla claims that such components are not covered under the Battery and Drive Unit Warranty. I insist that they are. I have filed a complaint with Tesla, it has now been over 60 days, and thus the dispute will need to turn to arbitration to settle the matter. We’ll just have to see what an arbitrator decides, hopefully before too many more weeks go by. This is, I confess, yet another reason that I am starting to sour on Tesla and especially its CEO. The latter needs to focus on his job and address problems like this instead of allowing his ADHD, OCD, and NPD idiosyncrasies to pursue fanciful whims like tunnels, flamethrowers, shorts, robots, whistles, yokes, tequila, and doing a hostile takeover of Twitter.

I should also report that we had other maintenance performed this past year. For example, upon nearing the 40,000-mile warranty, we had to put a new set of tires on Correcaminos. We also had to have Mobile Service replace its 12V battery, as it was about to give up the ghost. None of this upkeep was out of the ordinary, however, for it is necessary with any car over time, whether an EV or an ICE.

This year, like for years 1 and 2, I have compiled a slide-show video of our numerous journeys in Correcaminos that I mentioned above during this past year, if you’re not bored enough already:

We’ll see what year 5 brings. We anticipate many more roadtrips, and thus expect the battery capacity to continue to wane as the miles continue to wax. Dare we hope that Tesla will concede to my complaint about its Battery and Drive Unit warranty, restore the usability of the touchscreen’s UI, and finally smooth out the disconcerting behavior of Autopilot? Time will tell. I hate to say it, but Correcaminos was a better car when we bought it than it is right now, despite all the added whiz-bang enhancements and entertainments —such as remote summons, video games, light shows, and fart sounds. Believe it or not, once in a while, now and then, I’m starting to actually miss my LEAF.