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Owning a (Tesla Model Y) EV: Driving, Maintaining, and that Range Anxiety

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After over 20,000 miles on my 2021 Tesla Model Y Long Range, my 2-plus-year move from gas, or internal combustion engine (ICE), to electric has proved quite a trip.

For the most part, it’s been a fun ride. But it could have been even more fun if I had known better.

If you’re thinking of making the same switch from ICE to EV, this post will help. While I wrote it based on my Model Y, much of what I mentioned here applies to all Tesla models and most EVs.

Let’s start with driving.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on September 29, 2021, and updated it on February 22, 2023, with additional information via first-hand experiences.

Tesla Model Y Family Bonneville Salt Flats
Life is a journey, but sometimes a destination can be fun. We were getting baked at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, some 800 miles (1300 km) from home. We didn’t use a single drop of gasoline on this road trip of over 2500 miles in total.

Driving: EV vs. ICE

The first thing you’ll note with an EV is the different levels of control you’d have on a car—or the car has on itself—and the efficiency.

ICE: One-way resource spending

In an ICE car, it’s simple: you hit the gas pedal to bring the vehicle up to a certain speed, then use the brake to slow it down or put it to a stop.

If you make it go a bit too fast for the distance ahead, you’ll need to hit the brakes a bit harder. And you can never make it go fast just enough for that next stop. Using the brakes is essential to driving, especially when going downhill.

So an ICE car means you have to pay in fuel or the cost of materials—the wear and tear of the brakes—for making it move, slowing it down, or stopping it. All the while, you get nothing back other than moving from A to B.

It’s a one-way street in resource-spending.

EV: The single-pedal experience

With an EV, things are a bit different. Generally, the car slows down more acutely via “regenerative braking.”

Ease the foot on the accelerator, and you’ll immediately feel the de-acceleration—the car captures the momentum to regenerate electricity.

As a result, you will not feel the usual rolling of an ICE. Instead, the car slows down at a greater level and comes to a complete stop at a much shorter distance—sometimes intelligently so when approaching a stop sign or behind another car.

The concept of regenerative braking requires some getting used to. It’s roughly similar to driving an ICE car in low gear, albeit smoother.

But after a while, you’ll love it. And when you’re accustomed to it, you won’t need to use the brake much. It becomes “one-pedal driving.”

That’s been my experience with my Model Y. Tesla claims that the car’s brakes will last its entire life, and I have no reason to doubt that. On most trips, I don’t use the brake—there’s just no need.

For the most part, the car’s motors handle the acceleration, deceleration, and stopping—according to how I move my foot on the accelerator via various degrees and nuances. Over time, the car seemed to “learn” my driving habit and move around how I wanted it to.

The brake pedal still works, and I use it now and then in an emergency or out of habit.

Regenerative braking is why EVs generally have excellent mileage when driving around town or when you’re stuck in traffic—anytime you must stop and go often.

However, driving long distances is a different story—more in the range section below.

Other little things to note with EVs

  • There’s no on/off or ignition: The car is always on—you’d have trouble if the vehicle is turned off somehow.
  • There’s no shifting in drive: You have four positions: Park, Drive (going forward), Reverse (going backward), and Neutral.
  • Immediate acceleration: You hit the accelerator, and the car will move immediately without any delay, and the acceleration is smooth since there’s no gear-shifting.
  • No engine noise: The car is very quiet from the perspective of those on the outside. There’s no engine or exhaust noise, but all Teslas make a distinctive noise when backing up. On the inside, a Tesla (or any EV) is about as quiet (or noisy) as most modern ICE vehicles.
Tesla Model Y vs. Acura MDX
Out with the old, in with the new: Here’s my 2021 Tesla Model Y Long Range—delivered on the last day of December 2020—next to my previous ICE car, the Honda Acura MDX 2004. Among other things, the Y has much more storage room than the slightly larger gas SUV.

But there’s more than regenerative braking in handling an EV.

Driving a Tesla: The “smart” experience

And there’s more to the “control” notion in riding an EV.

Generally, electric vehicles are advanced “drive-by-wire” vehicles. Specifically, the car’s usual controller—the steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator pedal, etc.—doesn’t have physical connections to different parts of the vehicle.

Instead, they are sensors that carry the driver’s inputs to a computer, which takes care of the actual movements and actions and gives you synthetic feedback.

For example, on my Model Y, the steering wheel would vibrate if I let the car stray out of a lane—the shaking has nothing to do with the road’s surface or the car’s wheels.

The steering wheel also gives a little resistance when I change the lane without turning on the signal. (Doing this would bring the car out of Autopilot if engaged.)

This type of “control” works out well for the most part. You’d feel like the car is “smart,” as in you let it know what you want to do, and it’d take care of business, often gracefully so. It’s like you always have a friend helping out with the driving. And that’s nice.

And all that is in the software, which can be re/programmed. Tesla has pushed out over-the-air software updates regularly with incremental improvements, mostly.

Driving a Tesla: The “too smart” experience

But the experience can be annoying, too.

For example, you wouldn’t know if a tire’s pressure is low or it’s completely flat just by how the car feels—you have to rely on the sensor.

What’s more, sometimes, my Model Y shakes its steering wheel for seemingly no reason, likely because it doesn’t perceive the lanes correctly. Also, the car is unhappy when I deliberately do a bit of lane-straddling on a curve.

And the car often gives warnings prematurely—even with the latest update.

For example, I might get the dire “take control of the car immediately” warning just because the car in front of me suddenly turned, even when I was already holding the steering wheel. Or, when on the street, the car would slow down by itself for no apparent reason.

So the smart notion could feel like a back-seat driver getting involved arbitrarily.

There’s a tricky balance between the good and bad of this “smart” driving that will take Tesla, or any car company, a long time to figure out. After all, autonomous driving is extremely complicated.

Tesla’s service mode

On any Tesla, you need to put the car in a specific “service mode” before you can do simple stuff—car wash mode, towing, windshield wiper servicing, etc..—for the car to behave accordingly.

For example, on models with Air Suspension, the car would think something is wrong with the road and adjust the suspension accordingly if you lift it without putting it in the service mode first.

By the way, you also need jack pads—lifting a Tesla the way you do an ICE car with a jack might damage its battery.

Read the manual

So it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your EV.

Check with the manual and give yourself some time to adjust. Driving an EV will differ from your existing gas car, and you’ll run into issues keeping the ICE mindset.

And the differences are also acute when you’re not driving, namely the charging, maintenance, and range management. All are entirely new compared to an ICE car.

EV charging deserves a post of its own—take a read if you haven’t. Or you can open the drawer below for some quick highlights!

Three levels of EV charging

EV Charging in brief

The tabs below contain brief info on the three current EV charging levels.

Level-1 Charging

Level 1 EV Charging: 120V (up to ≈ 15A)

  • Electricity: Alternating current (AC).
  • To-car connectors: J1772, NACS (Tesla).
  • Charging rate: 3 to 5 Miles Per Hour ( 1.5 kW).
  • Applicability: Home or anywhere with a 120V wall socket.
Tesla Slow Charging
Level-1 charging is when you plug an EV into a 120V wall socket. It’s slow but enough for most users in overnight charging.

Level 1 charging is the lowest and, in the US, generally means you plug the car directly into a 120V outlet using the car’s default (often included) portable charger, technically called electric vehicle service equipment or EVSE.

There are also third-party portable chargers. While varying in design, costs, and possibly quality, all chargers will work with all EVs. It’s just a matter of getting the right adapter when necessary.

These “chargers” are essentially power cords. The charging function is inside the EV.

Apart from the 120V socket, most level-1 chargers also work with 240V sockets to deliver faster Level-2 charging speed.

Until April 17, 2022, Tesla included the Mobile Connector with its cars. It’s the company’s default Level-1 Charger.

Level-2 Charging

Level 2 EV Charging: Up to 240 V (up to ≈ 80A)

  • Electricity: Alternating current (AC).
  • To-car connectors: J1772, NACS (Tesla).
  • Charging rate: Up to 80 Miles per Hour ( 20 kW).
  • Applicability: Home or anywhere with a 240V wall socket or a charging station.
Charging Station
Here’s an example of a third-party home Level-2 charging station. It features a CCS connector but also supports Teslas via an adapter.

Level-2 charging is the fastest option you can install at home. It requires new wiring.

At the minimum, in the US, you’ll need a separate breaker for a 240V outlet, similar to an oven or dryer. Most EVs’ portable chargers work with 240V and 120V outlets via interchangeable to-wall adapters.

A charging station, such as the Tesla Wall Charger, requires new wiring. This type of charger must be wired directly into a 240V breaker and won’t work with any socket.

Level 2 can deliver between 15A to 80A of electrical flow and give an EV up to 80 miles in an hour of charging though 60 miles/hour is common.

Level-3 Charging

Level 3 EV Charging: At least 400 V

  • Electricity: Direct current (DC).
  • To-car connectors: Combined Charging System (CCS) and NACS (Tesla).
  • Charging rate: at least 3 miles per minute, up to over a thousand miles per hour.
  • Applicability: Public charging station.
Tesla SuperCharger
Tesla Supercharger is a prime example of Level-3 EV charging. This charger is rated at 250 kW and can fill a Tesla battery from 20% to 80% in less than 10 minutes.

Level 3 charging equals “gas stations” for EVs—it’s the fastest charging option.

For years, Tesla’s Superchargers have been the most well-known Level-3 charging, with each charger capable of filling a Tesla’s battery from 20% to 80% in 20 minutes, or as fast as 5 minutes, depending on its wattage, which ranges from 75 kW to 250 kW (and even higher.) The higher, the quicker the charging rate.

In the US, most, if not all, non-Tesla Level-3 charging stations use the CCS connector, which encompasses the J1772 connector.

Many non-Tesla DC chargers include a Tesla connector.

Level 3 charging uses direct current (DC) instead of alternating current (AC), like in the case of Levels 1 and 2. Each charger costs tens of thousands of dollars. That’s not to mention the electricity cost.

Other than CCS, some Japanese cars also use a new connection called CHAdeMO for Level-3 charging. In the US, a CHAdeMO DC charger often includes a CCS and a Tesla connector.

With that, let’s check out the maintenance.

Maintaining an EV

The maintenance has been nearly nothing for the past years on my Model Y. You can expect the same from any other Tesla, likely any other EV.

Tesla Service Center Berkeley CATesla Model Y Tire Rotation
Tesla’s service centers are generally crowded, and booking an appointment takes weeks. But the only service I needed on My Model Y in the past year was the tire rotation. It was a learning experience.

The only work I got done on the car was the rotation of the tires at 6000 miles.

I detailed part of that experience in this post on the car’s tires, but the gist is I contacted Tesla via the app, and a friendly technician arrived a few days later on my driveway.

It was a straightforward, painless experience that cost $50—the payment was made via the app. Since then, I’ve gotten my own jack and done all subsequent rotations myself—it’s the same process as on any car.

Other than that, I only had to refill the windshield wiper fluid now and then. (I did bring the car to a Tesla service center at around 10K miles to have a checkup but was sent home almost immediately since no maintenance was necessary.)

Since the Model Y’s arrived at the end of 2020, I’ve had to deal with three minor repairs—all with the car’s tires. I detailed the first in this post about driving without a donut—it’s a fun read.

The second nail was in my driveway. My boy found a box of nails and scattered them around the house.

And the third time, somebody tossed a bunch of roofing nails under a bunch of cars in the parking lots—as I later found out via the Sentry records. I got three punctures in two tires at once. It was quite unfair.

By late 2022, all of my tires got hit with at least one nail. I managed to plug them all the way I did the first time, and the tires were fine. But in early 2023, I decided to get four new tires to stay on the safe side.

Other than those, I got a few curb rashes—not the car’s fault—which didn’t bother me for long.

Compared to my previous gas car, My Model Y has saved me from dealing with oil changes, brake checking, engine tuneup, .etc. It’s been a much easier experience.

Tesla Model Y Nail on Tire Plug
Here’s your truly plugging yet another puncture from a nail
Extra: Tesla accidents and aftermath

Getting a Tesla repaired: Be prepared to wait

Like driving any car, your luck with a Tesla varies regarding getting into an accident. But dealing with the aftermath is generally the same: It’s much more time-consuming than with an ICE car.

My buddy whose Model S crashed in November 2021—I mentioned the story in this post on driving automation—wasn’t fixed until August 2022. He was out of a car for 10 months.

Tesla Model S Accident 1
My friend’s 2018 Tesla Model S after a serious accident.

In case you’re curious about the incident, it was determined not to be the car’s or the driver’s fault, according to the police report.

The Model S was traveling around 70 MPH behind a truck at a reasonable distance. Suddenly, the truck veered out abruptly to avoid a vehicle stalling in the middle of the freeway. It was too late for the driver on the Model S to react.

The car’s emergency brake did engage, which kept the driver and the passenger safe—it impacted at slower than 30 mph. Still, the damage cost over $30,000.

My neighbor’s Model Y got rear-ended with a few big dents on the liftgate. It took him over two months to get them repaired.

Tesla Model Y Dents Lift Gate Dents
My neighbor’s 2022 Tesla Model Y got in a minor accident that took over two months to repair.

As it turned out, due to the pandemic, the broken supply chain, and probably some miscalculations on Tesla’s part, it can take a long time—months in most cases—to get spare parts.

The owner of a local Tesla-certified repair shop told me it’d take them just “a week or two to repair a car, but we don’t have parts. And things keep piling up!”

Hopefully, things will change as the supply chain gets back to normal. But for now, if you have an EV, especially a Tesla, you better not crash or scratch it.

There’s no good time for that, but scheduling an appointment at a Tesla service center alone in the Bay Area takes weeks. That’s the case even in early 2023. Keep that in mind before you hit that accelerator.

It’s important to note that my experience with maintenance and repairs wasn’t typical—I hope it stays that way. I know a few who weren’t so lucky—the drawer above includes a few examples if you’re interested.

However, my experience has been the same as everyone else’s regarding the car’s range.

EV: That range anxiety

Since the beginning of 2021, we’ve taken multiple road trips, putting thousands of highway miles on the Model Y. On one trip during early 2021 alone, we drove over 2500 miles.

And I learned a lot about the car’s range.

The first thing is that the so-called range anxiety applies only to long-distance driving—it doesn’t exist if you drive around town, as mentioned above. Since the range-related worry exists only when compared to driving an ICE car, let’s check out some specifics.

Before the Model Y, I drove a Honda Acura MDX 2004—to 250k miles before letting it go. I’ll stack these two against each other.

There are three things involved in long-distance driving: the amount of energy on board, the efficiency, and how fast we can refill.

EV vs. ICE: Energy storing

My MDX has a tank capacity of 18 gallons—it’s actually 19.2 gallons, but I never drove it all the way to empty—and generally has the max EPA range, on a good day, of 400 miles (644 km).

My Model Y has a battery capacity of 75kWh and an EPA range of 324 miles. Here’s the crucial part: 75 kWh of energy equals just 2.25 gallons of gas. Since I’d never drive the car to empty, I’d round down to 2 gallons.

So, regarding onboard energy, my MDX has nine times that of my Model Y. Gasoline has a significantly higher energy density than the current battery technology, pound per pound.

And that brings us to efficiency.

EV vs. ICE: Energy spending and the Model Y’s real range

Let’s speak in terms of gas to compare apples to apples.

The Model Y gets roughly 160 miles per gallon of gas per EPA estimates, while the MDX gets only 20 miles. So, my Model Y has much better efficiency than my MDX—about eight times.

One thing is for sure: you won’t get these numbers in real-life driving unless you drive by yourself, hauling nothing at around 60 miles or slower at all times. None of us do that, not on a freeway.

So on my MDX, I often got about 15 miles per gallon or 25 percent less in real-world efficiency. But considering the car has 18 gallons, I could still go as far as 300 miles on a full tank.

The Model Y also loses its efficiency progressively at higher speeds, but at a much more acute rate considering the amount of energy it can carry—it has only two gallons of gas.

You’re probably fine losing $250 when you have $1000, but losing $25 out of a $100 budget is painful. That’s especially true when you must accomplish a similar goal with the funds.

So if I lose 25 percent, I’d get around 240 miles out of a full charge. And the faster you go, the more efficiency you’d lose. Indeed, if you cruise at 80 MPH on a Model Y, discount at least 30% from the car’s EPA range.

On many trips, when legal, I set the cruising speed at 90 mph, the top available for my Model Y (before the Tesla Vision shenanigans). In this case, the car’s range often ended up merely 170 miles out of 90% of the car’s full charge.

EV vs. ICE: Keeping you comfortable

No matter which car you drive, you’d probably need the AC. Both EVs and ICE vehicles use electricity cool the cabin.

However, when it comes to heating, while an ICE car can use excessive heat from its engine, the EV has to drain its battery for the task, including keeping its battery from freezing in super cold weather.

Driving in cold weather can reduce an EV’s range significantly.

This is why you’ll note that EVs, especially Teslas, have aerodynamic designs to reduce the drag caused by wind at high speeds. Considering the limited energy a battery can carry, they only have the efficiency to rely on.

So to be sure, I generally only counted on some 200 miles out of my Model Y’s la-la-land 324-mile range, or 150 miles when charged at 80%.

Similarly, I never expected to drive more than 300 miles out of a tank with the MDX, and I never drove it for more than 200 miles without filling it up.

Though I could likely get farther than those most of the time, it’s always better to underestimate the cars’ range than the other way around.

But generally, in terms of range, an ICE car is, hands down, superior to any EV right now. And that’s especially true when considering this last piece of the range anxiety puzzle: the refilling.

Tesla Model Y in desert
While greatly exaggerated by Tesla, the Model Y’s range is enough for me to take trips out of urban areas conformably.

EV vs. ICE: Energy refilling

Refilling an ICE car’s tank is easy and takes less than 10 minutes, no matter what car you drive.

You can even bring a few jerry cans along if need be. And if you run out of gas out of now where somebody can bring gas to you.

On the other hand, EV charging can get complicated, and there’s no extra power pack to carry along or quick refilling in the middle of the road. If you run out of juice, the only option is getting a tow.

For this reason, generally, Tesla is the best option if you like taking road trips, thanks to its extensive network of Level-3 Superchargers—the company plans to open them to all EVs.

In most cases with Level-3 charging speeds, you only need to fill the car enough to get to the next Supercharger, plus some extra.

But even with super-charigng, expect to spend 10 minutes to an hour each time you want to charge, depending on the available charging speed and how empty your battery is.

EV vs. ICE: Real-world range summary table

The table below summarizes the true real-world ranges of my MDX 2004 vs. my 2021 Tesla Model Y Long Range. Your mileage will vary, but you can use the numbers to get an idea of what you can expect from any EV.

Acura MDX 2004Tesla Model Y 2021 1
2004 Acura MDX2021 Tesla Model Y Long Range
Curb Weight4,451 lbs (2020 kg)4,555 lbs (2070 kg)
Tank (Battery) Size19.2 gals75kWh
(≈ 2.25 gals of gas)
EPA Range400 miles (644 km)324 miles (521 km)
EPA Efficiency  ≈ 20 miles per gal≈ 4.3 miles per kWh
(≈ 160 miles per gal)
Tested Street Range
(stop and go at or below 40 MPH, with gentle acceleration)
 ≈ 200 miles ≈ 400 miles and even more
Tested Freeway Range
(cruise speeds, single occupant)
at or below 60 MPH: ≈ 400 miles or more;
70-75 MPH:  ≈  300 miles;
at or above 80 MPH:  ≈  250 miles or less
at or below 60 MPH:  ≈  400 miles or much more;
70-75 MPH:  ≈ 230 miles;
at or above 80 MPH: 180 miles or much less
General Real-world Range
(safe, conservative estimate)
 ≈ 13 miles per gal
or 250 miles per full tank
(65% of EPA)
 ≈ 2.5 miles per kWh
or 180 miles per full charge
(55% of EPA)
Time to Refill
(from almost empty to full)
< 10 minutes ≈ 30 minutes to over an hour
(at a Supercharger)
≈ 10 hours to three days
(home charging)
EV vs. ICE: Real-world ranges

The gist is that you need to discount the estimate range greatly, no matter which you drive, EV or ICE.

But with an EV, trusting the always-incorrect range estimate has a much more severe consequence in long-distance driving. On the other hand, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how long a charge lasts when driving around town.

EV range: The speed vs. time balance

Considering the efficiency mentioned above, the rule with an EV is that the faster you go, the shorter distance you can travel with the amount of energy at hand and the longer you’ll need to charge.

That said, pick the best balance of the speed you like and the time you need to spend on the road before reaching the final destination.

Also, the more often you get charged, the less time you’d need to spend at the charging station—don’t let the car get below 20% before charging it. If you keep the battery level between 20% and 80%, most of the time, you’ll only need 5 minutes to charge.

An EV takes much longer to charge from empty to 20%, and from 80% to 100%, than from 20% to 80%. And you should never drive it until empty.

In my experience, 65-70 MPH is the best cruising speed on the Model Y, where I could get where I wanted with the least time spent on driving and charging.

This math doesn’t apply if you drive for 200 miles or less, but that’s the optimal speed for a trip requiring multiple charges. I’ve tried this on numerous 500-plus-mile legs that needed at least two charging stops, often three and sometimes four.

And, again, going more slowly will get you far, even more than the EPA estimate, it just takes longer to arrive. So, slow down if you think you might run out of juice sooner than expected.

Any Tesla can give you a relatively accurate real-time range estimate via the Energy section of its touchscreen. When traveling within the Supercharging network, there tend to be charging stations within less than 100 miles—you don’t need to worry much about the range.

Tesla Model Y Charging from a House
Here’s my Model Y getting juiced up from a remote campsite’s office.

But even when straying out of this network, I’ve always been able to get the car charged. There are third-party charging stations everywhere, and the possibility of plugging the vehicle into a house’s outlet is real—folks can be generous.

EV range: When the anxiety is no longer

My take is that the range anxiety will be no longer when an EV has a real-world range of some 500 miles, charges as fast as we fill a gas tank, or better yet, both.

And I have no doubt we’ll get there—the fast charging speed and the vastly improved battery capacity—relatively soon. It’s just a matter of time.

So far, humans have focused more on creating energy than storing it—with EVs, that will change. Until then, the little range anxiety can be fun math. Just don’t push it too hard!

Extra on owning a Tesla: Rumors vs. reality

You might have heard a lot of stuff about a Tesla. Here are a few of the common items.

  • A Tesla’s paint is worse than those of a regular car: Completely inaccurate. They use the same paint. However, if you pay extra for non-standard paint color—red, blue, black, etc.—chances are the car has thinner paint than the standard color.
  • A Tesla has a lot of rattles: Sort of. In my experience, they are caused by the seatbelt buckles tapping on the dry fake leather seats. To avoid this, tuck them away or click them in, even when there is no passenger.
  • A Tesla interior looks cheap: This is subjective, but generally, a Tesla, except for the Plaid trim, is not supposed to be a luxury car. You pay for the tech and safety, not the bling.
  • A Tesla’s doors and panels tend to be misaligned: Totally true. My Model Y’s front and back doors were more than a bit out of sync on arrival. I complained to Tesla via the app, and a technician arrived a few days later. He adjusted them to perfection with a wrench in less than 20 minutes. No charge.
  • A Tesla’s EPA range is exaggerated: Completely true, as mentioned above.
  • Tesla drivers must deal with “unreasonable hatred”: Sad but true. We’ve seen folks acting weird on the road, like trying to pass us aggressively on a single-lane road, honking at us for no reason, or, even worse, putting nails under my tires in the parking lot. Others I know have had even worse experiences, like getting their car vandalized for no reason. All that might have something to do with how Elon Musk doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut.
  • Tesla drivers are the worst: Totally an untrue stereotype. You’re dealing with one, and I consider myself average.
  • Tesla’s Full Self-Drving makes the car drive by itself: Completely untrue. FSD, so far, has been a scam on the company’s part.
  • A Tesla requires special tires: Completely inaccurate. But the car’s power and weight can be hard on them—more in this post.

The takeaway

EVs are the way of the future. If you don’t think so, that’s likely because you haven’t driven one. Personally, I will not buy another gas car. Period.

We’ve been with the internal combustion engine for over two centuries. While fossil-field-powered technology is not going anywhere, the EV era has begun earnestly. It’s time for us to move on from the ICE age.

The move will require some getting used to, but you’ll realize how it is a much “cleaner” driving experience.

Folks have been arguing about which is better for the environment, EVs vs. ICE, and I feel that’s beside the point. No matter what we do, we use materials from the Sun (or suns) anyway. It’s just a matter of availability and efficiency.

If you drive an EV and use solar-powered charging stations like most Superchargers along the US freeways, you draw the energy directly from the Sun instead of using what has been here on Earth for millions, if not billions of years.

The former is more efficient in my book.

As battery and charging technologies evolve, soon, we’ll be able to continually juice up the car as long as it’s under the Sun. And that’s one of many things you can’t do with an ICE vehicle.

Ultimately, EV vs. ICE is apple vs. oranges. There’s no comparison between the two.

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41 thoughts on “Owning a (Tesla Model Y) EV: Driving, Maintaining, and that Range Anxiety”

  1. My 2021 Tesla model Y had 48K mi on its originals when I replaced them with EV tires. EV cars need EV tires for better range, less noise, and can endure much higher running tire pressure than non EV tires.

  2. I’m glad I found your site and this article. Very fair and thorough review. Being an owner of a Tesla MY 2020 I have just about everything related it here. Coming from a previous Honda Ody to this MY too so very similar experience. I really have no regret buying this one except the FSD. After 3 yrs, it is still very buggy compared to my Comma AI on another vehicle.

  3. Kind Sir! Your comment of FSD being a scam is untrue. There are tons of videos on youtube where FSD is seen in action. What’s your thoughts on that?

        • You can’t establish evidence of driving automation by showing the part that works. That’s like showing a video of a person swimming as evidence to prove they are fish. It’s the degree, got it? The YouTube videos are for those seeking bias confirmation. Try looking for the vid of the Titan submersible imploding. There’s none, but that happened. Driving automation is not about being right or being cool, but about being consistently safe.

          Betting your life on halfbaked/bullshit technology can get you killed. That has happened. Hope that’s colorful enough for you. 🙂

          • You absolutely haven’t thoroughly checked around. {…} Calling FSD a scam is ignoring their hard work of evidence and its existence. Clearly you have fell into your own bias that is limited by exposure and experience. If you going provide color on any topic, then show all shades of your own limitations and exposure that includes details on the version of FSD and videos to prove your point.

          • I have two of them, I don’t need to check around. We literally have multiple Teslas of each model in our group of friends and neighbors. It’s just a car and FSD is bullshit. It’s never gonna work as the name suggests. Like I said, don’t get yourself killed. 🙂

            And no spamming please.

          • Even if FSD Beta were free to me right now, I do not trust it enough to use it for local drives. Perhaps one day the technology will actually fully work, but it seems that’s in the rather distant future.

            Dong, do you have Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) for highway driving? I use that regularly on my 2023 Telsa Model Y and it’s been working well. It isn’t perfect – there’s been several incidents of phantom braking – but with me paying full attention, it is definitely better than my own driving (I do not have any at-fault accidents, but my reaction time in my daily life isn’t optimal). EAP gotten me out of two certain accidents that I had no time to avoid.

  4. hello Dong great review as always. please share the link of your spoiler . will it hold up to south Florida heat ?

    • This one, Nik.I got it a long time ago. It’s been holding up well in CA weather and I’ve taken trips to various hot and cold places around the country.

  5. I know that they cannot quantify the actual carbon footprint of producing the actual car itself and most of it is a guesstimate and assumption. As you know, many times we put the results out first before the actual testing is complete and my only question is how in the world is California going to charge all the ev’s during the summer months as they already have scheduled brown outs and blackouts?

    I also wonder why we all look towards Tesla for solutions when even that company uses ICE powered vehicles to install, maintain, repair, and upgrade their Solar and Powerwall systems? Not to mention the crew of 10-12 people that came in 9 ICE vehicles when I had the system installed 6 months ago. And to your point, I did the calculations and it says to charge a Tesla 100 vehicle that is driven only 70 miles a day, I would need 15 400 watt solar panels running for the 5 hour peak window to just charge the battery back to full daily (8 billion has the worksheet on it’s website). So even though I have more than enough panels I don’t have that required 5 hours of premium sunlight still and I wouldn’t be able to charge the 2 Powerwall units and a 100 battery size Tesla.

    • The blackouts have little to do with energy but corporate greed or mismanagement. The most obvious example is the case of Enron.

      With or without EVs, human energy consumption has ALWAYS increased. We have consistently and progressively used more electricity since it was first discovered. And we have no issue with producing energy, we’re just terrible at keeping/storing it, mostly because it’s so much easier to use what that’s already stored: fossil fuel. Ease breeds greed.

      Give the post a serious read. And please note that this is a no-bullshit website. Make sure you know what you’re talking about before making any statement.

  6. Some follow up comments, from a Chevy Bolt owner. I am still a happy owner of a 2020 Bolt. The General Motors On Star system works well for driving directions in towns and cities and on interstate and other major highways. For back road exploring, you still need something else, such as Google Maps. And you still need a cell phone app to find charging stations in most places. Except for Tesla stations, most charging stations are poorly marked, if at all. Hotel garages usually have chargers. Increasingly, so do municipal parking garages, shopping malls and even supermarkets parking lots.
    A quick point about winter driving. Battery conversion efficiency in winter is lower in the winter than in the summer (Nernst equation, fellow techies). It is actually only a few percent lower in except in the coldest places, but it looks worse than that because the energy needed to keep people comfortable is about the same as in a gasoline powered car of the same size.
    Not very surprisingly electrical utilities are promoting EV’s. So you may be able to get a good deal on installation of 220 V service and/or a charger. Unfortunately, in some parts of the country coal is still used to produce electricity. If I have to have a coal-powered vehicle, I might prefer a pre-1950 railroad train, with an engine whistle tuned to a minor chord.

    • Thanks for sharing the experience, Michael. You can’t blame EVs for how electricity is made, though. And you can’t run ICE cars with coal, either. Eventually, our of common sense or necessity, we’ll move to make electricity via renewable sources.

    • I had a Kia ev6 and have been beside the the Chevy Bolts and there typical charging rate on 150 k is about 23k and my Kia on the same charger was running 150k The main problem with charging stations on major interstates is the failure of up to 2 out of 4 not working. I finally got fed up on electrify America with out puts of the 150 and 350 k running at 56k and only half working I bought a Tesla Model Y and now I always have charging stations and I typically go between 175 to 230 miles. There is no charging station anxiety the only thing to do is look at the pop up for the next station it has a battery symbol just charge till you see 20 percent and you will never run out between stations even if you were running low just look for Supercharging stations and you will find one between the charging stations on the route. I am so happy with the model Y it was 3k cheaper than the Kia ev6 and a ton more space for cargo and passengers.

  7. Hey, Dong, you seem to be the perfect person to ask because you’re an expert in wireless connectivity and you are knowledgeable about Tesla vehicles. I am considering real carbon fiber side mirror caps as a means of protection. However, my understanding is that the side mirrors have antennae inside them. Would using those carbon fiber caps lead to any connectivity issues or decreases? Thanks!

  8. Great article! I am taking delivery of Model Y in June of this year. If I do much of the driving around town say 30 miles a day, do I need to plug in and charge every night? Or is there a percentage that should be reached and then charged to 80%? Could I go 2 days and then charge? Trying to use your reference of setting the max charge at 180 miles for in town use. Also, for a road trip, do you charge to 100% before departure? Thanks for all you do!

    • No, you don’t, Brian. But plugging the car in doesn’t mean charging, you can tell the car when to charge and how much, etc.

      For your driving need you can charge the car to 80% then drive it till 20% or plug it in every day but let the max at 55%.

      As for road trip, you charge the car enough for the next Super Charger plus some extra. How much extra depends on how you drive and you’ll figure that out over time. I’ve charged mine to full a few times but only from home, not using SC. That makes no difference in terms of range and charge speed, but using SC, from 80% to 100% takes much longer. You’ll notice excellent range driving around town. Road trip, not so much as I mentioned in the post.

      Congrats on the new car, make sure you check out my other posts, especially the one one curb rashes. 🙂

  9. Quick question about the tires. I have read that the tires tend to go bald fairly fast due to the weight and torque of the car and that Tesla tires are very expensive to replace. How are your tires holding up?

    • Mine are fine, but I drives rather gently. That’s just how I drive in general. But the car has crazy power and I can see how folks mess up their tires fast since it’s fun. The tires cost about the same as those of most cars though.

  10. I like the concept of a BEV, but there are two obvious constraints, one of which you mentioned, i.e., battery storage. In my opinion, battery technology is the long pole in any wholesale conversion to BEVs. I have no doubt we’ll get there, but for now, I think of the Tesla cohort as “city cars”. Those of us with long range driving requirements still will be better off with ICE vehicles for some time.

    Which brings me to my second point. Certain states, such as California, have accelerated the transition from fossil fuel/nuclear energy production to “sustainable” sources, such as wind and solar power. Unfortunately, without the requisite battery storage technology that does not yet exist (see point one above), when the sun doesn’t shine or wind doesn’t blow (at all or enough), energy producers are forced to rely on fossil fuel energy generation, or buying very expensive energy from elsewhere. Since a lack of capacity leading to rolling blackouts already are the “new normal” in many parts of California, the stress that would be placed on the electrical infrastructure by a wholesale move to BEVs would seem to make BEVs impractical at best in such a scenario, not to mention being as dirty as ICE vehicles, given the realities of fossil fuel energy generation and distribution. Finally, there’s the environmental impact of driving a relatively heavy vehicle (because of the weight of the batteries) and the conundrum of battery production (e.g., mining of lithium) and recycling without permanently degrading the environment.

    I’m very glad you are happy with your new BEV and wish you the best with it. I will be a BEV proponent once BEV battery technology has matured a bit, the environmental effects of rare mineral mining essential to battery production have been diminished, *and* there is a wholesale switch to clean, safe nuclear power.

    P.S. Yes, I’m aware that we need to drill if we are to extract, refine and use petroleum products, and those activities have their own environmental impacts. However, apart from the fact that we will need to do so anyway to produce plastics and other products, I’m concerned about merely swapping one environmental impact technology for another one without there being a clear and widespread understanding of the tradeoffs in doing so.

    • I got your points, Tom. We generally creat needs first and the infrastructure will catch up. That’s been how humans progress. And ICE will never go away. It’s a matter of degrees.

    • Love the comments here Tom. I have a hard time with the “push” towards EV technologies when we don’t have long term plans on dealing with the limited resources required for battery production. Every car I drive is eight or more years old (some more than 20) and at that age, It would take 2-3 battery packs. Battery replacement costs are going to be expensive when these vehicles start hitting 10+ years and need new batteries.

    • Thanks Tom to bring it up of mining the Rare Earth Materials. I’m immigrant from Myanmar(Burma) and lately I read a few articles about illegal mining near China’s border part of North East in Myanmar. Since China restricted the Rare Earth mining in China, their people moved to Myanmar doing illegal mining without native people agreed with. Make it short, in order to produce one ton of Rare Earth Materials, 200 tons of toxic waste and water also came out. Because of that, currently those areas don’t even have clean water to drink and farming. Since those rare earth materials are need for Solar, Wing turbines, EV cars and Cell phones for high demand, do you think fair enough to do the clean energy or climate change. The worst case is demand are 8 to 10 times higher than before and those toxic waste and water they drained to the river that is connected to the main Irrawaddy river which is passing through the Myanmar. 55 millions people are depends on the river for agriculture and farming too. Western countries are worry about climate change and Myanmar people need to fulfill with no benefit at all. Those have to be stop sooner.

  11. Dong,
    I thought your readers may find this EV compare web app helpful in understanding how going EV vs hybrid vs ICE would impact their day to day. You can compare make/models against each other as well.

    Came across this randomly and thought it was really neat.

  12. You covered a lot of ground in your posting. A lot of your readers are pretty much “Do it Yourselfers”. I have installed two of the NEMA 14-50 outlets for my nephew to support his Model S. Do not skimp on the quality of the outlet. By one that uses an Allan wrench to tighten the terminal lug to the wire. 6 gauge wire is a PITA to work with in the small space of the outlet shown in your write up above. The higher quality outlet reduces the possibility of a loose connection.

  13. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an ICE engine noise, it can be a delight or a disgusting drone. If the silence of an electric engine makes the road noise more evident, that’s not necessarily an enjoyable thing. I drive a hybrid, test drove a tesla model 3, too stiff for my taste 🙂 Drove a model Y, yep, nicer than my 2004 MDX 🙂

    • Agreed, Gabrel. Sometimes I miss that sound. And I loved my 2004 MDX. It ran like new at almost 250K miles. It was the imminent required valve job that was the last straw. 🙂

    • I found that after driving an EV for a year or so, it was the smell of gasoline that became more obnoxious. I never really noticed the relative quietness of my Tesla during driving, only at startup and when idling.

  14. Dong, you missed a couple of points. I am a happy Chevrolet Bolt owner and I never want to get into a ICE vehicle again. OK, an ambulance would be an exception, should I need one.
    You didn’t note that an EV is quiet – very, very quiet. There are no cylinders and no exhaust pipe. Sure, there can be road noise, but that is the road, not the car. Acceleration and deceleration are smooth – very smooth. There are no gear changes. Yes, there are emergency brakes, but most normal braking will done by turning the EV engine into a generator, as you pointed out.
    Range anxiety? Just use use your favorite search engine to find the nearest charging station when you need one. There are lots of them already and not just in the Bay Area. And, a major convenience store chain is planning to put them in most of its stores.
    An interesting development is Ford Motor Company’s electric pick up truck, scheduled to be available this Fall. The battery that powers the car can turned into a power supply that Ford claims can power an average single family home for three days. That would have helped a lot of people in Texas last winter.
    Finally I have high hopes that electric pick-up trucks will help end the culture wars. An EV is not and should not just be for techies or environmental activists. There are a lot of people who just need a truck for their job, or a car to bring home groceries or take their children somewhere. They might as well do it in a quiet, efficient vehicle.

    • I agreed, M. But I can’t list everything. 🙂

      Also, some gas cars can be very quiet, too, for the drivers that is. Thanks for the input, though.


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