Whether you already have an EV or are considering purchasing one, a Tesla is definitely the way to go. Teslas outperform regular gas-powered cars on metrics like safety, speed, and obviously a reduced carbon footprint. However, one problem EV’s still need to overcome is distance. While a fully charged Tesla won’t travel as far as a regular car, there are some things you can do to make the battery life last longer.
How to make your Tesla battery last longer? Here are 9 expert tips:
- Don’t Charge All the Way
- Avoid Discharging Completely
- Avoid Superchargers for the Most Part
- Alter Your Charging Speed
- Set a Charging Schedule
- Switch Over to Percentage Mode
- Systematically Measure Output
- Don’t Expose Your Battery to Extreme Temperatures
- More Tips and Tricks
If you follow these 9 tips and tricks, you will maximize your battery life throughout your daily commute, during long trips, and you will maintain a healthier battery in the long term, avoiding expensive battery changes. These tips are based on reports directly from Tesla, Elon Musk, and suggestions from the EV community at large.
Read below to find out the specific details of how you can make your Tesla battery last longer and avoid premature degradation.
Making Your Tesla Battery Last Longer
It can be a little disheartening to learn that after paying for a rather expensive car, you have to be careful and mindful of how you charge it. The cheapest Tesla car is the Model 3, which starts at a base price of $36,000, but even owners with the expensive options need to follow these 9 expert tips. The soon to be released Roadster, for example, comes in at a cool $250 thousand, and the Model S P100D starts at around 80 thousand dollars.
So, yeah, Tesla puts you in a bit of a pickle…
Then again, when you think about the fact that the company has only been producing cars for about 11 years, it kind of puts things in perspective. All of a sudden, paying a little bit more attention to your car’s battery doesn’t seem like a tough task.
In reality, these tips are very easy to follow and don’t require much effort from you, the driver. For the most part, they include things like keeping your Tesla’s charge at a range between 20 and 80 percent or measuring the energy output every six months or so. Check out the details below.
1. Don’t Charge All the Way
The first tip comes straight from the man himself, Mr. Elon Musk. Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, Inc., is an active member on Twitter, sharing memes and getting into arguments with various individuals on Artificial Intelligence.
In his Tweets, the billionaire occasionally replies to questions about Tesla cars and posts recommendations. Among these is a Tweet stating that drivers should not charge their vehicles to 100%.
Your Tesla battery is the single most intelligent lithium battery to ever be placed in and power a full-sized car. In fact, Tesla’s battery significantly outperforms its competition because of the years and resources put into its development, not to mention the billions of miles of drive time data they have, a billion of which was from cars in autopilot.
These batteries last longer on daily trips and have a longer lifespan than other EV’s. So when the company tells you not to charge your car all the way, they know what they’re talking about. Avoid going to 100% for the following reasons:
- It hinders regenerative braking.
- The battery needs to cool down.
- Lithium batteries degrade sooner.
Let’s go over each very quickly
Charging your Tesla all the way stops it from using regenerative braking.
You have probably already noticed how quickly your Tesla begins to brake when you lift your foot off the accelerator and when you hit the brakes. Of course, you can limit the strength of this feature on your Tesla screen, but it’s there for a reason.
This regenerative feature by Tesla allows the car to power up and store potential energy using the active kinetic energy of your moving vehicle. As your Tesla stops, it converts energy and stores it for later use.
In fact, you can manage when this happens by looking at your speed indicator. When you accelerate, a little grey strip extends based on your speed, and once you brake, the very strip will get smaller and become green as you store energy.
This feature extends your battery life greatly, so you can consider optimizing Regenerative Braking as expert tip number 1.5 in the list.
However, if you are charged to 100% or the full milage, your specific battery model allows, then your car cannot use regenerative braking at all. In fact, Musk thinks you will get more out of your EV at a 95% charge with regenerative breaking on, then you would at full charge.
If you walk past your Tesla every now and then even if it off, locked, and sentry mode off, you may occasionally hear a soft sound similar to the sounds Iron Man’s hand makes when he is about to shoot… A none-Marvel reference would be a very soft sound of an airplane while in the air.
Don’t worry your beloved Tesla is not broken, quite the opposite. Your Tesla has various features and tools that maintain its health and longevity even when you’re not driving. If the battery gets warm or your car was driven for a long time, the Tesla may turn on its internal cooling system to cool-down the battery.
Charging your Tesla fully requires a great deal of energy, obviously its a full-sized car running on electricity! This process may be strenuous for you EV, kicking the cooling system and other protective functions into gear. Over a long period of time, this will degrade your Tesla battery.
Ok, so there are full volumes of scientific research that go into how lithium batteries are made, how to use them properly, and how to charge them. There are different types of lithium, and Tesla uses a very specific kind of battery. All this chemistry is a bit too technical and quite honestly, we don’t get it either.
All we know is that charging lithium batteries fully all the time damages them in the long term and limits the number of charges you can do throughout the lifetime of the battery.
The fun thing is you can test this out for yourself! If you have two lithium-ion powered radios, you can charge one fully and the other partially. You will notice that the fully charged radio will charge a couple of hundred times while the partially charged one will last for a couple of thousand charges.
Similarly, if you charge your Tesla to around 80%, which is the preset level by Tesla, you will have a healthy car for many, many thousands of charges.
You may be thinking to yourself, “I paid all this money for a large battery that I can’t even use!” Well yes and no. While we don’t recommend you charge your Tesla all the way all the time, you can still occasionally charge to 100%. If you’re going on a long trip or taking a cross country ride with a few friends or the family then, by all means, charge up!
In fact, charging all the way and driving down to low levels every now and then is very good for your battery, but we’ll get into that later on in this article.
2. Avoid Discharging Completely
Apart from the fact that you shouldn’t charge your car all the way, you should also avoid discharging fully. In other words, if you notice your battery getting too low, maybe charge up before you go out of the house or your next trip.
In general, lithium batteries prefer to be around the median of their charging capabilities. Around the 40% to the 60% mark is where your car’s battery feels the most comfortable.
Common and the recommended charge driving ranges include:
- 20% to 80%
- 25 – 30% to 70 – 75%
- 10% to 90%
The range you decide to go with really depends on your lifestyle. The average driver that commutes to work, home, the supermarket, and your kids’ school or soccer practice should be around 20 to 80 percent. In other words, you want to charge up to 80% and use your Tesla until it’s down to about 20%.
The median range between 30 to 70 percent or 25 to 75 percent is also good for people with this kind of lifestyle, so it depends on which one you feel more comfortable with.
The more “extreme” 10 to 90 percent is recommended for people who commute long distances and frequently throughout the day. For instance, if you are a real-estate agent with multiple properties around your city, county, or state and need to make multiple trips during the day, then you likely need to be in this range. In fact, get a long-distance battery when choosing your Tesla.
Being at this range, you avoid supercharges on a weekly bases, which brings us to our third tip.
3. Avoid Superchargers for the Most Part
There are almost 10,000 supercharges across the globe, making it easy to go on road-trips or stop for emergency charges when you need to. Supercharges are very affordable and cheaper than your traditional gas station, even with low gas prices. However, supercharging often or every time you charge your Tesla, is not a good option.
Superchargers charge at a faster rate than your charger at home, which we will go into more in the next section. A quick charge is great when used occasionally, but more than once a week is where you are hurting your car.
Many of the initial Tesla buyers and people with Tesla’s bought based on a reference code from a friend, charge for free at superchargers. There is a conspiracy going around that the company doesn’t want these people to charge at supercharging stations, so they don’t lose money. This is completely absurd! Just think about it, what about all the other people spending money at charging stations.
The truth is, filling up your Tesla battery very quickly causes it to overheat and use various functions at maximum capacity it otherwise wouldn’t when charged normally.
You can use a supercharge 4 or 5 times a month or once a week.
4. Alter Your Charging Speed
This is a cool one, and you probably didn’t even know about it!
When charging your Tesla, you actually have an option to reduce or increase the charging speed. When you begin charging your car, the inside screen will reveal that charging is about to or has started as well as how long your charge will take.
You will also notice an “Alter Charge Current” button where you can increase or decrease the speed at which your Tesla charges. Your Tesla charge current can go as low as 5 amps (A) and as high as 120 A when it’s supercharging. As you adjust the speed, you will notice the length of a charge increase or decrease.
It may seem like charging at a slower tempo is beneficial for your car, but this isn’t the case.
- If you charge your Tesla at 5 A, you place strain on the battery because it can take upwards of 15 hours to charge the car up to 80%. Long term charging damages the battery in the long term because it is actively charging over a longer period of time.
- Supercharging uses a charging current of around 120 A. Again, this won’t hurt your Tesla in the short term, but supercharging frequently damages the battery and, in fact, after a while, your vehicle won’t be able to charge at 120 A.
- The ideal charging current is around 32 A, which is what your Tesla comes preset to.
At this level, you will preserve the health of your battery much longer, avoiding expensive and annoying battery changes or checkups.
5. Set a Charging Schedule
Another little known feature when it comes to the charging dock is that you can actually set a schedule for when you want your Tesla to charge.
When you begin charging your car, it will take a moment before it begins charging. The vehicle will then give you a fairly accurate time estimate for when the charge will be completed in hours and minutes.
Using this information, you can schedule your charge to start at a certain time and allow it to finish when you want to use your Tesla.
Let’s assume you place your Tesla to charge. It tells you that your vehicle will be charged to its set limit (80% for day to day trips and 100% for long road-trips).
Assuming it says 4 hours and 50 minutes (approximately 5 hours), and you set it to charge at 12 a.m., your charge will finish around 5 a.m., but a lot of long-term Tesla users don’t recommend doing this. It’s similar to not charging your computer beyond its full charge and simply removing the cord once the full-charge indicating light goes off.
So, if you have to wake up around 7 a.m. and drive to work at 8, then you can schedule your charge to start at 3 a.m.
Now, this method is not extremely necessary, in fact, your Tesla will be fine even if you leave it to charge all throughout the night, but it is good practice, and in the very long term it could keep your Tesla battery healthier and keep its daily charge usage at an optimal rate.
The scheduling button should be next to or near the charge current button.
6. Switch Over to Percentage Mode
This tip won’t extend the life of your Tesla, but it is a great tool to use.
Your Tesla battery life indicator shows either in miles or in percentages. Setting the indicator to miles is flawed. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t show how many miles you have left despite that being the logical conclusion.
The number refers to how many miles you have left, given your current energy output. In other words, if you go faster, slower, turn on air conditioning or heating, your seat heaters, or even open all your windows reducing your aerodynamics, your mileage will change.
That’s why you may have noticed how sometimes a single mile traveled will register as three. The opposite can occur as well where you drive for what seems like at least a mile, and your milage has still not changed. This can occur when you break often and drive at an optimal speed of around 55mph to 62mph.
Switching over to a percentage mode also shows you a rate given your current energy output, but a percentage based energy reading is a more accurate way to know how much you still have. So it doesn’t become a matter of estimating how many miles you have left but a more concrete knowledge of the real-time percentage you have left at any given moment.
This is an especially useful trick for long-distance travel or road trips where your vehicle will indicate at what percent charge you will reach your destination or next supercharge station. If you want a more accurate mile-based reading, use one of the most underused but significant features in your Tesla.
- Go to your “Energy” section on your Tesla screen.
- A chart should appear.
- Click on “Average Projected Range.”
- Then place the reading to every “15 Miles.”
The chart will not only show you a graph indicating how efficiently you drive your car and when, but it will also give you a rough estimate of how many miles you have left based on the average output of the last 15 miles, which is the sweet-spot.
If you think about it, this is a solid way to extend the longevity of your battery since you’ll be more aware of going beyond the 20% lower charge limit.
7. Systematically Measure Output
Out of all the tips, this is the one that will require the most effort out of you, the driver. The best way to track anything is to well… track it! You need a bit of perspective to know how energy efficient your Tesla is performing. Otherwise, driving it every day, you aren’t going to notice many of the small changes, inconsistencies, or issues.
To measure the energy efficiency you want to:
- Charge your Tesla fully. Yep, that’s right all the way up to 100%. If you have had the vehicle for a number of years, usually around the 7-year mark, or depending on how poorly you treat your car, it may not go up to 100% but might stop at around 99 or 98 percent. Don’t worry about that. Just charge overnight but with your limit set all the way.
- Then, drive. Drive your car all day following your usual schedule and commute.
- It may take several days, depending on your Tesla model and battery size, but you should drive down to about 5 to 10 percent.
- Once you get that low, make sure you are near your house or charging station.
- Circle around the block a few times to greatly reduce your charge. At this point, your Tesla should begin to warn you that you are running low on charge and need to pull over.
- Continue to drive near your house until you get down to about 2%.
- Drive towards your home and park where you would usually charge your Tesla.
- Turn on your air conditioning or heating and let your battery run down.
- In an Excel file, write down the date, your starting point, your endpoint, and the kilowatts expended. Measure against your previous readings and track whether your Tesla is getting less efficient or virtually remaining the same.
The process is not exactly good for your car or battery life, but it lets you track how well you are preserving the life of your battery. We don’t recommend doing this more than twice a year. In fact, once a year is more than enough.
In any case, your battery should only start degrading around the 6 to 8-year mark. If it starts losing efficiency before that, you are straining it too much and will likely require an expensive battery change very soon.
8. Don’t Expose Your Battery to Extreme Temperatures
As mentioned before, your Tesla vehicle will start using cooling features to reduce overheating, and it will warm up to prevent the battery from freezing in winter months and colder regions like Alaska and Canada. These features protect your battery, but they also put strain on it… a bit of a paradox.
In any case, you can help your battery by keeping your Tesla out of direct sunlight or out in the open during snowstorms. This not only helps keep your battery healthy, but it makes it last longer on a daily basis.
9. More Tips and Tricks to Increase the Battery Life of Your Tesla
Here are some of the last tips and tricks you can employ to keep your Tesla battery life long and efficient. There are a few, so we just grouped them together. Let’s do a quickfire round:
- Schedule a checkup at your nearby Tesla Service Center once or twice a year. Express any concerns you may have an make sure they check your battery efficiency for any issues
- If it’s safe, use tires that have less of a grip and create less friction. You should NOT do this in colder regions where it snows and rains often. Ask your Tesla technician before switching to more milage friendly tires
- In the worst-case scenario where you need to save as much energy as possible, and make your battery last just a bit longer, turn off everything! If it doesn’t harm your health, shut down your heating and cooling, any interior lights, and if it doesn’t hinder your vision, turn off your high beams
- If you’re on a freeway drive at an energy-efficient speed. getting their sooner doesn’t mean you conserve more energy. As a rough example: getting somewhere in 2 hours at 55mph versus getting there in 1 hour at 90mph is much better for your battery life
Some of these things are a bit extreme, like shutting off tiny interior lights, but other suggestions like getting your car an annual checkup are really important.
There you have it! 9 expert tips to make your Tesla battery life last longer both on a daily basis while driving around and in terms of its entire lifespan. This is likely the best and most reliable car you will ever drive, so take good care of it, especially since they don’t come cheap. As the years go on, Tesla will come out with better batteries and more efficient cars. For now, these tips should get you to where you need to go quick, comfortably, and in style.