Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Automatic High Beams?!

I just discovered that I have friggin' automatic high/low beam headlights. Must be part of the autopilot upgrade.

We were driving to the grocery store last night, when I noticed something different. While using high beams on a back country road, there was a little "A" inside the blue symbol on the dash. Around that time, a car came over a hill, and my headlights went to low, along with a corresponding change of the icon to a gray color.

It turns out, the automatic high/low beams also work when there's a car in front of you, traveling in the same direction as you... not just oncoming cars.

I think the car is using the neural net capabilities of the front-facing camera to work this magic. Nice little surprise you got me with there, Tesla!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Autopilot Upgrade & First Impressions

Why didn't I get this sooner?
Seriously, if you're contemplating getting a Tesla, you really should opt for the Autopilot.

When I first ordered mine (not being one of those rich owners), I didn't have the luxury of opting for enabling the autopilot convenience features. Having recently somewhat replenished the retirement savings which I pilfered (spare me the lecture, I did it responsibly and in a well-planned manner), I got wifely permission to swing for enabling it.

The process was pretty simple. A ranger came out, hooked up a laptop to a cable exposed by removing the under-screen cubby, and used a special Tesla software to push the required firmware update to the car. After that (and waiting 2 hours for the update to finish installing), we went out to test it and for him to show me the basics.

TL;DR... there's definitely a learning curve... and a period of time to gain trust in it. But once it's gained your trust, you won't know what you've done without it.

We took a 200+ mile road trip over the weekend; and believe me, it made the trip SO much easier. I suppose you really don't really realize how much brain power is used to drive (even on a subconscious level), until the car manages much of driving's tasks for you. You arrive at your destination not as fatigued. You find yourself paying more attention to the idiots around you, watching out for troublesome deer, noticing debris in the road, etc. I think it can improve defensive driving skills, honestly (you hear that, State Farm? hint, hint, nudge, wink).

A few other thoughts about the experience:

  • It keeps the car dead-center in the lane; so if you're a line-rider, you may not like it.
  • But, it seems to notice and react to traffic around you. If you're beside a truck or car, it seems to shy away from that vehicle a bit - which, if true, is quite nice.
  • If one lane marking disappears (like for a ramp or widening of the roadway with another lane), it seems to veer a tiny bit outward. Nothing major, but noticeable.
  • If you use it in stoplight traffic, it waits until it's quite late before hitting the brakes. I tend to start coasting (regeneration) when a see stopped traffic far ahead (to avoid using brakes at all); however autopilot tends to wait until the last minute to brake, which is a bit unnerving and wasteful to the regeneration and brakes. I'd love to see the radar be used to its full capabilities here, and the system be a bit more proactive.

I'll probably write up more as I get used to it, but that's my initial impressions so far.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unsolicited Tire Rotation & Service

The Tesla Model S has one big appeal: very little maintenance. The largest back-of-your-mind-worry you have to deal with is tires, in my opinion ~ changing them when the tread gets low and rotating them every 5,000 miles.

Anyway, after having just passed the 5,000 mile mark, I began to begrudge my first anticipated maintenance item. So I emailed my local Tesla service concierge, mentally preparing myself to have to deal with schedules, loners, costs, etc.

I was shocked to learn that they would simply come out and rotate my tires in the parking lot of my workplace. For free. FREE. And on-site.

During this service, I also just happened to get my tires aired up to spec (recently got cold here) - another annoying maintenance item, and a top-off of my washer fluid.

What sort of wizardry is this, Tesla??

I didn't hardly have to lift a finger. This car is really turning out to be worth every penny.

Let me just add one more thing about this...
The technician told me that Tesla had addressed the aggressive rear alignment that had caused so many previous owners to complain about uneven tire wear, and that my tread had evenly worn down only 1/32nd of an inch after 5,000 miles (and that's even with spirited driving), on all tires, inside / middle / outside tread. That was a BIG worry off my chest with this car.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Door Handles vs. Wife

So, being the type of guy who LOVES shopping /s, I frequently drop my wife off in front of stores and find a nice safe place in the back of the parking lot to wait for her, away from all the hordes of women shopping who have no business attempting to use a parking lot... scary place, but I digress...

Anyway, when the call comes for me to pick her up, and I pull up in front of the doors, the handles are neatly retracted into the door. Of course she taps the handle to present it, but nothing happens; so there must be some sort of required delay before the touch-to-present works, after coming to a stop.

The same thing happens when I back out of the garage, and then my wife comes out of the house and tries to get into the car.

This is actually her chief complaint about the car.

Tesla, you could easily fix this with a software update... a happy wife equals a happy life.

What I've been doing is two-fold... lock the doors and then wait a second before unlocking them (doing both in rapid succession won't present the handles) as I see her approaching the car. If, for some reason, I'm not fast enough, I've told her to wait a second after I fully stop moving the car, before she taps the handle.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Going Back to ICE

Because I hadn't had time to affix my new temporary tag, and I didn't want today's rain to mess up my fresh wash/wax, I drove our ICE to work today.

It was... an experience.

I'll note that I haven't driven a gasoline engine car since I picked-up the Tesla over a month ago. I'll also note that my wife's ICE is no sloucher, either (a relatively new Acura with a turbo-charger).

I felt like I was drunkenly operating a clunky old steam locomotive, rather than being ONE with the road. I mean, I pushed the gas pedal, waited a second or two as the RPMs noisily rose, and only then did I start to gain some speed as the transmission started to convey those explosions to the wheels in a flurry of noise and vibration.

I literally thought the car was broken somehow or needed service. About 15 minutes later, as the engine warmed-up (I had forgot about that necessity), things got a little more smooth, but not much.

I think I'd rather even settle for a Nissan Leaf than an ICE... internal combustion is such an archaic construct ~ I had NO idea. And yes... I'm aware I sound like a complete douche-bag. I don't care. Electric is the future. I'm completely convinced, now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The ESP Seems to Have ESP

I've seen this a lot more lately... not sure if the slightly cooler weather or if due to the latest software. Maybe 1-in-10 of my "spirited" starts from a stop have been resulting in the stability control light flashing and much less power available. Maybe another 1-in-20 of the less-spirited starts have also resulted in the same.

Almost always, though, it seems to happen at the line whenever a stop light turns green - where, perhaps, there might be some oil on the road. Also, it seems to happen more frequently during the start of my drive - when, perhaps, the tires are still cold and not as "sticky."

The conclusion that I'm drawing is this: the car is able to detect an imperceptible loss of traction and react within milliseconds - so sensitive and so quick that I was thinking there was a bug, since I could not perceive ANY traction issues that would warrant the ESP activating. To put that in perspective, a "blink of an eye" is about 150~200 milliseconds, by the way.

I'm not sure if I'm used to clunky and slow older types of control systems, but it's kind of weird. In a way, I want that physical feeling of a tiny bit of slip before the system activates (as a cue that it's happening); but on the other hand, it's nice to trust that the car is actually taking care of things for me - and doing it well. Just one more old habit to break, I suppose!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Title and Registration Woes

I fear that I may soon be without my Tesla for a while, after this week.

My temporary Ohio license plate will have expired by this coming Thursday, which is 45 days after purchase/pick-up. But, no worry, because that gives me plenty of time to transfer the title to my state and obtain my own registration, right? Maybe not.... I still haven't received my original Ohio title.

I got my purchase agreement, bill of sale, and a photocopy of my Ohio title, via FedEx just a day or so after I last inquired about the delay from my DS in Cincinnati (so I think Tesla is on the ball here); but when I went to the BMV, I was told they couldn't do anything until I could bring the original title with me.

I'm wondering why I got my other paperwork from Tesla so late. The cover letter was dated around the time I sent the email to my DS. Either Tesla forgot to send the paperwork to the Ohio DMV, or the Ohio DMV is slow as Hell and Tesla sent me that paperwork as an email response/courtesy.

I'm not sure who to blame here... Tesla or Ohio. Honestly, it wouldn't be a stretch to blame Ohio, I think. But IF this was a result of Tesla's negligence, then this will be my first major negative mark against the company.

We'll see this week, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tesla Mobile Ranger Service Experience (and Bug Update)

Being a new owner, I've just had an "otherworldly" experience, of sorts. Those of you with Teslas might be aware of the mobile ranger service; but for everyone else, let me tell you about it. No other car company does this, to my knowledge (but correct me, if I'm wrong). I didn't have to go to a dealership, I got to work on time... the whole deal.

Currently, Indianapolis doesn't have a physical dedicated Tesla Service Center; but they do have a service team based out of a temporary location in Zionsville (actually a body shop there that's authorized to perform work on the aluminum in a Tesla). Tesla is supposed to be opening a service center in Indianapolis by the end of this year; but until they do, Indy area owners get the benefit of having a technician actually come to your home or work to do any needed service, free of charge. I believe that if you have a service center nearby, the ranger service is a $100 charge, though.

The front panel corner popped up (forgive the ugly water spots)
So, I actually had two issues to address during the service/ranger visit: the front panel in front of the panoramic roof (sunroof) had a corner popped up, and the issue with the shuddering while slowing down. For the former, it was a minor eyesore and (I thought) potentially a point of water ingress. As for the latter, if you read my post from a few days ago, you'll know that I had a vibration or shudder start happening in the rear end after a software update (very minor, and not even an annoyance really, but I did want to ensure it wasn't something else major). Anyway, I reported the issues to Tesla, and they scheduled someone to meet me and check it out.

The technician actually met me at my house, with a loaner P85+ (all red and sexy looking LOL). However upon clearing the previous client's memory, the center screen unit wouldn't boot back up. So, since he didn't want to inconvenience me with not having that for the drive to work, he offered to just come to my work later in the morning and do the checks / repairs there, on the spot.

This guy had a long morning, but was great!
Once he arrived in the white Tesla Ford truck (love the irony), he got to work.

It turns out that I have a newer pano roof that uses a different attachment layout, and the replacement panel they had wasn't exactly matching. The poor guy seemed to be embarrassed by the mix-ups this morning, but he did make it look a LOT better. Plus, he alleviated my concern about any potential water ingress by informing me that the area wasn't a critical seal area or anything. Regardless, he insisted on ordering a new (correct) panel and coming out in a week or so to do the repair again, mentioning that he wanted it to be perfectly right.

As for the shuddering at 4mph bug... it really is just a software bug, and not some larger hardware related issue. That was a very nice thing to have confirmed. He informed me that it's a well-known issue that Tesla's software engineers are working to resolve with another future software update.

To top it off, he took care to wipe down all affected areas to make them look pristine when finished. I did really appreciate that, since I just washed and waxed it 2 days before.

Overall, the whole experience has been exceedingly convenient (and what I hoped I had paid for with getting this car). So far, my life has been simplified, I must say... 100% win thus far, as I hoped. And as for the dedication and professionalism of all the Tesla people so far ~ I can't speak well enough. It's so refreshing to deal with competent and caring people, for once!

Update #1:
Apparently the software bug is related to a new "brake scrubbing" feature to help prevent accidents from wet discs during rain. At least that's the consensus from this guy on the forums.

Update #2:
The "roof applique" (as it's called) has once again popped up, so I will be glad when they come to fix it next time. Also, I was informed that my replacement bumper cover will also be in soon, and they can just do it all in one trip! (it had minor damage while in transit)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

First Road Trip (and Charging Options)

We live north of Indianapolis, but have family living near Louisville, about a 2 hour drive south (about 120 miles distance). My mother also owns an alignment shop, so I wanted to have a quick look at the rear-end alignment, as well. Also, on the way is also an outlet mall (which my wife needed to visit before her visit to Korea). So, with wifey, dogs and bags loaded, with a 100% charge, we sat out for the weekend drive south.

Now, my 85D (if I drive slowly and with a full charge) technically has the ability to do this round trip without charging, but if you add around-town driving at the destination and a few launches to wow new passengers, it definitely behooved me to at least do an overnight charge before the return trip back home. However, I did decide to also try a "charging tour" of sorts, checking out the Indianapolis Supercharger station and the Blink charger at the Edinburgh Outlet Mall, just for the heck of it (and to get a lay of the land, so to speak). The main overnight charging would take place at my mom's house, where we would stay the night.

As for highway driving, I'd already had a little experience (since I took delivery in Cincinnati), but this time was no different. The car is very comfortable and ridiculously easy to drive. A few times, I kind of wished I had the autopilot or traffic aware cruise control (TACC); but even without it, the drive was great.

Our very first stop was the Indianapolis Supercharger. I'll note that this would be my first ever visit to a Supercharger! Anyway, we'd left the house with a 100% charge, and it's only about 30 miles to the SC, but I figured I'd at least top off the "tank" as well. I was also curious to see how fast it would charge when it was already nearly full.

The station was just off I-465, in the parking lot of a La Quinta Inn. It seemed like a relatively safe place, but didn't look like there was much to do nearby. When we pulled in, there was nobody around. The charging rate was better than I had expected to get. My battery was maybe at around 90%, but it still ramped up to about a 120 miles per hour charging rate. The charging characteristic was almost 400 volts at just under 97 Amps. We sat there for around 10 minutes and grabbed about 15 miles before continuing on our trip.

Next, at the outlet mall an hour later, I tried out the Blink charging station. This mall has two of them (right in front of Tommy Hilfiger, near the Harley Davidson store). When I pulled up, one spot had some sort of plug-in hybrid charging, so I took the other spot. It's interesting to note that I didn't have to back in, as the cable was plenty long enough to reach anywhere within the entire parking spot.

Blink's el-cheapo cable couldn't handle 29A
However, as for the performance of this charger, I was NOT impressed. Not only was it "expensive" (45 minutes cost me almost $3, at $0.03 per 30 seconds), but the voltage and current were weak and the cable was definitely sub-par. In fact, after about 10 minutes, the car showed a fault with the cable and reduced the charging amps even further. It started out at 29A but reduced to 22A. I think the cause was the fall-temperatures sunshine?

Rusty, our Papillon enjoying his
mama's seat while she shops.
But, basically, it was just enough to let me sit in the air conditioning with the dogs while my wife shopped, and also adding a few extra miles (like maybe 6 or 7). I don't think I'll ever depend on this charger, unless absolutely desperate - which I don't think will ever happen.

Interestingly, I was approached by several people who were very curious about the car. They had never seen or even heard of Tesla before, and seemed shocked that such a "sporty" looking car was plugged-in and taking a charge. They were struggling to comprehend the concept of a 100% electric car that didn't look "electric" and could hit near 300 miles in range. Unfortunately, with crazy barking Papillons in the car, I wasn't really to continue the conversation or show them the car; but that was my first experience as a Tesla "representative." No wonder Tesla doesn't find a need for marketing!

Patio with nearby receptacles.
I actually like the top view!
Anyway, onward! Once we arrived at and were settled into our destination, I set out exploring my mom's home electrical system to see if I could manage a 240v charge somehow.
Started the night before at 132 mi

The good news was that I could easily park down by her half-basement patio and run a cord to the dryer outlet nearby... the bad news was that it was a NEMA 10-30 receptacle, and the stores were closed.

So, 120v standard outlet it would be; and for the first time, too. I was actually surprised that I was able to draw 12A, though, and achieved 4 miles/hour charging rate all night. By the next day, I'd gained about 50 miles of range. Definitely lots of comfort room to make it home.

But, I'll be damned, if I wasn't at least going to try out the Supercharger again; but this time, with a bit less in the battery, I really wanted to see how fast it could go.

This time, I got to experience the infamous jet engine taking off under my hood. When you're dumping almost 300 Amps of DC straight into the battery, things are bound to get warm, and the Tesla Model S takes care of that with two hidden radiators & fans to remove heat from the liquid cooled battery. These radiators are located under each headlight, and they have little doors that open only when needed (to improve aerodynamics).

At this point, I was adding a mile every 10 seconds. It would've taken only 15 minutes to get me to my usual daily charge amount of 62%; but home was only a half hour away, so I decided to unplug and complete the trip.

It was interesting that the Supercharger cable was pretty warm. I'll be curious to see one of the new liquid-cooled cables.

So, all-in-all... a pretty cool trip. I've got a better feel for the car's capabilities, and gained confidence in its ability to predict and estimate mileage & range (it's dead-on accurate). The anticipated "range anxiety" never happened, and I was completely comfortable the entire time. Love this car!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rear Wheel Alignment

One of the tasks on this little road trip was to stop at the alignment shop that my mom owns and see what the deal is with the infamous negative toe/camber on the rear wheels of the Model S.

For those of you unaware, Tesla specifies a negative camber to the rear wheels (presumably to aid in sticking to the road during hard cornering of this very heavy car). In the past, some have had such an aggressive misalignment -- as much as -3 degrees -- that their tires were wearing out on the inside edge after just 3,000 miles or so.

Mine appeared to be just over -1 degree, which did put my mind at rest somewhat. I really do wish it would be 0, but I'll just have to be careful to rotate the tires often. We'll see how things go after about 5,000 miles.

Thanks and shout-out to Larry at Charlie's Alignment in Sellersburg, for the late night inspection!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thoughts After 2 Weeks

So after two full weeks of ownership, here are my thoughts:

Regenerative Braking
It's fantastic that I can now do mostly "one pedal" driving. For those of you unaware of this, electric and hybrid cars are able to recapture the energy of motion and put it back into recharging the batteries as you drive (in gas cars, that energy is lost as waste heat in the brake pads and discs/drums). At any rate, I find myself very rarely using the actual brakes. Sounds dangerous, you say? Well, not really. The Model S supposedly uses an accelerometer (measures g-forces) to determine when to turn on the brake lights, while older gas cars use a switch on the brake pedal to turn them on. I have verified that this works, by the way, by either seeing the lights come on on my car's screen avatar or seeing the brake lights' reflection at night in the camera.

Software Updates
After my first software update seems to have introduced a bug, I've decided to delay any future updates for a few days, and see what the other owners say about the version, first. I used to do this with Android, for fear of bugs being introduced. The "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. I've sent an email to my DS, sales consultant, and the nearest service center, but as of post-time, have not heard anything back. The forum community says a new bug-fix update is being developed. I wonder if there will be another revision to v6.2 or if it will just go to v7?

Tint and Heat Rejection
The metallized windshield does seem to block more heat than a regular glass windshield; but as someone who likes it COLD and breaks a sweat at 74 degrees, it's not quite enough. Let me reiterate: I really HATE heat... all forms of it. The side and back windows now have IR-blocking tint, but the front windshield has gone without it (for now). I will be putting the same on the front as soon as they can schedule me in.

My First Software Bug

Well, it seems that my first software update has also (seemingly) introduced my first bug. At least, it made it more pronounced.

Whenever I slow down (ex. at a red light), there is a low rumble sound and feeling (shudder, vibration, even) as I hit 4 mph, dropping down to 3 mph, then it's smooth again as I come the rest of the way to a stop. When I accelerate to get going again, there isn't any rumble as I pass that same speed... it's only while slowing down.

But wait, there's more... while slowing down, if I hold just a tiny bit of throttle as it crosses that speed (4 to 3), there isn't any rumble. It rumbles only when I'm completely off the throttle pedal. It's like it's a function of the regeneration or something. At any rate, it just started happening yesterday, after I did the software update. And, I did reboot both screens, by the way, to no effect. I also have regeneration on normal, lane departure warning disabled and creep mode off.

After searching around, I found that I am not alone in this. Some people on the forums are even calling this the "4mph bug." Anyway, several people have mentioned that they talked to Tesla and there's apparently a fix in the works for this known bug. Here's another thread on the issue.

By the way, it really is quite amusing to say that ("bug")... normally we think of cars as having defects or flaws that need to be "repaired" at a service center or dealership. It's nice to know that my car will be "fixed" ("improved," really) without me having to schedule time to take it anywhere or something like that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My First Software Update (6.2 revision)

After getting to work this morning, I noticed a new icon on the top of the big center screen: a little yellow alarm clock. Curious, I tapped it, and was surprised to see a notice of a new software update, and a prompt asking me when I'd like for it to install. Of course, I wasn't going to wait for the next day, since I thought it might be the much-anticipated version 7.

So as soon as I parked at work, I hit the "install now" button.

Immediately, a dialog appeared, allowing me a two minute countdown within which to cancel the update if I desired. Being determined, I waited out those two minutes, and after a few seconds, the next dialog appeared, letting me know that the update was proceeding.

At this point in the process, the background (consisting of maps and media apps) continued showing their respective content (even the music kept playing).

But after another couple of minutes, things began to get interesting. I started hearing various clicks and whirs from different parts of the car. At one point, even the windshield wipers wiped once. Thankfully the horn didn't honk or anything. I suppose the thought probably should have crossed my mind that the car might suddenly take me on an out of control joyride, but I wasn't really worried.
This warning appeared once toward the end of the update. It would later turn out that this feature was one of the updates.
Then, much to my bewilderment, it showed me that it was finished with a "What's New in Release" dialog.... showing v6.2. Crap. Shouldn't it be v7?! Oh well, I guess I'll keep waiting. I was really hoping navigation would be improved, at least.
Release Notes for the version that was just updated.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Windows Tinted

First picture Daniel texted to me after he finished tinting.
I got my windows tinted today (thanks to Daniel at DT Services Window Tinting LLC in Carmel, IN), and I have to say they did an amazing job. I had two goals with tinting the windows: add a bit of privacy and block heat to save on energy consumption by the air conditioner.

I had noticed, by the way, that at full strength, the A/C pulls about 7 amps; but at reduced strength, it seems to pull as little as 2~4 amps. That's basically the difference of a few miles range per hour, I think.

I opted for the darkest legal tint allowable in Indiana (35%), and also for the ceramic infrared and heat blocking variety. Carmel Tint calls it "nano-ceramic IR blocking" tint; but the invoice indicated it might be technically called "Sirius XR." Either way, if the black seats are in the sun coming through the side windows, they are not any hotter than the shaded portion of the seat, so that's a win.

The only hiccup I experienced was in my desire to put 70% IR blocking film on the windshield (not really darker, but blocks heat). When I dropped my car off, I was told that they had unexpectedly ran out of the 70% film supply. So I'll wait and see if I can tolerate the heat and make a 2nd decision later.
The view from inside (inside the garage).

First Wax

Look at that shine!

So, at exactly 30 days from completion of factory production, I pulled out some Turtle Wax (don't judge me) and bought myself a couple extra weeks of at least some paint protection.

I didn't want to apply a stronger paint sealant yet, just in case the curing process might need to out-gas a bit more or something.

But before winter hits, I'm considering something like CQuartz or Opticoat Pro. The jury is still out on if, and what.

I don't really desire to wax it like every month, but don't really have the money for a wrap (like xpel or clearbra), so I think that might be a good compromise.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

1 Week, Today: Thoughts So Far

Today marks the end of my first week owning a Tesla Model S, and I just wanted to share my experiences, thoughts, and impressions with it, so far.

In a word: Glorious.

There really isn't much beyond what I wrote about last week, but here are a few more thoughts...

All That Glass & Heat
The Model S, having an amazingly low drag coefficient, has a very broad and low windshield that gives it a sleek shape, but also allows plenty of sunshine to come in. Now, even though Tesla applies a metalized coating to the glass, you do still feel some heat coming in. And, you certainly feel heat through the side windows as much as with any other car. To be fair, though, the A/C (especially if you put it on recirculate) really is quite up to the task of cooling my all-black interior. However, if you put it on full-auto climate control, you will get waves of heat, periodically. Mainly because of this, I've decided to have all the windows tinted with a nano-ceramic film that blocks all infrared wavelengths (heat). That shall be done next Monday, and I expect it will help a LOT (with privacy, too). Interestingly, the pano roof allows only a tiny bit of heat through ~ I'm extremely impressed with that; but we'll see how drafty it is in the winter!

RIP, Radar Detector?
As mentioned, I knew the Model S had a metal film on the windshield that would prevent radar detectors from working; but I thought there would be a small area to the right of the mirror that it would work in (people have put their toll passes there). BUT~ my 2015 (VIN 97,XXX) Model S came with a solid black coated area to the right of the mirror, like I'd not seen before, and it doesn't seem to be able to work with my Beltronics. I definitely miss having it, especially with how easy it is to speed in this car. I must figure something out.... which brings me to.....

This car is so ridiculously quiet and smooth (and quick) that you're 10 over the speed limit before you even realize it - and that's with predictable cruising courses. But, say you want to pass grandma doing 25 in a 30 on a country road? The Model S has you covered! You'll zip right around her and be back in your proper lane within 2-3 seconds, max. Oh, sure you might be hitting 70mph when you expected a more sane 40mph, but that's what brakes are for, right? -- That is NO exaggeration.

For the first time, behind some idiot on a 35mph parkway, I wished I had the traffic aware cruise control! Every once in a while, you get that person who just doesn't know how to pay attention or drive, and they are constantly fluctuating between 20 and 40mph. The TACC would have been a nicety to have on that 2 mile stretch. Maybe it will be a future gift to myself ~ after all, you can just buy and download the capability at any time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dashcam Installation

As noted in a previous post, I finally got around to finishing the installation of my Blackvue 650 dual-channel dash-cam (or "blackbox" as the Konglish goes in Korea). In particular, I played it safe and also opted to install the Power Magic Pro, which will add an extra layer of assurance that I won't drain my 12v battery, and will allow me to record in "parking mode" while I'm away from the car.

God help the asshat that gives Miss T. her first scratch or dent! -- I digress.

My awesome graphical exaggeration of center line mounting options.
The first and most simple step was to mount the cameras to the front and back windshields. The blackvue literature says to line the camera lens up with the center line of the windshield, but I suggest you actually mount the mount on the center-line. The reason is that the windshield, having a slight curve to it, will make the camera lens point slightly toward the right. I did also utilize the live view in the smartphone app, just to be safe, as well.

The next step was to route the wiring. But what I don't understand is that all the Tesla bloggers seem to have much more complicated how-to's than what I found out was really necessary. They were disassembling mirror surrounds, headliners, etc. In my case, I was simply able to run the cables along the inside of the window seals, using just my fingers and a credit card. And along the windshield, there was adequate space to stuff the cable along the top headliner. Maybe over time, the cables might become exposed or drop out (I doubt it), but so far, so good. I did, however decide to run the rear-camera cable down along the side-floorboard / step-plate (as shown in step #1 in this blog), so as not to interfere with the side-curtain airbag. Note that my 2015 Model S was only slightly different than that blogger's, but the same method applied.

As for the power-cable routing, that was a bit more interesting. I opted to run the camera's power cable along the passenger side headliner, across and down the underside of the A-pillar (the wide gasket), across toward the door hinge area, between the rubber seal and metal frame from the interior toward the front (that was tricky), through the narrow split between the body's A-pillar and quarter panel (had to be very careful not to scratch the paint or damage the wire), route it through the under-workings of the frunk hood so the wire wouldn't be damaged by any mechanisms/hinges, and over toward the fuse box.

Next, I would need to wire up the Power Magic Pro to the fuse box. My task was to find a fuse with a constant electrical supply and another fuse with a switched electrical supply, so the Power Magic Pro can tap into them. I don't know, off-hand, why it needs both; but I found them. In my case, I just tapped into the fuses by pulling them, wrapping the wire around the fuse leg, and pushing the fuse back in. For good measure, I secured them with electrical tape. My equipment from Pittasoft has an inline fuse, so I didn't need to add an extra one. I secured the ground wire under the bolt-head for the frunk hood's hydraulic raise piston (there are two bolts, so just barely loosening one to the
In my 2015 Model S...  A = Switched Power / B = Constant Power
The final step was just to run both the camera's power cable and the power-manager's wires to someplace safe and dry. I opted to just go under the weather seal and enter into the frunk space. That way, the Power Magic Pro is accessible, but out of sight (I think under-dash installations don't look good) and is protected from the elements. I'll also note that anywhere the wires would have pinch points, I wrapped them in generous amounts of electrical tape to protect them. I also notched out anything on the car, where necessary to avoid pinching the wires too much (like the edge of the fuse box cover and frunk liner).

As a final setting, I set the Power Magic Pro to cut off power if the battery reaches 12v (instead of 11.8v), just to be safe since I heard lots of bad news about the Model S' 12v battery life and vampire drain.

In the end, total install time took about 3 hours and only required the most basic tools.

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Days & Initial Impressions

I'm two full days into ownership now, and I can't honestly think of any negatives. Well~ there is one big negative; but it's not Tesla-specific: I find it very hard to comfortably leave the car anywhere alone (like parking lots)!

Daily commuting and driving is no longer a chore, but rather, the complete opposite: a joy. I find myself actually wanting to get out of bed and DRIVE to work. And, yes, I am looking for any excuse to drive and run errands.

Just a few select pickings and standout thoughts at the moment...

Sound System
Much better than I thought. I ordered just the standard (no sub, no XM, fewer speakers & watts), because I couldn't tell much difference between them during test drives; however, that thought was always in the back of my mind, about whether I'd miss the low frequencies. So far, though, it is more than adequate. Actually, I can easily enjoy it. A year or two down the road, I may install a sub, though. A HUGE bonus is the 4 years of Slacker Pro that come included.

Smartphone App & Pre-conditioning
Being able to start cooling down the car a half hour before I leave work, after it's been in the baking sun, and have it be nice and chilled inside by the time I step into it... priceless. I assume the same will hold true in the winter time with the heat. Other than that, monitoring the car with my phone at any time (temperature, charge status, location, etc.) is not only cool, but also provides peace of mind.

All-glass Panoramic Roof
I'm enjoying this much more than I had thought I would. I'd never used sunroofs too much before; and honestly, they seemed like a gimmick (especially since they're not really large, typically). But the Model S' pano roof is massive. It's the closest you'll get to a convertible, IMHO. And the sun/heat is so far not even a factor, since it's tinted / coated well. It also adds a lot to the roominess and spacious sense.

Exterior and Interior Lighting
Much better than expected. Very bright and attention-grabbing... sexy, yet utilitarian. The recent/newer year models have the warm-white LED dome lighting, which is nice. The premium lighting adds a nice classy touch, and I'm glad I opted for it. I do kind of wish we had the LED (or even laser) headlights, but the HID / Xenons put out a nice pure bright white light, providing excellent illumination (especially given how low the car sits). I live in a semi-rural area, and have NO problems seeing a great distance. The trunk/frunk illumination really is a bit dim, but that will be remedied with some LED strips I plan to install later. I also wish the side turn markers were LED (to match the rest of the car), but I suppose they may need to be DOT compliant or something... or perhaps some research I don't know about suggests it's more noticeable or something. I may upgrade those, though.

Next Generation Seats
SO glad I got these. They hug you nicely when corning, but are completely unobtrusive. Plenty comfortable for the 2 hour drive back home, too. They are, however, not-vented; so if it gets very warm, you may find a bit of sweat trying to materialize on your back. Probably won't be an issue as long as I can pre-cool the car (and I will).

I guess I'm lucky enough to have a newer electrical service; and I can actually gain ~31 miles of range per hour of charging, rather than the official 29 miles. I'll note that it provides 246~249 volts at the full 40 amps. After an hour of charging, I did, however, notice the cable and "brick" (on the UMC) was decently warm. Now, that is normal; but with my computer/electronic hardware background, I know it's never a great idea to run electrics at full-tilt because it will at least decrease lifespan and dependability. For example, if you built a PC, you should get a power supply that will supply twice the wattage of what you really need. So, for my needs, I just reduced the current to half (around 20 Amps), and the cable isn't even warm. I *think* this will be easier on the charging equipment in the car and the battery, over the long run. And it still gives me like 15~19 miles per hour of charging.

Need I even say more? Really?
I find myself trying to learn the one-pedal technique and the regenerative braking; and it's not that hard. Actually, I caught myself subconsciously doing it while drifting off to sleep. You know... how you feel like you're bobbing/drifting after you get off a boat... or how you "see" Tetris in your mind after you stopped playing for a long time? Yeah.. that. Additionally, merging and getting in/around traffic is completely effortless. It's crazy how fun and easy driving can actually be. It's ridiculous!

SO much more.
I cannot quickly write all the positives.
More to come...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Pick-Up / Taking Delivery

Tesla arranged for my wife and I an Enterprise Rent-a-car to drive from Indianapolis to Cincinnati, so we could leave it there and then drive the Model S back home. There was just a slight confusion with the rental staff as to whether it was going to be returned or was a one-way rental; but after a quick email to my DS (and him calling Enterprise back while we were on the road), all of that was sorted out without my needing to worry about it. First point of the day scored by Tesla!

So after a couple of hours of driving through country where you're assaulted by "Jesus Lives" and other billboards threatening eternal damnation for people like me, we finally made it to the most progressive location in Ohio - the Tesla Service Center.

It's as everyone says: once you see your new car in person, it's just sexy. No pictures will ever do a Model S any amount of justice. Even the public notary they brought in for the signing was liking the look of it. It was just sitting there, charged and waiting. And if I had any 2nd thoughts about my options (e.g. all black, standard wheels), they vanished in an instant.

So, we took a walk around, basking in its radiant glory, and then sat down for the paperwork. That literally took like 3 minutes or so, and then I had the keys. Meanwhile, my wife was doing her thing, inspecting for damages and such. She actually found a few scuffs and imperfections - most of which they fixed right on the spot. A couple of very minor defects on the front bumper were a bit too deep to fix right there, so what did they immediately offer to do? Without any fuss, "ah, well, we'll just order you a new bumper and have someone come out and replace it for you." --- Damn. 2nd and 3rd points of the day scored by Tesla. They do NOT mess around!

I had also ordered the all-weather floor mats and brought those along; and they installed them for me right there. I'm glad they did, because there is apparently a bit of "screwing" involved with the anchors, and I'm glad they did that instead of me. Probably simple, but you never know. 4th score of the day.

Since I had pretty much exhausted the Internet's entire repository of Tesla videos, I was pretty familiar with how to operate the car; so the walk-through was abbreviated at my request, but they still answered any miscellaneous questions I had, expertly. All-in-all, the whole staff just seems to actually enjoy working with the brand... it's really like there is a real passion there. Fantastic experience, overall. Tesla experience is, so far, anything but run-of-the-mill.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Today's the Day

T -5 hours.

I asked my DS if there's anything I need to bring. Nope.

I guess this really will be that easy.
The whole "dealership" experience can just go to Hell!

Cannot wait.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Long Distance Pickup

In just one more day, I will FINALLY be able to take delivery of my new 85D... in Cincinnati... 2 hours away from where I live.

I was informed that due to the nature of my financing, they could not deliver it to Indianapolis or my house. I'm also thinking that as Tesla Motors transitions more to a mass-production company, the doorstep delivery of cars is fast becoming a thing of the past.

No matter... They are renting an Enterprise one-way rental car for me to drive to the service center for pickup. Supposedly, all I have to do is go pickup the rental car, and hit the road.

Besides, I'd rather not have the attraction and spectacle of a huge truck unloading an expensive looking car in my entry-level-home subdivision.

If there's anything of consequence with this, further, I'll edit and update.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Arrival & Pickup Scheduled!

Well, THE time has arrived...
I've finally got an appointment to pick up my new Tesla! Only 2 more days to suffer through.

And as a bonus, my DS was kind enough to take mercy on my pathetic begging (I really am beginning to think that us waiting Tesla owners are mentally ill), and sent me a teaser picture!

There she is, right off the delivery truck... dirty, but in full glory... sipping on her first refreshing supercharge.

I can't wait to see it, in person. As you may know, mere pictures certainly don't do a Tesla any justice, whatsoever.

As for the actual delivery, I was informed that it arrived on a truck (7 Model S's in total) in Cincinnati, bright and early at 8am this morning. I guess the driver brought it from the Joliet rail yard (Chicago) overnight sometime. Any later, and I might've had to wait until Thursday... whew.

I was really hoping for a Tuesday pickup; but with more cars than usual, they're probably very busy. So, the next step is to drive down there Wednesday afternoon (they will rent me a car to drive one-way, free of charge) and simply bring it home!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Paying for a Tesla Model S: Down Payment

Well, that was the easiest, yet most expensive, debit payment I've ever initiated.

I just got an email from Tesla with the finalized financial numbers, and a handy link to "Pay Balance."

When you click the link (which I won't show here, due to obvious privacy concerns), you're presented with a few simple informative line-items, and a down-payment amount. In my case, it also provided the financing principal amount (since I'm not filthy rich).

On that screen, you then click the "Make Payment" button; and after entering my electronic check info (just the usual routing, account, address, etc.), I promptly got a thank-you email.

Very very easy.
Just look at the time-stamps on those emails for proof of how quick it was.

Supposedly, according to my DS, all I have to do now is sign a few papers when I pick up the car, and I'm on my way.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

End of the Line: Chicago

She made it to Chicago!

And, thankfully, as you can tell by the map, she won't actually be IN that dreadful city. Instead, she's at the BNSF Logistics Park, just southwest of Chicago. Interestingly, this is apparently the largest inland port in North America.

I'm also a bit more relieved that she apparently won't have to experience the worst of Chicago traffic, either. Yep... I'm a dork.

So now, the big question... when is the delivery date?

Well, my DS explained it like this (and I'm paraphrasing, using my knowledge of railroading and trucking)...

The logistics team will unload the car from the train and stage it in their big parking lot (the asphalted area in the photos).

From there, they will then arrange truck transport to Cincinnati (the date that Tesla's been given is August 3rd).

Cincinnati will be the first stop of three in Ohio, so I'm assuming it will be one of those larger auto-transporter trucks (hopefully covered and protected from road debris).

So, the big variable is how long will my car sit in the staging area of the logistics park? Once my DS gets shipment information from them, he'll be able to schedule a date/time. So, hopefully, I'll know something in the next day or so!

As a bonus, I've found photos on the Internet of this place. Looks cool, until you notice it actually has a Google+ page (with ratings). Now I'm really worried about my previous post.

Take a look at the following ratings!
I hope they 1) don't fuck with my new expensive car, and 2) if they do, Tesla will make it right.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To Name or Not to Name

So, I've never been the type of person to be sentimental and stuff; and that crosses over into the silly habit of some people naming their cars.

However, since the Tesla's software allows one to "name" his or her car, I kind of feel like I need to.

In a half-ass attempt to mock me and my infatuation with this car, HeeLa starting talking yesterday about "Ms. T" ~ and.... I think it stuck.

Ms. T. ~~~ Misty?
Is that going to be the name?

Kansas City

I just found out that she made it to Kansas City, MO (just as I had hoped)!

I'm optimistically hoping for it to make it to Chicago by tomorrow. Hopefully it won't get held up in a yard somewhere along the line or have to switch out rail-cars for too long or something.

Now's the point where I'm really trying hard not to make guesses; but I'm holding my breath that I'll be able to pick it up by Saturday. I figure, worst case will be like Monday or Tuesday of next week. The big variables are: rail traffic/operations between Kansas City and Chicago, time spent in Chicago-land, and how quickly a truck can get it to Cincinnati.

From there, my DS has stated 24-48 hours preparation time at the Tesla service center.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Texas to Oklahoma

I (somehow) waited all weekend without pestering my DS for updates; but as of this morning, the current location is about to enter Oklahoma. So, I'm going to call it...
I'd say it's about half-way here!

Travel time was a little slower than I had hoped over the weekend, but maybe it'll be high-speed on main lines at least until Kansas City, MO? One can certainly hope!

I was unofficially hoping for an early delivery maybe this weekend... but maybe not. We'll see. Worst case, I get a little more time to prepare the trade-in, clean the garage, and maybe have to take a day off work next week.

Here's an update on the BNSF mainline. It's on that orange line, northwest of the "O" in the Oklahoma City label... west of Enid, OK.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Very Concerning Train Unloader Behavior

Maybe it's time to take up a hobby to quelch my obsession... At least, I should probably take a break from the Internet!
While I *hope* this video is an unusual case, I do certainly hope a premium manufacturer like Tesla has a way to control the quality and professionalism of the people who unload their customers' new cars from trains.

At least tell me there is a special mode (like Valet mode) that limits speed to like 20mph. I think BMW or some European cars actually do that, maybe?

Something.... anything!

Stopped in New Mexico

I continue to be impressed by Tesla and my DS in Cincinnati. I had emailed him an unrelated question yesterday, to which he replied along with an explanation of his attempt to also get an updated location (for the 2nd time that day), but he wasn't getting a signal from the car due to "less than stellar" cellular reception. No worries, man... could it be because it's literally in the middle of nowhere in the AZ/NM desert? :)

Anyway, he sent me an update today (I didn't even have to ask), and she's in New Mexico, just south of Albuquerque. Looks like it's a small rail yard; and I'm guessing it's being switched to another train or another track for the final stretch to Chicago. It'll be interesting to see whether it'll shoot up toward Colorado and then Eastward, or whether it'll be a more straight-shot to Chicago through the Texas panhandle.

I'd be lying if I said I'm not hopeful it will be in my hands by the end of next week. What is it... like 3 days by rail to Chicago, at most, from here?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My Tesla's Train Route

Those of you who know me, also know that I'm a bit of a railfan; so it will come as no surprise that I've been digging around for some more information about the conveyance of my new car.

I was under the impression that it was being carried by Union Pacific; but it appears to actually be following the BNSF line so far... that orange line from San Francisco, down past LA, north of Phoenix, through the northern half of New Mexico... and it looks like more or less a straight shot to Chicago from there.

Map courtesy of http://www.acwr.com/economic-development/rail-maps/bnsf

Almost to Arizona

Just asked for (and promptly received) an update from my DS on the location of my car. It's in the Mojave Desert, about to leave California and enter Arizona. Looks like it's going to closely follow the I-40 route all the way through New Mexico, maybe.

Amazing you can follow it like this, using just the car's GPS and 4G cellular connection.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On the Train from California!

I got an email back from my DS, and he even included a map!

My car is apparently now moving, on a train, just departed from the bay area.

Really, though, my DS has been nothing short of outstanding in dealing with my affliction.

By the way, I did ask if it would be possible for me to track the journey on my own app, to which he replied that owners were opening their sunroofs and honking horns remotely, so they had to disable that feature during transit; and opening a roof in the middle of rain is never a good thing. Apparently some service centers have had to do some repairs related to this... can you believe how stupid some people are??

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Floor Mats Arrive

The first official Tesla product to make it to my house... almost overnight, my all-weather floor mats have arrived.

I informed my DS, and he graciously offered to install them, if I bring them to the SC when I pickup my car.

Impatience & OCD, II

So, I've pretty much watched all videos on YouTube and Vimeo that I could find... both official Tesla videos and amateur owner videos. And every time I do, I cannot help but get more excited. I had originally hoped that all this reading and watching would "pass the time" but it has only made my compulsion worse.

I'm going to just send an email to my DS in Cincinnati and see if he can let me know where exactly my car is. I'm just too curious.

This should seriously by like a clinical disease at this point.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

In Transit!

Well, there you go...

She's on her way from California.

I might have to ask my DS if I can get a location update soon.

I tried the Tesla app, but it says something about vehicle not ready yet. I wonder if the service center needs to activate the link or something.

Supposedly, they ship onboard a Union Pacific auto-rack train to Chicago. After that, they are loaded onto trucks to their service center destinations around the region.