Serious Tesla Model 3 Battery Degradation

Before I purchased my Tesla Model 3, I did a good amount of research on what the expected battery degradation would look like. While how quickly a battery degrades comes down to a number of factors, a number of sources (Car & Driver, Find My Electric) pegs this loss (on average) in the neighborhood of 5% every 100,000 miles. Tesla itself claims that after 200,000 miles driven, their battery packs loose less than 10% of their capacity.

I’ve owned my Tesla Model 3 Long Range for nearly 10 months as I write this. I have put on about 13,700 miles on the car in that time. I’ve follow Teslas advice and charge it nightly to between 80-90% (depending on what is happening the next day). I only charge it to 100% before a trip that would require at least one supercharge. All of my charging at home since February is performed using a

. It charges at a rate of about 50 miles/hour. Most of my charging is done overnight starting around 2AM. Upon installation of the Wall Charger, Georgia Power gave me a low super off-peak hour rate of 1 cent/kwh.

I use the stock 18″ wheels with the Aerodyne covers. I generally drive on either Chill or Standard Mode, and try to keep each drive at or under 250kw/h expenditure.

I don’t leave Sentry Mode running on the car since reading this article. For the first few months of ownership, I did leave Sentry Mode on when I left the house, but haven’t since about May.

As for long trips, I’ve taken 3 trips in my Model 3 that have required supercharging stops. Those trip lengths have been (in no particular order):

  • Two trips to Orlando (453 miles each way)
  • One trip to New Hampshire (1067 miles each way)

As for number of supercharging stops I’ve made – 22 to date. The trip to Orlando was responsible for 8 of them, the trip to New Hampshire was responsible for 14 of them. So you can see that Supercharging is not part of my normal charging behavior, unless I’m road tripping and can’t avoid it.

Starting back in May, I noticed my capacity dropping. I didn’t think much of it, because, after all, some battery degradation is inevitable. When leaving for my trip to New Hampshire though, and charging to 100%, I noticed my top range had dropped significantly. 100% of charge was now rated at 321 miles. This is 35 miles less than the range when I took ownership of the car – a full 10%. In 8 months of ownership. So I started to become concerned.

During my service appointment where Tesla cleaned my air coils to remove the odor in the air conditioning, I spoke with the technician about this. He stated the range was most likely fine, and that it was a battery calibration issue. His advice was to stop plugging in nightly and charging to 80/90%, and instead let the battery discharge to between 30-40% before recharging. He stated I should do this for a month, and during that time, the computer would recalibrate where the bottom and top of range was, and I should get my missing range back.

It’s been a month since I started doing this, and after checking my range using the Stats app, this it what it looks like now:

Odometer (Miles)Range at 100% SoC
Data captured using the Stats app for iPhone

So after trying to ‘recalibrate’ the computer to properly show my range for a month, I’ve got… less range than when I started. In 10 months of ownership I’ve lost 10% of range. Ugh.

Now, Tesla warranties their battery for the Model 3 Long Range here in the USA for 8 years/120,000 miles and guarantees it will still retain 70% of its charge. If my issue is truly battery degradation and not a mis-calibration, I’m already 1/3 of the way to that goal in only 10 months.

I’ve got a service appointment this week for tire rotation. I’m going to follow up with that service technician and see what the next steps are.

The Model 3 LR has been hands down my favorite vehicle I’ve owned in the last 30 years. That said, range loss on this scale is deeply concerning. I’ll post an update after I hear from Tesla on what the next steps are.

My Tesla Model 3 stinks… Literally

My 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range has been dogged by two issues in the last few months. One large, one small. I’m going to talk about the small issue in this post, and the larger one in later post. The small issue that has plagued me since about May of this year? My Tesla Model 3 stinks. Yes, it stinks. Literally.

Now, for clarification this stench has been fixed, and wasn’t that big of a deal. But it’s an oddity I’ve never dealt with before on any of the 15 other cars I’ve owned over the last 20 years, so I figured it was worth documenting.

So the odor my Model 3 was emitting was mildewy/moldy in nature, and was only present when initially cranking up the air conditioner. The smell started to appear around May intermittently, and by August, it was a pretty strong odor that persisted for the first few minutes of running the air conditioner 100% of the time.

After some googling on the issue, it became apparent that it is quite commonplace for Model 3s to exhibit this behavior. What happens is that moisture builds up on the coils behind the cabin air filters. That moisture doesn’t dry, and after awhile, starts to get moldy. The fix was pretty simple – purchase some cleaning foam, remove the air filters, spray the coils, let them dry, and reassemble. Total cost of foam and replacement air filters comes in at around $66.

In my googling there were many accounts of Model 3 owners who got Tesla to pay for this ‘service’ (under warranty, of course), so I figured I’d give it a try myself. I scheduled a service appointment thru the Tesla app, and waited for the appointment.

A couple of days before the appointment I received a notification from a service advisor thru the app that the issue was a cleaning of the coils and replacement of the air filters, and that it was not covered under warranty. Total spec’d price of the ‘service’ was $137. So about double the cost of materials needed to perform this service myself. Since I was tired of hearing my wife complain about the odor, and short on time, I acquiesced and agreed to pay for the service.

On the day of service the technician arrived right when he was supposed to. I met him in my driveway, described the problem to him, and asked him if there was anything I could do to mitigate this problem from recurring. His response was that you can cut the air conditioner a few minutes before you turn the car off, giving the moisture time to dry before the car would sit in a cool garage. While the repair itself wasn’t cheap, I do have the peace of mind that if the smell returns within 6 months, Tesla will perform the service again at no charge.

Now, if you aren’t inclined to pay Tesla to perform this work, you can do it yourself. It’s what I would call a Level 1 repair. You have to take apart some panels on the passenger side to get to the air filters, and disconnect a cable. But otherwise, it’s a pretty easy repair. There are several videos on YouTube showing you how to do it.

Of course, you’ll need the proper foam and replacement air filters. Those can be purchased at Amazon, using the links below.

XTechnor Tesla Model 3 Model Y Air Filter HEPA 2 Pack with Activated Carbon Tesla Air Conditional Replacement Cabin Air Filter

Lubegard 96030 Kool-It Evaporator and Heater Foam Cleaner

One other thing to note – the air filters in my Model 3 were pretty nasty for only being 9 months old. In other cars, I would replace the cabin air filters about once every 12 months. The Model 3 might require replacing the filters a bit more frequently. Of course, your mileage may vary.