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Poor Battery Life on 85w Tesla Model S

Hi - has anyone else been experiencing poor battery life on the 85w Tesla Model S?

I've been driving my Tesla for nearly six months. It has been running at 350-400 W/mi, and generally only lasts about 120-150 miles. This seems to be unusually poor performance. I've asked Tesla in Dania Beach to look at it, which they have reluctantly done, but they have claimed it is normal. Then I nearly ran out of electricity on what should have been a routine trip to Miami, and was stranded until they arrived with a loaner that night. Disaster!

Tesla Dania Beach is still claiming it is totally normal, which boggles my mind.

Has anybody else has this problem?


How fast are you going? 400wh/mile is quite high!

I've had mine for almost a year (11k miles) with life time average of 309w/mi. I get approximately 200 actual miles out of 228 range miles. normal charge (not max charge)

Dania Beach to Miami is just around 25 miles, how much charge did you have before that trip? 400 wh/mile is very high

I have been getting 350-400 too. I have 95%+ city driving in stop-and-go traffic over some hilly stretches. However, when I am on a free way, the average drops to below 300.

How much are you charging your car? The numbers you provided don't seem to add up if you're charging your car all the way, i.e. a "range charge":

-- You have 81kWh available for use.
-- Even at 400wH/mile (which is rather high), you should get just over 200 miles per charge.

My guess would be that you're not charging your car all the way up. This is normal; most of us don't, since we don't drive that far every day and you can somewhat improve battery life by only charging all the way when necessary.

With 350 - 400 wh/m usage I'm betting above 85 mph with AC full blast.

Please keep in mind that 265 rated range is based on 300 wh/m usage. You are using 30% more battery than the EPA usage, don't you think you'll lose at least 30% of the range?

What do I know, I've only been running 415 wh/m with lots of jack rabbit bolting and AC blasting ever where I go, including waiting for the kids during classes. But I know my driving habit is not detrimental to my commuting limits.

Note to the wise, if you surpass EPA 55 mph speed you're going to have a lot less range, even with a typical gas engine.

If you want range driving in the south east, I would suggest using cruise control under 70 mph. The MS range is correlated to how fast you drive the beast and how often you stomp on the brake.

ditto jchangyy My results are almost identical. I expect them to be poorer this coming winter, but you don't have that issue. I have 18K miles.

ben you have a couple of advantages over many MS owners. Your locale is both warm and flat. Should really work to your advantage, but to echo Carefree, how fast are you going?

That sounds about right given your high Wh/m numbers. Let's look at your number averages...

375 Wh/m * 135 miles = 50.625 Wh = 50.625 kWh

50.625 kWh (energy used) ÷ 85 kWh (total capacity) = 59.5% of your total battery capacity

If all is normal, you are using between half and two thirds of your usable battery capacity. To what level are you charging?

If your battery can be Max charged to about 265 EPA rated miles, then nothing is wrong with your battery.

How far you can go depends on how you drive.

423.5 miles is not impossible:

"was stranded until they arrived with a loaner"

Was your wh/mile and range experience with the loaner different than with your vehicle? That should give you a good indication if there is an issue with your vehicle.

I was concerned about the range of my battery until I realized that the "vampire" drain was silently stealing range whenever the car was parked and not charging.

If you aren't charging every night, then note the rated range when you park the car, and note it again when you drive it next. That loss is the vampire load, which can really make a big difference when parked overnight (or even for a workday).

> Then I nearly ran out of electricity on what should have been a routine trip to Miami,
> and was stranded until they arrived with a loaner that night.

If you "nearly ran out", that means you didn't actually run out. If that's the case, what left you stranded? Perhaps it's just a poorly worded sentence, but something doesn't add up.

The one thing that sticks out about your complaint is "Dania Beach service center reluctantly looked at it." I have not seen any reluctance from them to chase down annoying little issues with my early vin showroom car.

They were all fixed with enthusiasm.

As to driving a Tesla on road trips in Florida you do have to be careful.

I live in Port Saint Lucie locking me out of Orlando without a long visit to Buffalo wild wings or Miami without a visit to the Dania Beach service center.

Actually you are getting fantastic results. Considering you only have an 85w battery

Ours is 85Kw and about six months old. Not having any mileage issues after 15,000 miles.

Wondering what your VIN # is so we may compile a history of problems like yours.

I have been averaging less than a 300 watt/mile during summer... that's a total average over long highway trips and city driving. 294 to be exact.

I drive 65-70 on the highway and don't jack rabbit around very much anymore. It was fun for the first 6 months but now 9 months later I just drive... normal? lol

Being in the middle of the country I probably don't have to run the A/C as hard to stay cool either so that makes a huge difference. For living in Florida your usage sound about right if you are staying cool.

Fellow Tesla owners –

Thanks for the feedback! Some answers:

1. Driving speed – I have generally been driving at the pace of traffic. This is slightly faster than the speed limit, but not insanely fast. So that should minimize energy drain on the battery.

2. Driving approach – I rarely use the brakes, particularly on long highway drives. Given a fairly constant speed, and minimal use of inefficient braking, that too should minimize energy drain.

3. Air conditioning – as an experiment, I stopped using A/C. I also used “ideal” mode. Again, that should minimize energy drain.

4. Charging – I charged fully before leaving Palm Beach for Miami. When I left, the car, in “ideal” mode, said it had 265 miles to empty. Yet, after 120 miles, it was nearly empty. Had I not gotten a loaner that night, I clearly would not have made it back.

5. Comparison with loaner – when I drove with the loaner, the first difference I noticed was that the car, once fully-charged, in “ideal” mode said it was more than 300 miles to empty. The second difference I noticed was that the Wh/mi was slightly better, e.g. closer to 320-350 Wh/mi rather than 350 Wh/mi. This would imply that (a) the battery in my Tesla never made it to the fully-charged level of the loaner battery, and (b) the battery in my Tesla is also draining at a faster rate.

Given that many of you are getting closer to 300 Wh/mi, and a driving range that is closer to the rated and ideal ranges, it would appear to be the case that something is wrong with the battery here.

Nevertheless, the people at Tesla at Dania Beach are insisting that everything is fine, and refusing to replace the battery, or even to acknowledge that there is a problem here.

Has anyone had success getting Dania Beach (or other Tesla locations) to replace batteries?

Why not as a test swap your battery with the battery on the loaner car? Is it possible something is dragging like one of the brake calipers?

@ben - Something is seriously wrong if all you can squeeze out of the 85 KW battery is 150 miles. Do you have a P or P+ model? Do you use cruise control? Do your average more than 75 mph?

I can go at least 150 miles on my S60 on highway averaging 70mph, how can yours get even less than an S60???

What is your rated rate after a 90% charge? Range at 100% charge?

I am in South Florida too and my car consumes much less. I have a 40 with standard tires so my consumption should be a little less but not as much as your numbers indicate. On I95, keeping up with regular traffic is basically 70mph. Even with AC cranking on a hot day and an 85 with 21" wheels (if you have 21"), you should only be consuming about 310 wH/m on average. Rain and wind can increase this some but not likely beyond 350. Verify your "full" charge is a Range charge.

Perhaps the techs only looked at your battery characteristics, which may be fine. Make sure they checked your consumption rate which seems out of whack. Not sure where the energy could be going though. Something must be running hot. You haven't noticed your bottom sweating, have you? :)

350-400W/mi average is really high for Florida. I can imagine those numbers in the dead of winter while crossing mountain passes. But Florida??

I don't think it is a battery problem, your energy consumption rate is baffling. You are mentioning "Ideal" mode. Are you referring to "Ideal Range" that shows what the battery can du under ideal conditions or "Range/Eco Mode" that limits the A/C and power consumption so that you can get more miles out of the car? Ideal Range is a useful tool for looking to see what you battery is taking for a full charge, but I certainly wouldn't use it for trip planning.

I think your high wh/mile is the issue, not the battery.

@Captain_Zap - The 350 - 400 average does not require crossing a mountain pass in the dead of winter. I have seen that recently with the cold weather that recently hit the northeast. I'm driving in Connecticut, which is a bit hilly but certainly has no mountain passes! It appears the heat uses up quite a bit of energy.

That said, still love the car, still have plenty of range. No complaints, just sayin'.

Do you have air in the tires. Something is using a lot of energy to have that high of consumption.

I live in Arizona and average 250-270 Wh/m on most of my trips, on the lower end when I don't use AC. My lifetime average is around 300 Wh/m and dropping. Energy usage was higher when I first received the vehicle due to high summer heat and use of AC. Now my energy usage is dropping dramatically because ambient temps are in the 70s and 80s and I no longer use the AC.

However, the vast majority of the time I do not exceed the posted speed limit by 5 MPH. So 70 MPH on freeways is usually my maximum. You need to know whether you charged your battery fully or not, as it seems you don't know whether your batter was at 100% when it showed 265 ideal miles. Why don't you do a max charge and look at the range as soon as it completes the charge and before vampire drain sets in? You should be around 300 miles.


try the coasting technique described elsewhere. That really does save.
I have gotten it down to 237 Wh/mile with 56 mph average, in cold weather. All time average 275 incl a LOT of jack-rabbitting in the beginning, mixed city/freeway.

Soft tires (under-inflated) will do that.

In spring, summer, and fall I average 295-305 kwh/mi. When temps drop into the 30's, such as today in Virginia, I burn 395-405 kwh consistently. That's at 55 mph, soft-footing it, minimal braking. Cold makes a huge difference. I can't use coasting as all of my driving is on nearly level ground on the Eastern shores of MD and Virginia. Bridges are our only hills and I refuse to drive dead-foot lead-foot, which could reduce kwh, but infuriate fellow drivers (not implying that anyone else does that, but there is always traffic where we drive).

I agree with PD. I don't see quite the 400 in the winter, since it's always sunny in CA, but after driving my S for over a year, I have seen the Wh/mi swing thru the seasons. When I first got the car I was getting around 320 Wh/mi. Then summertime came and I thought maybe it was me, and my Wh/mi were dropping. Now that winter cold is coming back the Wh/mi have been creeping back up. They way I sum it up to reach rated mileage has been this... (using the trips page)In the summer months I needed to drive with an avg of around 300Wh/mi to get the 1:1 ratio correct. In the colder months now I need to be getting around 280Wh/mi for that same ratio. The heating of the battery seems to make the difference. I have also noticed that cooling the interior with A/C is much more efficient than having to heat it. So it's a double whammy in the winter. Keeping the batts happy along with a major power hit with the heater.
One more tidbit, if you drive on a twisty road, keeping the speed up in the corners uses extra power too. With cruise control on you'll see how much power it feeds in to keep the speed up in a corner. The more G's it fights, the more power it uses.

@Ben I live in south palm beach and have driven from Orlando on a regularly charged MS85 and just made it to my house with 6 miles to spare. I drove 75mph for 2/3rds of the trip until I started getting range anxiety and then 65mph the remainder of the way. The total trip was about 200 miles and I averaged about 325kwh. If I averaged 400kwh, there is now way I would have made it.

What I learned from that trip was:

1) Do a regular charge for regular trips and extended charge for everything else, even if I think I can make it.

2) Drive at 70mph so I don't keep accelerating and decelerating when driving with the traffic. That consumes a lot more energy than the a/c. (Miami stop and go traffic would probably really hurt the range)

3) Don't use the miles range as calculated by the car but use the Kwh used since charged to figure how much is left in the "tank". The total Kwh in the "tank" when fully charged is about 69kwh (69000wh) for standard charge and 81kwh (81000) for extended charge.

4) Bring your charging kit and know where to go just in case. Plan it out. I signed up with Chargepoint to use their chargers which are located all over south florida. It cost to charge, but it's good to know it's there when you need it.

With that said, from what you have described, and from my experience, I think that it's the driving style which hurts the range. To get the advertised 265 miles, you need to average about 300Wh of energy consumption (which I never achieve), so if you are using 33% more energy per mile, then it stands to reason that you will get 33% less range.

It's also good to know how Tesla breaks up the battery for consumption. 85kwh is 100% of the total charge stored, however, 5% of that is stored permanently and not available for use. That leaves about 81kwh for driving. However, unless you specifically select a full range charge, you will only charge 85% of that, or about 69kwh. That means that your maximum range with aggressive driving will calculate as follows: (Total charge)/(wh per mile)=Max miles or 69,000wh/400wh=172.5 miles. I consume an average of 335wh so my max range will be about 206 miles on a regular charge.

Now, the big question is why the car can't calculate this for me on the dash instead of on the energy app.

I'm also having problems with my 85 battery. I used to wake up to 235 "rated" miles. A year later and 15,000 miles, it's 217 "rated" miles. When I called to ask I was told someone would call me back to address my concerns. I never got a call back. Meantime my drivers side door handle failed to present so I called service to have this fixed. I told them about my battery issue and was told someone would get back to me again. I noticed on the service order they sent that it said they had checked the logs and there was nothing wrong with my battery. Still no call. I guess I'm not going to get a call. I probably wouldn't mind if my battery lost a little over 7% of its charging capacity per year, but at this rate in 5 years my "rated" miles will be less than 150 miles. That alone does not work for me. Never mind that I never get anywhere near the "rated" range. I believe Tesla has a real problem. Sweeping owners concerns under the carpet is not a wise strategy for the company.
Make no mistake, I love the car and want Tesla to succeed. But this is not a good business plan.

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