My 5 month, 9000 mile review of the Model Y

I ordered my Model Y sometime in July 2020. I was told I would get it “before Q4 of 2020”:, which they were technically right. I ended up getting it on the very last day of Q3, September 30, 2020. My VIN was 50xxx. Here’s my experience.

Upon pickup, the car had really big panel gaps where the rear doors met the trunk. The T Tesla logo on the trunk was very crooked, 2 of the 4 door handles were really sunken in, and there was a tiny chip in the paint on the trunk as if it had been opened and banged against some kind of ceiling. I wasn’t expecting to be picky, but I mentioned all of this to the service people and they set up an appointment to fix everything. Within the first 2 weeks I took the car in and they fixed all of the problems except the paint chip. They said “paint isn’t done here, it’s done at another location so you’ll have to make another appointment with our affiliate to get that fixed”. The size of the paint chip wasn’t big enough to where I really cared enough to make an appointment to fix it, but that’s kind of shitty that I got a brand new vehicle with an imperfection and was told I needed to go to a separate body shop to get it touched up.

The car itself is a ton of fun to drive. The handling, the acceleration, the autopilot (when it works). We installed a roof rack to tie a dog cage to for a 100lb German Shepherd, but we discovered that the cage actually fit in the backseat behind the seats so we didn’t even need the rack. The amount of storage space in this car is insane. We went camping in the car prior to our road trip and I bought a mattress that contoured to the shape of the vehicle with the seats down. Me, my wife, and a big ass dog were able to sleep in the car comfortably, and I was able to sleep in a t-shirt and shorts while it was 30 degrees outside because of the temperature control. Just need to make sure you’re near an outlet/RV plug overnight so you don’t drain your battery while you sleep.

Anyway, I live in a cold weather state so I didn’t know how owning an electric vehicle would go, but as far as charging goes, it hasn’t been much of a problem for daily driving. I was ready to install a 220v outlet in my garage, but the slow drip charge of a 110v has been enough to charge it over night for every day use.

The fact that regen braking is nonexistent in cold weather does kind of suck, especially since I got the car when it was warm out and the driving mechanics dramatically changed after a few months. When I bought the car I was able to drive completely with one pedal using regen braking, but as it got colder outside the regen went away and it coasted just liked an ICE car and I had to use the brakes like any other car. I had just gotten my wife used to the regen braking and then the car essentially disabled it since it was cold outside and she had to go back to using the brakes like a normal car. I’m not saying using the brakes is a problem, but it’s weird to get used to the new system of one pedal driving and then having it taken away from you overnight. Once we traveled to a warm weather state the regen came back and we were suddenly back to a different style of driving. I absolutely love the one pedal driving, but I wish I could use it year round, not just when it was warm outside.

We decided to take the car for a road trip across the country. There were good and bad circumstances to this. We drove from Michigan, to Kentucky, to Florida, to Louisiana, to Texas, to New Mexico, to Arizona, to California, and then back through all those states to Tennessee and back up to Michigan.

Somewhere in Arizona I decided to clean the windshield with a squeegee at a charging station and when I pressed the squeegee to the windshield, it created a huge crack. I was not pressing hard at all, and there were no prior chips or cracks, the temperature outside was 65 degrees so it wasn’t super hot or cold (the cleaning water was sitting outside so it was the same temperature). I called the nearest service center and they said “well if we can’t find a chip it’s a free replacement, but if we do find a chip you have to pay for it”. Fair enough. I looked everywhere for a chip along the crack but I could not find any chips at all, just a clean smooth crack across the glass. They, of course, found a chip, but wouldn’t show it to me because they already started to repair it, and I had to pay over $1200 for a new windshield. My insurance deductible was $500 so I only had to pay that (lesson learned, buy the glass coverage) but i was kinda pissed they wouldn’t show me the “chip” in the windshield. My insurance guy said “I’d be surprised if it were over a few hundred dollars”, I had no idea Tesla windshields were almost $1300 to replace. There were 3 employees that inspected the car and they all came to visit me in the waiting room to say “yeah, yeah, definitely a chip, yep you had a big chip, yeah” but they never showed it to me.

Anyway, windshield incident aside, let’s talk about charging. We used the built-in GPS navigation on the car to get us to all our destinations, and usually it was about 2-2.5 hours from charging station to charging station. Sometimes the car would try to get us to arrive at a charging station with only 5% battery remaining, but during the drive it would say “Drive under 75mph to arrive at your destination” then “Drive under 70mph to arrive at your destination” then “Drive under 65mph to arrive at your destination”. Well…the speed limit in Texas is 80 in some parts, so sometimes I would be driving 15mph under the speed limit just to reach the next charger without running out of battery. We eventually had to start looking up other superchargers on the route that the car wasn’t routing us to, and that meant stopping every 1-1.5 hours.

Also when we arrived at our Airbnbs, I was always scrambling looking for an outlet on the outside of the house because we would arrive with around 10% battery. Luckily most of them had an outlet that I could use, but sometimes I had to ask the landlord to use them because some people think it costs like $50 to charge an EV over the period of 2 days. Some of the houses didn’t have “properly grounded outlets”, and apparently the car won’t charge without a grounded outlet, so I had to go drive to and sit in a Whole Foods parking lot for a few hours to get some charge because I couldn’t make it to the nearest supercharger and there was no usable outlet at our Airbnb. This kind of stuff is just an added annoyance.

Most of the superchargers took 25-30 minutes to charge so we let the dog out to pee, got ourselves something to eat etc. and we were on our way. A few of the stations charged slowly and took 45-50 minutes though and those were kind of annoying. We had already been on the road all day and having to wait almost an hour just to charge the battery made the trip seem a lot longer. An 8 hour drive turned into a 10-11 drive. A 12 hour drive turned into a 15 hour drive. We knew the drives were going to be longer with this car, but once you’ve stopped 6 or 7 times to charge on one trip you start to get a little antsy. Can’t argue with the price compared to gas though, each stop was between $6-12. But if you’re following someone with an ICE car during a roadtrip, just tell them you’ll see them tomorrow because you won’t be able to keep up.

Cold weather. The first time I started to slip on ice was scary as hell, my vehicle started to turn sideways as I was going down hill because I let off the pedal too quick. I realized that letting off the pedal in this car is equivalent to aggressively braking, so I quickly learned from my mistake. However, the next time I started to slip on ice I was calm and collected and barely let off the pedal, only to find myself still turning sideways again. I was able to gain control of the vehicle this time, but I couldn’t help but picture my wife driving the car and hitting a patch of ice. Guess i need winter tires? I dunno, doesn’t seem super safe in these conditions, none of my previous vehicles lost control this easily, even without winter tires.

Autopilot. Dammit, I want to love this feature so much, and I do, but I just can’t trust it anymore. On our way from Florida to Louisiana I let autopilot drive almost 8 hours and it was nearly flawless, so I started to place a lot of trust in it. However, after that it started to seriously falter. Almost 50% of the time I was driving past a semi, it would SLAM on it’s brakes for no reason. If you looked at the screen it showed the semi jumping all around, swerving into my lane (which it wasn’t) and just getting a bad read on it’s real life position. I thought the cameras were dirty so I cleaned them but it didn’t help at all. It got so bad that every time my wife and I would start passing a semi we would both nervously look at each other and wait for the car to slam on it’s brakes, which like I said, it did about half the time. One time it slammed on it’s brakes and there was a car behind me that also had to slam on it’s brakes, and that car had another semi right behind it. It literally almost caused a horrible accident, and after that I couldn’t use it anymore unless there were no cars around the vehicle. This is a seriously dangerous feature until they can work out where the actual cars around you are in a 3D space without them jumping around. This is coming from someone who was thinking about buying the $10k FSD upgrade, but after seeing how the autopilot handles highway driving there’s no way in hell I would ever pay to trust this car to drive me around in complicated city intersections.

Anyway, I do love a lot of aspects of the car but it really does have an enormous laundry list of problems in it’s current state. I’m going to keep it for now and I don’t plan on going on any more roadtrips anytime soon, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. Here are some quick opinions on things:

PROS:

  • Acceleration. God damn it feels good to hit that pedal

  • Interior. Seats are comfortable, there’s a TON of space in this car. The minimalism coupled with the screen is aesthetically pleasing (to me). Compared to other cars, this thing feels like a dream to drive.

  • App. I love that I can set the temperature, charging capacity, see where the vehicle is via GPS, etc from the app. Also control all the windows, trunk, frunk, whatever. Very cool.

  • Toys. All the little easter eggs and sound effects are fun to play with. Obviously not a selling point, but come on…you can’t play Cuphead on a Jeep while sitting at a gas station.

CONS:

  • Autopilot seems incredibly dangerous unless you’re driving in daylight with no other cars around you. Random braking on a highway is really not cool. It can’t accurately detect that cars next to you aren’t coming into your lane, they jump all over and the car reacts to it.

  • Cold weather. Living in a cold weather state means you don’t get regen braking during the winter months, and your battery charges slower. Also the stock tires suck ass in snow/ice.

  • Rear view mirror + rear window is tiny and tinted(?) making it hard to use during night driving.

  • I have to open the Tesla app on my phone every time I approach my car to unlock it (it doesn’t autodetect that I’m near), even though I’ve reset my phone/keycard a dozen times. I wish the car just knew I was close and unlocked so I didn’t have to pull my phone out and open the app.

  • Windshield glass strength. I know some people will be like “you definitely had a chip in your windshield” or “you pressed too hard” or something, but I didn’t. I’m scared to even use the windshield wipers for fear of cracking another windshield. Never had this fear with other cars.

Anyway, I was really excited to get this car after a few test drives, but after putting it through its paces on a long road trip I don’t know that it’s all it’s cracked up to be. I’m going to give it a while longer before I make any big decisions, but I’m not sure it makes much sense to own as a daily driver in a cold weather state.

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