Sometimes you have to go all the way.
A Long-Range Tesla Model 3 with a mere 11,079 miles on the odometer should still enjoy its full 310-mile range. But, if you only charge it to between 50 and 70 percent for an extended period, you may see a huge drop in that figure. Luckily, this is both reversible and avoidable. The video above explains the whys and hows of this phenomena, but we'll give you a quick summary.
More about EV battery health
The world of electric vehicles is not always super straightforward. Even people who have been living the battery-powered life for some time can discover new things. This is the case in the video above. Kim, from the popular Like Tesla YouTube channel, decided to charge her Tesla Model 3 to 100 percent full recently, only to find that it would only offer 260 miles of travel. The car was missing an entire 50 miles worth of range. Others have seen similar results after charging to only 70 percent for an extended period.
This was the first time she had tried to fill the battery pack all the way up. Because she had heard it said from experts that lithium batteries are happiest around 50 percent, she tried to keep her car's charge in that neighborhood. While that information was technically correct, what makes sense in a lab doesn't always completely translate to the car in your garage.
Puzzled and frustrated, she took her car to a service center where they told her the 70-percent charging routine was the source of the problem. They recommended charging to 90 percent daily, despite Tesla CEO Elon Musk recommending, in a tweet from March of 2014 (embedded below), charging to 80 percent for a particular customer's situation.
After giving the car a "hard reset," her Model 3 once again began showing its full range potential on the screen. They then suggested a new charging regimen to keep her car happy. Basically, they say that, besides charging to 90 percent regularly, one should also charge to a complete 100 percent at least once every three months. Also, it's helpful if a car if left plugged in after it reaches a full charge, as it will take this opportunity to do some balancing work.
Being skeptical of this new recommendation, Kim decided to take her questions all the way to the top, asking Musk in a Tweet about the best state of charge practices. He replied (embedded below) that it's not "worth it" to go below 80 percent and that 90 percent is still fine. He added that discharging to 5 percent or lower wasn't an issue (for battery pack health).
Near the end of the video, Kim offers up a chart that demonstrates the effect of charge rates on longevity that should put Tesla owners minds at ease. It appears to show that owners might see only a 10 percent loss of range after several hundred thousands of miles. As with everything, your mileage may vary, but we think the 90 percent charge is fine and people should follow that recommendation, stress less, and enjoy their vehicles.
@cairnz 80% to 30%
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2014
Not worth going below 80% imo. Even 90% is still fine. Also, no issue going to 5% or lower SoC.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 1, 2018