One of the biggest attractions for owning a Tesla aside from the raw speed, is the access you get to the Tesla Super Charger Network. For those that do not know what this is, let me explain a bit to you.
The Tesla Super Charger network is a Tesla owned and operated ( means private) charging network for just Teslas here in the US. Over seas they have started to open it up to non-Teslas. But for now, here it is still a private network just for Tesla owners and their cars. Some of the older owners have free supercharging but most of us have to pay. This means you need to be set up in your Tesla app with ownership of the car AND a credit card of some kind to put the charges against.
A quick note about “ownership” in the Tesla app. When you buy your Tesla new, this is not an issue. The car is automatically added to your account on Tesla.com. But, if you buy the car used like I did, you need to initiate a transfer of the “ownership” of the car to your account from whoever had it before. Here are the official steps from Tesla’s documentation:
Follow these steps to claim ownership:
If you do not already have one, create a Tesla Account.Sign in to your Tesla Account.
At the bottom of your Dashboard, find ‘Purchased a car from a third-party?’
Complete the form and submit your ownership documents, such as your driver’s license, title, registration and VIN number.
Once your form is submitted, follow the steps on your screen to rename your car to the secret code.
If your VIN is eligible for instant transfer, then you will automatically be granted ownership. Most requests will require the previous owner to confirm the request. Tesla will contact them directly for a confirmation. If the previous owner does not take action, Tesla will review your documents to confirm ownership.
In my case, I had to set the name of the car to a specific name and submit some copies of paperwork. It took 3 days to transfer my VIN because the dealer never took “ownership” of the car since they bought it at an auction. Tesla reached out to the old owner and secured his permission to transfer the ownership. If Tesla cannot reach the old owner, they will use the documentation you send them. Once ownership is transferred, you can set up your own name for the car and add in the supercharging feature by configuring the billing under the “manage payment” option under “CHARGING”. Under charging is also a running history of all your supercharging. You get a fast summary or you can pull up the actual invoice. You can see how much you charged in KWh and at what rate. Keep in mind that many supercharger have tiered rates depending on which Tesla you are charging and what time of day it is. There are four tiers and the cheapest is Tier 1 which is 60 kW or less. Tier 2 is the next higher and is above 60 kW or below 100kW. Tier 3 is above 100kW and below 180 kW. Tier 4 is above 180 kW. My personal experience is such that getting wrapped up in charging speeds at a supercharger is a waste of your time. Find a charger near by, and use it 🙂 Your home will almost always be cheaper than the supercharger but when you cannot charge at home, the superchargers are very, very handy to have around.
Now that you “own” the car according to Tesla and you have set up supercharging, now what?
Easy .. go find a supercharger to test things out on. How? Use your built in nav system. You can ask the map software to show you the nearest supercharger and route you to it. When you do that, the computer will start to pre-condition the battery on the way for an optimized charging rate. If you do not pre-condition the battery, it will still charge but at a slower rate.
When you arrive to the gathering of the clan at the super charger, the first thing to note is that you will need to back into the spot in 99% of the cases. A lot of folks make a big deal about shared power and which charger to pick, blah.. blah, blah.. that is all noise right now you dont need to hear right now. Its a big distraction from the important thing which is getting your Tesla charged up. Just pick an open charger and back into the spot. All you need to do now is to grab the cable by lifting up slightly and pulling it out and then pressing the circle on the top as you hold it near the charging port. The Supercharger connection will radio the car and have it open the port when you press that circle area. Insert the Connector and watch for it to go green. If for whatever reason, the port doesn’t open, you can open it from the dash screen, your phone or even from a watch app if you have it. When you have connected and the supercharger and the Tesla have come to terms, you will get an alert on the screen that charging has started and your app will ping you with the same info. The computer will supply an estimated time for recharging and a bunch of other geeky data like how fast it’s charging.
The app will ping you when there is about 5 mins left on the charging time. If you are at a heavily used station, you have another five mins to unplug and move out of the way or you will get dinged a fee. If the station is not heavily used, you still will be told to move but you won’t get fined. But regardless, dont be an ass.. move your car and be a good EV citizen.
A quick note about recharging and range at a supercharger. If the chargers are busy, you are automatically rate limited to 80% SOC ( state of charge). If it’s quiet and you have the time, you can adjust it up to 90 or even 100% but above 80%, it gets progressively slower and slower for the charging. This is why on a trip, you cannot use your rated range as a guide, you must use 80% or you will get in trouble. My maximum is 220 miles but my usable on a trip with busy superchargers is about 190.
I can promise you that supercharging will spoil you. I happen to have one near me with a Target. So I will set up the charging and have 30-40 mins to go get my grocery shopping done and come back to a “full tank”. No mess, no fuss.