Owning a Tesla Model S – the Definitive Guide


Tesla Model S Owner's Guide

Originally published on Cleantechnica.

Ever want a car manual that tells you what you REALLY want to know about your vehicle? All of the tips, tricks, and hacks, as well as the common difficulties, malfunctions, and true limitations?

Well, if you own a Tesla Model S, then you’re now in luck, because just such a “manual” was recently released – and it’s been dubbed Owning Model S: The Definitive Guide to Buying and Owning the Tesla Model S.

Written by a chemical engineer from Florida who should already be well known to those in Model S admirer or owner clubs, thanks to his extensive posting history on the Tesla web forums – Nick J Howe.

Something worth noting (I think) is that Howe was actually voted to have the “best forum postings over time” according to a reader poll on the forums. Certainly a good sign being able to satisfy a crowd like that, and one that certainly appears to have been lived up to, after having taken a look at the book.

Green Car Reports provides a good summary:

Think of it as an encyclopedic owner’s manual written by an expert friend, rather than by a lawyered-up corporation driven by marketing.

The book is also an antidote to the Tesla factory’s maddening reluctance to give out technical information about the Model S to the info-starved owners who’ve paid them large sums of money for the car.

Howe’s book (provides) chapters on range and performance, configuring and ordering, charging infrastructure, maintenance, and virtually every other aspect of Model S ownership. And it’s all written in a frank, tell-it-like-it-is style.

As an example, the book states flat-out that the actual real-world range of the 85-kWh Model S is 200 to 220 miles — considerably below the stated range of 300 miles, or, for that matter, the EPA’s official number of 265 miles. And, the book notes, that’s still dependent upon good conditions — with very cold weather that number can drop lower (but not low enough to be an issue, as this extremely happy owner of seven Teslas, living in the Arctic, can testify).

Other interesting and candid observations include: the excessive tire wear that’s common; the panoramic roofs that creak; and the cracked windshields.

The book also provides a lot of other useful information, including: a detailed delivery checklist to ensure that owners get cars that are as close to perfect as possible; detailed performance graphs; and exhaustive analyses of a number of different subjects. As well as tons of other information.

In related news – the aerodynamics of the Model S were recently analyzed in great detail by Car & Driver. Very interestingly, Tesla’s highly lauded EV was actually able to beat out four other highly aerodynamic vehicles – apparently possessing the lowest drag-coefficient of the lot.

To be exact – the Model S proved to have better aerodynamics than the Toyota Prius, the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Volt, and the brand new Mercedes CLA “Baby Benz.”

This is something well worth noting, especially when considering the fact that Tesla’s offering is far-and-away the biggest, heaviest of the lot. If you’re wondering how the biggest and heaviest could end up with lowest front drag area of the whole group, it’s all down to the fact that the EVs can be designed in ways that greatly reduce drag – as they don’t have the same needs for engine airflow that combustion engines do.

“The egg-shaped Toyota Prius sets the bar for production cars with a 0.26 drag coefficient, but the Model S edged it out with a 0.24 rating. The Tesla matched the Toyota with 6.2 feet of drag area as well, a remarkable feat for such a large car. The next closest contender was the Chevy Volt, with 6.7 feet of drag area and a drag coefficient of 0.28.”


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