Lessons Learned from Owning a Tesla

In November of 2022, I picked up my 2023 Model 3 from the local Tesla Service Center. I was ecstatic to finally own an EV, and it also happened to be the first car I bought brand new. After a year and a half of ownership and upkeep, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’ll be upfront and say that while it hasn’t all been roses along the way, 99.9% of the time I’m impressed and happy with the vehicle.

Cold Weather

The Tesla Model 3 was not designed with PNW winter climate conditions in mind. The frameless window gets stuck when snow/ice forms at the base, and can cause damage to the door if you try to force it open. The solution is to defrost your car, which can take a while if it’s been sitting in snow for a while. Supercharging is much slower in the extreme cold, and there’s no fix outside of navigating to the charger so your car can precondition. Even then, charging is painfully slow.

On the plus side, the heater is extremely efficient, the heated steering wheel and seats are amazing in the cold, and the car handles like a dream on ice considering it’s a RWD vehicle.

That said, I can’t imagine the pain of owning an EV in the mid-west winters.


I’ve brought my car in twice, once when I was forced off the road by another driver and hit the curb, and once when I noticed vibration above 65 mph. Both times, the initial estimate is a few hundred dollars, but quickly ballooned into the low 4 digit range. The first time I was without my car for a month because they were waiting on a specific part to be made for this repair, as all the parts in production were slated for new cars. The worst part of this was that they did not have a loaner vehicle for me at that time. Fortunately I still had my second car, but if I hadn’t I’d have been SOL and riding the bus. The second time, I was able to get a loaner M3, which came with Full Self Driving so that was cool.

Tax Rebates, Price Drops

I can’t sugar coat it, I took a massive L ordering my M3 when I did. Less than two months after taking possession of the car, the $7500 tax break was made available, but I missed the boat. Tesla also dropped the price on the M3 significantly in 2023. Nothing more to say, other than to warn potential buyers: wait for a deal. I went full retail, and I’ll never make that mistake again.

Road Trips

The battery percentage estimate works amazingly well on road trips (Eastern Washington to Seattle/Portland is my most common trip). I usually arrive within 1 percentage point of the estimated battery life. This is because I stay to the speed limit, or maybe 5 over on long road trips. I noticed that going more than 10 over the limit significantly reduced my range. So I’m of the opinion that most people complaining about range estimates are speeding. It would be nice to have an option in the OS to tell the car “hey, I may be travelling this much over the speed limit, please calculate my range based on that information”.

I’ve been immensely pleased with the 10/15 minute “top off” stops at superchargers along the way. You can stay longer to pad your range, but really you don’t need to.


I’m 6’5″ (1.95m for the rest of the world) and I fit quite well. I’m not slender by any means, and I feel very comfortable in the seats. I have lots of head room, and everything is within easy reach.

Would I do it again?

Aside from waiting for a price drop/tax break, I’d make the same decision again. The M3 standard is plenty fast, fun to drive, and quite entertaining thanks to the streaming services available when parked/charging. I love that Spotify and Apple’s Podcast apps are now baked in, and the autopilot is just second to none. I still won’t shell out for advanced autopilot or full self driving. In the future, I’ve got my eye on the Model X, and may splurge for FSD when I get one.