How Tesla Model S alters car ownership: a buyer's one-year notes

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2016 Tesla Model S [photo by owner Shiva]

2016 Tesla Model S [photo by owner Shiva]

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In late July, we published an article describing one electric-car driver's experience in adding solar panels to his home to help with charging his family's five electric cars.

That reader, who'd like to be known just as Shiva, has now owned a 2016 Tesla Model S for a year.

He recently outlined for us how that experience has gone, and how it's changed his perception of what it's like to own and operate a car. What follows are his words, lightly edited by Green Car Reports for clarity and style.

DON'T MISS: One electric car owner's experiences in adding solar panels: why, what, and how

Now that it’s been a year since I got my Tesla Model S in August 2016, I've thought about my ownership experience—both good and bad—and how Tesla has changed, and managed to improve, that experience.

I had followed Tesla for a while and did my research by reading about owners' experiences on the Tesla Motors Club online forum.

I knew about some fit-and-finish issues with Teslas, including misaligned chrome trim or body panels. These are mostly cosmetic, and the average person might not notice such details, but I do.

Tesla Motors production line for Tesla Model S, Fremont, California

Tesla Motors production line for Tesla Model S, Fremont, California

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Initial delivery

When my delivery day came in August 2016, I took my time in going over the Model S I had custom-ordered. I was ecstatic to get the car, but I knew that couldn’t get in the way of reporting any issues.

Because I wanted to tint and protect the paint on my Model S, I had my detailer meet me at the Fremont factory for the delivery to identify any issues. He has detailed a thousand or more Teslas, as he is located in the San Francisco Bay Area where they're thick on the ground.

We both noticed the chrome trim around my driver’s window was misaligned and didn't continue around the rear window in a smooth line.

READ THIS: Tesla Model 3 interior details, features emerge from pair of videos

Also, my hood was not aligned properly, as there was more of a gap on the driver’s side than on the passenger’s side.

Lastly, the silicone seal on my panoramic sunroof was sticking out, so I was concerned in the future that it might cause an issue.

I noted all of these issues in my delivery paperwork. My delivery experience specialist was very understanding and did not rush me through anything. He wrote done all of the issues and took pictures of everything I pointed out to him. He also answered any questions I had about the car.

Tesla factory, Fremont, California

Tesla factory, Fremont, California

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Initial service

Because the Fremont service center is usually busy, I was told at delivery it would take a few business days for someone from the team to get back to me.

That call finally came, but the earliest appointment they could give me was in October—two months later. Of course, if it were an urgent issue, I would have been given priority to bring in my car.

As soon as I started to drive the car, I noticed a rattling noise from the front trunk. It became apparent when my car slowed to around 10 mph using regenerative braking, especially if the audio or music were off in the car.

CHECK OUT: Tesla expands Supercharger fast-charging sites into cities for Model 3 owners

I raised this issue during the October service appointment, when Tesla fixed all of the fit-and-finish issues I mentioned. But, despite replacing the steering rack on my car, the rattling noise remained.

The service technician said that since it wasn't a safety issue, there was no reason for me I shouldn't take my car back and continue to drive it.

During the week-long service appointment, Tesla gave me a loaner vehicle at no charge.

2017 Kia Cadenza

2017 Kia Cadenza

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I knew that since Teslas are enormously popular in Silicon Valley, I would be unlikely to get an actual Tesla as my loaner. Instead, I was given a Kia Cadenza sedan.

Since this is a gasoline car and Tesla only makes electric vehicles, the company doesn’t want owners to pay for gas. So I kept my receipts, and Tesla reimbursed me for the cost of the gasoline I bought.

Autopilot update

Less than a month after I got my car in September 2016, Tesla pushed a major overhaul and update of the Autopilot active-safety system in my car. 

This was the “8.0 software" brought on by the heavily scrutinized crash in Florida that killed a Tesla Model S driver while his car was operated in Autopilot mode.

Following the update, the system gives drivers three chances to put their hands back on the wheel if it detects they're not attending to the steering.

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