We own and have used many Teslas, as we have spoken to owners of vehicles with Tesla. Below is a charging guide and tip sheet for charging a Tesla.
Accessing the Charge Port of Your Tesla
- Ensure your Tesla is in “Park Mode.” You can’t charge if the vehicle is not in Park. This is like any other Electric Vehicle.
- Press the button on the Tesla charge cable to open the charge port door for you. You can also open the charge port via the controls by selecting the Charge Port image or tapping on the port door/cover.
Charging Your Tesla
If needed, you can adjust the charge limit and the charging current using the touchscreen (see Charge Settings). Some customers like to adjust the charging limit so that charging stops during peak times to save on electricity costs or to match the current rate to that of the battery acceptance rate.
To charge at a public charging station, simply plug the appropriate adapter into your vehicle’s charging port and connect the station’s charging connector to the adapter. The commonly used adapter(s) for your market region are typically provided. Depending on the charging equipment in use, you may need to initiate and terminate charging using controls on the charging equipment itself.
Like with all EV chargers, remember to plug it into the power outlet before connecting it to your Model 3. If you must unplug the EV charger, we always recommend switching the plug off at the breaker first by locating the circuit on the breaker, providing power to the EV plug.
All Tesla EV chargers have a NACS connector (North American Charging Standard) and are either 40 amp level 2 residential or 48 amp hardwired residential EV chargers.
Proper insertion into the Tesla charge port
Follow these steps to ensure a successful connection:
- Align the connector with the charge port and insert it fully. You’ll hear an affirmative sound. Once properly inserted, charging will commence automatically, and your Model 3 will:
- Engage a latch to secure the connector.
- Shift into Park (if it was in a different drive mode).
- Adjust the Battery temperature as needed. If temperature adjustments are required, there might be a brief delay before charging initiates.
Safety Alert: Be cautious when handling the charge cable connector end. Always look at the cable for damage or exposed wire. Always check the integrity of the Tesla EV charger NACS connector end where the charging head meets the cable. This is a common failure point.
Understanding the Tesla Charge Port Light
The color of the charge port light conveys essential information:
- WHITE (OR LIGHT BLUE): The charge port door is open, and Model 3 is ready for charging with the connector not inserted, or the charge port latch is unlocked, and the connector is ready for removal. Note: Some early-generation charge ports remain unlocked in cold temperatures below 41°F (5°C) when the vehicle is not charging.
- BLUE: The charger is connected, but Model 3 is not actively charging, such as when scheduled charging is active.
- BLINKING BLUE: Model 3 is in communication with the charger but has not commenced charging yet, for instance, when the vehicle is preparing to charge.
- BLINKING GREEN: Charging is in progress. As Model 3 approaches full charge, the blinking frequency slows.
- SOLID GREEN: Charging is complete.
- SOLID AMBER: The connector is not fully plugged in. Realign the connector with the charge port and insert it fully.
- BLINKING AMBER: Model 3 is charging at a reduced current (AC charging only).
- RED: A fault has been detected, and charging has halted. Check the touchscreen for an alert.
EV Charging Status Display
When the charge port door is open, charging status information is displayed at the top of the car status screen:
- Time remaining: This indicates the estimated time remaining to reach your chosen charge limit (see Charge Settings). Note: When charging to 100%, the vehicle may continue to charge with low power even after it displays as complete. This is normal and occurs because the added energy beyond this point is minimal and usually not necessary.
- Charging: This shows the current charger power.
- Charging rate: The maximum current available from the connected charge cable.
- Range gained: The estimated increase in driving distance achievable from the current charging session.
- Driving distance: It displays either the total estimated driving distance or energy percentage, depending on your display setting. Note: You can customize how energy units are displayed by going to Controls > Display > Energy Display.
- Charge status: Information about your charging status, such as Supercharging or Scheduled Charging, is presented here (see Scheduled Charging and Scheduled Departure).
During the Tesla EV Charging Process
While charging, the charge port light (the Tesla “T” logo) pulses green, and the touchscreen provides real-time charging information. As your charge level approaches full, the frequency of the green charge port light pulsing slows down. Once charging is complete, the light will stop pulsing and remain solid green.
Please note: If your Model 3 is locked, the charge port light will not illuminate. In the event that the charge port light turns red while charging, this indicates a fault has been detected. Review the touchscreen for an alert explaining the issue. Common causes for faults include power outages, among others. If a power outage occurs, charging will resume automatically once power is restored.
Stopping the EV Charging Process
You can cease charging at any moment by either disconnecting the charging cable physically or selecting “Stop Charging” on the touchscreen.
- To prevent unauthorized removal of the charging cable, the charge cable latch remains secured, requiring your Tesla to be unlocked or able to recognize your authenticated phone before the cable can be detached.
- If your Tesla has an early generation charge port and is located in an environment with temperatures below 41°F (5°C), the charge port remains unlocked when the vehicle is not actively charging, even when your Tesla is locked.
To detach the charge cable, follow these steps:
- Press and hold the button on the connector handle to release the latch. Please note: You can also release the latch by using the lightning icon on the car status overview on the touchscreen or through the mobile app. Alternatively, you can press and hold the rear trunk button on the key fob to achieve this.
- Pull the connector from the charge port. The charge port door will automatically close.
In cases where you’re using an adapter at a public charge station, the process differs slightly:
- First, unlock your Tesla.
- While holding the public charging handle with one hand and the adapter with the other, press and hold the button on the public charging handle. Pull both outward simultaneously, removing the handle and adapter together. Please note: If the charging station handle separates from the adapter, leaving the adapter in your Model 3, use the touchscreen to unlock the charge port.
- Press and hold the button on the charging handle once more to release the adapter from the public charging handle. Please note: The charge port door will automatically close within approximately 10 seconds of removing the connector from the charge port.
Important Safety Reminder: Tesla recommends your Tesla remain plugged in when not in use. This helps maintain the Battery at an optimum level of charge.
Customizing Tesla EV Charge Settings
To access charge settings, follow these steps:
- Touch “Controls” > “Charging” when your Tesla is in Park.
- Alternatively, you can touch the battery icon on the touchscreen to access charge settings.
Within these settings, you’ll find options for:
- Driving distance: This displays the total estimated driving distance available.
- Set limit: You can adjust the charge slider to specify your desired charge level. This setting applies to both immediate and scheduled charging sessions. Please note: For recommended daily and trip charging limits, consult the information available on the vehicle touchscreen (navigate to “Controls” > “Charging”) or on the mobile App (select the “Charging” icon). Please note: A portion of the battery image may appear blue, indicating that a small amount of the energy stored in the battery is not available due to cold temperatures. This is a normal occurrence, and there’s no need for concern. When the battery warms up, the blue portion will no longer be displayed.
Supercharger Usage Fees and Idle Fees
Tesla has an extensive SuperCharger Network fitted with Tesla-specific adapters, aka NACS connectors. When charging at a Tesla supercharger, data about the charging session is displayed at the bottom of the charging screen. This data includes the location, the time the charging session began, and an estimated cost for the session. Even after you stop supercharging, the estimated cost remains on the screen until a new supercharging session starts.
Please note: The estimated cost may not reflect the final cost of the supercharging session. You can find the final pricing for supercharging sessions in your Tesla account.
At Tesla superchargers, idle fees are in place to encourage drivers to move their vehicles from the Supercharger once the charging is complete. These fees only apply when more than half of the Superchargers at a site are occupied. The Tesla mobile app will notify you when charging is almost finished and again when it is complete. Additional notifications are sent if idle fees are incurred. It’s important to note that idle fees are waived if you move your vehicle within five minutes of the completion of the charging session.
To review fees and access information about Supercharger sessions, payment setup, and payments, log into your Tesla account. Once a payment method is saved, fees are automatically settled through your account.
Tesla EV Charging Best Practices
To ensure the best performance of your Tesla and Battery life, consider the following best practices:
- Avoid letting the Battery’s charge level drop too low. The Battery icon will turn yellow when the remaining capacity falls to 20% or lower.
- For recommended daily and trip charging limits, check the information available on your vehicle touchscreen (navigate to “Controls” > “Charging”) or on the mobile App (select the “Charging” icon).
Tesla Manually Releasing the Charge Cable
If the usual methods for releasing the charging cable from the charge port (using the charge handle release button, touchscreen, or mobile app) do not work, follow these steps:
- Make sure your Model 3 is not actively charging, as indicated by the charging screen on the touchscreen. If necessary, select “Stop Charging.”
- Open the rear trunk.
- Pull the charge port’s release cable downwards to unlatch the charging cable.
These instructions should allow you to manually release the charging cable when other methods are not effective.