It’s time to put your Tesla to the test

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Classified­s - BY RAY MAGLIOZZI

Dear Car Talk: I re­cently bought a Tesla Model 3.

My previous car was a 2008 Mini Club­man S. I en­joyed the Club­man im­mensely, mostly for its leg­endary “Go-kart han­dling.”

Oc­ca­sion­ally, I would en­joy punch­ing the ac­cel­er­a­tor to ex­pe­ri­ence the full ef­fect of the tur­bocharger. The turbo would, at times, even be im­por­tant for avoid­ing dicey traf­fic sit­u­a­tions.

I know that driv­ing a gasoline en­gine hard can shorten its life­span, es­pe­cially over time.

My ques­tion is whether hard ac­cel­er­a­tion has the same ef­fect on elec­tric cars. It’s not that I plan to drive like a drag racer, but punch­ing the Tesla can be so darn fun (within the posted speed limit, of course!).

What’s your take? — Jim

I don’t think elec­tric mo­tors re­ally care how hard you “punch” them, Jim. They’re de­signed to go from zero to 100% in an in­stant, and don’t ex­pe­ri­ence the same kind of me­chan­i­cal stresses that in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines do.

There are no mov­ing pis­tons, no rings, no crankshaft, no con­nect­ing rods or bearings. That’s one of the great ad­van­tages of elec­tric mo­tors. Many fewer mov­ing parts.

Of course, the en­gine (or elec­tric mo­tor in the case of your Tesla) isn’t the only thing that can be harmed by hard ac­cel­er­a­tion. Ev­ery part of the car’s sus­pen­sion gets stressed from all that force, along with ev­ery nut and bolt that holds the car to­gether.

So, it’s not pain-free. And if you drive an elec­tric car hard, you’ll even­tu­ally de­velop squeaks, rat­tles and failed sus­pen­sion parts like you would on any other car. But it is a heck of a lot of fun!

I think you have it about right, Jim. Once in a while, it’s fine to punch the ac­cel­er­a­tor if that makes you smile.

And if you’re con­cerned about the long-term ram­i­fi­ca­tions, put a dol­lar in the con­sole be­tween the seats ev­ery time you floor it. That’ll help pay for the wheel bearings, struts, ball joints and tie rods you’ll even­tu­ally need.

***

Dear Car Talk: I re­cently sold my 2009 Lexus ES350. It re­quired pre­mium un­leaded gasoline (even noted on fuel cap), and I never had any prob­lems with it.

In March 2019, I bought a 2019 Lexus ES350. I was told by the sales­per­son that I should use reg­u­lar un­leaded gasoline (also noted on fuel cap).

But the sales­per­son, and later a ser­vice ad­viser from Lexus, were not able to clearly ex­plain why this new Lexus ES350 should use reg­u­lar un­leaded rather than pre­mium un­leaded gasoline.

I am hes­i­tant to use reg­u­lar un­leaded gasoline. Do I con­tinue to use pre­mium un­leaded gasoline, or do I save money by us­ing the reg­u­lar?

I en­joy read­ing your col­umn ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing while I drink my cup of cof­fee. Thank you. — Lucy

You save the money, Lucy. And with the money you save, you’ll more than pay for ev­ery one of those Satur­day morn­ing cups of cof­fee, maybe even a few bran muffins.

In 2009, Lexus wanted more power from the ES350’s six­cylin­der en­gine. One way to get more power is to in­crease what we call the en­gine’s “com­pres­sion ra­tio.” Ba­si­cally, the com­pres­sion ra­tio mea­sures how much pres­sure is cre­ated in the cylin­ders when the air and fuel mix is com­pressed.

So, the 2009 Lexus had what’s called a “high-com­pres­sion en­gine.” The prob­lem with high-com­pres­sion en­gines is that they can cause the fuel mix­ture to det­o­nate too early — be­fore the spark fires — just due to the high pres­sure. That’s called pre-ig­ni­tion, which causes knock­ing and ping­ing that are bad for the en­gine.

To com­bat that, the man­u­fac­turer re­quires you to buy a high-oc­tane fuel. The pri­mary char­ac­ter­is­tic of high-oc­tane fuel (other than a high-oc­tane price) is that it has a higher ig­ni­tion point. That elim­i­nates the pre-ig­ni­tion prob­lem.

But it costs you an ex­tra 25 cents or so a gal­lon. And if you drive 15,000 miles a year, that’s an ex­tra $150 in fuel costs. Or $1,500 over 10 years.

You’re lucky they fig­ured out how to make an en­gine in 2019 that’s not only more pow­er­ful and gets bet­ter fuel econ­omy, but also runs on less ex­pen­sive fuel.

That’s called progress. Your old Lexus made 272 hp and was rated at 23 mpg over­all. The new one makes 302 hp and gets 26 mpg over­all. Plus, it comes with a free cup of cof­fee ev­ery week to help you choke down our ques­tion­able car ad­vice.

Got a ques­tion about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Fea­tures, 628 Vir­ginia Drive, Or­lando, FL 32803, or email by vis­it­ing the Car Talk web­site at www.cartalk.com.

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