Tesla Supercharging FAQ

Last updated 16-Feb-2024

History of supercharging.

Supercharging, free supercharging, unlimited free supercharging, transferable free supercharging, lifetime unlimited free supercharging are all terms that get used in this area so we'll quickly walk through the history.

  • Supercharging has always been a Tesla thing and other than the very earliest cars with the smallest battery, it was included as part of the car. Some of these very early cars had to pay to have supercharging enabled.
  • Supercharging, when introduced, was free. There was however no fair use policy and while Tesla did state the purpose of supercharging was to enable long distance travel, it did not prohibit the use of superchargers in any way.
  • In late 2016, Tesla decided free supercharging was not sustainable and decided that new cars would ony have a nominal 400kwh included per year, the rest paid for. The rules for the cut over were slightly complex as the car needed to be ordered in 2016, and delivered by the end of March 2017, but roughly speaking cars registered by April 2017 will have unlimited free charging, although see the caveat below.
  • This went down badly, and Tesla updated the referral system to give buyers unlimited supercharging whilst removing the 400kwh annual allowance. The wording was poor but essentially it is only for the first owner of the car. Once the car was sold, free supercharging ended on that car, and for the original owner.
  • You will find people quoting various other rules because the wording was poor, they are usually always wrong.
  • This ran for a couple of years before even new cars stopped getting free charging.
  • Tesla updated the referral scheme to give circa 4000 free supercharging miles for each referral, dropping to 1000 miles not long after. These miles need to be used within a fixed time window. For the purposes of this, we're going to ignore this as its largely just a monetary credit to your paid supercharging account.
  • For completeness, Tesla have also give some new inventory cars 1 years free supercharging.
  • Tesla have also intoduced supercharging credits via the referral scheme. It is easy to confuse this with the car having free sueprcharging, so we have included a section on this below.
  • When Tesla have a car with transferable unlimited free supercharging returned to them, either by part exchange or end of lease, they are removing the unlimited free supercharging, or making it only for the next owner. You can no longer assume buying a pre April 2017 car will have free supercharging.
  • Finally, and to make the situation a little more complicated, as a sales initiative Tesla occassionally allow free sueprcharging to be transfered to a new car. They also do with occassionaly with Full Self Driving.

If you're a little confused and bemused by all this then you are not the only ones. A relatively simple thing has become very complex with multiple permutations and with changing dates, but it boils down to some quite simple basics on a given car, indicated by the option code:

  • SC01: The car has unlimited free supercharging enabled and this is transferable to the next owner via a private sale. This can only occur on cars registered before April 2017 but not all cars will have it.
  • SC04: The car has supercharging enabled but you pay for each charge. Any referral miles will give you a credit towards the supercharging cost.
  • SC05: The car has unlimited free supercharging currently enabled but this is not transferable to the next owner and the car will revert to SC04 following a sale. This can be on any car but is most common on cars from April 2017 and still registered to the first owner.

Just to add a little extra interest, Tesla has also offered unlimited free supercharging but for a fixed duration, usually 6 months, or in the case of cars delivered at the end of 2020, 12 months.

  • SC06: The car has time bound unlimited free supercharging. It's unknown whether this transfers to the next owner in the event of a sale.

So which option does my car have?

There are a number of ways to tell what your car has:

Ask Tesla which is not particularly practical at the moment with service centres not having a phone line.

Log in your Tesla account via a web browser

Navigate to https://www.tesla.com/teslaaccount/oxp-bff-api/user-orders

The data for your cars should appear e.g.:
...options=$APPB,$APBS, $DV4W,$IN3PB,$PPSW, $PRM31,$SC04,$TW01,$MDL3,$W38B, $MT310,$CPF0,$DRRH..

From here you can see the Supercharging code, in the example above it is SC04.

Log in your Tesla account via a web browser, then select manage cars

Right click on the car image and select "copy image address" or "open image in new tab"

The option string should be in the resulting link and look something like:
https://static-assets.tesla.com/v1/compositor/?model=m3&view=STUD_3QTR &size=1440&options=$APPB,$APBS, $DV4W,$IN3PB,$PPSW, $PRM31,$SC04,$TW01,$MDL3,$W38B, $MT310,$CPF0,$DRRH, $FM3U,$RSF1 &bkba_opt=1&crop=1450,600,250,300

From here you can see the Supercharging code, in the example above it is SC04.

Do I have free supercharging on my Tesla?

This is partly covered above, however there are other indicators if you don't have access to MyTesla. Unfortunately it's easier to tell when a car definitely does not have transferable free supercharging than it is to confirm the car does:

  • If the car says an amount for the last charge session (excluding $0.00), this is a sign the car does NOT have transferable free supercharging.
  • It used to be the case that the car would say "no recent charging sessions" if it had free unlimited supercharging (SC01) (or in the very very rare situation the car has never been supercharged). This seems to have changed in release 2022.24 where the car now reports a supercharging cost even if eventually billed at $0.00 due to referral credits or the current owner has non transferable free supercharging. Therefore, if the car says $0.00 it has the potential to have transferable supercharging, but this is not a guarantee.
  • If the cars is at a dealership and says "no recent charging sessions" or says $0.00, check with the dealer where they bought the car. It may be a car where Tesla has removed free sueprcharging but the car is yet to have used one since.
The status codes can also be found by using the guide above.

Does the car I want to buy have free supercharging?

Because supercharging is not transferable except for a given set of conditions, to work out if a car will have transferable supercharging it is a little easier, which you do depends on where you are buying from.

If the car is being sold by Tesla then the Tesla listing will tell you. We go one step further and break down all the option codes on our inventory listing site so it may be worth finding the car on our site to find out whether the charging is transferable or not.

If you are looking at a car privately or froma dealer and do not have easy access to the option codes you can determine if the car has transferable charging by looking at the charging screen and follow the steps below:

  • If the car was first registered after April 2017, then supercharging will not be transferable. We are unaware of any car ever circumventing this basic check.
  • If the car was first registered by April 2017, press the charging icon on the top left of the screen it will bring up the charging display. In the bottom right hand corner you will find a display that shows recent supercharing activity.
  • If under 'Current Session' is says 'No Recent Supercharging' then the car should have transferable charging if registered before April 2017. If it says anything else, including $0.00, it does not have transferable free supercharging.
  • 'No recent supercharging' and registered after April 2017 means it does NOT have transferable free supercharging.

Tesla free supercharging

If buying from a dealer, we would always recommend you agree a condition of sale that the supercharging is transferable if the dealer is claiming it has. This is to cover the situation where they have bought the car from Tesla, Tesla have stripped supercharging but the car is still yet to be supercharged which would result in the "No recent supercharging" being displayed. Asking the dealer how they acquired the car is also worth doing. Cars bought directly from Tesla or via auction may have had supercharging stripped. A dealer will know how they acquired the car and should be willing to tell you.

If buying privately, we would suggest asking the seller to meet you at a supercharger if one is nearby and actually charging the car. This will also help confirm the no cost aspect and will also allow you to see how fast the car is charging.

Be wary of trade sales. Where a car has been returned to Tesla and Tesla have sold the car into trade either directly or via an auction, they are likely to remove free supercharging however it can take some time for this to be reflected. If buying from a dealer then ask where they sourced the car.

How much does it cost to supercharge?

The cost to charge at a supercharger in nearly all countries is based on the amount of electricity put into the car, measured in kwh. The price per kwh varies from charger to charger and in some locations can also vary by the time of the day. To see the price, locate the supercharger on the map in the car and look at the more information details. This also shows how many chargers are at the location, whether version 2 or version 3, and how many are free.

Free supercharging v supercharging credits

Tesla are currently running a referral scheme where an existing Tesla owner is rewarded with credits if they a prospective buyer goes for a test drive or buys a new Tesla. The rules for receiving the credits vary by country and whether the buyer has previously owned a Tesla and this article is not going to look at the earning of the credits, only how they can be spent.

The credits, typically around 7,500 for a car sale, can be used to purchase blocks of free supercharging. Tesla quote it as either 3000 miles/5000 km, or a smaller allocation of 300 mile/500km for a smaller amount of credits. In practice these translate to a number of kwh of supercharging and so efficient cars such as a RWD M3 will get more than the allocation and less efficient cars like a MX Plaid may get a little less. Once redeemed the owner has 6 months to use the allocation. A further exchange will increase the total and extend the time to use them up to a maximum of 3 years.

In the car, the use of referral credits can look exactly the same as the non transferable free sueprcharging option. While the two are different, when it comes to buying a car the effect is the same, after the transfer the car will not have free sueprcharging unless the new owner is entitled somehow.

Transfering free supercharging to a new car.

In exceptinal circumstances and usually only during promotions to boost sales, Tesla may allow owners of cars with free supercharging, and including both SC01 and SC05 types, to transfer free supercharging to a new car purchase. If this is done, the recipient car will only get SC05 and free supercharging will again lapse once that car is further sold on.

Overstay and Congestion charges

For many years Tesla have charged owners overstay fees should the car be left plugged in to a supercharger where half or more of the available chargers at a location are in use, and charging has completed. There is a small grace period but this is designed to encourage owners to move their cars quickly after charging has completed. These charges are payable even of the car has free supercharging or charging credits.

At selected locations Tesla are now also introducing congestion charges. This is a further time based premium once the car has reached a given state of charge. Typically this is $1 per min once the car has reached 90%, even if the car is still charging. Again this is payable irrespective of free supercharging. The car will display the notification to warn the driver.

What is the difference between Version 2, 3 and 4 superchargers?

The original superchargers were installed in pairs, sharing between 125 and 150kw. The implications were when 2 cars were plugged in, each car might only have 75kw available to them resulting in slower charging speeds. For this reason, many suggest using alternate chargers.

The v3 chargers share capacity across the site or block of chargers, and have a maximum charging speed of 250kw. As a result, the newer cars such as the Model 3, can charge significantly faster on a v3 charger. Older cars which are limited to about 120kw, the faster charger makes no difference other than avoiding the issue with sharing a 150kw capacity. While technically there is sill the possibility of some load balancing and reduced charg speeds, the greater number of chargers sharing the capacity and the fact the higher rates are not sustained for that long mean it is rarely seen.

One final difference, in some countries including the whole of Europe, the v2 chargers have 2 cables. One supports the older DC charging over type 2, and the other is a CCS connector. The v3 chargers are all CCS and the Model S and Model X that do not have a CCS socket in these countries need to have an adapter and the appropriate communications board fitted to the car which can be retrofit buy Tesla.

V4 superchargers are also starting to appear. Generally these have a new cabinet design and and a long charge cable. These are in response to the opening up of the charging network to other makes of car and allow contact less payment and more flexibility for the charge port on other makes or car. They are also believed to be able to support charge speeds of up to 350kw whould the car be able to accept such a high speed.

Why do I not get the charging rate I expect?

The cars charging is dictated by a number of factors and is limited by the slowest of them all. This may be:

How do I make it supercharge at its fastest?

If you want to maximise the supercharging speed, we recommend the following:

What are overstay charges?

Once you complete charging you should unplug and vacate the space. If you do not, and half or more of the bays are occupied Tesla will after a short grace period start to charge an overstay fee. This is charged even if you have free supercharging. This can also be more expensive than the charging actually cost.

I can not charge, it says payment issue?

You need to have a valid charge card on your Tesla account and all outstanding payments have been approved for payment. To do this you need to log into the web based Tesla account and check your charging history. This will also show any referral miles being used against charging sessions.

I don't own a Tesla, can I still supercharge?

In Europe, Tesla have opened up a mumber of supercharger locations to non Tesla cars with the CCS charge port. At these site, you can charge other makes of electric car, although you need to initiate the charge through the Tesla app. See our guide to supercharging a non Tesla for more information.

What is a V4 Supercharger?

Details of the next generation supercharger are starting to appear. These are physically larger, and are believed to be rated up to 325kw. The main difference however, is thought to be greater alignment to the CCS standard, although interestingly the 350kw rating of these is achieved by having 800V battery packs, twice that of the Tesla.

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