What is it like to own a Tesla in Winter? Are Teslas winter cars? Well, Yes and no. There are some safety features that make Teslas one of the safest cars to drive in the winter, but there are some things you need to keep in mind to have a smooth Winter in this beautiful car. Use my referral link to receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles with the purchase and delivery of a new Tesla car, or earn a $100 award after system activation by purchasing or subscribing to solar panels.
Of course, the first thing on your mind when driving an electric car will be the battery life. My Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus has a rated range of 263 miles, and realistically gets around 220 miles or so in warmer weather, depending on road conditions and how fast I drive. Well, in freezing cold weather, that number pretty much gets cut in half. Why is this?
- HVAC system – In many gas cars, heat is generated through excess energy that the car already has merely from being powered on. In a Tesla, the heat is 100% electric, which means it’s coming straight from your battery. To save on energy, consider wearing a sweater and leaving the heat a little lower. I’m not saying freeze yourself – you didn’t buy a luxury car to be uncomfortable – but a couple degrees might make a big difference.
- Regenerative Braking – When driving a Tesla in Winter, watch the little bar above the graphic of your car on the left of the screen. If it’s solid, that means your regenerative braking is in full force, and the car will use excess energy generated when braking to give the battery micro-charges as you drive. When braking, you’ll see the left side of that bar turn green. This is a good thing.
- When the battery is frozen, this bar will be a dotted line on the left side, and you might have a warning that says regenerative braking is reduced. As you drive, this bar will become more and more solid. On a longer trip, your battery might return to normal and you’ll get pretty good range, even in the Winter.
Overnight Snow and Ice
If you don’t have a garage, there are a few things to keep in mind during winter storms overnight.
- Windows – There’s no frame above the window glass; the windows roll down a bit to allow the car door to open. If the window is frozen shut, this can damage the window if you try to force it open or closed. Chip off any ice around the frame before opening.
- Charging port – Either keep the cable plugged in, or close the charging port. If it’s frozen, it won’t charge until it’s heated up a bit.
- Extra tip: Any time you’re thinking about driving out in the winter, open up your Tesla app 10 minutes before and turn the Climate on. It’ll be warm when you enter the car, and your regen braking might be better.
A newer and underrated feature allows you to schedule the charging of your car. When you plug your car in, the screen will have a “Schedule” button that allows you to choose the time you plan on departing. This has a myriad benefits:
- Heated battery – When chagring, the battery starts to heat up and regenerative braking is improved. If you schedule the charging to finish right before you leave, you’ll have much longer range than if it had a few hours in the old after charging.
- Heated cabin – The car will be nice and toasty when you get in
- Thawed windows, dash, rearview, etc – Snow and ice is so much easier to remove if the climate has been on for a while.
- Note that this feature is only useful if you have a 220v charger or a Tesla Wall charger. If you’re trickle-charging on a 12v outlet, it won’t do you much good
Cameras and Autopilot
Another reason to heat up the car before you leave if you’re planning on using autopilot and various safety features.
- When cleaning the snow and ice off your car, pay special attention to the repeaters on the side fenders of the car. You might even want to take a microfiber cloth to wipe off the cameras. Next, make sure the cameras between the doors are clean.
- While driving a Tesla in Winter, you might get a warning that autopilot is disabled because the cameras are clouded. To clear this up, pull over and wipe off the camera with a microfiber cloth.
Safety in the Snow
How safe is a Tesla in Winter? Well, I can only speak from personal experience.
- Handling – The car handles remarkably well in the snow. Like any modern car, it has anti-lock brakes that rapidly pump when you slam on the brakes. Also, I’m not sure why, but this car really seems to skid a lot less than other cars I have had.
- Tires – This is the same as any car. Get some winter tires if you want to slide around less.
- Stopping in the snow – Though the car drives like a dream in the snow, it can be tough to get going once you have stopped in snow or ice. The Model 3 might be able to go 0-60 in 5 seconds, but it’s not the best at getting out of the snow. Luckily, it’s a very light car, so it only takes a couple of able bodies to gish it a push out of a rough spot.
- Also, if you’re stuck and alone, you can request Roadside Assistance through the Tesla app, and getting you out of the snow is covered for free! No AAA needed.
Summary – Tesla in Winter
Driving a Tesla in Winter has its ups and downs. They are very safe to drive in the snow, but there are definitely some setbacks to driving a Tesla in Winter. The battery life is less, it can be tough to get out of an ice patch, and the windows and charging ports can freeze. However, with a little foresight and utilization of scheduled charging, these are minor setbacks. Me? I love my Model 3, even in the winter without a garage.
Use my referral link to receive 1,000 free Supercharger miles with the purchase and delivery of a new Tesla car, or earn a $100 award after system activation by purchasing or subscribing to solar panels.