Tesla: Winter Driving Tips

If you own a Tesla, you may have noticed that it performs well even in cold weather. This is because Tesla vehicles are designed with equal weight distribution, responsive motor control, and dynamic traction control to ensure optimal winter driving performance. However, during the winter season, your vehicle will consume more energy to heat the battery and cabin, which is normal.

To improve your driving experience in freezing temperatures, Tesla has has made several updates, including better thermal performance, faster Supercharging, and improved cabin conditioning. Many of these features are either enabled automatically or can be enabled before or during your trip. Tesla encourages all drivers to utilize these features for the best performance in cold weather.

Comfort and Convenience Features

Plug in your Vehicle

When your EV is charging, energy-intensive features like cabin and battery conditioning use the external power source, not the vehicle's battery, to maximize energy for driving.

Scheduled Departure

Planning your commute with Tesla can save you a lot of energy right from the start of your trip. By using the 'Scheduled Departure' feature, you can set the time you plan to leave and your car will prepare itself accordingly. It will determine the best time to begin charging and warming up the cabin so that it's at your desired temperature and charge level when you're ready to drive. This ensures that your car is running at peak efficiency and performance as soon as you start driving. If your battery hasn't preconditioned sufficiently, it will use some of its own energy to warm itself, which can affect your driving range.

You can access 'Scheduled Departure' by going to the Charging menu on your car's touchscreen or through the 'Schedule' option on the Tesla app.

Precondition Shortly Before You Drive

You can preheat the cabin by activating preconditioning or defrost in the Tesla app.

  • To activate preconditioning, open the Tesla app and select 'Climate' then 'Turn On'.
  • To activate defrost, open the Tesla app and select 'Climate' then 'Defrost Car'.

Driving Tips

Updated Energy App

Your vehicle's Energy app provides you with a visual representation of your car's real-time and projected energy usage. As you drive, the app measures your consumption against the expected usage and provides you with information on where you are gaining or losing range based on several factors. It also recommends range tips to help you improve your energy consumption. Moreover, the Energy app has been updated to track energy usage even when your vehicle is parked, so you can see which systems are consuming energy while your car is stationary.

Please note that you need to have software version 2022.36 or later to use the updated Energy app.

The updated Tesla Energy app requires software version 2022.36 or later.

Watch for the Snowflake Icon

If your battery is too cold for full power and ideal range, you may notice a blue snowflake icon on your touchscreen and in the app. When this icon is displayed, you may experience reduced regenerative braking and acceleration.

To reduce the impact of cold temperatures, it is recommended to keep the charge level above 20% when not plugged in, and to leave your vehicle plugged in whenever possible.

You can warm your battery by charging, driving, or preconditioning. Once the battery is warmed, the snowflake icon will disappear.

Charging Tips

Use Navigation in Your Vehicle

It is highly recommended that if you plan to Supercharge on your trip, you navigate to each Supercharger or to your destination, even if you already know your route. By navigating to a Supercharger, your vehicle will automatically preheat your battery to maximize charging speeds once you plug in. On the other hand, navigating to your destination will activate Trip Planner, which will route you to Superchargers as necessary and trigger automatic preheating as you approach each Supercharger. Preheating can reduce your charging time by five to ten minutes, allowing you to get back on the road faster.

Tesla has recently updated Trip Planner to optimize Supercharging and long-distance driving. The following features have been added:

  • More accurate charging plans: Road-trip charging plans are now more accurate by utilizing improved consumption estimates based on weather, and long- and short-term driving trends.
  • Intelligent preconditioning: Your vehicle will precondition itself based on the power available at the specific Supercharger to which you’re routing.
  • Real-time wait times and pricing: You can now see additional Supercharging information in real-time, which will help you plan your trip while in motion.
  • Improved dynamic routing: You can now see up to three route options and choose your preferred route.

Snow and Ice Tips

When you’re expecting snowy or icy conditions, these tips can help you store and drive your Tesla vehicle safely.

Reposition Wipers and Mirrors

If you are expecting snow or ice buildup, it is recommended that you place your wipers in the service position and deactivate mirror auto-fold to help prevent icing.

  • To put your wipers in service position, follow these steps: Select ‘Controls’ > ‘Service’ > ‘Wiper Service Mode’ > ‘On.’
  • To deactivate mirror auto-fold, follow these instructions: In all new vehicles, select ‘Controls’ > ‘Mirrors’ > ‘Mirror Auto Fold.’
  • In Model S produced between 2012-2020 and Model X produced between 2015-2020, select ‘Controls’ > ‘Vehicle’ > ‘Mirror Auto-Fold.’

Defrost Snow and Ice

In freezing conditions, use the Defrost feature in your Tesla app to remotely melt away snow and ice prior to driving while you’re comfortable inside.

Clear Important Surfaces

It is important to check that all surfaces of your vehicle are not frozen or covered up before driving. To prevent any hazard for you or other vehicles on the road, it is best to clear any snow buildup from the hood, roof and tailgate.

Here are some tips for handling frozen door handles:

Model S: The door handles are designed to break through ice when they extend from the vehicle.

Model X: The front doors are equipped with ice breakers that push the automatic doors open even when encased in ice. If it is difficult to press the handle, open a front door using the Tesla app or key fob.

Model 3 and Model Y: You can now unlatch the driver door via the Tesla app to open it without using the handle. Here is how to access this feature in the app: touch and hold one of the quick controls that display below your car to open the ‘Customize Controls’ view. Select ‘Unlatch Door,’ then drag and drop the control into one of your quick control spots. This feature allows you to unlatch the door with a single tap from the app’s home screen.

To manually clear a frozen handle, bump the handle with the end of your fist while wearing a glove until the ice is broken.

To deal with frozen mirrors and windows:

  • Manually open and close the mirrors if they are frozen to restore automatic mirror fold. If your windows are frozen, melt the ice with the Defrost feature in your Tesla app.
  • For optimal performance, clear the autopilot sensors and cameras of snow, ice, mud and dirt. For more information, see the ‘About Driver Assistance’ section of the Owner’s Manual.
  • To address a frozen charge port, activate either Preconditioning (on HI) or the Defrost feature in the Tesla app. A frozen charge port will allow AC charging at lower rates with a blinking amber indicator.
  • To optimize cabin heating, remove all ice, snow and other debris from the cabin air intake at the bottom of the front windshield.
  • Lastly, it is recommended to use winter tires and accessories to ensure better performance during cold weather.

Winter Tires

If you frequently drive on roads that are covered with snow or ice, it is highly recommended that you install winter tires. This will significantly improve your vehicle's performance, as well as increase safety and control. You can purchase winter wheel and tire packages from the Tesla Shop or at select Tesla Service Centers. For further guidance on installation, please refer to the 'Winter Tires' section of the Owner's Manual.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Refill with fresh washer fluid rated for cold temperatures. De-icing agents can evaporate over time, so topping off with fresh fluid regularly can help keep your wipers ready for snow and ice.

Paint Protection Film and Mud Flaps

During the winter season, road conditions can worsen with snow, salt and debris. Consider protecting your vehicle’s paint with Paint Protection Film and Mud Flaps from the Tesla Shop.
Back to blog