Cold weather driving in your Tesla requires some preparation so you can maneuver your electric car in a deep freeze or snow.
Similar to gas vehicles, electric cars like Teslas need more time to adjust to cold weather, such as warming up your car ahead of time. But there’s more to it than that.
Our Tesla guide for winter and cold weather charging will help you learn things like how to open your charge port latch if it becomes frozen and ways to keep your regenerative brakes and EV batteries working optimally.
We’ll break it all down and address the charging tips you need before you set out, plus provide information so you can get the most out of your Tesla when driving or charging in a cold climate.
Tesla Charging and Other Tips for Cold Weather
What to Do Before Driving
- Preheat. Before your get in your Tesla to commute, drive to the grocery store, or wherever your travels take you, you’ll need to preheat your car and battery. Using the Tesla app, you will be able to schedule when you want to leave to ensure the vehicle is warm and ready to go when you need it to be. Tesla suggests you schedule your drive time 30 to 45 minutes in advance to warm up the battery.
- Turn on wiper service mode. You can turn on the wiper service mode to keep your windshield wipers free of ice, sleet, or snow. If equipped, your wiper defrosters can also keep them moving free of ice build-up or snow while driving.
- Defrost. Use the setting in the app for defrosting the car. This mode defrosts the windows, mirrors, and charging port. Your side mirrors will automatically warm up during the preheat phase, but you can also use the defrost button inside the car when in the car and on the road.
- Strike that handle. In freezing conditions, the car’s door handles may freeze shut. If this happens to you, Tesla suggests repeatedly but gently striking the rear-most part of the door handle with your fist to help remove some ice. However, using an oil-based lubricant can also help loosen up the door handle.
- Check tire pressure. If you notice your light switch on for the tire pressure monitoring system, it’s time to check your tires and properly inflate them to the required psi level.
Driving a Tesla in Cold Weather
As with any EV, if you drive your Tesla in cold weather, it increases energy consumption and negatively impacts your range. It takes more energy to keep the cabin and the battery warm during a big chill. However, there are ways to reduce energy consumption.
No matter what Tesla you drive, to keep it running in top condition in the cold, the company suggests you do the following:
- Use your seat warmers. Turn off the heat and switch on your seat warmer. Doing so can go a long way to saving energy during winter driving.
- Slow down. Don’t be too tempted to get your Tesla revved up — the Model S with Plaid trim level can reach 60 mph in under two seconds, and the vehicle boasts a top speed of 200 mph with 1,020 horsepower, making it a ridiculously fast car. Instead, reduce your speed to save energy on cold days and nights.
- Pay attention to braking. Your Tesla will send an alert if your regenerative braking capacity starts reducing. You’ll see a blue snowflake icon appear on your touchscreen when the battery gets cold, and you can’t access stored energy, limiting your use of regenerative brakes until it warms up again.
- Reset your regenerative brakes. If your model features one-pedal driving, try setting your regenerative brakes to the lowest setting. It will help you stay safe in slippery conditions and not slide around.
- Plan ahead. If you use a Tesla Supercharger while on the go, search for the “Trip Planner” and schedule your stops on your Tesla app. Try to plan about 30 to 45 minutes before arriving at the charger. By doing this, the battery begins to warm up before charging. It helps your Tesla charge up faster.
- Keep your vehicle plugged in. If you’re not Supercharging and will just be going home, make sure to plug in as soon as you get home and leave it that way. Tesla recommends keeping your model plugged in to keep the battery warm when not in use. There’s no need to worry about damaging your battery if you leave it plugged in for an extended period.
Does cold weather affect Tesla’s range?
Cold weather can have adverse effects on a Tesla’s range. Luckily, you can combat this by reducing your driving speed, preheating your car and its battery, and reducing the heat in your vehicle.
Do Teslas work in cold weather?
Yes, a Tesla will still drive well in the cold weather. However, you will need to take a few extra precautions in the winter months, such as scheduling charging and altering some of your driving habits, including driving more slowly.
What to do if Tesla door handle is frozen shut?
If the door handle on your Tesla freezes shut, the best thing you can do is strike the rear-most part of the door handle with a closed fist, which can also help remove any ice. If that does not work, try an oil-based lubricant.