Winter Driving Tips
Your Tesla has several features designed specifically for cold temperatures. Learn which tips and features can enhance your cold weather driving experience.
Cold Weather Tips
It is normal to see increased energy consumption during colder months. To maximize range and efficiency in the cold, take extra steps to keep your car's battery warm and conserve energy.
Use Scheduled Departure or Precondition Before You Drive
If your Tesla is plugged in, you can conserve energy by warming it up before each trip. Use Scheduled Departure so your car will be warmed and ready to go when you are. You can also preheat your car by activating preconditioning or defrost in the Tesla app.
- Open the Tesla app and tap 'Climate' > 'Turn On'
- Tap 'Charging' > 'Scheduled Departure' > 'Schedule' > 'Depart At'
Watch for the Snowflake Icon
When your battery is cold, a blue snowflake alert may appear next to your displayed range. This means some of the energy stored in your battery won’t be accessible until your battery heats up to a sufficient temperature. You may also notice that battery power and regenerative braking are limited. Once the battery is warmed, the snowflake will disappear. Your car's battery will warm more quickly when charging, driving and preconditioning.
Use In-Vehicle Navigation
If you enter a long-distance destination in cold weather conditions, your car will pre-heat its battery before arriving at Superchargers to reduce charging time.
Conserve Energy on the Road
In the wintertime, reduce energy loss by driving conservatively and limiting energy use in the cabin. This helps with range and efficiency all year-round, but even more so during colder months.
- Activate Range Mode in Model S and Model X. Only activate after battery has reached optimal temperature
- Drive at moderate speeds
- Limit frequent and rapid acceleration
- Once heated, lower the cabin temperature setting and use seat heaters for added warmth
- Maintain your tire pressure
Leave Your Tesla Plugged In
We always recommend leaving your Tesla plugged in when it’s not in use. This is especially helpful when it’s cold as staying connected helps your battery retain the heat it needs to operate efficiently and leverage regenerative braking.
Limit Checking the Tesla App
When you monitor your car via the Tesla app, your car uses energy to wake itself up from sleep mode. During the winter, it’s best to only check the app when necessary so that extra energy can be used on the road.
Snow and Ice Tips
When you're expecting icy conditions, these tips can help you store and drive your Tesla safely. Remember to wipe or blow your car dry after car washes in cold weather.
Reposition Wipers and Mirrors
If you’re expecting snow or ice buildup, place your wipers in service position and deactivating mirror auto-fold.
To put wipers in service position:
- Tap 'Controls' > 'Service' > 'Wiper Service Mode' > 'On'
To deactivate mirror auto fold:
- Model S and Model X: 'Controls' > 'Vehicle' > 'Mirror Auto-Fold'
- Model 3: 'Controls' > 'Quick Controls' > 'Mirrors' > 'Mirror Auto Fold'
Defrost Snow and Ice
In freezing conditions, use the Defrost feature in your Tesla app to melt ice and snow away from important surfaces.
To activate defrosting:
- Tap 'Climate' > Defrost icon
- Melt ice with the Defrost feature in your Tesla app
Tip: Model 3 - If ambient temperature is low and there are no passengers inside, any door used within the last 4 hours will have its window slightly rolled down. This makes it easier to open and close the door and to prevent damage to the bright trim. Also, if a window has been stuck, you can calibrate the window yourself, by following the steps in the Model 3 Do It Yourself Guide.
Frozen charge port:
- Use either the Defrost feature or activate preconditioning (on HI)
Tip: Defrost charge port entry faster by folding down the rear seatback.
A solid amber charge port light indicates that the connector is not fully plugged in. Try to realign the cable. A blinking amber charge port will allow AC charging at lower rates.
Clear Important Surfaces
Before driving, double-check that important surfaces are not frozen or covered up.
Frozen door handles:
- Bump the handle with the end of your fist until the ice is broken
- Manually open and close your mirrors to restore automatic mirror fold
Autopilot Sensors and Cameras:
- Clear Autopilot sensors and cameras of snow, ice, mud and dirt
Tip: You can also prevent ice buildup by applying a hydrophobic topcoat to the front fascia of your car. We recommend Rust-Oleum Never Wet Top Coat. For more information, see ‘About Autopilot’ in the Owner’s Manual.
- Clear exterior lights of snow and frost
Occasional condensation may occur within exterior light lenses due to changes in atmospheric conditions. Condensation is normal and will clear over time. The clearing process is faster in dry environments, higher temperatures and when the vehicle is moving.
Note that the rear taillights are off while daytime running lights are on. Be sure to turn the rear lights on during low rear visibility conditions such as when it is dark, the road is wet and there is fog or whirling snow.
Winter Tires and Accessories
If you frequently drive on snowy roads, install winter tires for enhanced performance, safety and control. You can purchase winter tires at a Tesla Service Center. Additional installation information is listed in the ‘Winter Tires’ section of your Owner's Manual.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Use washer fluid rated for cold temperatures. Topping up with fresh fluid will restore the ingredients that help keep your windshield clear and free of ice, dirt and road salt in cold temperatures.
Tire chains provide additional traction when driving in snowy or icy conditions. Check your local regulations to see if tire chains are recommended or required during winter months. You can purchase tire chains at a Tesla Service Center. For more information, see the ‘Using Tire Chains’ section of your Owner’s Manual.
Anti-Ice Window Treatment
Tesla Service offers an anti-ice window coating to help break ice buildup on windows. This is a paid procedure that can be scheduled just like any other service appointment. If you’re interested, schedule a service appointment in the Tesla app.