Winter Driving Tips
Your Tesla has several features designed specifically for cold temperatures. Learn how you can enhance your cold weather driving experience by following tips such as staying plugged in and preconditioning your battery before each trip.
It is normal to see increased energy consumption during colder months. To maximize range and efficiency in the cold, your car has many built-in features to keep your battery warm and optimized for cold weather driving.
Stay Plugged In
We recommend leaving your Tesla plugged in as much as possible when it’s not in use. Doing so helps the battery stay warm by drawing a small amount of power from the wall.
Preconditioning and Scheduled Departure
Driving with a warm battery is always more efficient, and our Preconditioning and Scheduled Departure features help you keep the battery in its optimal state before starting your trip.
Precondition Using the Tesla App
You can manually pre-heat your car by activating Preconditioning or Defrost in the Tesla app. This warms the battery and cabin up to a comfortable temperature before your next trip.
If possible, keeping your car plugged in allows the car to pull power from the wall, rather than the battery, to heat the battery and cabin. To activate Preconditioning:
- Precondition: Open the Tesla app and tap 'Climate' > 'Turn On.'
- Defrost: Open the Tesla app and select 'Climate' > defrost icon.
Use Scheduled Departure
This feature automatically preconditions your car around your schedule so that the car is at its optimal temperature before your trip.
To precondition your car around your schedule, set your next departure time using the 'Scheduled Departure' feature on your touchscreen. Tap the Climate Controls settings screen > turn on Preconditioning in settings > select ‘Schedule’ to set a daily time when you want to be ready to drive.
Watch for the Snowflake Icon
A blue snowflake icon may appear on your touchscreen if your car battery is too cold to access all of its stored energy. When this icon is displayed you may also notice that battery power and regenerative braking are limited.
Once the battery is warmed, the snowflake will disappear. Charging, preconditioning and driving all generate heat to bring the battery up to its optimal temperature.
Conserve Energy on the Road
In the winter time, reduce energy loss by driving conservatively and limiting energy use in the cabin. Heating the cabin takes a significant amount of energy that can then no longer be used for driving range.
- Drive at moderate speeds.
- Limit frequent and rapid acceleration and deceleration. Consider using Chill Mode.
- If possible, lower the cabin temperature setting and use seat heaters for added warmth.
Fast Charge When Your Battery is Warm
All Tesla batteries charge more quickly when they are warm. When driving, heat is generated in the powertrain, which warms your car’s battery. For quickest charging experience, consider plugging into a Supercharger closer to your destination, rather than your starting point, to give the battery a chance to heat up. However, on occasions when this isn't convenient, precondition your car to start heating its battery before you leave.
Use Navigation in Your Car
Prepare your car for Supercharging by navigating to your destination, even if you know your route. When you enter a destination into your navigation in cold weather conditions and Supercharging is needed, your car will automatically begin to preheat your battery before arriving at a Supercharger to reduce charging time. Depending on the ambient temperature, and whether Preconditioning was used prior to departure, pre-heating the battery may take 45 minutes, or more.
For long-distance trips, we recommend starting your fast charging sessions at lower states-of-charge, when the battery is warm and the pack has less resistance.
Stay Plugged In
Staying plugged in keeps the battery warm by drawing a small amount of power from the wall, which in turn helps the car fast charge more quickly once you arrive at a Supercharger.
When you're expecting icy conditions, these tips can help you store and drive your Tesla safely.
Reposition Wipers and Mirrors
If you’re expecting snow or ice buildup, place your wipers in service position and deactivate mirror auto-fold to help prevent icing.
- Wipers in service position: In all models, tap 'Controls' > 'Service' > 'Wiper Service Mode' > 'On.'
- Deactivate mirror auto-fold: In Model S and Model X, tap 'Controls' > 'Vehicle' > 'Mirror Auto-Fold.' In Model 3 and Model Y, tap 'Controls' > 'Quick Controls' > 'Mirrors' > 'Mirror Auto Fold.'
Defrost Snow and Ice
In freezing conditions, use the Defrost feature in your Tesla app to melt snow and ice away from important surfaces. This is particularly useful if the car has been sitting and you want to clear snow and ice from the car before your next trip.
Clear Important Surfaces
Before starting your drive, double-check that important surfaces aren't frozen or covered up.
- Frozen door handles: If your door handles are frozen, bump the handle with the end of your fist until the ice is broken.
- Frozen mirrors and windows: If your mirrors are frozen, manually open and close your mirrors to restore automatic mirror fold. If your windows are frozen, melt ice with the Defrost feature in your Tesla app.
- Frozen Autopilot sensors and cameras: For optimal performance, clear autopilot sensors and cameras of snow, ice, mud and dirt. For more information, see the ‘About Driver Assistance’ section of the owner’s manual.
- Frozen charge port: If your charge port is frozen, activate either Preconditioning (on HI) or the Defrost feature in your Tesla app. A frozen charge port will allow AC charging at lower rates with a blinking amber indicator.
Winter tires are recommended if you drive on snowy roads or if required by local regulations. Purchase winter tires at a Tesla Service Center. Find additional installation information in the ‘Winter Tires’ section of your owner's manual.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Refill with fresh washer fluid rated for cold temperatures. De-icing agents can evaporate over time, so topping up with fresh fluid regularly can help keep your wipers ready for snow and icy conditions.
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. If permitted in your area, you can purchase tire chains at a Tesla Service Center. For more information, see the ‘Using Tire Chains’ section of your owner’s manual.