Winter Driving Tips

Your Tesla vehicle has many features designed to enhance your cold-weather driving experience. All Tesla vehicles offer optimal winter driving performance due to equal weight distribution, highly responsive motor control and dynamic traction control.

In cold weather, vehicles use more energy to overcome increased tire drag and to heat the cabin and high voltage battery, it’s normal to see energy consumption increase.

We are constantly making updates to improve your driving experience in freezing temperatures including better overall thermal performance, quicker Supercharging and improved cabin conditioning.

Many of these features are enabled automatically or can be enabled before or during your trip. We encourage all drivers to utilize them for the best performance in cold weather.

Comfort and Convenience Features

Plug in your Vehicle

When your vehicle is plugged in, energy-intensive features like cabin and battery preconditioning rely on the external power source rather than the vehicle’s battery. This maximizes available energy for driving once you unplug.

Scheduled Departure

Conserve a significant amount of energy at the start of your trip by using ‘Scheduled Departure.’ Once you have specified your departure time using the touchscreen or Tesla app, your vehicle prepares itself by determining the best time to start charging and preconditioning. Proper preparation ensures that your vehicle is at the desired charge level and cabin temperature at the time of your departure, and that peak efficiency and performance are available from the moment you start driving. If your battery hasn’t preconditioned sufficiently, it will use some of its own energy to warm itself rather than contributing that energy toward your driving range.

Find ‘Scheduled Departure’ within the Charging menu on your vehicle’s touchscreen or by selecting ‘Schedule’ in the Tesla app.

Precondition Shortly Before Your Drive

You can manually pre-heat the cabin by activating preconditioning or defrost in the Tesla app.

  • Precondition: Open the Tesla app and select ‘Climate’ > ‘Turn On.’
  • Defrost: Open the Tesla app and select ‘Climate’ > ‘Defrost Car.’

Note: We recommend using preconditioning while your vehicle is plugged in to avoid using energy from your vehicle’s high voltage battery.

Driving Tips

Updated Energy App

The Energy app on your touchscreen provides a visual representation of your vehicle’s real-time and projected energy usage.

As you drive, your vehicle measures real-time consumption versus expected and lets you know where you are gaining or losing range based on several factors. Range tips are provided to advise how best to improve your energy consumption.

Similarly, the Energy app tracks energy usage while parked to show you what systems are consuming energy while the vehicle is stationary.

The updated Energy app requires software version 2022.36 or later. The updated Energy app is not available for 2012-2020 Model S or 2015-2020 Model X.

Watch for the Snowflake Icon

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

Leaving your vehicle plugged in whenever possible and keeping the charge level above 20% when not plugged in will reduce the impact of cold temperatures.

Once the battery is warmed, the snowflake will disappear. Charging, driving and preconditioning are all ways to warm your battery.

Charging Tips

Use Navigation in Your Vehicle

If you plan to Supercharge on your trip, we highly recommend navigating to each Supercharger or to your destination, even if you know your route. When navigating to a Supercharger, your vehicle automatically preheats your battery to maximize charging speeds once you plug in. Navigating to your destination activates Trip Planner, which routes you to Superchargers as necessary and triggers automatic preheating as you approach each Supercharger. Preheating can significantly improve your charge time, letting you arrive at your destination faster.

Trip Planner includes the following features to optimize Supercharging and long-distance driving:

  • Accurate charging plans: road-trip charging plans are made more accurate by utilizing improved consumption estimates based on weather, and long- and short-term driving trends.
  • Intelligent preconditioning: the vehicle preconditions based on the power available at the specific Supercharger to which you’re routing.
  • Real-time wait times and pricing: additional Supercharging information helps you plan your trip while in motion.
  • Improved routing: 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’re expecting snow or ice buildup, place your wipers in the service position and deactivate mirror auto-fold to help prevent icing.

Wipers in service position: Select ‘Controls’ > ‘Service’ > ‘Wiper Service Mode’ > ‘On.’

Deactivate mirror auto-fold:  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

As with any vehicle, double-check that important surfaces aren’t frozen or covered up before you drive. You should clear any snow buildup from the hood, roof and tailgate to prevent it from blowing off and creating a hazard for you or vehicles behind you.

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. Open a front door using the Tesla app or key fob if it’s difficult to press the handle. 

Model 3 and Model Y: You can unlatch the driver door via the Tesla app to open it without using the handle. 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. You can 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 move frozen mirrors and windows:

If your mirrors are frozen, manually open and close the 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:

Address a frozen charge port by activating the Defrost feature in the Tesla app. A frozen charge port will allow AC charging at lower rates with a blinking amber indicator.

Frozen or covered cabin air intake:

For optimal cabin heating, remove all ice, snow and other debris from the cabin air intake at the bottom of the front windshield.

Winter Tires and Accessories

Winter Tires

Winter tires are recommended if you drive on snowy or icy roads or if required by local regulations. Purchase winter tires at select Tesla Service Centers. Find additional installation information in the ‘Winter Tires’ section of the Owner’s Manual.

Tire Chains

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. Snow chains are available for purchase at select Tesla Service Centers. For more information, see the ‘Using Tire Chains’ 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.