Online influencers have been vital to the success of many products on the market today, none more so than Tesla. Online creators love to show off the car and its features, putting Elon Musk in the spotlight as our first influencer CEO. But now that it’s winter, some influencers are finding that their Teslas don’t fare as well in icy conditions.
One of the first things people notice about electric cars is how quiet they are due to the lack of an internal combustion engine. But in a TikTok trend titled “Things I Hate About My Tesla,” user Tesla Flex shared how difficult it is to remove ice from the front of the car because there is no heat energy coming from under the hood.
Another Tesla influencer who goes by Jay Fay on TikTok also expressed frustration at cleaning the hood and headlights, as well as the wheel arches, which form ice from lack of heat energy waste.
Frameless windows on cars like some Subarus and BMWs can stick more easily in wintery weather, as many of them have to be retracted when opening — and it’s no different in a Tesla.
Kristen Netten, a Tesla influencer, posted a timelapse video on Twitter about how preconditioning the car from the app can take away some of the cleaning stress. Unfortunately, the same feature doesn’t help with freezing the recessed door handles of all Tesla models – as demonstrated by Tesla Lord on TikTok.
Cars that aren’t properly equipped for winter can have trouble climbing snowy hills, and HolaSeattle on TikTok shared how the Model Y isn’t able to get up a steep street. It is not clear whether the car was equipped with winter tires, but that would certainly be a prerequisite to make up for such a road.
In the first two years of owning a Model 3, I had no problems in the cold, but that was because my apartment had an underground parking garage. Then I learned a thing or two about how to treat a Tesla in the cold.
Here are some tips to lessen the pain of owning a Tesla in places not called California:
Set your mirrors not to fold automatically when locked. I like that the car folds in the side mirrors as standard when parking. It ensures that people cannot bump into it and also gives a good indication that the car is locked. The problem in winter is that it can freeze and that requires some risky icebreaking with a scraper. The mirrors themselves have heaters but it would have been nice if the connections did too. So disable the “auto-fold when locking” setting.
During the snowfall, regularly brush the snow from the headlights and hood. There’s no engine-wasting thermal heat, but that means the hood and headlights just become an ice cap, affecting visibility in the dark and preventing access to the frunk. Prevent this by regularly brushing the headlights and hood. And please avoid using a metal shovel.
Purchase a set of winter tires. Winter tires on a rear-wheel drive Tesla like mine will give you better control in the snow than a four-wheel drive Tesla without winter tires. It is easier to have two sets of rims with summer and special winter tires (such as the Michelin X-Ice or Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3) pre-assembled and balanced, so that you can change the wheels yourself when the season changes.
Depending on your wishes, you can also opt for all-season tires. Some can be good for summer temperatures, like the Michelin Pilot Sport AS, and some can be good for mild winter conditions, like the Continental ExtremeContact. Personally, I have now mounted the Michelin CrossClimate 2s on original 18-inch Aero rims. But keep in mind that many outlets like Costco are no longer installing them on Teslas due to a speed rating change. (Do your own research before going this route; your tire warranty may be voided.)
By the way, if you have a Performance Model 3 or Model Y, you may have summer tires. Change them if you’re in a cold climate (although Tesla seems to be shipping them with all-season tires now).
Set the windshield wipers to snowfall service mode. It’s common to flip up your windshield wipers before it snows, but it’s easy to forget the windshield wipers in a Tesla because they hide in the hood.
Keep the car plugged in and schedule preconditioning/charging. When Teslas are plugged in and charged, they use AC power to preheat the car and battery — which can melt snow off the glass, condition the engine and give you longer range with a warmer battery. If you schedule both the departure time and the charging time (via the Tesla app), you can automatically preheat the car before you leave and also take the time to walk in the tailpiece so that the plug warms up and is less likely to freeze in the port .
Be patient when opening and closing doors. Once you’ve conditioned your car (and let the app know it’s at the desired temperature), the windows should no longer be stuck to the door’s rubber seals, making it safe to open as it needs to be retracted a bit . The handles don’t heat up, so gently knock off ice and press into the handle with your thumbs until it pops out. Try to clear the crevices of the handle so that it doesn’t get stuck again right away.
Use Summon to roll your Tesla out of a snow fortress. I added this because I recently did this: After shoveling my driveway, I knocked a whole bunch of snow off the Tesla and wanted to clean that up. The handles and doors were still frozen, so I yelled at the car to drive over the snow fortress…then shoved it aside without risking a scratch on the car. In the move, it also dropped more snow.
And last, but certainly not least: Set the right expectations about the range as a cold battery is likely to lose some of its charge. Yes, calculating is best (calculating how many watt-hours per mile the car averages and dividing that by the size of your battery pack), but the car does that for you on the fly. The problem is that at the start of the journey, the car does not immediately know how many highway miles it will cover in sub-zero temperatures. Even though you may see a range from your car that is close to or above 300 miles, expect it to be more like 240 miles (in my experience) when driving over 65 mph.
It gets worse as it gets colder: On a 700-mile trip I took from Baltimore to Chicago in December 2018, my Model 3 averaged 450 Wh per mile in a cold 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.4 degrees Celsius) to just outside of Pittsburgh, bringing the effective range to 167 miles (75 kWh battery in my 2018 Model 3 Long Range) and adding an extra charge stop to the journey.
Electric cars are finally breaking out of the automotive niche market as more people see the benefits and share their experiences online. Influencers like to promote their trendy lifestyle and shop from millions of people, so it was only a matter of time before they opted for electric cars like Teslas. Hopefully, these tips will save current and future owners — and influencers — from freezing new cars when they go all-electric.