One thing that can significantly affect any battery, including an electric vehicle battery, is extreme temperatures. Cold weather can decrease the range by half, and it can take the battery a much longer time to charge. 

We drove our Tesla to South Lake Tahoe during a winter storm and it was ~20F weather and actively snowing. I wrote another blog post and Youtube video on our Lake Tahoe itinerary that you can view, if you’re interested. 

I also created a Youtube Video on Tesla in Cold Weather that can be viewed here.

tesla lake tahoe

1) Pre-Condition the Tesla

In cold weather, the battery can take longer to charge. By pre-conditioning the Tesla, Tesla will heat up the battery using its motors, which will make charging faster.

If you input your GPS destination to a Tesla supercharger and your battery isn’t warm enough, Tesla will automatically pre-conditioning the battery. 

tesla preconditioning battery

2) Plug in the Tesla

A plugged in Tesla is a happy Tesla. If you’re parking your Tesla in cold weather, do your best to keep your Tesla plugged in. This is because it will use that energy, instead of your battery, to heat up the Tesla. 

Try to keep your battery above 20% state of charge when its cold, both for safety and for the battery.

tesla winter snow storm
A Happy, Plugged in Tesla

3) Schedule Charge

By scheduling your charge, Tesla will pre-condition the battery so it heats up to an optimal level, which makes the battery more efficient. It also heats up the cabin, so when you’re in your Tesla, you’re nice and toasty and you won’t need to blast the heater (which could also reduce your range). If it is cold in your car, you can try to use the seat heaters to reduce your range. 

You can schedule your charge by going to the “Charging” Tab, or you can do it on your phone app also. Depending on how cold it really is outside, give your tesla like at least 30 minutes to 1 hour to heat up. 

schedule charge
Schedule Charging

4) Dealing with Ice Build up

One thing that can be really annoying when driving your Tesla in cold weather is ice build up that can prevent your charge port and door handles from opening. But there are ways to help this. 

If your door handles are iced over, Tesla added a phone feature called the “Door Unlatch” which literally unlatches the door so you can get into your car easier. You can access this from your phone app.  

Also, you can defrost your car directly from your phone. Go to “Climate” > “Defrost Car

defrost tesla phone app
Defrost Tesla via Phone App

5) Windshield Wiper Defrost / Service Mode

The newer Tesla models have a windshield wiper defrost mode, so if you have it, turn that on. My 2021 Tesla Model Y doesn’t have it. 

If you park outside, you can put your windshield wipers into “Wiper Service Mode,” which lifts the wipers up, so it doesn’t freeze.

wiper service mode tesla
Wiper Service Mode

6) Turn OFF Auto-Fold Mirrors

There’s also a chance that your side mirrors may freeze, so it’s a good idea to turn OFF auto fold mirrors. 

7) Change Driver Settings

When driving on snow and ice, the roads are more slippery, so it’s a good idea to change the following settings. 

Change Acceleration to Chill mode. You won’t be driving like a maniac when there’s snow and ice, so make sure you’re on Chill Mode, as it makes it easier to drive and there’s less slipping and sliding in the snow. Set your steering to “Comfort” that way you have better handling in the snow, 

Enable “Off Road assist.” If the snow is really bad and you’re at low speeds, you can enable “Off road assist,” which shifts the power to both the front and rear wheels evenly, which gives you more control.  

Change the stopping function to “Creep.” Creep means your car will still move slowly when you release the brake pedal. 

Regenerative Braking. One thing that helps when driving in the snow is that Tesla limits regenerative braking, if it’s too cold.  It’s partly because the cold battery can’t take in that energy, but it’s also because it helps prevent the motors from slowing down the car excessively, which can cause the Tesla to lose control.

tesla steering acceleration
Change Acceleration to Chill and Steering mode to Comfort

8) Energy Consumption Graph

When I drove my Tesla in cold weather, around 20F degrees and below, I started to notice battery degradation. The estimated range on the Tesla screen is reduced in the cold weather, which also means charging takes longer. 

The Tesla is great at letting you know if your charge will be reduced when you’re driving.  If you click on the green energy graph icon,  you can see your estimated range and it also factors in wind, driving, and climate. In my experience,  the estimated range is very accurate. 

tesla energy consumption
Energy Consumption Graph

9) Tire Pressure

It’s helpful to keep your tire pressure at the recommended pressure or slightly higher. The more inflated your tires, the easier it is to grip the snow. Also, when it is cold, your tire pressure will automatically decrease. So it’s always a good idea to keep your tire inflator in your car just in case.

recommended tire pressure

Conclusion

Overall if you live in snow, snow tires are the way to go. However, if you’re like me and live in sunny areas and visit the snow maybe 1x per year, then these tips may be helpful for you! I have  Michelin pilot sport all season 4’s, and it’s doing a decent job!  I will also review the Autosock in another blog post, which is an alternative for snow chains.

DISCLAIMER

The opinions and views expressed on this blog are solely personal, Everyday Chris.  Everyday Chris is not affiliated with or endorsed by Tesla. It is neither inferred nor implied that products recommended by Everyday Chris nor recommendations given by Everyday Chris are authorized by or in any way connected to Tesla. This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full Terms & Conditions for more information.

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