How to use Tesla Model Y in cold weather

To ensure that Model Y provides you with the best ownership experience possible in harsh cold weather conditions, follow these best practices.

Before Driving

When snow and ice accumulate on your vehicle, moving parts, such as the door handles, windows, mirrors, and wipers can freeze in place. To achieve maximum range and performance, it is helpful to warm the cabin and Battery before you leave. There are several ways to do so:

• Touch Schedule, available on both the charging and climate control screens, to set a time when you want your vehicle to be ready to drive.
• On the mobile app, navigate to Climate to customize the temperature at which you want to heat the cabin. This also warms the high voltage Battery as needed.
• On the mobile app, navigate to Climate > Defrost Car to melt snow, ice, and frost on the windshield, windows, and mirrors. This also warms the high voltage Battery as needed.

NOTE: Tesla recommends activating climate settings at least 30-45 minutes before departure. Preconditioning times depend on outside temperature and other factors. The Mobile App will notify you once your vehicle has reached the desired preconditioning temperature.

Charge Port

• If your charge port latch freezes in place and a charging cable becomes stuck in the charge port, try manually releasing the charge cable (see special instructions in the manual).
• In extremely cold weather or icy conditions, it is possible that your charge port latch may freeze in place. Some vehicles are equipped with a charge port inlet heater that turns on when you turn on the rear defrost in cold weather conditions. You can also thaw ice on the charge port latch by enabling Defrost Car on the mobile app.

NOTE: You can also prevent the occurrence of a charge port latch freezing in place by using the Schedule settings.

NOTE: If your charge port latch is frozen in place, it may not lock the charging cable in place when inserted, but it can still charge at a slow AC rate even if the latch is not engaged.


By using Trip Planner (if available in your market region) to navigate to a Tesla charging location, Model Y pre-heats the high voltage battery to ensure when you arrive at the charger, the temperature of the battery is optimal and ready to charge. This reduces the amount of time it takes to charge.

NOTE: Tesla recommends using Trip Planner to navigate to a charging location for at least 30-45 minutes before arrival to ensure optimal battery temperature and charging conditions. If the drive to the charging location is less than 30-45 minutes, consider preconditioning the battery before driving.

NOTE: The thermal system may produce steam under certain conditions. For example, odorless steam can come from the front of your vehicle while charging at a Supercharger in cold temperature. This is normal and not a cause for concern.


In severe winter conditions, ice buildup can make it more difficult to open door handles. You can use the mobile app to pop open the driver door in this situation.

In the mobile app, touch and hold any of the four quick control buttons and follow the instructions to customize quick controls with Unlatch Door.

When you are next to your car, touch Unlatch Door to pop open the driver door.

Removing Ice From Door Handle

In severe winter conditions, ice buildup within the door handle can prevent the door handle from opening. The process for freeing a Model Y door handle is slightly different than others to remove ice buildup.

NOTE: Preemptively applying WD-40 to the door handle pivot pins can help prevent ice buildup inside your door handle.

CAUTION: Do not attempt to use tools or excessive force to release the door handle from ice buildup.

Perform the following to remove ice from the door handle:

Forcefully press the frontmost part of the door handle. It will rock slightly inward to help break the ice.

Press the rearmost part of the door handle to try to open as you normally would.

Once the door handle is able to move, open and close it a few more times to release any remaining ice buildup. Make sure the door handle is fully pressed in (retracted) prior to entering the vehicle, and check that the door is fully closed before driving away.


If ice buildup is expected, when parking, turn off Auto-Fold Mirrors. Touch Controls > Auto-Fold. Ice can prevent exterior side mirrors from folding or unfolding.

NOTE: Side mirrors automatically heat as needed during preconditioning, or when the rear defroster is turned on.


If you expect snow or ice to build up when parked, touch Controls > Service > Wiper Service Mode. This raises wipers against the windshield so they can defrost when the windshield defrosts. You can also turn on wiper defrosters (if equipped).

Tires and Tire Chains

• Use winter tires to increase traction in snowy or icy conditions.
• Tire chains provide additional traction when driving in snowy or icy conditions.

Check local regulations to determine if tire chains are recommended or required during winter months.

Your vehicle’s tire pressures will drop in cold ambient temperatures. If the TPMS indicator light appears, inflate the tires before driving. The tires will lose one PSI for every 10° F (6° C) drop in outside temperature. Proper tire pressures help protect tires from potholes and improve range when properly inflated.

While Driving

Cold weather can increase energy consumption because more power is required for driving, cabin and Battery heating. Follow these suggestions to reduce energy consumption:
• Use seat heaters to keep warm. Seat heaters use less energy than the cabin heater. Lowering the cabin temperature and using seat heaters reduces energy consumption.
• Slow down and avoid frequent and rapid acceleration.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking can be limited if the Battery is too cold. As you continue to drive, the Battery warms up and regenerative power increases.

NOTE: Limited regenerative braking can be avoided if you allow enough time to precondition your vehicle or if you use Schedule to precondition Model Y before your departure time.

NOTE: Installing winter tires can result in temporarily reduced regenerative braking power but after a short period of driving, Model Y recalibrates to correct this. Touch Service > Wheel & Tire Configuration > Tires to select winter tires and quicken this process.

Blue Snowflake Icon

A blue snowflake icon appears on your touchscreen when some of the stored energy in the Battery is unavailable because the Battery is cold. This portion of unavailable energy displays in blue on the Battery meter. Regenerative braking, acceleration, and charging rates may be limited. The snowflake icon no longer displays when the Battery is sufficiently warm.

After Driving

Leave Model Y plugged in when not in use. This uses the charging system, rather than the battery itself, to keep the battery warm.

Scheduled Departure

When parked, plug in Model Y and use the Schedule settings, available on both the charging and climate control screens, to set a time when you want to precondition Model Y. Your vehicle determines the appropriate time to begin charging so it is complete during off-peak hours and the cabin and Battery are warm by your set departure time.


If you leave Model Y parked for an extended period of time, plug the vehicle into a charger to prevent normal range loss and to keep the Battery at an optimal temperature. Your vehicle is safe to stay plugged in for any length of time.

When not in use, Model Y enters a sleep mode to conserve energy. Reduce the number of times you check your vehicle’s status on the mobile app, as this automatically wakes up your vehicle and starts normal energy consumption.

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28 days ago

After experiencing two winters with my Tesla, I have no complaints. The preheat feature is fantastic — I can defrost and prepare the car right from my iPhone. However, like any electric vehicle, the battery efficiency does decrease on extremely cold days, which is to be expected. Overall, everything else functions smoothly, much like any conventional car. Additionally, I find that switching to all-season tires before the first snow makes a noticeable difference in performance. 🚗❄️

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