Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

"Full-Time" AWD Winter Mode

sir_log_alot

Member
Sep 23, 2018
13
20
VT
My Model 3 AWD seems noticeably rear-wheel biased during general driving, I assume they're doing it for efficiency's sake. I'll be driving along in winter with greasy snow and the rear end will slide around quite easily. When rear slip occurs the front motor will kick in quickly and correct the vehicle, but it is unsettling. I would gladly take a temporary range hit to enter a Winter mode for a more planted feel, more aggressively using the front motor. Perhaps it's just me coming from a Suburu and Ford Escape that are front-wheel biased when not engaging both axles, never driven a RWD car. I have Chill Mode and Low Regen modes on, Michelin X-ICE XI3s, but I'm still driving around much more cautiously then my previous vehicles.
 

StealthP3D

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2018
9,219
71,035
Maple Falls, WA
My Model 3 AWD seems noticeably rear-wheel biased during general driving, I assume they're doing it for efficiency's sake. I'll be driving along in winter with greasy snow and the rear end will slide around quite easily. When rear slip occurs the front motor will kick in quickly and correct the vehicle, but it is unsettling. I would gladly take a temporary range hit to enter a Winter mode for a more planted feel, more aggressively using the front motor. Perhaps it's just me coming from a Suburu and Ford Escape that are front-wheel biased when not engaging both axles, never driven a RWD car. I have Chill Mode and Low Regen modes on, Michelin X-ICE XI3s, but I'm still driving around much more cautiously then my previous vehicles.

As I'm sure you know, "greasy" snow requires gentle application of power. What I've found with my P3D is the traction control is designed to "get loose" when you apply large amounts of power (relative to available traction). If the traction is very low, this might not be much power. This is different from every other car I've driven where a large application of power is the same as a small application of power (in slippery conditions). The key with the Tesla is to give it enough to cause the traction control to kick in, but not so much that the traction control says "aha, so you want to play":D.

I've only noticed the rear bias you speak of when giving it larger throttle inputs (by a decent amount) than your tires traction can handle. At throttle inputs in a more reasonable range it seems to pull well with the front wheels (but not so hard that front traction is lost and steering is compromised). And, to me, that is the beauty of the Model 3's traction control, it maintains directional control exceptionally well. Just don't ham foot it too much and you will be at the maximum speed your tires can handle in whatever slippery mess you've managed to find. It's telepathic.
 

sir_log_alot

Member
Sep 23, 2018
13
20
VT
Yeah, and don't get me wrong, I love "playing" with it too! Just sometimes I think I would like an "ultimate traction mode", like "we're not playing around here". For example, I'll be going up my driveway at 10mph, gently on the accelerator, and the rear end will be sliding back and forth. I hear so much praise for Tesla traction control that sometimes I worry if something is wrong with mine, or it's just me. Absolutely love the car, just wanted to see what other owners were experiencing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jurnimon

ConcordeSST

Member
May 10, 2016
329
490
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
My Model 3 AWD seems noticeably rear-wheel biased during general driving, I assume they're doing it for efficiency's sake. I'll be driving along in winter with greasy snow and the rear end will slide around quite easily. When rear slip occurs the front motor will kick in quickly and correct the vehicle, but it is unsettling. I would gladly take a temporary range hit to enter a Winter mode for a more planted feel, more aggressively using the front motor. Perhaps it's just me coming from a Suburu and Ford Escape that are front-wheel biased when not engaging both axles, never driven a RWD car. I have Chill Mode and Low Regen modes on, Michelin X-ICE XI3s, but I'm still driving around much more cautiously then my previous vehicles.

I experienced the same thing in chill with low regen (also coming from a Subaru and an Escape!). I have the SottoZero II tires from the Tesla winter tire package. The first time the rear kicked out, I was wondering if I was doing something wrong, perhaps chose the wrong tires, or if there was something wrong with my car. After hearing many other stories like this with all manner of tires, and a little bit of playing with it, I realized that it only seems like I'm going to spin out. As long as I hold steady on the throttle and aim the wheel where I want to go, the traction control will figure it out. I still found it unsettling. Like you, I like to play sometimes, other times not. I think a more planted standard driving mode with a "fun mode" to make it a bit looser when desired would be nice. I know the P models have track mode, but I don't need all that, I just want to be able to tweak it a bit.

In this article, they mention how the 3 was designed to be more "fun" versus the S and X. Watch the video embedded in the article. At the 6 min mark, they start talking about the 3, and at about 6:20 he mentions this exact thing. He's driving a performance model, but he mentions this behavior before he even turns on track mode.
 

PhaseWhite

Member
Aug 12, 2017
856
2,316
Minneapolis,MN
My Model 3 AWD seems noticeably rear-wheel biased during general driving, I assume they're doing it for efficiency's sake. I'll be driving along in winter with greasy snow and the rear end will slide around quite easily. When rear slip occurs the front motor will kick in quickly and correct the vehicle, but it is unsettling. I would gladly take a temporary range hit to enter a Winter mode for a more planted feel, more aggressively using the front motor. Perhaps it's just me coming from a Suburu and Ford Escape that are front-wheel biased when not engaging both axles, never driven a RWD car. I have Chill Mode and Low Regen modes on, Michelin X-ICE XI3s, but I'm still driving around much more cautiously then my previous vehicles.

I've noticed the same thing in the snow and I really like this idea and it should be possible via OTA update.
That said, this is a company based in California so to date they have been playing catch up in the winter features so I'm not super hopeful.
 

sir_log_alot

Member
Sep 23, 2018
13
20
VT
I experienced the same thing in chill with low regen (also coming from a Subaru and an Escape!). I have the SottoZero II tires from the Tesla winter tire package. The first time the rear kicked out, I was wondering if I was doing something wrong, perhaps chose the wrong tires, or if there was something wrong with my car. After hearing many other stories like this with all manner of tires, and a little bit of playing with it, I realized that it only seems like I'm going to spin out. As long as I hold steady on the throttle and aim the wheel where I want to go, the traction control will figure it out. I still found it unsettling. Like you, I like to play sometimes, other times not. I think a more planted standard driving mode with a "fun mode" to make it a bit looser when desired would be nice. I know the P models have track mode, but I don't need all that, I just want to be able to tweak it a bit.

In this article, they mention how the 3 was designed to be more "fun" versus the S and X. Watch the video embedded in the article. At the 6 min mark, they start talking about the 3, and at about 6:20 he mentions this exact thing. He's driving a performance model, but he mentions this behavior before he even turns on track mode.


You are echoing my feelings exactly! Great article.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ConcordeSST

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
6,044
4,666
MA, NH
As I'm sure you know, "greasy" snow requires gentle application of power. What I've found with my P3D is the traction control is designed to "get loose" when you apply large amounts of power (relative to available traction). If the traction is very low, this might not be much power. This is different from every other car I've driven where a large application of power is the same as a small application of power (in slippery conditions). The key with the Tesla is to give it enough to cause the traction control to kick in, but not so much that the traction control says "aha, so you want to play":D.

I've only noticed the rear bias you speak of when giving it larger throttle inputs (by a decent amount) than your tires traction can handle. At throttle inputs in a more reasonable range it seems to pull well with the front wheels (but not so hard that front traction is lost and steering is compromised). And, to me, that is the beauty of the Model 3's traction control, it maintains directional control exceptionally well. Just don't ham foot it too much and you will be at the maximum speed your tires can handle in whatever slippery mess you've managed to find. It's telepathic.

This is exactly my experience. We probably have not driven in all of each other’s conditions experienced. But the AWD has felt very confident in the conditions I’ve driven so far.

I do keep my car in Chill year round. I also leave it in standard regen year round as well.

I think it’s partly not realizing how much instant torque you have available which can break lose easier than a Subaru slug that eases out the power even if you floor it. Even in chill mode it’s still quick torque to the wheels.
 

StealthP3D

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2018
9,219
71,035
Maple Falls, WA
I think it’s partly not realizing how much instant torque you have available which can break lose easier than a Subaru slug that eases out the power even if you floor it. Even in chill mode it’s still quick torque to the wheels.

Exactly! My previous ski car was an AWD Skyactive Mazda CX-5 with a naturally aspirated 2.0L 4 banger. That motor was considered "gutless" by every auto rag editor that ever drove it but it was an advantage in the snow and ice. Still you could get yourself into trouble plenty quick. The traction control was pretty good, almost on par with the Model 3 but the stability control in corners was very noticably slower and "clunkier" than the Model 3 which performs like a finely tuned violin vs. a cheap rental violin. The difference is night/day.

I think people tend to become accustomed to the greatly superior torque of the electric motors and then, when it snows, they forget that snow is actually very slippery. Driving a car like the Model 3 with tons of instant torque can reset your butt dyno as to what "moderate" acceleration is. In many kinds of snow/ice a car, no matter how capable, has to be driven very delicately. People forget this with the Model 3 because their "butt dyno" has been reprogrammed by the prodigious amount of torque they have been using in normal everyday driving on pavement.
 

Daniel in SD

Well-Known Member
Jan 25, 2018
6,335
9,002
San Diego
I just drove my car in the snow for the first time on Sunday and it definitely feels like the car applies torque to the rear wheels until they slip and then applies torque to the front wheels. You get an odd sensation of the rear rotating and then the front correcting. Sort of like a snake slithering. Very different from the 50:50 torque split you get with a Subaru AWD system. As to Subarus not having torque, you must not be driving the right Subarus! My Subaru was faster 0-30 than my Tesla.
Anyway, tough to say if the rear bias actually decreases winter performance. It got me where I needed to go.
 

ConcordeSST

Member
May 10, 2016
329
490
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
I just drove my car in the snow for the first time on Sunday and it definitely feels like the car applies torque to the rear wheels until they slip and then applies torque to the front wheels. You get an odd sensation of the rear rotating and then the front correcting. Sort of like a snake slithering. Very different from the 50:50 torque split you get with a Subaru AWD system. As to Subarus not having torque, you must not be driving the right Subarus! My Subaru was faster 0-30 than my Tesla.
Anyway, tough to say if the rear bias actually decreases winter performance. It got me where I needed to go.

I definitely drove the wrong Subaru! I had a 2009 base-model Legacy that was way underpowered, running on all season tires (all I could afford at the time and before I knew of the advantages of winter tires). It wasn't until long after purchase that I discovered that Subaru AWD systems are not all created equal and that Subaru puts a much more basic system in the base models versus the higher end trims (at least in that model year). It had a very simple AWD system with a 90/10 bias to the front wheels and was very slow to react (and I stress react; it was very much a reactive not a proactive system). I had to be in a significant slide before it would do anything. I was super disappointed but didn't have the means to do anything about it. When I finally did, I decided to save all my money for the Model 3.

In my area, we had some significant snow yesterday that settled on top of icy roads from the day before. I was very unimpressed with the Model 3's stability at slow speeds. It had a low level wiggle, very much like you describe as a snake slithering, at slow speeds. I had to let off the throttle a bit and then reapply to get the wiggle to stop. I don't think the car was ever going to spin out, but it was very unsettling and made the car seem very unstable. This was in slow speed heavy traffic where I couldn't accelerate hard even if I wanted to. It was little embarrassing to feel the car wiggling around so much and look at all the surrounding ice cars looking planted (no doubt many on all seasons). At some stop lights it felt a bit like I was driving slightly sideways through the intersection until the car straightened out even under gentle acceleration. Note, this is with Pirelli Sotozero II tires. I know they're not as good as the Nokians, but I thought they'd do better than that. Strangely, when I had a chance to let loose a bit, the car did fine if I stomped hard on the throttle. Back end would kick out a bit, but quickly straighten out. This leads me to believe that the vehicle relies very heavily on the more efficient rear motor and only engages the front under heavy acceleration. I get why, but I think Tesla could do a bit better with software control to make the car feel more stable.

It's entirely possible I'm being too harsh and expecting too much after so many glowing reviews from others. Perhaps the conditions were worse than I thought with the ice layer underneath the snow. There's also the chance I'm simply applying too much throttle input and need to readjust my butt dyno as @StealthP3D says. I did notice less wiggle if I watched the speedometer as I accelerated, but this was in chill mode and I was barely pressing the pedal. It's just that I keep hearing so many stellar reviews, even from RWD owners on all seasons, but I don't have that same experience myself. I really do think Tesla could do more with software to have the car be more stable and then allow the driver to switch winter driving modes as desired when the conditions allow for some fun.
 

patp

Member
Aug 2, 2010
605
75
Canada
I totally agree - this would be amazing. Best of both worlds.

While it's "fun" to loose the rear when there's no traffic and you're alone, it's not "solid" enough for normal driving. You could imagine that my 70 year old mother (yes - I convinced my parents to buy a Model 3!) doesn't like this feeling compared to her ex-Audi A4.

Personally I had to quickly accelerate on the highway during a snowstorm last week and the car completely lost the rear. It wasn't fun. And I almost hit the car on the other lane. And yes, I have snow tires (Nokian R3) and I'm used to heavy winter driving.

My Model 3 AWD seems noticeably rear-wheel biased during general driving, I assume they're doing it for efficiency's sake. I'll be driving along in winter with greasy snow and the rear end will slide around quite easily. When rear slip occurs the front motor will kick in quickly and correct the vehicle, but it is unsettling. I would gladly take a temporary range hit to enter a Winter mode for a more planted feel, more aggressively using the front motor. Perhaps it's just me coming from a Suburu and Ford Escape that are front-wheel biased when not engaging both axles, never driven a RWD car. I have Chill Mode and Low Regen modes on, Michelin X-ICE XI3s, but I'm still driving around much more cautiously then my previous vehicles.
 
Last edited:

diamond.g

Active Member
Nov 5, 2015
2,421
1,362
Moyock, NC
I wonder if it is still too much torque even in chill mode. I also wonder if quaiffe will make a differential for the 3 to see if that would improve the handling in icy conditions.
 

StealthP3D

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2018
9,219
71,035
Maple Falls, WA
The torque is computer controlled. If the Model 3 had 1/4 the torque it would still behave the same way because snow is slippery and even 1/4 the torque will require modulation by the traction control. The last few days I've been driving hundreds of miles in snow and ice in my P3D and it's awesome!

Now if the other traffic would only be as capable I wouldn't be stuck behind them wondering what's wrong with their vehicle!

I believe the problem people are having is related to having too much torque but it's not when it's on the snow/ice, it's on bare pavement. Model 3 drivers have become so accustomed to prodigious amounts of instant torque compared to most gassers they forget just how slippery snow on ice is. It must be driven very gently and skillfully. Even with good tires there's not a lot of traction to be had. Model 3's traction control has brought back throttle modulation which is a very good thing. Previous traction control systems were all or nothing. And when you got nothing it was a big let down. And it happened all the time if it was slick. The Model 3 gracefully blends the old and new way of driving and it's, by far, the best experience whether you're taking grandma to her doctors appointment or showing the boys how to own a snowy, twisty road. The amount of control it gives back to the driver is unbelievable. Yet it's still like having "the hand of God" to keep you safe.
 

coleAK

Member
Oct 23, 2018
887
597
Alaska
My Model 3 AWD seems noticeably rear-wheel biased during general driving, I assume they're doing it for efficiency's sake. I'll be driving along in winter with greasy snow and the rear end will slide around quite easily. When rear slip occurs the front motor will kick in quickly and correct the vehicle, but it is unsettling. I would gladly take a temporary range hit to enter a Winter mode for a more planted feel, more aggressively using the front motor. Perhaps it's just me coming from a Suburu and Ford Escape that are front-wheel biased when not engaging both axles, never driven a RWD car. I have Chill Mode and Low Regen modes on, Michelin X-ICE XI3s, but I'm still driving around much more cautiously then my previous vehicles.
I fully agree. My wife drives the model 3 primarily. Her exact thoughts are that is isn’t as easy to drive and sure footed as our other cars (MB 4matic E, Subaru Legacy, LX 570). It’s not bad or incapable in the snow just not as easy to drive as other cars. She dosnt want to “drift” around snow covered corners or fishtail for a second when going up hill from a stop. Especially in a car that if it gets wrecked could be out for months waiting on repairs. I’ll also mention my wife raced our GT3 (before kids when we had time) in PCCA and SCCA for years and is an air force pilot so knows how to drive and not afraid of much. On days where the roads are extremely slick she leaves the Tesla at home and drives our old 2004 MB E 4matic. That thing is a beast in the snow.
The factors I think hold the 3 back: First, rear bias drive, I’m pretty sure they did this for a more sporty driving feel and mission accomplished on that. And with a straight open diff up front it would probably torque steer with more front power, taking away from the amazing steering and driving feel they accomplished on dry roads. Second, wide tires, in snow narrow is better it cuts through to find traction instead of floating and bouncing around. Third, the electronic driving aids don’t seem well tuned for snow/ice. When it gets in a slide on a courner it dosnt ABS break the front outside wheel like many other cars to regain traction it just cuts power and lets you plow. Forth, torque, yes the instant torque is manageable with your foot but in low friction less torque is better.

As per the comments around throttle steering and fun to drift. Not on a track or on a rural back road for fun. In everyday daily driving NOT sliding is much safer and should be the goal.

For tires the 3 is on Hakka 9, MB is on 8th winter Hakka 5, Subaru is on 8th winter Hakka 4, LX is on 4th winter Hakka 7.

She had an S before the 3 but not a fair comparison as the S was RWD. We had Hakka 8 on the S.
 

StealthP3D

Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2018
9,219
71,035
Maple Falls, WA
I fully agree. My wife drives the model 3 primarily.

I can tell who wears the pants in your house!

Her exact thoughts are that is isn’t as easy to drive and sure footed as our other cars (MB 4matic E, Subaru Legacy, LX 570). It’s not bad or incapable in the snow just not as easy to drive as other cars.

I would agree, the Model 3, particularly the Performance 3, requires a bit more skill to drive in the snow and ice. It's not difficult to master but it does take more sensitivity on the throttle than cars that have all or nothing traction control. I actually prefer it by a large margin, even when driving conservatively and not wantiing any slippage.
The factors I think hold the 3 back: First, rear bias drive, I’m pretty sure they did this for a more sporty driving feel and mission accomplished on that. And with a straight open diff up front it would probably torque steer with more front power, taking away from the amazing steering and driving feel they accomplished on dry roads.

I'm not sure why you would want front bias (rear bias retains better steerage under power)

Second, wide tires, in snow narrow is better it cuts through to find traction instead of floating and bouncing around.

235's are not particularly wide. The tire width is matched to the vehicles weight and, in this sense, in the snow they are appropriate. You can always go narrower with winter tires but I wouldn't recommend it for the Model 3.

Third, the electronic driving aids don’t seem well tuned for snow/ice. When it gets in a slide on a courner it dosnt ABS break the front outside wheel like many other cars to regain traction it just cuts power and lets you plow.

No, you would not want the outside front wheel to be braked in a corner. That would be exactly the wrong thing to do.

Forth, torque, yes the instant torque is manageable with your foot but in low friction less torque is better.

No, low torque is not better because torque is exactly what the traction control manages. Only if the traction control was too slow would low torque be an advantage. Tesla has tuned the traction control to allow no slippage at low throttle inputs and a limited amount of slippage if you give it more throttle. It's all a matter of having decent throttle control. No more "nothing" when traction control kicks in is a very good thing, IMO.
 

coleAK

Member
Oct 23, 2018
887
597
Alaska
I can tell who wears the pants in your house!
Yes she does. In every way, I got out as an E-4. But then she is an O-6 with 24 years in so out ranks and is in charge of a lot of people.

And after reading above Stealth that is 1 min of my life I will never get back. And like most of the time you have no idea what you are talking about...
 

diamond.g

Active Member
Nov 5, 2015
2,421
1,362
Moyock, NC
Yes she does. In every way, I got out as an E-4. But then she is an O-6 with 24 years in so out ranks and is in charge of a lot of people.

And after reading above Stealth that is 1 min of my life I will never get back. And like most of the time you have no idea what you are talking about...
To be honest I think Tesla tuned the 3 to be more playful in the snow after watching the Roadshow video about it. That is probably cause a few vocal folks complained that the S (and probably X) is very "boring" to drive in snow versus "other cars" much like a few vocal folks complained that the S isn't good for track day so the 3 is..
 

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top