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Model X Winter Driving Experience

Discussion in 'Model X: Driving Dynamics' started by aesculus, Nov 27, 2016.

  1. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    #1 aesculus, Nov 27, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
    While it's still fresh in my mind I thought I would post my observations of driving our Model X in some winter driving conditions over the last week. Note that I am a fairly new Tesla owner (since March) and we have about 8k miles now on the car (90D - see sig). We live in the foothills of the Sierra NV but rarely see more than a few inches of snow a year. I do venture into the snow more than 30 times a year, but admittedly I try to avoid the times when its coming down. :D

    Our trip involved temperatures from 26-44F, heavy snow for about 4 hours, chain controls, 150 miles of snow driving, heavy winds, large amounts of thick frost on one morning and some heavy rains too. All the typical stuff of winter driving, but luckily compressed into a few short days that I don't have to live with day by day like many of you that live away from the west coast.

    I am posting my observations here. Some of them may be tempered by my lack of knowledge of how the car should work and for that I appreciate any feedback. Hopefully you can help me get more value from my car and at the same time, this post could be helpful for others that might experience the same situations.

    First off the car performed pretty well overall, and at times stellarly. There are some issues that need to be resolved though, so everything was not perfect from my standpoint.

    Handling in snow - IMHO the car excelled here. It was very pleasant to drive in the snow. We varied from freshly plowed roads, to roads with 3-4" of packed snow to about 6" of unpacked snow. Did not try any icy roads so have no opinion here. The car tracked very well. Speeds were up to 45 mph and never felt I had any loss of control. Once when it was clear in all directions on a slight incline with a 5 mph rolling speed, I punched it to see how it handled. It accelerated smartly and never lost traction or direction. Very impressive (standard 20" wheels and Conti tires and no traction devices). I might add at the one chain inspection station we passed they wanted to know if I had chains. I just stated AWD and M&S tires. The guy probably had never seen a Model X before so he looked at me funny and said to proceed. They were being very meticulous though as about every third car was being turned around.

    Handling in Cross Winds - Here we experienced about 20 mph head and cross winds. The car was very stable but I can tell you winds really effect efficiency. On one 150 mile leg we were supposed to finish at 17% SOC and actually finished at 12%. And that is only because I got behind a semi for 75 miles and drafted. I put on TACC with the spacing of 1. Had I not done that we might have not made it at all. We were will into the 500 Wh/mi where normal for us is 330 Wh/mile. Drafting got it down to the low 400's/high 300's. There was a bit of a grade (1000 feet) and speeds were at 65 mph. But a 20 mph headwind was like 85 mph at 65 mph actually, with none of the quick travel time love. So the Model X IMHO is prone to wind conditions more than you might expect. Plan accordingly. BTW while not my first choice for travel of safety, we did end up using the drafting technique a number of times to make sure we arrived at over 10% SOC.

    Defrosting - This was an area I had a lot of problems with and can use some help here. Note we have the Winter Package on our Model X. The day we had to leave and had a 170 mile segment with a 1700 foot uphill elevation change on two lane highways with a 20 mph headwind, we naturally wanted to charge to 100%. For some reason we could not get the car charged to higher than 98% on 110 volts (we charged for 4 days). I tried resetting it a number of times the day before. Anyway this day we woke up with about 1/8" of frost on the entire car. My first concern was to clear the windshield with the car plugged in so I would loose as little of my SOC as possible. It was 26 F outside in an overcast sky but high humidity, but no fog.

    I got in the car and turned on the windshield defroster. After serveral minutes I could not feel any warm air even though the fan was at 11. I tried different settings on the cabin temp from 75, 60, Lo etc but there was no change. I never got any warm arm that I could detect and the windshield did not defrost. I ended up heating up the cabin which seemed to have more effect and combined that with using the windshield wipers and the wiper fluid to soften the frost enough were the cabin temp could clear the rest. Interestingly the area around the camera cleared almost immediately.

    The rear window heater seemed to work pretty fast. It defrosted the window in about 5 minutes. The mirror heaters worked well too but I could only operate one at a time. If you turned one on and then selected the other mirror, the first mirror heater turned off. I have not read the manual to see what it has to say about this but I suspect its normal.

    Seat heaters - In order to try to save energy we kept the cabin temp off or real low for much of one leg. Being that it was 28 F out, we needed some extra warmth. We tried the seat heaters (front) and found that a setting of 1 was very noticeable for longer periods. They felt warm enough to us. We we by ourselves so we did not try the 2nd or 3 row seats. I also say no need for using the heated steering wheel and I needed the energy, so that did not get tried out.

    Cabin warmth - Overall it was acceptable but not stellar. I usually find a temp of 75F to be good winter and summer. I just could not stay warm at this setting. In fact as the temperature outside fell to around 40 degrees or less, this was more pronounced. Another annoying thing was that my legs on the drivers side were always cold. I really could not feel a draft there, but the console felt cold. Even turning up the temp to 78F did not really help. We encountered another Model X in Elko, NV and they complained about the same thing when I mentioned it. Just seems to be on the drivers side. I also have a bit of a gap in my drivers window at the rear that gets some intrusion during cross winds which does not help either.

    Pro tip: If your passenger is getting warm and you are still cold, I un-synced the temps and jacked mine up to 78 while decreasing the passenger side to 73 F. She was happy about that and the load on the car was actually much less. Go figure.

    Efficiency - Twice we made a few short trips into town. Less than 5 miles each way with a 500 foot elevation change. Temp was around 32F on one trip and 28F on another. In both cases we were greeted by the lack of regen, which was to be expected. However we lost 8% of our SOC for each of these two 10 mile round trips. I suspect that was the battery having to heat itself but that was a pretty big impact IMHO.

    Charging - There was no option to charge at our destination other than 110V. We were there for 4 days so it worked out OK even at 3 mph. See my comment about about not getting above 98% for some reason, even when I slid the bar all the way over. BTW it really wants to snap back to something less than 100%. I wish they would let you select Max and 90% as buttons as well as the slider. Anyway the cold did not seem to hamper the slow charging. Not sure what would have happened if we had a higher charger. And of course whenever we got below 15% during the trip we were warned to charge soon.

    Windshield Wipers - They were not to die for but acceptable. I don't have as much streaking as others do. I tried the wiper heaters but just for a few minutes. They never really stuck on my so that was not a good test. As far as clearing rain of different rates it was acceptable but never really seemed to be the 'right rate'. I might need to read the manual a bit more on the settings but it was not intuitive. I found myself clearing the windshield manually way more than I should have. In snow it was worse. I basically just had to turn them on to the first click and let it swipe once or twice. It cleared the snow pretty well and pushed it off to the side. Never had it pile up. The snow rate was about 2-3" per hour from my estimate.

    Accumulation of Snow - We were always driving and I never had a chance for much snow to accumulate. It seemed to either move off the upper windshield or melt from the cabin temp (temp outside was 29-32F). When we got to a lower elevation I did notice more slush coming down onto the windshield in the wiper area.

    Intrusion of Rain - Nothing while driving. Did not stop in the rain to try the FWD. Others have reported their experiences on TMC.
     
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  2. vandacca

    vandacca ReActive Member

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    Could you be hitting the side-mirror adjustment buttons above the window control on the driver's left arm rest? If so, you can only adjust one side-mirror at a time. I don't think these two buttons are for heated mirrors.
     
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  3. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    Duh. But my mirrors did defrost. Go figure.:oops:

    Edit: From the manual.

     
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  4. EV-lutioin

    EV-lutioin Active Member

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    Aesculus thanks for the great information!

    One question: Did you set your active spoiler to the upward position to prevent it from trying to lower down onto accumulated snow?

    Comment: I wish the car had heated wiper blades rather than a heated section of windshield where the blades rest :rolleyes:.

    Idea: It would be great if our Norwegian friends could add some of their MX winter experiences to this thread.
     
  5. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    I did not think of it. To be truthful I never noticed an issue but when it was snowing it was at night so all I cared about seeing was the headlights of the car behind me. I wanted to make sure they left adequate spacing in case there was a need for braking.

    I think I pissed one person off (maybe more) because I consistently left about 8 car lengths of space between me and the car in front. I don't trust the average California driver (who probably never saw a pair of tire chains in their life) to drive on snow. In a 60 mile stretch we saw at least 8 cars that just drove into the side of the road for no reason other than failure to maintain adequate control.

    When you drive in the mountains with chain controls, the yahoos are really out there. There are people who drive at 10 mph with their flashers on (note speed limit is 25 mph with chains in CA). On the way down we had to follow 5 of these cretins who drove past the chain de-installation area with their chains on and cleared roads. There was no place you could pass them for 20 miles and they would not pull over. Clueless.:mad:
     
  6. EV-lutioin

    EV-lutioin Active Member

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    I lived in the Rockies for 14 years and drove on snow and ice for 5 months of the year and never used chains once. When I came to California I was frustrated with the chain control and appalled at the winter driving skills of the average Californian. They drive soooo slow on barely wet surfaces and stop in the middle of a hill just when you need momentum. Just this week I ended up behind a 4X4 SUV creeping along with chains on all four wheels driving on wet pavement, there was no snow, but there was a 20% chance of snow...Oy Vey :rolleyes:
     
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  7. NovemberXray

    NovemberXray Member

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    Regarding the front window defrost, did you notice there's two Settings? The first time you tap it, it turns blue and this seems to just route air to the windshield, but if you tap it a second time it turns red, and cranks up the fans and I think the heat...
     
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  8. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    I did not notice the two settings (thanks) but I think it was red and had no heat. At one time it may have been blue too.:confused:

    Now that I know that I will do a test to see if it was operator error or not. I suspect mine may not be connected. :(
     
  9. Gwgan

    Gwgan Almost a wagon

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    I wonder if activating one mirror to enable adjustment stopped it from defrosting and this is how you got the one at a time behavior?

    While snowing if you left the wiper on first click did they wipe too often?
    Single shallow press on the wiper stalk gets you one wipe, no fluid.
     
  10. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    I think it was worse than that (ie operator error and being brain dead).
    Yes
    Thanks for the tip. Better than twisting it off and on every few minutes.
     
  11. ModelX

    ModelX Active Member

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    Just had my X out in our first significant winter storm. It has 19 inch wheels and Nokian R2's. It did great! Very solid! At first I forgot to turn the wiper heaters on and got a bit of accumulation-but that was user error and fixed once I remembered.
     
  12. cantdecide

    cantdecide Member

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    The experience here matches my experience on the previous weekend up in Tahoe.
    My additional notes (or things I found different)
    • The falcon wing doors did no better than minivan doors when it is windy and snowing at the same time.
    • When we were leaving I preheated the cabin for an hour which melted almost everything on the windshield, the wipers did the rest. (it snowed several inches while we were parked) I posted photos in another thread. Our friend's car had to deal with thick ice on their car.
    • Unfortunately the rear vision mirrors got stuck in the parked position, and even once the snow had gone I needed to park the car to get them to work again.
    • The best place for adult skis in the model X 6-seater is right in the middle... and yes you can still sit 6 people.
     
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  13. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    Can you show a picture of your skis with the 6 seat config?
     
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  14. McManX

    McManX Member

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    Don't you have to put at least one of the 3rd row seats down?
     
  15. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    OK. I did a test at home with it plugged in. I suspect I brained out and did not notice the two settings. Even though I cycled through them both, I probably never gave the red one enough time to do it's job. At home after about 3 minutes it definitely started throwing out warm air.
     
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  16. EV-lutioin

    EV-lutioin Active Member

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    Yes, I would also be interested to see how you put in
    Well done! I would be very interested to see how you put six skis and passengers in your MX. Here is a photo of how I put in skis with the third row folded down. To me, it seemed like four passengers and 4 skis was the maximum I could fit in

    IMG_5512 (1).jpg
     
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  17. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    I like your cardboard seat protectors.:)

    What are you resting the front of the skis on?
     
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  18. EV-lutioin

    EV-lutioin Active Member

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    It is just a standard rubbermaid storage container. It fits perfectly and holds all the ski boots.
     
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  19. goneskiian

    goneskiian Active Member

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    Oooh! Great ideas with the cardboard and rubbermaid! Stealing for sure! :p;)
     
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  20. NovemberXray

    NovemberXray Member

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    First real winter driving this weekend in the Model X. Mostly awesome, a couple things not so much.

    Saturday we went to get a Christmas tree and drove up some Forest Service roads through about 10 inches of unplowed, fairly heavy, packy, snow, which can be wicked slippery. A huge, lifted 4x4 pickup, as well as an Xterra, and another Toyata pickup all got stuck, and my model X did great. Almost had to tow out the other guys, but before I could get the hitch mounted, they managed to dig out. :)

    Then today we went snowboarding at Timberline and they had about a foot of new snow over night, and it was pretty much a blizzard most of the day. The Model X handles very well, great traction, great traction control, super solid and predictable. However, the technology/automation stuff did not like being parked in a 20F blizzard for 6 hours. Even with warming the car ahead of time, the doors were all either reluctant, or in the case of the FWD wouldn't open at all due to ice. Now that's no surprise, all cars get their doors iced in those conditions, however when there's no handles, and the car decides it's obstructed and won't open, there's nothing even to pull on! Luckily the driver door opened, and the rear hatch, and eventually got the other doors working too. Then the passenger door refused to latch. Had to do the center console reset - open the door all the way - then push closed thing, and it started working again thank god. Then of course, the sensors were all iced over and it complained constantly for an hour of heavy traffic until it warmed up as we descended and I could pull over and get the ice off. Every time we slowed down too much it would warn that auto park was unavailable, and telling me to stop due to an obstacle, etc. Annoying. I wonder what the folks in places where they're in snow and ice all winter do? Similar experiences?

    Why in the world didn't Tesla make the sensors heated for winter conditions? Or at least have a way to disable the warnings?
     
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