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Model Y - Just OK cold weather car

Recent snow in Seattle and a trip into the Cascades has left me feeling “meh” about the Model Y as a legit winter car. For context, I grew up in Michigan (5 years in the U.P.) and lived/skied in Colorado for 7+ years, so plenty of snow driving. My other car is a Range Rover Sport, and the Model Y was driven in Chill mode with new Vredestein Wintrac Pros.

The Model Y is fine for the occasional trip in snow, but falls pretty short of being a decent winter car.

Specific gripes:

1/ Sloppy power delivery between front and rear motor. Several times I was taking a chill turn or doing slow and straight acceleration with barely any throttle and I could feel the back end sliding out. Never felt that in similar situations with the Rover and I know the Vredesteins are grippy, so chalking this up to the Tesla’s power delivery.

2/ Frozen handles. Super annoying and clearly a design flaw. I literally had to punch the doors to jar them loose several times.

3/ Absolute sh*t wipers. Part of this is the design of the front defroster, but they were constantly frozen. The only option was to put in service mode and blast the front defroster to at least temporarily thaw them. Throw in the fact that there are Zero quality aftermarket options that fit the 2021 Model Y with new sprayer design, and this is comical.

4/ No way to keep climate on while loading. Maybe there is a setting or trick that I don’t know about, but every time I would open the hatch or a door to load something, the system shuts off.

The good news is a lot of this can be fixed with software. The traction issue can be fixed with tweaks to the motor control software and the wipers improved with a proper winter wiper setting that keeps the blades higher up on the windshield.

They’ll need to change the design of the handles or add heaters to fix the frozen handle issue.

I was hoping to sell the Rover, but looks like we’ll need to keep it for regular trips to our cabin.

Jimbo

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Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
11,813
10,851
Visalia, CA
...
4/ No way to keep climate on while loading. Maybe there is a setting or trick that I don’t know about, but every time I would open the hatch or a door to load something, the system shuts off...

Yes way.

You are forgetting to turn on the "Keep Climate On", "Dog Mode", "Camp Mode". Once you are on the Park gear, the HVAC menu would give you those options to choose from. Any of those 3 would keep your HVAC on while your car is unattended.
 
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jcanoe

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Oct 2, 2020
6,285
7,075
Maryland
4/ No way to keep climate on while loading. Maybe there is a setting or trick that I don’t know about, but every time I would open the hatch or a door to load something, the system shuts off.
If you leave your phone inside the Tesla Model Y the doors won't lock and the climate control will remain on. Else, don't fully close the driver's door when you exit the Tesla Model Y with your phone in your hand or pocket. You can also set the climate control to remain on after exit. When you open the hatch the climate control may turn off (I have not checked this in a while.)
 
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If you leave your phone inside the Tesla Model Y the doors won't lock and the climate control will remain on. Else, don't fully close the driver's door when you exit the Tesla Model Y with your phone in your hand or pocket. You can also set the climate control to remain on after exit. When you open the hatch the climate control may turn off (I have not checked this in a while.)
I tried leaving the phone in the car, but it still turned defrosters off and fan down. Did not know about the “keep on” setting. Just wish this was the default unless a door is left open for several minutes.
 
3/ Absolute sh*t wipers. Part of this is the design of the front defroster, but they were constantly frozen. The only option was to put in service mode and blast the front defroster to at least temporarily thaw them. Throw in the fact that there are Zero quality aftermarket options that fit the 2021 Model Y with new sprayer design, and this is comical.
Are they getting frozen because of sprayer design, fluid or front defroster is too weak?
 
Are they getting frozen because of sprayer design, fluid or front defroster is too weak?
The defroster has good power, but doesn’t seem to heat the wipers in the fully down position. I did not need them much heading up the pass until I got behind some cars near the top. Went to use and they were completely frozen despite the defroster being on the whole time.
 
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Wrong mode. I would not advise leaving your phone in the car. Bring it with you!
I only did this at our cabin trying to warm it up while loading. The trick is to warm it up a good 10-15 minutes before doing anything. Trying to both warm and load at the same time requires selecting the “Keep Climate On” mode vs. being the default. At least there is a solution here 👍
 
1/ Sloppy power delivery between front and rear motor. Several times I was taking a chill turn or doing slow and straight acceleration with barely any throttle and I could feel the back end sliding out. Never felt that in similar situations with the Rover and I know the Vredesteins are grippy, so chalking this up to the Tesla’s power delivery.
Jimbo
I’ve read (and noticed in our recent snows here) that the Y is essentially RWD in slow city driving, causing the rear end to lose traction in turns. Have you tried Off Road Assist in snow? It forces a 50-50 power split between front and rear axles, although you lose traction control. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
 
Off road assist is like a tractor with good grippy snow tires.

But even in Standard mode and snow tires, I find the Y excellent in the snow.

I have a particular U turn on a wide street that is always low traffic, and I always drifted our 14 Outback around it (with Blizzaks). Tried it a few times the Y, and can't really get it to drift. It kicks out a foot and then figures out how to go straight. Really much safer, but not as fun.

I think, at least with the grippiest Conti snow tires, that the Y is the best snow car I've owned. Been driving 5 different Subarus and a Land Cruiser in the snow all winter for 17 years, since moving to Spokane.
 
Are you using the same snow tires you typically use? My cottage trip has a winding, unpaved road of about 4 or 5 miles, and I find the Model Y traction on the packed snow and icy patches to be quite good (Hakkapeliitta). I use the off road assist if I have to drive it before it's been plowed and packed down (or when my driveway hasn't been plowed yet), which is slow, but I only use it for short stretches. Fortunately, I have indoor parking at home and at the cottage, so haven't had to deal with frozen handles yet.
 
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Tezlowski

Member
Supporting Member
Oct 21, 2021
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South FL
3/ Absolute sh*t wipers. Part of this is the design of the front defroster, but they were constantly frozen. The only option was to put in service mode and blast the front defroster to at least temporarily thaw them. Throw in the fact that there are Zero quality aftermarket options that fit the 2021 Model Y with new sprayer design, and this is comical.
The “MICHELIN Endurance XT Wiper Blades” fit (26” & 20”). You just need to adjust the fitting. They’re silicone and should be a significant improvement for you.
 
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As mentioned the "keep climate On" function which was part of the new holiday update does just that. Today it was -22, used the function when going into the store today. Car was toasty when I got back.

Must agree with the rear end wanting to break free however there is a noticeable difference since last winter as it hardly does this any more which means in one of the several improved winter driving updates they must have changed something.

I have been asking for a snow mode which would change the bias from front to rear reduce regen and power output at the same time. Can easily be done and has in fact already appeared on the Model3 track mode just recently where you can adjust how much power goes to the front or rear. Just need to give the others a plain Jane version with front bias called snow mode to simplify things
 

PNWLeccy

Active Member
Jul 11, 2019
1,612
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Seattle
Rumor has it that the Y will have heating washer jets in the near future. There is a list of new Y features floating around on TMC related to German Y regulatory filings.
Actually, the rumor is that the area where the wipers rest will be heated rather than heated washer jets, but the effect is the same as described.

I'm hoping this feature rolls out before I take delivery but new features are usually released on MiC models first before coming to the US. Heated wipers coming soon to the Tesla Model 3/Y in China
Must agree with the rear end wanting to break free however there is a noticeable difference since last winter as it hardly does this any more which means in one of the several improved winter driving updates they must have changed something.

I have been asking for a snow mode which would change the bias from front to rear reduce regen and power output at the same time. Can easily be done and has in fact already appeared on the Model3 track mode just recently where you can adjust how much power goes to the front or rear. Just need to give the others a plain Jane version with front bias called snow mode to simplify things
I saw a pretty technical post on Reddit where someone w/ track mode discovered that with the newest 44.25 sw update, the car would actually switch to a 50/50 front/rear power distribution if it discovered a certain level of traction control loss and would keep that 50/50 split for the remainder of the drive. This is opposed to the strong rear bias (for efficiency sake) in normal driving and front motor only being engaged temporarily during hard acceleration or loss of traction.

That implies that Tesla is trying to be smart about identifying conditions where there is a loss of traction before engaging the front motor in 50/50, most likely for efficiency and/or FSD. However, I assume most people would want to manually engage a 50/50 snow mode BEFORE the car breaks loose rather than having Tesla engage both motors AFTER it identifies loss of traction.

Some people have reported much better snow performance in "Off-road assist" mode but I'm not sure if that also engages a permanent 50/50 power split or not.
 
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Have to agree with a lot of this. I've lived in MN my entire life and am no stranger to snow, ice and cold weather and I've never had a car that fishtails as bad as the Y does in the snow. It does have an 'off road' mode that's supposed to even out the power distribution but when I try engaging that I get a warning that the stability control has been turned off so you're gaining a better power distribution at the expense of safety.

The other problem is it has an incredibly anemic heater/heat pump that isn't up to heating in extremely cold weather. We've had days where the high was around 0º F/-15º C and the heater could barely get warm. The other morning my coffee started fogging up the windshield and it had trouble getting it defrosted.

The handles are also a stupid design. They're fine for warm weather when you have your hands free but there's a reason no other car has handles that you have to push on one side and pull on the other.
 

jcanoe

Well-Known Member
Oct 2, 2020
6,285
7,075
Maryland
Have to agree with a lot of this. I've lived in MN my entire life and am no stranger to snow, ice and cold weather and I've never had a car that fishtails as bad as the Y does in the snow. It does have an 'off road' mode that's supposed to even out the power distribution but when I try engaging that I get a warning that the stability control has been turned off so you're gaining a better power distribution at the expense of safety.

The other problem is it has an incredibly anemic heater/heat pump that isn't up to heating in extremely cold weather. We've had days where the high was around 0º F/-15º C and the heater could barely get warm. The other morning my coffee started fogging up the windshield and it had trouble getting it defrosted.

The handles are also a stupid design. They're fine for warm weather when you have your hands free but there's a reason no other car has handles that you have to push on one side and pull on the other.
My previous vehicle was a Gen2 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle. There were many things about the Volt I don't miss such as the terribly cramped back seating. One thing that GM got right is the Volt had multiple ways to provide heat for the passenger cabin. It is not surprising since some of the members of the original Chevrolet Volt design team were from Detroit, not southern California. The Volt designers understood winter weather and driving concerns. The Volt's ICE cabin heater was not that strong but the overall design was suited to winter driving.
 
Have to agree with a lot of this. I've lived in MN my entire life and am no stranger to snow, ice and cold weather and I've never had a car that fishtails as bad as the Y does in the snow. It does have an 'off road' mode that's supposed to even out the power distribution but when I try engaging that I get a warning that the stability control has been turned off so you're gaining a better power distribution at the expense of safety.
I’m waiting for “snow mode,” like many others here. In the meantime, Chill Mode is better nothing for slippery conditions

The other problem is it has an incredibly anemic heater/heat pump that isn't up to heating in extremely cold weather. We've had days where the high was around 0º F/-15º C and the heater could barely get warm. The other morning my coffee started fogging up the windshield and it had trouble getting it defrosted.


D
There’s news out of Canada regarding recalls of faulty octovalves/heat pumps. Your car should not be this cold. Have you tried double pressing the front defrost icon to make it go red?
 
I’m waiting for “snow mode,” like many others here. In the meantime, Chill Mode is better nothing for slippery conditions


There’s news out of Canada regarding recalls of faulty octovalves/heat pumps. Your car should not be this cold. Have you tried double pressing the front defrost icon to make it go red?
Yeah it was 0 in winter park yesterday morning and I had no trouble keeping the car warm or fishtailing with the stock crappy tires
 

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