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


Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Aug 1, 2015
Yesterday we had a major snowstorm in the northeast US. My Tesla Model S was parked outside, and plugged into my Tesla Wall Connector (WC). When the snow was over, the snow removal crews were clearing the parking lot at my condo, so I went out to clear off the car and move it so that my space would be plowed. It was still quite windy, and the light dry snow was being blown around quite a bit.

I unplugged the charger cable and hung it up, hooking the connector into the little cubby for it (not sure what else to call it) provided on the edge of the Wall Connector. I noticed some snow got dislodged from the cubby as I inserted the cable. At the time, I did not think much about it.

I moved the car, finished clearing it off, and then moved it back into my parking space after the plow guy had cleared it.

When I tried to plug in the charging cable again, it would not seat properly, and I got an orange indicator light from the charging port. Repeated tries did no good. I used a flashlight and examined both the charge port and the cable connector, and could see snow packed into the spaces between the connecting pins. I tried blowing into the connections and tried to knock the snow out by rapping the cable on something, to no avail. My attempts to seat the cable had compressed the snow into ice. I tried a screwdriver but could not reach the ice. (If I had thought of it at the time, a jeweler’s screwdriver would have been small enough to reach into the spaces.) There was enough snow that it prevented the cable end from being inserted all the way into the charge port.

What ended up working to remove the snow and ice was dental Q-tips. These are long wooden Q-tips with the cotton swab on only one end. I was able to sweep the snow and ice out of the charge port with the Q-tip (and was amazed at how dirty the Q-tip became). But that failed to dislodge the ice from the cable end.

What was needed was heat. So, I got into the car with the cable in my hand, closed the door as much as I could, and cranked up the heat to HI and placed the cable end directly in front of a dash vent. It took 6 or 8 minutes, but the ice melted enough that I could dislodge it with the stick end of the Q-tip. Once the snow was out, the cable plugged in normally, and it charged overnight as expected.

What had happened was apparently this: The high winds (we had gusts to 50-60 mph and beyond) blew snow into the cable cubby on the WC. When I hung the cable from the WC temporarily while I moved the car, some snow must have fallen or gotten pushed into the business end of the cable. Then when I tried to plug it in again, the snow got compressed and lodged into the charge port and in the cable connector.

This is my second winter with the Model S parked outside, and I have never had this problem before, but it is easy to see (in retrospect) how it could happen, especially under such windy conditions. I would not be surprised if it happens to Superchargers as well, because they have similar cubbies where the cable ends are hung. The cable connectors are quite impervious to snow and rain while they are plugged into the charge port, but not when they are exposed to the open air.

Who knew that dental Q-tips would be a useful tool for a Tesla, or that it would ever be necessary to defrost a charging cable inside the car?!


May 17, 2016
The "6"
Thanks David - I think Q-tip cotton might be better than copper as an insulator :) As they say [electrical] "resistance" is futile.

Products we're discussing on TMC...

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.