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Winter Weather [question about model 3 ownership in cold climates]

Tonyz

New Member
Aug 24, 2021
3
0
48383
I am considering buying a Model 3 long range awd and am nervous about winter driving. I live in Michigan and December through February weather can be bad and really cold (sub-zero). I was hoping to get some input from folks who drive their tesla in similar weather. Is a tesla a bad choice for someone who lives in michigan?
 
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Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
2,212
1,529
Syracuse, NY
I am considering buying a Model 3 long range awd and am nervous about winter driving. I live in Michigan and December through February weather can be bad and really cold (sub-zero). I was hoping to get some input from folks who drive their tesla in similar weather. Is a tesla a bad choice for someone who lives in michigan?
Other than range lost, I don't see any other issues with the LR AWD in the winter. If you have a garage, even better.
 
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GtiMart

Active Member
Nov 13, 2019
1,592
1,451
Quebec City, Canada
A Tesla is a great choice for people that live in Canada, Quebec for example (like me), so I have to believe it's a great choice for Michigan too. There is absolutely no problem. In terms of traction, it's similar to other good AWD cars. A good set of winter tires will help tremendously.
You do have to know that range will be reduced. It all depends on the temperature, and new Model 3s have a heatpump which helps. Consider the worst case as losing 40-50% of epa range, but it won't always be that bad.
 
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bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
373
391
Westford MA
I have an AWD Model 3 in Massachusetts. I've driven it in snow storms with just the all seasons that it came with, the handling was superb during the storm. My car is 2019 so I don't have the heat pump that comes on the new cars so my range hit from the heater is huge, about 1/3rd, but that still leaves me with enough range that I can do road trips, Superchargers are plentiful. With the heat pump the hit will be less so I wouldn't worry about it. For local driving the range loss is irrelevant because you always start the day with a full battery, you can also preheat your car before you get in it from the app, that's what I do. By preconditioning the car is using electricity from the wall not your battery to heat the car so it's warm and toasty when you get in it.
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,865
3,579
Maine
I am considering buying a Model 3 long range awd and am nervous about winter driving. I live in Michigan and December through February weather can be bad and really cold (sub-zero). I was hoping to get some input from folks who drive their tesla in similar weather. Is a tesla a bad choice for someone who lives in michigan?
No, it can be one of the best vehicles for winter driving as long as you have the proper tires for winter driving.
 
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jiggawatt

Member
Aug 22, 2021
12
12
chicago, il
located in chicago and currently waiting on delivery. went with an SR+ with RWD, despite all the snow we get up here. from what i've read, the M3 is really heavy and has a low center of gravity, making it a bit better than a typical RWD car.

my only concern is that the factory tires will be crap, so will need to decide whether i want to swap em out right away for better all-seasons/all-weathers or get a set of dedicated winters for every year.
 

bjrosen

Member
Apr 19, 2019
373
391
Westford MA
located in chicago and currently waiting on delivery. went with an SR+ with RWD, despite all the snow we get up here. from what i've read, the M3 is really heavy and has a low center of gravity, making it a bit better than a typical RWD car.

my only concern is that the factory tires will be crap, so will need to decide whether i want to swap em out right away for better all-seasons/all-weathers or get a set of dedicated winters for every year.
With a RWD car I'd get a second set of wheels and dedicated snow tires. The OEM tires will be great in good weather and they'll give you the best range. With a second set of wheels and tires the wheel swap can occur in your driveway in the fall and spring. Tesla mobile service will come to you, I just had a tire rotation and brake cleaning done in my driveway. Doing a wheel swap is the same as a rotation so it can be done at home.
 
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bbell

Member
Sep 14, 2018
133
226
Niagara
located in chicago and currently waiting on delivery. went with an SR+ with RWD, despite all the snow we get up here. from what i've read, the M3 is really heavy and has a low center of gravity, making it a bit better than a typical RWD car.

my only concern is that the factory tires will be crap, so will need to decide whether i want to swap em out right away for better all-seasons/all-weathers or get a set of dedicated winters for every year.

I have a LR RWD from 2018, and I drove it last winter on winter tires. I would suggest you get a dedicated set of winter wheels and tires. Makes the switchover much easier and also keeps the summer rims in nice shape. Although the stock tires aren't bad, stopping and general traction is definitely improved with winter tires.

There is no problem at all with the RWD. The traction control is really good and you will find it really hard to get it to slip those rear tires out, and even if you do it is only slightly before it corrects. As you said the weight is a benefit.

The only thing to keep in mind is this is a fairly low car, and if you are going through a some really deep heavy snow you will not want to stop if at all possible. Light deep fresh snow is no problem. But if it is heavy packed snow and it is higher than the bottom of the car you have a huge flat surface under there to jam up the car (I find the snow plows tend to pile up snow ~2ft high at the ends of side streets around here, so I make sure not to stop on them). This is a problem with any car, of course, but the flat bottom makes it a little worse.

Once you have the car and get a nice snowfall take it to an open parking lot and get a feel for it, accelerate fast and try some turns at a good speed. it will surprise you how well it sticks and no fishtailing!
 
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sunfarm

2021M3LR, Blue, 19", FSD
Jun 21, 2021
168
116
Canada
I have a LR RWD from 2018, and I drove it last winter on winter tires. I would suggest you get a dedicated set of winter wheels and tires. Makes the switchover much easier and also keeps the summer rims in nice shape. Although the stock tires aren't bad, stopping and general traction is definitely improved with winter tires.

There is no problem at all with the RWD. The traction control is really good and you will find it really hard to get it to slip those rear tires out, and even if you do it is only slightly before it corrects. As you said the weight is a benefit.

The only thing to keep in mind is this is a fairly low car, and if you are going through a some really deep heavy snow you will not want to stop if at all possible. Light deep fresh snow is no problem. But if it is heavy packed snow and it is higher than the bottom of the car you have a huge flat surface under there to jam up the car (I find the snow plows tend to pile up snow ~2ft high at the ends of side streets around here, so I make sure not to stop on them). This is a problem with any car, of course, but the flat bottom makes it a little worse.

Once you have the car and get a nice snowfall take it to an open parking lot and get a feel for it, accelerate fast and try some turns at a good speed. it will surprise you how well it sticks and no fishtailing!
For 2' snow I have a tank. Name BMW x5 45e!!! 🤣
 
With a RWD car I'd get a second set of wheels and dedicated snow tires. The OEM tires will be great in good weather and they'll give you the best range. With a second set of wheels and tires the wheel swap can occur in your driveway in the fall and spring. Tesla mobile service will come to you, I just had a tire rotation and brake cleaning done in my driveway. Doing a wheel swap is the same as a rotation so it can be done at home.
yup, not an issue. used to the whole seasonal swap process with previous cars.

how much was the mobile service? would you say that the "winter care" service was really needed? every 12 months as well?

I have a LR RWD from 2018, and I drove it last winter on winter tires. I would suggest you get a dedicated set of winter wheels and tires. Makes the switchover much easier and also keeps the summer rims in nice shape. Although the stock tires aren't bad, stopping and general traction is definitely improved with winter tires.

There is no problem at all with the RWD. The traction control is really good and you will find it really hard to get it to slip those rear tires out, and even if you do it is only slightly before it corrects. As you said the weight is a benefit.

The only thing to keep in mind is this is a fairly low car, and if you are going through a some really deep heavy snow you will not want to stop if at all possible. Light deep fresh snow is no problem. But if it is heavy packed snow and it is higher than the bottom of the car you have a huge flat surface under there to jam up the car (I find the snow plows tend to pile up snow ~2ft high at the ends of side streets around here, so I make sure not to stop on them). This is a problem with any car, of course, but the flat bottom makes it a little worse.

Once you have the car and get a nice snowfall take it to an open parking lot and get a feel for it, accelerate fast and try some turns at a good speed. it will surprise you how well it sticks and no fishtailing!

thanks for the tips, especially with the car height. im coming from a lowered audi a4 with quattro, so while there's gonna be lots of similarities in the winter rides, i imagine there's gonna be quite a learning curve to fine tune the differences.
 
I've owned two Jeep Grand Cherokees with AWD and an Eagle Talon Tsi AWD. My 2020 M3 handles as good or better than all 3 of those with its stock all-season Continental tires. We had a 10 or 12 inch snowfall just before last Xmas. I took the car out near the end of it just to see how it handles. The most important thing to do in snow or ice conditions is to turn off the regenerative braking. Once I turned it off it was close to impossible to get the car to spin out. The only drawback to driving a Tesla i is the hit you will take on range in very cold weather.
 
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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
11,568
13,504
Riverside Co. CA
I am considering buying a Model 3 long range awd and am nervous about winter driving. I live in Michigan and December through February weather can be bad and really cold (sub-zero). I was hoping to get some input from folks who drive their tesla in similar weather. Is a tesla a bad choice for someone who lives in michigan?

I dont live where there is "real" winter, but from all reports here in various threads asking similar questions, the model 3 behaves as well as, and better than pretty much any other sedan in its class as far as DRIVING it in winter weather, as long as one has the appropriate tires.

The only real concern (vs an ICE vehicle) would be that during winter weather, the car will not go as far (more range lost) as it does during the summer.

Unless your commute is such that you will drive your entire range out every day, OR you are one who is planning on not having home or work charging and are of the mindset "I will just charge it every 10-12 days or so, it will be fine"), you should be fine with a model 3 in winter.

If either of the above is true (you will drive your entire range out daily, OR do not plan on having home or work charging and feel "it will be fine, I can charge every week and half") then you should re consider. Otherwise, you should be fine.
 

pnwadventures

@bpr1de on Instagram
Mar 3, 2021
201
200
Pacific Northwest
thanks for the tips, especially with the car height. im coming from a lowered audi a4 with quattro, so while there's gonna be lots of similarities in the winter rides, i imagine there's gonna be quite a learning curve to fine tune the differences.
I also migrated from a lowered Audi Quattro (B7 Avant), so this might be relevant: I’m not sure what era Quattro you had, but mine was from the Torsen era, which is arguably the best system ever put in a passenger car. The AWD Tesla system is good, but not quite that good. It’s not full-time AWD, but rather reactive and dynamic based on detected traction needs. It’s also not 50/50. With snow tires and appropriate driving technique, it will perform better than most AWD systems, but it’s just a degree below Torsen Quattro. It’s a shame because Tesla could probably match it if they gave us a full-time 50/50 snow mode for the non-P models.

As for your other questions, snow driving/handling is a separate issue from how the car fares in “cold” weather (battery performance, heater impacts, frozen door handles, wipers can’t be raised off glass, etc). It’s never really very “cold” here in the PNW, but we do get a lot of snow.
 
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I’ve had two winters with my LR AWD. i didn’t try without winter tires but handling in snow has been excellent. Naturally successful winter driving in any car requires a light touch on the accelerator and the brake which goes against the most fun parts of summer driving. With home charging, range is only a consideration for longer trips. On the coldest days I think of it like cave diving, use a third of your air on the way in, a third for the way out and the other third is the spare.

lube the window seals and turn off the auto-mirror fold. You’ll enjoy fast cabin heating compared with ICE cars and if you are using shore power, it won’t impact range. Telling the car when you want to go ensures a conditioned battery.
 

holmgang

Active Member
Sep 9, 2019
1,342
1,485
eu
This car can absolutely spin in winter conditions. It doesn't break rules of physics. Now a full accelerator-induced spin (without other impulses) is a different story.

In general drives fine - no problems here, and no options with range for normal usage either

I've encountered issues with the door latch, side mirror, and window motor freezing up when parked in cold for a long time. This is a bit of a problem because the windows need to be rolled down to open-close the door safety. I've had other frameless-window cars and they didn't freeze easily. If you always park in a covered garage it's fine. If your car is somehow exposed outside overnight it could be something to think about.
 

RedModel3

Member
Feb 19, 2016
428
452
United States
As Accelerate mentioned, turn off the mirror fold and lube the window seals. Also, just like gas caps on ICE cars, if it's going to storm, I cover up the charge port so it's not frozen shut from freezing rain or snow. Only once in three years did I have a problem releasing my charge cable, but I got some hot towels and wrapped them around the port and it released. Chill mode and slip start are wonderful tools to have if you have to drive on icy roads. I live in Nashville which has its share of snow storms, but almost no plows to take care of the roads. I made it to work just fine. My only problem was that I couldn't get up my very long, hilly driveway to get to my charging cable. Fortunately I had charged ahead of the storm, and my employer had an L2 charger. Any winter driving rules for ICE cars will work for a Tesla. 2018 LR RWD.
 

GtiMart

Active Member
Nov 13, 2019
1,592
1,451
Quebec City, Canada
@holmgang , effectively you could potentially spin the car around if you did it on purpose, driving like a maniac. What I'm trying to say is that in normal driving, the stability control system is excellent and will prevent spin outs. People have complained that they feel the back end slide but that's because they are used to FWD cars. I don't want these comments to deter someone from buying a Model 3. Yes, the back end will slide slightly in acceleration or deceleration (regen) on slippery surfaces, but only by an inch as the stability control will always keep it straight. It's a feeling that one can get used to, it's not dangerous.

There are effectively things to care about in real winter. Window seals need to be lubricated with silicone. It's true for other cars too, but the Model 3/Y are more affected so it's more crucial. Similarly, the door handles need lubrication too. I suggest not keeping the mirrors in auto-folding mode in winter. The charging door can also freeze but a cabin heating session will thaw it. Nothing here is bad enough to deter from buying it IMHO.
 

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