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Cold weather tips for Tesla drivers in Canada

5 min read
Tesla in the snow

Now that we’re into October, the grim reality of living in Canada will soon set in, if not already (sorry Calgary!). With the cooler weather and lower temperatures, comes a whole new set of things to think about as a Tesla owner. Whether or not this is your first Canadian winter with your Tesla, below you’ll find some helpful hints and tips to make sure your winter driving the best EV in the world is the best experience it can be.

Cold weather effects on the Tesla battery

Probably the biggest impact the cold weather will have on your Tesla is the affect on your vehicle’s battery. Depending on how cold the temperatures get in your part of Canada, you can expect to see up to a 30% decrease in range and efficiency. That would be at the upper end of range loss for severely cold temperates (think less than -30ºC ). While you may be used to efficiency numbers in the sub-130Wh/km during the summer, expect much higher numbers during the winter, anywhere from 150Wh/km for West Coasters to 200+Wh/km for colder parts of Canada.

Along with the reduced range as a result of the low temperatures, your regenerative braking will also be impacted, possibly enough that it won’t work at all (you will get a “Regenerative Braking Disabled” warning message) until the battery has had a chance to warm up.

How to improve Tesla battery efficiency in winter

Model 3 drifting in snowDespite this, there are some things you can do to mitigate the effects of the cold weather on your battery. First is to set your overnight charging to end as close as possible to your departure time in the morning. If you’re set to leave for the office at 7.30am, set your charging to end as close to 7.30am as possible. This will ensure your battery is warm when you leave, increasing the efficiency of your vehicle and also increasing the amount of regenerative braking available to you.

Currently the on-board Tesla charging system only allows you to schedule a charging start time, not a time when you want the charge the finish. Hopefully this will come in an over-the-air (OTA) software update soon. Until then, there are a couple of options.

1. Start your charge and see how long it will take to charge to your desired percentage. If it says 3 hours, stop the charging and schedule it to start approximately 3 hours before your departure time. If it’s very cold and you’re parked outside, give yourself a bit of a buffer as your battery might drop a few percentage more during the night until your charging begins.
2. Use a third-party app like StatsApp for iPhone (is there an Android like app out there that we don’t know about?), which can do more sophisticated charging scheduling like I mention above. We’ve been using this app for about a week now and love it so far, so expect a review (and possibly something else for our readers ;)) soon.

Bonus tip, turn on your heated seats and climate control using the mobile app about 5 minutes before you leave to warm up the cabin of the vehicle. If your Model 3 is plugged in, this will also warm the battery at the same time, increasing your efficiency and the amount of regenerative braking available when it is time to leave.

Turn off auto-wipers

If you live in a part of Canada that gets a lot of freezing rain and ice-build up, you might also want to turn off your Tesla’s auto-wipers during winter. When you get in your car, there is a chance that the auto-sensing wipers might turn on because of the ice-build on the sensor, potentially damaging your wipers. If you need to use your wipers, simply hit the button on the end of the left stalk, which will not only activate your wipers, but also bring up the wiper controls on the display. From there, you can select the speed you want your wipers to be on.

Avoid ice and snow build-up on cameras and sensors

Something you might overlook is that many of the safety features on the car, and especially autopilot, require the cameras to have a clear view of its surroundings. If any of the cameras or sensors on the bumpers of the vehicle are obstructed by snow or ice, performance of these safety features can be impacted. Familiarize yourself with the location of all your cameras and sensors, and clear them off before beginning your drive.

Avoid frozen windows and door handles

Tesla Model 3 frozen door handleA problem with having frameless doors like on the Tesla Model 3 is that in very cold weather the window can freeze and you will not be able to open the door safely. This problem is not unique to Tesla’s, but can happen with any car that has a frameless window. Using a silicone based spray like this WD-40 Silicone Lubricant Spray on the rubber around the windows will prevent them from freezing to it.

Another potential solution is to pre-heat the vehicle before you need to leave. This will help with both the problem of windows freezing, your door handles freezing, and increasing the efficiency of your battery and amount of regenerative braking available to you.

Keep your snow brush inside your Tesla

If you are parking outside and there is snow in the forecast, you will want to keep your snow brush inside your Tesla and not your trunk. That’s because due to the design of the trunk, when you open it, all the snow that was sitting on top and on the rear window will slide and fall into your trunk. If you keep your snow brush inside your Tesla, you will easily be able to retrieve it and brush off the snow, without ending up with a trunk full of snow.

Obviously the # 1 cold weather tip for any Tesla driver is to park your car in a garage, if possible. If not, following these tips will make your winter driving experience that much better.

Got any other cold weather tips for your Tesla? Let us know in the comments below!