Tesla Model 3 Owners Speak Out After Polar Vortex Issues

FEB 5 2019 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 115

Electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 require some knowledge and planning to endure cold weather.

The U.S. is experiencing another polar vortex and it’s not advantageous for cars. Most cars have issues due to the bitter cold, but these Tesla Model 3 owners are venting due to their experiences. This is primarily due to the fact that they spent a big chunk of change for the car and expect it to work miracles. On the other side of the coin, Consumer Reports just reported that of all cars (some half a million), the Model 3 brings owners the most satisfaction.

Yes, it’s no secret cold impacts all cars. It may be a little more of a secret that EVs suffer from the situation on a different level. Does this mean you shouldn’t bother owning an electric car if your area experiences cold weather? No. That’s not the case at all. However, most people are new to EVs, education is a must.

According to Mercury News via Bloomberg, Tesla Model 3 owners have been increasingly active on social media about concerns with their vehicles during the recent cold snap. Range is expectedly down (as with any car, but moreso with EVs). One owner from New Jersey, Ronak Patel, shared:

My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to ten miles on my drive to work. I paid $60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly.

The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter how much you pay for a car. A gas-powered Mercedes S-Class may experience the same issues related to cold weather as a dirt-cheap Nissan Sentra. Moreover, this has nothing to do with Tesla or the price of the Model 3. Any electric car’s battery will struggle in cold weather. Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Salim Morsy explains:

It’s Panasonic that manufactures Tesla batteries. It’s not something specific to Tesla. It happens to Chevy with the Bolt and Nissan with the Leaf.

A little EV education:

While cold temps may affect any battery-electric car’s range more than that of a gas car, these EVs are almost guaranteed to start. You can’t say that about many ICE cars in extreme temps. In addition, there are settings for most EV owners that can help immensely. You can precondition your electric car in your garage, with settings to heat the cabin and battery while the car is still plugged in. If you want to use remote start on a gas-powered car, you have to pull it out of the garage unless you’re okay with poisoning your family.

If you keep your EV charging overnight, or make sure to charge it shortly before departing, the battery will remain warm and supply more range. Additionally, you won’t have to stop at a gas station and stand outside in the frigid cold to “gas up.”

It’s fair to say that if you plan to take several long road trips in the dead of winter during a polar vortex, your EV may not be the best option. But, when it comes to your daily commute, there should truly be no issue, as long as you’re educated and plan accordingly. While EVs require significantly less maintenance than ICE cars, you have to make an effort to care for your battery.

Complaints also revolved around Tesla Model 3 door handles freezing, as well as windows and doors. While these issues are a reality, they are surely present on many other vehicles. Whether or not it’s a Tesla has nothing to do with its door handles or windows freezing. Instead, it has to do with the flush handle design and frameless windows, which are both present on vehicles from other brands. Many of us have experienced similar issues with other cars, regardless of powertrain or maker.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Let us know in the comment section below.

Source: The Mercury News

Categories: Tesla

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115 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Owners Speak Out After Polar Vortex Issues"

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Considering how fast Tesla is turning out these cars during the delivery process, I wonder how many of these new to EV owners were told what to expect? It’s easy to say “education is needed” but isn’t incumbent on the seller of the vehicle to explain what to expect? After all, when complaints come in, they will be the ones having to deal with them.

As to this comment ; “This is primarily due to the fact that they spent a big chunk of change for the car and expect it to work miracles.’

I think the new owners expect the car to work like their previous cars did in extreme cold weather. reduced performance, extended warm up times etc. Obviously that is not going to be the case, but did the product specialist explain that when they bought the car? EV enthusiasts tend to live in a (EV) bubble and forget the VAST majority of Model 3 buyers don’t spend their free time on Insideevs and other EV sites.

Part of it may also be that people didn’t really consider that they may face these issues.

Many of us can sit in our warm houses in places where -30 is a common winter temperature and preach, but if your winter is normally only -5 then performance at -30 is not really something you think about when purchasing a vehicle, and as such you don’t educate yourself on those matters.

Heh heh, you think the legacy dealers who hate the EV’s they have to try to sell are educating anyone properly about EV’s? Tesla does way better, though there is room for improvement, but let’s not overlook the difference with other automakers and pretend they come even close to Tesla’s service when it comes to EV’s. Beyond EV’s, is the sales person, at say Chevy, going to warn you that gas cars get worse range and performance in the cold? Likely not and also likely nearly all drivers don’t even think about that when they buy any car. You, nor me, knows every person’s experience when they buy a Tesla so how are we to know that people aren’t being educated anyways? We can’t go off a few anecdotes of idiots online complaining about the EV they bought and failed to do any research on or didn’t ask any questions or didn’t even read the manual. It is also incumbent on the consumer to ask questions. If you have questions at delivery, they aren’t going to just shut you up and shove you out the door, they’ll answer them. Same as a legacy dealer. It’s also fallacious to assume Tesla’s… Read more »

That last sentence…Indeed!

According to AAA, an ICE vehicle burns 1/4 gallon of gasoline to idle for 15 minutes. That means 1 hour of idling(warming up the ICE car several times a day during freezing temps) = 1 gallon of gasoline. For a luxury car, that could be about the same 20 – 25 miles of range lost driving a cold EV.

However, the big difference is that the EV could have been preconditioned while plugged in if that was an option. Which sounds like it was, since most times people complain more about a mess they got themselves in when they are actually the one at fault, but a third part is easier to blame.

And then not sure what to say about someone who will spend $60k on new technology that he would use every day, but did no research about the product before the purchase.

And then let us remember this was a Polar Vortex, and not just ‘cold weather’.

You forgot to mention that BNEF’s Salim Morsy also implied that “yes, Panasonic batteries but Tesla’s quality of manufacturing”. That company always paint Tesla in a negative light.

While some expectations of BEVs (e.g. built to mil standards) may be unrealistic, frozen charging ports are a real issue. Do we all have to buy hand warmers? Frozen door handles, I can just bang on them.

BEVs suffer FAR more than petro-mobiles from cold (and from hot to a somewhat lesser degree). This is reality. I live in Berkeley, CA. (never too hot, mostly 50s to 70s in summer, high 30s to 60s in winter). EVS work well here (though resistance heating is still a stupid waste except for the seats). In cold parts of the country (and Canada) a PHEV is really as far as it makes sense to go. I know this is heresy on this website but sometimes heresy is reality.

I find it odd that the guy preaching how PHEVs are the only answer to cold locales lives in Berkeley. I think those who live in the cold are mature enough to weigh the benefits, the downsides and the inconveniences.

PHEVs suffer almost as much as EVs. 30-40% range loss. EVs still make sense for people in Norway, so I expect the issue to turn out to be overblown. If you still have 100 miles of range and only use 50 on a daily basis, it doesn’t matter much. Also, gas covers freeze in place too, as do the doors of ICE cars.

Even the HEV suffers as much – our older Prius goes from mid-50s MPG in summer to mid-20s in super cold winter.

We live in Sundsvall / Sweden and our winters are always -10 to – 15 C and down to-25 to -30 from time to time. We have been driving a Ioniq EV for two winters now without any problem whatsoever. Consumption goes to ~ 1.6 kWh/10 km at worst compared to 1.25 to 1.3 kWh during summer. Thats all.

you may have to keep it warm to get the most distance out of it, but the BEV ALWAYS starts!

That’s not “reality”, it’s just your opinion.

It’s been several years back that an early Model S adopter who lives in Norway reported on EV forums that he only lost 20% of his range in winter. He obviously knows how to pre-condition his car to preserve most of its range.

Like all new technologies still in the “early adopter” stage, BEVs do require more knowledge and effort from the user to get the most out of them. As time passes, what now has to be set manually will become automatic features in the car.

Anybody remember the early days of top-loader VCRs, where you had to set everything manually? I do!

I believe the car works just fine in the cold. My Prius would drop from 55 mpg in the fall to 35 mpg in the winter. Was it broke? No all cars take a range hit in the winter. Yes EVs a bit more so as there is no waste heat in an EV. But as the writer noted the preheat feature is great.

my 2012 Prius V we can get up to 45-47 mpg in the summer, during the polar vortex here in Chicago its hovered around 30 mpg, yesterday it was in the 40’s and we got the avg back up to around 37. it also had trouble starting on the -13 degree day.

I’m not bashing Toyota, and saying the CEO screwed me over. I still love my car, but plan on trading it in for a used model 3 or Y in 4 or 5 years when the used get down to the $12-15k range

“$12-15k range” – Good luck with that!

If you can buy a used model S right now for under $35k that went for $80k, i’d see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to get a model 3 in 4 years around $15k. https://www.omnicalculator . com/finance/Car-depreciation

” it also had trouble starting on the -13 degree day.”

Really? So, the lead acid battery is dead or the NiMH battery is having issues?

We haven’t taken it in yet, but the engine made a really loud whining sounds, we restarted it 3 time and on the 3rd time it started, but then the check engine light turned on, we still need to take it in asap.

So, it is an OLD hybrid… Why compare it with a brand new EV? A brand new hybrid wouldn’t have the same issues, would it?

My “old hybrid” 2009 Prius started just fine at -20. So even older cars can still work okay in extreme cold.

I agree. My 2012 Volt also has no problem with it.

It just sounds like that Prius has a bad 12V battery.

The service engine is probably from the bad starting that caused an error in the emission code due to stalling of the engine without proper starting.

6 years is about right for a new battery.

New owners of electric cars aren’t used to so much information being available at the touch of a button where in ICE vehicles it is not available so they just drive on not knowing what their car is doing, simple things like mileage, loss of charge etc are up front in your face in electrics which is why they suddenly they take notice.

Most ICE cars built in the last 10 years have both range to empty and fuel consumption figures in the instrument cluster.

The units may be different, but the numbers mean the same thing.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Loss of range is arguably a bigger deal with an EV than with an ICE-powered car, though.

While I hate to bring up the old bugaboo of EV charge times vs. ICE refuelling times, extreme cold may be one of those places where ICE vehicles still have an advantage.

That said, the guy from NJ complaining about losing 30ish miles of range seems like kind of an idiot. Unless he’s got a 200+ mile commute, a loss of approximately 10% under “Polar Vortex” conditions does not strike me as unacceptable, especially given the fact that EVs are still more or less in their infancy.

“While I hate to bring up the old bugaboo of EV charge times vs. ICE refuelling times….”

If someone has a garage, I would certainly think that plugging a car in the garage is a hell of lot better than filling up a gasser in -20F weather.

I agree with the article. Both of my Leafs have done the same thing.

Years ago, I took a camera to the top of a ski lift at -30F. Didn’t work. Got to bottom, it worked. Went back to the top and it worked. Difference? I carried it inside my jacket the second time.

It has nothing to do with Tesla.

At least the folks that recently bought a car will have more range in the summer

Most batteries don’t work at -30F…

What were you doing skiing in -30F weather?

Fud. This is not news
Every car loose range in the cold. My 2010 Golf diesel consumed twise the amount IT was labeled and it did not manage to heat up during my 20min commute. Still, range was good for a full week
Today, the 24kwh Leaf does an amasing job, its warm in a minute, always start and i newer have to freeze while fillup. It looses aprox 30% range compared to summer
So, no worries inside an ev in the snow

It’s not FUD. Real owners are complaining.

I lay this on Tesla. There’s hardly any information from them – it’s sorely needed for TM3, the typical customer are Joe Public, no longer the educated EV diehards from the early days. This is why Tesla YouTubers are getting free $250,000 cars. People want to know all sorts of this.
How the GUI works, how it drives in snow, floor mats, charging, range, general BEV, etc.
Before I got mine, Tesla pointed me to quick, short video snippets that were next to useless.

More educated folks will more readily work with Tesla, rather than complaining on social media.

As I’ve been saying for some time: The biggest challenge Tesla will face is expanding their market from the enthusiasts to the general public. A sizable portion of this is education, as you and others point out. Another big piece is the weirdness of buying a Tesla if you don’t happen to live near a Tesla facility. (I’m in a part of NY State that’s 250 miles to the nearest Tesla store.) Getting a lot of consumers to bite off on the weirdness of converting from gasoline to electrons is a pretty big ask, so anything else “odd” only makes those people an even tougher sell.

Watching someone else buy a Tesla and have it delivered to his house for free within a few days 4 hours from the closest delivery center sort of sells itself.

Free? You mean no additional delivery fee on top of the one all Tesla buyers pay.

Same difference. I would have to pay extra to have a Mercedes shipped to me most likely (might be able to negotiate it in of course).

A lot of ICE dealers will happily do that too. I had one offer to deliver one to my house, four hours from the dealership. The issue is more about servicing and repairs. Having somewhere close you can drop of or get it picked up is more important if something goes wrong.

Totally FUD – these guys jump on any negative information likes flies on crap. I am sick of it.

Does Tesla really not have a collection of videos giving detailed instructions on operating the car, for new Tesla car owners? A collection that new owners get pointed to (or even a DVD containing those videos) in the paperwork accompanying their purchase? And isn’t at least one of those videos about how to deal with very cold weather?

I’d be shocked if that wasn’t true. It was true for a relative of mine who got a new Chrysler 200 a few years back. A first-time BEV (or even PHEV) owner will have much greater need for such detailed instructions. If Tesla doesn’t already have those videos available, then it needs to correct the oversight immediately!

” it did not manage to heat up during my 20min commute”

A diesel couldn’t warm up in 20 minutes of driving is just BS..

Maybe it is because of the cheating SW… LOL.

When it got down below 0f it takes a tdi quite a while to truly get warm. They do have electric heat which helps take the chill off, but to get fuel, heat it’s was 10-15 miles at highway speeds. They also don’t start well below -5f. With a block heater they would start down to -10f no problem.

The loss of range in cold needs to be calculated in the range you need for an ev. If people don’t they will disappointed when it gets cold. On our Volt it only goes 30 miles on battery in really cold vs 60 in the summer. Granted my tdi would lose 50 miles per tank in the cold, but it went 600+ miles in the summer and I had a few tanks that hit 700.

In very cold weather like that, it’s hard for any ICE to warm up within 20 minutes of driving, unless there’s a lot of stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

‘This is primarily due to the fact that they spent a big chunk of change for the car and expect it to work miracles. ‘

Oh come the #$&@ on. Yeah, those horrible stupid owners, expecting that the thing they spent tens of thousands of dollars will work the way described. We don’t have a good way of expressing the range of EVs considering how much different factors affect EVs, but that’s not the fault of the customers. The idea that people have totally unfair expectations that their cars will have a range of 300 miles just because the car advertises itself as having a range of 300 miles is just silly. People don’t buy cars to plan their lives around their cars, cars are bought because people believe they will fit their lifestyle. It’s not a moral failing to think the things you buy are for you rather than you are for the things you buy. People on this site seem to forget that sometimes.

Equally people should not expect “normal performance” in crazy cold weather. The EPA never said 310 miles for LR Model 3 in temperatures that destroyed the German Army in 1941/42.

I agree, but it is a never ending stream of complaints in every single EV forum ever. “I think something is wrong with my car, I am not getting the advertised range, it was better last week, but dropped this week”, etc. Complete lack of understanding that the EPA number is an estimate based on test results and unless you drive the same exact way as those tests you will differ from it, and that heat and other factors can dramatically impact your range.

This reason is why low range EVs will never go mainstream. I think the issue is the car focuses so much on the range number that people micro manage their miles (they don’t do this with gas cars). The car should give a couple estimates, and the window sticker should state a range of estimates. They should have a cold test to show heater impact on range (and it would encourage manufacturers to use heat pumps).

All this will become irrelevant once all EVs have sufficiently large ranges and fast enough charging with enough infrastructure.

Gas vehicles have all the same problems (more consumption in the cold, AC impacts usage, driving style impacts usage, etc) but EPA does not state various estimates on the window sticker. The difference is that gas cars are fast to refill and filling stations are everywhere so the impact is less. That same solution will solve EV problems. Making window stickers more complex will not help.

Heater has much larger impact on range than AC, especially since AC on ICE vs EV is similar impact, whereas heat is almost free with ICE and very costly for EV. People know their AC hurts gas mileage, they aren’t expecting their heater to take 40% of their range.

I disagree – the changes are so striking for EVs that it is certainly necessary. Also, it can make a big difference between automakers, and even between models – those with more efficient designs, or active heating and cooling of the battery pack, will have markedly different effects on the range vs. temp curve.

That’s in part because most ICE cars will do 400 miles on a tank, and in winter will only drop 15% in range.

Once bigger batteries become more common the issue will start to subside. Totally agree with the cold numbers though.

Quite true; gasmobiles only lose, on average, 15% of range in very cold weather. With BEVs, it’s often double that — or sometimes even more.

And yes, potential buyers of BEVs need to be aware that unless they live in coastal California or Florida or some other “Mediterranean” climate, they are going to take a big hit to range on very cold winter days and nights.

Not unique to EVs at all. When I buy a gas vehicle, it gives an EPA rating. That EPA rating is the performance at a certain temperature, under certain conditions. In the winter it will get much much worse mileage than EPA. Is that the vehicle manufacturer’s fault? Of course not.

These are just growing pains because not everyone realizes that electric vehicles are different than gas vehicles yet. In the winter they lose range and charge slowly and you have to plan for that. On the other hand they always start and you can preheat them. Upsides and downsides to everything and many people will complain along the way.

”You can’t say that about many ICE cars in extreme temps.”

Erm, yes you can. How do you think people go about their lives in most of Canada, Siberia and other cold places? The main reason ICE vehicles don’t start in the cold is because they have an old, weak battery which should be changed. The vast majority of ICE vehicles on the road are almost guaranteed to start. just as an EV is.

”You can precondition your electric car in your garage, with settings to heat the cabin and battery while the car is still plugged in. If you want to use remote start on a gas-powered car, you have to pull it out of the garage unless you’re okay with poisoning your family.”

Which is great, but that’s prerequisite on you having a garage and/or being at home in the first place. In the latter scenarios the gas car may be a better option (not that I advocate pre-heating a gas car, it doesn’t need it from a mechanical point of view, it’s just about warming up the cabin.)

Nothing against the article as a whole, but there are parts that are bordering on FUD in it.

“The main reason ICE vehicles don’t start in the cold is because they have an old, weak battery which should be changed.”

This also applies to BEVs, since almost all of them rely on a12-Volt lead-acid battery to open up the contactors to the lithium-ion battery. IIRC, only some Kia/Hyundai BEVs use a small lithium-ion starter battery in place of a lead-acid battery. Tesla Model S & X are notorious for prematurely killing their 12-Volt lead-acid starter batteries due to the dreaded Vampire Drain constantly draining them and requiring the lithium-ion traction battery to repeatedly cycle them. Many Tesla Model S & X owners have to annually swap out their weakened 12-Volt lead-acid batteries, otherwise their cars won’t start at some point in the year.

” Kia/Hyundai BEVs use a small lithium-ion starter battery in place of a lead-acid battery. ”

That is even worse then.

Lithium Ion battery in extreme cold would work even worse than Lead Acid.

I’m pretty sure that’s incorrect. A li-ion battery shouldn’t be charged in extreme cold, but it will still put out power, albeit somewhat reduced until it warms up. But an IECV or PHEV* needs to be able to crank over the ICEngine, whereas all the BEV starter battery has to do is engage the solenoid for the main battery pack… which takes much, much less power.

*In theory, a PHEV with a well-charged battery pack shouldn’t need to start the ICEngine at the start of a trip, but most of them are engineered to run the gas motor at the start of a trip, when the car is very cold, to produce heat.

“but it will still put out power, albeit somewhat reduced until it warms up.”

Take your cell phone and put it in your freezer which is about -3 to -5 deg C only. Barely considered as “cold”. Leave it there for few hours and see if that phone still stays on.

Anyone who has skied and snowboarded with their cell phone on the outside pockets know how POORLY Lithium ion battery performs in freezing temperature!!!!

“But an IECV or PHEV* needs to be able to crank over the ICEngine, whereas all the BEV starter battery has to do is engage the solenoid for the main battery pack”

That is NOT how it works. It isn’t just a solenoid. It is freaking computer that initialize everything before it will turn on the bypass switch to allow main battery to charge the aux 12 V. The logic isn’t a single logic to drive a solenoid like starter solenoid.

Also, if that “simple theory” works somehow, then PHEV would be capable of switching that solenoid first before cranking the engine…

Sort of correct, but an EV requires much less current from the 12V to start. The same weak battery will start an EV when it couldn’t crank an engine. Also I very much doubt any significant number of Tesla owners are replacing their 12V every year.

Number 1 reason for killing Lead Acid battery isn’t the cold, but rather the heat.

Search “12-Volt battery” in the TeslaMotorsClub forum.

But you don’t have to have a garage to be able to leave your BEV hooked up to an EV charger. You just have to have a charger installed wherever you park at night, even if it’s outdoors.

I’d love to drive a stake through the heart of this myth that only people with garages should own BEVs. That’s simply not true. Many people install an EV charger on the outside of their house, or even on a post next to the driveway.

Do you own an EV? I don’t remember you ever did…

Yes, owning a drive way would work too. The point isn’t about owning actual garages or carports. It is about owning a piece of land that actually connects to the main residence which owner has the control of what to do with electrical wiring.

While the door design may not be unique to Tesla, the design of the door handle is, and can make it more susceptible to freezing over

Indeed. The “Whether or not it’s a Tesla has nothing to do with its door handles or windows freezing” claim was a bit silly. Flush handles are cool, but less practical in cold climates.

I am sure that better TMS for batteries will be developed and this issue will be gone soon.

I think this will be bigger issue with the semi than cars, in trucking you need to be able to go where the load takes you.

Not everyone has a garage, and many live where on street parking is the only option.

What about in Europe where the majority park in the street?

They are in the same situation as a city dweller who wanted to buy a motorcar in the early days of the motorcar revolution; no place to park it.

Part of the EV revolution will be installing slow EV chargers everywhere people park at night. Until that happens, BEVs simply don’t fit everyone’s lifestyle. That’s not being a snob, it’s just being practical.

The disruption of the stratospheric polar vortex ended my old Mini’s battery leaving the ICE stranded. It also lead to my i3 being frozen to the charger (lock wouldn’t release on charge cable). This sort of thing can cause issue with any car. I will say Model 3 has door handles that look more prone to that. I have seen door handles frozen on the old flush mounted flip panels like on the 1980s cars. I liked the reach through handles as they were easy to break off ice, however, they are less aerodynamic. Trade offs.

“The disruption of the stratospheric polar vortex ended my old Mini’s battery leaving the ICE stranded”

Yes, old being the keyword here.

Most Model 3 owners have a car that is less than 1 year old!!!

How many brand new cars (< 1years) without defective battery would have issues starting in extreme cold?

Looks like you didn’t read the article. Not one complaint about the Model 3 not starting. Just decreased range and frozen door handles.

Then why comparing it to ICE about being not able to start? How many less than 1 year old ICE have problem starting?

Most ICE having issues are older ICE that are either under poor maintenance or with a weak battery.

When it is -30 F it can end even a good battery. The Mini battery froze. Was parked outside and must have been a little weak.

When it is -30F, EV’s main battery will have similar problem as well. It can cause a permanent damage to it.

Sure, with EVs, the so called “start up current demand” is much lower. But ultimately cold affect all vehicles, EV or not. This whole myth about EVs somehow works much better is just myth. No different than the myth that EVs won’t work in winter due to lower range.

Many ICE cars have 0W20 or 0W30 oil these days, so the start up oil pressure is easily achieved.

“When it is -30F, EV’s main battery will have similar problem as well. It can cause a permanent damage to it.”

Can you give details? I know that trying to charge li-ion batteries which are below freezing will permanently damage them, but otherwise, I know of no reason why driving a BEV in bitterly cold conditions would cause permanent damage to the battery pack.

It isn’t about driving it. It is about parking it at extreme cold temperature without plugging it in! Driving around isn’t an issue since driving it will have power demand which will actually warms up the battery. Parking it with low temperature for a long time is the concern here.

Nissan’s own manual warns specifically about it!

“To help prevent the Li-ion
battery from freezing, do not leave the
vehicle in an environment if temperatures may go below -1°F (-17°C) unless
the vehicle is connected to a charger.”
“The Li-ion battery warmer automatically turns on when the Li-ion battery
temperature is approximately -1°F (-17°C) or
colder. The Li-ion battery warmer automatically turns off when the Li-ion battery
temperature is approximately 14°F (-10°C)
or higher.”

Granted, in order for cell temperature to drop that low, it will take a while. How long depends on how well each pack is designed to insulate itself from external environment.

We are talking about extreme cold here.

In addition, I have turned off the folding mirrors while parking during the winter. If they get stuck, there have been cases where the motors get burned out.

So how often do we actually have a “polar vortex”? And for that matter, the cold COLD of winter is how long? 2-3 months? Those complaining need to take a look at the consistent 12 months of an ICE vehicle throwing off unneeded heat, pollution, etc and wasting precious dollars. It’s not hard to educate yourselves a little for what is a MINIMAL nuisance. Listening to some of these whiners go on is pathetic.

Loss of range may be a minimal nuisance. Not being able to get in the car if the handles freeze is considerably more significant.

And loss of range may be a lot more of a minimal usage if you regularly travel longer distances.

Buying a 300 mile vehicle to do your 200 mile regular journey seems fine, until you want to do that regular journey during those 3 months of winter and realise the range isn’t enough.

My BEV winter experience: better than ICE for daily commute. Car is either preheated by the time I get to it or heats instantly if I forget to pre-condition. No oil to warm up, doesn’t sound rickety or laboring like ICE will in the cold. Reduced range is real and sucks (up to ~30% less with heater on) but this doesn’t restrict my normal commutes. I opted for the larger battery size because I knew this was coming. I also selected a BMW so the doors and windows would work correctly.

The downside is road tripping in winter, but it is still very doable. Just maintain a higher SOC in your trip plan to account for having to take potentially long detours due to road closures. Also, I highly recommend a pair of USB powered hand warmer mitts. I take the heat pads out of those $10 USB mitts and shove them in my socks for warm toes on the EV winter road trips. Cold toes are the worst thing…

This is where a good PHEV would work better.

Of course, BEVs can always add an alcohol based heater onboard and it would work just fine.

Your failure to plan ahead and think of the future is now your range anxiety whine? Sounds weak to me! Plan, plan, plan! If it gets cold, plug in. Garage it!

Let’s not forget folks they plug gas cars into the grid in temps like this too or they are not going anywhere at all.
One just leaves EVs plugged in and programed for cabin temp, etc ready when you need it.
And in the Tesla not just the battery gets heated but the diff too to thin the lube oil increasing it’s efficiency.
So in others words those who have problems is operator error.
Personally the instant starting of EVs is a big advantage as in under 0F, starting an ICE is dicey.

Yeah, for those who live in Canada or Norway and are used to using block heaters for the engine of an ICEV in winter, plugging a BEV in to precondition it before driving will be an easy transition to make. For those who aren’t used to that sort of thing, there is a learning curve.

And I hardly think it’s fair to say people who don’t know that are either stupid or ignorant. If the person who handed the car over to them during delivery didn’t warn them that there were certain differences that they need to learn about how the car operates, and point them to where they can watch videos about those differences, then how is that their fault? Not everyone reads EV forums on a daily basis, nor should that be a requirement before buying a BEV.

“Complaints also revolved around Tesla Model 3 door handles freezing, as well as windows and doors. While these issues are a reality, they are surely present on many other vehicles. Whether or not it’s a Tesla has nothing to do with its door handles or windows freezing.” Tesla decided to make their cars special with “slick” flush door handles. This design choice will have ramifications in the winter. Chevy chose to make their Bolt like any other car – with standard door handles that stick out and you can wrap your hand around. They have fewer issues in the cold weather. I’ve never had them freeze on the Bolt or previously on the Leaf. Similarly, frameless windows are problematic in the cold snowy weather. It is a design choice made by Tesla (which is shared by some – but not most – other cars). This choice leads to doors getting frozen shut, and snow falling more easily into the car. Sure, neither of these issues have anything to do with the car being electric. It has to do with the car being a Tesla though. Sometimes you are painfully aware that Tesla is a California / Nevada company.

To be fair, the frozen windows and doors are problem for non EVs or non Teslas as well.

But the frozen door handle is squarely a Tesla problem. 4 different Tesla models, 4 different door handle designs.

I wouldn’t be surprised that Model Y will have another type of door handles.

So far, the Semi does have different handles already. Granted, that is just prototype.

Once, I got stranded on the side of the road by my 4runner at 0F, as I was short on gas, and instead of returning the usual 20mpg, it dropped down to 10mpg or less.

We regularly get temperatures of 0f (-20C or lower) here and highway driving gets me around 11.5l/100km in those conditions. The same routes in when temperatures are above freezing get me around 10l/100km. In several cars I’ve never experienced that much loss in cold temperatures. Are you sure it’s just temperature related?

Usual range loss in most ICE vehicles is around 10-15%, not 50%!

EV’s use energy to produce heat only when you need to heat the cabin. That is good.

Gas cars use energy to produce heat all the time with no way to shut off all that heat being produced. Gas car owners don’t realize how much energy is consumed to heat their cabins in the winter because all that energy is lost all year round.

Which would you rather do? Only use energy to produce heat only when you need it and notice that it impacts range? Or waste that energy all the time and not notice as much because all that heat is diverted around the cabin when you aren’t heating the cabin?

It doesn’t have to be an either/or. As mentioned earlier, education is important. Knowing the weaknesses of EV technology and countering it, either with your own routine, or just getting something with a bigger battery. The latter is still a problem right now, but will become less so as battery prices come down and 400 mile batteries become common.

If it is an either/or then I’d wager a lot of people would choose wasting all that heat in summer so they can get to that destination in winter…

get to that destination in winter in a toasty warm car…

I’d much rather face losing 50% range in sub-zero (F) temps than face the uncertainty that my car may or may not start when I leave my house or place of work. And starting from home my battery is pretty warm as the car is plugged in, even in -30 degrees. I don’t have to “start” it every day either to ensure the lead acid 12V battery doesn’t fail me. The EV just sits there quietly humming as it heats and circulates anti-freeze and keeps everything properly conditioned and ready to go. Once EV’s can go 400-500 miles in fair weather, it’s really the beginning of the end for ICE. Few people need to drive over 200-250 miles during a polar vortex, and if they do, that’s more than enough range to hop from DC fast charger to charger on a long trip. 50% of a long range Tesla is already about 150 miles.

“The EV just sits there quietly humming as it heats and circulates anti-freeze and keeps everything properly conditioned and ready to go.”

LEAF doesn’t do that. And if Tesla isn’t plugged in, it doesn’t do that either unless it dips far too low in temperature.

A failed Lead Acid 12V battery will stop EV from turning on also.

While I understand most people here consider hybrids bad, they are good at one thing and that’s making heat from combustion. I wish my Model 3 had some kind of gas heater to heat the cabin as the electric heaters draw power like crazy and make it impractical for longer road trips. I’m around 450wh/mi driving around this winter. I keep the cabin at 65F and try and seat heaters on medium to keep consumption down. I also wish at least for the Model 3 we had more direct temperature control over the HVAC system.

I also wish I could open a door in the Model 3 from my phone, when the handles freeze.

I know someone who travel a lot long during winter in Canada. He installed a kerosene heater in his Model X to increase its range, it should be possible too in a Model 3.

An alcohol based heater would be better since alcohol can be renewable and burns cleaner.

Kerosene or gasoline heaters can be dangerous; can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if not maintained properly.

I don’t know if alcohol heaters have the same problem or not.

All of them can. Depending on heater design, some are more likely to have CO poisoning than others. But the exhaust doesn’t have to vent inside the car.

Many Alcohol based heaters are designed to be used in homes as ventless option so it is less likely to have CO poisoning.

So a range of 166 miles on the 75kWh Model 3 battery. At what temp is the key. That’s a 46% cold weather range hit which, depending on the temp, is not too bad.

How many people have had a car that pre-warms itself in the garage from a few taps on their phone and they still complain!
Everyone knows extreme cold can knock a third of the range of an electric car. That will improve with better batteries eventually.

You shouldn’t need to pre-warm a car in the garage. You could do it as easily with any car with remote start if you really want to do that, just hit the remote for the garage door opener if an ICE car.

Painting Model 3 owners as ignorant jerks seems counterproductive to addressing the issues of operating in cold conditions. Cherry picking complaints to try and minimize problems doesn’t work either. Kind of cheap.

If Model 3 owners are listing issues with cold temperature, how about reposting the complaints so those planning to buy it could anticipate it.

1. Freezing car handles and charger ports.
2. Freezing windows.
3. Frozen window washers and wipers.
4. Range issues. What is realistic to expect at different temps.
5. Charging issues. What is realistic to expect at different temps.
6. Water getting via windows and trunk.

I rented a Model 3 to test it in my own cold climate situation, a run up to Mt. Hood and back for skiing. Car did great though test was not as cold as hoped and pavement was clear. It could do 50% worse in colder, snowier conditions and it still would have made there and back again.

But if I were to go to Jackson Hole, I’d like to know what happens in those extreme conditions vs. straw man defenses.

I had to replace a side view mirror on my Audi a few years back after my daughter broke it trying to chip ice off it in Vermont (and those were heated mirrors). I’ve had plenty of doors and windows and wiper blades freeze on me on ice cars. It comes with living in New England. I don’t whine about it, just dealt with it. With some older cars if the wipet blades froze to the windshield the wiper motors would burn out. I also had a windshield pump crack from freezing because the dealer service added water to it and not wiper fluid with a -50 freeze point (Audi did pay the $400 to replace it). The heater wiper fuild on that car was a nice feature though.

OK the water in the trunk thing is due to a bad design though, but not a topic of this article.

So you have no information on cold Model 3 issues and offer no value personal anecdotes about other cars.

How is writing a comment just to complain about another comment different from what you’re complaining about?

On long trips the battery is warm after the first 40 miles or so. I’ve never experienced more than 10% loss of range in my Leaf and the worst of that is short trips in the winter where the heater has some catching up to do to warm the cold cabin.

There are two things Tesla could do better regarding cold weather performance. First the heating could be based on a heat exchanger rather than thermo-electric heating (this I think is in the works). Second Tesla could use some sort of technology that can do full regen even if extremely cold – such as an ultracapacitor – such as the company they just bought makes.

I’ve had door handles freeze on my ICE truck back in Denver. the right conditions (wet snow or sleet then freezing) and it happens to all of them. I’ve had the entire door gasket freeze shut. Once I couldn’t put gas in the truck because the locking gas cap key had frozen solid. And it wasn’t even exposed to the weather.

Seems to me like just another bit of FUD.

I have a Subaru and my gas flap froze shut and I couldn’t put gas in there. Does an EV have this problem…

Tesla Model 3’s do yes. Worse water freezes in the plug preventing charging once you get the port open. Windows freeze shut. Door handles freeze shut.

Since none of the actual cold weather issues referenced were posted in this apologia, we don’t know what were the actual problems.

Subaru’s are arguably the cold weather car of the US so your anecdote worked against you.

Main issue I didn’t like in the polar vortex was the headlights blinking. It was actually doing it before the vortex, but got worse during.

What’s the experience on cabin/cockpit temperature in EVs at these temperatures?

I felt like it heated up quicker than ICE cars i’ve owned in the past.

One of the actually useful posts by Tesla owners in the Polar Vortex cold was Model X 100D owner who showed 120 mile range on full charge in -23F.

Good information to know vs. useless defensive replies of how “my old fill in the blank did fill in the blank”.

I do wish the EPA’s window sticker for BEVs would give at least some indication that the car may lose as much as 30% or perhaps even 40% of its range in bitterly cold conditions. BEV buyers need to understand that they need to buy a car with more range than just the minimum they need for their daily commute, both because of the range hit in very cold weather and because the car loses some range as it ages.

But then, I consider the one single number (or two, for city vs. highway) range to be wholly inadequate. The EPA’s window sticker should be a chart, showing different estimated ranges at different speeds.

And EV makers, including Tesla, need to do a better job of educating customers about pre-conditioning their EVs by leaving them plugged in at night, and set on a timer to warm the car before the driver leaves in the morning. These settings are available on Tesla and several other BEVs; the driver needs to learn how to use those settings.

I drive a Nissan Leaf 2016 SV. 39 mile commute to work. In ideal temperatures (60-80 degrees) I get 1 – 1.2 miles per 1% battery capacity. Less then 20 degrees, with the heat on and set at at 68 degrees) I get 0.3 – 0.5 miles per 1% battery capacity – and that’s if I limit my speed to 55 mph