Driving on the beach in a Tesla has produced some viral stories. Here are my tips on avoiding the headlines.
Leading up to my road trip down the West Coast I was excited to drive on the beach once again. Years ago I did this in my Jeep Grand Cherokee and had a blast.
That said, with viral stories of Teslas being swept away by the tide, I questioned if driving on the beach in a Tesla was a good idea. They are heavy and salt water and electronics certainly don’t mix.
With this in mind, I thought I would dig into what precautions you need to take when driving on the beach.
Can You Drive a Tesla on the Beach?
Before I even attempted driving on the beach in my Tesla, I polled a Pacific Northwest Tesla Facebook group, specifically asking if anyone has done it. The responses I got were surprising.
Most were discouraging with comments like “why would you.“ Others highlighted the cost of the car vs. perceived risk. Others focussed on potential rust damage.
There were a few though that shared their experience and even photos of their Teslas on beaches which is exactly what I was looking for. So the short answer is, yes, you can definitely drive a Tesla on the beach. Like any vehicle, though, there are some factors to consider.
Is Your Vehicle Up to the Task?
Before setting one tire on the sand, you need to be sure your vehicle is suitable to drive on the beach. Although any car can drive on the beach, there are a few things that will help prevent you from getting stuck.
Is Your Vehicle All-Wheel-Drive?
Having an AWD or 4×4 vehicle is a must for driving on the beach. This gets all wheels moving so if one slips, the others are working to move you along. At the time of posting this, Tesla Model Ys are AWD with motors powering both the front and rear wheels.
Tip: If your vehicle has traction control, turn this off before driving on the beach. This system prevents wheelspin and will actually work against you if stuck.
Does Your Vehicle Have Propper Ground Clearance?
Ensuring your vehicle has proper ground clearance will prevent you from ploughing through the sand. That said, if you stick to hard-packed areas, this is less of a concern.
Looking online, the range for minimum clearance seems to vary from 7.5 to 8.5 inches. The Tesla Model Y has a clearance of 6.6 inches so I was less inclined to go into any soft sand areas. That said, the Telsa Model 3, which has a clearance of 5.5 inches, can be seen ripping around in the surf. You can certainly get away with lower but it’s certainly not a recommendation.
Tips For Driving on the Beach
Now that you have confirmed your vehicle is ready for the sand, consider these tips before hitting the beach.
Deflate Your Tires
You want to have more surface area when driving on sand and this can easily be achieved by deflating your tires. 20 to 30 psi is recommended and will help you ride above the sand rather than digging into it.
Stick Between the Water and the Hightide Line
The sand between the water and the hightide mark will be the hardest and most compacted on the beach. This is the safest area to drive and will likely have tire tracks already that you can follow.
Watch the Tide
Watch Out for People and Pets!
Once you’re on the beach it’s pretty easy to get distracted by the view. Remember that these areas can be busy so keep your speed down and be aware of your surroundings.
Even if your vehicle has AWD and great clearance, you can still get stuck. As such, it’s best to be prepared. Here are a few items I recommend having on hand;
Rinse Off Afterwards
Saltwater is corrosive so it’s good practice to wash your vehicle immediately after driving on the beach. Even if you don’t drive in the water, wet sand can cause you issues. Best to be safe.
What if you Get Stuck?
If you do get stuck, avoid spinning your tires as it can dig you in deeper. Instead, place the traction mats behind your tires and reverse onto them. You may have to dig a bit or wet the sand to help pack it down and create better traction.
Failing that, ask for a tow. I was keen to avoid this at all costs as it’s not recommended to tow a Tesla. Spinning the tires by pulling the car can damage the electric motors. This is why towing a Tesla requires a flatbed.
Where Can You Drive on the Beach?
If you have seen The Goonies, you will be glad to hear that the police chase along the beach wasn’t just Hollywood magic.
Throughout the Pacific Northwest, there are several beaches open to vehicles. Long Beach, Washington, for example, is a designated highway.
Other popular locations on the west coast include;
- Long Beach, Washington
- Tierra Del Mar, Oregon
- Sunset Beach State Recreational Site, Oregon
- Pismo Beach, California
On the East Coast checkout;
As you can see, with proper precautions, you can drive on the beach, even in a Tesla. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in an area where this is an option, I suggest giving it a go for yourself. Just remember to keep an eye on those tides 😉
Stay tuned for my full experience driving on the beach in Long Beach, Washington!