Road Trip / Tips

Five Tips for EV and Tesla Winter Driving

Just two months into ownership, my Tesla Model Y was sideswiped by a truck. The road was icy and the truck did not have proper tires. This made me think about EV and Tesla winter driving in general. Was I prepared to handle the coming months? Are there EV specific things I should do to prepare?

I reached out to other EV owners and asked them for their best EV and Tesla winter driving tips. Here are the top five.

Utilize Voice Commands

Much of the driving controls in Teslas are managed through touchscreens. This is especially true with the Model 3 and Model Y. Although this is something you get used to quickly, there’s no denying it can take your eyes off the road.

During winter driving conditions, this can be especially dangerous. Instead of swiping through the menus on the screen, engage the voice command feature. On the Model S and X,  tap the dedicated steering wheel button to initiate this feature. On the Model 3 and Model Y, press the right scroll button on the steering wheel. 

This can be used to control heat and defrosters, seat warmers, and navigation just to name a few. For the full 171 voice commands to date, check out this community-driven list.

Create a Tesla Winter Driving Profile

Tesla allows owners to create multiple driver profiles so you can save settings like seat and steering wheel positions for different people. These profiles, however, aren’t just for your friends.

I have one profile set up for Easy Entry (seat and wheel tucked away), one called Office (for comfortable space to use my Elon Accessories steering wheel tray), and now Snow Mode.

With Snow Mode, I have turned off auto-folding the mirrors to avoid freezing them in place or overworking the motors trying to break free from potential ice or snow.

I also have “chill mode” enabled. This reduces spinning your tires by slowing acceleration. It’s also more efficient on the battery, something even more important in cold weather. If you have Acceleration Boost installed, this one is even more important.

Lastly, before the latest update at least, I had regenerative braking set to low to help reduce slippage. Although this setting is removed from Telsa Model 3’s and Y’s, this feature is still available in many other electric vehicles.

Always be Charging

Speaking of battery life, the next Tesla winter driving tip is to ensure you charge whenever possible. Cold weather takes it’s a toll on batteries and will seriously reduce your expected range. It’s been reported you can see up to 40% loss! Although Model Y and newer Model 3’s have a heat pump to help combat this, keeping your battery charged and warm is recommended.

This means avoid parking outside where possible and, if heading out on a road trip, keeping it plugged in at all times when you are not driving. For best results, set a timer for your charge. This will heat up your battery before departure, further alleviating battery drain.

Plan Accordingly

If you’re taking a road trip during winter months, be sure to plan accordingly. Keep an eye on road conditions and be sure you have proper tires and supplies. This means things that you would take on any road trip, electric vehicle or not. Think winter tires, snowbrush, ice scraper, chains, shovel, warm clothes, blankets etc…

Specific to EV’s and Tesla winter driving, knowing the driving conditions will help you plan your charging stops better. 

Speaking of better (segway), I highly recommend  A Better Routeplanner to get the most out of your battery. In ABRP, you can adjust for things like wind speeds and temperatures. This allows for more accurate calculations on what your projected range will be. This can help you avoid getting in a jam with unexpected battery loss in cold climates.

Note, ABRP offers a premium membership feature that unlocks some fun perks. Enter MYEVTrips as a promo code and get a 30-day trial!

Heat Those Seats

Last up on this list of EV and Tesla winter driving tips is to toast those buns!

Not only do seat warmers feel great on a cold day, but they are actually more efficient than blowing hot air.

While you’re at it, pre-heat your seats and set climate controls before your departure. This can be controlled through your Tesla app and can makes your departure a comfortable one. It also helps maximize your range by heating up while charging rather than using your battery to do it.

Drive Safe!

There you have it, five EV and Tesla winter driving tips to help you stay warm and safe. From ensuring you get the most out of your battery to keeping your eyes on the road, these tips will help you stay safe this winter season.

Images provided by @isacwettero

Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support is highly valued and helps keep this site running! 🙏


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    June 16, 2023 at 6:10 am

    Hi Shaun
    Never know if these messages reach the author so will keep it short. We live in Kelowna. Sometimes go to Vancouver and Calgary in winter. We like skiing so winter mountain driving is part of our life. Question, which mode y would you recommend Does rear wheel drive make sense. I think awd would be better.
    Where do you live?

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      Shaun Robertson
      June 19, 2023 at 1:30 pm

      Hey John, I am in Vancouver and have only had AWD Model Ys. The added traction is beneficial, especially if you are a skier. Either way, make sure you pair it with good winter tires. I did a road trip through Oregon last winter and was flying by long lines of cars going slow in the whiteout conditions.



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