It’s going to be the first winter with the Tesla Model 3 for many owners and with some new concerns over how the car holds up in cold weather, here are some tips and accessories that can help you prepare your Model 3 for the winter.
Tesla Model 3 Winter Tips and Accessories
Model 3 Winter Tires
Let’s start with the obvious: winter tires. If you live in a place where it regularly snows in the winter, it’s not only recommended to get winter tires but it is often the law.
In many places, you will get a ticket if you don’t have winter tires by mid-December, which means that November is about the time when you need to take this seriously.
Thanks to their extremely responsive electric motors, Tesla vehicles have great potential for winter driving performance, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have good winter tires.
Tesla sells wheel and winter tire kits starting at $2,000, but it’s a lot cheaper to buy good winter tires that fit on your existing Model 3 wheels.
The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 Snow Winter tires have been a long time favorite of Tesla Model S and Model X owners and they can also fit the Model 3.
They are available on Amazon for the 18″ wheels (235/45R18) with free shipping for $227.
They offer a good balance between grip and comfort without completely killing the efficiency of the vehicle. It’s also going to add up to less than half of the cost of Tesla’s wheel and tire kit.
Ebay is also a good place to find winter tires and they have great options available in the US and in Canada for most Model 3 wheel sizes (18″ and 19″).
Here are a few options for different price range:
- Model 3 18″ winter tires:
- Tesla recommended Pirelli Sottozero 235/45r18 ($310 in the US and C$353 in Canada)
- Cheaper Dunlop Winter Maxx 2 235/45r18 ($170 in the US and C$223 in Canada)
- Model 3 19″ winter tires:
- Hankook Winter I*cept Evo2 245/40r19 ($230 in the US and C$304 in Canada)
For the Performance Model 3 with the Performance Upgrade, you are basically stock with the 20″ because of the brake – or at least that’s what Tesla says.
You can get all 235/35R20 or just in the front and 275/30R20 in the back. The Michelin Pilot Alpin tires have been recommended to me ($340 on Amazon in the US). I’m still waiting to get pricing information for the Sottozero.
Model 3 Floormats
Another obvious one: floormats. While Model 3 comes with factory floor mats, they are not suitable for anything more than perfect climate.
Tesla released its own Model 3 all-weather Interior mats and Electrek’s Jeff Benjamin was satisfied with them in a review:
But in my opinion, they are expensive and the design doesn’t look like it can retain a lot of water, which is my main concern in the winter.
I always try to shake the snow off my boots before entering the car, but there’s always some left and it melts quickly inside the car.
In my 10 Must-Have Tesla Model 3 Accessories post, I suggested the ToughPRO Tesla Model 3 Floor Mats Set ($85 on Amazon US) – (Amazon Canada):
They are significantly cheaper than Tesla’s and in my opinion, they are better designed for the winter. I’ve been satisfied with them.
Tough Pro also has another floor mat kit for Model 3 that also includes mats for the trunk, frunk, and the storage area ($200 on Amazon).
A lot of people have also recommended to me the 3D MAXpider floor mat kit for Model 3, however it’s significantly more expensive.
Model 3 door, window and handle care
With the wave of cold in Quebec last week, it became clear that the Model 3’s handles and frameless windows are particularly vulnerable to freezing weather.
Tesla is still looking into the issue, but I’ve received several recommendations and I decided to move forward with some.
It’s unclear if the issue with the window not going down is because of it freezing on the seal or inside the door, but if it’s on the seal – some have recommended rubber seal protectant (Amazon US – Amazon Canada).
It’s supposed to help keep the seal supple in freezing temperature.
I applied it to all the seals on my Model 3. You just need to clean the rubber first and then apply the liquid all over it (though I focused mainly on the parts that touch the windows):
I haven’t had issues since applying the product, but it hasn’t been nearly as cold as when I had the issues.
The next thing is going to be silicone spray around the door handles. I will report back on that.
Model 3 Pre-Heating and Battery Pre-Conditioning
The Tesla mobile app is your friend during the winter. You can use the mobile app to preheat the cabin and defrost the windshield.
Of course, it consumes energy and you need to take that into consideration, especially if you are not plugged in.
Depending on the temperature, I was preheating for 5 to 15 mins in Model S, but it looks like I might have to do it longer and at a higher temperature for Model 3 if the issues persist:
Last winter, Tesla also released a feature battery “pre-conditioning” to heat the battery pack when the car is plugged in.
The automaker describes the feature:
“When temperatures are near freezing, preconditioning will also heat your battery for better driving and charging performance. We recommend you plug in to reduce range loss, and start pre-conditioning about an hour before you plan to leave since it can take some time to warm up the battery in colder weather. Note: Requires vehicle software version 2017.50 or above.”
The feature is only available when the temperature is well below freezing. It hasn’t been clear exactly, but you will see part of the battery capacity become blue in the app along with a snowflake icon:
I have seen it show up in the Tesla mobile app for my Model S at about -15℃ and below.
Model 3 Range in Cold Weather
This is not unique to Model 3 or Tesla vehicles. It’s normal for any electric vehicles or even vehicles in general.
Cabin heating will take some energy away from the powertrain, but the efficiency also goes down to the temperature and winter tires.
Depending on the conditions, you should expect 20 to 40% reduction in range. If you are willing to reduce your average speed and reduce the cabin temperature, you should be able to limit the range loss.
If it’s really cold outside, like -15℃ and below, you also need to expect a lower charge rate at Supercharger stations since your battery pack needs to heat up before achieving its max charge rate.
In my experience, it is still perfectly usable for road trips, but you need certainly need to change your expectations versus long-distance travel in a warmer climate.
If you have anything to add about preparing your Model 3 for the winter, let us know in the comment section below.