How Does Tesla ‘Cold Weather’ Feature Work? (Explained)

Winter is coming, and it is a common worry for those who own electric vehicles. We understand how cold weather can have an adverse effect on your battery.

Reports have shown that cold weather can reduce an EV battery capacity by as much as 41%. That’s a lot. 

Thankfully, Tesla rolled out a recent “Cold Weather” package that deals with this problem.

Jump on this article to find out what this remarkable package in the Tesla is all about.

Here Is the Answer to How the Tesla Cold Weather Feature Works:

The cold weather package works by defrosting ice during winter and warming up Tesla owners while driving. This package has a wide range of climate options that work for different parts of the car. Tesla released the package to make driving in winter comfortable and easier and boost drivers’ focus.

What Does Cold Weather Mean On Tesla?

This package is also known as the Tesla Subzero Weather Package.

It is called the cold weather package because Tesla labels the button with that name, but its proper factory name is the Tesla Subzero Weather Package. So here is what this feature does.

This package is a bundle of climate options in the Tesla that makes winter driving bearable. It provides a comfortable atmosphere for passengers in winter.

Since the package has been introduced, its list of options has been fluctuating, but the standard cold weather packages include:

Heated Rear Seats

These heated seats are unlike the conventional heating and cooling system. Tesla uses a pump through the seats to push a cool liquid to provide warmth for the passengers.

This method is cheap, quiet, and power efficient and it also works for any seat size of any vehicle.

Tesla claims that conventional methods are not capable enough to remove excess heat and may not provide a comfy space for passengers.

The Model S takes this feature to a whole new level by providing three seat heaters for the back and each one works independently of the other.

You can adjust them from levels 1 to 3. All you need to do is to tap on the screen and move to the next level.

Heated Wipers

This is what Tesla calls the wiper blades defroster.

The simple job of this feature is to warm your wiper blades to keep them from freezing on the windscreen.

Another advantage is that they can remove ice from the blades because the last thing you want to see when you come outside is your windscreen frozen. The best way to use this feature is to turn it on before getting to the car.

Also, it is important to constantly check the heating controls because many users have claimed that some may automatically turn off and you would have to put them back on by yourself.

Heated Steering Wheels

The point of this feature is to defrost and keep your hands warm while driving. A user claimed that it took just 2 minutes for the wheels to steam up to the maximum temperature, which is 37.1 degrees.

He also claimed that for his Model Y, all the parts of the wheel were heated as against some designs that only heat on both sides. This feature can also be turned on or off by the voice command in the vehicle.

Heated Washer Nozzles

A washer nozzle is a tool that sprays washing fluid over the windshield to help clean dust or debris.

The washer nozzles in the Tesla come with a defroster that comes on whenever the temperature outside goes very low. They also come on when you turn on the heated wipers. They work almost simultaneously.

Heated Side Mirrors

Tesla mirrors come with a defroster to improve visibility. It can be frustrating to always have to wipe down on your glass to see clearly and, in the worst cases, doing this can make you lose focus.

Heated mirrors prevent that icy build-up on your windows so you can drive conveniently.

Camera Heaters

Tesla never ceases to amaze their customers because who would have thought that a camera should have heaters?

To improve safety, the sentry mode was introduced to record all activities around the vehicle. However, in winter, the front camera may be covered in snow as it is placed at the top of the windshield.

Thus, to allow the camera to continue its job, Tesla installed a heater around that location to defrost any snow that may hinder the camera from recording.

Heaters were not placed at the side and rear view because snow does not really settle in those locations.

Do All Tesla Models Have the Cold Weather Package?

Not all the Tesla models have this cold weather package, it only comes standard on the Model S and X as they were introduced in 2017. For owners of Model Y and X, there’s no option for most of these features.

However, Tesla offered a $300 over-the-air upgrade for heated seats. So if you use a Model 3, you might just want to make good use of this recent upgrade.

If you plan to install any of these features on any Tesla bought before 2017, budget around $750 to $1,000.

What Exactly Is Heated When Using the Cold Weather Feature?

As emphasized earlier, there is a long range of climate options that come with this cold weather package. But basically, the heating system uses an advanced heat pump design that traps and moves heat around the cabin.

Older Tesla cars make use of the more common heat resistance methods, only that they drain more power. The heated steering, wipers, camera, and windshield just make driving in the snow less frustrating.

The cold weather feature on the Model 3 long range was tested in winter to calculate how long the feature could run. 

The results showed this feature could run for 37 hours with 17% of its battery left and 45 hours runtime when the vehicle was idling with the cabin temperature set to 65 degrees.

This is simply remarkable because a snowstorm could last well over 24 hours, but driving a Tesla equipped with this feature, you might just live to see the next day.

How Does the Cold Weather Package Affect the Driving Range?

Generally, the range of an EV is determined by the health of the battery and the driving habits of the owner. However, in cold weather, the temperature seems to tap and drain as much as 40% of the EV battery.

To keep the battery warm, heat is generated from the battery as well. So when you activate the rear seat heaters, it keeps the battery warm and can preserve the battery other than when you use the air conditioner.

Thankfully, this cold weather package runs on low energy, so it doesn’t have an adverse effect on your battery.

As stated earlier, the Model 3 Long Range can run for over 37 hours while using the cold weather package, only you will be left with almost an empty battery.

During winter, it is advisable to leave your car fully charged overnight for the next day, because you might lose more range than you would have expected.

We also have a full guide here on how to defrost all Tesla models.

Do These Features Make Your Tesla Better For Snow Driving?

The main point of this cold weather package was to improve your Tesla’s capacity for snow driving.

You can use the heated wipers to defrost ice from the windshield to improve your visibility and the heated nozzle also works to clear off the ice while driving.

The defrost feature in the Tesla also works for frozen charge ports. All you need to do is to activate the pre-conditioner to unfreeze this compartment.

Related: Do Teslas Perform Well in Cold Weather? (Things To Consider)

How Do You Activate the Cold Weather Package? 

To activate this feature, tap on the controls of your touchscreen and then select the cold weather button.

You will see a wide range of options for heating, such as steering wheels and seat warmers. Pick any and set the temperature to your convenience.

Related: Tesla Makes “Humming Sounds” While Parked? (Here’s Why)

Tips For Driving Your Tesla In Winter

Here are tips to help you get the most out of your battery range when driving in winter:

Precondition Your Car

When your battery gets too cold, a snowflake sign comes on to indicate that the battery power and regen braking are not in their optimal condition.

Thus, it is best to precondition your Tesla before you step out to drive, as it gives your battery power and optimizes the regen braking.

Use Scheduled Departure

To use this method, make sure your car is plugged in, then tap charging and set a departure time. This makes the car schedule the charging to when it is fully charged.

This reduces the energy consumption and cost of charging. It also automatically turns on the climate control to put the cabin in a cozy atmosphere.

Plug Your Battery Often

During winter, it is good to plug your vehicle even when it’s not in use. This helps the battery retain heat for it to operate efficiently. Plugging in also conserves energy and aids the regen braking.

Reduce Hard Acceleration

Hard and rapid acceleration during winter takes its toll on your battery as it tries to supply power.

Luckily, in all Tesla models, there is a chill mode feature that helps to reserve energy by limiting the power of the acceleration.

To enable this feature, simply go to the controls, tap on driving, then on acceleration and then enable the chill mode.

Get Winter Tires

Winter tires are specially designed to hold traction even in snow and ice. A good way to identify a quality winter tire is if it comes with the snowflake symbol (or M&S for milder winter weather, like on the West Coast).

These tires can handle almost any winter weather condition you experience.

Related: Teslas & Software Updates: Common Questions (Solved)


Tesla Features Explained: Subzero Weather Package | 

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