How to winter-proof your Tesla so you don’t end up like these TikTok influencers

A snowy blizzard is coming down and a Tesla rear wheel and rear door can be seen through a layer of snow sliding off
Tesla Model 3 trying to break through the blizzard
Image: Umar Shakir / The Verge

The success of many products on the market today can be traced back to the online influence of online celebrities. Online creators are fond of showing off the car and its features, which helped spur Elon Musk into the spotlight as our first influencer CEO. Some people are noticing that theirTeslas aren't faring as well in winter.

One of the first things people notice about electric cars is how quiet they are. In a TikTok trend titled " Things I hate about myTesla", userTesla Flex shared how it is hard to clean ice off the front of the car since there is no heat energy coming from under the hood.

The hood and headlights, as well as the wheel wells, which build up ice from lack of heat energy waste, are things that Jay Fay expressed frustration about.

In winter, the windows on cars with Frameless Windows can stick easier since many of them need to be pulled when opening.

Preconditioning the car from the app can take some of the cleaning stress away. The same feature doesn't help with the freezing of the flush door handles of all the models of the company.

The Model Y is unable to make it up a steep street because it is not properly equipped for the winter. It isn't clear if the car was equipped with winter tires, but that would be a requirement to make it up that road.

This is a closeup of the backside of a passenger side view mirror, which is folded and has ice around the joints. An ice scraper is being used to break it.
Unlocking the car was met with terrible motor noises as the mirrors failed to unfold. Remember to keep them unfolded or else start bashing some ice.
Photo by Umar Shakir / The Verge

In my first two years of owning a Model 3, I didn't have any issues in the cold, but my apartment had underground parking. I learned how to treat aTesla in the cold after that.

There are ways to reduce the pain of owning a car in places other than California.

When locked, set your mirrors to not auto-fold. The car folds the side-view mirrors when parking. It keeps it safer from people trying to break into it and it also gives a good indication of the car being locked. It can freeze up in the winter and that requires some risky ice-breaking with a scraper. It would have been nice if the joints did as well as the mirrors. The auto-fold setting should be disabled.

Two cars are parked in a white snowscape with a forest backdrop and snow has built up on the hood of the Tesla
Don’t let snow build up on the Model 3’s hood. Same goes for the Focus Electric in the back... it won’t melt itself off.
Photo by Umar Shakir / The Verge

Clean the snow from the headlights and hood. The hood and headlights will become ice sheets if there is no engine-wasting thermal heat. The headlights and hood should be brushed off periodically. Don't use a metal shovel.

These are not quite winter tires, but the Michelin CrossClimate 2s are working well for me in the snow.
Photo by Umar Shakir / The Verge

Get a set of winter tires. It's better to have winter tires on a rear-wheel drive car than it is to have winter tires on an all-wheel drive car. It is easier to have two sets of summer and winter tires, pre-mounted and balanced, so that you can swap the wheels yourself when the season changes.

All-season tires are also available. Some can be good for warm weather, like the Michelin Pilot Sport AS, and some can be bad in cold weather, like the Continental ExtremeContact. I have the original 18-inch Aero rims mounted on the original CrossClimate 2. Due to a speed rating change, many outlets, like Costco, no longer install them onTeslas. Your tire warranty may be invalidated if you don't do your own research.

If you have a performance Model 3 or Model Y, you may have summer tires on them. If you are in a cold climate, please change them.

The wipers should be set in service mode. It's common to flip up your wipers before it snows, but it's easy to forget about them in a car with a hood.

This is a closeup of the charge port door of a Model 3, with the Tesla T logo lighting up green and a J1772 plus Tesla adapter plugged in. There is snow and ice stuck around the whole port and door.
While charging, the port actually stays a bit warm. But you should still clear the ice on the charge port door and the frame before unplugging and closing.
Photo by Umar Shakir / The Verge

Preconditioning and charging should be done when the car is plugged in. AC power can be used to preheat the car and battery, which can melt snow off the glass, and give you better range with a warmer battery. If you schedule both the departure time and the charging time, you can preheat the car before you leave and also time it to run in the tail end so that the plug will be warmer and less likely to be frozen in the port.

When opening and closing doors, be patient. After you precondition your car, the windows should no longer be stuck to the rubber seals of the door, making it safe to open. The handles are not warm, so carefully knock ice off of it and press into the handle pivot with your thumbs until it pops out. Try to clear the crevices of the handle so it doesn't get stuck again.

You can summon to roll your car out of the snow. After shoveling my driveway, I knocked a lot of snow off the car and wanted to clean it up. I had to drive over the snow fort to get the car out of the way because the handles and doors were still frozen. It dropped more snow in the motion.

Since a cold battery is likely to lose some of its charge, set the right expectations about range. The best way to calculate how many watt-hours per mile the car is averaging and dividing by your battery pack size is to do the math, but the car does that for you on the fly. The issue is the car won't know at the start of the drive how many highway miles it will get in the cold. Even if you see a range on your car that is close to or above 300 miles, you should expect it to be more than 200 miles when driving over 65mph.

In a 700 mile trip from Baltimore to Chicago in December of last year, my Model 3 had an effective range of 167 miles and an average of 450 Wh per mile.

Electric cars are finally breaking out of the niche vehicle market as more people realize the benefits and share their experiences online. It was only a matter of time before influencer chose electric cars because they love to promote their trendy lifestyles and purchases to millions of people. Hopefully these tips will save current and future owners from new-car frostbite.