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Tesla Model 3: prepare for winter with tires, mats, and some tips

There’s a lot of talk about electric vehicles not being good in the winter, but that’s not true, especially with Tesla’s vehicles, like the Model 3. If you prepare right, you should have a great driving and ownership experience during the winter.

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.

The goal is to find a great balance between grip and rolling resistance. There’s no avoiding it, you are getting to get a poorer efficiency in the winter.

That’s still true with a gasoline-powered car, but it can arguably be worse for EVs with a shorter range if you are already subject to range anxiety.

The most recommended one for EV owners is the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Winter Radial Tire. You get low resistance while still offering enough grip to go through snow without losing control. 

For Model 3 vehicles with 18″ wheels, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Winter Radial Tires are currently offered in 235/45R18 for a special price of $191 on Amazon (also available in Canada), which can now also arrange shipping and installation at your local shop.

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 Winter Radial Tire is also available for the 19″ wheels of the Tesla Model 3.

You can also buy direct from Tesla with their own winter packages, but those are more expensive since they only come with their own wheelsets.

The automaker matches them with Pirelli Winter SottoZero, which you can buy without the wheels (18″, 19″, 20″).

Tesla can sometimes arrange for installing tires bought without their wheel packages, but I had a tough time trying to get them to do that.

Apparently, they are more pro-active when it comes to winter tires in markets like Norway, but in North America, you are often better off dealing with third parties in my experience.

Tesla Model 3 Floormats

Floor mats are a must-have in most climates, but they are especially useful in the winter where there’s snow.

For my Model 3, I tested a few different ones, and I have stuck with the ToughPRO Tesla Model 3 Floor Mats Set ($80 on Amazon):

It’s a fraction of the price of Tesla’s own set, and it meshes a lot better with the interior.

Of course, floor mats make it a lot easier to clean and they will also reduce floor wear, which is going to help your car retain its value.

Tough Pro also has another floor mat kit for Model 3 that also includes mats for the trunk, frunk, and the storage area ($180 on Amazon).

If you are looking for something a little more heavy-duty, several friends recommend the 3D MAXpider ($205 on Amazon).

Model 3 doors and windows care

The Model 3’s door windows are frameless and while it looks awesome, it’s a little weaker and can be a problem in freezing weather.

The windows need to go slightly down in order to open the door safely and I’ve experienced them getting stuck to the rubber seal.

Pre-conditioning the vehicle’s cabin temperature can help and we are going to get into that, but if you want to go an extra step, you can apply some rubber seal protectant (Amazon USAmazon Canada).

It helps 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 with opening my doors in cold weather since – though I also make extensive use of the pre-conditioning, which we are going to get into now.

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 am preheating for 5 to 15 mins, but if you are experiencing difficulties opening your doors, I’d recommend doing it for even longer.

I’ve heard Tesla sometimes recommending 30 to 45 minutes of pre-heating the cabin.

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.

However, if you are using navigation, you should be able to mitigate that with Tesla’s new On-route Battery Warmup feature released earlier this year.

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.

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