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Driving in snow / Ice

Howdy, just put my reservation in a few weeks ago (so have a long, long wait ahead of me...) but was wondering if any of the Colroado Tesla owners have had a chance to experience driving the Model S in the Snow / Ice mix we've had the last couple of days?

Any comments will be welcome

I don't plan on taking mine out in the snow because I opted for the 21s and I have a 4x4. But there is a discusson on Tesla Motors Club where people are commenting on how the car behaves in slick conditions. It has good reviews so far.

Thanks Crow. Wife has the 4x4, will be replacing the BMW with the Tesla as my primary car. Will check out the discussion.

I am in the same boat with Crow. The only downside would be if I have to travel for work (35% travel by airlines), and have the 4x4 we own parked at DIA, and then our home in Evergreen gets hit with a bunch of snow, then my wife will have to take the Model S out to run critical errands. Although we live about a 5-minute walk from King Soopers, so I'll remind her that there are two pair of snow shoes in the garage :)

Drove model S in the snow last week and had no problem. Went up a small hill and had plenty of traction. The car felt heavy and the equal weight distribution was evident. The regenerative braking was an addded plus. Drove it first thing in the morning and late afternoon. Only complaint was that windshield wipers could have done a better job

Anyone have a recommendation on where to charge in I-70 mountain corridor? Basically wondering where to book summer drive getaways, Vail, Breck, Aspen?

I agreed about the wipers. No problems in the snow yet. The traction control is really good. I am not sure I want to test it going over the hills on 70 though.

What's the deal with the wipers. Should we go out and get some Ancos right away or some wind blades to push the wipers down to the glass. Sounds like a bit of a problem.

@Crow there is a Tesla 70 AMP charger at George Restaurant & Pub (292 E Meadow Drive). If you have an iPhone download the Recargo app.

@brdunton, thanks for that tip. I don't have a Roadster to S converter so that probably won't work for me, right?

January 28, 2012:
Took a short 5-mile drive last night (9:30 p.m.) in north Evergreen (Bergen Park area). There were 2-3 inches of snow on the roads, which had not yet been plowed, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to test the S in new snow. Temperatures were in mid-20s (F), so the roads were starting to ice over. I have 19-inch wheels with the standard all-season tires from Goodyear (Tesla default tires), and non-wicked 85 kWh power plant.

On fairly flat roads the Model S handled fine at 20-30 mph, but I could make the traction control engage if I purposely tried to accelerate too quickly. I now have a "calibrated acceleration feel" to make the Model S behave nicely on the slick roads.

On a few upslopes of perhaps 4-6 percent grade the S was slow at about 15-20 mph, and again the traction control would engage if I accelerated too quickly, even when I just to tried and raise my speed another 10 mph. After a few hills I did get a good feel for how to control the speed and minimize the TC from engaging.

On the down slopes, same 4-6 percent grade, I tried to let the regen control the speed without any braking, but there were a several intermittent engagements of the TC, so the car was what I would describe as hurky-jerky (on again, off again TC) coming down a 1/4-mile slope. I think driving down hill will require a bit more practice using a steady "go-pedal" position or light braking to minimize the TC from engaging. Since I didn't want to get stuck on the side of the road, or worse, I went home where I have a 6 percent upslope to my driveway from the road to the house. I used a steady pedal position and the S climbed the drive (150 feet) at about 10 mph just fine. I backed back down, and tried to run it up the slope faster, but that just cause the TC to intermittently engage, so I don't want to do that again. Slow and steady.

Bottom Line: The S can perform fairly well in the snow and low temperatures, at least the conditions I encountered, but I recommend everyone practice driving, if possible, a few times before venturing out for a significant distance from home port. To me downhill driving was the worst, and will require a few more practice sessions to get a better feel for how the car will behave. I am not worried and feel the S is comparable to other 2-wheel drive cars in these conditions.

I came home Monday evening with half an inch of snow accumulated on the (warmish) pavement and tried to back the S into my garage up the driveway, which has a significant but not really steep slope. I have 19" wheels and stock Goodyear all-seasons. Took me four tries: the first three times the TC just wouldn't let the car move. The last time I pulled back out into the street and got a little bit of a running start: the car kept moving backwards up the slope and I was able to get the rear tires up on the flat just outside my garage and got inside OK. It was my first experience with the phenomenon others have mentioned where the car won't even move on a slick uphill surface: the tires don't spin, the car just sits there with the accelerator depressed.

I didn't try turning off TC to see how that works, but I would have if necessary. Maybe I'll try it next time we have snow just to get some feel for what happens.

Clearly traction control can be problematic on snow-covered slopes, but just fine of level roads. I need to try driving in snow with TC off, just to see if the feel of the drive is better and safer. It is a heart-sinking feeling having the go pedal to the metal and the car just sits there.

Velo1, Thanks for the info. I have until Feb 24 to finalize and frankly am getting cold feet. I am worried about the range degradation in cold weather. May have to park at DIA for up to a week at a time, and am not sure that even the 85kw battery can handle being outside for that long during a Denver cold snap. Have you had to park for a while without a plug? Also would be interested in your insight about range when driving from Evergreen to Denver on I-70. Thanks in advance for any information that you can provide!

@Aerof16, I too have many trips per year to DIA, but haven't taken the S yet. I did drive Joules to Greeley last week (75 miles one-way), attended a half day meeting, parked outside, and then drove her home. It was about 35-40 degrees, and I started my trip with a full 230 charge. Now I was driving fairly hard, with lots up accelerations, and along the 75 mph stretch of I-25 I even drove at 90 with traffic. When I returned home late afternoon I had about 35 miles range remaining. It may have been close to 40 miles left, as I didn't register the exact number since I knew I had plenty to get home. FWIW, I don't think driving to DIA and leaving it there for a week would be a problem, but that's just my opinion.

I plan to contact DIA soon and request they install some charging station, at least in the garage, but I just haven't got around to it. I suggest everyone do the same.

Don't get cold feet, as this is the most fun car ever made, and I have no worries about it being practical.

+1 Velo1

There is a lot at DIA that has charging stations. It's one of those private lots off the airport. I haven't tried it because I either take a shuttle or my old clunker to the airport.

I recently had my 21" wheels replaced with 19" wheels with snow tires. Driving with the new tires it feels like the right rear wants to kick out and the overall feel of driving is very unstable. I did stop by the service center and the service advisor drove it and noticed what I was talking about. He checked the tire pressure and lug nuts both of which were fine. Ive also had passengers noitce the strange feeling as well. Now I admit I've never driven with snow tires. So if this is normal, then I can accept that however the driving feels so unstable I may have to swap the tires back. There were no issues driving the car previously on the 21" performance tires. So it does seem unlikely that something seriously mechanical could be wrong.

Thanks for reading and any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated!

I immediately swapped out my performance for Winter wheels. The SP drives very stable (snow & road). Did the service center open a ticket?

Yes they did open a ticket. I thought I'd get some feedback here and then go back to them. It feels extremely unsafe and not when pushing it around corners etc where I'd expect different handling with the non performance wheels/tires, but just when accelerating on a straight path.

I've parked my S at Canopy Airport Parking three or four times in recent months. I joined the Canopy Club which gets me a one-class upgrade; I use the Valet service and just park my S in one of their Juice Bar slots and plug in. The valet service may move your car if they need to, but they're quite familiar with the S by now. Recommended.

Covered parking also has a number of Juice Bar parking spots, but there is no guarantee they won't be ICE'd. I don't know if the outdoor lots have plug ins.

Stevez, Thanks for the info regarding the off airport charging station. That makes the transition to Tesla more practical for those of us that fly a lot out of DIA.

"Now I admit I've never driven with snow tires"
We live in the mountains, so we are heavy snow tire users. And we drive autocrosses, so we are very tire aware.
Snows will feel squirrely for awhile if you are not used to them. They need some road time to wear the slick surface off, and the sidewalls and rubber are softer than your performance tires. Add a few pounds of pressure for regular street driving. I run my snows at 42 pounds which stiffens them nicely. I drove a Model S with 19" wheels and snows in Centennial today. The tires did not have enough air in them for me, and with hard acceleration in a corner I could feel them roll a bit. Not enough to worry about, and more air would've solved it. Don't try to drive in snow with the Continentals. They are not meant for it and they are treacherous.

I wanted to post a follow up to my previous post. The service center took my car to the alignment shop they used ( think they now have their own onsite equipment) and made some adjustments. They also found a bushing that was not seated properly. The car drives 100% better/different since the repairs. I drove it to Breckenridge this past weekend on Saturday and it did fine. The service manager Rob is great.

I've had the same experience as Velo1 in my first foray into traffic on snow-packed and icy roads. Forward momentum is best maintained with a light touch on the accelerator. However, removing one's foot from the accelerator on even an even modest (1-2%) downhill slope can make for an interesting dance between the dynamic braking and the TC. I had the slightest of breakaways from under the rear wheels, nothing uncontrollable, but somewhat surprising for the first time experiencing it.
I have the 21" wheels and standard tires.

My 2 cents about the DIA parking. I have driven my S 60k and parked for up to 4 days in Feb and Mar. I leave my home with 185 range(90% charge) and park it with 151 range. It is not on charge while it is parked for 4 days. I get back in my Tesla to drive home and the range indicates 72-101 depending on the temp. The coldest temp was about 18F.

I contacted DIA( parking and was told that DIA does not have any charging stations set up for Tesla's and currently have no plans to install them. They did say there was one Paddle type charging station set up in the east garage-no clue what EV's use that? Maybe if more people requested stations they might move on the idea.

Hope this helps.

I have a 60kW, 19" wheels. I found driving on all-season tires in the snow uncomfortable. I also found once that releasing the accelerator too quickly put enough braking on the wheels to make the car want to spin. The FWD Sienna van I have was much more stable. During the first snow days, I avoided driving the Tesla after the first day. Then I swapped the tires for the winter tires, and it's much better, I have no problem driving it in snow now.

A salesperson at Park Meadows suggested a cure for the regenerative breaking wanting to spin the car: put it into Low Regenerative Breaking in snow. I tried it, and it makes sense: you end up using breaks more, giving you the good-ole ABS behavior. Another thing you could do is get into the habit of releasing the accelerator a little more smoothly on snow and ice.

I would think putting the car into a coast mode would also work, but I am not experienced at this as I pick my car up today. Thanks for the head's up!

Rod in Evergreen

Rod - where in Evergreen. I know of three others up here, too. I am in the Bergen Park area.

BTW - be sure to RSVP for the June 8th Mt. Evans Road Rally.


Dennis - I am at 115 Cedar Way - just over the Clear Creek County line. Stagecoach Boulevard to Greystoone Road. The area is called Greystone Lazy Acres. I have been here 20+ years and will look for you around. I am retired from corporate America for about 5 years and will plan on the rally!

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