Do You Have to Warm Up a Tesla? Here’s why I would …

It’s nice to be able to hop into a warm car on a cold morning. But do you actually have to warm your Tesla before your drive?

In cold weather, and to protect your battery, Tesla recommends that you precondition your car using Scheduled Departure and precondition if you are going to Supercharge.

In this article, we’ll look at how we can warm the car and the reasons why we should.

Tesla parked on snow covered street
Infographic - do you have to warm a Tesla

Where are you located?

Teslas don’t like extreme cold or extreme heat, but there are times when the temperature drops and your Tesla needs a little extra to get it going.

I wrote a post about charging a Tesla in the cold, which you may find interesting – Tesla won’t charge in the cold

Scheduled Departure of Your Tesla

Tesla has solutions for cold weather. The first we’ll look at is the Scheduled Departure.

  • Tesla App
  • Charging
  • Scheduled Departure
  • Schedule
  • Depart at (enter time)

This is preparing your Tesla to leave at a specific time. The majority of Tesla owners charge their cars overnight and at home. By setting a departure time in the app, your car will know it has to be ready to go at that time and will warm not only the interior of the car but, more importantly, the battery.

This is advantageous because you use your home charging unit to warm your car, not the onboard batteries.

Turning on Scheduled Departure will also manage the Preconditioning option in your car.

Preconditioning your Tesla

Preconditioning is heating your car for your trip before you leave the house. This is nothing new to car owners on a cold winter’s morning. I know you can hear the hum of engines turning over when it’s frosty on our street. The difference with a Tesla is that you can warm your car from the comfort of your home.

  • Tesla App
  • Climate
  • Turn On

You can go one step further if you can see that it’s icy or frosty outside

  • Tesla App
  • Climate
  • Defrost Icon

When you’re ready to leave, your car will be warm, defrosted, and your batteries ready to drive.

Reduced Capability of your Tesla

If you fail to warm your Tesla sufficiently in the cold, then not everything will be available to you. You can tell this s the case by the ‘Snowflake Icon’ on the dash. Battery power and regenerative braking will be limited. Once the car is ‘warmed’ enough, the Snowflake will disappear, and all functions will be restored.

If your battery is cold, your range will be significantly reduced. You can combat this by

  • Driving slower
  • Braking more gently &
  • Taking off more gently

All the energy available will be going to warm your car to a suitable level. You can speed its process up by turning off the interior cabin heat – but ironically, turning on the heated seats won’t cause the same energy drain.

Keeping Your Tesla Topped Up

Tesla recommends charging your car every night using either a Tesla Wall Connector or a home charger. This is even more important in the colder months. Your Tesla constantly monitors your batteries and keeps them at the optimum temperature. If your onboard batteries have to use their power to monitor this, then degradation of your battery’s lifespan will occur.

If you are using your home charger (TWC), then you are using the power from your home and ultimately saving your batteries.

Tesla batteries are Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) which are filled with ionized liquid. If they get too cold, the liquid can freeze. This means that these particular cells will no longer charge properly, if at all, and so your Tesla can end up with a range of dead cells. Tesla can replace these, but it is a costly service. This is another reason to keep your batteries warm as much as possible.

Fast Charging / Supercharging

The only other time that Tesla recommends warming your car is if you are going to Supercharge or Fast Charge your battery. Superchargers work better, i.e., they will charge your car more efficiently if your battery is already warm.

If the battery is cold, then the Supercharger will not fully charge your battery which, in essence, defeats the purpose of going to Supercharge.

So how do you compensate for this? Tesla onboard computers are constantly monitoring your car and any future commands that may be in place.

By telling your Tesla that you are planning to Supercharge, your car will begin to prepare for this and automatically preheat your battery. You do this by simply entering a Supercharger location into your navigation system. Your car will then calculate the time and distance to that point and has your car at the perfect temperature to get the optimum Supercharge.

Other Modes to Consider

Warming or preheating your Tesla warming and preconditioning your Tesla is the sensible thing to do when you’re at home and have access to your home charger. But what happens if you’re not at home and the weather worsens? It’s up to your batteries to manage the drop in temperature.

They are durable and built to last, but like any car, we need to take care of them, and the batteries in your Tesla ultimately make it go.

So if the weather turns, switch to ‘Chill Mode. This will reduce the torque available to prevent sliding and will also look after your battery.

Change your braking to the lowest setting in icy conditions to reduce sliding.

Always ‘Defrost’ handles. Gently bump your hand on the door handle to crack any ice that may be there. Be careful of any jewelry that you might be wearing that could scratch the paint. Alternatively, spray the handle with a small amount of WD-40 before cold weather arrives to prevent a full freeze.

Charge Ports are also somewhere that can be affected by below-zero temperatures. Charging will be significantly reduced if the port is frozen but will still charge. Preconditioning will defrost the port for you. If your charge port latch is frozen and your cable is stuck, then you can manually release it.

Ensure that the cable is not charging (turn off charge at the TWC) or select Stop Charging on your Touchscreen. Open the rear trunk and pull the charging port’s cable downwards to release the latch manually. Don’t be tempted to pour warm water over anything.

Here are a few common questions folks ask about Teslas:

I’ve written a ton on common Tesla issues, which hopefully you won’t ever experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:

Check out the Tesla troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.

Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.

Check out the Tesla category page for a list of popular Tesla posts.

If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a technical writer here at He's a Red Seal qualified Auto Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience working on Classic and Modern Cars. He's worked for GM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Audi, and VW main dealers.

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