Tesla Model 3’s Performance In Freezing Winter Temps Leaves Some Owners Unhappy

Some owners of the Tesla Model 3 were surprised when they found out that their all-electric vehicle wasn’t performing 100 percent during the polar vortex that ripped through USA.

These consumers took their issues to social media and online communities, talking about increased battery drainage as well as problems with the charging port and the door handle design during the recent freezing temperatures.

“My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to ten miles on my drive to work,” Ronak Patel, a Model 3 owner since last August, told Bloomberg. “I paid $60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly.”

However, this isn’t a Tesla-exclusive problem as extremely low temperatures can affect the battery packs in pretty much every battery-electric model, like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt.

The other major problem mentioned was about the design of the door handle; the combination of the handle sitting flush with the bodywork with the low temperatures led to many owner being locked out of their vehicles as they were frozen shut, along with the charging port. Owners reported that even after pre-heating their cars for 10 or 15 minutes, they were unable to access their car.

Andrea Falcone, a software engineer from Boston, was one of those owners, tweeting an image of her frozen handle and saying “I can’t wait all day for this silly car.” Others posted videos online, showing various makeshift solutions, ranging from taping dental adhesive film over the handles to exercising blunt force.

Tesla responded with an over-the-air fix that would allegedly solve the issue of the freezing windows, handles and charge ports. However Tesla’s response appears to have not actually fixed the issue completely, with reports about windows refusing to go up all the way and charging ports that remain unlatched to ensure that owners will be able to charge their vehicles.


  • MarkoS

    So the refrigerator comparison are not just aesthetic.

  • Kash

    Shocking, electric vehicles don’t do well in all climates equally? Gee, who would’ve guessed.

    • eb110americana

      Pun intended?

      • Kash

        TBH I didn’t even notice it until now. lol.

  • BlackPegasus

    I admit that I’m somewhat fascinated by the model 3 but the lack of attention to detail and poor ergonomics makes the car a joke. It’s practically counterintuitive from the windshield wipers to the adjustment of the sideview mirrors. And the door handles are silly and just plain stupid!


    • Axiom Ethos

      I can agree on the wipers, but that can be solved with a software update (much like almost everything else). I’ve never had a problem with the door handles? And they’re actually functional by reducing drag, so actually they make all other handles look stupid. And who adjusts their mirrors constantly? You set it correctly once and forget it. But by all means, please grasp at more straws hoping to make many valid points. Also the seats are extremely ergonomic and the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in.

  • Six_Tymes

    well, at least the dude in the second video knows what he is doing, and doesn’t seem to be surprised

    • Jay

      My handles aren’t electric but my doors were still frozen shut. I don’t think would’ve made much of a difference.

    • TheBelltower

      It is a bit of a gimmick, but in this instance it may make more sense than mechanical handles that also freeze in the winter. Tesla could consider adding a feature that would use the actuator to open the door through the app, without a need to use the handle. Or just unfreeze the car by preconditioning it for a half hour.


  • Ronald Roman

    I used to pee on the handle when it was frozen.

  • TheBelltower

    Frozen door handles and battery depletion in severe weather… problems I’ve had with every car I’ve ever had.

    • Jay

      Yea they need to get off their high horses.

    • Marty

      Exactly – many cars have problems in cold weather. Especially with door handles.
      On the other hand, that’s a good reason to not design door handles Tesla-style. It’s better with something that you can grip and tug loose. With a Tesla 3 handle, you probably have to smack it in to get it out 🙂

  • Merc1

    Oh well deal with it. You picked a science project for your vehicle.


  • diesel_vdub

    Umm, you live in a climate that gets snow and ice regularly in the winter… get a car cover or park the darn vehicle in a covered parking space. It’s not that complicated.

    • danno

      Not an option for most when going to work…so, next idea?

  • tkindred

    When I lived in the midwest all sorts of things became frozen on my cars. Just need to plan ahead

  • Jim Jones ©

    Battery efficiency in ALL electric vehicles drops in sub zero temperatures its not unique to Tesla.

    • ChicagoBlah

      Yeah batteries in general, my SLR battery sucks in the winter!

  • SteersUright

    There was paint literally peeling off a new Jeep in some pictures I saw. It was an extreme weather event. Like complaining that cars dont hold up to forest fires, hurricanes, etc. They aren’t impermeable fortresses. And its a $50k car, not a $500k item of extreme perfection (and event those break at times too).

  • Paul Govan

    The media’s absurdly selective focus on exceptional EV negative experience distorts and wildly misrepresents the general and average day-to-day experience of most EV owners around the world. But there’s no news, is there, in reporting the almost entirely problem-free daily experience of most EV owners. Most of us rarely experience temperatures below -5C and most EV & ICE drivers cover less than 50 miles on 300+ days of the year. The media’s insistent focus on the negative experience of a relatively very small minority of EV owners is clearly distorting the truth of what most EV owners globally experience and in fact seems deliberately designed to undermine confidence and deter people from switching from Infernal Combustion to electric propulsion.
    The fact that a certain Rush Limbaugh has now joined the anti-EV “polar vortex” assault tells me all I need to know about hidden and not-so-hidden agendas.
    The same media and voices that never seem to be able to utter the words “climate change” have no problem conjuring up endless articles focusing on some negative and marginal EV experience or other.
    Paul G(EVUK)

  • Alduin

    What a stupid vehicle the model 3 is. Tesla is a software company not an automotive manufacturer. They jam packed tech basically a tablet on wheels what did you expect? A glitch free experience? Hah think again.


  • salamOOn

    I paid 60 000 to cheat the physics!

    • Exactly! LOL. And as if by magic the door handles and windows on cars without batteries work just fine in the freezing weather…

  • performante

    They’ll fix the handles with an over the air update.

    • kDawg

      Yes, the Model 3 has a built-in nano technology. All handles and the charge port will be heated with over the air update. I can’t wait.

    • Alduin

      But they can’t fix their owners stupidity or their smugness.

  • Nick099

    This issue has been reported for years….yet ignored by fawning media.

    Everyone who has actually worked with automobiles knows what cold weather does to batteries. It’s basic physics. This should be of no surprise.

    What is shocking is that supposedly educated people are mystified and angry of this cold weather issue. How dumb can these people possibly be???

    Tesla recommends a 75 degree garage to keep performance….talk about an energy waste.

    • emjayay

      Lead-acid battery experience does not necessarily translate to lithium-ion. Except if it does.

  • Stephen G

    Don’t feel bad guys. I have a couple of friends that couldn’t start their VW diesels either.

  • Steve Cohn

    Solution: Bring out a bucket of warm water and dump it on the frozen handle in question.

    • RysterARCEE

      This is really not a good solution. Between the thermal shock to components and the virtually instantaneous refreeze, it will do more harm than good.

      • Steve Cohn

        I’ve tried it and it works. I wouldn’t do it on a windshield however.

  • Mr. EP9

    Oh, wow. That’s so surprising. I never would have guessed such a thing would occur.


  • man

    They can afford a Tesla, but not the garage to park.

    • emjayay

      How do they charge at home? Actually this is one of the problems with electric cars: a substantial number of car owners park on the street or other non-charging enabled space.

  • emjayay

    When I lived in Maine – and then later in Colorado with a different vehicle – I found out about how a car parked outside could become encased in a giant ice cube with snow and melting and refreezing. I’ve had to bash my way in in both locations.

  • Bob White

    Tesla is a work in progress. Another 5 years and they should have it right. In the meantime, we have the early adopters to pay for and debug the vehicle.

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