Model S

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Braking (or not!) in snowy conditions! Used P90D

Hi Everyone. New owner here and very grateful for everyone on the board ready to discuss details.
I just purchased a 2016 Model S P90D from the dealership in Littleton, CO. I have driven it with no problems in the past 5 days of ownership from the Denver area now into the rf valley, dealing with mild to moderate snow and icy conditions. No real problems in temps ranging from 30-36 (mostly parked in a semi-indoor parking structure) but today I drove the 50+ mins to Aspen where it was more like 19 degrees AND parked outside on the street for about four hours.

Returning to the vehicle I immediately noted that braking was NOT responsive in a timely manner.

Brakes are crunchy and slippery, and rolling a good 1-2 feet gradually after fully engaging brake pedal! This happened multiple times at speeds between 5-30 mph until I plugged in at a supercharger and called roadside asst.

They state there's no alerts from the car about the brakes and therefore really don't think there is an issue. I spoke with another driver charging next to me who recommended I return the vehicle as they are pumping these cars out and he returned multiple vehicles because of various strange issues. He also stated his brakes are working perfectly and he's obviously as cold as me.

This return would be a major inconvenience since I don't lived in Colorado (I know, purchasing in a different state might be inadvisable, but I live in a remote area so I would have to travel to purchase no matter what).

I'm concerned that the issue will not display for folks in less extreme temperatures and therefore it will be deemed unworthy of brake adjustment and I will be left with a potential lemon that I can only keep in warm dry places.

Does everyone park their Tesla in a garage who lives in mountainous/snowy regions?!

Should I return it and just eat the cost? Will my deposit and payment go towards a replacement, will my financing have to be redone, etc etc?

Thank you for any and all insights!


  • Is the anti-lock activating on your brakes? Its possible that the battery was cold enough that regen wasn't slowing your car sufficiently and you had to use your brakes. Perhaps different road conditions resulted in the anti-lock activating. You should have also felt the brake pedal vibrating as the anti-lock cycled the brakes on and off.
  • First thing, dont panic.

    You have a warranty.

    These older cars may be keepers if the New MS looks like a M3 on the inside.

    Brakes are not complicated. Check fluid level, then leaks, then find out if there is air in the lines by bleeding them.

    Calipers might need lube on the pins in your climate.
  • First, congrats on getting the car. Second, pour your self a drink and relax.

    Was your car sitting overnight after driving through rain or slush? If so, the "crunching" you hear, assuming it is only heard for the first couple of brake applications, is just a super thin film of rust being worn off the rotors. Unlike your previous cars, the brakes on Tesla's are basically cold all the time. So when you park the car for the night and they are wet, a thin film of rust will form.

    As mentioned by others, the delay and the whole process of slowing down in the cold is all related to regen limitations when the battery pack is cold. You should have seen a yellow line on your energy usage display indicating any limitation in regen. When there is a regen limitation, you will have to depend more on the traditional brakes. As the battery warms up, the regen limitation will do away and your use of the brakes will be reduced to the last 20 feet before a stop.

    Additionally, because the brakes are perpetually cold, the feel of the braking will be different in the rain.

    As for that guy you spoke with, don't listen to him. One, if anyone was a serial car returner, why would he keep buying from the same company, if it was that bad......

    I highly recommend that you join the local Tesla Owners Club. You will undoubtedly find someone who will be willing to teach you more about your car and the hundreds of nuances of Tesla driving and ownership.
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