AWD skidding in snow

AWD skidding in snow

Hello all,
Based on Denver, and wanted to get feedback on performance of awd model 3 on snow.
I've stock all season tires, and find that the car skids (tail spin?) on snow when taking turns.
I've experienced this on icy roads, as well as 2 inches fresh snow.

Similar experience when accelerating.

Had an acura tl sh-awd previously with all season tires (different ones, continentals, not michelin), and didn't
experience any skids.

What is your experience with your awd model 3?


coleAK | January 28, 2019

^^^. I toatelly agree. Straight line the traction control is amazing. Cournering not nearly as good. Not terrable and totally driveable. The good news is they can over the air update with the Tesla.
I have a LR AWD on Hakka 9’s.

tp81 | January 28, 2019

From an upstate NY perspective, I've found that I have to be intentionally trying to spin to kick the tail out in the snow. I would say that the car is good in the snow, but not easiest to drive. Considering the power/torque, I think the car keeps itself pretty composed in slippery conditions. Chill mode and low regen make snow driving a little easier for sure.

RedScooter | January 28, 2019

+1 @ coleAK . No problem in a straight line but turning is pretty bad. LR AWD 19 Stock all season tires in Chicago burbs. I feel the rear wheel getting more power than the front causing the spinning.

jimglas | January 28, 2019

its a very heavy vehicle, its more likely to slide in slippery conditions.

AWDTesla | January 28, 2019

Heavy car, lots of torque, wide(r) tires will do that. Like I tell my wife "just point to where you want to go, the rear will follow". Bhaves exactly how my WRX did. Turn with the throttle;)

coleAK | January 28, 2019

I understand it’s a heavy car but still more than 2000 pounds lighter than my Land Cruiser. The problem I think is in the programming. In low friction scenarios like fresh loose snow or solid cold ice it cuts the power entirely. And where at times I feel I can throttle steer it. But also Seems to get confused, cuts the power and understeers. Also even playing around on a frozen lake I cannot get the car to modulate right or left wheels independently to break understeer like all of our other vehicles do.

Again I am not complaining. I’m in Alaska and men driving entirely on snow and ice covered roads since mid October. I’ve only had one day that I felt was scary in the model three. We got six or 8 inches of snow on top of solid ice on a Sunday and nothing got plowed. This resulted in 4 to 6 inches of rutted out loose snow on top of solid ice. The Tesla really struggled in this extremely low traction scenario. It would entirely cut power and would stop me all together. I tried “slip start” that sent too much power to the rear and fishtailed. I will mention that day most vehicles were majorly struggling.

wfickas | January 28, 2019

I'm also in Denver with the 18" Aero wheels and AWD. Yes, it definitely slides on turns. Will probably suffer through this season and get a winter set of tires and wheels for this next winter.

AWDTesla | January 28, 2019

Winters won't do much. I run dedicated toyo winter tires. Still slides

Bighorn | January 28, 2019

Unfortunately, 18” snow tires seem to be sold out most places.

LarryZ | January 28, 2019

Took my performance 3 with OEM 18s up to Tahoe three weekends in a row. Worked surprisingly well in marginal conditions, though one time neglected to reduce regen and let off coming around a corner under chain control. Whee. Slipped a good six feet to the side, exactly as if I had braked. That said, my overall experience was that I didn't get any more slides on turns than I expected, and traction control (and slip start) is phenomenal.

JCE | January 28, 2019

My wife reported that her AWD model 3 seems to slide much more that her old car (Subaru Legacy). Ordered the 18 inch aero wheel winter tire package (going from the 19 inch wheels) and will have them installed this Friday. Any reports on better handeling with the winter tire package?

Pierogi | January 28, 2019

Boulder, CO AWD owner here. I've driven from Boulder to the Utah boarder and back on I-70 in snow packed conditions with the 18" Michelin all season tires. I found the traction to be poor, but never slid out or felt unsafe and by simply keeping my speed down and putting the acceleration to "chill mode" and regen to "low" it helped me keep better control of the car. In early January I put Blizzak snow tires on the car and have been up skiing in the mountains and notice a significant improvement in traction and it's more difficult, but not impossible, to get the car to skid out if I'm messing around by excessively accelerating around turns and doing things I would not do during normal operations, but more so to test the limit of the car. My previous car was an Audi and it feels as if the M3 AWD has more power from the rear wheels than the front - in other words, my sense is the power is not as evenly distributed to front/rear in the Tesla as the Audi.

I hear a lot of Tesla owners rave about the Michelin X Ice Tires. So winter performance can even vary between the different snow tires (obviously).

For what it's worth, my wife feels very safe in the M3 with the snow tires on driving to work and back in the snow.

Spartan24 | January 28, 2019

Swapped my 20 summers for 18 winters on P3D+ and love it in snow of all conditions and even some ice. I’m in lower Michigan.
I turn down regen, out it in chill, and I even like comfort steering when driving in these conditions. Not sure why but I do.
I don’t find much slide actually. Enough when I want, but snaps back pretty quickly.

amory | January 28, 2019

Pjohri, I think your problem is the allweather tires, not the car. Get snowtires. My Model 3 gives superb winter traction in this snowy winter in the Colorado high country, because I combine its very fast traction control and proper driving with Nokian R3 snowtires—arguably the best on the market, beating both Michelin X-Ice and Blizzaks.

efuseakay | January 28, 2019

The AWD is definitely RWD biased. The rear will break loose a tad but just let the car work for you.

wiboater4 | January 29, 2019

I felt it breaks loose a little easy on the rear on turns also. We had hard packed snow I was driving on . I think part of the problem is the torque is so responsive that your doing it without realizing it sometimes . After I drove on the slick roads awhile I got better at it . I have the All Season tires . AWD. It would be nice if Tesla could fine tune it for slick roads.
I've never had an AWD car before this so I really have no way of comparing. One other thing, I was coming home from a freinds and hit the cruise control , I was going about 15 below the posted limit. When I hit the cruise the car fishtailed. I lightly tapped the brakes and disengaged. Yeah, I know your not supposed to use cruise in bad conditions but I just wanted to try it. Just a warning to others what to expect.

Brian B | January 29, 2019

I haven't really had to do it, but it would probably be good to just setup a driver profile with snow in the name to have it automatically set regen and chill (and whatever else snow driving settings).

writebonbon | January 29, 2019

Just had a massive dump of snow here in Toronto, ON. (30cm in one day). My AWD with the Michelin X-ICE was sliding all over on the highway noticeably on a party of the road where it has a side slope on a turn, even when just going at 2km/hr. My car was fishtailing and I did not try to over correct it with the steering or anything. This was my 4th day in my Model 3 and it was scary as hell. My husband drives a Subaru Outback and I think there's definitely more control in that car in these kind of driving conditions. Does anyone have any advice on how to gain a bit more control? I took regen to low and was in chill mode.

jcd82 | January 29, 2019

In VT here. I agree it has been a bit more slippery than what I am used to coming from a Subaru Legacy, but I was attributing it to the all season tires. Will invest in snow tires next year and see how it goes. The separate driver profile is a good idea.

ODWms | January 29, 2019

All seasons vs dedicated snow tires appear to make a huge difference. Those in the know report that proper snow tires make a bigger impact than AWD in virtually every case.

miguelcampeau | January 29, 2019

i have a LR AWD with 18" Toyo Observe Gsi6 Winter tires. I live in the Montreal area and we've had a mix of snow and extreme freezing weather. I feel I had more control with my old Subaru WRX. The Model 3 does not feel as safe especially in snow because it tends to skid even during normal acceleration. Putting the acceleration mode in Chill does not help.
I'm a tad disappointed with the AWD and hope a software update will eventually improve the AWD calibration.

Pierogi | January 29, 2019

Keep in mind what the 0-60 MPH times are for this car and how familiar are you with driving a car with this acceleration in snow/icy conditions? Even in chill mode the car still accelerates faster than a Subaru or Audi turbo. I have only driven my AWD in snowy conditions a handful of times and whenever I do get the chance I play around, when it's safe, to determine the limitations of the car in snow so I can modify my driving habits.

At least if there is room for improvement, Tesla could provide an over the air update.

zcd1 | January 29, 2019

As has been mentioned, there's no doubt that the AWD is rear-biased (more power/torque from the rear motor than the front). Combine that, with the more even (less front-heavy) front/rear weight balance and the instant torque and you have a recipe for the rear tires to break traction first, leading to small slips/skids.

This could be somewhat addressed by an OTA update that made front motor "lead" slightly in snowy/slippery conditions, keeping the tail more in-line, but it's also a question of driving style and metering out that torque as smoothly as possible. (translation: "Chill" acceleration mode and "Low" regen, plus treat the accelerator pedal as if there's an egg between it and your right foot!)

DanFoster1 | January 29, 2019

Get winter tires. Michelin X-Ice work great on my S. It’s ridiculous to expect all season tires to perform well on snow. I assume you also value reasonable stopping distances! Get. Winter. Tires.

howard | January 29, 2019

Golden office Broomfield home. P3D+ with 18” Michelin X-Ice. I don’t go chill or low regen and find it handles as well as my past Quattros. Winter snow conditions is power control dependent and that takes some getting used too. You are driving with may more instant torque than anything you have previously driven and it is simply way too easy to over drive without ever realizing it until it is breaking loose. I thoroughly enjoy driving the car and that includes heavy winter conditions like yesterday with 5” laid down and packed. Winter tires and respect.

Manjushr | January 30, 2019

VT here, and +1 to @ColeAK. We're on the winter sottozero's... still fishtails/drifts around corners. Never gets stuck, straightline traction dreamy.... but definitely more driving the drift than my wife is comfortable with.. I agree that this may be able to be corrected with programming over time...

HughManatee | January 30, 2019

Yep, same exact experience her ein MN as @Manjushr above. In Minnesota (currently -25ish) and snowy. It always goes where i point it, but it slips while doing it. Winter Sottozeros from Tesla. If i'm not on chill, i find it very slippy, even when going slowly (plenty of cold weather driving experience, and always use winter tires). It can also be very fun.

djharrington | January 30, 2019

I’m at 30+ ski days this season so far and driven a ton in packed, fresh, dry, wet snows, and ice. At least half has been in the 3 with Pilot 3+ A/S. Those tires slip a bit as expected, but the car has always done well to keep the correct end forward. Sometimes I feel the T/C is a little too cautious. I think those that have commented on easy application of torque nailed it. Finesse that right foot, especially around turns, and the car does pretty well. If I threw on winter tires, I’m sure I’d be amazed.

charlie.unitedstates | January 30, 2019

I live in Breckenridge, CO - daily drives on ice and snow and I agree that the tail slide can and should be fixed with a software upgrade.

Chill mode reduces the back from sliding out and put Michelin Ice-X3 on for better handling.

I was stuck on I-70 a few days ago in super icy conditions and was able to compare the Tesla's performance alongside many other vehicles - while most of them accelerated in a straight line going uphill, the Tesla was sliding left and right depending on the camber of the road.

Red_Falcon | January 30, 2019

i to have the P3D and the Michelin 4S tires (stock) aren't to be used below 40F and when 20F or lower any load on the tire can crack them. I switched before the cold hit here in St. Louis back in the middle of Nov. Matter in fact the unusually cold Nov caused me to garage the car until the tires arrived. The Michelin's are great 3 season tires but could be a deadly in freezing temps. The tires i have are the best all season performance tire out there the Michelin AS3+ (See Tirerack). They're noisier than the 4S's but have nearly the same warm weather grip as the 4Ss. In late Mar i'll be switching back to the 4S's. We had 11" of snow in StL and in a parking lot I did some fun testing and was amazed at the grip and how little slipping was occuring. So switch out those 4S's for something sure to inspect them they be already damaged.

CST | January 30, 2019

Strange, I drove an S70D with all season tires in heavy snow in Tahoe and it performed flawlessly. With winter tires I bet it would be amazing. I wonder if the model 3 is worse.

msmith55 | January 30, 2019

Studless winter time tires can make a big difference, perhaps you should try them instead of all seasons, even just two on the front can help. Remember, for traction in snow, you need 4/32 or better tread, winter tires with snow flake on them are better for snow.

pjohri | January 31, 2019

@CST I've heard similar stories from a friend who owns an S and drives in cold weather up north a ton. It looks like S is much better at this. Would be great to hear from Model S owners.

RedScooter | January 31, 2019

My AWD with all season is almost not driveable due to skidding. I prefer my wife's front wheel drive ICE car with all season tires in snow - yup, it is that bad. When I have to drive I do the turns at 2/3 mile/hour and it still skids; needless to say I annoy everyone behind me. Tesla - please please push an update let the front take more load.

mmclean708 | January 31, 2019

Wow, am I glad to read this from all! I live my car, and was happy with it in snow, until our last storm-heavy rain followed by flash freeze, the a few hours later snow squalls to polish that ice really nice. My 35 min drive home took an hour because of conditions, and I could see many places where ice cars had trouble skidding, stopping, starting on hills. I use chill and low regen, drive really slow...pulling over when the others want to go faster than me...but I have one large hill, and I lost it going up. I know if i had been in an ice car i would have gone into the ditch, but my awd did correct and get me up the hill. Buying this dream car was a major expense for us and we are trying to get through this, the first winter, with stock all seasons, but next year I'll get the studded snows, because midcoast Maine gets ice...frozen water....a lot.
I do find my situation interesting that I have more problems going up hill than down, probably because I am used to being cautious going down, and wanting speed to go up. Will take the advice given and modulate pressure on the pedal when going up.
Thanks all, live the forums, love my 3.

ajwallace | January 31, 2019

Absolutely the model 3 skids around cornerns even going very slow. It’s not an issue with tires or torque. It’s basically a rear wheel drive vehicle which is the issue. I have noticed that when starting in snow it seems like only the rear tires engage, until they slip and then the front tires engage. Works great for going straight, but corners are kind of crazy. I’ve been driving front wheel drive or all wheel drive cars since 1990 in Minnesota so this is a blast from the past to be skidding. Everything else about the car is amazing!

CST | January 31, 2019

@mmclean708 - watch Tire Rack's ice rink comparison on studded vs studded tires. You might be swayed.

mmclean708 | February 1, 2019

@CST, I have heard about the comparison but haven't seen it, I will check it out. But if they are doing their trials on a frozen lake, as Tesla did, it's not realistic. Show me comparison driving on an ice, snow, slush covered road when the road crews haven't been out yet and you go up and down high, steep hills, around curves, and only have sand right down the middle of your 2 lane road if you are lucky....but even with the skidding I still feel safer in this car.
Question, what do you think of the ICE trick if putting extra weight in the trunk? Always worked in my front wheel drives....

coleAK | February 2, 2019

^^^ look at the studded tires they used in the tire rack test. They were pretty crappy studded tires. Sure Didn’t use Nokians. Check out this comparison. Done by a non-bias group, the Norwegian Auto federation. Studded tires score much higher and a ton higher on ice preformance.

howard | February 2, 2019

I bought a performance sedan. I don't have issues with 18" Michelin X-Ice. Unless Tesla provides a true separate selectable snow mode that changes bias leave it alone. The current slight rear drive bias should not be changed. Period! If you have trouble in the snow and ice get better tires and improve your driving skills.

CST | February 2, 2019

I think I agree with Howard. When I drove the model s up at Tahoe in heavy snow, I was able to make it slide out if I wanted to but it was more fun than anything! But, I grew up in snowy climate, so for me, maintaining control of the vehicle was second nature. My wife and daughter freaked a bit.

kcheng | February 2, 2019

I'm with CST, slides are fun, as long as they are controllable. It's when they are unpredictable and uncontrollable, when snow tires are a must. Of course, studded snows for those who drive on ice. I'm driving around on the OEM all-season Michelins this first Winter. So far, so good. I live on a ¼ mile dirt road that is prone to deep snow drifts from having an exposed 2 mile fetch on a lake, so I'm quite used to sliding around on snow and ice. The LR AWD has performed so well, I'm tempted to keep all-seasons in the future. Or at least the 3PMSF snow tires. My last 3 cars prior to the Model 3, I always used dedicated snow tires, Blizzaks, X-iCE3, etc.

mmclean708 | February 2, 2019

@kcheng, you are in Maine if I remember right? I also live on a lake in Maine, 1/3 mile dirt road. I actually don't have problems on curves, just up hills. And i was doing great with the stock all-season until the ice the other day. I do get it, studs aren't 100%, and I am more careful in rain when I have studs, but these rural roads, hilly and curvy, I have never lost it like I did driving up turnpike hill out of Camden. Just glad I had the Tesla, if that had happened in my old accord I'd have been in the ditch.
I am still not sure if I should do studs all around, just back...? Guess I can ask Tesla in the spring. But I may try putting weight in the back for now cause this beautiful car blew my savings, so winter tires and/or studs will have to wait for next winter.

Idahorefugee | February 3, 2019

My driveway maxes out at a 18.75% grade - just after the second curve. Driving up yesterday, I noticed that the back wheels spun out several times but my M3 corrected for it each time and made it up. This is with all season tires. My wife's Subaru Forester makes it up without any spinning tires, also on all season tires.

[I'm not suggesting that I don't really need winter tires, I'm just providing a bit of data.]

burdogg | February 5, 2019

I wish I could compare an AWD model 3 with my 70D model S - but I only have the RWD Model 3. I have never had a problem with my 70D sliding - at all. Yet every slick morning (3 so far) making this one turn, my RWD 3 does what everyone says their AWD is doing. So it does sound like the S is definitely much better. I wonder if it really has to do with the two different size motors on the AWD 3 - whereas my understanding the S is the same motor front and rear. That extra power in the rear motor on the 3 may be the culprit here.

I was looking at selling my Model 3 to someone in Arizona - giving them a good deal, and buying a Model 3 AWD - it would be a wash for me (seeing we get $5,000 state credit here, so 5 off the RWD that someone in AZ couldn't get, makes it a good deal for them, and with the 5 off the AWD, I lose nothing). But alas, with these reports, it would be a lot of jumping through hoops plus getting rid of my 66xx VIN - which I am a little nostalgic about having a low VIN :)

burdogg | February 5, 2019

(Both my S and 3 have the stock all season tires)

Bighorn | February 5, 2019

The higher weight of the S probably helps.

pjohri | February 10, 2019

@burdogg, if you frequently drive in snowy conditions, the model 3 awd is not the car for it. based on comments here and my conversations with model S owners, would stick with the model S.

To summarize, an AWD model 3 with all seasons (and many have had the same experience with snow tires)

1. Skids on turn
2. Slips on inclines (i've had this experience myself even going into parking garages).
3. Skids when starting from stop, although traction control kicks in and can keep the car relatively straight.

I've started using low regen, chill mode, comfort steering - but seriously considering just trading in this car and getting a used model S.

DanFoster1 | February 10, 2019

@pjohri: “…–but seriously considering just trading in this car and getting a used model S.”

I have a Model S 85D; you should consider getting appropriate winter tires for your Model 3.

coleAK | February 10, 2019

I’m in Alaska and although the model 3 has some slight issues on winter roads it still does very well. We went from a RWD S to and AWD 3 and the 3 is exponentially better. I have a friend that went from an AWD s to and AWD 3 and states very little difference in the 2. He said the S is marginally more stable going and the 3 is marginally better stopping. That makes sense considering the size/weight difference. I would get a better set of tires way before I switched cars.