Model S Wiper Issues

Model S Wiper Issues

I have heard several owners complain about windshield wiper behavior, in particular the way the wipers, if left on when exiting the car, will start up on driver re-entry. This poses two problems:

1. If it is raining or if there is water remaining on the windshield, the wipers will push that water right into the interior of the car if the driver's door is not yet closed.

2. If the wipers became iced to the windshield while the car was parked, and the driver forgets to dislodge them before getting in the car, the result could be a blown fuse or broken wiper arm.

I believe this could be fixed with a software addition which deactivates the wipers when you exit the car, and upon re-entry, requires that you turn the wiper switch OFF and then back ON again to re-activate them.


There is a second wiper issue relating to the wiper park position - below the rear edge of the bonnet. While logical for lower wind resistance, the wipers cannot be pulled away from the windshield while in their parked position because the bonnet is in the way. For owners in cold climates, this will clearly be a problem. It's an invitation for iced wipers to become stuck to the windshield, and in this parked position, it is very difficult to free them.

A possible fix for this, provided the hardware will allow it, is a software addition that allows for two different wiper parking positions: Normal (behind the bonnet) and Winter (just above the bonnet).

Brian H | 23 November 2012

Heating elements in the wiper arms or in the "pockets" set to keep their temperature >=1°C?

mrspaghetti | 23 November 2012

Re: the wipers below the bonnet, lots of cars already park the wipers there. How do people in cold climes deal with it currently? Just wondering. Maybe they pour some hot water over the wipers before getting into the car on cold mornings?

jerry3 | 24 November 2012

mrspaghet -- Maybe they pour some hot water over the wipers

Don't do that, you'll crack the windshield for sure. In places where the temperature is close to freezing, cold water will work. In colder places cold water will just cause more ice to form, in those places chipping the ice is the only solution.

Perhaps an insert could be devised that would go between the bonnet and the windshield. The driver could insert that when parking to keep the wipers ice free.

Volker.Berlin | 24 November 2012

Internal combustion engines work by burning stuff, remember? ;-) I guess it's only a matter of minutes of driving around with an ICE until the respective area between the bonnet and the windshield gets warm enough to make this a non-issue (no first-hand experience though). For the Model S, on the other hand, I don't know. Bar dedicated heating elements, it's not unlikely that this is going to be a problem.

Vawlkus | 26 November 2012

This is an issue for ICEs, not BEVs.
Plug car in, turn on car, turn up windshield defrosters, go back in house and wait. When windshield de-ices, unplug car, drive away.
Only reason it's an issue for ICEs is the loss of range from idling while defrosting. A BEV doesn't idle, thus not an issue.

bgoodwin | 26 November 2012

The wipers are well below the defrost vents. Defrost will be too slow. Even if they were on top of the defroster, removing that much caked on snow and ice takes a LONG time. And even if it freed the wipers from the windshield quickly, you still need to dig the snow and ice out of the area, but you can't because of the design. People leave work, scrape the windshield down, and go. That "use case" needs to be viable with the Model S.

Vawlkus | 26 November 2012

So put it on a timer, or fire it up from the app when it becomes available. It doesn't take as long as people think, I've done it with gas cars and its taken less than 5 minutes to completely defrost the windscreen, side windows, rear window, and even the wiper blades themselves. Even with a couple inches of snow on top, it doesn't take long.

sergiyz | 26 November 2012

Heating elements on the windshield.
It's a standard feature on subaru and infinities for cold climate

Volker.Berlin | 26 November 2012

Vawlkus, there seems to be a quirk the way the Model S currently works: Heating will only run as long as your butt is in the driver's seat! Once the car detects that you get out of the car, it shuts down the creature comfort... Ooops! ;-) I've seen it in one of the early owners videos, quite likely in one of these:

I take this lightly because it will definitely not stay like this for long, but it illustrates nicely what happens when the car thinks it can outsmart the driver.

ColonyGolfer | 26 November 2012

There seems to be a quirk in the wiper. If you leave the vehicle with the setting on intermittent, when you return to the car and close your door, the wiper makes a pass because (I believe) the jostling of the car sets off the sensor and the car interprets it as rainfall. The solution is to shut the wipers off before you leave the car. (In some cases, the driver can outsmart the car)

DavidG | 26 November 2012

@ VB: I haven't driven in snow in many a year now, but if it is snowing when you want to go, won't you need the wipers before you start out on the road? I guess scrape and go works if it isn't snowing.

Vawlkus | 27 November 2012

@volker: that's odd, I was under the impression that you could set the car to maintain a temperature once reached while the car was parked. I know the timers and remote control (app) aren't available yet, but I thought that feature was.

Volker.Berlin | 27 November 2012

Vawlkus, based on owner reports, not yet. But that's what was touted all along and I have no doubt will be available within weeks. Can any owners chime in here with first-hand experience?

NJS1207 | 27 November 2012

We had some snow today and this is definitely an issue at the moment. Climate control turns off when you leave the car. Obviously it will be fixed when the app comes out. In the meantime I found that I can keep the heat on by leaving my door slightly ajar. I started it up 15 minutes before leaving work and I was good to go.

With regard to placement of the wipers, I have had other cars with wipers that normally come to rest under the bonnet, but there is usually a way to move them to a midpoint then raise them. I have not figured out how to accomplish that with the S.

Brian H | 27 November 2012

It's an NNIC issue (Not Necessary In California).

nickjhowe | 28 November 2012

@Brian H - re. NNIC - The TM employee from Manchester in the Norway test drive video says that he has to make "gentle suggestions" to the CA folks about NNIC items - like windshield wipers that actually wipe :-)

NJS1207 | 28 November 2012

@BrianH -- Too funny. I was thinking the same thing last night.

I have a brief update regarding wipers that may be of some interest. When I went out this morning to defrost my car, I heard more noise than I expected as I walked away. On further inspection, I found that there was air blowing on the outside of the windshield from under the bonnet toward the area of the wipers. It appears to emanate from the area near the windshield wiper fluid nozzle. Perhaps others were aware of this feature, but it was news to me.

Volker.Berlin | 28 November 2012

NJS1207, makes a lot of sense, thanks for sharing! Maybe we are still underestimating Tesla's attention to detail, after all... :-)

nickjhowe | 28 November 2012

+1 @NJS1207, @VB

Getting Amped Again | 28 November 2012

Maybe there needs to be a Cold Weather option package:

1) Heated steering wheel
2) Heated door handles
3) Headlight washers

Plus the option of rubber floor mats instead of carpet.

Brian H | 28 November 2012

4) Wiper de-icer, hi-power version.
5) Windshield de-icer incl. Glass Buzzer (vibration of windshield to dislodge ice & snow, which I just invented).

SSL161 | 29 November 2012

I have another wiper issue…

There are only four settings; Automatic, Intermittent, On Normal Speed, On Fast. That’s it…

It’s the rainy season here (who knew? It rains in CA??).

At any rate, we have been getting some pretty decent Seattle Like weather over the last couple of weeks and the downpours that have been sufficiently heavy as to overwhelm our wipers.

Anybody else experience this? Fellow Seattleites chime in please??


sergiyz | 29 November 2012

Auto mode performs as good (or as bad) as on other cars with this feature.
Didn't have a problem with that.

Getting Amped Again | 29 November 2012

We don't actually have that much rain, we just don't see the sun nine months of the year. When it does rain, it's generally doesn't come down that hard, it just goes on for days/weeks .......8-(

SSL161 | 29 November 2012

Sergiyz, Getting Amped

My last car(s) was/is/are mustangs. I live in Redmond wA and Sacramento CA.

statistics aside, I can tell you that I have experienced some seriously monsoon like downpours in the last 12 years of my living in the Seattle area and my mustangs' wipers performed admirably. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the "S".

--- Cherif

RichardC | 30 November 2012

I'm finding that the automatic setting is very inconsistent. For a minute or two, it can wipe at full speed even with very little rain or mist and then a couple minutes later it will go 30 seconds between wipes while the windshield is coated in water.

Performs much worse than my wife's autosetting on her MB. Wondering if this is common to all "S"s or if mine is special...

On the flip side, my automatic wipers are about the only thing I can complain about in this car :)

Getting Amped Again | 30 November 2012

Cherif - I wasn't making a comment on the wiper functionality of the Model S as I won't get mine until March. I was trying to inject some factual humor about rainfall rates in Seattle. It sounds like there is a problem that TM needs to address.

Brian H | 30 November 2012

Some have suggested that RainX makes the wipers almost superfluous, unnecessary. Try that!

MB3 | 30 November 2012

I'm not sure superfluous and eliminating rain go together, but I have found RainX to make wipers obsolete. But you need to drive fast. Now where can we get a fast car?

SSL161 | 30 November 2012


My apologies. I misinterpreted your message.


Re weird pauses and odd starts: yes, that's exactly what we experienced two days ago, on the freeway no less. An unexpected pause caused a thin layer of rippeled water to form and occluded our wind screen.

And yes one of the only things that I can truly complain about as it is a safety issue.

--- Cherif

SSL161 | 30 November 2012


Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try some as soon add possible.

--- Cherif

GeekEV | 8 March 2013

When I took delivery of my car last weekend, the wipers were parked under the bonnet (are you a Brit Todd?). Now that I've had a chance to use them, they do not return to under the bonnet. They stay exposed even when turned off. Was this changed in a later software update (this thread is a bit old) or are mine not working right?

michaelwm | 8 March 2013

Geek EV -- I had the same problem you described (it developed spontaneously one day when I parked). This is a known issue affecting a small number of cars, and can be fixed by Tesla's service technicians. There's some kind of adjustment that they make (mine just got fixed this week). I have no idea why it ever gets off-kilter.

GeekEV | 8 March 2013

@michaelwm - Thanks! I'll add that to my punch list.

Getting Amped Again | 8 March 2013

Ok, I called my local Tesla service center and they said that seeing wipers visible from outside the car was "normal" and all the new cars in their shop were like that. They said if I didn't want them that way they would adjust them the old-fashioned way with a socket wrench.

Here's what mine look like:

Anyone have something different? I think that possibly the earliest cars had hidden wipers and people in snow climates complained and they moved them up. Any truth to that?

GeekEV | 8 March 2013

@Got Amped - I just took delivery on Sunday and they were below the bonnet. It wasn't until I actually used them that they stayed above it... So, make of it what you will.

nickjhowe | 9 March 2013

Here are mine:

GeekEV | 10 March 2013

@Got Amped, nickjhowe - Yeah, that's how mine are now too. But you can clearly see in this picture at delivery they were hidden. Click through to view higher res. as per Got Amped's comments I'll ask the to adjust them next time I have service.

hnashif | 10 March 2013

@ Geek EV +1

rkang | 10 March 2013

Hidden could be a good thing during the summer (when the effects of the sun's UV rays are what really age and wear wipers).

GeekEV | 11 March 2013

Hah, actually, looking at my own picture more carefully I think I do see them barely peeking out past the hood. Perhaps it's the camera angle that makes then look more hidden than Nick's shot... Oops.

michaelwm | 12 March 2013

FYI, when I said "known problem" it may have been a slightly different problem. There are at least a handful of cars that have experienced a bug where the windshield wipers (when turned off) rest 4-6" UP the windshield. This is far more than just being visible from outside the car... they actually wind up very slightly in the line of sight of the driver from inside the car. An adjustment from a service technician can fix it. Both my car and a friend's car experienced the problem (for both of us, it just started happening without warning one day while we were using the wipers).

I think the state of the wipers being slightly visible rather than completely tucked under the hood is normal.

GeekEV | 20 March 2013

So, while looking at the wipers in greater detail today and contemplating adjusting their position manually, I noticed something. There are, what looks like, these two silver sideways L's showing through the glass of the windshield. They just happen to correspond to the edges of the wipers. So I guess they're exactly where they're supposed to be (which as shown in the pictures from Got Amped & nickjhowe). Check it out. Just lift up the left edge of the passenger wiper and the right edge of the driver wiper and you'll see what I mean.

rainville.real | 16 December 2013

in Montreal,quebec,canada ,many of us change our summer wipers for winter wipers,more flexible and more appropriate for snow, ice,sleet, and name it!!

Haeze | 16 December 2013

I would think the best option would be to just have the wipers turn on when the car is turned on using the brake pedal. That way it is the driver's choice when to have the wiper activate.

bduke | 16 January 2016

I hope someone can help me identify the windshield wiper issue I am experiencing. Have had my S into service twice, both times they replaced the rain sensor and the outcomes were the same--same problem. I have 25,000 miles and since it was new the wipers just stop in mid wipe, not at the end of the cycle but in the middle of the windshield and they won't come back on unless I fiddle with the switch turning it off and on. Today it rained and the wipers must have stopped a dozen times, I am almost afraid to drive when it is raining. Has anyone experienced this problem? And what was the solution. Thanks

Rocky_H | 18 January 2016

@bduke, I've been on this forum for over two years, and I don't think I have heard of that problem before. Sorry that's not much help. To help narrow this down, what setting were you using? Was it one of the auto-sensing modes, I guess? Does it do it if you use the single swipe instead of auto?

FelixMendeldog | 18 January 2016

In a Volkswagen, one can park the wipers "up" by tapping the stalk after shutting off the car. So useful. We live where snow and ice hate cars. Tesla has no such thing but it would be a most welcome addition.

Rocky_H | 19 January 2016

@FelixMendeldog, Quote: "In a Volkswagen, one can park the wipers "up" by tapping the stalk after shutting off the car. So useful. We live where snow and ice hate cars. Tesla has no such thing but it would be a most welcome addition."

Yes the Tesla does have that. It's just not easy to figure out how to get to it. It's in the menus as "maintenance mode". That was a feature that was added as a software update a about a year and a half ago or so.