Snow Performance

Snow Performance

It hasn't really been a snowy season in the Northeast yet, but I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with their MS in the snow? I live in NYC and will be trading in my lexus IS 300. I am a little concerned because my IS is also rear wheel drive and is atrocious in the snow. I literally do not feel safe driving it if there is ANY accumulation on the ground.

The dealer told me that with the MS, due to the weight, it performs quite well in the snow but I have my doubts. The three main issues with my current car in the snow are the same with the MS

1. Rear wheel drive
2. Lot's of torque
3. Low to the ground (i've gotten stuck even in light snow as it would buildup under the chasis)

I understand that snow tires would help, but is that enough? Also, since I am in NYC we usually clear the snow pretty quickly so I have never put on snow tires as I haven't needed them for more than a couple of days at the time.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!

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wbrown01 | 12 January 2013

Long while back and this was before front wheel drive, I was facing a very steep hill in two inches of snow. I seen all the other cars not moving, spinning their wheels. I drive right pass them because I was driving a VW Bettle. It is rear wheel drive with a rear engine, that is why front wheel drives do so wheel in snow. Tesla should do well for that same reason.

docdac | 14 January 2013

The Traction Control on your Model S will keep the drive wheels from spinning on snow or ice. I have tried this (SE Minnesota) and it is really quite nice. You can literally 'floor it' going up an icy hill and have minimal intermittent tire spin (although I don't recommend it - best to use the accelerator appropriately).
Also, I always use snow tires on my cars in snow country, and find that they deliver far superior performance than all season tires. At traffic lights, I can usually just pull away, while other drivers spin and advance slowly. Definitely, snow tires are a great advantage. Their main problem is suboptimal performance and rapid wear on dry roads.
I bought Dunlop snow tires from, 235/50R19 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D, and they work great. They get better reviews and are cheaper than the 'sold out' Pirelli snow tires that Tesla offers.
Rear wheel drive is not a big problem, because of the favorable weight distribution from front to back, especially with snow tires to keep your steering tires pointed in the right direction.

Brian H | 15 January 2013

Also, the harder you accelerate, the more the net force vector swings towards the rear wheels. Less than for most vehicles because of the low CoG (and the lesser distance to the ground before the vector 'touches' it), but the rear is getting "heavier" and the front "lighter". Hence more traction.

lightly | 15 January 2013

When I asked that question a year and a half ago I was told at the Tesla store in Manhattan that Front wheel drive cars only work well because the weight of the engine is over the driving wheels.

There is no engine weight in the front of MS. In theory rear wheel drive is always better for control.

Can't wait to test this when I get my car next month!!

jat | 15 January 2013

@lightly - well, there is also some advantage in vectored thrust, but with RWD you have some control of that when you are moving by doing a power slide (except ASM wants to keep you from doing that and you can't turn it off on the Model S). Ideally though, you want power at both the front and the rear so you get the best of both worlds.

petmoell | 15 January 2013

I would strongly advice to try on snow tires. They are like night and day compared to all season tires. Snow tires have a softer rubber mix which makes them stick to snow/icy surfaces. An added bonus is that you get a much more comfortable and smooth handling if you find the suspension hard. They are more than adequate on dry or wet surfaces as well. Then you dont need to worry about any snowfall coming your way. I have even kept them on all year on previous cars as they were so comfortable for hard suspensio cars. In Norway we have really snowy/icy condition about 4 months a year and I have no worries with snow tires on. I have been caught by early snowfall with regular tires still on and that makes it almost impossible to drive -totally unsafe. I put on snow tires and its a different world.