Icing issue?

Icing issue?

Hello All:

Not an owner yet, but I hope to be at some point. I am hoping for a two-door coupe to be sold by Tesla in the near future (and if anyone has information that I have not been able to pry out of Google's cold, dead hands, I would appreciate it), but if not, I am looking at a Model S.

One question that a friend posed to me is the issue of icing as it pertains to the door handles. As we all know, the handles automatically recess into the body of the car once you walk away through the key-fob function. I live in Chicago, where ice and snow is always a concern during the winter. Does anyone know what (if any) measures Tesla has taken to alleviate the possibility of the handles icing over and not being able to pop out once the owner approaches? I park at a train station which is exposed to the weather, so in the event of a heavy snowfall or freezing rain, this is a legitimate concern.


Glaze72 | September 15, 2013

Hello? Any help here?

tes-s | September 15, 2013

I don't think there were a large number of MSs out there last winter to have any real world data. The ones in southern cali probably didn't experience any problems...

6 months from now we should have some good data on whether or not that is a problem. I would think 2-wheel (rear) drive would be more of a concern. May be worth waiting for an AWD X or S, which are more likely to come sooner than a coupe - my guess is we'll see AWD models next year.

Bighorn | September 15, 2013

Sounds like a valid concern. Don't have any direct experience yet, but some have said that using the remote app to pre-cool the car has helped with blazing hot, sun-baked handles. I wonder If per-heating would have a corollary effect on iced ones, melting away some of the ice?

J.T. | September 15, 2013

Norway reportsb should be available for this upcoming winer. You won't get better info tan that.

J.T. | September 15, 2013

Try one more time

Norway reports should be available for this upcoming winter. You won't get better info than that.

Glaze72 | September 15, 2013

Tes-s, I think you misunderstood my question. I was not worrying about how the car handles on the road. We have good snow/ice removal in my neighborhood, so if I am careful on the road I think I am in good shape.

My concern is how the door handles will extend if there is a ice/storm and the door is iced over. Is there enough "oomph" to break though a thin sheet of ice?

G. | September 15, 2013

@Glaze72: I'm afraid your Model S coupé is a few years out, so concerns about iced-over door handles are maybe a bit over-eager. But you're my go-to guy when America needs to re-invade Europe!

Back to me and Chicago winters, I watched the video of Model S winter testing in Minnesota or Norway or Canada on the wall of the Oak Brook store a year ago. It was hard to imagine the performance of the car even occurring if they weren't getting in and out of the car okay.

Still, I didn't order my Model S until February when a local Tesla investor and October owner described a successful winter in his Signature Model S -- especially including the rear-wheel drive -- at the same time a Steamboat Springs owner reported successfully going up and down the mountains in blowing snow and chronic frost. That was all the reassurance I needed.

So let's all stay cozy and tuned in for Winter 2013. | September 15, 2013

I have had my S since 12/29/13 in Colorado. I have never had a probem with the handles freezing in. That being said, I have only dealt with snow & cold (nothing like an ice storm in my PA years growing up).

diegoPasadena | September 15, 2013

If there is a thick layer of ice coating the car, I can imagine the handles wouldn't extend, but isn't that a rather rare occasion? Handles frozen over that firmly might be a problem with any kind of car, I suppose, and each would need their own work-around to enable access. With a Model S, I'd just pop the trunk and open a rear door through there.

adufort | September 15, 2013


I live In the Montreal area Québec Canada and drive my Model S since last december ( In the snow and at température near 0 F and did not have Any problem with the door handle.

Small quantities of icing rain ... And thé handles were still working !

tes-s | September 15, 2013

I understood the question. I was suggesting handling in the type of weather conditions that could cause door handles to freeze should be a bigger concern.

Wait 6 months and your question will be better answered. As I stated before, the fact that there has not been a single posting of frozen handles being a problem does not mean it will not be - just not enough cars out there last winter, particularly in Chicago-like weather locations.

TMCproud | September 15, 2013


Am also in Montreal area. Getting my MS this week. Am curious, what winter tires did you use last winter and how did you find the MS's RWD during the Montreal winter? Thanks.

adufort | September 15, 2013


I bought the 19 inches wheels and tires from TESLA (Pirelli) and it was ok ( better than my G37) in Montreal's winter but the anti skating is a bit too sensitive ... I got stuck a few times ... and had to put off the anti skating.

Anyway you will love this car ! (Mine is a SIG RED Performance and I would not buy anymore an
ICE car ! )

TMCproud | September 15, 2013

@adufort : thanks for the info.

Bernard Hong | September 15, 2013

I am in Toronto. did you park the car outside? and how was the vampire drain? What is the longest time you left for outside in the Winter? THX

adufort | September 15, 2013

Yes the car stayed outside for 3 days a few times but it was plugged. The longest time unplugged was about 36 hours at -10 C. The vampire drain was a little more than usual but hard to tell precisely. I can't wait to get V 5.0 ... the drain is from what I've read 3 times less. But really if you can plug it winter time is not a problem !

Bernard Hong | September 15, 2013

Thx and how was the handling? I have been driving a 4-wheel in my past 15 years. Got little concern a rear wheel drive and I had a Bimmer E30 20 years ago and felt like boating on road in winter.

adufort | September 15, 2013

From what you wrote I think you should be waiting for the model X or for a 4 wheels drive Model s.

At winter time and heavy snow it was a little challenging not to slip !

Bernard Hong | September 15, 2013

Thx but could't wait and like the look of Model S. As long as it is not a big fish tail, I think it is okay as they said the weight distribution is 50/50. I just like getting info on owner like you driving the Tesla in winter. Are you the one on Youtube in the winter driving school in Montreal?

tes-s | September 15, 2013

The original poster is not concerned about winter handling - just freezing door hnadles.

Crow | September 15, 2013

This has come up a few times in the forum. I don't remember anyone reporting that the handles failed to extend due to ice. Of course, if your door handles won't extend because of ice, your car is telling you to stay off the road.

Brian H | September 16, 2013

There was considerable discussion. In the end, the power of the extension motor was increased to handle about 7mm (~¼") of ice. Closing is handled by a simple spring, not strong enough to pinch fingers.

As for ice handling, the MS is not quite as good as the Roadster, which is a marvel. Winter tires and the instantaneous-response TC are a great combo.