S Performance in Snow/Ice

S Performance in Snow/Ice

Does anyone have experience with the 'S' in snow/ice/adverse driving conditions? Being a rear wheel drive immediate concern is that it will not behave well in these kinds of driving conditions.........apparently mitigating factors are that the weight distribution is better than other gas powered vehicles but I remain unconvinced at present.

Scorch | December 21, 2012

It drove great for me in 4" of snow a few days ago. No ice really yet so I can't comment on that. Of course with so much torque you have to baby push the throttle. I had no problem even starting from a complete stop on a hill.

I have the 19" with winter tires from the Tesla store.

simenteigen | December 21, 2012

Im interested in knowing if the car can climb a steep icy/snowy hill :) concerns me if i get stuck and can't charge in the garage.

Brian H | December 21, 2012

With Traction Control, you can mash the accelerator (which you should call the "goose pedal", btw) to the floor, and the car will only apply as much torque as the tires and roadway can handle. No need to baby the thing!

Roadster owners have proven that's not a problem. As noted above, just point up the hill, mash the "goose pedal", and TC will send up upwards as fast as the friction can handle, without slipping. It's almost impossible to get stuck.

Brian H | December 21, 2012

typo: ... send you upwards ...

simenteigen | December 22, 2012

Thank you Brian.

JDun | December 22, 2012

I have had front wheel drive car for the last 20 years, so I was a little leery about how the S would do in snowy conditions. Last Sunday, we had some wet slippery snow. I took that opportunity to try and get a feel for how my new S handles in the snow. I had regular tires 19" non-Perf S. I floored it on a small hill, the traction control came on jut fine and the car accelerated smoothly. It was not 0-60 in 5.6 secs, but nice and controlled. I also tried some breaking while cornering on unplowed streets and stayed comfortably in control. Straight ahead breaking as just fine too. I was generally pleased and reassured.

glaserud | December 22, 2012

Tested the S Perf on very slippery ice and new snow (last weekend). Although the car was fitted with "autobahn"-tires and not proper nordic tires, it behaved very well. Traction control was not noticeable, aside from an orange light in the dashboard. When flooring it, the tail leaned slightly to the right (just to tell you that you're slipping) and that's it. Letting go of the accellerator, the car adjusted back, without slinging back out to the left. I was worried that the regen would be troublesome, but it did not cause problems, even on entering very icy intersections. Compared to any other RWD I've driven, including the BMW 530GT, the S feels better. Compared to my Audi A6 quattro, it's not as good. As is expected.

simenteigen | December 22, 2012

Yeah, I drive a Audi A4 quattro today. And winter is no obstacle. Hope i can stay just as calm in the S :)

rwang | December 25, 2012

While i hold my A6 Avant Quattro in the highest esteem for snow driving, we just came back from Tahoe and did 55 mph in full blizzard conditions w/o skipping a beat, I'm not sure I can say I'd be comfortable doing that in the Tesla. We had no chains, just all season tires, not even snow tires.

I think on flat ice surfaces the Tesla would do well, I would suspect that cutting across donner pass in a blizzard would be the real test. i hope oneof the testla engineers goes out there and does the real driving test.

Brant | December 25, 2012

What are Autobhan tires and how do they differ from the stock tires on the Perf?
By all accounts the Roadster performs well in the snow but I am a bit leery about taking mine up to Tahoe before hearing some survivor stories first

MB3 | December 25, 2012

A6 looks really nice. I wonder if there is an enthusiast's forum where you might find people that would get jazzed talking about it?

Scorch | December 26, 2012

Drove the car home in a smaller snow snow on the 24th, (just a few inches on the ground), seemed to do really well. Again, I have 19" with the winter tires.

Still getting used to the car so not totally confident in the snow/ice. But I can't remember sliding once.

Joyrider | December 26, 2012

Hearing most everyone having a good experience driving in the snow shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Remember, the weight bias in this car is 53% in the rear where the drive wheels are. That compares favorably to a front-wheel drive ICE. And of course you have the superior Model S TC.
It not likely to be on par with an AWD car, but if you get around your area OK with front wheel drive no reason the Model S shouldn't be as good or better.

shs | December 26, 2012

For the last many years and cars, I have always depended on 4WD to deal with snow. The MS will be my first 2WD car while living in snow country, but I am hoping the MS will handle some snow without the need for me to plow the driveway, So the critical question for me is getting up a driveway with a 13% slope with 3 to 6" of snow. Any experience with the MS on a snowy hill of this slope?

Theresa | December 26, 2012

We had a heavy wet snow here in Iowa this last week. This is the type of snow that I normally have the most trouble with. I wanted to see how the S would handle so I took it in some areas that I normally would have avoided as too difficult to navigate with snow. One was a very steep hill (not good with slope numbers but I would guess it is in the range of close to a 45 degree mathematically speaking) slope. The hill was nearly glare ice and I nearly turned around but thought how else am I going to know if I don't try it.

I have the summer 21 inch tires so it was probably a stupid thing to do but I was at 30 mph at the bottom of the hill and fell to 10 mph quickly as the traction control tool over. But once I was at 10 mph the car never slowed anymore and took the rest of the hill with ease. I was amazed to say the least!

shs | December 26, 2012

Wow, thanks for the quick reply. Our driveway is not near 45 degrees!

nickjhowe | December 26, 2012

45 deg is pretty extreme. The steepest public road in the whole of the UK is only 35 deg. You'd struggle to walk up a 45 deg slope without using your hands.

nickjhowe | December 26, 2012

Oops - math error - the steepest public road in UK is only 18 deg! (1:3 or 33%)

Theresa | December 26, 2012

It may not be totally 45 but it is definitely well over a 30 degree slope. It is in a neighborhood that has tried to keep the land the way it always was. It is not a long hill but I cannot ride my bicycle up it unless I am in low gear and even than I sometimes can't make it up.

Also as I stated I am not sure of the numbers in road terms as I know a 100% grade is a 45 degree angle but other than that I don't know the numbers

jkirkebo | December 26, 2012

You'd never make it up a 45 degree slope on a bicycle without tipping over backwards...

The steepest part of the steepest residental road in the world is around 19 degrees or 30%.

Getting Amped Again | December 26, 2012

Theresa - THAT TOOK A LOT OF GUTS TO DO IN YOUR NEW MODEL S! Thank you for the very useful information.

Pungoteague_Dave | December 26, 2012

There are no 30 degree roads in the US. Anywhere. And nothing close to 45 degrees, even off road, would be passable in a passenger vehicle.

MB3 | December 26, 2012

I think the point is that the icy hill was steep and the S climbed it beautifully. Not really that hard to understand.

shop | December 26, 2012

Good stuff about traction. Any issues with starting or charging in cold weather? I guess we are about a month or two way from the really cold weather though.

mscheuller | December 26, 2012

I have a Performance MS with 19 inch Pirelli Snow Tires from the Tesla Store and I just drove up to Park City, UT, in a "white out" blizzard. There were cars off the road in many places and except for a few times that the Traction Control kicked in, I was driving up and down the mountain on interstate roads and small snow covered ski roads without any major difficulty. My normal Park City vehicle is a Toyota 4Runner in 4x4 and I was able to go to the ski resort and condo without any difficulty. I did clean 12 inches of snow off the MS after the ski day! It takes about 10-15 minutes for the battery to warm up after being parked outside in the cold/snow and it initially limits Regen, however, the MS warns you that the battery is still heating and it hasn't bothered me.

walla2 | December 26, 2012

I took out my Performance on 21" wheels today on some lightly iced roads. It handled better in my opinion than my 2005 Tahoe does with its regular season tires on. Very impressed. Not sure I'd brave much icier roads in it though as I don't want to join the first dent/wreck thread.

Brian H | December 27, 2012

On a bike on a 45° hill, your CoG would be vertically above a point behind the rear wheel contact with the road, and you and the bike would rotate around the rear axle and plant your pointy head firmly into the pavement.

Just sayin'.

shop | December 27, 2012

@mscheuller - how cold approx was it when you parked your car? And when you say it took 10-15 mins to warm up does that it mean it started up right away but took 10 mins for the regen to start working?

kent | December 27, 2012

My first impression of the Model S on snow and ice was simply outstanding. I've dealt with a Prius traction control for the last few years and the Model S is nothing like it. The Prius would literally cut all power going to the wheels and almost stop. Where as the Model S cuts power, but keeps the vehicle moving quite nicely. On icing roads, I floored the Model S and it just gained speed as the roads permitted. A very nice job of engineering in the traction control. Braking seemed extremely nice as well. I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised with the Model S ability in snow.

sbern18 | December 27, 2012

Drove in 1" of snow on pretty steep hill and unplowed driveway to my home yesterday. Great performance, stayed perfectly on line to make entrance to garage without hitting mirror, only 1 1/2 inches clearance on each side. The regen helps with slowing down going downhill also. I would say marginally worse than my "soon to be sold" 335xi four wheel drive!.

patp | December 27, 2012

Here's my experience so far (living in one of the snowiest place on earth)

... Already went thru one snowstorm with Model S. So far, the car is doing okay in the snow but not amazingly well. We're far from any comparison to AWD. I really miss driving my AWD in the snow. Spinning wheels is something I did not encounter in my last 10 years of driving Audi's Quatro. A friend of mine has ordered a Model S and I will have to test climbing his driveway (he lives at the top of a ski station) as I'm not sure this will work for him. (He currently has an AWD Toyota Highlander). He may have to wait for an AWD Model S or X.

So far, my high level evaluation of Model S in the snow is similar to a normal traction car but way off any AWD car. Not counting fogging and heating issues....

DouglasR | December 27, 2012

Anyone care to comment on how badly the cold affected your range?

Captain_Zap | December 27, 2012

We did surprisingly well in the snow on Christmas day with our 21" wheels. I thought that we'd end up having to wait it out on the shoulder due to the grade we were on. We maintained a decent speed and made it over the short pass without incident.

Douglas3 | December 28, 2012

I'd have to say that the Model S is "okay" in snowy conditions. I had expected it to be a bit better given the Roadster's quite good performance. Most of the time it's just fine, but in certain conditions it needs some teaks. It backs off power too aggressive starting from a standstill, and is perhaps a little too permissive at higher speeds. The settings are probably great for warm, dry pavement... it needs a "snow mode" I think.

Today I was stopped on a mild uphill but glare ice, nicely polished by previous traffic. This is the sort of stuff where you'd fall down if you stepped on it. It would have given any car some trouble, but any car should have been able to climb it with some difficulty. When I hit the throttle the wheels started moving, then stopped and only applied enough torque to keep the car stationary. The car simply did not move. At all. I considered turning off TC, but instead I just backed up until the wheels were on a better surface, then started it forward again. Now with a little momentum the car carried on and slowly climbed the hill.

TC should never just stop the wheels from turning. What it should have done is keep the wheels moving slowly but steadily.

Brian H | December 29, 2012


timschaeffer | January 12, 2013

@mscheuller - I am assuming your living in SLC with your Telsa if you were driving up to Park City?
Have you made any trips to Vegas or other long trips from SLC?
How has the service from Telsa been seeing how there is no dealer in the area?

PJDoty | December 8, 2013

We drive to the Sierra Nevada from the SF Bay Area every week in our MS85 with 19 inch Michelins. This weekend we encountered 6+ inches of snow on the unplowed, hilly, winding roads into our house. The Tesla fared at least as well as our (now sold) BMW 328xi. Took it slow on the turns and downhills, kept air suspension on High (or Very High where we saw berms or ice chunks), and used the goose pedal to power us up icy hills with no problems. Overall I am much happier with this car.

Thumper | December 8, 2013

Well it snowed in Oregon on Friday. I estimate about 10 inches. I shoveled the drive so I wouldn't pack the snow by driving over it and my wife and I headed out to try the Model S and the 4 Nokian Hakapeletas in the snow. None of the local roads had been plowed, nonetheless, I can report the car and tires were great. I had no problem anywhere. Saw many cars stuck and many having trouble pulling away from stop signs because of ice. The Tesla had no such problems. Our house is at the top of a 19% grade. I made a point of driving up slowly so as not to use any momentum to do the climb. No problem at all. Not even any spinning or invocation of traction control. The car was confident and capable in starting, braking and turning. I was impressed and my wife is now confident with the car. She was a little worried since our last vehicle was 4 wheel drive.

Bighorn | December 8, 2013

Good resurrection.

Dramsey | December 8, 2013

A6 looks really nice. I wonder if there is an enthusiast's forum where you might find people that would get jazzed talking about it?


Brian H | December 8, 2013

Quite the gaping maw that thing has on it:

Brian H | December 8, 2013

Quite the gaping maw that thing has on it:

Panoz | December 8, 2013

This thread sure gives me uneasiness about a Model S or X. I have a steep driveway that has, at times, defied a front wheel drive sedan that had traction control. Pack snow on my driveway and I simply would not guess that a Model S could make it. Some stories posted here, however, certainly sound as if the describe conditions I have. One thing's for sure: I cannot buy a car that cannot make it to my house when it snows. That's why, without a demonstration, I believe I need the Model X.

Captain_Zap | December 9, 2013

@Brian - Not only does it have a gaping maw, it has bags under its eyes too.

@Panoz - How often do you have to deal with foul weather? What do you use for foul weather now?

The Model S is superior to any other 2 wheel drive vehicle I have used before in the snow. I was insisting that my next car would be AWD until the Model S came along. I took a bit of a gamble, but I was impressed. It is all about the weight distribution, the regen, accelerator control and the stability controls. The regen makes a big difference on hilly terrain when trying to control your speed. It is the best foul weather vehicle I have driven other than the little 5 speed AWD car I had.
Have you seen Bjorn's videos?

PaalT | December 9, 2013

My two cents worth!

We finally got our first snow here in southern Norway. I've been looking forward to the day I could test the TMS in heavy snow conditions. The TMS is fitted with 19" Nokian R2 studless tires.

I started early Sunday morning before the roads were cleared of snow. There was about 3-4 inches of light snow laying on an icy road surface. Generally, I am very pleased with the overall performance of such a heavy rear wheel drive car. The traction control and anti-spin kept the car predictable in all situations.

While climbing up a hill, locally known to be slippery during the winter, I caught up with a WV Passat that had a really hard time getting up. I finally had to stop because the WV was barely making headway. When I stopped, I though "that’s it.. this heavy car will never manage to climb again from a full stop in the middle of the hill"… Was I wrong! Incredibly the TMS slowly crept up the hill. On the way down, I meet a Toyota Avensis with brand new snow tires that had given up. So, the TMS can climb hills as well as other 2WD cars. I also tried the same hill after the snow had been cleared- The TMS rocketed up the hill without any problems.

Also experimented with the TMS on curvy roads covered with snow and ice! The speed was around the speed limit, or maybe a bit under (approx. 40MPH speed limit). With the given conditions, I would probably take the corners at 25mph max during normal winter driving. It was loads of fun! The car over steered just enough to give you a grind when you whipped around the bends. Again the electronics ensured that you have control. Sometimes the technology takes a little too much over and reduces the available power and slows the car down fast. When the car did loose control, it generally gave me a bit of understeer.

Changing lanes is also a challenge when there is lots of snow and ice on the road. The TMS tackled this very convincingly. It felt very stable compared with lighter cars.

In my opinion the TMS is better in snow conditions that my old BMW. It is a heavy car and you feel that the electronics are taking control, with the end result that it feel predicable and comfortable to drive. I will not be afraid to that TMS over some of our mountain-passes this winter.

Panoz | December 9, 2013

@Captain_Zap: I don't actually get much snow where I am, but when I do, it has stopped some of my cars on my driveway. I already own a RWD convertible that I dare not take out in the snow...I can't have ANOTHER vehicle that can't make it up my driveway. The somewhat-local Tesla salesman offered to drive a Model S down to my place on a snowy day to test it out, but when we had that snowy day he was somewhat less enthused (and I don't blame him - it's an hour drive, one way). And I'm sure he'd expect me to sign on the dotted line right then and there, which I'm not prepared to do.

The Tesla salesperson also wasn't able to tell me the name of any local MS owners who might be willing to visit my home on a snowy day and see if their MS makes it up my driveway, and I understand that as well. We can't have MS owners stalked by potential buyers.

kback | December 9, 2013


See this thread for more reassurance:

I would think with snow tires you'd be in good shape. The Model S is my first non-AWD car in 15 years. I haven't had to drive in snow yet, and I am getting winter tires put on this week. With all the snow experience reported, I am no longer worried about performance in the snow. You will not regret buying a Model S. Few, if any, do.