A BEAST in the snow

A BEAST in the snow

Had the first snow expierence with the car here in WVa. Basically the public utility doesnt plow or salt roads on weekends around these parts for some reason. Drove home in an ice storm yesterday from a night shift, some city roads, some interstate and up a 500ft hill all on unplowed 2-3" ice/snow covered roads. I know 2-3" is nothing for many of you in true snow belts, but believe me, when roads are not treated and you have the terrain we do around here, things get treacherous. Basically, the car was a stud. Traction control light was flicking most the way home but had no problems keeping control of the vehicle. Never even spun out the back wheels going up a steep unplowed hill. Was blown away with the performance really, felt about as good as the wife's 4x4 SUV. Passed a Porsche 911 going like 10mph on the interstate and laughed at the difference in confidence between these two performance cars in snow. Another good part, started my heater from the app and got into a 90 degree car with visable windows, no scraping needed. The car just continues to impress!

romainiacWV | December 9, 2013

Forgot to add, have the S85 with 19" Michelin Primacy. No snow tires, am convinced I do not need them now.

Captain_Zap | December 9, 2013

Awesome! Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you are stoked!

wolfpet | December 9, 2013

Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to the real snow here in Toronto area. Will report here as soon as the white stuff hits us hard.

redacted | December 9, 2013

Good to know. Was the 90 degrees to melt the ice, or is that room temperature in W Va?

vipdoc | December 9, 2013

romainiac, do you have air suspension? If so what did you set it to?

robert | December 9, 2013


You drove home in an ice storm yesterday with summer tires?

Now I understand the pictures we get in our news programme about multiple serial bang-ups from the States.

Let me hope I never meet you on any winter road. You try to drive any car, and I mean ANY car, in Sweden after Dec 1 in snowy conditions, and, if found out (and you will be, when you're in a ditch or havíng rearended the car in front of you with proper tires), and you walk home for more reasons than one.

In Sweden what you boast of doing is plainly criminal, and is treated like that. Driver's license gone for at least half a year, heavy fines or, if you caused an accident, gaol. 3-inch snow and ice with summer tires - good Lord! Traffic is no computer game - it is serious business and you're driving a 2,5-ton killing machine!

dglauz | December 9, 2013

Calm a little, Robert. Standard tires are M+S rated, meaning they are perfectly legal in USA for light or moderate snow conditions.

Cindy I II III | December 9, 2013

Thanks for sharing. Börne's video from Norway served as some assurance as well. Just got a little black ice here at Jersey this morning. No problem with snow shoes off the curvy down-hill driveway. Snow forecast for tomorrow. Have to go to a company meeting. Your posting made me feel even more comfortable driving my Tesla. Will toast it with my app before coming home for sure.

@Robert, thanks for the warning re Sweden. Won't drive there in the winter time if I ever go :-)

Cindy I II III | December 9, 2013

Sorry, meant to type "BJØRN".

krissu | December 9, 2013

Robert is very correct! Even M+S rated, these tires are joke upon freezing and you should not go out killing other people on the road. I quess you do not want someone smashing into your wifes car driving the kids, later phraising how safe his S is. If you have enough money for S you have funds to buy proper wintertires and enjoy the driving.

Rheumboy | December 9, 2013

90 degrees? Were you in a speedo?

PapaSmurf | December 9, 2013

The attitude on winter tires in Europe is much more strict. There are real penalties involved.

Here in the USA I think it is all advisory. There is nothing mandating winter tires. I can only recall that certain types of winter tires are banned on normal roads due to the damage they can cause?

romainiacWV | December 9, 2013

Wow, you boys in Sweden take your snow seriously. Check a map...Wva isn't exactly in the sub arctic. Totally understand the need for snow tires there but for the 4-5 days a year I have snow covered roads to drive, I think I'll keep my all-seasons and keep grinning. This wasn't meant to be a braggart post about MY driving, I was trying to give my experience with snowy conditions and tell how the CAR performed. This winter is the first the car has seen in the US for the most part.

@krissu Invoking the image of my wife and children in a car accident because I made a post describing the good performance of the car in tough winter conditions (with tires TESLA recommends as safe for winter conditions) is pretty shallow stuff. Maybe you need some more time off the boards with your own wife and kids.

@robert 2.5 ton killing machine!?!? Cant wait until they install a machine gun in the front, then it will be a 2.75 ton killing machine.

romainiacWV | December 9, 2013

@vipdoc AS was set to standard, as it lowered at speeds I was driving, guess I could have set it to high and kept it under the lowering speed, (25mph)? But it really wasn't needed as the snow was not that deep.

Bighorn | December 9, 2013

With air suspension, everyone is driving at standard height after 20 MPH, unless you've hit 98 somewhere along the way.

romainiacWV | December 9, 2013

@Bighorn Couldn't go 98Mph, had to take it a little easy. Remember, you are driving a killing machine ;)

robert | December 9, 2013


Yes, since we have snow for half a year almost, we both have the experience and knowledge - and the laws. If you're talking just 4-5 days, what about leaving your car at home those days?

I am not talking only about your ability to keep the car on the road and actually getting anywhere, I am talking when you have someone/something in front of you, frantically stepping on the ABS brakes, and gliding, gliding, GLIDING straight into that pram, elderly lady, whatever, because the Law of Inertia applies to everyone, anything, incl. a Tesla.
Just look at the braking distance on that black ice with M+S tires vs. studded winter tires, and you'll understand. Then visualize a child in front of you.

It isn't about you, it is about those that you might hurt, because you cannot afford or don't care about proper winter tires.

Captain_Zap | December 9, 2013

@Bighorn - Are you sure that was 98? Or was it 89?

SamO | December 9, 2013


Post those distances if you have them handy.

romainiacWV | December 9, 2013

@robert Really think we are at a cultural impasse here. Can't always predict weather around here. If I lived in Sweden,knew there was snow all winter, would get the tires. Where I live, putting on winter tires is a little bit of overkill, especially given the performance I received from the car. Oddly enough, there aren't alot of elderly women or small children outside playing in the street in an ice storm. Appreciate your concern for mine and others safety but I think you will find many other owners in my region in the US share this opinion. | December 9, 2013


This may be hard to fathom, we are not all idiot drivers in the US. :) Granted we don't have snow half the year, but most of us who live or have lived in the snow belt understand the concept of reduced traction and and know how to adjust driving style and technique appropriately.


Sin_Gas | December 9, 2013

I am curious about the standard air suspension. Smart air suspension is listed as an option. Do all model S's come with air suspension. How much can you raise and lower it manually? Can't find this info on web page.


sue | December 9, 2013

Living in the Chicago area, we get snow often during the winter. Today I drove my Tesla in the first snow fall of the year. LOVED it. Had better traction and control than my old "mom-mobile", a Honda Odyssey. Then again, we rarely get more than 5" at a time. | December 9, 2013

The standard suspension is a typical coil suspension. The upgrade is an air suspension which gives you some level of manual control over ride height--it also automatically adjusts ride height based on vehicle speed and has other automated functions like auto-leveling. If you get the Performance version, you can also get the + package which adds a number of suspension tweaks to improve handling.


MNGreene | December 9, 2013

@romaniacWV Oddly enough.... LOL!

scourge | December 9, 2013

@robert - I'm not sure you realize this but studded tires are illegal in a number of US states so while I'm all for dedicated winter rubber (and I frequently autocross my STI in the winter) the ILLEGAL thing for a Chicago resident like myself is to actually have them on. A good all season like the Primacy is not a hazard on the road assuming the driver understands the limitations imposed on traction. The performance summer rubber that comes on the 21 would in fact be dangerous but you are really blowing the initial post WAAAY out of proportion.

Bighorn | December 9, 2013

Funny you say--the press quoted Elon as saying 89, then PDave said 98. Naturally, I had to find out. 98 it is! And I double-checked my work.

Lessmog | December 9, 2013

@MNG, @romaniac: Well, that's natural selection for ya ;-)

Sweden's 200+ years of peace is being threatened by a furious debate about studded winter tires. You see, these tend to produce microscopic particles of road material which are so small as to find their way into the alveoles in human lungs and cause serious chronic illness. I heard estimates that as much as one in a thousand might die from this every year, which is obviously silly. But it is taken seriously enough that studded tires are actually forbidden on a few strategic city streets. Never mind the clear and present danger of deadly collisions, particularly with unprotected trafficants on foot, bike or in pram.

Only the other day some politician argued on TV for even more severe restrictions (except for herself, since she resides in a remote place in Värmland when not at Parliament in the capital with the restricted street; I did not quite catch her logic there).

Anyway, this might explain part of the heated feelings re: winter tires in our wild country. Everybody has an opinion. Mine is: Bad tires can kill, instantly. Been far too close at least once.

robert | December 9, 2013

@Samo Sam

That's in Swedish

Speed: 90 kmh = 56 mph

On ice:
Summer tires 150 m
Winter tires without studs: 125 m
Winter tyres with studs: 100 m
En studie från Trafikverket och Vectura 2011, visar en 42 procents minskning av dödsolyckor med dubb på snö och is, jämfört med dubbfria däck.

A study from the State Road Authority shows a 42% reduction in fatal accidents, if studs are employed as compared to winter tires without studs.
(They don't even start to compare with summer tires)
There are very few tests with summer tires in the winter, since they are outlawed anyway. Noone in their right mind would even consider taking the car out with summer tires in snow or ice here.

The friction tires are not recommended, either, since they give a worse grip BOTH in the winter and the summer.

If studs are outlawed, it is just a callous economic study on the costs of a life, since the roads admittedly will have to get new surfaces more often. We have opted for higher maintenance costs and less loss of life and limb. That's why we pay higher taxes.


Of course you are no idiot, but the thing is that, regardless how well you drive, on black ice noone can steer or control a car with summer tires, and especially not, the heavier the car is. In snow, yes, better, but ice...
in Sweden we have to take a "slippery test" since abt 20 years to pass exam, that is driving cars on special wet asphalt, akin to ice. Boy, oh boy, is that an eyeopener!!!! They provide special, banged-up cars, and it is the instructors' experience that noone makes the first round in one piece. After a while, though...

Brian H | December 9, 2013

Here in Vancouver, BC, we have a light (very early) dusting of snow today. It's rare for it to last more than a day or two, so few switch to snow tires. So many drive with no-seasons, and few know what they're doing. Lotsa fender-benders, sliding backwards downhill, etc. Many parts of the city are very hilly, so there's lots of opportunity for car-sledding!

JstACarGuy | December 9, 2013

Picked up my new MS last monday and asked them to switch my tires to Blizzak LM32's. Drove yesterday through the NJ storm and had no traction problems, but did consume an enormous amount of power. I guess the defroster, heated seats, and extra drag of snow/slush along with freezing temps really does restrict range. Still managed 180 mile round trip on a daily charge....

Captain_Zap | December 9, 2013

@Bighorn - Was it divisible by 9? ;-)

Brian H | December 9, 2013

Yeah, smashing slush lumps takes lotsa electrons. All cars lose range in snow and slush. So do you, if you're walking! Xc-skiiing is a different matter, though ... ;)

Note to robert:
Summer tires, strictly speaking, are stiff and with minimal tread to deal with warm pavement. "All-seasons" (no-seasons) are a compromise, with deeper tread and more grip. Winter/snow tires are soft with deep treads. Romaniac is not talking about summer tires, but M&S are not snow-rated very highly.

Occasional snow in areas not used to it is dangerous, of course. Inexperienced drivers are at least half the problem. "Leave your car at home" would empty the roads in these areas in snow, though, as very few will swap for a day or two at a time. Switching for the whole season just in case is something few in, e.g. WVa, will do; winter tires are "squirmy" on pavement, and wear quickly.

redacted | December 9, 2013


"If studs are outlawed, it is just a callous economic study on the costs of a life, since the roads admittedly will have to get new surfaces more often."

Not necessarily; it could be a callous comparison of the cost of people getting killed from unfixed deteriorated streets vs. the cost of people getting killed by those extra 50 feet of skidding, if the street budget doesn't get increased.

And life is about economic comparisons. Imagine the lives we could save by disallowing driving in snow at all, or setting speed limits to 10km/h, or maybe just disallowing summer driving because more pedestrians are out walking. Actually, if you're really for saving pedestrians you'd advocate banning cars vs. public transportation, which would save many more lives all year round.

mcfadyena | December 9, 2013

Awesome! Gives me hope that I may make it up my crazy lane way in the winter. But just a bit...I'll test it out on Delivery Day next week.

Laneway is here -

I'll report back how things go once I do a few tests ;-)

Thanks for this report!

TMCproud | December 9, 2013


Sorry to say but I find your messages on this thread extremely patronizing. My goodness take a deep breath...

I live in Quebec, Canada where we get approx 300cm (ie 100-150 inches) of snow from Nov to March, and I appreciated the message for what I believe the intent was; to share an interesting experience.

ks-man | December 9, 2013

I might be wrong but with the changes in 5.8 to the smart AS I think the car is always at Standard unless you manually change it. Unless there is a lot of snow and you're keeping it under 20mph the whole time you can't even set it to high without it going back to standard.

20mph is pretty slow so unless the weather is really bad or you are in a parking lot I don't really see it being all that convenient to being able to set it to high or very high. I wish there was some automatic raising at slow speeds the way there was automatic lowering at fast speeds before 5.8.

I guess the problem would be constant raising and lowering around town or in stop and go traffic but perhaps they could make it work tied to GPS or something (home driveway).

Captain_Zap | December 9, 2013

@AndrewM - That laneway of yours looks pretty darned intimidating. I'd be tentative in my Tesla under those conditions. The car is quite heavy and you have to keep that moementum in mind.

Captain_Zap | December 9, 2013

-momentum- (sorry)

robert | December 9, 2013


50 feet??? No, 50 meters, which is more like 164 feet!!!

Patronizing? Perhaps, but more like extreme frustration over the sentence: " No snow tires, am convinced I do not need them now.
I am equally convinced that he does need them. Badly, since anyone that can boast like that surely shouldn't have a license to drive. Had it only been HIS life and HIS limb, well, that's his business, but for us that get yearly pictures on the telly about the latest pile-up in the States, mostly from Minnesota, when people are trying to negotiate the first snow-storm on icy roads on summer tires of sometimes rather dubious quality, it is no joke. To drive a moving vehicle, weighing tonnes is not a human right, is it a privilege for those that can show that they possess the necessary skills to handle a car ALSO IN AWKWARD CIRCUMSTANCES. Anyone can drive a car on a flat road in nice weather, but that isn't what I am talking about at all.

I have driven extensively in the States, and if I am patronizing when I say that I never noticed that anyone has an idea of the function of lanes (right lane for slower vehicles, and overtaking to the left - my impression is that people park in whatever lane they drive and never move away), I am sorry (try that in Germany, and you'll be forcibly removed from the road and ordered to walk home). But one gets used to also that, but to be told that "my car is so good that I don't need winter tires on ice" sends me up the wall, screaming. Which is what I did. Had he not written that, I would have had nothing to say.

Roads are dangerous, and should be treated like that, and, since traffic is and must be a co-operation between different drivers, one is dependent upon the skills of others and everyone obeying the rules. AND people driving with the right equipment.

portia | December 9, 2013

@robert, chill, or maybe you need to warm up and mellow a bit. Really, in places where you only get a few days of snow, nobody will get winter tires, especially studded, which as some said, are not legal in many places. different cultures, different conditions. It's true a lot of times because people live in places where it snows infrequently, they (me included) don't know how to drive in snow, and would be better off not going out. Just be careful out there, we don't need any unecessary accidents, damaging cars or injuring people.

Hans Peter Endal | December 10, 2013

Here in Norway we have much the same winter conditions as in Sweeden. Since 1986 I have been driving all my cars on M+S tires with no studs. Theese are tires made for nordic conditions, basically made of natural rubber (minimum synthetic rubber). During all these years I especially have had good experiences with Nokian and Michelin tires. I do not like the discussion running here if the driver is responible or not regarding which tires are used. The fact is (at least in Norway) if the tires are marked M+S they are allowed used in the winter. Yes, we know that continental winter tires are made of more synthetic rubber and therefore is not optimal for nordic conditions. Nevertheless they are allowed to use - as far I know, in Norway during winter. I got my P85 last Friday :-) and I am very satisfied! I ordered it with Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 studless (nordic) winter tires and is very satisfied with my choise. Last weekend we got 4-5" snow here in Bergen, and I talked to a guy who bought the standard M+S continental winter tires from Tesla. He was also satisfied with the performance of these wheels. About the choise driving non stud winter tires is much about changing attitude keeping more distance to the car in front of you. The studs have their performance only (or mostly) on ice. For all other conditions I will prefer winter tires without studs - and drive even more carefully with extra distance the days with ice conditions.

robert | December 10, 2013

Kjære Hans Peter,

if you do keep your distance, you have no arguments from me. Facts are, however, that to stop a normal car (weighing 1'400 kilos) on ice, you need more than 80 more feet (25 m) braking distance with your studless Nokia than I with my studded Nokia. With a Tesla, weighing in at 2'200 kilos, this difference will grow and by quite much. It isn't about Tesla, it is about physics.
In the USA, according to one poster, summer tires are allowed on ice. In Norway and Sweden M+S are allowed, but me, personally, I'll be damned before I drive with them on ice. After 50+ years of driving, having seen far too many accidents with limbs strewn over the road, I have a huge respect for the dangers on roads.

This morning it rained in Stockholm, with a temp of 33F (+1C). If this temp goes down (and it will), the (small) roads will be like ice-skating rinks. To drive without studs is just inviting disaster.

robert | December 10, 2013

Can I just add this to the debate - and it of course has only a little to do with studs or not, but a hell of a lot to do with my respect for traffic:

Info from WHO (not from me).

Yearly 1,3 million people die in traffic. That's 1 300 000 human lives.
Yearly 50 Million people are "seriously" hurt in traffic. That's 50 000 000 hospital visits.
Yearly cost of traffic accidents: 3 Trillion Dollars. Now that is $3 000 000 000 000. More than my weekly allowance.

Still feel complacent about people with means (how could they otherwise buy a Tesla S?), who knowingly increase these numbers by ignoring physical fundamenta (see my posts above)? If observing this makes me patronizing, in need of a good chill, or obnoxious in general, well, I'll bear that cross with pride.

Let's be careful out there.

heinera | December 10, 2013

I guess they are not prepared in Wisconsin. This happened Sunday:

robert | December 10, 2013

This is precisely the type of carambolage I was referring to and that we are being fed with in Sweden as a proof that one MUST have winter tires, preferrably with studs, when driving on roads of that type.

I am so very sorry (yes, I am) for those hit like that, but look at the speeds of the cars after 0.04 and 0.06 and how they control the situation = zero control, and guaranteed with summer tires.

It is undignified to use a tragic situation like this to forward an argument, so just look for yourselves and then start to think, if summer tires, or even M+S tires really are adequate for a dangerous place like that road and all similar winter roads.

Panoz | December 10, 2013

Whoa, let's cut the drama one's reputation is at stake (or is it?). The Wisconsin pile-up has NOTHING to do with tires, the same as most other accidents (even in winter). The problem is pilot error, pure and simple. Did you see the Wisconsin video? Did you see the speeds the drivers were traveling? Not even double-sided tape on their tires would've prevented the crash.

Exceeding the save speed for the conditions is almost ALWAYS the problem in winter. Can we talk about the Model S now, and just say it's better to have winter tires?

robert | December 10, 2013


It is a combination of bad judgement and bad equipment. Look at the professional drivers - not one of them was caught or involved. Of course the tires have to do with it, for the majority of the cars. With ABS and proper tires, the car would brake in a line and not slew back and forth - and it would stop. I agree that most is pilot error - not enough respect for the outer circumstances - but it doesn't help, if bad equipment is compounding the drivers' errors.

And - for me - this is drama. Unfortunate, horrible drama. Behind that video is one dead person, possibly many injured and material damage for, probably, hundreds of thousand of dollars.

But back to the OP - are you still convinced that your Tesla S doesn't need winter tires? Then, good luck to you, and even more so to your fellow travellers.

Hans Peter Endal | December 10, 2013

Totally agree Panoz!
End of discussion. Here we shall discuss the performance of Tesla under winter conditions.
What I have heard every where is that the car performs very well on snow. Also a collegue told me he had met a camera team up in the mountains this weekend - under extreeme winter conditions. They were doing some takes with 3 or 4 Tesla demo cars.
So I think there will come some "official pictures or movies" on official Tesla page or similar soon (?) :-)

Panoz | December 10, 2013

@Robert...chill. My father was the most famous traffic judge on this planet (he made it in the Guiness Book of World records). I can quote you all the traffic statistics you want, and drunk drivers in the USA kill 15,000 to 20,000 people a year (depending on how you gather your stats). My own home state used to have 6-month car inspections until my father pointed out that equipment failure causes 1% of all traffic incidents. 99% - pilot error.

I can drive on bald tires on ice if I'm careful. Careful is the key word.