Rear facing seats : Our not-so-positive experience

Rear facing seats : Our not-so-positive experience

Picked up my car this week and we went on this 120 mile road trip to Sacramento from the SF bay area. Had my two boys in the rear facing seats. A few minutes into this trip, the kids started complaining that it was too hot outside. It was a sunny day, and we turned the temperature down to the coldest possible. Within half an hour, it was so unbearable for them still that we had to pull over and buy them hats to protect them from the sun.. and below is what we learned the hard way..

- There is no A/C ducts in the truck area, even if we ordered the rear facing seats
- The fans doesn't reach the rear facing seats at all
- The sun would be shining on the kids without any obstruction
- There is no sun film installed, when the car is delivered.
- The seats are not comfortable for long trips
- In the night the headlights of the cars behind ours would shine on the kids faces. Try telling them to sleep..

Please dont count on using the rear facing seats unless the weather is not warm and its a short trip.

Having said that, my sons love to be in these seats, particular on their short trips to school and jump out of the trunk, when the rest of alight through the regular doors.. That's cool !! Add to it their excitement of opening the frunk in front of other kids to retrieve their school bags.

kilimats | 10 mars 2013

first time reading a real life experience on those, good to know how they perform, too bad tesla hasn't been communicating this shortcomings on the website to let owners know what they are best used for

sethvandermeer | 10 mars 2013

Very helpful indeed! I am considering these for my two boys (3&6). Mostly for short trips, max 45 minutes, and for the occasional soccer/hockey team or birthday party when having 6 kids to transport. Good to know that I will have to keep my old forward facing child seats for the longer trips. Does anyone know if the Model S has isofix to attach the child and booster seats to?

tonysled | 10 mars 2013

I have yet to get my seats. Car was delivered without them in January and am still waiting for them to be delivered/installed. Did yours come installed or were they retrofitted after the car was delivered?

shop | 10 mars 2013

Frankly, I highly recommend installing third party window tinting for all cars and especially if you have a third row seat. I have it done to all my cars and there is a huge difference in terms of heat rejection.

Jamon | 11 mars 2013

@mtom I'm surprised and sorry to hear about your experience. I've had the rear facing seats for about 6 weeks now. My kids ride in them to school every day (short trip), and we've taken a couple longer trips (~20 miles) in moderate weather. We haven't had any complaints, and the kids still fight over which 2 get to ride in the back - while the one in the middle row usually asks me to turn on the HD back-up camera so at least they can see the view from the back :). I'll be anxious to see how it goes once the weather heats up in the summer...

hanstremblay | 11 mars 2013

Do you have panoramic roof ? As I can see it supposed to blocks 81%heat and 98% visible light and it cover all the roof from the windshield to the trunk. (See the "All glass Panoramic roof" section with photo in the middle of the page)

Should be an important option to get for those who want rear facing seats.

mtom007 | 11 mars 2013

@sethvandermeer : I will check and report back this evening.. You would definitely need to keep those child seats.

@tonysled : Mine came with the rear facing seats installed. I picked up the car last tuesday at the factory.

@shop : I'm going to do just that.. It wasn't on my highest priority list until last weekend :-(

@Jamon : Its been like summer here in Northern California last weekend.. Generally my 3 boys also fight for those seats. After the last trip, my youngest one isnt getting the option of rear facing seats, so no fights now :-)

@ hanstremblay : Yes, I have the panoramic roof.. Very happy about its performance. It does block the heat as promised, but it doesnt extend to the truck as shown in the picture. At least the tinted area doesn't go all the way.. I will call a product specialist about this..

shop | 11 mars 2013

@hanstramblay - good catch, but I think that graphic is simply wrong and Tesla should correct that piece of marketing. I do believe the heavily tinted roof only covers the roof and not the back window.

Hills | 11 mars 2013

Do you have a place you trust to have film applied?

kisspg10 | 11 mars 2013

Have had the rear facing seats for a month and had the same issue as mtom007 and
window film tinting made a huge difference.
Kids loving them

muller | 11 mars 2013


according to tesla staff at the test drive in Copenhagen the Model S has 3 isofix mounts in the back(middle) row.

sethvandermeer | 11 mars 2013

@muller: Thanks!

Oliver in Seattle | 11 mars 2013

Muller and sethvandermeer: I think that the seats are set up as LATCH, which is the same as isofix, but it also includes the tether mount on the back of the rear seat back to hold the upper end of a forward facing seat. Some say the exact mount points (specifically the depth of the mount points) may vary between isofix and LATCH, they appear to be largely compatible (except that some cars with isofix don't include the tether mount point.

I can confirm that there are tether points under the carpet (there is a slit in the carpet) behind the second row, and there are lower attachment points on each side as well as the middle seat.

Klaus | 11 mars 2013

I've had my rear facing seats for about 6 weeks. The grandkids love them. I had the car tinted and that definitely makes a difference. Also make sure the back seat vents are open and pointing up as far as they will go. It sends enough cool air to the rear to make it comfortable. We here in Florida have yet to get the summer heat to effectively test the comfort back there but it has gotten into the 80's several times with no complaints.

mtom007 | 11 mars 2013

@kisspg10 : where did you do the window tinting? Are you in the SF bay area?

ElenaK | 11 mars 2013

I just posted on the forums about those seats- my son complained that it was too to back there and we got home after 20 mile drive, he was red and sweaty and about to have a heat stroke. That was actually scary. We will definitely be putting something on the back window. Don't really need to see through it, thanks to the rear camera. Will also try turning the vents up as Klaus suggested

ElenaK | 11 mars 2013

Sorry, the sentence should have read : "My son complained it was too hot back there..."

shop | 11 mars 2013

@hills, yes I do have a guy I've used in the San Diego region. He is a mobile tinter, comes to your work or home and does it there. Very good work.

NOPetrol | 12 mars 2013

and to mention that its hard to communicate with them. Have to turn down the music and ask "how is it going back there?"
Car should have come with a rear camera to check up on the kids. I will get those airplane neck holders for the kids to crash since the seats don't have the side protectors for them to sleep against.

Pbfoot | 2 juin 2013

I live in Maryland, had the rear-facing seats finally installed about a month ago. It's getting warmer here, had a couple of days in the 90s, and have found that the rear-facing seat is too hot for my son. I do have tint on the rear window and pano roof as well as elsewhere, although to remain legal I had to go with the lightest shade. Tried pointing the 2nd row vents up as suggested by another user, as well as 1st row vents pointing up (and fan setting on high), but to no avail. Anyone else experiencing this problem? My son loves riding back there but it's just too hot now.

froggytown | 2 juin 2013

My family - wife and 5 year old son, 2 year old daughter took a trip on a mild 75 degree day. After about 20 minutes of driving with the AC on about noon, my son complained about being hot. We thought it was just a typical 5 year old exaggeration. We stopped for lunch and opened the back - both kids were dripping sweat, hair soaked, bright red faces and we felt horrible.

Since that day, we grabbed a self cling window tint for now, and while it's better with the tint - the lack of any kind of heating or AC makes any longer drive just impractical. It irks me that for my kids's comfort, that we'll have to put car seats in the back seats on the untouched seats because there was no thought put into the functional use of the rear facing seats. They have a horrible attempt at a cup holder between the seats, but nowhere to have my kids place a juice box, a stuffed animal or much of anything else. And it would have been a great functional use to have a camera back there or some mirror to see the kids.

Anyway - no matter what we do with the vents, unless we crack the rear windows during any warm weather driving - it's unbearable for them.

Both kids love the seats despite the extra steps to make them comfortable. And, there was a comment about headlights shining directly at them - it doesn't affect my kids at these ages as their can't see out, only up. If I tell my son there something 'cool' behind us like a Ferrari, he can't see it. So - maybe the headlight issue will matter more as they are a couple years older, but that doesn't impact them right now.

I would love to figure out a way to retrofit some sort of vent or fan and it would be perfect.

KOL2000 | 2 juin 2013

We had same issue. Here's what we did:

Limo tint full black out on the rear window and put ac on highest setting, close front vents and let all of it go to rear. Aim the rear vents up so it flows to the back. That worked like a charm.

To get them to fall asleep buy neck pillows (like the one for airplanes).

Paul1839 | 2 juin 2013

In Maryland also and have the same issue. I had the windows tinted with ceramic series tint and it did not help one bit. I will hate to do this but some flex duct and duck tape might be my only option. I just don't understand the pano is great at blocking the heat but that rear glass is so bad???

Jewsh | 2 juin 2013

That's too bad about the seats. Good to hear some of you have made some amendments to the standard setup but I'm glad I didn't get the seats in my ride.

Hopefully Tesla will make the required adjustments with some standard tinting and extra A/C vents in the rear for the next model year.

gbouchard_iprospect | 2 juin 2013

Have the same problem with my kids. Anything above 45minutes is difficult because:

a) can't get to them unless I remove my security belt
b) high temperature
c) they can't see anything (they are 2 and 4)
d) at night, lights of cars are intense

Overall the best answer / tip I got is to:

a) put very dark / limo style glass
b) shutdown vent in the front / align the one in back to hit the trunk
c) buy neck pillows
d) make sure they get trained on how to use a DVD player ;)

My end goal is that I can use the car without adding kids seats on the 2nd row unless I do 200km+ trips.

appljd | 2 juin 2013

Had the same issue this week end in VA. 94 degree day. Pano roof and had the windows tinted at 35%. I am wondering if I would get a 12V fan to help shoot the air in that 3rd row...

TikiMan | 2 juin 2013

I would suggest limo-black tint for your rear windows, and maybe a battery operated fan to help cool the little ones down.

From the day I saw the rear third-row child seat option, I said to my self... "Nice gimmick, but not very practical".

Either way, all the more reason to buy a Model X!!!! :-)

Oliver in Seattle | 2 juin 2013

appjd: wondering the same thing. Our kids prefer the windows open becase of the improved airflow. I've been hunting around the internet and there are some tube shaped fans out there that work off a CLA. Anyone put a fan or two back there yet?

defmonk | 2 juin 2013

I'm having more jump seat problems with moms than kids. Some overprotective Westside moms simply will not let their kids sit in the jump seats, citing unspecified safety concerns. It's completely undermined my plan to drive everyone to "two couples with kids" outings. Tesla, I need a safety handout for the Santa Mommyicas. Bummer.

Brian H | 3 juin 2013

Safest seats in the safest car on the road.

scottchiangmd | 3 juin 2013

One of the sales rep suggested changing air condition setting from recycle to open venting. Said that would let air flow back to the rear facing seats. Showed me during our test drive. Has anyone tried this? If this works or even makes sense, can you post and let the rest of us know?

danej | 4 juin 2013

I've got the rear-facing seats, and my kids like them for short trips when the sun is low, but mid-day travel for any distance is impossible.

But I'll point out that pilots have solved this problem, using aftermarket cooler systems to chill down their greenhouse-like non-AC equipped airplanes. Maybe an enterprising Tesla owner can work out a how large a system like this could fit into the footwell back there, and report back.

Here are two commercial product options:

I wonder what Elon would say about Tesla owners using these sort of aftermarket "fixes" for the Model S "kid-cooker."

Oh, and for those of you watching your budget, don't miss out on the "Redneck Air Conditioner". Don't laugh, because it's cheap and simple, and you can make one in just an hour or two with a few simple and inexpensive parts. Here you go:


blurry_eyed | 4 juin 2013

I'm in the Seattle area, so I haven't had to deal with any 90+ degree days yet, but what I find helps is that I will open up the back passenger windows to get some airflow in the back of the rear kid seat area. I'll do that for a minute or two, asking the kids when they feel the temperature is ok. Then I'll close up the windows again once they are ok. That, along with a 20% window tint it taking care of the heat issue for my kids right now.

Not sure how well that will work when the temps get into the mid 80's or higher though. Opening the windows to get airflow back there may be a solution for those of you that live in the more temperate climates.

ericrw | 4 juin 2013

Does Tesla or anyone have any data proving the safety efficacy of the rear facing child seats ? I'm having the same problem with Overprotective westside mom worrying about safety of those seats in a rear collision. Problem is the overprotective mom is also my wife, so need even more proof!

SamO | 4 juin 2013

Elon has said that due to the reinforcements that are done with the installation of the third row, the child seats are the safest in the car. Safer than from seat driver/passenger and 2nd row.

If anyone can find the link . . .

Brian H | 4 juin 2013

The MS met or exceeded the highest 5-star safety standards. Per Elon, the jumpseats are the safest seats in the safest cars in the world. Tests back him up, so far. He has 5 young boys of his own who use them all the time.

Brian H | 4 juin 2013

typo: in the safest car in the world

davecolene0606 | 4 juin 2013

We've had the seats now for 3 months, 10 yr old twins.

3M crystalline 40%
Fan on high
Rear vents pointed high
Center front vents straight back
Side front vents off
Recirc on
69 degrees
78degrees or less a cracked back window provides ample circulation

Even on 95+ Florida day kids are comfy. They gravitate to the back seat for trips longer than a half an hour or so. They gravitate to the jump seats to and from school (great for secret telling).

Plus so far: cool factor at school
2 couples and our kids can go out
5 kids and me
Safe seat for the kids
With the fan turned up you can't hear Em! :)

Less than perfect so far: With the fans turned up you can't hear em.
Without tinting too hot in the summer.
Can get a little chilly in the front after a while.

While not the same as having a legit 3rd row (Model X) we have managed to carry as many kids and and adult AND all our luggage on a recent Disney trip which we could NOT have done in our Toyota Highlander. (Could have fit the people without the luggage.


Brian H | 4 juin 2013

Put a roof carrier on the Highlander? ;)

Brian H | 4 juin 2013

For the luggage, not the kids. Generally.

davecolene0606 | 4 juin 2013

LOL , yea but then the incredibly efficient Hybrid :p acquires then aerodynamics of an 18 wheeler and....

oh com on what am I sayin! The S is just more practical.


Today we sold the Highlander and took delivery of S/N 11081 60 no back seats this one but no more gas either!

BYT | 4 juin 2013

@davecolene0606, thanks for posting, I will try what you suggested and will default as a backup to findings if it's still not enough. I know when it's 85 degrees out, those back seats can easily get to 110 degrees or higher and fast!

davecolene0606 | 4 juin 2013

Just a note. When all of that is done, my daughters still say they can't feel a breeze, but they dot get hot either.
I guess enough cool air is,being pushed to remove the heat.

Can't wait to see your results.



eran | 9 juin 2013

Picked up my S on Friday, with rear facing seats. I knew of the possible heat issue from previous posts, my plan is to tint the rear window. First experience, SoCal 77 degrees and sunny (pre tint)kids started complaining of heat within 5 minutes and after 15 it was unbearable, I had to turn back for home and switch to the Prius. My take is simple, Tesla most probably did not test the rear facing seats during the summer months or even on a sunny spring day. I REALLY love the car, but I think that Tesla must come up with a fix, which should be rather simple.

Rear facing seat option should include:

1. trunk area. AC vents
2. Tinted rear window.

Would also be nice to have:

1. Camera to see the kids
2. Option for head support cushion of some sort, so kids can more comfortably sleep during longer trips.

These additions would cost very little to Tesla but would improve the rear facing seat experience greatly.

TI Sailor | 9 juin 2013

It won't take Elon more than one trip in his MS (this summer) with all his kids to come to the same conclusions, with the possible exception of "these additions would cost very little to Tesla"...

TS | 9 juin 2013

Elon allready commented on Twitter that it will be fixed in the next year model

eran | 9 juin 2013

A fix in next model year is great.....for those getting the vehicle + rear facing seats....but what about all of us who have made the investment this year???

AmpedRealtor | 9 juin 2013

@ TS, can you point us to the twitter link? I can't seem to find it anywhere on Tesla's or Elon's twitter pages. Thanks in advance.

electrophorus | 9 juin 2013

@AmpedRealtor I remember that tweet from @elonmusk clearly, it was in response to someone complaining about the heat in the rear facing seats. Elon said the vents in the MS will get redesigned around the time the MX starts production.

Not surprisingly, the tweet seems to be deleted now.

eran | 9 juin 2013

I wrote an email this morning and recieved a very quick response both by email and voice mail. Unfortunately it was nt the answer I was hoping to recieve. I asked if/when a fix is planned? Answer " I just left you a voice mail. Try setting the air circulation for Model S to recirculation (it looks like the recycle symbol) when your children are sitting in the rear facing seats". I had already tried that and it's not even close to being an acceptable solution. I wrote back asking for an answer to my original question. ---- if/when a fix is planned?

Stay Tuned.