Model 3 LR AWD Does Not Warm Battery

Model 3 LR AWD Does Not Warm Battery

I left my car in 0 degree F weather for 24 hours and then took it to a nearby supercharger. The drive was not enough to warm the battery. I expected the motor to kick in and warm the battery upon plugging into the supercharger. However, after over an hour and a useless call to Tesla support in which I was told the supercharger was too cold... I had not charged at all nor did the battery warm.
I was under the impression the motor has the ability to warm the battery. Is this not the case? Or should I schedule an appointment with a service center?

Bighorn | 30 janvier 2019

Even the Model S with a dedicated battery warmer can take an hour to be ready to accept supercharging. On the bright side, I don’t know anyone who has made your mistake twice. I don’t know how one would judge whether the motor was being used to heat coolant.

zacharyadamsjohnson | 30 janvier 2019

I heard a whirring noise for a minute or so upon initially plugged in. Assume it was the motor. I don’t know that I can classify this as a “mistake” if the car doesn’t work as designed. Good to know about the model S.

lbowroom | 30 janvier 2019

The motor only spins when the car is moving. It can't kick in when stationary to heat the battery. It's a pretty efficient motor so it doesn't create that much heat. If the motor has coolant lines to it, (I don't know the answer)running it hard and engaging regen will cause the coolant to warm and if that coolant is circulated to the battery, that will serve to warm it. Also drawing current from the battery creates heat.

Bighorn | 30 janvier 2019

It was billed as being capable of heating the battery while stationary.

See last several paragraphs here:

coleAK | 30 janvier 2019

It has to heat the battery while parked. I’ve been at well below 0 F for 12 hours. Pre heat for 30 min and within 4 or 5 miles max lose the “snowflake”.

@OP, Did you preheat?

zacharyadamsjohnson | 30 janvier 2019

I preheated for 10 minutes before I got back to where it was parked, yes. Then drove relatively slowly (average 35 mpg?) for 5 miles. I don’t recall if I’ve ever seen a battery warming icon in the app while preheating.
The car definitely warmed the battery after I drove up and down the highway. I’m just worried about the future, say if I don’t have sufficient charge to do so and am restricted to sitting at the SC.

Bighorn | 30 janvier 2019

The Model S app will show a battery heating icon which I’ve never seen on the Model 3 app.

zacharyadamsjohnson | 30 janvier 2019

You know, now that I’m sitting back and thinking about it, I keep getting a coolant low warning when the car is cold. It could be that I need to take it in for service to get that coolant filled. May not be enough for the car’s logic to feel comfortable starting the motor warming.

Mike UpNorth_ | 30 janvier 2019


I've been reading on this forum for a long time. I've never heard of low coolant warning before. Yes, I agree, get it in to service.

zacharyadamsjohnson | 31 janvier 2019

Just checked google images — app should show a battery icon in the climate section of the app if it is preheating the battery.
I scheduled a service appointment. My cellular modem loses its connection if I leave the car sitting for awhile. Had to take it in for that regardless.
Thanks for everyone’s help!

Bighorn | 31 janvier 2019

You’re sure it was a Model 3 in the app?

dsvick | 31 janvier 2019

Even if your battery is cold it should still charge just more slowly until it warms up. If you weren't charging at all I wonder if there really was something wrong with the SC like Tesla said. Did you try a different stall?

derotam | 31 janvier 2019

@Zachary, as of firmware 48.12 there is no battery icon(battery heating) in the app. I doubt it is implemented at all yet and who knows if it ever will.

Musk did mention pushing power through the motor to generate heat to heat the battery but there hasn't been any more information concerning how or when that happens. Supposedly it is triggered when you turn on climate control from the app but haven't seen any empirical data to prove it. It would be nice if someone would test this and record a massive power usage while plugged in but no charging happening. It doesn't get cold enough for me to really test.

cincyBrad | 31 janvier 2019

Question about keeping the Battery warm during these extreme cold spells. I keep hearing its very important to just Plug in your Tesla while its is parked if at all possible. Last night when I get home from work, I plugged it in and scheduled it to charge a couple hours before I left for work the next morning. Now this morning, the Battery range had drained down some amount (maybe 10-15 miles?) and was too cold to charge. Looks like it was trying to warm itself for the 1-2 hours without adding any range. It seems that while it is just plugged in (and not charging), its not really doing anything.

Does simply Plugging in the car do anything in this situation?

Mike UpNorth_ | 31 janvier 2019


I don't think it does anything.

Mike UpNorth_ | 31 janvier 2019


If you turn on climate control and warm the cabin - while plugged in - it will draw the power from the wall not the battery. So there's that.

Bighorn | 31 janvier 2019

The battery will not add charge if it’s at or below freezing.

Bighorn | 31 janvier 2019

jjgunn | 31 janvier 2019


Cool right, Bighorn?

Learned that from @lilbean - I think I owe @lilbean a one-bean massage or something.

Bighorn | 31 janvier 2019

Thanks for the tip!

Goldie | 31 janvier 2019

It took 2 hours for me this morning for the battery to start charging with my wall charger.
5 degrees outside. Programmed to start charging at 5:30 am, preheated at 8am on high, by 8:30 only added 5 miles but snowflake was gone & had decent regen & nice and toasty inside the car when I left.

beaver | 31 janvier 2019


I suggest next time you don’t delay charging but instead charge at lower amps so battery stays warm charging slowly all night. I drop mine from 32A to 12A and do a long 8 hour charge that works well.

On the question: does running climate warm the battery? The jury is still out, some people claim it does but I tested it and it didn’t work. You likely need to run st MAX so car draws 5 kW and you just run current through the battery. This is very inefficient! Tesla needs to add battery warming feature. | 31 janvier 2019

Technically, it is fairly easy to "heat" the motor while not turning. Just requires adding power to the motor without sequential phasing. Almost trivial in software if the motor controller sit up to accept this mode. As to how much heat and how quickly it warms the battery - the jury is still out.

Using motor heating should be about the same efficiency as using a resistive heater like the S/X. Differences have more to do with the coolant routing and how much of the motor is exposed to the cold air and how much the motor (and casing) has to be heated before the coolant starts to heat up. It has the potential to generate more heat than the S/X resistive heater. The power levels going to the motor are far higher than the S/X resistive heater. Still there will be limits when the motor is used as a heater to prevent damage to the electronics and the motor itself. So without some careful measurements, it's hard to say which method of heating is better.

dsvick | 31 janvier 2019

@Bighorn, So then how do our batteries charge at all when it's below freezing and the battery is cold soaked to below freezing as well? I know mine has been below that, and close to zero the last couple of nights before charging started in the morning. Or is part of the initial cycle just warming the battery and not adding charge?

I know that when it's cold I allow and extra 30 to 45 minutes to charge since it is so slow to begin, I didn't know it wasn't charging at all though.

Bighorn | 31 janvier 2019

All the energy goes to battery warming until cells can accept a charge, above 32F. Since nobody wants this to happen more than the one time, there isn’t a lot of empirical data. I can confirm that a supercharger does nothing to charge the battery in a car parked overnight in Butte, Montana in the winter for the first hour. | 31 janvier 2019

I'll jump in - We believe no charging occurs when the battery is below freezing. This is true of all LIthium-ion batteries. It must be heated up above zero before any charging starts.

jordanrichard | 31 janvier 2019

In theory at least, since the motor heats the battery pack in the M3, then driving/accelerating fast would heat the pack up quicker than driving gingerly. Assuming of course one has the range to drive a tad bit aggressively.

dsvick | 31 janvier 2019

Got it, thanks for the info. I always thought it was just slower below freezing not, non-existent. In those cases how is it warming the battery, do we know for sure it's the motor?

mikes | 31 janvier 2019

Come home plug in, set charge amps to 20 amps and see how many hours it will take to charge. This low amp setting will increase charge time drastically. Now you can set the start time for charging so that it just stops before you need to drive. No snowflake, no limited regen! I have been doing this for the last few months here in COLD Montana. Car is parked outside!

Ilya | 31 janvier 2019

Would battery charge fast if a car is left in cold weather plugged into a regular outlet? The point is, a battery couldn't get full charge through this process but at least you would be able to efficiently charge soon after you leave. Actually, I want to try it soon as I go ~150miles in cold weather to a place which doesn't have a high amp circuit breaker.

Any idea would it work? | 31 janvier 2019

@Ilya - Doubtful. You might not have enough power to get the battery above freezing, so all your power is just used to try a combat the cold and zero is used to actually charge the car. I guess it depend on how cold it is. It may reduce the time for the battery to heat up slightly.

mikes | 31 janvier 2019

@llya - on a regular outlet you're at only 120volts and 12 amps which is not generating much heat, but it could work or at least help to keep the battery temp slightly higher. I use 240volt at 20amps and that worked even at 10below!

Ilya | 31 janvier 2019

The assumption is that I come to this place in the car after driving 150 miles, charged at a supercharger prior to arrival and then plugged into a regular outlet for 2 full days with no driving. temp could be below freezing. Last time I left the car in cold without charge, Tesla lost like 5% - what I hoped for is to avoid this and actually gain some charge.
At home, I have 240 x 20 in my garage and I have no problems at any temperature but visiting remote family members creates some challenges in winter time especially as cold as this one in Midwest

grpgrp | 31 janvier 2019

@Ilya - We only charge on 120V both at home (driveway) and visiting remote family (unheated garage), using SC on 300 miles of highway in between. Definitely takes a little time to warm battery but you will indeed gain charge overnight on 120V even in 0-32F temps.

Real world data, from an app:
16F right now in driveway: getting about 2.5-3 rated mi/hr average over last 6 hrs.
Non freezing weather (32-45F): 4-4.5 rated mi/hr average over last several weeks.
5F last night in garage: got about 3 rated mi/hr overnight.

I don’t usually watch it but when I have checked, I’ve noticed the charge rate will fluctuate. Almost 5 at peak (battery not cold), and then it plummets to zero, and then back. My assumption is that when battery temp drops, system steals all incoming power and perhaps some charge to get battery warmed up enough that it won’t need heat again for awhile, and then it resumes full charging.

The often-given advice of “always leave it plugged in” has worked well for us.

kevin_rf | 1 février 2019

Yesterday, bumped up my charge in morning -7 out, unplanned errands added to my day. Was amused to see 0 miles per hour 34a/34a while the battery warmed up.

Arrived home with 18% charge, long 400 wh mile day.

Ilya | 1 février 2019

@grpgrp - thanks, interesting observations. What app do you use to collect charging history, I would have a chance to see how it works tonight. Still curious about how fast a battery would be charged after being plugged into regular outlet in freezing temperature. Will post something if I have a chance to run this test

mikes | 1 février 2019

@llya - If you plug in for 48hours at 120V 12A you will gain about 3miles per hour of charge, so you could gain 144miles which is roughly 30 some %. So, in theory if you get there with about 70% SOC, set your charge level to 100% and plug in, it will start charging and keep going for the 2 days and you'll end up somewhere between 90% to 100%SOC after 2 days. As it keeps charging the whole time, whatever the car needs for overhead/maintenance will then come directly from the Grid and just results in not reaching the 100% SOC. But you are not interested in 100% anyway, you just like to keep the charge up somewhere around 90% the as I understand.

DaninChi | 1 février 2019

Found out Wednesday that not only does extreme cold limit battery charging, but after 8 hrs parked outside averaging -15F, my car had a new message “performance limited due to extreme cold”, or something to that extent. My Model 3 was driving like a Leaf! The message said it should return to normal performance after warming up, but I guess 20 minutes of mixed highway and city roads wasn’t enough. I plugged in at home and saw 0 miles per hour charging for the first time (pulling 10-11A at 240V from my 30A EVSE), and kind of freaked out but figured that’s probably what the battery heater pulls. I sighed in relief when an hour later my app showed me getting all 30A and my typical 29mi/hr again.

mikes | 2 février 2019

@DaninChi - Cold and hot batteries will always limit charging especially fast charging, but that also works the other way around. You can not fast charge and you can not fast discharge. Best thing is to keep car plugged in with charge rate set lower so it continuously charges from the time you park until you drive again. I usually park and set the timer to about midnight, when the battery is still warm enough to accept a charge, then it will charge until about 6am when I'm driving again.

grpgrp | 6 février 2019

@Ilya I use Teslafi. Try a free trial here (30 days vs 14 with my referral - ). If you’re not a stats junkie,you may not need to subscribe after the trial.