AC performance in front and rear

AC performance in front and rear

Nobody has talked about the AC performance in the front and rear passenger cabin areas. Tesla is also pretty silent about this on their website. Most of us drive with the windows shut because of the aerodynamic design of the modern car. It also provides creature comforts that are very much appreciated. In particular, does the rear passenger area have it's own AC controls. This is standard in most luxury cars. | 6 juli 2013

AC performance for the front and back seems fine to me. There are no separate temperature controls for the rear passengers, but they do get a couple of vents and a knob to adjust the airflow.

I haven't seen separate AC controls for the rear passengers except in the most expensive luxury cars - typically in the $120K+ category, or in some monster SUVs that are so big, one AC system isn't enough to cool it down.

Hills | 6 juli 2013

I have owned the model S since early December. High summer temperature is not often a problem where I live, but we had a heat wave the past week. With the AC on 71 degrees and manual, I could not get much airflow even with the fan setting at maximum. I figure my AC was not working properly.

Tesla Tech looked at my car today and he was able to get the AC to put out high volume of cold air. How? He put the temperature setting low, even at LO. I complained that I've never had to do that with any other car, but he said that is the way the car is designed.

So, with the outside temperature at 100 and Tesla temp target set at 71, the car put out very little cold air. Today, with the outside temperature at 68 and Tesla temp set at 65, I got lots of cold air. To repeat, Model S puts out lots of cold air to cool car 3 degrees to 65, but refuses to put out much cold air to cool car 30 degrees to 71.

Therefore, it appears Model S is designed to pay attention to the absolute setting of the temperature, rather than the difference between outside and inside. To me, this is a terrible design choice, and even the service tech agreed that it is a design Tesla can change if it wanted to.

Chuck Lusin | 6 juli 2013

The AC works real good and fast. Just the 2 fixed vents and the 3 adjustable vents, with no controls for the back in my car. Also my AC takes about 3.6Kw while parked in the garage 15A at 245V.

Chuck Lusin | 6 juli 2013

2 adjustable vents | 6 juli 2013

@Hills, I think there is something wrong with your car or a setting.

I've had 90-100 degree heat here in CA this last week, and the AC worked fine. Never changed the setting below 70 degrees.

There is a mode where the AC is limited. It's in the settings (I can't quite remember the name - something like Range mode). In that mode, you are not going to get full AC. If this is not the case, I'd contact Tesla again. It doesn't seem right.

jai9001 | 6 juli 2013

I live in Memphis,TN and temperatures in the summer are routinely in the 90s. The air conditioning is fantastic and cools much faster than my previous BMW.

Also, having the ability to turn on the AC from the phone app is one of my most favorite features of the car.

Dramsey | 6 juli 2013

FWIW, my 2013 Audi A6 has individual temperature and fan controls for every passenger in the car. It's part of the "cold weather package". MSRP of the car is about $68K.

I'll be driving a Tesla next Wednesday and am interested to see how the climate control will work.

rwang | 6 juli 2013

A/C works well. just get used to the loud noise form the compressor. We've had 103+ here in Northern California all last week and the car was very cool. In fact the app is great as you can cool the car before you get in.

Kleist | 6 juli 2013

@rwang - the loud noise of the compressor you can tame with driving in range mode. We were driving with 108 outside and car was very comfortable in range mode and moderate compressor noise.
@Dramsey - stick with your A6 if that is important to you.

Dramsey | 6 juli 2013

@Kleist-- I was just pointing out that contrary to another message on this thread, individual temp control is available on cars costing much less than the Model S. In fact it seems to be devoid of a number of "luxury features" like adaptive cruise control, etc. How this factors into my opinion of the car remains to be seen...driving it seems to convince a lot of people!

Kleist | 6 juli 2013

@Dramsey - you are missing the point. The "luxury" you are getting is the finest performing vehicle on the planet - nothing in the ICE universe can compete. Sure if you are reducing the comparison to a single item like my XYZ has 5 cup holders, or ABC has 500 miles range, or MNH (Leaf) shows me all the charging option on the nav system etc you will find less intial cost vehicles that have this or that feature. If that is important to you stick with it... no quarrel.
Audis were my lifelong favorite cars... last year I was looking for a new car, let's check out the A6. I am sitting tall so head room is critical... my head hits the A6 roof = a functional defective car. Next cars E350, S500... head hits the roof = functional defective. And so on... By chance I sat in a Model S in a show room... sport car, sure my head will hit the roof... suprise I fit in the MS with room to spare.
My point is that if this or that feature is important to you ( in my case head room overrides everything ) please go for it... you have to be happy.
After I got the MS I learned... Why is the MS the best performing vehicle on the planet? Incredible control - I park the MS in my garage so close to wall that barely a sheet of paper fits in between and never hit the wall ( vibration of an ICE would allow that ), on an incline in SF hold the car simply with the accelerator no break/clutch/auto hill hold needed all this stuff you needed for and ICE, 2nd day of ownership the Prius on the cellphone next to me changed the lane abruptely into my lane... a flick of the big toe and I escaped him - any other car it would have been an accident.
And I could go on for hours... my future car choices have been reduced to MS and similar in the future. Cup holders - unimportant. Coat hangers - unimportant. Trip planning - yes I have to do now for longer trips until infrastructure is there. Any other creature comfort - unimportant.

runonmd1 | 6 juli 2013

...or a brake hold, I'll bet.

eddygorsuch | 6 juli 2013

I just got an email from Tesla about tips for improving the comfort of passengers in the rear facing child seats. They include disabling auto climate mode to enable fresh air mode (recirculation is more efficient for cooling, but reduces air flow to the back) and to use both dashboard and floor vents (increases airflow to the back as well as reducing can noise). After getting this email, I checked, and lo! there are air vents below the first row seats (in addition to the rear vents on the console).

For those people complaining about fan noise (or lack of), check which way your air is flowing. Sending it out the floor vents in addition to the dash vents does make it quieter for me.

I don't know how this affects the 2nd row passengers, but my limited testing suggests that the hints may be helping a little for the third row. (It's hard to tell, since our heat wave has come down, and today my son was complaining about being cold when outside.)

J.T. | 7 juli 2013

@Dramsey I, too, own an Audi A6. It's actually my wife's every day car. Yesterday I had to go to Albany from NYC for the day and the model S wasn't going to make it in the time frame I had. So, I took my wife's car and gave her mine.
Yes, the Audi has a lot more bells and whistles, but driving it just isn't nearly as much fun. The hesitation when you try to pass at highway speeds seems so foreign to me.
All I'm saying is that if you're going to compare the creature comforts of the Audi to the MS you're going to be disappointed in the MS. But, drive it like you mean it and I think you'll understand why most of us simply don't care about the things most luxury car owners expect.

nickjhowe | 7 juli 2013

Living in Florida I've had the A/C on every time I've used the car since I got it six months ago. The A/C is much better with the 4.5 software update, and the S does a great job circulating air around the cabin without blowing a howling gale. I'd like a "one-touch max-A/C" button for cooling the car down quickly when I forget to pre-cool the car, but other than that it is pretty good. The lack of rear controls hasn't been an issue.

chrisdl | 7 juli 2013

@Kleist: I think that what you're saying is exactly the point which @Dramsey is making: After you've driven the MS, the priorities of what you want in a car seem to change for many us. I just wanted to point out that you're actually confirming the MS advantage which @Dramsey was wondering about.

ralsagoff | 7 juli 2013

It looks like I have inadvertently opened a can of worms about AC climate control.

The fact that there are two separate vents for the rear cabin is great. Most cars do not have separate AV controls for the rear cabin. We can all do without most of the unnecessary dodads that come with luxury cars if we really like the driving capabilities of the SM. However, there are certain basic features that have to work well and AC comfort is one of basics!

The MS is supposed to be a luxury car according to Elon Musk and is priced in the same range as a MB S500 if you buy it fully loaded. So let's get past the infatuation and have Tesla get the basics right so this does not just become a cult car.

tobi_ger | 7 juli 2013

It is already a cult car, but in the best possible meaning.

AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013

I certainly cannot speak for anyone but myself, however, but comparisons to other luxury vehicles is both warranted and somewhat unrealistic. Part of the problem, I believe, is how Elon talks about the car. He keeps saying that he wants this to be the best car, period, EV or not. Unfortunately, that has set the bar extremely high and does not reflect the reality of Model S. I understand Musk wants this to be the best car out there, but he is obviously putting a higher value on performance and driving experience than he is on creature comforts.

I believe Musk is making these kinds of statements to appease those who criticize the price, however by doing that he also invites a tremendous scrutiny. When items that are basic on other "luxury" vehicles are not found in Model S - convenient and well designed cup holders, grab handles, rear seat pockets, center console storage, rear seat arm rest, separate rear climate control, parking sensors, lane assist, blind spot detection, etc. - the absence of such features invites criticism because it contradicts what Musk has been saying about the car.

Again, just speaking for myself… while I would love to have all of those luxury features, I don't look at Model S as just another "luxury" vehicle. I understand why Musk is saying what he's saying, however at the same time I can recognize the reality - it's a revolutionary, paradigm shifting car where the bulk of the price reflects costs of development and relatively small scale production when compared to the big guys. I don't see the Model S as a luxury car. I see Model S as a revolutionary car in that it's the first "no compromise" EV. I am interested in this vehicle because of its performance, because it is an EV, and because it's made domestically. While I am also curious about the interior, none of these missing luxury features has deterred me from wanting to buy the car. Why? Because the experience of owning and driving the first no compromise EV far outweighs anything else.

I understand different strokes for different folks, and for those who demand the highest luxury inside the car may not be satisfied with what Model S has to offer. There's nothing wrong with that. Just be clear with yourself about what you feel is important in a car and rank those items by importance. At some point you are going to have to deal with the lack of certain interior amenities and ask yourself if that is more important than driving this car. I think it just comes down to that.

ORWA | 7 juli 2013

When picking up my MS we were doing the walk through and my Tesla rep said the left temp control was for the front seats and the right temp control was for the rear seats. I always thought it was left for the driver and right for the front passenger. I suppose I could go out and test it but I'm curious to hear what people think is true.

AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013

@ ORWA, your Tesla rep is an idiot and you would be well served by referring to page 7 of your Owner's Guide.

Carefree | 7 juli 2013

ORWA - your Tesla rep really could not be anymore wrong. There is no extra control for the rear passengers other than closing the vents in the back.

chrisdl | 7 juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor: I totally agree with your sentiment (except for fact that it being made domestically is an advantage, since I'm European ;-).

If I may add to this discussion: One other reason to buy the car, speaking for myself, is that it's not often in a lifetime that you get the chance of being part of a break-through product. Pioneering something which will likely change the future. Maybe I'm wrong, time will tell, but I believe that the Model S is such a product. In 20 years, I'll be glad to announce to my grandchildren: "I was there. I had one of those vehicles."

Call me sentimental ;-)

AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013

Let's just hope that we are not all going to end up owning the next Delorean… lol

ORWA | 7 juli 2013

I thought she was wrong. Apparently ya'll agree.

ralsagoff | 7 juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor: You are absolutely right! You have put the whole issue in perspective. The MS cannot be compared to a luxury ICE. It is a new generation EV and Elon Musk has to be honest about it and stop the comparison hype that he continues to make. Driving performance is the key benefit of this car compared to past EVs and ICEVs. MS owners are the vanguard of this new EV standard BUT they have had to sacrifice a lot in the way of creature comforts.

However there is one feature that does need to be addressed because it is no longer a creature comfort but a necessity for those of us who live in the metropolitan cities: parking sensors and blind spot sensors. Testla needs to offer this as an optional feature if not a standard option. The cost of the hardware is minimal and the fact that there is a wonderful touch screen should make it easy for them to offer this option. For the MS to become a cult car will lead us down the DeLorean path...

HenryT2 | 7 juli 2013


I noticed the same thing you did. I'll have to investigate in my car to see if I have the same "issue". But what I have noticed is that the A/C CAN put out a lot of cold air, but the way the system decides to put out that air is suspect. I think it's because the car is trying to economize on energy usage and it prefers to cool slowly unless absolutely necessary. But I haven't had much cause to use my A/C on high, so my experience is limited.

AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013

@ ralsagoff, to be fair, DeLorean was brought down when John DeLorean put up $1.8M to buy cocaine and resell it for $24M in order to finance his struggling car company. Thank goodness for that federal loan to Tesla (which Tesla has repaid) otherwise poor Elon would be working one of the street corners of Johannesburg to finance his dream. :P

In order to get the kind of headlines it needed, Tesla had to get this car under a certain price point. They did that, but not without making compromises. Once they hit that price point and got the world's attention, what happened? The 40 kWh model was discontinued due to "lack of interest" (I call BS on that one), and as a result the price went up because you could only buy the more expensive 60 kWh or 80 kWh models. Now Tesla is inching up the prices on options and accessories… Higher margins, anyone? Parking sensors and all the other nifty stuff will come, but at additional cost as options for new customers, adding even more to the base price, or as retrofits for current owners.

Today I ask myself whether I would have bought the parking sensors if they were available. I'm already beyond my limit on price and I would have to give up something else, so the answer is probably no. I don't see any chance that Tesla is going to include the parking sensors in the base model or even in a tech package without raising the price of the car or the package, so whatever Tesla is planning to add is going to raise the price even higher. So this is my consolation, that if I waited for another year by the time all of these new parking sensors and who knows what else is available, it will just cost more in the end.

Brian H | 7 juli 2013

"The Model S is the best car ... in all the dimensions that matter." You may disagree abstractly with Elon about those dimensions, but probably not after driving a few hundred miles (i.e., the first few days). Consumer Reports came to the same conclusion. Best car ... ever.

BarryQ | 7 juli 2013

Las Vegas. 117. No problem. Enough said.

Dramsey | 7 juli 2013

@ AmpedRealtor: Thanks for understanding. I am sometimes surprised at the aggressively defensive attitudes I see from some Tesla owners; it takes me back to the first days of the Prius. Ever see the South Park episode titled "Smug Alert"? It's like that.

I'd guess a lot of the money from Tesla purchases goes towards things like SuperCharger stations and home delivery of your new car on a flatbed truck. And that's fine. But standard luxury features are independent of a car's motivation mechanism, and the attitude of some that they simply don't matter because, you know, the rest of the car is so cool and paradigm-breaking and planet-saving isn't much of a justification. And trying to generate your own custom metric-- i.e. some combination of features that when taken as a whole allow you to say it's the "best performing vehicle on the planet"-- seems silly. A Yugo will make it from my condo in San Jose to my home in Reno faster than a Model S, because while the latter is slurping up electrons at the Folsom SuperCharger, the Yugo is actually moving. So by that more realistic metric, the Yugo has better performance because it gets me there sooner.

If I seem a little prickly, I apologize: all I said originally was "some cars that cost less than $120K have rear seat climate controls", and it seems this is a bad thing to say here. I am really looking forward to driving a Tesla next week and possibly adding one to my stable.

AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013

I think driving a Tesla is a lot like owning an Apple device. You pay a premium for a cutting edge, premium product. You are also paying for Tesla (like Apple) to make certain choices for you in order to provide a more satisfying experience. Apple never added a 2nd mouse button even though other computers had two or three because Steve Jobs believed in the simplicity of a single button. That philosophy has persisted across product lines all the way to iPhone and iPad. We know that Musk's design sensibility is minimalist in nature. He is an engineer and architect of products at heart, and he lives in every single detail and decision much like Jobs.

We all take iPhones and their functionality for granted, but does anyone remember that it took Apple almost 2 years to implement a basic, simple feature like cut-and-paste? I guess that was their version of the cup holder.

Brian H | 7 juli 2013

"Standard luxury features" are not what you are buying. Some TM has designed around. Some are not there, sacrificed (so far) for producing a superior, safer car.


AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013

@ Dramsey,

Lack of rear temp controls could be due to something as serious as added weight for a complex, zone-based climate control system or a 2nd compressor, or it could be due to something pretty mundane such as Tesla hasn't quite figured out how to implement touch controls for rear passengers in a satisfying and seamless way. Tesla is like Apple in this regard - it's their way or the highway (ha pun), they'll put it in when it's ready.

Dramsey | 7 juli 2013

Well, my wife and I are both former Apple programmers, so the comparison works for me!

Right now, my wife drives a Volkswagen R32, and I have a 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 9 MR, a 2007 Saleen Mustang (supercharged, 500hp), and the aforementioned Audi A6. I am looking for something unlike any of these, and the Model S appeals to the geek in me.

AmpedRealtor | 7 juli 2013


I hope Tesla has thought of allowing 3rd party apps, what a great "accessory" market that would make! The possibilities are endless…

jjaeger | 7 juli 2013

I am waiting for a thread started by AmpedRealtor and all responses all from AmpedRealtor. Looks like the direction this is heading...

narkose | 7 juli 2013

When I have previously expressed my concerns about the lack of certain creature comforts, I was comparing them to to my 'luxury' Honda Civic CNG (~$25K) - Compressed Natural Gas (car pool lane privileged); i.e. B column seat belt height adjustment channel & 4 grab handles - one for each door - can you even imagine such 'luxury?'

I have no greater love for T. Boone Pickens (Mr. Natural Gas) than I have for Royal Dutch Shell, etc. & have happily transitioned to solar electric panel powered Tesla S transportation.

I would not give the company back my car for anything. The driving experience is incomparable.

FWIW, added a Reus stereo, ceramic heat resisting tinting, Wet Okole waterproof neoprene front seats (to combat my dog's drool) & paid the $12 for the fronk cargo net.

In addition to a $10K Tesla stock purchase, I also coughed up the $1900 for the basic 4 year service plan to monetize the service center. Clearly the company needs all the help we owners can provide to assure its viability. If Big Oil & Big Auto get their way, the company will not exist by 2018.

Will finally pass my first 1,000 miles this week & MAY have actually figured out a seat position that does not threaten my neck in the event of a front end collision. Hallelujah!

NICE | 8 juli 2013

A hundred bucks says you will not buy the A6 after test driving a Tesla. Make sure you floor it at every stop and take the sharp turns. Oh one more thing, get someone to take your picture while you do that and post those pictures. I want to see that Tesla grin ;)

Admittedly, the Tesla has some short comings. There are many things that can be improved. The A/C is one of them. Everything isn't perfect. I'm not sure if there is such a car. I will say that the positives outweigh the negatives to the point it seems like petty nit picking.

Ask any Model S owner what they would trade for? Surely it wouldn't be an A6. For me, If it was an Audi give me nothing less than the R8. Second thought, nah I wouldn't take that either. LOL

ChristianG | 8 juli 2013

Even Apple finally learned from mistakes and supports right clicks for years and their 'one' button mouse registers right left middleclick scrolling and what not.

Tesla did many things right and that include all most important things like handling, performance, design... But there are a lot that are not, and AC seems to be one of them. So yelling at people who complain about something that is not well done and telling them 'this car is not for you buy something else' is just another form of trolling.

Oaktowner | 8 juli 2013

FWIW - in my C320 I had to turn the A/C setting to "Lo" if I wanted it to kick into its "highest gear" of air conditioning.

And it wasn't one-touch, either.

AmpedRealtor | 8 juli 2013

@ jjaeger, sorry to disappoint you. What's that old saying… big minds discuss ideas, small minds discuss people? Yah, something like that. :P

Dramsey | 8 juli 2013

@NICE-- I bought the A6 months ago, and regardless of how wonderful I find the Tesla to be, I won't be getting rid of it, simply because it's my highway trip car, and it will be years before the Tesla is practical for that along most routes.

Frankly I don't think it ever will be practical (at least for me) for long highway trips. Even if there were open Supercharger stalls every 150 miles, right off the highway, of the route I was taking, that's still a 30-60 minute stop every 2-2.5 hours of driving. That adds a LOT to trip time.

NICE | 8 juli 2013

Check back in after you get your Tesla. I was of the same thought. I'll keep our X5 BMW for those long trips, so I thought.
My new strategy is replace it with the Model X in a few years. For the 2% of the time that we do long road trips, we'll either use the Tesla battery swap option or just rent a car. Do the math and you'll see that it's actually more economical to do so.

JAgincourt | 8 juli 2013

ralsagoff said "However there is one feature that does need to be addressed because it is no longer a creature comfort but a necessity for those of us who live in the metropolitan cities: parking sensors and blind spot sensors."

As a far as the blind spot sensors go, the sales rep I talked to told me that the hardware was already in the cars. It was just a matter of finishing the software. I don't know if he knew what he was talking about or not, but that is what he claimed.

dcm0529 | 1 april 2015

I just became an owner of a Model S 85D and thoroughly enjoy driving it. I bought the option of the rear seats in the very back so that grandchildren could ride with us. There are not any vents in the very back which causes the heat to rise and makes it unbearable for my grandchildren. Has anyone found a solution to the heat in the very back? Has anyone tented the back window and reduced the heat problem to make it comfortable in the back? Just trying to find a solution that works.

dlake | 1 april 2015

Tinting back window will dramatically lower heat penetration through window.

I recommend photosync sph35 for the back window.