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Tesla Model 3 is starting to show some important flaws in cold weather

Tesla Model 3 is going to see its first serious winter in the next few months and some owners are already reporting a few important issues in cold weather. 

While Tesla officially started deliveries of Model 3 last year, the first few months of deliveries were in sunny California and it took a while for Model 3 to make it to colder climates.

There were some vehicles that made it up north during the last winter, but it could be argued that Model 3 is only now going to see its first full winter – at least for many owners.

Over the past few days, there’s been a wave of cold in Quebec and the temperature went below freezing.

Tesla Model 3 cold weather issues

Electrek received several reports from local Model 3 owners having issues with their door handles, windows, and charge ports over the last few days.

The door handles of the Model 3 are embedded inside the door and you need to press on one side for it to pop out and pull on it.

Once you pull, the window slides down slightly and enables you to open the door.

With the cold, several owners are reporting that the door handles are extremely hard to pop out and when they do, the window doesn’t always come down.

After reading the reports, I decided to film myself trying to open my Model 3 after it sat outside all day. Sure enough, I experienced the exact same problems:

My front driver window did come down enough to open the door, but it doesn’t go up and down properly anymore.

For context, it was about -7℃ outside and my Tesla app was showing 1℃ inside the vehicle when I started pre-heating it to 22℃.

Preheating was on for about 10 minutes before I walked up to the car, which is generally more than enough for the heating system to reach the preset temperature, which in this case was 22℃.

It wasn’t even cold enough to activate the battery pre-heating feature.

We received a dozen reports of Model 3 owners having similar issues in the Northeast following the recent cold temperature. Several of them are also experience issue opening and closing the charge port door.

Electrek contacted Tesla about the issue and the company said that they are looking into it. We will update if we get further details.

Electrek’s Take

It’s worrying because I don’t see an easy fix for this and the temperature is just starting to get cold right now.

In the next few months, it will get much colder around here and there hasn’t been any snow or ice yet.

If people are having issues right now, I can’t imagine what will happen when we hit -15℃, -20℃, -25℃, which is not unusual around here.

The issues we are seeing right now are unusual for Tesla vehicles because they acquired a good reputation in cold climates. Tesla likes to say that Norway, where they have tough winters, is their biggest market per capita.

I spent the whole last winter in Quebec with a Model S and I had no issue with it:

Driving in snowy conditions has been great and I had no issues with the windows or handles. I would pre-heat the car at least 10 minutes before using it and would give it more time the colder it got.

I actually thought it would be even easier with the Model 3 because the handles are not robotized like the Model S, but it’s not off to a good start.

The only silver lining is that Tesla has been generally fairly good at addressing flaws like that when they are found.

In the meantime, the best solution is likely to overheat the cabin for a longer period of time before trying to unlock the Model 3. Of course, it’s not really convenient or efficient, but it’s the best ai can think of for now.

We will keep a close eye on the issue and we will report back soon.

If you have any experience with this, please reach out to us.

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Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

Fred is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Electrek.

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