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Tesla owners are again losing heat in extreme cold as some heat pumps are failing badly

Tesla owners are again losing heat in extremely cold weather as some heat pumps are failing badly.

The problem was thought to be fixed last year, but it is resurging in a big way this year.

Around this time last year, we published a report: Tesla owners of brand-new Model 3 and Y cars plagued with heating issues in dead of winter.

The problem was with the newly introduced heat pump.

Tesla claimed to have solved the problem with an over-the-air update, but now a year later, it is resurging in a big way.

Currently, Canada and the north of the US are hitting new record cold temperatures with several regions doing down below -30C (-22F).

As an example, it’s so cold out right now that I just got an alert that one of my security cameras at my house in Shawinigan, Quebec had to shut itself down to protect against the cold:

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that happen and it’s apparently not only affecting cameras.

The forums and social media are full of Tesla owners reporting issues with their heating system, like it was last year.

Again, it appears to only affect owners of newer Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles equipped with a heat pump system

Heat pumps are super-efficient, but they are known to not work as well in extreme cold (around -15C or 5F and below).

Tesla claimed to have solved that with a dual loop system, but it appears that something else is failing.

Several owners are reporting being hit with this system alert and completely losing heat in the car (via John Saxon):

This is creating potentially dangerous situations as some Tesla owners can get stuck in remote locations in freezing temperatures without heating.

Several Tesla owners who brought their car into Tesla service centers following the issue were told that the automaker is aware of the problem and it is working on a software fix.

However, it looks like it might need more than a software fix.

Jimmy Yeung, a Model Y owner from Toronto, had the same issue happen in his Model Y and the service center had to replace the AC compressor and the supermanifold “Octovalve” part of the heat pump system.

He shared the service bill on Facebook that showed that it would have cost over $5,000 CAD ($4,000 USD) if the work wasn’t done under warranty:

Now this might be more of an extreme case, and if the problem is caught sooner and fixed by a software update it could potentially prevent a full replacement.

Tesla told several owners of Model 3 and Model Y vehicles with heat pumps experiencing issues with heating that the problem could be as simple as ice affecting the front air intake near the windshield, which triggers an error in the heat pump sensor.

The company recommends using pre-heating to thaw the air intake and/or manually removing the ice.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously called the Model 3 and Model Y heat pump system “some of the best engineering he has seen in a while“.

It looks like it still might need some work.

Electrek’s Take

It’s disappointing that this issue is surfacing a year later when we thought it was fixed.

For owners Model 3 and Model Y vehicles with heat pumps in cold weather regions, you should really take this into consideration when going on longer road trips as there’s a real danger in being stuck somewhere without heat.

Be prepared.

As for the fix, Tesla can hopefully find something soon, and for its own sake, I hope it’s not what happened to Yeung because it’s going to get costly fast, as I wouldn’t be surprised if this issue affects thousands of vehicles.

And for EV naysayers, don’t be too quick to rejoice because, at the very least, those Tesla vehicles are driveable albeit cold.

At these temperatures, many combustion engine vehicles have issues starting. Also, the issue is limited to Tesla vehicles with heat pump.

My 2018 Model 3, which doesn’t have a heat pump, started just fine and had heat this morning at -20C. That’s according to my friend who is driving my car while I’m in Mexico though (haha).

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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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