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How to Fix Tesla Model 3/Y Heater Not Working in Cold Weather

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Owners of the newer Tesla Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles (EVs) with heat pumps have been complaining about in-cabin heating not working in extremely cold climates, which the company says is a “firmware” issue that is “currently under investigation” — reports Tesla North.

The problem originates from the heat pump, which Tesla added to the HVAC system on the newer Model 3 and Model Y to improve efficiency. A heat pump works like an air conditioner in reverse, moving existing heat instead of generating it like a conventional heater in vehicles.

Tesla recalled Model 3 and Model Y units with heat pumps to replace faulty sensors earlier this year, but this seems to be an unrelated issue triggered by extremely cold weather.

Here’s what Joseph W. from the Model Y Owners Club on Facebook was told by Tesla Support:

Greetings from Tesla. We are currently reviewing your heating concern and have confirmed this is a known firmware concern related to extreme cold climates. A fix is currently being developed by the software engineering team, and there is no ETA on the firmware version fix. Please keep your vehicle connected to WIF| so your Tesla can download the latest version as it becomes available. Can you confirm that your heating operation is intermittent, for example the heat will come on then goes off but will eventually recover and work correctly, usually after parking the vehicle in a warmer area? In addition, please set your Climate to “auto” (Auto button should be blue in full Auto mode) and only adjust the set temperature to your comfort level as this is the most efficient heating/cooling setting. If these are the symptoms please let us know, as an in-person service visit may not be required. Thank you.

[…]

This is a firmware issue is currently under investigation by Tesla as it was recently discovered due to the recent extreme cold climates. There will be improvements with future firmware update as it is currently being developed. Current mitigations are to precondition vehicle 30 minutes to 60 minutes prior to departure, use recirculating air mode and use auto mode. Symptoms may still occur when driving in climates -15C and below. If heat does not return please park vehicle in a warmer location and allow vehicle to warm up. We are sorry for the inconvenience as an in person service visit is not required your appointment has been closed. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Tesla says a fix for the issue is currently being worked on and will be deployed in a future software update. Until that update rolls out, however, affected users can try the following fixes from Tesla:

  • Set climate to Auto and set a comfortable temperature.
  • Use recirculating air mode.
  • Pre-condition your car while plugged in 30-60 minutes before your departure.
  • Park car in a warmer location such as a garage to allow it to warm up.
  • Reboot the vehicle and try again (hold down both steering wheel buttons).

“Symptoms can occur in climates -15C (5F) and below,” says Tesla, but with a recent cold snap we’re starting to see even colder temperatures than that, across Canada. Regina is at -34C and Saskatoon is at -35C, while Prince George is at -22C.

Cold weather can already do a number on EV batteries and contribute to range anxiety, and losing heat on top of that can be absolutely devastating, especially in extreme temperatures.

Are you experiencing any heat issues in your Tesla Model 3 or Model Y? If you are, let us know what temperatures you’re experiencing problems at and if any of the fixes suggested by Tesla are able to restore heat for you.

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