Tesla Heat Pumps Failing in Extreme Canadian Winters

According to the folks over at Tesla North, a number of Tesla owners in Canada’s prairie provinces are complaining of in-cabin heating failures and a complete loss of cabin heat in temperatures as low as -40°C.

Reports of heat loss started surfacing in mid-December, and the situation has only gotten worse as temperatures in North America continue to drop. Alberta is hovering around -24°C at the time of writing, while Saskatchewan is at -33°C.

“One day when it was -12°C in the cabin, I was just shivering, and seems like the only fix that I can get is if I pull over at the side of the highway,” said Kelly Gibbons, owner of a 2022 Model 3. “Worst case scenario, I might just have to start looking for another vehicle.”

In-cabin heating issues appear to be isolated to Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles (EVs), both of which are fitted with dedicated heat pumps to reduce battery consumption and mitigate range impact during the winters.

EVs are already susceptible to decreased mileage in colder climates, and losing heat on top of that can not only be disappointing but, in some cases, even dangerous.

A couple of Tesla owners from Saskatchewan reported heating failures on Twitter in late December, with one explaining how losing heat mid-commute actually endangered their family.

Angie Dean, President of the Tesla Owner’s Club of Alberta, estimates the issue is affecting 10-20 drivers across Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Many other Canadian Tesla Model Y owners have also voiced concerns regarding loss of heat and heat pump failure in dangerously cold weather on a Facebook group.

One Model Y owner, Mark J., wrote, “mine was intermittent, but now the heat pump is officially dead. Died at -5 degrees while skiing for less than an hour at Cypress Nordic.

“I preheated for 30 minutes until the heat gave out and started blowing cold air. Tried a reset, tried defrost and nothing. Wipers frozen to the windshield as well as ice forming. Wasn’t a safe drive home to say the least but thankfully not -20 or -30 like some of you out there across Canada. Service was booked for January 7th then rescheduled for January 25th. I don’t have heated steering so my fingers were frozen.”

On affected cars, drivers see a message that reads, “Cabin climate control system requires service,” warning that “cabin heating / cooling limited or unavailable.”

Tesla Support last week acknowledged that cabin heating may not work for some users in especially cold weather, informing customers that this is a “firmware” issue that is “currently under investigation.” The EV pioneer is working on a fix for the problem, which it hopes to deploy in a future software update.

Tesla has run into issues with in-cabin heating on its cars before, but the last time something like this happened was caused by a hardware failure. Tesla ended up having to replace the heat pump sensors on all of its 2020-2021 model year Model 3s and Model Ys to prevent widespread heating failures.

Pre-conditioning your car before you depart (while plugged in) for at least 30 to 60 minutes on the ‘Auto’ climate setting is one of the few possible fixes for this issue that Tesla shared last week, hoping to tide users experiencing it over until the coming update.

“Symptoms may still occur when driving in climates -15°C and below,” says Tesla. If none of the recommended fixes work for them, affected users are advised to park their car in a warmer location and allow it to thaw before trying the heating system again.