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The Ultimate Guide to Tesla’s Rear-Wheel-Drive in Snow

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Want to know if it’s safe to drive a Tesla rear-wheel-drive in snow or on icy roads? 
Or, how it compares to a Tesla AWD vehicle and a regular rear-wheel-drive car?

You’re in the right place! 
Whether you own a Tesla or are considering a new car, we’ll give you a detailed analysis of Tesla’s RWD electric vehicle lineup and how to optimize its performance for safe winter driving.

This Article Contains:

Let’s get started.

How Is the Tesla Rear-Wheel-Drive in Snow?

Tesla rear-wheel-drive car reviews consistently highlight its impressive performance and handling and why it outperforms a regular RWD car in winter conditions. 

Tesla has two rear-wheel-drive cars in its lineup — the Tesla Model Y and the Tesla Model 3 RWD.

Here are five key factors why Tesla’s RWD vehicle lineup offers better traction control and stability than a regular RWD:

1. Weight Distribution

The Tesla Model Y and Model 3 RWD have a heavy battery pack between the front and rear wheels. The electric motor, responsible for powering the rear wheels, sits behind the rear axle beneath the floorboard. 

This creates a balanced weight distribution, ensuring your Tesla RWD car delivers precise responses during acceleration, braking, and cornering. 

2. Traction and Stability 

The electric motor in an RWD Tesla vehicle monitors wheel speed and adjusts power for better traction and handling in slippery conditions. 

For instance, if one of the wheels is slipping due to icy roads, the electric motor ensures that the wheels with better traction receive more power to enhance stability and prevent loss of control. You can also deactivate this system in a Tesla RWD vehicle when needed, like starting on loose ground or going through deep snow, sand, or mud.

3. Electric Motor

Unlike traditional combustion engines that need time to build up torque, a Tesla RWD electric vehicle delivers maximum torque instantly. This quick power delivery is especially helpful for an RWD Tesla model to maintain better traction and overcome resistance on icy roads.

4. Regenerative Braking

The regenerative braking system in the Tesla Model Y and the Tesla Model 3 RWD slows the vehicle using the electric motor to generate electricity. As a result, these cars offer better traction control and stability on snow than traditional car brakes, reducing the risk of wheel lockup or slipping.

5. Choice of Tires

The Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3 RWD can offer a safe winter driving experience when fitted with snow tires rather than all-season tires. The specialized tread pattern of a snow tire provides better traction control during acceleration, braking, and cornering in an icy or snowy condition. 

Note: The driver’s skill in understanding and adapting to an RWD Tesla model is crucial for a smooth ride in snow. Seasoned drivers can adjust their driving style based on the condition of the roads. 

So, does that make a Tesla RWD electric car equally powerful to its all-wheel-drive counterpart? 
Let’s find out.

Tesla Rear-Wheel-Drive Vs. All-Wheel-Drive in Snow: Which One to Choose? 

Dedicated snow tires are crucial when comparing a Tesla rear-wheel-drive car with an all-wheel-drive in winter conditions. 

For instance, a Tesla rear-wheel-drive car with winter tires can outperform an all-wheel-drive with all-season tires. However, a Tesla all-wheel-drive model with snow tires will reign supreme in winter or slippery conditions. 

Note: Tesla doesn’t currently make front-wheel-drive cars. 

Now, let’s compare the RWD and AWD Tesla vehicle configurations:

1. Tesla Rear-Wheel-Drive

Tesla’s RWD model is simpler than an all-wheel-drive model, with fewer parts and direct power delivery to the rear wheels. This simplicity results in more predictable handling, especially during turns and corners, as the rear wheels are crucial in determining the vehicle’s path.

Here’s a quick look at the two Tesla rear-wheel-drive models: 

Model Y Rear-Wheel-DriveModel 3 Rear-Wheel-Drive
Base price$43,990$38,990
Range260 miles (EPA est.)272 miles (EPA est.)
Seating5 seats5 seats
Cargo capacity76 cubic feet23 cubic feet
Acceleration6.6s 0-60 mph5.8s 0-60 mph
Top speed135 mph140 mph
(Source: https://www.tesla.com/compare) 

2. Tesla All-Wheel-Drive

Tesla makes dual-motor (like the Tesla Model S) and tri-motor (like the Tesla Model S Plaid) all-wheel-drive options. In dual-motor AWD cars, there are two motors — one in the rear and one in the front. Tri-motor AWD cars feature two motors in the rear and one in the front. 

These independently controlled motors deliver precise torque to each wheel. As a result, these vehicles offer maximum traction and handling in off-roading, rain, mud, ice, or snow conditions.

Let’s explore the different AWD models offered by Tesla:

Model XModel X PlaidModel Y Long RangeModel Y PerformanceModel SModel S PlaidModel 3 Long RangeModel 3 Performance
Base price$79,990$94,990$48,990$52,490$74,990$89,990$45,990$50,990
Range348 miles (EPA est.)333 miles (EPA est.)330 miles (EPA est.)303 miles (EPA est.)405 miles (EPA est.)396 miles (EPA est.)333 miles (EPA est.)315 miles (EPA est.)
Seating7 seats6 seats7 seats5 seats5 seats5 seats5 seats5 seats
Cargo capacity88 cubic feet88 cubic feet76 cubic feet76 cubic feet28 cubic feet28 cubic feet23 cubic feet23 cubic feet
DriveAWD Dual MotorAWD Tri MotorAWD Dual MotorAWD Dual MotorAWD Dual MotorAWD Tri MotorAWD Dual MotorAWD Dual Motor
Acceleration3.8s 0-60 mph2.5s 0-60 mph4.8s 0-60 mph3.5s 0-60 mph3.1s 0-60 mph1.99s 0-60 mph4.2s 0-60 mph3.1s 0-60 mph
Top speed155 mph163 mph135 mph155 mph149 mph200 mph145 mph162 mph
(Source: https://www.tesla.com/compare)

Regardless of which Tesla model you choose, there are ways to improve your snow driving experience.

How to Improve Your Tesla Snow Driving Experience

Follow these eight tips to overcome challenging winter conditions with a Tesla RWD model:

  1. Install winter tires for enhanced performance, safety, and control.
  1. Consider snow chains for additional traction in snowy or icy conditions. Ensure to check local regulations.
  1. Adjust wipers and deactivate mirror auto-fold to prevent snow or ice buildup.
  1. Use the Tesla app’s Defrost feature to melt away ice remotely. 
  1. Before driving, clear essential surfaces like door handles, mirrors, and autopilot sensors to prevent the snow from blowing off.
  1. Keep track of your vehicle’s energy consumption in real-time using the updated Energy app. It offers a visual representation of the current and projected energy usage.
  1. Watch for the Snowflake icon, indicating cold battery conditions. If you see the Snowflake icon, it’s best to keep your Tesla RWD vehicle plugged in (if possible) and maintain a charge level above 20% to mitigate the effects of cold temperatures.
  1. Use ‘Scheduled Departure’ for efficient charging and cabin preparation before your trip.

Conquer Snowy Roads with Your Tesla Rear-Wheel-Drive 

The Tesla rear-wheel-drive can be a reliable choice for snowy conditions, especially with winter tires. However, opting for a Tesla all-wheel-drive model with dedicated snow tires is the way to go for peak winter driving. 

Ultimately, your decision between a Tesla RWD and an AWD vehicle depends on personal preferences, and our detailed comparison can assist you further.

For any other car repairs, trust AutoNation Mobile Service. Our on-demand repair services come to your driveway, and we provide a 12,000-mile or 12-month warranty for all repairs. 

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