Do You Need to Precondition a Tesla Battery?

If you have recently acquired a Tesla and heard the term preconditioning, you might be wondering if this is a maintenance task that you need to know about. Do you need to precondition a Tesla battery

There are a lot of advantages to getting to know your way around preconditioning settings in your EV. It will not only increase your comfort while driving, but also extend the range of your Tesla, ensure its full spectrum of features are always available, and optimize the lifespan of your battery.

Here’s everything you need to know about preconditioning your Tesla battery…

What Is Tesla Preconditioning?

Preconditioning is a function of your Tesla that sees the car bring both its interior and its battery to optimal temperature.

This can be done while the EV is parked and plugged in, drawing from an exterior electrical source rather than using power from the battery pack. It can also be a useful feature when driving under circumstances.

Preconditioning is important because Tesla batteries don’t operate as efficiently outside of their optimal temperature range. This means that your mileage in proportion to battery charge can be substantially reduced. Also, when the battery is too cold, your Tesla will restrict certain features such as acceleration and regenerative braking as a self-protective mechanism.

Adding to this drain on your trip distance and EV performance, heating or cooling your vehicle’s interior also requires a fair bit of power. This means that, without preconditioning, when you set out on a trip in unfavorable weather conditions, a proportion of your Tesla’s power will go to climate control as well as bringing the battery to an optimal temperature. When the air is sub-freezing, charging your Tesla battery without preconditioning can actually cause permanent damage, making cold-weather preconditioning a crucial habit to adopt.

Preconditioning is particularly important in the colder months, as low temperatures have the greatest impact on battery performance and heating is the most power-hungry form of internal temperature correction.

Your Tesla will let you know if temperatures are sub-optimal by displaying a snowflake symbol on the climate control panel of your dashboard touchscreen and in your Tesla smartphone app. Without preconditioning, the EV will charge at a lower rate to better protect its battery.

Preconditioning Options In a Tesla

There are a few different ways to harness the value of Tesla preconditioning, either using your dashboard touchscreen or the Tesla smartphone app. Over the winter months, this resource is especially useful.

Depending on how often you drive your EV and how predictable your routine is, you can choose to make preconditioning automatic or engage this feature manually.

These are the three forms of preconditioning that you’ll want to use:

  • Preconditioning ahead of at-home charging
  • Preconditioning ahead of hot or cold-weather driving
  • Preconditioning on-route to a supercharging station

Manually Preconditioning Your Tesla at Home

Whether planning to take your EV for a ride when the temperature swings or charge the battery at home in colder weather, activating preconditioning ahead of time will ensure that your Tesla’s performance and battery lifespan is optimized.

In anticipation of departure or charging, Tesla recommends manually setting your EV to begin preconditioning around an hour ahead. To do this, you can either tap on the snowflake symbol, tap ‘Turn On’ in the Climate section, or tap ‘Defrost Car’ in the Climate section.

Automatic Preconditioning or ‘Smart-Preconditioning’ For Your Tesla

If you use your Tesla to drive to work every day, you can use the Smart-Preconditioning feature to schedule automatic preconditioning ahead of your anticipated departure time. This function should have the capacity to self-schedule based on your driving habits, however, some Tesla drivers have reported variable reliability, making entering in your departure time a safer option.

To access this feature, select ‘Schedule Departure’ within the Charging menu of your dashboard touchscreen or select ‘Schedule’ within the smartphone Tesla app. This will trigger your EV to automate when preconditioning and charging begin so that cabin temperature and battery temperature are optimized when you begin your journey.

Preconditioning On-Route to a Supercharing Station

When planning to stop at a Supercharging station with your Tesla, it is wise to enter your destination using your touchscreen. When your EV anticipates a Supercharging session, it will use the On-Route Battery Warmup setting to precondition the battery temperature, thereby increasing the efficiency of the Supercharge.

Conclusion: Do you need to precondition a Tesla battery?

Your Tesla has self-protective mechanisms such as reducing charging speed and limiting functionality to protect its battery when temperatures are not optimal. However, preconditioning can help to enhance driver comfort while increasing range and improving efficiency.

To get the most out of this feature, keep in mind the following pointers:

  • When activated manually, preconditioning requires planning around one hour ahead.
  • Preconditioning at home ahead of charging will mean a longer overall wait time before departure.
  • Preconditioning requires being plugged in or will draw down the main battery pack charge level.
  • Preconditioning will optimize the cabin temperature as well as that of the battery.
  • Preconditioning in cold weather will increase range, ensure that regenerative breaking and full acceleration are always available, and extend the lifespan of your Tesla’s battery.