If your Tesla starts ‘smoking’ while Supercharging, it might only be steam

As a sort of public service announcement, if your Tesla vehicle starts “smoking” while Supercharging, it might only be steam.

Most Tesla vehicles are now equipped with heat pumps, which help with efficiency in cold weather, but they also can produce steam, which can be alarming to some.

With many new Tesla owners experiencing a winter with their cars for the first time, there have been a few instances of Tesla owners calling emergency services because they thought their cars were catching fire while Supercharging.

But it’s important to try to tell the difference between steam and smoke before contacting emergency services.

Tesla warns that steam is normal in cold weather with its vehicles equipped with heat pumps:

The thermal system may produce steam under certain conditions for vehicles with heat pumps (to determine if your vehicle has a heat pump, touch Controls > Software > Additional Vehicle Information). For example, odorless steam can come from the front of your vehicle while charging at a Supercharger in cold temperatures. This is normal and not cause for concern.

Emergency responders in the UK produce a video explainer of the difference between your Tesla vehicle smoking and producing steam:

In short, in cold weather, ice can form on the condenser, and in the pre-conditioning of the battery pack at 42 degrees Celsius, the ice can melt and produce steam that can look like smoke getting out of the hood.

If you don’t know know about it, it can understandably be worrying, but it’s harmless.

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