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Model S Wiper Issues

I have heard several owners complain about windshield wiper behavior, in particular the way the wipers, if left on when exiting the car, will start up on driver re-entry. This poses two problems:

1. If it is raining or if there is water remaining on the windshield, the wipers will push that water right into the interior of the car if the driver's door is not yet closed.

2. If the wipers became iced to the windshield while the car was parked, and the driver forgets to dislodge them before getting in the car, the result could be a blown fuse or broken wiper arm.

I believe this could be fixed with a software addition which deactivates the wipers when you exit the car, and upon re-entry, requires that you turn the wiper switch OFF and then back ON again to re-activate them.


There is a second wiper issue relating to the wiper park position - below the rear edge of the bonnet. While logical for lower wind resistance, the wipers cannot be pulled away from the windshield while in their parked position because the bonnet is in the way. For owners in cold climates, this will clearly be a problem. It's an invitation for iced wipers to become stuck to the windshield, and in this parked position, it is very difficult to free them.

A possible fix for this, provided the hardware will allow it, is a software addition that allows for two different wiper parking positions: Normal (behind the bonnet) and Winter (just above the bonnet).

Heating elements in the wiper arms or in the "pockets" set to keep their temperature >=1°C?

Re: the wipers below the bonnet, lots of cars already park the wipers there. How do people in cold climes deal with it currently? Just wondering. Maybe they pour some hot water over the wipers before getting into the car on cold mornings?

mrspaghet -- Maybe they pour some hot water over the wipers

Don't do that, you'll crack the windshield for sure. In places where the temperature is close to freezing, cold water will work. In colder places cold water will just cause more ice to form, in those places chipping the ice is the only solution.

Perhaps an insert could be devised that would go between the bonnet and the windshield. The driver could insert that when parking to keep the wipers ice free.

Internal combustion engines work by burning stuff, remember? ;-) I guess it's only a matter of minutes of driving around with an ICE until the respective area between the bonnet and the windshield gets warm enough to make this a non-issue (no first-hand experience though). For the Model S, on the other hand, I don't know. Bar dedicated heating elements, it's not unlikely that this is going to be a problem.

This is an issue for ICEs, not BEVs.
Plug car in, turn on car, turn up windshield defrosters, go back in house and wait. When windshield de-ices, unplug car, drive away.
Only reason it's an issue for ICEs is the loss of range from idling while defrosting. A BEV doesn't idle, thus not an issue.

The wipers are well below the defrost vents. Defrost will be too slow. Even if they were on top of the defroster, removing that much caked on snow and ice takes a LONG time. And even if it freed the wipers from the windshield quickly, you still need to dig the snow and ice out of the area, but you can't because of the design. People leave work, scrape the windshield down, and go. That "use case" needs to be viable with the Model S.

So put it on a timer, or fire it up from the app when it becomes available. It doesn't take as long as people think, I've done it with gas cars and its taken less than 5 minutes to completely defrost the windscreen, side windows, rear window, and even the wiper blades themselves. Even with a couple inches of snow on top, it doesn't take long.

Heating elements on the windshield.
It's a standard feature on subaru and infinities for cold climate

Vawlkus, there seems to be a quirk the way the Model S currently works: Heating will only run as long as your butt is in the driver's seat! Once the car detects that you get out of the car, it shuts down the creature comfort... Ooops! ;-) I've seen it in one of the early owners videos, quite likely in one of these:

I take this lightly because it will definitely not stay like this for long, but it illustrates nicely what happens when the car thinks it can outsmart the driver.

There seems to be a quirk in the wiper. If you leave the vehicle with the setting on intermittent, when you return to the car and close your door, the wiper makes a pass because (I believe) the jostling of the car sets off the sensor and the car interprets it as rainfall. The solution is to shut the wipers off before you leave the car. (In some cases, the driver can outsmart the car)

@ VB: I haven't driven in snow in many a year now, but if it is snowing when you want to go, won't you need the wipers before you start out on the road? I guess scrape and go works if it isn't snowing.

@volker: that's odd, I was under the impression that you could set the car to maintain a temperature once reached while the car was parked. I know the timers and remote control (app) aren't available yet, but I thought that feature was.

Vawlkus, based on owner reports, not yet. But that's what was touted all along and I have no doubt will be available within weeks. Can any owners chime in here with first-hand experience?

We had some snow today and this is definitely an issue at the moment. Climate control turns off when you leave the car. Obviously it will be fixed when the app comes out. In the meantime I found that I can keep the heat on by leaving my door slightly ajar. I started it up 15 minutes before leaving work and I was good to go.

With regard to placement of the wipers, I have had other cars with wipers that normally come to rest under the bonnet, but there is usually a way to move them to a midpoint then raise them. I have not figured out how to accomplish that with the S.

It's an NNIC issue (Not Necessary In California).

@Brian H - re. NNIC - The TM employee from Manchester in the Norway test drive video says that he has to make "gentle suggestions" to the CA folks about NNIC items - like windshield wipers that actually wipe :-)

@BrianH -- Too funny. I was thinking the same thing last night.

I have a brief update regarding wipers that may be of some interest. When I went out this morning to defrost my car, I heard more noise than I expected as I walked away. On further inspection, I found that there was air blowing on the outside of the windshield from under the bonnet toward the area of the wipers. It appears to emanate from the area near the windshield wiper fluid nozzle. Perhaps others were aware of this feature, but it was news to me.

NJS1207, makes a lot of sense, thanks for sharing! Maybe we are still underestimating Tesla's attention to detail, after all... :-)

+1 @NJS1207, @VB

Maybe there needs to be a Cold Weather option package:

1) Heated steering wheel
2) Heated door handles
3) Headlight washers

Plus the option of rubber floor mats instead of carpet.

4) Wiper de-icer, hi-power version.
5) Windshield de-icer incl. Glass Buzzer (vibration of windshield to dislodge ice & snow, which I just invented).

I have another wiper issue…

There are only four settings; Automatic, Intermittent, On Normal Speed, On Fast. That’s it…

It’s the rainy season here (who knew? It rains in CA??).

At any rate, we have been getting some pretty decent Seattle Like weather over the last couple of weeks and the downpours that have been sufficiently heavy as to overwhelm our wipers.

Anybody else experience this? Fellow Seattleites chime in please??


Auto mode performs as good (or as bad) as on other cars with this feature.
Didn't have a problem with that.

We don't actually have that much rain, we just don't see the sun nine months of the year. When it does rain, it's generally doesn't come down that hard, it just goes on for days/weeks .......8-(

Sergiyz, Getting Amped

My last car(s) was/is/are mustangs. I live in Redmond wA and Sacramento CA.

statistics aside, I can tell you that I have experienced some seriously monsoon like downpours in the last 12 years of my living in the Seattle area and my mustangs' wipers performed admirably. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the "S".

--- Cherif

I'm finding that the automatic setting is very inconsistent. For a minute or two, it can wipe at full speed even with very little rain or mist and then a couple minutes later it will go 30 seconds between wipes while the windshield is coated in water.

Performs much worse than my wife's autosetting on her MB. Wondering if this is common to all "S"s or if mine is special...

On the flip side, my automatic wipers are about the only thing I can complain about in this car :)

Cherif - I wasn't making a comment on the wiper functionality of the Model S as I won't get mine until March. I was trying to inject some factual humor about rainfall rates in Seattle. It sounds like there is a problem that TM needs to address.

Some have suggested that RainX makes the wipers almost superfluous, unnecessary. Try that!

I'm not sure superfluous and eliminating rain go together, but I have found RainX to make wipers obsolete. But you need to drive fast. Now where can we get a fast car?


My apologies. I misinterpreted your message.


Re weird pauses and odd starts: yes, that's exactly what we experienced two days ago, on the freeway no less. An unexpected pause caused a thin layer of rippeled water to form and occluded our wind screen.

And yes one of the only things that I can truly complain about as it is a safety issue.

--- Cherif