Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer licensed under CC BY 2.0. Rechargd.com is reader supported. We may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Want to feel warm in your new Tesla? Planning a trip to a cold climate? Tesla will now give you heated steering wheels in the Model 3 as standard.
Yes, the Tesla Model 3 has a heated steering wheel as of 2021. It first became standard in China and then the US and Europe. It can be activated in different ways depending on the country’s location. However, the use of this feature will have some negligible impact on the range. Unlocking the heated steering wheel feature in the software costs $300-400.
When Did This Feature Become Standard?
Tesla Model 3s manufactured in North America and Europe have had the heated steering wheel function activated since April 2021 along with heated rear seats. Initially, this was just in the Long Range and Performance models but has since been added to the Standard Range Plus.
The activation of heated front seats has always been included in Model 3s regardless of model or country location. In China, the heated steering wheel function has been activated since January 2021.
How Do I Activate The Heated Steering Wheel?
To activate the heated steering wheel, owners will need to ensure that the most up-to-date software version is installed on their car. The heated steering wheel hardware is installed on all Model 3s after January 2021. The functionality of the heated steering wheel depends on software unlocking and activation.
The means of activating the heated steering wheel in the software depends on the country’s location. In the US, users can activate it via the climate control icon on the dashboard (the fan icon) or through the Tesla app connected to the car. In Europe, users can voice activate the heated steering wheel from the cabin.
Does This Have Implications For Range?
The latest Tesla Model 3 Long Range and Performance models have had their battery sizes increased, though this depends on the country. The larger battery sizes are primarily for longer ranges, but also serve to support additional functionality such as heated steering wheel and rear seats.
If driving a Standard Range Plus Model 3 and using the heated steering wheel, it may be important to factor in the use of these heated components on the range.
Ancillary functions such as lighting and heating are powered by the 12V lithium-ion battery rather than the car’s main battery pack, however, the 12V battery is charged by the car’s power system which is powered by the main battery pack.
Therefore, the use of the heated steering wheel and heated rear seats will have some impact on the range.
I have an older Tesla. Can I have the heated steering wheel software unlocked?
Generally speaking, Tesla will not unlock the heated steering wheel function in cars before a certain date. That date is somewhere in 2020. Cars before this date do not have the wiring harness or power supply necessary for the heated steering wheel.
Tesla technicians are unlikely to install these newer models due to the risk of complications. It is however possible to get the rear seat heaters unlocked in cars built during and before 2020 due to the presence of the necessary hardware.
Can I buy the hardware for a heated steering wheel in an older Tesla?
It is possible to buy the wiring harness and power connector for an older Tesla, and these are available as OEMs. However, you are unlikely to find a Tesla technician willing to fit it for you.
You could try to fit such a system yourself, but you are creating the risk of damage to the car which will invalidate warranties and prevent Tesla technicians from working on your car in the future.
Do Tesla drivers benefit from a heated steering wheel?
The answer to that question really depends on location. Driving the car in cold climates might lead drivers to seek out a Tesla model with the heated steering wheel option. If this is not available, it might be preferable to explore Tesla’s pre-conditioning function to establish a warm cabin before getting in to drive.
Alternatively, a decent pair of driving gloves might help overcome the discomfort of holding onto a cold steering wheel, until the cabin heats up enough to keep your hands warm.
If you have people in the back of the car on a regular basis in a cold climate, it might be preferable to opt for the heated steering wheel as it is often associated with heated rear seats. If you’re driving around in normal or elevated temperatures, it might well be an added functionality you can live without.
How much does Teslas heated steering wheel cost?
If you have a Model 3 built during or after 2021 and have the hardware installed, the unlocking of the heated steering wheel function will cost in the region of $300-400. Unlocking the heated rear seat functions in the footwear costs about the same.
There are currently calls to provide a package for the unlocking of both steering wheel and rear seat heating as a single package for a combined cost.