All new Tesla vehicles come equipped as standard with heat pump nowadays, and that’s a great advantage for users who live in areas that see harsh winters.
Heat pumps make a big difference in cold weather, improving efficiency and range significantly compared to EVs that don’t have this feature.
But some Tesla owners don’t seem to be up to speed with how heat pumps work, and one of them mistook the steam produced by the HVAC system during battery heating with smoke indicating the presence of a fire, which is why he called 911.
It happened on the second day of Christmas to Tesla owner David Ciccone at a Supercharging station in an undisclosed location. In a post on X, he claimed his car “unexpectedly started emitting smoke,” although he failed to provide more details about the source of the said smoke.
“I exited the vehicle and unplugged it from the supercharger. I called 911, and the police and fire departments were dispatched,” he added.
Fortunately, the emergency crews that showed up found that his car did not emit smoke but steam. As it turns out, that’s perfectly normal as per Tesla’s owner manual.
“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 temperature. This is normal and not a cause for concern.”
Ciccone likely wasn’t aware of this when he called 911, and he later admitted in a Space post that his car actually emitted steam and not smoke. While wasting the time of emergency responders is not cool, in the owner’s defense it must be said that it’s easy to get panicked when you’re not aware of this and you see something that looks like smoke coming out from your Tesla while Supercharging.
At the end of the day, this is useful information for all Tesla owners out there whose vehicles feature heat pumps. Yes, steam may come out of your car, and that’s perfectly normal in cold weather, as demonstrated in the video below by our buddy Kyle Conner.