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How to Get the Best Out of Tesla Model 3 Suspension

What do you want to improve in your Model 3? Handling, ride quality, or maybe just aesthetics? 

Whatever goal you want to achieve, you’re just one suspension upgrade behind.

It took me three days to compile this ultimate guide to the Tesla Model 3 suspension. The information was too scattered, and it was quite a job to compile everything in one place.

You’ll learn everything about the Tesla Model 3 suspension, how it works, appropriate upgrades, some case studies, and more.

Without further ado, let’s hop into it.

The Secret Tech Behind The Model 3 Suspension

Tesla Model 3 Suspension
Credit to tom @ eas

Autocar, one of the UK’s finest automotive publications, talked with a number of Tesla engineers to learn more about the Model 3’s design phase. 

There were a lot of talks about how a clean-sheet blueprint can make a huge difference in designing a car that, by all means, intends to reinvent the automobile.

They talked about different things, including tires, steering, and drivetrain, but the most interesting thing was the thought that went into the design of the suspension of the Model 3.

When it came to fine-tuning the Model 3’s suspension settings, Tesla leaned on lessons learned from NASA.

The engineers at the California-based firm looked to a NASA study on the limitations of human capabilities, which included research into how long the human body can tolerate a specific frequency without becoming uncomfortable.

The vertical frequency (measured in hertz) at which the suspension travels has an impact on not just comfort but also how a car feels to drive.

This frequency decides if your ride will be calm and peaceful or tense and tiring.

Most automobiles’ suspensions are sprung and damped to move at between 1.0 Hz and 3.0 Hz, according to Tesla. 

For the Model 3, engineers chose a vertical frequency for the suspension that is similar to a brisk stroll or a leisurely run.

It enabled them to create a chassis that is both comfortable and sporty enough to match the powertrain’s capabilities.

Tesla Air Suspension: Does Model 3 Have It?

Smart air suspension enables a driver to modify the ride height of the car using the car’s touch screen.

According to Tesla’s website, this is particularly useful while driving up a steep driveway or traversing slippery roads. 

The capability also remembers where GPS detection height modifications were made and will automatically apply them the next time you visit that location.

Back in February 2020, replying to Teslarati’s tweet in which they claimed that the air suspension option was spotted in the Model 3’s official parts catalog, Elon Musk bluntly denied any possibility of air suspension coming in the Model 3.

We don’t know yet what the future holds for the Model 3 suspension system, but Tesla is known to constantly improve their cars.

It’s a fact that air suspension is a major differentiating factor between the more expensive Model S or Model X and the Model 3 or Model Y.

Until Tesla doesn’t find other major differentiating factors, I don’t think air suspension will be included in the Model 3.

Also, the air suspension system is costly and time-consuming, which goes against the very reason the Model 3 was introduced: an economic vehicle quickly available to the mass market.

If Tesla is to include air suspension in the Model 3, they’ll have to figure out a way in which time required for the production of this car remains constant.

In case you’re curious to see how smart air suspension works…

Tesla Model 3 Suspension Upgrades: A Brief Guide

Model 3 owners love modifying their cars, be it aesthetically or performance-wise. 

To be honest, the performance-upgraded Model 3 automatically becomes more appealing to the eyes.

While there’s no end to suspension upgrades, there are a few basic things that you should get right to extract the maximum potential of your car.

Better handling or more horsepower, these few things will help you achieve your ultimate goals quite perfectly.

Suspension Setup

A suspension that is old or worn out has a detrimental impact on handling and should be changed, especially if the vehicle is used for vigorous driving.

The softer suspension with which the Model 3 sometimes comes from the factory always handles badly. A performance upgrade such as coilover can really boost the overall handling of your vehicle.

Coilover Types

Coilovers are used to adjust the height and damping of your Model 3, allowing you to lower your center of gravity and stiffen up your chassis for improved cornering and handling. 

It’s a crucial step to improve the wheel horsepower while giving a sportier look to your car.

Here are some key factors you need to consider before selecting the appropriate coilover type for your electric car:

4 Key Factors To Consider Before Selecting Coilover Type

1. Springs

Decide whether you need stiffer or softer springs. For track racing, stiffer springs are highly important, while for the daily commute, softer springs will do the job. 

2. Valve Adjustability

While choosing a coilover, make sure it provides enough adjustability for spring preload, height, and damping.

3. Type Of Bushing Between Top Mount And Strut Assembly

OEM manufacturers use rubber bushings that are softer and deflect more. This results in bad handling. On the other hand, aftermarket manufacturers prefer a spherical joint known as a pillowball. Unlike rubber bushing, the pillowball doesn’t move at all.

4. Tube Type

The twin-tube damper setup is used by most OEM suspensions because it provides for longer suspension strokes and enhances ride quality. On the other hand, the monotube contains more fluid, has better heat dissipation characteristics, and increases the damper’s reactivity compared with the twin-tube design. So the preferable tube type will be monotube.

Sway Bars

A bar’s size and shape may make a huge impact on the handling of a car.

Keep in mind that lowering the car alters the suspension geometry, which might inaccurately preload the sway bars and result in unpredictable handling or, in the worst-case scenario, damage. 

Solution? Use adjustable end links to preload the sway bars.

Coilovers vs Lowering Springs: Which Is Better?

Lowering springs are commonly used to lower a car. 

“But what about coilovers? Don’t they serve the same purpose?”

This is a valid question indeed. Let’s address it first.

Coilovers and lowering springs are two different ways to achieve a similar goal. 

Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but they’re both capable of a racing session at a track and bringing you home safely. 

The deciding factor is what you want to achieve. 

If your intent is just lowering your Model 3 for better handling, lowering springs are the best choice for you, given that you don’t do hardcore racing.

On the other hand, if you spend an entire weekend on the track, burning a whole set of tires and breaks, you ought to go with coilovers.

The main idea is, for a daily commute, prefer lowering springs, and for hot laps at the track, prefer coilovers. 

How To Lower Your Tesla Model 3

First thing first: unless you own a workshop and have a lot of experience with such mechanical works, be my guest and DIY.

If not, go to a nearby workshop and let them do the job. The procedure, however, is explained in the following video by 10 Tenths Motorsports YouTube channel:

Heads up: This video is veryyy immersive!

Want to know how lowering your Model 3 might affect the range and wheel fitment of your electric car? We’ve covered this topic in detail here.

Best Lowering Springs for Tesla Model 3:

T Sportline

Credit to Bluemont

T Sportline’s lowering springs have got some fan following in the community. Here are some comments from happy Model 3 owners to help you have a clearer idea of what these springs offer:

My car has Tsportline springs, 1inch lower. Makes the ride more smooth vs the stock ones.

Chancellor32

+1 for Tsportline springs. The 1 inch drop rides very smooth and makes the look of the car overall wheel gap/look really sport compared to Lexus/Mercedes/BMW stock stance.

follow.johnny

I thought it (the ride quality) was the same but after a few days I’ve had the opportunity to test it on the highway, on regular commuter roads in NJ (i.e. like the moon) and even on unpaved roads at slow speeds. The steering feel is the same, still sharp, but, I’m sensing that the ride is more forgiving. It’s not softer nor harder but I think it’s lost some occasional jiggle that happened from time-to-time. I think it’s gone from Audi S4 to BMW M3 if that makes sense – it feels more compliant yet more together.

Mpt

All is not sunshine and rainbows, though. 

A handful of customers faced some problems with reduced fender gaps after the installation of lowering springs. Some even said that the tire started rubbing with the fenders.

The company’s response to this issue was very clear. In their opinion, it occurred due to faulty installation, and they suggested complaining owners to revisit their mechanics or get a T Sportline trained mechanic to do the job.

All things considered, if you want better ride quality at economical rates, get T Sportline’s lowering springs. They’re definitely a bang for your buck.

Best Coilover Suspension Kit For Model 3:

Mountain Pass Performance

Tesla Model 3 Suspension
Credit to dfwatt

Before I go into the details of this suspension kit, I’d like to settle a debate: Unplugged Performance or MPP?

Since whatever we recommend is based on the community remarks, I started filtering out information from forums and found that majority of Tesla owners leaning toward the MPP Coilover suspension kit.

Credit to TMC

The votes say it all!

The unique proposition here is that they offer street comfort coilovers and track-oriented sport coilovers.

For better handling in daily commute, go with street comfort. Otherwise, track-oriented sport coilovers will be your best friend. 

There is a downside to sport coilovers though: they might feel extra stiff on bumps, giving out an uncomfortable feel.

Dfwatt from Tesla Motors Club gave a detailed side-by-side comparison of both variations in a forum discussion to help out fellow Model 3 owners.

The post is a bit long. You can read it here.

Here’s what he concluded:

You can’t go wrong with either kit, but if handling is your thing or you want to ever track the car, get the Sports. If you have to share with your wife, get the Comforts and may be just tweak the shock rate if it’s not firm enough for you – just don’t tell her about it! (we are truly fortunate in that we each have our own car, otherwise we’d be fighting over who got the Tesla and who was stuck with the POS ICE car!)

Dfwatt

All in all, for a suspension upgrade with some extra money in hand, you can’t go wrong with MPP. 

Case Studies

Check out Imran Arshad from the Evolve Automotive YouTube channel showcasing a major style upgrade to a Tesla Model 3:

A suspension upgrade translating into a major style upgrade…

Here’s what he shared about the upgrade:

In this video, we give the Model 3 some much-needed aggression, helping it stand out from all the other Teslas you’re starting to see on the roads. We lower the car using MSS’s Ride Management System, improving handling and increasing range without sacrificing comfort. With the car sitting lower, it was time to get rid of the kitchen appliance white for a new dark metallic grey and finish the look off with some 6 Sixty Design Emblem wheels!

Guys from the Obsessed Garage YouTube channel gave the Model 3 a crazy suspension setup:

Front suspension upgrade procedure
Rear suspension upgrade procedure and the final looks

Here’s what they shared about the upgrade:

What’s up, Tesla nerds?! I break out some real man Milwaukee tools in this video since I don’t have the right something or other for the thingymajig to do the ol’ shave-a-roo as we begin the de-nerdifying process on the Tesla. I’m slapping in a full suspension setup from the guys up in Canada at Mountain Pass Performance. In typical matty fashion, I bought one of everything.

Frequent Buyer Concerns

Does The Model 3 Performance Have A Different Suspension?

There are no major differences in suspension between the LR-AWD and the Performance versions, except that the Performance model is a bit lower, has sports suspension, and rocks massive 20-inch tires that make all the difference.

CEO Elon Musk confirming the difference…

What Is The Ground Clearance Of The Model 3?

The Model 3 has a ground clearance of 140 mm (5.5 inches). This clearance is more than enough for roads in Europe or America, but for the roads of India, Tesla will have to raise the vehicle by 25 mm for a successful launch.

Final Thoughts

For the Model 3 suspension upgrade, it’s important that you have some basic knowledge of what to do and what NOT to do.

This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know about the Tesla Model 3 suspension and also gives you suggestions on how to proceed with the upgrading process.

A Little Heads Up

Be sure to get the modification done by an experienced mechanic. Any mistake can cause some unavoidable issues that might translate into permanent damages.

If you have any suggestions or would like to ask something, feel free to comment it down below. 

By Muhammad Hassan

Engineer by trade and writer by passion, Hassan is an automotive enthusiast who thinks EVs are the future. At TTU, he discusses the coolest features and products Model 3 owners look for -- so they can better experience their cars. In his free time, he enjoys tea, reading, and listening to podcasts.

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