Tesla Model 3 Tips and Tricks

At the beginning of the summer (after a two year wait) I finally took delivery of my new Tesla Model 3.  The car has been a dream to drive and is truly a marvel of modern technology.  It continues to amaze me with what it’s capable of and it just keeps getting better thanks to over the air software updates.

During the past couple of months I’ve done quite a bit of driving in the car and even taken it on a few road trips.  During that time I’ve learned several things about the car that other new owners should know.

This post serves as a list of all the tips and other tricks that I’ve learned about the car as well as some of the issues I’ve encountered too.  I will continue to update this post in the future as I continue to learn more about this car

Factory Installed Screen Protector

It can be very hard to tell but the Model 3 screen has a factory installed screen protector.  It took me a couple of weeks before I noticed it was installed on my car. If you look very closely around the edges of the screen you can see the edges of the film.

I noticed some fine scratches on the screen and after taking a closer look these were scratches in the screen protector itself.  These factory screen protectors are not meant to remain installed for very long and will quickly begin to degrade and show scratches and other defects.

I recommend leaving the factory screen protector installed until you are ready to install higher quality protector such as the Abstract Ocean tempered glass screen protector.

Restarting the Touch Screen

If the touch screen starts acting strange or some apps aren’t working correctly then the first thing you should do is restart the infotainment system.

To restart the screen put the car in park and hold down both scroll wheel buttons on the steering wheel for about 15 seconds.  The screen will go black and then the Tesla logo will appear. Once the logo shows up you can release both of the buttons.

Occasionally I have to restart the screen when the streaming music apps stop working.  Restarting the touch screen will also cause it to recalibrate which you should do after installing a screen protector or any time you have phantom touches occurring.

Using the Windshield Wiper Fluid

To use the windshield wiper fluid on the Model 3 fully depress the button on the end of the left stalk.  Partially depressing the button will cause the wipers to activate without fluid.  This may seem obvious but it wasn’t initially clear to me that the button has multiple functions depending on how hard you press.

12V Accessory Socket

You may not have noticed but the Model 3 does have a 12V accessory socket inside the armrest.  Due to the location it’s actually hidden quite well.  The port does not have power when the car is in sleep mode.  Future software updates (camping mode) may provide an option to change this behavior.

Auto Lane Change Settings are Stored in the Drivers Profile

If the auto lane change feature seems to have stopped working completely then make sure it’s still enabled (Controls > Autopilot > Auto Lane Change > ON).  If you’ve created a new driver profile (or switched profiles) it may no longer be enabled.  This setting is disabled by default on new profiles.

Charging With an Extension Cord

Although it’s not recommended you can use an extension cord with the Tesla UMC charger to charge in situations where there are no outlets near the car.

The extension cord needs to be heavy duty (12 gauge or lower) and also must be grounded (3 prong).  Shorter is better, if the cord is too long,  or or the wires aren’t thick enough, then the charger may not work.  Long cords can cause too much voltage drop which can slow the charging speed or cause the car to reject the charger.  Avoid coiling the extension cord while charging to keep it from overheating.

With a good quality extension I’m able to achieve the max charge rate the UMC provides of 5 miles per hour.

Supercharging Costs Displayed in the Car are Inaccurate

There is currently a bug in the Supercharger costs displayed on the screen within the car.  These charges do not match the amount Tesla actually bills your credit card for.

To see an accurate list of the charges you need to log into your Tesla account and click on history.  The list you see here should match exactly what you see on your credit card.

Credit Card Used for Supercharging

By default Tesla will bill the same credit card that you used to pay the reservation/deposit with.  When you first get the car you can go straight to a Supercharger without any additional registration needed.  You can change the credit car by going to your Tesla Account, (click on Account, then click manage credit card).

Supercharging station in Colby Kansas

Elevation Changes Can Have a Big Impact on Range

Distance and speed are the most important factors in determining actual range but don’t forget to consider elevation changes.  If you are taking a long road trip it’s a good idea to know the net change in elevation between your starting and ending location.

If your destination is significantly higher in elevation than your starting point then expect to get less range out of the car.  In the opposite scenario the car will use significantly less energy thanks to regenerative breaking.

The battery estimates provided by the navigation computer are very good so it’s unlikely you’d end up stranded somewhere but I like to keep an extra buffer for unexpected situations like traffic or detours.

Driving the Model 3 across Kansas on I-70.

Reattaching the Charge Port Door Magnet

There is a well known issue with the magnet on the charge port door falling off.  Mine fell off after only a couple of months.  You can call the service center and they will likely replace the entire charge port door assembly or you can glue it back on yourself.

Regular superglue actually works well for reattaching it.  Test fit the magnet before applying the glue to make sure you get the orientation right.  It also helps to look at the old glue residue on the port door and the magnet to figure out the alignment.  You’ll only need a few drops of glue to reattach it.

Early charge port door magnets do not stay attached.

Share Your Tips

If you know of any tips or useful information not listed here please leave a comment below to help out other Model 3 owners in the Tesla community.

Sam Kear

Sam graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City with a bachelors degree in Information Technology. Currently he works as a network analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. Sam enjoys the challenge of troubleshooting complex problems and is constantly experimenting with new technologies.

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