Increasing suspension travel and/or lifting (was: Model 3 Offroaders!)

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#1
I have my Model 3 on order and I am super stoked about my new EV.
That said, I am concerned about the low suspension, especially in the snow (high centering is a pain).
Because of the air suspension on the Model S, I don't believe there has been any discussion about traditional coil suspension lift kits.

Does anybody have any thoughts about the possibility of a custom suspension lift on a Model 3?
 

TSLAholic

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#3
Or install a set of coil overs that you will need to adjust seasonally when you install or remove winter tires.
 

Oregonian

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#4
I have my Model 3 on order and I am super stoked about my new EV.
That said, I am concerned about the low suspension, especially in the snow (high centering is a pain).
Because of the air suspension on the Model S, I don't believe there has been any discussion about traditional coil suspension lift kits.

Does anybody have any thoughts about the possibility of a custom suspension lift on a Model 3?
If the model S has the same size springs then you could put those in and it would make it sit higher (because it weighs 1,000 lbs less) but it would also have a stiffer ride.
 

Brokedoc

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#5
I have no doubt that aftermarket spring kits will appear for the Model 3. Elon is targeting production of 500,000 units annually and that's before production expansion to international gigafactories.

As a comparison, I looked up BMW 3 series (sedan, wagon and GT models not including 4 series coupes) sales in the US and I was surprised that 2017 was only just under 60,000 units. This is down from just over 100,000 in 2014 but I believe that was before coupes were split into the 4 series. For 2017, all variations of the Honda Civic sold a combined record just over 377,000.

Aftermarket tuners LOVE to target high volume cars because those cars are most likely to have a large volume of people that want aftermarket modifications and the tuners can recoup their investment in making custom mods.

Again, there will be limitations old ICE mods like ECU flash chips and Trailering hitches (not light duty bike hitches) because of required UI adjustments but the floodgates for aftermarket are about to explode.
 

teslarob

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#6
The suspension may be stiff, but it's not actually very low. Ground clearance is 5.5", which sounds about average for sedans in this range.
 

DR61

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#8
If the model S has the same size springs then you could put those in and it would make it sit higher (because it weighs 1,000 lbs less) but it would also have a stiffer ride.
This would be extremely unwise, even if physically possible.
 

DR61

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#10
Suspension design is extremely complex and requires extensive testing. Car makers spend huge amounts on design and testing of spring characteristics, suspension geometry, and damper settings. Installing springs designed for one vehicle on another is pure guesswork and likely dangerous.
 

PNWmisty

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#12
If the model S has the same size springs then you could put those in and it would make it sit higher (because it weighs 1,000 lbs less) but it would also have a stiffer ride.
Very bad idea. Spring rate should not be changed to adjust ride height. Your suspension would be topping out on normal roads and it would not only be uncomfortable but would put additional wear on the strut limiters that prevent the struts from extending too far.
 

KarenRei

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#15
So, for me, this is a relatively new way of thinking about my Model 3. As an unexpected (and incredibly shocking) birthday gift, my parents decided to upgrade me to a LR battery. Suddenly, there's the potential for me to get out into our highlands - a remote, extensive uninhabited wilderness where the best "roads" are just "someone drives a bulldozer across this route once a year", and the worst are "stakes pounded into a lava field", and where only the largest bodies of water are bridged.

Now, having to deal with rough roads has to some extent always been my plan, as my land is on a (sometimes poor condition) gravel road. But this is a whole new possibility, and it's got me thinking a lot about the details. And I'm sure some other people have also thought some about taking bad roads (or no roads!) in their Model 3, so please join in here!

Protection: I had previously not planned to do anything special to protect the paint. However, if I'm going to be taking highland roads, I really should have a clear bra applied to the "likely strike zones", ideally with a ceramic coat on the whole vehicle as well.

Extra rims: An extra set of "junk" rims should also be on my to-buy list. They can be scratched up and ugly, but ideally lightweight. I could leave offroad tires permanently mounted to them. Will a full set of tires and rims fit in the Model 3 with the rear seats down? I think I've seen that somewhere, but I'm not positive.... The idea would be that I could either A) drive on my normal rims / tires out to the highlands, then swap (and swap back on the far end), and have the original rims / tires as a backup in case of blown tires; or B) swap out at home, and swap back when I get back home - giving me more space inside, and saving some weight (aka extra range), but requiring me to rely on a tire patch kit as a safety measure.

Air suspension: Duh. I don't think I'd make it very far without being able to add at least a bit more height to the car. This of course would put me dependent on Tesla's timing whims... but at the very least I can't order until Eurospec comes out and they decide to start delivering to Iceland, so I have some time :)

Larger tires: The offroad tires should ideally have about 1" extra rubber on them (since the suspension will be set to "very high" where possible, "high" the rest of the time - giving more room in the wheel wells). I imagine that 1" larger OD is about the most one could add on "high" without risk of bouncing up against the wheel wells?

Clearance: If the air suspension stroke is like with the Model S, then "High" would add 0,9" and "Very High" would add 1,3". Combined with an extra inch of rubber, and the base 5,5" , this corresponds to 7,4" at over 10mph / 14 kph and 7,8" at under 10mph / 14kph. I wouldn't try lava fields or glaciers on that, but the primary potholed / washboard "bulldozer-made" roads? Yeah, I think that's just fine. But what about water crossings?

Water: Wish I had better data for what levels are okay, but we can try to derive them. Clearly, Model 3 must be able to handle driving through "normal" levels of water in a city, because standing water happens, and you can't have gasoline cars happily driving through while Teslas die from a splash. Specifically, it must be able to handle them at low suspension settings, since some people will run in low all the time, so ~4,8". So on "very high", with an extra inch of rubber, this would put the offroad config at handling water "Three inches deeper than the maximum city water accumulation that the car would be tested to"

What about water that's unexpectedly deeper? We've probably all seen Teslas functioning in "boat mode". But we've also probably also seen Teslas that have flooded. I think the best description of the behavior, from what I've seen is "if the car enters water level and low speed, it should float and stay functional for some number of minutes, but might (will?) slowly flood over time" Hitting water at speed, or at an angle (such as sideways), seems to result in a rapid shutoff (at least as far as Model S goes) - but if exposure isn't too long, the car is often recoverable, and sometimes just needs to drain to reboot. Some have even started back up after surprisingly long water exposure times, although this seems to be the exception, not the rule. Again, though, these are limits that I definitely wouldn't want to be pushing up against!

I wish we could have some more detailed data from Tesla quantifying the risks associated with different water levels. With a gasoline car it's easy to quantify: if the air intake gets flooded, you'll flood the engine and the car will die. If it doesn't, you won't, and it won't. But with a Tesla, it feels like so much guesswork.

Any other things that should be considered?
 
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garsh

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#16
Extra rims: An extra set of "junk" rims should also be on my to-buy list. They can be scratched up and ugly, but ideally lightweight. I could leave offroad tires permanently mounted to them.
In that case, you may just want to order a set of 18" Aeros with winter tires. Elon has already stated that a lot of work went into making them very light. That's why they went with a wheel cover instead of a one-piece wheel.

If you really think your rims are going to take some damage, then I'd suggest getting steelies instead. Steel wheels can be bent back in shape when damaged. Aluminum rims are harder and more expensive to repair.
Larger tires: The offroad tires should ideally have about 1" extra rubber on them (since the suspension will be set to "very high" where possible, "high" the rest of the time - giving more room in the wheel wells). I imagine that 1" larger OD is about the most one could add on "high" without risk of bouncing up against the wheel wells?
Yes, I bet that would be fine.
What about water that's unexpectedly deeper?
It's probably fine. Hopefully somebody who doesn't care about warranties will perform a test at some point. In the meantime, I've always loved this video of a Nissan Leaf undergoing deep-water testing.

 

Mesprit87

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#17
Happy for you for the upgrade;)

How often do you plan to get out there? Is worth thrashing a somewhat hi-tech car? It will get damaged out of a standard road for sure.I agree with @garsh that a properly protected (painted) alloy wheel will save you some weight. I have used steel wheels for years for winter, they get all rusty and leaky. This is the first car that I will take the alloy route for winter, they might get leaky over time but they will look better for a while.

How about adding a skid plate for the battery, I would get very concerned with a dented one. I understand that's the whole point of getting the car as high as possible but that unexpected higher rock needs to be taken into account. Even if it's an al sheet with spacers, it would be better than nothing.
 

KarenRei

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#18
In that case, you may just want to order a set of 18" Aeros with winter tires. Elon has already stated that a lot of work went into making them very light. That's why they went with a wheel cover instead of a one-piece wheel.
Indeed, that would be preferable. But I'd rather get a used pair that's already scuffed up than a new pair ;)

If you really think your rims are going to take some damage, then I'd suggest getting steelies instead. Steel wheels can be bent back in shape when damaged
More worried about scuffs than structural damage, particularly if the tires have a larger-than-standard sidewall.

Hopefully somebody who doesn't care about warranties will perform a test at some point.
Yeah, that would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully I won't end up being that person, lol!

How often do you plan to get out there?
Once or twice per year.

Is worth thrashing a somewhat hi-tech car?
What's the purpose of owning a car but then treating it like a museum piece? Cars are bought to be enjoyed. And highland trips are enjoyable. :) I do them in my pickup, but the thing is a dinosaur.

How about adding a skid plate for the battery, I would get very concerned with a dented one
Isn't it already armoured? I remember that after some debris strike incidents in the Model S incidents they put a titanium plate on it. I thought the 3 had a steel one.

If not, then it's worth considering.
 

Mesprit87

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#19
do them in my pickup, but the thing is a dinosaur.
I would invest in the dinosaur, if you intended to go there once a month that would be another thing.
What's the purpose of owning a car but then treating it like a museum piece? Cars are bought to be enjoyed.
Who's talking about museum? I agree with you but sparing your car from a few trips like this could extend how long you are going to enjoy it:)
 

garsh

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#20
Isn't it already armoured? I remember that after some debris strike incidents in the Model S incidents they put a titanium plate on it. I thought the 3 had a steel one.
I don't remember hearing anything about the 3's battery pack being armored. I assume the bottom of the pack is decently thick and hard steel. But I don't actually know. Does anybody remember reading about it?