New Details Gleaned From Tesla Model 3 Owners Manual


Remember that Tesla Model 3 owner’s manual that surfaced (embedded above) a couple of days ago? Well, we’ve now had some time to digest all the info within and have come up with a few notable highlights we’d like to share.

Tesla Model 3

Horsepower rating:

  • 165 kW (220 HP) motor

Torque rating:

  • 2,700 ft lb torque (3700 Nm)

Trailer towing:

  • Not permissible / no trailer hitch option

It’s likely that towing will be permissible once Tesla designs and releases its own trailer hitch. However, some think that towing will only be allowed on AWD versions of the Model 3. This hasn’t been confirmed though.

Perhaps the most interesting point in regards to the battery pack from the manual is on vampire drain. Teslas have long been known to draw a lot of juice, even when off, but it seems the Model 3 may have this issue in check:

“Never allow the Battery to fully discharge. Even when Model 3 is not being driven, its Battery discharges very slowly to power the onboard electronics. On average, the Battery discharges at a rate of <1% per week with energy saving mode ON and <3% per week with energy saving mode OFF (see Energy Saving Feature on page 105. Situations can arise in which you must leave Model 3 unplugged for an extended period of time (for example, at an airport when traveling). In these situations, keep the discharge rates in mind to ensure that you leave the Battery with a sufficient charge level.”

There’s this little nugget on potential battery damage too. This was referred to as bricking, back in the early Tesla Roadster days:

“Discharging the Battery to 0% may permanently damage the Battery. To protect against a complete discharge, Model 3 enters a low-power consumption mode when the charge level drops to 5%. In this mode, the Battery stops supporting the onboard electronics to slow the discharge rate to approximately 4% per month. Once this lowpower consumption mode is active, it is important to plug in Model 3 within two months to avoid Battery damage.”

That damage would appear to be irreversible, so avoid a long-term 0% charge at all costs.

What else has piqued your interest from the manual? Share in Comments below.

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72 Comments on "New Details Gleaned From Tesla Model 3 Owners Manual"

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“That damage would appear to be irreversible, so avoid a long-term 0% charge at all costs.”

I always thought this was common knowledge about LiON batteries. I think storing them for long term at 100% is typically not suggested as well.

It should be common knowledge amount EV enthusiasts. But, not so much for normal people.

The issue is really that the car should be doing a better job of protecting the battery so that users don’t have to think about it. There should be enough buffer when the battery is “empty” so that it won’t hit 0% for at least 6 months after that point.

“It should be common knowledge amount EV enthusiasts. But, not so much for normal people.”

Right. The average person cannot be expected to know that long-term storage of li-ion batteries should be done at 50% charge level.

One way the EV revolution is going to affect our culture is that these tidbits of knowledge are going to gradually seep into the realm of “things all adults in first world countries are expected to know”. Just like everyone should know that a gasmobile which runs out of gas will stop running, and that a gasmobile needs to occasionally have the oil level checked. Even people who don’t drive should know those things.

The parasitic drain ensures they won’t be at 100% for very long. This recommendation generally refers to uninstalled batteries.

Another hidden gem: It seems the Model 3 hidden reserve at the bottom end is about 3% !

Why: We are told the car drains 1% a week (4% a month) in low power mode and this kicks in automatically at 5%. We are told we have at most two months at hitting this 5% to prevent bricking the battery. Two months is 8% drain. This implies that the hidden reserve to save the car and get to the next Supercharger is about 8% – 5% or THREE PERCENT (3%) at the bottom.

What has been confirmed?
“…However, some think that towing will only be allowed on AWD versions of the Model 3. This has been confirmed though.”

Pretty sure they typo’d and meant it hasn’t* been confirmed.

Yes, sorry about that, it has not been confirmed. Updated.

I think the 165 kW motor is good but can not see how they get a torque rating of 3700 Nm.
This seems too high when the Model S P100DL was rated at 1200 Nm of torque.

Wheel torque, not motor torque. Gear reduction is 9:1 so 3700/9 + 411.1

The Bolt is 360 Nm motor torque, and 7:1 reduction, so 2520 Nm wheel torque.

So the Model S P100DL has 3.35 times the torque, but it is also 4,891 lb vs 3,814 lb.

Tesla’s casual use of HV battery and utility energy to support the car electronics has always annoyed me. The HV battery shouldn’t even be connected when the car is off and not charging (contactors should be open). That is for both safety and energy efficiency.

I guess most of the people who were buying Tesla’s previous cars were rich enough to not care about some wasted electrons. But, the M3 will likely have a more cost conscious audience.

This is how the Rav4EV behaves and I appreciate that it does.

I don’t know if physically disconnecting the main battery from the car’s electronic systems should be the default operating mode, since that would eliminate the ability for the car to be operated remotely using a cellphone, or to use the battery heater to keep the pack warm, or to perform other functions Tesla cars are designed to do when “turned off”.

But certainly there ought to be a switch a Tesla car driver can use to disconnect the main battery in that fashion. So long as the 12v battery has power, it should be possible to have the car reconnect the main battery when needed.

Tesla may be resistant to that, since they are trying hard to eliminate all hardware switches. That main power connect/ disconnect switch would need to be a hardware switch, not a software switch; controlling that with a software switch would require the 12v battery to maintain a trickle charge of the car’s display screen and/or computer system… and that alone would be a vampire drain on the 12v battery.

GM disconnects the HV battery on their EVs and PHEVs when the car is off and not charging. However, it can be reconnected when preconditioning is requested. No good reason Tesla couldn’t do the same thing. The 12V battery should be able to run the car electronics and connect the HV battery when needed (preconditioning, summon, etc).

Bottom line, I don’t want to pay for energy while the car is sitting unused.

You say the 12v battery contains enough power, and self-discharges slowly enough, to keep the car’s electronics running for weeks or even months? I’d like to see some data on that. I have no doubt that would work for awhile, but this raises questions of just how long, and how much the 12v battery being new or old affects that time limit.

In fact, I saw some discussion recently (not sure it was here on InsideEVs, it may have been on the Tesla Motors Club forum) about EV owners letting their gasmobile second cars sit around unused for weeks or months, and finding the starter battery dead when they tried to start it up.

Well duh!! Any smartphone needs to radio a lot more than the car needs to do, and still manages to last about a week on standby – from less than 100 grams of battery, downloading email and so updates and all. Clearly a couple of kilogrammes should be enough to easily last for months. It’ll still have to speak to the network pretty often in order to be responsive when someone’s using the app, but that could be scaled back after a day or two of no use, at the cost of slower response from the car when something’s done in the app (say, turn on the heater).

Tesla’s vampire losses have always been a week point. It doesn’t matter in normal situations, but I think it’s weird they can’t control it even to save the pack. The normal discharge rate for a disconnected li-ion cell is 0.1% per month, so 4% is really awful.

Hey, thanks for reminding me to charge my cellphone. I hardly ever use it, and it stays OFF most of the time. But still I should charge it once a week, because the battery drains with shocking rapidity even when turned OFF. Just now it was at 1% after being neglected for about 3 weeks.

So, Terawatt, I hope you’ll understand when I say you know far less about this subject than you think you do.

If you have a cellphone with a removable battery, try installing a paper shim between the battery terminals and the battery.

This will eliminate parasitic drain from the phone. On some models, this can be a considerable load.

My Volt has sat at the airport for over two weeks without the 12V battery dieing. I wouldn’t expect 4 weeks to be an issue either, especially considering the minimal amperage needed from the 12V battery when it’s time to “start” the car again.

A lot of it has to do with integration and efficiency of the onboard electronics. Other than the telematics module and clock, nothing should be running constantly.

As someone else noted, a disconnected lithium battery should have a very low self-discharge rate. That’s the state these batteries should be in when the car isn’t on.

If a 12 V lead acid battery (which used to be able to power the starter to move my 1963 Ford Fairlane w/ 3 pedals about 50 feet at a slow walk) can run the electronics for 2 weeks, shouldn’t the Lion traction battery with enough power to move the car 200 miles @ 80 MPH be able to power the electronics for a very long time?

You’re oversimplifying. As already noted in comments above, a li-ion battery that’s disconnected will lose power very slowly indeed. The problem is when it’s connected to something conductive that’s turned off, whether that’s inside a car or inside a cellphone.

Li-ion batteries don’t work the same way as lead-acid batteries. The “vampire drain” appears to be a weakness of li-ion batteries, and not just in Tesla cars, either. As I noted, I have the same problem with my cellphone.

Lithium batteries have extremely low self discharge rates. If your cell phone is self discharging that fast, then it’s not actually off. Maybe there isn’t a way to fully turn it off.

Everything with a soft power switch is never really off. It is just in a lower power state where all it is doing is waiting for a soft power button to be pushed.

To actually shut off completely, a device needs an actual physical power switch that disconnects the power.

How do you think the 12V battery on an EV is charged? (In other words, does it really make a difference which battery is used for accessories? Both traction and 12V batteries are recharged the same way eventually.)

This is really about minimizing power draw while the car is off. Tesla vampire draw is so bad that they need to rely on the HV battery. GM, and most others, have efficient well-integrated electronics, so a normal 12V battery is able to sustain them for weeks/months.

Are you Cisco or McAfee CCIE?


165kW puts it in the highest (and thus most expensive) liability insurance category in my country. Would it be possible to get a version of the M3 with a lower HP rating (like a permanent chill mode) that would be cheaper to insure?

Common sense suggests “No”. Tesla cars are designed to be “sporty” or high-performance. If you want a car which isn’t, then buy another brand. You may wish to consider a Chevy Bolt EV, a Nissan Leaf, or a Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

I understand that performance is a strong selling point for Tesla, but for me it’s the minimalist design that I really like. No other car offers this.

Design aside, the Bolt is also in the 200hp club and thus has the same problem (not to mention the terrible availability here in EU), while the Leaf and Ioniq would be acceptable I suppose, but I don’t really feel like spending new car money for something that doesn’t look like a model 3.

My guess is that the standard battery Model 3 will have slightly less torque, since battery power drawing is the most likely bottleneck in the car’s performance,

“Discharging the Battery to 0% may permanently damage the Battery.”

Does this mean there’s no more “reserve tank” like there is on Model S, where you can travel a bit further even after your range hits zero?

No, that’s not what it means. A BEV whose display reads “0%” actually indicates 0% of usable capacity, not necessarily 0% of full capacity. When it first reads 0%, the battery pack likely still has a bit of reserve… maybe 2%-4%?

But in the context of “bricking” a battery, 0% really does mean 0% of actual capacity, as in the battery is completely discharged.

Confusing, I know.

Do not count on this in a Model S. The algorithm has to make estimates and sometimes there is a few miles after zero and sometimes there is not. There have even been reports of shutting down a bit before zero – with 3 miles left for instance.

I’ve been seeing around 7 miles per day in mild weather on my 2012 Model S with power saver ON. I researched on the TMC forum and it said normal rate of vampire loss was 1-2%/day.

So I figure it’s costing me around 50 cents per day in electricity.

Good article. I’ve been wanting to know if the 3 was better and it appears so.

It costs me under $2 in electricity to drive 60 miles in a day. No way I would pay $0.50 to just have the car sit there.

It would be interesting if someone would do some cold weather testing to see how much this increases in, say 10 deg F weather.

BJORN just did an article where he left his “X” outside in the cold overnight, and apparently had trouble.

The Bolt and VOlt are both economical with the hv battery, but ‘wake up the car’ every 1 to 3 days to make sure the 12 volt battery is fully charged.

My question is, when you change the 3% loss on the “3” to 1% loss by putting it in ‘economy mode’ what features do you lose?

It would be more meaningful to say how many kwh it takes you to drive 50 miles not the cost. Electricity costs vary A LOT.

NYT’s Broader’s overnight ‘test’ drained electricity at a 1.84 kw rate on average over the entire night time period. I derived the information from logs TESLA took of the trip themselves.

Page 136, gearbox ratio is 9:1, so the peak motor torque is “only” 300 ft-lb. Not really meaningful I know, but SparkEV makes more torque at 327 ft-lb (400 ft-lb for 2014 model). Yet another feature SparkEV dominates over Tesla 3. Bragging rights for the measurbators!

Yeah to me the torque figures always quoted don’t mean much. And they’ll have different gearing between the front and back when the awd models come out to have a ‘poor-man’s transmission’. Peak horsepower and the speed that it happens is really the only thing that is significant. This is a bit of a screamer motor anyway.

Using 18inch tires (26.3 inch diameter) and 17900 RPM and 9:1 gear ratio, top speed works out to 155 MPH. Of course, that assumes power is there, which there may not be.

Using 220HP, 2700ft-lb wheel torque, 9:1 gear ratio, and assuming peak torque is constant from 0 RPM, peak power occurs at 3850 RPM, equivalent to about 34 MPH with 18 inch tire. I’d love to see actual dyno curve.

I would think that this would be the best argument for placing a small solar panel somewhere around the car, like the leaf has (or had). Its not enough to make a difference in how the car drives, its there to offset parasitic drain on the battery and to keep it from bottoming out.

I have a system like that on my truck, since with two electric cars, the truck may sit for weeks without being driven, and it kills batteries that way.

Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea. I wonder if it would be possible to trickle-charge a Tesla car’s main battery with a solar panel sitting on the dash or under the rear window inside the car, plugged into one of the car’s power outlets. Do any of those work two-way? And if not, how much would an aftermarket mod cost?

Cost is one issue, but size is the bigger problem. In Albuquerque with blue sky, each of my 4×8 foot solar panels generates 225 watts. Clouds cut that in half. Since nothing is generated at night, it will require 3 panels to keep up with vampire loss. Each additional panel will add 1 mile of range during optimal conditions.
My 12 panel system on a dual axis tracker produces about 23 kWh on a good day. Ignoring vampire, 4 days to charge a Tesla.

I found my bible

Bro1999 aka Bob Lutz where are you? Are you stuffing your face with leftovers LOL CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR

I have a BIG QUESTION : What is the maximum kWh rate when charging a model 3 on a supercharger ?
120kWh ?

thank you

The published number is 72kw with the long range battery. Someone took a pic of one charging at 117kh though.

Assuming both those numbers are correct, I think the reasonable conclusion is that 117 kW is at or near the maximum rate the battery pack can be charged at, and only when it’s nearly drained. If so, that will taper off after just a few minutes, presumably to an average charging rate of 72 kW.

Any word if some of the body panels are aluminum or are they all steel?. Re cost of repairs

The answer to your question requires multiple diagrams:

Re cost of repairs: Note damage to the ultra-high-strength steel can’t be repaired by hammering/ bending; any damaged sections have to be cut out and replaced, at higher than normal cost for body work.

Tesla has reduced construction costs for the Model 3 by replacing much of the aluminum with high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel. But the cost of body work repairs… unfortunately not reduced so much.

1. I can’t believe how complicated the cruise control is. All I want are simple buttons for “Enable”, “Set”, “Cancel”, and “Resume”. Cruise has safety implications and shouldn’t be so hard to use. The manual has 5 pages dedicated to it, plus 2 more for Speed Assist. 2. Why can’t the rear camera have a washer nozzle like the Bolt EV has? 3. Why, oh why can’t the Model 3 use a simple key fob, instead of an app and an RFID card?? They’ve actually complicated matters without improving the function. 4. Wipers – Again, this is a safety issue. I don’t want to have to reach over to the touch screen WHILE IT’S RAINING to enable the constant wiping function. This is absolutely terrible, and unacceptable for uninitiated drivers, and I foresee lawsuits someday over it. I’m surprised the regulators permitted it. This function should have been captured in a simple stalk. It could actually be a deal-breaker for me. 5. Climate control requires 4 pages to describe it. Why not a simple switch for fan speed, temperature, and direction? Again, Tesla spent precious resources to fix what wasn’t broken. I’m afraid Tesla has missed the mark a bit… Read more »

This is why we have hundreds of models of passenger vehicles, instead of just a handful.

The Tesla Model 3 apparently does not appeal to you, but it certainly will appeal to others with different preferences, and for people who regard such “first world problems” as not very important.

Reality check: I’m scratching my head over how you think any “simple switch” could control the climate control’s “fan speed, temperature, and direction”. Apparently the side-to-side vent slot has louvers inside to control direction of air flow in several places across the slot; how are you gonna control all that with “a simple switch”?

Just as with so many other things in this era of “smart” electronics, Tesla has chosen to enable something with more functionality, at the expense of making it more complex. If you don’t like it… well, there are other PEVs on the market.

I meant a simple switch for each function, just like normal cars have. But you already knew I meant this.

Making these basic functions route through a GUI doesn’t make it better; it only makes it a Tesla.

The clever HVAC may have more functionality, but it won’t really make for a meaningfully better experience.

But please explain how reaching over to the GUI for standard wiper function during a sudden deluge is wise, or safer, or better than a stalk-mounted switch. A $44k+ car in 2017 should be finding ways to reduce distracted driving, not increase it because it’s cool.

Tesla could have produced a better, more usable car for the masses – in a shorter timeframe – by NOT reinventing the wheel for basic functions.

Their value-add is in their battery technology, beautiful car design, and performance. There is no value-add for redesigning a less-functional windshield wiper, or a tricky cruise control, or saving a few dollars on a key fob. What these ‘features’ do is make the car more daunting to own and drive, adding to Tesla’s elitist perception among non-Tesla owners.

I couldn’t agree more. Controls with tactile feedback that can be operated without having to look are the effective and safest way to go.

Touch screens, menu driven controls and cell phone use in cars are likely responsible for most or all of the rising death and injury rate from vehicles. The vehicles themselves keep getting more crash worthy.

It’s too bad there’s no voice control. Oops, did I let the cat out of the bag?

Great, so kids and backseat drivers can screw up your attempts to contol the wipers when you interact with it? Or, if you are having a conversation with someone you need to interupt them to turn the wipers on with a voice command, or wait patiently until they finish, or find the setting you want on a flat center screen?

Can anyone with a model 3 confirm how this works?

I didn’t read this manual, but wasn’t there a real-world picture of the wiper controls on the stalk? Something like double-tapping would turn them on? I don’t recall exactly.

There is a mist function (single wipe) by tapping the end of the stalk on the left side. If you push the same button all the way in, it will wash the windshield. All other wiper controls are on the touchscreen. This is sufficient for me.

Thanks for the info. For me, I think I’d like to be able to double tap, or something, to turn them on permanently, but really, until I can play with everything, it’s hard to tell.

And Tesla has the advantage of this is a good idea they can easily add it with OTA update.
I’m underwhelmed with the configurability of the car. From all the discussions and hype of TeslaI expected pretty much everything to be configurable to the Nth degree. After all they are touted as this tech company. But even Regen only has two settings.
Anyway, I also think the blinker come wiper stalk could be better. Oh, and maybe they will OTA rain sensing wipers, I am surprised it doesn’t have that, even my lowly Leaf has pretty good rain sensing wipers.

Tesla does not subscribe to the KISS concept. More like the exact opposite.

With the Model 3, yes they do.

Hey bro I think GM took the kiss principle a little too far when they created the bolt. I mean leaving things off as simple as a garage door opener or rushing to get it out by not including Active Cruise control on a $40k car. Then again the keep the interior simple and plastic y. Or maybe it could be their uninspired and ugly design. There lack of any options like 4 wheel drive or longer range battery or sun roofs sure make it at least one of the S’s in kiss. Stupid.

Perhaps the lack of stalk control of the wipers is due to the fact that Tesla will add rain sensing wipers eventually? Has there been any conclusion that the wipers won’t be auto?

Murrysville, I agree with all of your points.

I test drove a model 3 2 weeks ago in Santa Cruz and you cannot turn on the windshield wipers with your voice and the stock for windshield wiper control is highly limiting. It’s a very bad design. Hope they fix it with over-the-air.

Seeing is that this car will be self-driving capable, I would suspect that it will include rain sensing hardware out of the factory.

For those waiting for the Performance model, the manual contains specifications for a future tire package. A 19″ Staggered configuration is specified.
Front: 235/40R19 8.5″ wide wheel, 35mm offset
Rear: 265/35R19 9.5″ wide wheel, 45mm offset
For reference, here are the 18″ and 19″ Square configurations.
Front & Rear: 235/45R18 8.5″ wide wheel, 40mm offset
Front & Rear: 235/40R19 8.5″ wide wheel, 40mm offset

Optional brakes are also specified. These are brake rotor diameters. Plus is presumably a future performance model.

Base Front: 12.6”/320 mm
Base Rear: 13.2”/335 mm
Plus Front: 13.98”/355 mm
Plus Rear: 13.2”/335 mm

This is the first time I have seen a car with smaller rotors in the front. Initially, I thought it was due to powerful regeneration, but isn’t it RWD?