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2021 Model 3 E6RB Standard Range Plus Suspension Issues

Hello! Making a post because I'm at a loss at what to do next to try and solve the incredibly poor handling of my 2021 Model 3 E6RB Standard Range Plus.

I used to own a 2020 Model 3 Standard Range Plus and loved it. Unfortunately it was damaged in an accident and my insurance company deemed it a write-off. After a few month wait I purchased another Model 3 to replace it and from day one the handling and ride quality wasn't right.

After 3,800km I took it in to Tesla who did an alignment.

Screen Shot 2022-04-29 at 17.22.12.png


After this the car wasn't what I expected, but life got in the way and I left it alone as I had other things to do.

At 14,000km I was set to go on a long drive and figured I better get the handling and ride issues looked at again.

Screen Shot 2022-04-29 at 17.26.25.png


Tesla reckon it was fine. I did the journey and was disturbed at how the car felt so went back at 16,500km.

Screen Shot 2022-04-29 at 17.25.59.png


Nothing changed despite Tesla's insistence it's all within spec and normal. Unhappy, I took it to a local mechanic who after driving it instantly diagnosed the car as "tramlining" and was surprised I put up with it for so long. He was also able to give me a copy of the alignment report (which Tesla wouldn't do):

tesla.1.jpg


The ride is improved a little, but it's still uncomposed over rough roads and doesn't handle bumps well at all. It's very different to the 2020 Model 3 I used to own. I took it to another wheel place who were offering a sale on wheel alignments, just to get a 3rd opinion. This is the report they gave me:

tesla.2.jpg


This slight tweak helped again, but the car is still not up to my expectations and memory of the 2020 Model 3, which I loved tossing around twisting backroads - something I would not do in the 2021 Model 3 as it feels unsafe.

I guess with this post I have a few questions:
  • What is the actual suspension geometry for the 2021 Model 3? There seems to be conflicting info between the two suspension places I took my car to.
  • Anyone else driven a 2020 and 2021 Model 3 and found any difference?
  • Does the forum have any ideas as to what I can do to get my car handling properly like all the other Model 3 owners boast about?
 

Soul Surfer

Cansurvivor, tech geek & musician
Hi Mate!

Quite a story! Thanks for sharing the details. As a Canuck, I am not familiar with what a E6RB model is. If you could explain this a bit more, it might help. I can say this as a M3 LRAWD, and as a former Corvette C6 Z/51 owner, my M3 handles as though it were on rails - point & shoot.

Have you test drove another M3, to compare the ride? Perhaps reach out to the customer service and see if they have a loyalty group? Lastly, was it always like this or just recently develop this?

Wishing you best of luck in your resolution.
 
Three possibilities come to mind:
  • You have some gimpy tires, you could swap fronts to rear and see if things change, or try a different model of tire
  • It is just normal and you are picky about it, or worried there is a problem so finding one in your head
  • Something is amiss with a bushing/suspension bolt somewhere
 
Your initial front toe in that first sheet was super far out of spec. The next sheet seems more reasonable. Either way, given you've had four alignments now, and you still feel it's wrong, that's probably not your concern.

Nonetheless, the first thing I would question is the tires. What did your previous car have, what do you have now?

Second, there's been several comments from people that the 2021 suspension is more "plush" compared to the 2020 and older models. This was likely done because the majority of customers prefer a comfortable, soft ride, as opposed to a more "sporty" one. So, this very well may just be totally normal. Look into aftermarket coilovers, there's several options that would likely make you much happier with the car.
 

tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
2,327
2,011
USA
@decryption Lots of aspects to this! Thanks for posting the detailed saga, really helps to have to full context.

Disclaimer: I only have experience and (limited) knowledge with Fremont-built USDM Teslas. I'm aware that Shanghai built Teslas have some differences (regardless of exact destination market) but I haven't followed that in detail. With that out of the way....



[ First things first: Poor body control in the twisties is 100% normal for 2021 Model 3 in my experience, if you actually drive the car hard. ]

First, this quote:
...which I loved tossing around twisting backroads - something I would not do in the 2021 Model 3 as it feels unsafe.
Taking that statement by itself, I would say that's normal for a 2021 Model 3. When I took an October 2021 Fremont-built M3P through fast through some rough, uneven twisties on my test drive, the suspension got overwhelmed before the car ran out of grip. It was floaty and bouncy with the weight shifting all over, and even crashed hard into the rear bump stops coming out of a big dip. It didn't settle down until I slowed down.

The M3LR AWD I had tested 2 days earlier felt the same, except less grip of course from lower-performing tires. The M3P I bought feels exactly the same as the one I tested. (Well it did until I upgraded the suspension. 😉)

A stock 2021 Model 3 does feel sporty-ish when driven casually, it's when driven hard through tight, twisty, uneven back roads that the suspension can't keep up and seems to lose all control of the car.

So alignment issues aside, I think Tesla is unfortunately right - it's normal. But of course that doesn't help with understanding why your 2020 Model 3 handled better, or how to improve your 2021...



[ Possible explanation/contributor: 2021+ Model 3 have softer suspension tuning than pre-2021 ]

If you spend too much time in these forums (as I have since buying my M3P), you'll come across a recurring theme from owners of older Model 3 when they upgrade to a 2021+: The new one feels softer. This seems to hold true even comparing 2021+ M3P vs pre-2021 M3LR - the difference is older vs newer, not specific to which kind of Model 3.

Now most of these reports seemed focused mainly on ride quality, not back road shredding. There is a clear, consistent theme that 2021+ Model 3 ride smoother and overall better than pre-2021, at least among Fremont-built cars. What is NOT really discussed much in most of these owner reports is whether their older Model 3 handled better, or if it simply rode worse. It would make sense that the stiffer-feeling suspension on an older Model 3 handled somewhat better in fast driving, but that's not necessarily a safe assumption to make...it's possible the older cars simply rode worse for little handling benefit. Unfortunately I've no firsthand experience to evaluate this.

I have seen a few reports that older Model 3 did in fact handle better, especially really early Model 3 (or early M3P?), but it's not as clear-cut a theme as the ride quality difference in casual driving. However, I'm going to guess that the older, stiffer-feeling Model 3 suspensions did in fact handle fast twisty road driving at least somewhat better - certainly that seems to have been your experience!



[ Possible explanation/contributor: Lack of rear sway bar ]

Beyond general 2021+ vs pre-2021 differences, I've read that Fremont-built (North American market) M3SR+ didn't come with any rear sway bar, at least as of 2021, and therefore actually handle and ride worse from the factory than M3LR (RWD or AWD) despite the SR+'s lesser weight. Now I realize your 2020 Model 3 was also an SR+, but it seems plausible that for whatever reason it did come with a rear sway bar, while your 2021 did not. That would definitely contribute to the handling difference you're feeling! Tesla being Tesla, even if 2020 SR+ usually didn't come with a rear sway bar, it seems entirely possible that the factory did install them on some cars. As a fairly longtime Tesla owner that sort of inconsistency would not surprise me. (Our other car is a January 2013 Model S.)



[ Possible explanation/contributor: NCA vs LFP battery weight ]

I assume your 2020 M3SR+ had an NCA high voltage battery pack. What battery chemistry is your 2021 SR+? In the US most 2021 SR+ had NCA, however towards the end of the 2021 model year there were some LFP cars built in Fremont and sold here that were also called SR+ (before Tesla switched to using the "Model 3 RWD" branding for 2022 LFP RWD cars).

As you probably know the LFP battery packs are significantly heavier to achieve similar range, because they're less energy dense. If I recall correctly the difference was several hundred pounds, with LFP RWD cars basically weighing about the same as LR AWD (dual motor). If you're the kind of driver to tear up twisty roads, then for sure you should feel that weight difference, and it could contribute to worse handling, depending on the suspension tuning - especially if Tesla didn't fit a rear sway bar.



Hopefully the above gives you more aspects to explore. I strongly suggest taking a test drive of a current 2022 Model 3 RWD. If it handles no better, that will pretty much confirm that your car unfortunately is working as intended.

Now as for what to do about this, I suggest the following:
  1. As a first step, if your 2021 SR+ indeed lacks a rear sway bar, add a Tesla OE rear sway bar from either an LR RWD or LR/P AWD. This should be easy, affordable, and extremely unlikely to cause any warranty coverage issues.
  2. You could look for people selling the original dampers+springs from 2020 or older RWD Model 3. Should be cheap. Won't be nearly as good as a good aftermarket suspension, but a lot cheaper, and again unlikely to cause warranty coverage issues. (Yes in theory Tesla could deny suspension coverage due to this swap, but I really highly doubt the service center techs would notice or care, as long as the parts looked in appropriate condition for your car.)
  3. If you want a serious handling upgrade, way better than anything Tesla ever shipped from the factory on a Model 3, look into aftermarket suspension kits. I just put the Redwood Motorsports "Performance Sport" Öhlins DFV kit on my 2021 M3P and WOW, it's awesome, in a completely different world than the stock suspension. Not cheap but for sure I feel like I got what I paid for, and it's exactly the upgrade I wanted. (I'll post a much more thorough review in a new thread after more time with it. I just installed it and got the car aligned.)
IMPORTANT: If you stay with the stock dampers, I would not bother with any aftermarket springs or aftermarket sway bars. The damping is clearly just not up to the job, and I cannot imagine how increasing spring rates is going to help much. The stock dampers need to be replaced for any serious handling upgrade.
 

tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
2,327
2,011
USA
A few more notes on aftermarket suspension upgrades:
  • If you value your ground clearance, that's perfectly fine. Not all suspension/coilover kits require lowering. I set my car to its stock height with my coilover kit. Not all coilovers support that but some do, and it's one of the reasons I chose the Redwood Öhlins kit. It even allows for a small lift if so desired. ;)
    • I'm not saying you shouldn't go low if you want. My regular driving takes me on lots of nasty ill-maintained city and country roads, and also gravel & dirt driveways, so going low is definitely not for me.
  • Yesterday I was behind a lowered Model 3 on the highway and I found myself wondering what suspension mods it had. Then we went over some dips and I could see the back of the car bouncing coming out of them. 🥴I would bet big money that car was riding on lowering springs with the stock dampers.
    • Probably the lowering springs made that car look nice sitting still, but they clearly weren't much of a handling upgrade on the move.
  • If you do go for an aftermarket suspension kit (coilovers), don't expect Tesla (or any car maker) to honor the warranty on any suspension parts. Sure in theory maybe they should especially if you stay stock height, but realistically don't go into it with that expectation. Know what you're getting into. They should still apply any relevant recalls but that's about it...even asking for a TSB to be applied might get pushback.
    • I'm not saying they definitely won't honor the warranty on other suspension parts. Just don't count on it, and consider yourself lucky if they do.
    • I suppose you could swap back to stock to try to hide use of aftermarket parts, but that seems like a lot of work, it would probably be easier to just fix/replace whatever the suspension issue is yourself!
    • If you haven't gotten into car modding before, know that it can open up amazing driving experiences, but it can also be a source of trouble and pain and issues of many kinds. If you're not familiar or experienced go into it with eyes wide open and do your best to figure out who has good knowledge + experience + advice to learn from. Don't make any assumptions. And don't assume you'll get everything right the first time...there will probably be lessons learned at some point.
 
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I am not familiar with what a E6RB model is. If you could explain this a bit more, it might help

That's the model designation on my car. There's a few different kinds of Model 3 Standard Range Plus. I assume each model variant has a different code. Figured it's an easy way to refer to my specific version.

88CF624C-FB82-469A-8028-5501203807B0 Large.jpeg


Have you test drove another M3, to compare the ride?

I have, but a US made SR+ (2019 and 2020), not Chinese made ones from 2021. I am driving a 2022 SR+ Chinese made tomorrow, which should be enlightening. All the owners of the 2021 Model 3 I know of love how their car drives, which makes me think mine has a fault. Will report back in about 36 hours :)

Three possibilities come to mind:
  • You have some gimpy tires, you could swap fronts to rear and see if things change, or try a different model of tire
  • It is just normal and you are picky about it, or worried there is a problem so finding one in your head
  • Something is amiss with a bushing/suspension bolt somewhere

I've done a tyre rotation, no difference. Different brand however, I have not done. Would cost me ~A$1000 for new tyres and these ones (Michelin Pilot Sport 4) still have a decent amount of tread left (between 4mm - 5mm on each one).

It's very possible it's normal and my brain is telling me the car is stuffed. But I have had others drive it (non-Tesla owners) and they tell me it's horrible.

Tesla and other mechanics have checked the bushings/suspension (or so they tell me) and can't visually tell anything is amiss. My first reaction was that a damper is faulty, but had that checked by Tesla and they claim everything is fine.

Nonetheless, the first thing I would question is the tires. What did your previous car have, what do you have now?
Both cars have Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres. Not sure if they're from the same factory (the current ones are made in China, not sure where the previous tyres were made). I would like to try new tyres but not sure how to do this without spending $1000 and then wasting it if it wasn't the problem. I don't think I can borrow tyres? haha

So, this very well may just be totally normal. Look into aftermarket coilovers, there's several options that would likely make you much happier with the car.

I'm tempted to take this course of action. I don't want to sell the car as 1. besides this problem, the car is well built and 2. every other electric car with 400km+ range is either on a 9-12 month waitlist or costs more than I can afford.

[ First things first: Poor body control in the twisties is 100% normal for 2021 Model 3 in my experience, if you actually drive the car hard. ]

Hmm, this is disappointing. I drive on these roads often. Here's what a friend said to me after he drove it for about an hour between Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne and back (a typical back road in regional Victoria). His daily driver is a Mercedes R230 SL 55 AMG and just got back from driving a BMW M340i for a month in NZ:

Over 80kph if there's any camber or small bumps on the road the front wheels feel like they want to pull you off the road. Feels to me like shock absorbed rebound is faulty and/or springs are too soft. Front of the car just doesn't feel planted on the road at all.

Which is spot on to what it's like to drive. On a brand new smooth road, the Model 3 is fine, but soon as the road is anything but perfect it's a little scary.

[ Possible explanation/contributor: 2021+ Model 3 have softer suspension tuning than pre-2021 ]
Very possible. The Tesla tech did tell me there is a difference in the springs between the 2020 and 2021. Surprised different springs would make that much difference!

[ Possible explanation/contributor: Lack of rear sway bar ]
Interesting - didn't think of this. Unsure if the 2020 Model 3 SR+ sold here had one.

[ Possible explanation/contributor: NCA vs LFP battery weight ]

My Model 3 has an LFP battery.

Now as for what to do about this, I suggest the following:

Lots of good info here - lots of take in, particularly with the aftermarket suspension. Thank you for taking the time :)
 
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@decryption How'd the test drive go?

Went for a 1hr drive around some highways and backroads in a 2022 SR+, with 19" wheels and it's better than my 2021 SR+ with 18" wheels, but not by a huge margin. It's still rather soft and springy and didn't handle bumps very well - but it tracked straight and felt like the front end had more grip than mine.

I think my next course of action would be to find a proper suspension specialist to do a thorough alignment on my car as it definetly has a strong drift to the right.

Then I'd like to change the tyres over. I'm pretty sure they're not quite right. I have noticed that when the tyres are cold at 40psi the ride is much more to my liking and feels less chaotic. The longer I drive, the worse it gets as tyre pressure increases to 42-43-44psi.

Even if those two things get the handling back to acceptable, I think I'm going to get an aftermarket set of coilovers anyways to really get a go-kart style setup for the Model 3. Been looking at the Ohlins Road & Track, KW V3, Mountain Pass Performance Comforts and Pedders eXtreme XA. Leaning towards the Pedders because they're local to me and common here in Australia - but the Ohlins have a fantastic reputation (at 2x the price).
 
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tm1v2

Active Member
Oct 18, 2021
2,327
2,011
USA
Even if those two things get the handling back to acceptable, I think I'm going to get an aftermarket set of coilovers anyways to really get a go-kart style setup for the Model 3. Been looking at the Ohlins Road & Track, KW V3, Mountain Pass Performance Comforts and Pedders eXtreme XA. Leaning towards the Pedders because they're local to me and common here in Australia - but the Ohlins have a fantastic reputation (at 2x the price).
Agreed on getting some good performance rubber, but it does sound like you're seeking more than that (as I was). I think your plan is good.

On the Öhlins front, I just posted some early impressions of my Redwood Performance Sport Öhlins DFV kit. (I should really repost the writeup in a more targeted thread!) If you're considering Öhlins DFV it's worth asking Redwood if they ship to Australia or have a retail partner there. I'm sure the R&T kit will be very good too of course!

https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/posts/6666976/

I went for the Redwood Öhlins in large part from experiencing Öhlins DFV on the Polestar 2 Performance. A lot of pro reviewers panned the Polestar's handling because it doesn't drive like a RWD car - it's clearly not trying to - but that didn't bother me and I thought it had absolutely excellent real-world suspension composure and handling, with a great ride-handling balance.

Btw if you want "go-kart" reflexes wouldn't you be better served by the "Sport" versions of either Redwood or MPP coilovers than their GT/Comfort versions?
 
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