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First impressions in wet conditions

Discussion in 'Model 3: Driving Dynamics' started by nitzmahone, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    First impressions in wet conditions

    I took delivery of my Model 3 last week and have been waiting impatiently for the inevitable Portland-area rain to fall to see how the it does. Sunday afternoon didn't disappoint- I took the opportunity to take her out for a couple hours. TL;DR: I'm extremely impressed with how this car does in the rain- good thing, since it's kind of the default condition around here for a lot of the year.


    Tires:

    The Michelin AS tires that come with the 18" wheels handle quite well in the wet. Even with a fair bit of water on the road, and hard steering across refuge lanes (which are notoriously slick since they get so little traffic), the car feels very sure-footed. Same with hard braking and acceleration on banked corners- I was able to break the backend loose just a bit at the extremes, but the traction control recovered it quickly. TBF, I'm coming from a 2013 Leaf with the OEM low rolling resistance tires (which will torque-steer badly even on a dry day), so it's tough not to do a whole lot better, but wow.


    Straight-line acceleration:

    I never broke it loose, even under full acceleration. There's no indicator that I've seen that the traction control is limiting your inputs, so it may well have been, but anecdotally, it felt just as snappy as on dry pavement. Not much more to say here- it definitely gets the job done.


    Cornering:

    Holy crap. While the dry-handling of the Model 3 in corners under power is extremely impressive, the wet handling is even more so IMHO. I was able to try out a lot of different cornering conditions, including a very large empty parking lot nearby, where I could really go nuts. The Model 3 felt very nimble and stable with everything I threw at it. I was only able to get a bit of understeer with extreme cornering at 30-40mph in the parking lot- not under any "normal" driving conditions. Negatively-banked cornering under heavy throttle was the only time I was able to induce a little oversteer, which the traction control corrected quickly. There's an acid-test corner near my house that I've dealt with regularly for the last 25 years- it's a steep hill with a stop light, turning right onto another steep hill that's a pretty busy road. Starting from a stop, my old RWD Lexus would break loose on it even dry, and I'd have to be extra-gentle with it in the wet. The Leaf, with its LRR tires, would torque-steer badly on it when wet, so I'd have be sure to leave plenty of room when pulling in front of other cars coming up the hill, lest I have someone steaming up my tail while trying to keep control of the car. The Model 3 handled that corner wet better than any other car I've driven handles it dry. Color me stunned.


    Braking:

    Again, not a lot to say here. I got the ABS to activate noticeably under "full stomp" braking, but under normal braking, I feel very comfortable with the stopping distance. I usually give plenty of following distance anyway, especially when it's wet, so the Model 3 doesn't disappoint here in any way.


    Rain-sensing wipers:

    This was probably the area I'd been the most nervous about, since it rains so much here, and the car was designed in CA. A typical wet drive in Oregon with the Leaf involved a lot of fiddling with the wiper stalk, adjusting wiper intervals and speeds. I was really dreading needing to do that on the Model 3 screen, but I'm thrilled to report that the rain-sensing wipers worked flawlessly for me. Other than needing to manually do a single wiper-stalk poke when starting a drive with an already-wet windshield (as others have already reported), I didn't have to touch a thing. The rain-sensing wiper system seamlessly cleared the windshield from fine mist to heavy drizzle conditions (adjusting both speed and interval perfectly), and activated quickly on the first appearance of water after a clearing. The wipers are still new, so they leave a brief haze behind, but it'll be even better once that's worn off. Not once did I feel the need to manually poke the stalk for an extra wipe, so I'd strongly disagree with others that say it doesn't activate quickly enough or wipe frequently enough. I did occasionally notice the "jerky" wiping behavior that others have mentioned, and it only happened with the auto wipers (eg, if I manually poked the wiper stalk, it'd wipe smoothly). Not sure what's going on there, but I didn't find it distracting.


    Other:

    The glass roof looks really cool from the outside when it's wet. In today's overcast conditions, looking at it straight-on, it appears bright orange, and when you move more overhead, it looks blue/purple. I'm guessing this is some refraction magic from the tint or something, but pretty neat, anyway.

    I had a couple of minor nits at delivery that I didn't ask to be fixed (a tiny paint flaw just under a window, a small scratch on the front driver's side fender), but the one that I did ask them to document was that the roof seals looked sketchy. Parts of the rubber that lay against the edge of the glass seam on top appeared to be torn or cut clumsily, and there was some apparent manual application of a black sealant in a couple places. The roof on the other Model 3 that was being delivered the same time as mine looked a lot better, so I asked them to document it and reserved the right to ask them to fix it if there are water issues. So far, so good, but this was my one potential delivery issue that would be a big problem here in Oregon if it ends up leaking...


    Summary:

    I'm glad I didn't wait for the dual-motor AWD version. That might be even better, but I don't think I need it. The Model 3 kills it under all wet conditions I tried, even when driving much more extremely than I would ever do normally. I'm so excited about this car- not a drop of buyer's remorse!
     
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  2. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    A couple other notes I forgot to mention:

    Autopilot also worked just as well in the rain (another area I was concerned about).

    I'm on firmware 2018.10.5, so maybe folks that were complaining about bad auto-wiper behavior were on an older build.
     
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  3. Dugknight

    Dugknight Member

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    Wow, that’s really impressive. Thanks for the review!
     
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  4. oldtrip

    oldtrip Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to evaluate your new Model 3 in the wet, @nitzmahone. As a denizen of the greater Puget Sound region (and anxious line waiter), I have struggled with the decision of one vs two motors because of our weather.
    Your excellent post really helps. We have a 4WD Toyota Highlander for the occasional snow & ice, but in the PNW, we can't avoid rain and still have a life.
     
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  5. Scrutmonkey

    Scrutmonkey Member

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    Hey Nitz,

    Could you check the charging port to see if water pools there after rain? Someone from another forum posted concern as he heard this from tinters and noticed some pooling after washing their car.

    Thanks
     
  6. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    My charge port looks perfectly dry (and doesn't have any telltale signs of being wet in the past)... I'm a 70xx VIN (but produced in March, after some 9xxx VINs), so maybe they've already switched in whatever seal or other changes they made at the factory. I'm definitely keeping an eye out for water everywhere though- might even (gasp) park it outside on a couple of rainy nights just to make sure...
     
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  7. Jgordonma

    Jgordonma Member

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    Did you see a significant decrease in efficiency in the rain? I was driving in the rain for the first time today and used about 340 Wh/mi instead of my usual 260-ish even though the temperature hasn't been that much lower.
     
  8. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    Good question- I honestly didn't pay attention. I was also driving much harder than usual, so it wouldn't be a very good comparison. Supposed to be some rain this week, so I'll try to keep some stats with "normal" driving and report back.
     
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  9. Scrutmonkey

    Scrutmonkey Member

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    Yeah, we are expecting some rain her in CA later...I would have though that there would have been a gasket of some kind...just in case.
     
  10. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    It rained again today, so managed to get some pictures of the cool colors on the roof glass when wet:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also @Jgordonma, at least in light rain with wet roads (city, non-freeway), I noticed a ~10-15% increase in power consumption from my usual. Far from scientific, but at least for low-speed driving, a little better than the "wet" penalty on the Leaf was. The trips were also short enough that I wasn't using my defogger- I started getting just a little windshield fog right as I was getting home from my last trip (~15min), so I'm sure I would've had to fire it up soon and take a little more range hit.
     
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  11. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    There was plenty of water under the charge port door today (to be expected, it doesn't appear to be sealed in any way), but the charge port itself was still completely dry inside. There's a raised bit on the charge port door plastic that covers the actual charge port hole- seems to be doing its job. I could definitely see a misplaced hose-squirt at close range getting around that and into the charge port though- it doesn't have any kind of gasket or anything. The manual mentions numerous times to be careful about where you squirt the hose when washing...
     
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  12. Skidmark

    Skidmark Member

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    I had the opposite experience when giving power while cornering. We had some rain on Friday and the rear of my car would jump out on cornering almost every time I added throttle. I also have 18" michelins.
     
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  13. DR61

    DR61 Member

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    If your tires are new (less than several 100 miles), they will be a bit greasy. They need to break in somewhat. In any case a bit of power-on oversteer in the wet, if manageable by the stability control system and driver input, is expected. Smooth accelerator pedal application is advised.
     
  14. Skidmark

    Skidmark Member

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    My tires have about 500 miles on them. I drove a RWD S85 even harder around wet corners with much heavier throttle around the exact same corners but had a very hard time getting that car to step out.
     
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  15. novox77

    novox77 1.21 Gigawatts

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    One more awesome thing I noticed about the 3:

    24 hours after garaging the car that had been exposed to torrential rain, when I backed out, there was no annoying sticking of the brakes to the calipers. The S does this like crazy, to the point I think I'm going to damage the brakes when I apply throttle to get the car to roll.
     
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  16. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    #16 nitzmahone, Apr 8, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
    We've had some pretty heavy rain the past few days- I noticed a tiny bit more oversteer during cornering when the road is really wet, but only when driving pretty hard. Still quite manageable, and night and day difference from my old IS300.

    You might be able to get better wet traction on a summer tire, but these Michelin Primacy MXM4s are the best A/S tires I've ever owned.
     
  17. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    Being the best all-season does not mean it is a good tire. It is just the best of not awful. But still bad.
    Do yourself a favor and buy summer tires.
     
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  18. DR61

    DR61 Member

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    Probably difference in traction of the tires - i. e. the tire model on the S had more wet grip. The Model 3 Michelins are LRR design which probably have lower traction than a non-LRR design.
     
  19. Skidmark

    Skidmark Member

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    Definitely seems so..main reason I posted is because my experience was quite different than the OP's.

    The S was on the 19" Goodyear Eagle Touring all seasons. The lack of rear grip in the wet on the 3 really surprised me because I was expecting it to be even better than the S.
     
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  20. nitzmahone

    nitzmahone Supporting Member

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    Yeah, must just be what we're coming from- I was expecting total crap from the 3 in wet handling with A/S tires and was pleasantly surprised, but have also not driven an S/X in wet conditions (nor an RWD version of those at all, actually)
     
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