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Growing increasingly wary - front left visibility

billionaiire

Member
Apr 2, 2019
258
269
West of Mississippi
I’m in my second year of owning this car (SR+). I’ve mostly come to terms with the disappointing rear visibility because of the upward angled shape of the car. I’ve made it as good as it can get by adding a 240mm flat Broadway mirror, and I live with it. The side mirror visibility is nothing to write home about either as I’m tall, but I have also learned to live with them. These were (are) my two biggest gripes about this car. Up until now.

However, I now live in a very densely populated neighborhood, center of town. And I’m getting increasingly wary about how restrictive and plain dangerous the A-pillar and windshield shape and size make the front visibility of this car. One typically needs to see if someone’s about to cross the street in front of you, and the A-pillar gets in the way right about when you naturally look left. Without tilting myself to my right, it is impossible to get this critical information and it’s not something a car driver should have to do. I’ve been in a couple of semi-close situations where I didn’t see someone cross the street but I am usually well within the speed limits, so I was able to stop just fine and apologize but did manage get a “look” from the person, and it was a bit embarrassing.

Funny thing is that never once did I ever have this problem when I drove a Subaru Legacy in dense neighborhoods prior to getting a Tesla. Some days I literally think of selling the Tesla (getting a Y won’t help much and I cannot afford the S or X) and getting something else that doesn’t have this issue.

I’m sure many of us are perfectly fine with the front visibility of this car. But I’d like to know what your thoughts are...
 

Az_Rael

Supporting Member
Jan 26, 2016
5,614
8,783
Palmdale, CA
I find that big fat A pillars are a common feature in many new cars, not Tesla unique. My prior car (Volt) could hide a full car behind its A pillar, which caused a few near misses until I learned to look around it by moving my head.

I don’t have any advice, other than to be aware you will need to move your head to see around it in the city.
 

billionaiire

Member
Apr 2, 2019
258
269
West of Mississippi
I find that big fat A pillars are a common feature in many new cars, not Tesla unique. My prior car (Volt) could hide a full car behind its A pillar, which caused a few near misses until I learned to look around it by moving my head.

I don’t have any advice, other than to be aware you will need to move your head to see around it in the city.

I agree about the fat A-pillars in most cars but unfortunately the problem gets more significant in small cars like Model 3. I am not going to claim that I understand what goes into the design, but wouldn’t a slight increase in the width / distance from the driver side door to the driver help? I feel like I’m too close to the door when I sit in this car specifically. It’s also a small car, so I get it. But it’s essentially what we are doing when we tilt to the right, we are increasing that very distance.
 

glide

Active Member
Jun 6, 2018
2,833
2,816
USA
I agree about the fat A-pillars in most cars but unfortunately the problem gets more significant in small cars like Model 3. I am not going to claim that I understand what goes into the design, but wouldn’t a slight increase in the width / distance from the driver side door to the driver help? I feel like I’m too close to the door when I sit in this car specifically. It’s also a small car, so I get it. But it’s essentially what we are doing when we tilt to the right, we are increasing that very distance.
The only option I’ve found is to adjust my seating position.
 

mrbulk

Member
Sep 5, 2017
416
326
Las Vegas NV
I've had these thoughts myself while craning my neck to peer around the A pillar of my Model S in close quarter situations. We need a repeat of some fresh thinking in this area:

11 Design Innovations of Harley Earl

Specifically a modern version of the second idea:
2. The Wraparound Windshield
The groundbreaking 1951 LeSabre concept car boasted an innovative new windshield design in which the glass curved sharply at the ends to meet the windshield pillars. This gave a futuristic look and a panoramic view. The design soon saw production on the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado and the 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta, and it quickly became de rigueur on most American cars in the 1950s.
 
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Vinc

Member
Jul 7, 2018
429
265
Los Angeles
I agree about the fat A-pillars in most cars but unfortunately the problem gets more significant in small cars like Model 3. I am not going to claim that I understand what goes into the design, but wouldn’t a slight increase in the width / distance from the driver side door to the driver help? I feel like I’m too close to the door when I sit in this car specifically. It’s also a small car, so I get it. But it’s essentially what we are doing when we tilt to the right, we are increasing that very distance.

Unfortunately things are not much better with the larger MS. From experience I can tell you that the left A pillar can hide an entire Kia Soul coming at a 45 degree angle.
 
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mrbulk

Member
Sep 5, 2017
416
326
Las Vegas NV
Or drive around in reverse in the Nissan Cube:

800px-NISSAN_cube_Z12_rear.jpg
 
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drtimhill

Active Member
Apr 25, 2019
1,615
1,930
Seattle
I agree about the fat A-pillars in most cars but unfortunately the problem gets more significant in small cars like Model 3. I am not going to claim that I understand what goes into the design, but wouldn’t a slight increase in the width / distance from the driver side door to the driver help? I feel like I’m too close to the door when I sit in this car specifically. It’s also a small car, so I get it. But it’s essentially what we are doing when we tilt to the right, we are increasing that very distance.

There is always this at some point...

Continental’s 'see-through' A-pillars use cameras, OLEDs to nix blind spots
 
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Onshore

Member
Mar 8, 2020
112
94
SYD
As mentioned above, the A pillars have become a lot "chunkier" in recent years to accommodate airbags and associated systems.

This isn't a Tesla specific thing, but it does mean drivers have to remember to use their neck and move their head around a bit more, like the driving instructors used to teach. I still do it anyway, from cycling and motorcycling habits, where head checks are lifesavers.
 

Vaillant

Member
Jul 19, 2019
254
267
Sunnyvale, CA
I find that big fat A pillars are a common feature in many new cars, not Tesla unique. My prior car (Volt) could hide a full car behind its A pillar, which caused a few near misses until I learned to look around it by moving my head.

I don’t have any advice, other than to be aware you will need to move your head to see around it in the city.

I had a Volt, too, and it was definitely worse than the Model 3 in terms of A-pillar blond spot. On the other hand, rear visibility is worse in the Model 3, but fortunately it has a large backup camera screen.
 
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billionaiire

Member
Apr 2, 2019
258
269
West of Mississippi
I appreciate that this is not a Model 3 specific problem but given that this is a Model 3 forum, I tend to voice concerns and opinions (and praises) for Model 3. :)

Also, given the incessant touting that goes on about how much better the car and its safety features, I feel that physical visibility is generally a letdown in this car. Yes, the backup camera (when it’s not blacking out lol) is a savior here but I feel that electronic equipment should compliment and not replace to become fully dependent BECAUSE other possibilities are designed to be less than ideal.

Alright so, tilt the head. Got it! :)
 

john5520

Member
Mar 3, 2020
797
524
Florida
I came from a 2018 Camaro, so the Model 3 is a glass bubble by comparison. That car was like being in a tank, and I still managed quite well. If after a year you can't get used to the Model 3, then I can't blame you for thinking of jumping ship. Especially if it's that much of a hindrance on the road. In my case, except for the poor visibility up front when trying to judge distance from a parking block (which isn't something unique to the Model 3), visibility hasn't been an issue.
 
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1965Falcon

Supporting Member
Oct 10, 2019
109
193
Vancouver, WA
I find that I look at the main screen more often to see what is around me. The camera's do a pretty solid job of picking everything up. Not the same as my own eyes, but a good double check.
 

Gasaraki

Active Member
Oct 21, 2019
1,480
984
Syracuse, NY
I’m in my second year of owning this car (SR+). I’ve mostly come to terms with the disappointing rear visibility because of the upward angled shape of the car. I’ve made it as good as it can get by adding a 240mm flat Broadway mirror, and I live with it. The side mirror visibility is nothing to write home about either as I’m tall, but I have also learned to live with them. These were (are) my two biggest gripes about this car. Up until now.

However, I now live in a very densely populated neighborhood, center of town. And I’m getting increasingly wary about how restrictive and plain dangerous the A-pillar and windshield shape and size make the front visibility of this car. One typically needs to see if someone’s about to cross the street in front of you, and the A-pillar gets in the way right about when you naturally look left. Without tilting myself to my right, it is impossible to get this critical information and it’s not something a car driver should have to do. I’ve been in a couple of semi-close situations where I didn’t see someone cross the street but I am usually well within the speed limits, so I was able to stop just fine and apologize but did manage get a “look” from the person, and it was a bit embarrassing.

Funny thing is that never once did I ever have this problem when I drove a Subaru Legacy in dense neighborhoods prior to getting a Tesla. Some days I literally think of selling the Tesla (getting a Y won’t help much and I cannot afford the S or X) and getting something else that doesn’t have this issue.

I’m sure many of us are perfectly fine with the front visibility of this car. But I’d like to know what your thoughts are...

A lot of other brands have moved the side mirrors to the door body instead of the A pillars to increase visibility. I have noticed that the A-pillar plus mirror have blocked my view of a car crossing in front of me a few times.
 
Last edited:
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lbowroom

Member
Sep 12, 2018
468
405
Orange County
I find that sitting straight up in the car allows me to look around obstacles much easier than if I’m laying down with the seat reclined like a dentist chair.
 

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