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How is Model 3 automatic headlight levelling supposed to work?

Zigway

Member
Jun 27, 2020
24
14
Gloucestershire, UK
I ask because my headlights seem to be at the very lowest limit of their range even with just me in the car, and it only gets worse with extra passengers.

Once the nights began to draw in and I actually started using the headlights more, I noticed oncoming drivers flash me quite frequently, and by eye the lights do seem set quite high compared to my other cars. When travelling 5-up even the car I was following flashed his foglight at me. I raised a service request (still some time away) after reading the manual and warnings therein about fiddling with the lights in Service Menu.

Picking up on some other snippets in recent threads, I see that just entering the headlight adjustment section of service menu might make an improvement via auto-levelling, so I gave it a try tonight parked in front of our fence after going for a drive around the block. The lights begin their travel sequence/adjustment; they start by going up, then go right back down again to the bottom where they started (done from level driveway).

Therefore it seems that 'normal' level with just me in the car is right at the bottom of their travel range. I would hope this would be right near the top instead; when I carry passengers + luggage, the car can then actually move the lights down to adjust to a new correct level, whereas at the moment it seems there is no further down travel at all. Therefore I suspect my headlights need manual adjustment in the car to give correct range of electrical auto adjustment during normal use.

From your collective experience, does this sound like a logical diagnosis to take with me to Tesla? Does anyone know how or when the car decides and adjusts to the correct headlight level? Is it at the start of a journey when you select drive, or does it continuously check and modify during the course of a journey? My only direct comparison is our Passat with dynamic LED headlights; every time you start the car, its startup sequence is to sweep the full range of headlight adjustment and then apparently settle on a correct level, and it doesn't cause anywhere near the frustration with oncoming cars despite being just as bright as the Tesla.

Maybe I should take a couple of bags of cement in the boot just to demonstrate what I mean to Tesla when I take it...
 

glide

Active Member
Jun 6, 2018
2,992
3,045
USA
The lights are not dynamic to my knowledge. They are (hopefully) set properly from the factory.

Other than that, you can perform a manual adjustment by entering the service menu.
 

Zigway

Member
Jun 27, 2020
24
14
Gloucestershire, UK
Thanks. That sounds very odd IMO. Every car I've owned in the last 20 years or more has had manually adjustable lights to cope with load (even our Leaf can do it), and given the fact that Tesla has LED projector-type lights and the fact Tesla say no manual adjustment/stickers are necessary when driving in Europe just lead me to assume they had a relatively intelligent system, as per our Passat. Otherwise the whole setup is surely hugely compromised? And why would they bother with building adjustment settings in the car to hardly ever use them?
 

Yev000

Active Member
May 3, 2019
1,325
898
Knaphill
You can manually level headlights through the service menu... Plenty of DIY techniques (driving up to a wall etc.) to level your lights. Or you can go to any MOT center.

As for driving on the right, I had no issues and did no adjustments.

There is also some anegdotal evidence that the car performs some automatic leveling when you merely go into the headlight adjustment menu (the headlights do move up and down when you do it, but I'm not sure if it goes into previous position or new adjusted position and have not measured it).

Every car I've owned in the last 20 years or more has had manually adjustable lights

So is this one, in the service menu... Are you missing the little rocker with the number of passangers in numbers on it? To be clear, that is all the service scennter will do for you, sit in the drivers seat, go into service menu, use the roller to raise each headlight and hand the car back to you.
 

Zigway

Member
Jun 27, 2020
24
14
Gloucestershire, UK
There is also some anegdotal evidence that the car performs some automatic leveling when you merely go into the headlight adjustment menu (the headlights do move up and down when you do it, but I'm not sure if it goes into previous position or new adjusted position and have not measured it).
Thanks for getting back to me. I have read this as well, and tried this last night parked in front of our garage door. The lights moved up a decent amount and then back down to where they started, which leaves me to think they are right at the bottom of their range already. Moving them up will make things worse, so all the adjustment I have seems to be in the wrong direction. I didn't want to play with levels manually until I go to service centre on Friday (it's a company car so want to do this by the book at first).

Are you missing the little rocker with the number of passangers in numbers on it?
Yes; if the car cannot manage load levelling automatically then I'd expect a simple way to adjust this myself without going in and adjusting left+right lights independently in a dodgy workaround that might leave my lights badly adjusted at the end. Will be interesting to hear what Tesla say.
 

Zigway

Member
Jun 27, 2020
24
14
Gloucestershire, UK
Thanks, a great Bjorn video, I hadn't seen that one. Certainly reinforces my view that these settings should be set-and-forget, if the settings screen at least gave you a delta change figure when you adjust them it would be easy to return to where they were set originally (but assume this was not a design requirement engineered into the motors/control mechanism).

I'll get Tesla to check them, load up the family and see if it's improved. If there is still an issue and no auto or easy manual levelling available then I suppose I just need to reset my expectations of obvious features I'd expect Tesla to engineer into a car.
 

Yev000

Active Member
May 3, 2019
1,325
898
Knaphill
obvious features I'd expect Tesla to engineer into a car.

I wouldn't bother moanning to a Tesla rep. Twitter is the weapon of choise to push for this kind of stuff these days. CC @tesla and @Elonmusk plus any of the other infuencers and you might get some traction.

And yes, I get the whole "I would never use social media" centiment that people generally have... But one has to change with the times to stay ahead. See thread on waypoints as example.

One silver lining is that the car settings are effectively all software you can have it via a software update in your existing car. The same cannot be said for any other car out there...
 

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