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How is your Model 3 doing filtering out the smoke from the forest fires?

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,188
10,056
SF Bay Area
The massive Camp fire in Butte County in northern California (currently 70,000 acres) that sprung up yesterday has made air quality in Northern Calif very poor. It's something like 150 miles from San Francisco but yesterday areas down to Palo Alto on the Peninsula were being affected. Today the particulate matter has traveled further south into the south SF Bay area and when I opened our front door was met by the odor and general yellowish cloud of fire smoke in the air. Just now I think I'm starting to discern it in our house with all the doors and windows closed, actually pretty strongly and really have no where else to go. Not much wind to blow it out to the ocean and it must be drifting south. I went out for coffee mid-morning and on the radio they were saying that some parts (forgot where) were measured at 4x the amount of Particulate Matter in the smog in Beijing. Very unhealthy and places have closed down to keep people reduce people's exposure to inhaling the smoke the less they had to be out. Pretty much stay inside is the advice. This is also very scary for all those people directly affected by it. One whole town has burned down from what I heard earlier. People have been found dead in their cars as it moved so fast.

This fire sitation did have me conscious as to how well the Model 3's air filter works in my new car. Elon said they weren't bio-weapon defense level but were the second highest quality HEPA filters in cars today. I can see from when I went out this a.m. that I didn't seem to detect the smell of smoke while in the car (on recirc) but could when I rolled down the window at the drive-thru and later when I went to come back to the house. So I came away with a positive feeling about it's effectiveness.

With so many Model 3 driving around in Northern California right now in all this smoke, was curious how others would rate their car's filtering system. I understand there is also another major wildfire in Southern California in the Ventura area again so if you are driving around in that area, feel free to comment here as well.
 
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Kichwas

Member
Oct 4, 2018
200
162
Hayward, California
It is making me wonder how we change them.

Soon as the air clears I will be buying new filters for my house HVAC system... but the car is getting even worse exposure, will it’s filters be clogged by the end of this and need early replacement? If so, how?


I did notice yesterday that I had it on circulation of the same air, no outside air... things started to seem cleared up so I hit the little looping circle button and instantly smelled smoke, so I quickly hit the loop button again and it took a good 5-10 minutes for the air inside to stop bothering me. Either the car or my lungs took that long to filter about 5 seconds of contamination...
 
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S4WRXTTCS

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2015
5,715
6,851
Snohomish, WA
Sadly this is probably not going to be unique.

During the summer even in the PNW we had a stretch of time with really bad air pollution due to fires.

We really need a list of components/mods to improve air filtration in everything we own.
 

groovyd

Member
Oct 19, 2018
347
172
Decatur, GA
under the front trunk plastic piece that covers the battery is an air intake to what I think is the cabin air intake however on mine it doesn't even have a mesh or anything over it... it is a wide open hole with no filtration at all. wondering if there might be at least a pre-filter or mesh missing? seems any animal could get down in there. not even sure there is a hepa filter on the 3.
 

Eno Deb

Active Member
Aug 17, 2018
2,622
3,361
SF Bay Area
under the front trunk plastic piece that covers the battery is an air intake to what I think is the cabin air intake however on mine it doesn't even have a mesh or anything over it... it is a wide open hole with no filtration at all. wondering if there might be at least a pre-filter or mesh missing? seems any animal could get down in there. not even sure there is a hepa filter on the 3.
The airfilters are attached to the HVAC unit which is under the dash in front of the middle console. The filters are accessible from the passenger-side foot well after taking off some trim. They are not HEPA (very few cars have HEPA filters).
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,188
10,056
SF Bay Area
Very good post.... I'm noticing even with Recirc enabled I'm still smelling smoke... it's absolutely horrible up here. Perhaps we will get a charcoal filter version?

You are much closer to Paradise than we are so interesting point of reference.

Friday when the air quality was the worst here south of San Jose, I thought I only smelled smoke when I opened the window or door to the car with the recirc on. Saturday while you could see 360 degrees around, the entire sky even above looked brown and hazy but the smoke odor didn't hit me in the face when I left the house. Today I could see some blue sky above and didn't notice a smoky smell either although the east bay hills looked kind of bad. So I only have Friday to base my impressions on so far (and that's fine with me although I'm sure living here there will other occasions unfortunately--already experienced them and sure more to come). Appreciate hearing what others have had to say. I did submit a question to Tesla regarding the air filter in the Model 3 as to filtering out particulates from fires and if I hear back I'll come back here and post.

I thought we did have a HEPA filter in our Model 3, only not to the filter capacity of the Model S/X systems, so maybe not like the highest quality 3M Filtrete furnace filter for the home but a step down. Elon did say it was the second best out there in cars (Model S/X being best) although I wanted more info on what the Model 3 has. Our Model S was fabulous on Bio-weapon defense mode back in July 2017 when we drove down past several fires along the way and into Santa Ynez where we had reservations the day after the Whittier Fire broke out--ash on the car and very smoky. Having experienced that and having alergies and occasional asthma air filtration is important to me.

Oh, BTW there are youtube videos on changing the Model 3 filter if that helps anyone.
 
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Eno Deb

Active Member
Aug 17, 2018
2,622
3,361
SF Bay Area
Friday when the air quality was the worst here south of San Jose, I thought I only smelled smoke when I opened the window or door to the car with the recirc on. Saturday while you could see 360 degrees around, the entire sky even above looked brown and hazy but the smoke odor didn't hit me in the face when I left the house. Today I could see some blue sky above and didn't notice a smoky smell either although the east bay hills looked kind of bad.
The highest particulate concentration (PM2.5) in the San Jose area was yesterday (Saturday). Today in the morning it was still very bad. Since about noon it has gotten much better and is no longer at "unhealthy" levels. You can see hourly measurement results on the EPA web site:

AIRNow - San Jose, CA Air Quality

So I only have Friday to base my impressions on so far (and that's fine with me although I'm sure living here there will other occasions unfortunately--already experienced them and sure more to come). Appreciate hearing what others have had to say. I did submit a question to Tesla regarding the air filter in the Model 3 as to filtering out particulates from fires and if I hear back I'll come back here and post.
Please post if you get an answer. Would be interesting to know what kind of filter rating it has. The air filters are listed in Tesla's parts catalog, but I haven't been able to find the specifications anywhere.

AFAIK smell isn't necessarily a good indicator for the air quality since odors can still get through even if most smoke particles are filtered out. Anyway, I drove mostly with re-circulation the past two days.
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,188
10,056
SF Bay Area
Thanks for the website. I went back to Friday and in the afternoon we went into the red. The whole south bay and coast area was blanketed in red throughout the evening and explains why I thought I could detect it in my house during nighttime. Definitely higher PM count on Saturday when everything was in red pretty much. Maybe the winds were carrying the odor away where we lived. But yes the PM is the most important factor. I was surprised how fast it spread south but given how massive of a fire it was and still is and with the winds being really strong not surprised. I know winds are suppose to be picking up again. Latest from Calfire, the Camp fire is 25% contained (winds were calm last night) and 109,000 acres involved.

2018 Statewide Incidents Map - Google My Maps

In Ventura County, the Hill Fire is 70% contained (4531 acres); and the Woolsey Fire really expanded, only 10% contained and 83,275 acres involved, looks from the Calfire map like it made it to the 101 and the coast in spots.

2018 Statewide Incidents Map - Google My Maps
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,188
10,056
SF Bay Area
I did see this this morning on Teslarati, a San Francisco bay Model X owner using Bio-Defense Weapon setting on his MX and taking readings in and out of his car. Wish someone had something to measure the Model 3 and give us an idea of the filter effectiveness in our cars. Having driven thru some forest fire smoky areas last year in our MS, totally believe his readings. I was disappointed to read the Model 3 wouldn't come with it.

Tesla's 'Bioweapon Defense Mode' is proving invaluable to owners affected by CA wildfires
 

acoste

Member
Nov 1, 2018
742
715
California
I did see this this morning on Teslarati, a San Francisco bay Model X owner using Bio-Defense Weapon setting on his MX and taking readings in and out of his car. Wish someone had something to measure the Model 3 and give us an idea of the filter effectiveness in our cars. Having driven thru some forest fire smoky areas last year in our MS, totally believe his readings. I was disappointed to read the Model 3 wouldn't come with it.

Tesla's 'Bioweapon Defense Mode' is proving invaluable to owners affected by CA wildfires


All you have to do is to measure the filter size in the Model 3 and search for a hepa + carbon filter that matches the size. Replace it. Then turn fan setting to high, turn off inside air recirc. This is what "Bio-Defense Weapon" does.

I wonder if the filter size is the same as Model S.
 

Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,299
7,596
Canyon Lake,CA
The Bio Defense filter is a huge HEPA filter, measuring something like 2' x 3'. This is standard feature of all new new Model X.

Most manufacturers charge a lot for replacing the stock cabin filters, but I was delighted to see how inexpensive it was for Tesla to change mine.

If you are driving a lot, through contaminated air, consider getting your clogged filters changed after the fires are out.
 
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Fusion

Member
Apr 13, 2016
682
520
San Francisco
There was a company that makes custom size air filters with any grade filtration you want. It was posted before on the S forums. Reasonably priced too.
 

X Fan

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Sep 29, 2015
2,432
6,303
Naples, FL & Cary, NC
I did see this this morning on Teslarati, a San Francisco bay Model X owner using Bio-Defense Weapon setting on his MX and taking readings in and out of his car. Wish someone had something to measure the Model 3 and give us an idea of the filter effectiveness in our cars. Having driven thru some forest fire smoky areas last year in our MS, totally believe his readings. I was disappointed to read the Model 3 wouldn't come with it.

Tesla's 'Bioweapon Defense Mode' is proving invaluable to owners affected by CA wildfires

Agreed, it's a fantastic product. Naples had severe spring fires last year and my X made a huge difference. Also, I'd note it's important for owners to stay on recommended service replacement for filter.
 

y3llow

Member
Nov 9, 2018
14
18
Norcal
Is this the custom HEPA filter company? Custom Hepa Air Filter Manufacturer | APC Filtration

I would love to do a group buy for the Model 3 if Tesla doesn't come through for us. We need to take care, though, as true HEPA filters can be more restrictive.

It would be nice to get a straight answer from Tesla on the actual filtering capabilities of the Model 3 besides "second best after the Model S/X".

The fact that there are two large filters in the Model 3, though, is promising. (Most cars have a tiny filter the footprint of a Kleenex box, and therefore must be a very "coarse" filter to allow enough airflow for the whole interior.)
 

acoste

Member
Nov 1, 2018
742
715
California
Most cars have a tiny filter the footprint of a Kleenex box, and therefore must be a very "coarse" filter to allow enough airflow for the whole interior.)

Most lower end cars. But not in this price category.

I don't smell any smoke with my activated carbon filters. Hepa is preferred if one is allergic to dust and so on.
 

Nocturnal

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Aug 23, 2018
6,722
36,715
Deepening Crisis!
FWIW the model 3 filter seems to do an excellent job at filtering out nasty exhaust. Proper bio defense mode will be nice for the next iteration though.
 

bradhs

Member
Oct 14, 2013
815
345
San Diego, CA
I would group buy. Let me know.

Is this the custom HEPA filter company? Custom Hepa Air Filter Manufacturer | APC Filtration

I would love to do a group buy for the Model 3 if Tesla doesn't come through for us. We need to take care, though, as true HEPA filters can be more restrictive.

It would be nice to get a straight answer from Tesla on the actual filtering capabilities of the Model 3 besides "second best after the Model S/X".

The fact that there are two large filters in the Model 3, though, is promising. (Most cars have a tiny filter the footprint of a Kleenex box, and therefore must be a very "coarse" filter to allow enough airflow for the whole interior.)
 
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