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Model 3 and Rough Dirt Roads

Discussion in 'Model 3: Driving Dynamics' started by DonGar, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. DonGar

    DonGar New Member

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    I'm considering replacing an old Mini Cooper with a Model 3 AWD, but I have some concerns. Every few weeks I need to travel to remote location in west Texas. This involves about 5 miles of county dirt roads, and a a quarter mile of rough private driveway.

    1. These roads are very dusty and generate heavy build up on/in a vehicle. Will this cause any issues?
    2. The rough section can involve bottoming out once in a while if I'm not careful enough. Will this be a problem?
    3. In bad weather, the roads can flood, how dangerous is water to the car if I misjudge puddle depth? Short out the car and kill it and/or kill me? How deep is 'for real' to deep?
    4. If I manage to get stuck in mud on bad day, are there safe tow points for a neighbor with a 4x4? Front and back? Where?
    5. Is anything recommended, other than mud flaps, all weather floor mats, and washing after each trip?
     
  2. mcbarnet007

    mcbarnet007 Member

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  3. JulienW

    JulienW Active Member

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    This guy lives on dirt roads and also post on this forum.

    Dirty Tesla
     
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  4. Msjulie

    Msjulie Active Member

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  5. PianoAl

    PianoAl Member

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    I'm interested in an answer to #2, bottoming out.
     
  6. Daniel in SD

    Daniel in SD Active Member

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    I wouldn’t recommend driving a Model 3 on road where you’re likely to scrape the bottom of the car. The underbody aero panels have proven to be somewhat fragile. The most expensive weak point seems to be the coolant connection to the battery next to the front wheel well ($15k repair if you break that!). I don’t think I’ve seen anyone here actually break the battery by hitting the underside though.
    Also keep in mind that the Model 3 is pretty low with a long wheelbase so it’s susceptible to high centering.
     
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  7. Feathermerchan

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    Don't buy the performance model. It is a little lower. But do buy the AWD model, install the lift from above and you can fit slightly larger tires as well. There is a tow point on the front drivers side and the car comes with a tow eye that threads into it. You can install a rear hitch and use that as a rear tow point.
     
  8. outdoors

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    I have no problem doing what your suggesting. Downright enjoying it for 2 years. Good underbody rinse if you have it.

    Getting the lift kit. Wish it was just an inch. Not sure on rear tow point. Tow eye is in front. Have kissed the bottom couple times, but slow and steady wins the race if we see big enough holes and rocks. I bring RV leveling blocks chainsaw and some wood planks only if I am heading to nowheresville.

    @DirtyT3sla lives right up the road. Stay dirty my friend.

    Cars name is. Lives With Mud.
    IMG_20181028_194507_810.jpg
     
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  9. Drivesolo

    Drivesolo Member

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    Consider the Model Y when it becomes available later this year. It might be next year when you can get it since there's a long line of pre-orders that need to be filled.
     
  10. Daniel in SD

    Daniel in SD Active Member

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    Clearly people have different definitions of what a "rough" dirt road is. haha. Might be useful to have picture...
    For example, I would not take a Model 3 on a road like this: IMG_1180.jpeg IMG_1179.jpeg
     
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  11. AlanSubie4Life

    AlanSubie4Life Efficiency Obsessed Member

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    That was stressful! If the Subaru can do it, the Model 3 can do it. ;) Look at those very capable tires! Those scraping noises from the bottom of the vehicle would be a lot more stressful with the Model 3 though.

    Good to be aware of this too. It's not that hard to clean out periodically but it is kind of a pain, and not sure what can be done to prevent it except maybe fill the gap with something. It doesn't seem the best, but on the other hand, I imagine there are plenty of vehicles that have places where tons of filth can build up.

    PSA front fender liners collect garbage
     
  12. outdoors

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    Can't please everyone. Just a picture for those that do something other than pavement. If you follow me in any regards I would say I am far from kind to my car and push it's limits on and off road.

    I would have no problem with that section you showed @Daniel in SD. It's what lies around the corner I would be concerned with. Looks like a drop up ahead.

    I would also skip the mud flaps. If you are in tough areas they can get ripped off.

    20180904_173125.jpg
     
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  13. AlanSubie4Life

    AlanSubie4Life Efficiency Obsessed Member

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    #13 AlanSubie4Life, Jan 13, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
    This looks very well graded.

    Pretty sure taking a Model 3 on the road to George Creek would be a mistake. If you have a couple inches of extra lift, it might be fine, but it sure would be stressful. I mean, the Subaru did make it (but it was not fast and involved periodic stopping to perform road maintenance)...so the Model 3 with some lift could probably make it too.

    If I recall correctly, around that corner is where the Subaru was abandoned. It didn't make it up the hidden part. Could be wrong; it has been a while. That's me in the background, apparently admiring the beautiful lush Owens Valley.
     
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  14. Daniel in SD

    Daniel in SD Active Member

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    Yeah obviously it got rougher in the second picture but it's definitely rougher than it appears. Your picture is clearly on a graded road though. To me, rough = not graded. If the road is frequently graded then the Model 3 should do fine.
     
  15. AlanSubie4Life

    AlanSubie4Life Efficiency Obsessed Member

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    The stopping point:

    IMG_3313.jpg

    Did not want to take the Subaru up this (and probably not a Model 3 either) - that's what is around the corner in that picture above, I think - to be honest it's pretty hard to tell the difficulty level from a picture like this:
    IMG_3314_crop.jpg

    Agreed that if the road is graded regularly, it should be fine, as long as appropriate care is taken with any rocks that may end up in the road. For the OP, though, it depends on what we're talking about. And you have to be a lot more careful with a Model 3 than most vehicles as far as the sensitive underbelly is concerned. It can get very expensive very quickly. You're not just going to be replacing a cracked exhaust or exhaust manifold or oil pan or differential or whatever super cheap item that might get broken on a regular car.
     
  16. outdoors

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    #16 outdoors, Jan 13, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
    Re reading the OP. Country dirt roads. Rough private driveway. Don't consider your pics as country roads. Nor a driveway. Maybe a National Forest or BLM fire road.

    Not a track with a guy probably scouting the track in the pic.

    Maybe OP could take a pic next time out that way.

    My roads are labeled example NF-1657A(National Forest). Usually are graded maybe once a year if funds are available and are not engineered roads. Just old river beds most of the time. The rocks get you not the all terrain work that most people equate to off roading. Been known to stop and actually pick up individual rocks that are as sharp as nails to toss them to the side.

    Delivering mail to the remote North Fork area challenging

    Think my road is exactly what the OP ordered. Then you get off it to a Forest service road. To the T if you ask me. Sorry pics aren't included.
     
  17. Daniel in SD

    Daniel in SD Active Member

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    Yeah those are BLM and Forest Service roads. Sort of going around in circles here but I would never take my Model 3 on a road so rough that there might be a need for tow points. If you need to attach a tow strap there's a very high chance you're going to be ripping plastic bits off the bottom. I guess it's a hard question to answer since peoples skill level and risk tolerance is so different.
     
  18. AlanSubie4Life

    AlanSubie4Life Efficiency Obsessed Member

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    #18 AlanSubie4Life, Jan 13, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
    County roads are probably maintained, not a likely concern in good weather.

    This is the part that concerns me. There are a lot of definitions, and the talk about bottoming out is a concern. As you clearly know, based on your preventative road sweeping, you can never bottom out a Model 3. It's a recipe for a bad time. For sure pictures from the OP would be good for evaluating the situation. We could trade pictures of other situations all day long - it is kind of fun!

    This is a rough private driveway - I would not dare take my Model 3 on it, even though I know it pretty well:

    Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 12.28.00 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 12.27.26 PM.png
     
  19. ThomasD

    ThomasD Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  20. ThomasD

    ThomasD Member

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    The Model 3 has no spare tire so you should get one I would recommend a 3 year old Toyota 4 runner
     
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