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Model 3 Seat Comfort

It's been about 6-7 weeks since I picked up a Model 3 and I've not been able to find a driving seat position that's comfortable, so much so that lower back pain / sciatica has been resurfacing in these past weeks. I've tried all different levels of adjustment but cannot find one that my body agrees with.

I'm not going to blame the seats but my lack of ability to find a suitable configuration for me.

Has anybody had similar issues and found a process to find their ideal seating position? For reference I'm fairly average at 5'8" / 172cm and 11.5st / 73kg.

TIA.
 

Sw1000

Member
Apr 19, 2022
157
189
Uk
Interestingly although different I took a Model Y for a test drive and really struggled to get the seats comfortable, throughout my whole test drive I was tinkering with it.

It was always on my lower back, I do have back issues occasionally so I found this concerning, never seen a mention of it on YouTube video etc

I'm going to go to Tesla again to spend some time sitting in the seat and playing to get it comfortable, played with the lumber support and everything. Also found the leg support a little lacking compared to Audi/VW and BMW cars.
 
Yes, completely agree, had Model 3 around a month now and haven't managed to get a good seating position, not a big deal but lower back usually uncomfortable. Personally I'd want to be lower in the seat too, and feels like the base part of the seat doesn't extend far enough.

Easily my least-favourite bit of an otherwise excellent car (followed by indicators that don't auto-cancel and automatic wipers).

Intending to play with the steering wheel position in the hope it has some subtle influence.
 
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I've had my M3 for 5mths and although found it uncomfortable at first, found a position that seems to work... most of the time.

For me, it's the angle of the headrest that causes the issues. There is a video online that shows you how you can adjust the headrest by increasing its height, but it's a hack, so not an actual 'stock feature' of the seat.

It may be worth a look if you think that could help and are brave enough.
 
It took me two weeks to find a comfortable driving position in my Model Y. The problem was with the lumbar adjustment. The controls are not intuitive and it seemed that the lumbar support never deflated properly into a neutral position once either the upper or lower support had been inflated. It felt like I was driving around with a fist in the small of my back. Eventually, after toggling with the controls endlessly it seemed to revert to a neutral position and since then the seat has been very comfortable. I'm never touching the lumbar control again!
 
I've had my M3 for 5mths and although found it uncomfortable at first, found a position that seems to work... most of the time.

For me, it's the angle of the headrest that causes the issues. There is a video online that shows you how you can adjust the headrest by increasing its height, but it's a hack, so not an actual 'stock feature' of the seat.

It may be worth a look if you think that could help and are brave enough.
As far as I know the head restraint shouldn't be touched during normal driving as it only serves a purpose during an accident.

I'm thinking a combination of the seat base angle, seat back angle and lumbar will be the solution, the car has far more levels of adjustment than the Mazda 3 I came from so that's probably adding to the frustration. It was the same in the Mazda, lots of fiddling until I found a suitable configuration for my messed up back 😂
 
As far as I know the head restraint shouldn't be touched during normal driving as it only serves a purpose during an accident.

I'm thinking a combination of the seat base angle, seat back angle and lumbar will be the solution, the car has far more levels of adjustment than the Mazda 3 I came from so that's probably adding to the frustration. It was the same in the Mazda, lots of fiddling until I found a suitable configuration for my messed up back 😂
Yes, I'm sure safety is key here over comfort, so moving it up 'may' have an impact.

I've also seen 'cushions' that that hang around neck height that could help... but again, wouldn't like to say about effect on safety in a crash.
 

Adopado

Well-Known Member
Aug 19, 2019
6,832
5,456
Scotland
It's been about 6-7 weeks since I picked up a Model 3 and I've not been able to find a driving seat position that's comfortable, so much so that lower back pain / sciatica has been resurfacing in these past weeks. I've tried all different levels of adjustment but cannot find one that my body agrees with.

I'm not going to blame the seats but my lack of ability to find a suitable configuration for me.

Has anybody had similar issues and found a process to find their ideal seating position? For reference I'm fairly average at 5'8" / 172cm and 11.5st / 73kg.

TIA.

How people feel using different car seats does seem to be a very individual thing. Your size and weight suggest that on a physical basis there should, in theory, be a good match between you and the Model 3 seat i.e a high percentage of people of your size would be predicted to find a comfortable position. Out of the hundreds of people on this forum you will get responses from some others who have had a problem with finding a comfortable position but in general people are not having notable issues. There's a possibility it's "just the seat" but I would be surprised.


(I'll preface the next bit by saying that I trained as an Occupational Therapist many moons ago. Clearly I don't have a clue about you so it can be totally discounted if it has no bearing on your own experience! ... but even if it's not relevant to you perhaps someone else will read it and think ... hmm, maybe that applies to me.)

I'm sure you will have been aware, if struggling with lower back pain/sciatica, that it is prone to go through periods where it is much worse than at others. Often it is hard to identify a trigger. Sometimes specific exercise routines or seating positions ease the problem and sometimes they seem to have little effect. We try to make patterns and connections with our environment to help identify the causes of problems and it's possible (only possible) that the back/sciatica connection with the M3 seat is not the trigger, even though it's when sitting in the car that you are most aware of it. If you have discounted all the obvious opportunities to test out the physical variables of the seat (as I'm sure you have) I'm going to throw in another angle. There are many papers published around the psychology of pain generally and lower back pain particularly. Having experienced LBP myself I know that this connection is very real.

So if a psychological component is to be part of the picture what has changed recently? Well, most specifically you have recently committed to a new and expensive car ... even more dramatically it's an EV ... was this the right decision ... does it chime comfortably with the views of friends, family, partners? Are you confident that this "range issue" isn't going to come back to bite you? Perhaps not ... but there may be other significant work, health, personal issues or whatever [I appreciate that none of this may apply to you ... but you get the idea.] The reality is that whatever the cause you are experiencing discomfort and pain. There's usually no magic bullet when it comes to LBP but light exercise, relaxation techniques and time are all likely to be part of the picture. What do you usually do to ease/resolve a flare up?

Or ... of course ... you could get rid of the car ... which may solve things in an instant ... or not!

[The first idiot who erroneously distils this down to me saying "Tesla is perfect, it's all in your head" can just <expletive> off.]
 
How people feel using different car seats does seem to be a very individual thing. Your size and weight suggest that on a physical basis there should, in theory, be a good match between you and the Model 3 seat i.e a high percentage of people of your size would be predicted to find a comfortable position. Out of the hundreds of people on this forum you will get responses from some others who have had a problem with finding a comfortable position but in general people are not having notable issues. There's a possibility it's "just the seat" but I would be surprised.


(I'll preface the next bit by saying that I trained as an Occupational Therapist many moons ago. Clearly I don't have a clue about you so it can be totally discounted if it has no bearing on your own experience! ... but even if it's not relevant to you perhaps someone else will read it and think ... hmm, maybe that applies to me.)

I'm sure you will have been aware, if struggling with lower back pain/sciatica, that it is prone to go through periods where it is much worse than at others. Often it is hard to identify a trigger. Sometimes specific exercise routines or seating positions ease the problem and sometimes they seem to have little effect. We try to make patterns and connections with our environment to help identify the causes of problems and it's possible (only possible) that the back/sciatica connection with the M3 seat is not the trigger, even though it's when sitting in the car that you are most aware of it. If you have discounted all the obvious opportunities to test out the physical variables of the seat (as I'm sure you have) I'm going to throw in another angle. There are many papers published around the psychology of pain generally and lower back pain particularly. Having experienced LBP myself I know that this connection is very real.

So if a psychological component is to be part of the picture what has changed recently? Well, most specifically you have recently committed to a new and expensive car ... even more dramatically it's an EV ... was this the right decision ... does it chime comfortably with the views of friends, family, partners? Are you confident that this "range issue" isn't going to come back to bite you? Perhaps not ... but there may be other significant work, health, personal issues or whatever [I appreciate that none of this may apply to you ... but you get the idea.] The reality is that whatever the cause you are experiencing discomfort and pain. There's usually no magic bullet when it comes to LBP but light exercise, relaxation techniques and time are all likely to be part of the picture. What do you usually do to ease/resolve a flare up?

Or ... of course ... you could get rid of the car ... which may solve things in an instant ... or not!

[The first idiot who erroneously distils this down to me saying "Tesla is perfect, it's all in your head" can just <expletive> off.]
Thanks for your response.

Like you say, I'm not a statistical outlier by any stretch so I'm not going to pass the blame onto the car but rather my own physique. My family and I suffer from LBP and herniated disks so it is definitely something that's in my conscience and try to manage it outside of driving the car. It took many attempts to find a suitable position that would not trigger any LBP in my previous car so I'm fairly confident I can do the same with the Model 3. There are many more combinations of adjustments that I need to play with so I just have to be patient with it I guess.
 
It took me two weeks to find a comfortable driving position in my Model Y. The problem was with the lumbar adjustment. The controls are not intuitive and it seemed that the lumbar support never deflated properly into a neutral position once either the upper or lower support had been inflated. It felt like I was driving around with a fist in the small of my back. Eventually, after toggling with the controls endlessly it seemed to revert to a neutral position and since then the seat has been very comfortable. I'm never touching the lumbar control again!
This is exactly how I felt when I started my test drive, like someone had a fist in my back. I think I moved the lumbar all the way back and it got better but not perfect.

Will have to play more, I have a deposit down for a Model Y performance but not wanting to continue if I cannot get the seat right. It's a big outlay
 
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Bouba

Active Member
Sep 23, 2021
1,455
1,374
France
It’s a two stage issue...first you should get your lower back problem identified and fixed by an osteopath...it can be pathological or mechanical and a combination of the two...as a general rule (and, unfortunately we are all unique) you need to induce an arch in your lower back...the osteopath will do this by getting the lumbar vertebrae to move in the correct way (and to return to a comfortable resting state after the movement) and by working on the other curves on the back (the spine is a series of arches that should work in harmony and these arches are forward to back and not from side to side).
In your car you can duplicate the required lumbar arch with the lumbar support...this will provide a physical support for your back ...if it’s not enough get a small pillow and increase the support. My favorite is to take pressure off the legs by resting them on the floor while the car does the driving...I am not recommending that (drive the car as instructed by Tesla not me)
 

Adopado

Well-Known Member
Aug 19, 2019
6,832
5,456
Scotland
Thanks for your response.

Like you say, I'm not a statistical outlier by any stretch so I'm not going to pass the blame onto the car but rather my own physique. My family and I suffer from LBP and herniated disks so it is definitely something that's in my conscience and try to manage it outside of driving the car. It took many attempts to find a suitable position that would not trigger any LBP in my previous car so I'm fairly confident I can do the same with the Model 3. There are many more combinations of adjustments that I need to play with so I just have to be patient with it I guess.

Something that I have found with seating positions generally (office seating too) is that you can set up a position that works nicely for a while ... and then it just doesn't. For myself I find that "a change is as good as a rest". Most of the pain actually comes from strained muscles that are trying to protect the spine by tightly supporting it. It's tempting, once you find a position that is comfortable to stick with it ... but the same muscles are then always locked in supporting that position, and eventually they start hurting. The hard tense muscles press on the nerve roots in the same place and eventually you get sciatica symptoms.

I came to the conclusion long ago that there is no perfect sitting position (for anyone) and that it is worth making changes from time to time "just for the sake of it". (Of course I'm talking about during the normal run of things not necessarily when you are having a specific flare up.) It just changes the pressure points and requires the muscle tension to change, giving other areas a rest. That's why taking a break and walking around tends to help ... but if you then go back into the exact same position again you quickly get the pain returning. In the old days you used to see very specific seating positions that many people took as "the law" but there is a more sophisticated approach now and even "slouching" can be seen as acceptable for a while. In a car situation I will sometimes move the seat an inch inwards or outwards to my "standard" settings, increase/decrease the lumbar support so that I can feel a change in the pressure point, change the angle of the back a tiny amount one way or the other ... after the changes the position feels "different" rather than better or worse ... then after a period change back again to more familiar settings territory. Ironically most car seats provide far better support and adaptability than the even the most expensive couch or armchair.
 

WannabeOwner

Well-Known Member
Nov 2, 2015
7,266
4,019
Suffolk, UK
in the Model 3 seem to need to cancel more often than not

Interesting. Can't say I've noticed that, but I do hold the indicator for "gentle turns" rather than engaging/locking it.

I do find it confusing that it doesn't lock in place (i.e. up or down) but rather returns to central position - and needs pushing in the original direction to cancel (whereas my instinct is to disengage it by pushing in the opposite "cancel" direction - which then puts the other indicator on ... and then "cancelling" that gets me into a further muddle!)
 
I suffered with my lower back when I first got the model 3, it was bad enough to consider ending the lease as I couldn't drive for more than 30 minutes. My physio suggested a memory foam wedge for the seat base, since buying one I've not had any issues
I put some Wet Okole seat covers in my car and really apreciate the additional softness from the extra neoprene layer.

I drove recently the same car without such seat covers and didn't like the seating compared to mine, as I felt more the shape of the seat in my back.

Just in case this could help someone.
 
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I have had sciatic pains in a lot of cars. It's quite often connected to the steering wheel reach for me. If the wheel doesn't come out far enough I can't have the longer leg which I find much more comfortable. Also use of the foot rest makes a big difference too. The foot tuck or the foot flat on the foot rest makes a difference so I move between the two. A lower steering wheel height I find more comfortable. Wrist just on top of the wheel without any stretching. If you set it to be with a straight arm it seems to be worse than having just a slight bend.

Being able to do a quick adjustment while driving is also essential. Sometimes you just have to knock a setting one click different.
 
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