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Quality difference between a 2018 and 2021 Model 3

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,381
2,824
Redmond, WA
Tesla makes a lot of changes (running changes at that - they don't follow model years so are hard to track). Sometimes they are to add features or improve quality. Sometimes they are to reduce costs or reduce build complexity. Not all of these are good for the consumer (as UncertainTimes points out); sometimes even the ones that are supposed to be improvements end up causing problems, at least for a while.

I would think on average, a newer car will be better than an older car. But not necessarily by a lot, and nobody is buying an average car.

I've got a 2018 that has been fantastic. But not all of them were, and while most 2021 cars are probably better overall...not all of them are.

Sorry. I know it would be nice to hear "buy one of these and you will be guaranteed a great experience", but things are not that clear-cut. The good news is...most of them are great. Your chances of buying a Tesla and being satisfied with the car is greater than with any other brand.
 

Candleflame

Active Member
Mar 9, 2015
3,692
2,011
QLD, Australia
Chrome trim is good in Arizona. Black door handle is too hot + I think chrome looks better. Opinion differently is life.

you always want what you cant have. Used to hate the chrome. Now that all of them are black I kinda like my chrome...

Only annoying thing is that chrome shows fingerprints and gets waterspotted quite easily so has to be polished regularly.
 
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I did this recently; in addition to what’s been mentioned, these are the changes I noticed:
  • I swear the bottom of the dash including glovebox used to be harder plastic; the 2021 has softer more rubbery stuff there that stuck out to me on delivery day. I could be wrong though
  • Headlights seem better (different design, sharper cutoff)
  • Parking brake makes a noticeably lower-pitched sound when it engages
  • The revised window switches (matte plastic) feel a little cheaper overall, mainly because they feel like they take too much force to press for my taste, combined with the perceived (lack of) thickness to the switch
  • The scroll wheels on the steering wheel are metal, and the scroll action itself feels much nicer with less resistance. No longer feels like a fight when you’re changing AP speed in 5 mph increments.
 

TomT

Technical Maven
Mar 24, 2014
557
545
NE Georgia
I did this recently; in addition to what’s been mentioned, these are the changes I noticed:
  • The scroll wheels on the steering wheel are metal, and the scroll action itself feels much nicer with less resistance. No longer feels like a fight when you’re changing AP speed in 5 mph increments.
Having tried both, I prefer the look and feel of the original. Mine have always been buttery smooth and easy.
 
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PNWLeccy

Active Member
Jul 11, 2019
1,502
1,362
Seattle
I will miss a lot of nice features on my 2018 that have been removed or changed:
  • Homelink included
  • Larger frunk w/ "grocery bag hooks"
  • Lifetime premium connectivity
  • Door pocket ambient lighting
  • Rainbow UV effect on glass roof
However, I've had pretty much constant quality issues i.e., creaks, rattles, and wind noise since purchasing. I've felt taped everything I can think of, have had multiple parts replaced, sound dampened the entire rear, doors and floor and the thing still sounds horrible going over any uneven surface.

I'm REALLY hoping my new MY feels more solid because I'm really irritated by all of the noise. It sounds like fit and finish has improved but I test drove a MY about 6 months ago and it had a very noticeable rattle coming from the rear. I had intentionally waited a year after introduction of MY thinking they would've ironed out any issues but was pretty sad to see that even this test car had an unresolved issue. I also did not hear any improvement in road noise despite the double paned front glass.

When I go on longer drives and listen to music I remember how much I enjoy the car. But a lot of times I just want to go on a silent drive, listen to a podcast, talk to someone on the phone via bluetooth and that's when I get annoyed by all the noises my 2018 makes.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
11,368
6,524
However, I've had pretty much constant quality issues i.e., creaks, rattles, and wind noise since purchasing. I've felt taped everything I can think of, have had multiple parts replaced, sound dampened the entire rear, doors and floor and the thing still sounds horrible going over any uneven surface.

I'm REALLY hoping my new MY feels more solid because I'm really irritated by all of the noise. It sounds like fit and finish has improved but I test drove a MY about 6 months ago and it had a very noticeable rattle coming from the rear. I had intentionally waited a year after introduction of MY thinking they would've ironed out any issues but was pretty sad to see that even this test car had an unresolved issue. I also did not hear any improvement in road noise despite the double paned front glass.
Model Y is made worse for cabin noise by the open expanse in the back, while Model 3 has a trunk which blocks a lot of noise from that area. I believe the China version will get a parcel shelf that might help (and it might come to US model).

My 2021 Model 3 does not have rattles, so perhaps it has improved, only that sometimes when there are cross winds, there is wind noise from the driver's side pillar (I only know it's from cross winds because when I reach a part of the road that goes in a different direction, it disappears, and also in most driving there is no such noise).
 

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