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Surfer Asking: Driving Without A Passenger Seat? Will the TM3 Throw a Fit?

I would seriously consider that 2020 M3P if you're a performance nut and don't require EAP/FSD. I thought about backing out of today's final purchase agreement and losing my $500 deposit to scoop up that 2020 MP3 even though it doesn't have EAP or FSD and just put up with basic AP which works well enough in my wife's new 2023 base M3. But... 1. Save 9k to put up with a 2 second slower 0-60 time, 2. No EAP or FSD, and 3. It wouldn't be ethical to back out of a sales agreement especially with the seller moving overseas tonight so I'm staying the course with the 2018 RWD LR plan for this afternoon.

I noticed this morning that there's a red 2022 M3 for 36k. That's also slightly tempting due to being the new version and having a full warranty in effect.

The AWD LR w FSD and AB has indeed been on the market for at least a month. I don't think it's ever going to sell at 38.5k

EAP comes with parking/summoning/lane change options, and then FSD also includes stop lights and stop signs. If I already bought a 2023 RWD and only had Autopilot, I would only make the switch if I could break even or turn a profit selling the 2023 RWD (because you hopefully got the 7500 tax credit). Otherwise I'm not sure it's worth the $ losses.

I also considered going to the new Y because it would fit my surfboard better, but over 50k after taxes/fees even with the 7500 tax credit is a tough pill to swallow for a car that would be turned into a beach car.

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On my model Y Made the attempt to remove the Head Rest I could see the clip on one side but not the other, so I bailed for now . I have 7'2" to 8'5" sailboards . They will go up the middle but the larger ones block the rear view mirror. I guess Hanshow has a cam
mirror but still not and elegant solution. Compared to the 325xi wagon I do have more space on the diagnonal for the rear main cargo area . But I could get the passanger seat pretty flat on that one and take out he headrest easily. I got the roof racks to . Had them install the racks and have used them twice, but I feel quesy about the glass as it's skewed in front and the design does not isolate the bracketed Jhooks from the glass very well .
What I need to know is whether it’s because it sensed pressure and stopped which would mean it can keep reclining further if that rear backrest is removed like you suggested. If so that’s promising. I’m worried that it’s an engineered limitation though. Is there a way to confirm without dismantling my wife’s new car?
Can you test this by not folding the back seat back rest down? Also, I think it's easy to remove the back seat butt rest. That would let you distinguish between the two possibilities. You could also put an obstacle in the way of the seat reclining.

Brainstorming, if the shelf above the trunk were gone or modified, would that make a difference? Remove both back seat back rests, putting board diagonally?

I guess you'll have cabin overheat protection on?

Buy a longboard? ;)
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Sorry I was unclear (trying to be funny). I was saying that if one buys a longboard, the problem is solved because it has to go on the roof.

I was also suggesting that a slightly shorter shortboard would fit.

Updates: Picked up a used M3 LR two days ago so that I wouldn’t upset my wife by molesting her brand new M3.

It was in sorry shape so I spent the last two days restoring it. Now it looks like new. Almost at least. I then tackled my surfboard issue.

My goal is to be able to carry a 8 ft board in there and be able to carpool with other surfers who will also need to put their boards in there and have a place to sit. My i3 handles this beautifully with the passenger seat removed. Plan B was to only carry one surfboard, two passengers and put the second board on the racks.

Here’s what I did, and observed.

The board is a Kalama Barracuda Downwind SUP board that measures 7’ by 11 3/4 and 19 inches wide at the widest point. I’m calling it 8 ft long to keep it simple. It is also about 5 inches thick.

The board is extremely fragile and is always kept in a funboard shape bag that’s too wide for it but there’s nothing out there narrower. Photo of board in bag and the car in question:


The problems: M3 front passenger seat does not fold flat and the headrest is very much in the way. Also the 40/60 split of the rear seats are on the wrong sides.


I removed the front passenger seat headrest. Went easier than I expected.

I opened the bigger 60 rear seat backrest split then scooted the passenger seat backrest as far back as possible and tilted the main seat backwards as well in an attempt to lower the highest point of the passenger seat as much as possible, then scooted it backwards. I learned one thing. The back of the passenger seat does not recline until it hits the rear seat. There is a set limit built into the mechanism as of to how far back it will lean.


Board inside at an angle.




That was not ideal as I pretty much would be unable to carry a passenger.

(To be continued)
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I decided to explore the headrest removal option and see if my board would fit through the 40 split opening of the rear seat.

The headrest came off way easily. Two clips, two screwdrivers and it was off in 20 seconds.




Threw in the board - it wouldn’t fit flat and had to go in an angle, taking up almost the entire opening.




This setup will not work for being able to take a passenger’s board at all. It does work for putting a passenger behind me and the “Plan B” of putting the passenger’s board on the roof racks though. Not ideal but it will have to do unless I want to remove the front passenger backrest or the entire seat. Then I probably could put two boards inside through the 40/split at an angle, and the passenger behind me still. But I worry about the car complaining or throwing codes if I were to do that.


Opening the 60 split allows the board to sit flat rather than an angle which gives me unblocked views out the passenger side windows. I think this is how I will normally drive/commute with the M3 for the time being.


If anybody has any other ideas or suggestions, I’m all ears, or so to speak. :p

Find a wrecked (exterior) Model 3 at a junkyard and liberate a front passenger seat. Then modify it by taking off the entire seatback (wrench / hacksaw / torch). Replace your original seat with it. That should keep the car happy (assuming that the junkyard seat's occupancy sensor is okay).

You can do the same with your existing seat (remove the back) but it would be much easier if you have a second seat in case you ever want to swap them.
We are a weird place - There are no normal junkyards here on the island. Once in a while a car will pop up on Craigslist for “parts” - I will keep an eye out for a M3 to grab a seat from.

However isn’t there an airbag built into the side of the seat back? If so, I suspect the car will freak out if the backrest gets removed.

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We are a weird place - There are no normal junkyards here on the island. Once in a while a car will pop up on Craigslist for “parts” - I will keep an eye out for a M3 to grab a seat from.
From the last time I was in HNL (New Years 2019), I thought I saw a fair number of vehicles which seemed obvious (to me anyway) that had visited an auto wrecking yard. I recall seeing a few Model 3s driving around.

However isn’t there an airbag built into the side of the seat back? If so, I suspect the car will freak out if the backrest gets removed.
Ah, you are correct. I forgot about the side airbag. Maybe remove it and stash it under the seat?
In my Y it says the airbag is disabled when there is nobody in the passenger
seat . (At least it says to in the upper right corner of the screen) Don 't know if this means it's not being monitored or not. BMW had such
a problem with there passenger air bag sensor there was and aftermarket bypass
made that some people used to spoof the system.
What about removing the front seat back only?

This has been discussed a few times in this thread. There are concerns about the airbag in the front seat backrest.

How far forward does the passenger seat back lean? Could you move the seat all the way forward and tilt it forward?

I checked this - The seat does not tilt forward at all. It stops once it's pretty much straight up vertical. I didn't think to try opening both 40/60 and angling the back of the board all the way to the driver's side in the trunk to see if the board is short enough to fit with the passenger seat in the vertical position and scooted all the way forward. I will need to check this.

This morning's photo - locked and loaded! 3 boards, 2 foils and a paddle. Headed to work. Going surfing after work. :cool:


This YouTuber just started a series where he's taking a Model 3 apart and seeing what causes error codes to be thrown. Unfortunately, he didn't get to the seats yet, but maybe he will in the next video.
Have you considered using a roof box like people do for ski gear? You can lock it so you’ll have some degree of security and the boards won’t be in direct sun. This one, for example, is just over 8.5ft long and 28” wide which should accommodate your board in the bag.

I’ve lived on Oahu and my wife is from there so I get the concern about theft. But a lockable box that attaches to roof racks is pretty secure, keeps the board out of direct sunlight, and lets you use your car without tearing apart the interior.