Teslas are pretty cool. What other car maker is headed by a mad scientist turned CEO who launches cars into space and sells flame throwers (glorified creme brulee torch) to the public? The Model 3 was supposed to be their foray into an “affordable” car for the masses. Unfortunately, production delays and mass hyster… I mean hype. Made it rather difficult to get your hands on one. And in addition, it no longer qualifies for the EV car tax credit.
That said… still a pretty cool car for the price point. In some ways, it’s a smaller and better city car. It still retains lots of creature comforts and can be loaded to the gills. Sure it doesn’t have the blistering acceleration of a P100D. But that’s not the point.
This lucky person managed to get their hands on a Model 3 and immediately decided they wanted to make it theirs. So we’re going to paint the brakes, black out all the chrome trim, do some suede interior pieces, and maybe do some carbon fiber stuff too. Oh. And the whole point of this post… They wanted to install some lowering springs. So I figured I’d seize the opportunity to show you around the suspension and a quick writeup. The Tesla Model 3 unfortunately lacks air suspension. COMEON. Even a Lexus LS400 from 20 years ago has that. Slackers. Some people have complained about the poor ride of the stock suspension (it’s a lot of weight to control while still giving it a “sporty” composure). Also, factory wheel gap makes it look like a Corolla. So Unplugged teamed up with Hypercoil to produce these progressive rate springs in a variety of different drops from mild: about 3/4″ all the way to extreme: 2.1″ drop. This owner only wanted a slight drop to get over city obstacles on a day to day basis. The progressive rate also gives a nice supple ride over the small stuff and firms up when really pushing the car.
You can see how the factory coil is longer and has evenly spaced coils and the Hyperco spring is shorter and has tighter coils on one end.
Things that impressed me: generous use of aluminum suspension components, weird double wishbone-ish SLA-ish suspension. Bushings are actually quite stiff (probably to deal with the heavy weight) and there is use of some sealed spherical/monoballs that help take the slack out of things.
Things that were odd. The entire suspension assembly is bolted to another assembly that’s bolted to the chassis. They give you 3 holes in the strut towers to access the nuts to remove the spring/damper in the front, but the holes aren’t big enough, so we had to machine down a socket to fit. This is very BMW-esque – clearly taking heavy cues from the German market that they want to infiltrate. Then they cheaped out and used steel control arm/spring bucket from the rear. Comeon now, even a Nissan uses aluminum here.
First you need to remove the entire windshield cowl/frunk interior. This is held on by some 10mm bolts and some clips. COVER YOUR SHAME! Also. SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!
Step 2: obviously you’ll need to jack up the car and put it on jackstands – no photos of this as I assume all of you are capable. Next to remove the front suspension, I didn’t want to remove the entire aluminum assembly with a-arms, uprights, etc. So I took my already thinwall 13mm socket and ground it down until it fit in the provided wholes. THANKS OBAMA!
Stupid giant aluminum assembly that they want you take out.
Step 3: Take your 21mm and your bum rattler (impact) and zip off those lower clevis nuts/bolts.
Step 4: Remove your swaybar endlink with an 18mm. The center stud can be held in place with a… uh… T40ish torx bit. Maybe T45. I forget. Sue me (but please don’t).
Step 5: Have your large Polish friend push down on the hub so that you can swing the entire shock/spring assembly out of the fender well because you’re too lazy to unbolt everything. You may want to tape up the fenders to prevent scratches or chips if you’re clumsy. I’m perfect, so no need.
Step 6: remove rubber dust cap
Step 7, use a spring compressor to compress the spring and remove the top hat. Here you can see the top hat, bumpstop, dust boot, etc laid out in the order they came off. DO NOT try to zip off the top hat with the impact. The stock spring is compressed/preloaded around 3″. The force is massive. And it CAN hurt somebody. I did this for fun and the top hat rocketed across the shop and took me about ten minutes to find.
Step 8, use the spring compressor to compress the spring and reinstall the bumpstop, dust boot, and top hat. Reinstall the assembly to the vehicle. You’ll want to load up the shock when tightening the lower clevis bolt and the upper control arm bolts so that you preload or clock the bushing in the static ride height position. This will prevent binding and premature wear.
Step 9, the rear spring bucket/arm has a plastic cover with a 10mm bolt that attaches it. Remove this 10mm bolt, the plastic cover pulls away.
Step 10, use that same 21mm to pull the bolt out of both the outer spherical as well as the inner shock mount. This will allow the arm to swing down so that the spring can be removed.
Step 11, pop the new spring in, use the jack to get the arm up in position, with everything lined up, and again, don’t forget to clock your bushings. Torque to spec. Put your wheels back on. Let the springs settle a little bit, and go get a fresh alignment to make sure that car tracks straight and doesn’t wear the tires weird.