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Tesla Model 3 ground clearance is one of the main concerns of future Tesla owners, who are worried about not being able to approach their driveways.

If you're worried about scraping the bottom of your car or scratching or otherwise damaging its front bumper while entering your driveway — and you should be — you have to take Tesla Model 3 ground clearance into account when purchasing the car.

Tesla Model 3 is a low-sitting car with a ground clearance of 5.5inches or approximately 14cm. Though this sounds like enough, less conscious drivers have reported bottoming out on poorly surfaced roads, scratching, or otherwise damaging front bumpers and the underbody.

However, that's not the entire issue with Tesla Model 3 ground clearance; the vehicle uses stock suspension, which hinders height adjustment, up to the point at which the company couldn't enter several markets worldwide. As a result, Tesla is now taking a new approach to its Model 3 vehicle, which could entail redesigning the entire suspension system to provide customizable ground clearance.

This article will discuss Tesla Model 3 ground clearance, the adjustability issues of its suspension system, and what exactly is Tesla, as a company, doing about it. To present you with the most comprehensive information about Tesla Model 3 ground clearance, we gathered the information from numerous discussions led by Tesla Model 3 owners and cross-referenced it with the information about the vehicle provided by the manufacturer.

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Tesla Model 3 Ground Clearance

Tesla Model 3 is a battery-powered compact executive sedan that launched in mid-2017 as a more affordable Tesla model and went on to become the world's best-selling electric car in history and the very first car to pass the 1 million global sales milestone. It's a reasonably priced vehicle, sitting between $58,000 for the base model and $73,000 for a fully loaded Tesla.

However, that's a lot of money for a vehicle whose front bumper is easily scraped —courtesy of low ground clearance. Model 3 is a pretty low-sitting vehicle, with a ground clearance of 5.5in (approximately 14cm) across all trims, which is a pretty consistent specification ever since the car hit the market in 2017. For comparison, most super-cars have a ground clearance of 4.9in (12.5cm).

Tesla has maintained the Model 3's exterior design practically identical to that of a 2017 model, which also includes ground clearance. Tesla opted to improve its vehicle through software updates and added functionality rather than aesthetic redesigns. For example, Tesla Model 3 comes in three trim levels: Standard, Long Range, and the most recent one — Performance.

These trim levels don't affect the vehicle's design in any way, except for the fact that Performance ships out with 20 wheels and are mostly focused on the car's performance metrics, such as battery range. That effectively means that all three trim levels get the exact same ground clearance of 5.5 inches.

Why is Ground Clearance Important?

Ground clearance is a specification metric that defines the distance between the lowermost part of a Tesla Model 3 and the road you're driving on. Having low-ground clearance means that your Model 3 is more likely to bottom out on dips and obstacles in the road, and the chassis or the underbody may suffer serious damage if you don't slow down before going over a speedbump.

This makes Model 3 terrible for off-road driving, and we're talking beaten paths and dirt roads, not actual off-road and mud driving. Sure, its powerful electric torque and dual-motor all-wheel drive paired with a long electric range provides Model 3 with the capacity to overcome off-road terrain, but the car's ground clearance prevents it from doing so — 5.5 simply isn't designed for off-road driving.

In fact, Model 3's much-awaited India entry nearly failed due to ground clearance compliance issues with Indian roads. Roads in India are mostly in poor condition and riddled with potholes, which is why a 5.5in clearance simply isn't enough. Additionally, on poorly surfaced roads, like those in India (which border on off-road driving), low clearance and a long wheelbase result in a poor ramp break-over angle, which might cause bottom-outs.

It's currently speculated that, due to Model 3's failure in India, Tesla decided to reengineer its best-selling model and equip it with air suspension, which would allow height adjustments and better handling on poorly surfaced roads. For example, the Indian market requires Tesla to increase the Model 3's ground clearance by another inch.

Is Tesla Model 3 Ground Clearance Adjustable?

Unfortunately, not at the moment — at least not with stock suspension. Tesla Model 3 uses coil suspension, which can't be adjusted for extra ground clearance. However, nothing is stopping Model 3 owners from installing custom, aftermarket suspension kits and all-terrain tires to increase ground clearance and prevent damage to the underside — a place where the battery resides.

With that said, Tesla referenced air suspension parts in their more recent Tesla Parts Catalogue for Model 3, indicating that the vehicle might get an adaptive pneumatic suspension setup, which would allow drivers to adjust the vehicle's height through the built-in software menu. Additionally, the company is also investing in "terrain recognition" technology, which not only detects the edges of the road but also changes in the terrain elevation.

Admittedly, Model 3 would benefit from an adaptable suspension update since adjustable height allows for better handling, vehicle efficiency, and comfort. Not only that, but it could raise the vehicle when approaching and entering a steep driveway, driving during snow, and unloading luggage and/or passengers.

This leaves aftermarket suspension as the best possible solution to low ground clearance. Tesla has stated that its own lift kit combined with more rugged tires and wheels results in an additional 1.57in, which is a sizeable approvement for those having trouble entering their own driveways or parking. However, it's worth pointing out that equipping your vehicle with an aftermarket suspension kit is best left to the professional, Tesla-certified mechanics.

What About Other Tesla vehicles?

Tesla is really "colorful" when it comes to the suspension on their vehicles. At the time of writing, only Tesla Model S and Model X both have adaptable pneumatic suspension setups, which allow owners and drivers to adjust the ground clearance from 6.1in to 8.9 inches. You can even see the suspension adjusting in real-time while driving the car.

Ride height is entirely customizable on both models, though both also come with pre-defined levels, which make suspension adjustments mid-driving more accessible to drivers. Tesla took things further with their location-based technology, which until now only auto-folded the mirrors. Now, you can have your Model S or Model X remember the ground clearance at given locations, allowing the vehicle to automatically raise its suspension as you're approaching the driveway.

Things are a bit different with the Model Y, which doesn't have a customizable air suspension like the Model X and Model S. Instead, Model Y uses a coil suspension setup, just like Model 3, but unlike Model 3, Model Y has adjustable suspension. Moreover, the adjustments are so straightforward that they don't require a visit to the shop — anyone can DIY them.

With everything said, Tesla is currently limiting all updates to its current models to software updates, but that doesn't mean that the current vehicles won't keep up with the times. Due to Model 3's failure to enter the Indian market, and several other markets worldwide, it's entirely possible that a suspension redesign is in the cards for Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Ground Clearance

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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