Tesla Model 3 Buyers Guide

Last updated 15-Oct-2021

The Tesla Model 3 has been available since 2017 and there are now many more used cars available for purchase as well as changes to the new models, both in terms of specification and where in the world they are made. We run through the history, the options, what we think are the common issues and make some suggestions on what to buy.

Why the Model 3?

Tesla Worldwide Inventory Search

You may already know the Model 3 is the car you want, and we have a guide to the Tesla model differences. It is worth reflecting briefly on the other choices for similar money especially if you're looking at new or nearly new Model 3 cars.

New or used?

The Model 3 is widely available as new, nearly new or used cars, and we've a guide to saving money buying a Tesla which covers the different choices in more detail. The key differences in summary however are:

History of changes

The Model 3 has not had an changes that you might call a face lift over and above model year updates. The most significant update would be the 2021 model year which made a number of changes:

The changes did not all occur at the same time, 2021 model year cars delivered at the end of 2020 may not have all the changes listed above. The Made in China LR models still seem to ship with the slightly smaller battery which are sold into right hand drive countries. For a full list of the changes and in which year see our guide to Tesla model history and changes over time.

Battery size and range

At launch Tesla promised the $35k car which was the standard range, however few cars were delivered in this spec. In some countries compliance cars were made to meet regulatory targets and these are similar to standard range cars and are striped down and reduced feature cars. The Standard Range Plus, Medium range, long range and performance cars followed with a combination of rear wheel drive and all wheel drive specs. The Long Range and Performance models were full premium specification with rear heated seats and higher spec sound systems and the larger battery also means it can charge slightly faster. We generally advocate larger batteries, but for a entry level car especially if primarily a local run around car, the SR+ model is perfectly viable for most.

The Model 3 is one of the more efficient EVs you can buy, but that efficiency also means any changes in inefficiency can be magnified. The WLTP and EPA test results are also fairly limited in what they tell you as the weather, driving style and speed can all cause significant fluctuations in the available range. In cold weather energy is required to heat the cabin and the car efficiency is reduced as the battery warms up, the smaller the battery the larger the proportion of available energy goes to heating, as a result stop start journeys in winter are worse than a single continual drive, and we've a page dedicated to cold weather driving to provide tips on how to improve range. You are also unlikely to want to regularly start your journey with 100% (the MIC SR+ with the LFP battery being the exception) and plan to arrive at your destination with 0% left and therefore we feel the working range is approximately 80% of the theoretical range. Taking these factors into consideration, and adjusting for real world experiences, we have worked out the approximate summer range (temperatures above 15 deg C) and winter range (temperatures below 3 deg C but about -5 deg C) for the most common models to be:

Model
Summer
Summer 80%
Winter
Winter 80%
Standard Range+
230 miles
185 miles
180 miles
150 miles
Long Range
305 miles
245 miles
250 miles
200 miles
Performance (pre 2021)
280 miles
230 miles
235 miles
190 miles

Which model?

When buying new, the choices are now:

We feel the Long Range offers the best value for money. The performance can be improved for relatively little money to be virtually on a par with the M3P, it can be specified with a tow bar, and has all the features on offer such as heated steering wheels. The price gap varies between countries, but in most the M3P is a sizeable premium over the LR and some feel the ride is compromised with the larger wheels, although it does look better. The SR+ is a great entry level car, but the sure footed nature of the all wheel drive is worth paying extra for in the LR, together with greater range, performance and a few extra features.

Model years and Performance

Tesla make changes in several ways to the cars, not all of which are immediately obvious other than through the performance statistics. Tesla use a hidden model iteration code to denote the differences and this matches performance, both range, top speed and acceleration to the car, ignoring options such as performance bost and any other software unlocking that may take place.

We have listed the predominent years the cars were being sold. Occasionally Tesla have unsold models which they first register alongside newer models, we have ignored these when this is obvious. Some model codes may only be available in some parts of the world.

Model Code
Years sold
Range
Acceleration
Top Speed
MT301 (SR+)
BT35, some BTF0
2019 - 2020 Global
240 Miles/386km EPA
254 Miles/409km WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
0-100km/h 5.6s
140mph
225km/h
MT308 (SR+)
BT35
Late 2019 - 2020 Global
250 Miles/402km EPA
254 Miles/409km WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
0-100km/h 5.6s
140mph
225km/h
MT314 (SR+)
BT41
2021 LHD
263 Miles/423km EPA
- Miles/448km WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
0-100km/h 5.6s
140mph
225km/h
MT320 (SR+)
BT35
2021 RHD
267 Miles WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
140mph
MT331 (SR+)
BT35
2020 China
- Miles WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
140mph
MT332 (SR+)
BT35
2020 China
- Miles WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
140mph
MT336 (SR+)
BTF0 China
2020 EU LHD
440km WLTP
0-100km/h 5.6s
225km/h
MT337 (SR+)
BTF0 China
2021
278 Miles/448km WLTP
0-60 mph 5.3s
0-100km/h 5.6s
140mph
225km/h
MT322 (SR+)
BTF1 China
2021
448km WLTP
0-100km/h 5.6s
225km/h
MT305 (MR RWD)
2018 - 2019 US & Canada
264 Miles/425km EPA
0-60 mph 5.2s
0-100km/h 5.5s
140mph
225km/h
MT302 (LR RWD)
2017 - 2019 Global
325 Miles/523km EPA
0-60 mph 5s
0-100km/h 5.3s
140mph
225km/h
MT303 (LR AWD)
BT37 Fremont
2018 - 2019 Global
310 Miles/499km EPA
348 Miles/560km WLTP
0-60 mph 4.4s
0-100km/h 4.6s
145mph
233km/h
MT310 (LR AWD)
BT37 Fremont
Late 2019 - 2020 Global
322 Miles/518km EPA
348 Miles/560km WLTP
0-60 mph 4.4s
0-100km/h 4.6s
145mph
233km/h
MT315 (LR AWD)
BT37 Fremont
2021 Global
353 Miles/-km EPA
360 Miles/580km WLTP
0-60 mph 4.2s
0-100km/h 4.4s
145mph
233km/h
MT316 (LR AWD)
BT38 Fremont & China
2021 Global
360 Miles/580km WLTP
0-60 mph 4.2s
0-100km/h 4.4s
145mph
233km/h
MT321 (LR AWD)
BT42 Fremont
2021 LHD
353 Miles/568km EPA
- Miles/614km WLTP
0-60 mph 4.2s
0-100km/h 4.4s
145mph
233km/h
MT323 (LR AWD)
BT43 China
2021 LHD
- Miles/614km WLTP
0-60 mph 4.2s
0-100km/h 4.4s
233km/h
MT304 (Performance)
BT37
2018 - 2020 Global
310 Miles/499km EPA
329 Miles/530km WLTP
0-60 mph 3.2s
0-100km/h 3.4s
162mph
261km/h
MT311 (Performance)
BT37
2020 Global
299 Miles/481km EPA
329 Miles/530km WLTP
0-60 mph 3.2s
0-100km/h 3.4s
162mph
261km/h
MT317 (Performance)
BT42
2021 Global
315 Miles/-km EPA
352 Miles/568km WLTP
0-60 mph 3.1s
0-100km/h 3.3s
162mph
261km/h

It is worth noting that Tesla list performance model specifications with 1 foot roll out. This reduces the time by approx 0.2s, so this should be added to the 0-60 times to get a comparable time to those of the other models.

Autopilot

All Model 3 cars come with Autopilot hardware so the only material choice is the software level installed. Autopilot is standard on most, we feel paying a little extra for Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self driving is worthwhile with Enhanced Autopilot as an after purchase option a sensible option if you can make use of the features. Our estimation is FSD adds about 5-7% to the value of a car, so if you are looking at a car with FSD and one without, expect to pay about $3k more. We don't feel the $10k/£8k asking price from Tesla is ever reflected in used car prices.

Options

The model 3 is fairly light on options besides colour and interior. There are however a few to look out for:

What features does the car have?

To find out what is activated in the car follow this guide on how to find out what hardware versions a Tesla has. Many dealers are now including the required pictures in their adverts and those that do, clearly understand the cars.

Where was it made, and does it matter?

The simplest way to tell where the car was made is to look at the VIN. Cars starting with LRW were made in China. Our VIN decoder provides additional information on the car.

Free Supercharging

No model 3 came with unlimited free supercharging for the life of the car. Tesla have however offered a year free supercharging to cars delivered at the end of 2020. It is not clear if this is transferable to new owners within the year, generally speaking since 2017 any free supercharging given to new car buyers has not been transferable..

Key issues

The model 3 was a new platform and Tesla seem to have learnt from a number of the previous issues, however they have also introduced some new ones. Most of the Model 3 issues are factory issues and not ones that develop over time so the owner or a good condition car is likely to run into fewer problems over time, however getting a car in good condition can be harder than it should be because of Tesla's stance.

Warranty

Model 3 cars come with 2 manufacturer warranties. One covers the battery and motor for 8 years and 100k or 120k mile warranty depending on battery size, whichever comes sooner. This covers the owner against failure or battery degradation although Tesla have written into the warranty that that battery losses due to software changes are allowed.

The second warranty is the general car warranty for everything else. This lasts for 4 years or 50k miles, which comes sooner. Few Model 3s will be out of warranty except based on mileage.

What would we buy used?

We don't don't particularly have a favourite. The SR+ models tend be significantly cheaper and offer good entry level value, the Long Range offer a more comfortable ride than the Performance and have better range, but the performance cars are great fun. We'd question buying FSD for a SR+ car and would suggest a Long Range without FSD for the same money would be more sensible and hold its value better.

The 2021 cars also have a number of advantages over the earlier cars with items like the heat pump and heated steering wheel.

You can check the whole market and compare prices between models on our Inventory listings.

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