The Tesla Model 3 was first launched back in 2017 as the first “mass-production” model from electric vehicle specialist, Tesla.
The idea behind the Model 3 was to provide a more affordable luxury EV experience for the mass market.
Opposite to the more niche models the company previously produced such as the Model S.
This article answers the question “Is The 2021 Tesla Model 3 Quieter?”…
Is The 2021 Tesla Model 3 Quieter?
Numerous tests with decibel meters have shown that even with the double glass installed, the 2021 Tesla is either just as loud or, in one test, at least, even louder than the previous model years of Tesla Model 3.
While many expected the Tesla Model 3 to be quieter than earlier models, which were plagued with complaints about excessive road noise in the passenger cabin, the results were surprising.
What Year Was The Model 3 First Launched?
The first anyone heard of the Tesla Model 3 was back in September 2015 when the company confirmed that they would be unveiling this new car in March 2016.
The unveiling was finally held on March 31, 2016, after which Tesla immediately received hundreds of thousands of reservations for 2017 delivery.
The production model was officially launched in July 2017, with the first deliveries of Tesla Model 3 cars coming later in the year starting with the US west coast and then moving eastward and worldwide.
Has Tesla Improved The Cabin Noise Through The Years?
Overall, despite Tesla’s apparent efforts to include new design measures to improve on cabin noise, there doesn’t seem to have been a great amount of progress.
Noisy passenger cabins are still a common complaint from Tesla users, especially noise from the roads and wind noise.
In the latest 2021 Tesla Model 3, as well as the new Tesla Model Y cars, the company has installed double glass in an apparent effort to reduce cabin noise.
Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t seem to have made a huge amount of difference to the overall cabin noise.
Many Tesla users have tried measuring different Tesla Model 3 cars, namely those from 2018-2019 and the newest generation released for the 2021 model year, and have found little noticeable difference.
Some claim that a more scientific approach to measuring the sound may show that the noise levels have indeed been reduced.
Others point out that if decibel meters can’t show a difference, and drivers don’t feel any noticeable difference, then it seems unnecessary or even meaningless to propose a “more scientific” approach.
There are a number of explanations for this apparent noise.
In fact, the inside of the Model 3 is no noisier than the average car (around 70dB) but perhaps the difference with the Model 3 is that the noise doesn’t come from the engine.
In a regular car, the noise of the engine and tires on the road is what you hear. The engine noise is typically enough to drown out other sounds.
The Model 3, however, is electric, which means it doesn’t have engine noise and all you hear are the road noises, especially from wind and from the Model 3 tires.
Some point out, however, that the average luxury car has a cabin noise rating of about 65dB, so for a relatively high-end electric car like the Model 3 to still be reaching higher than 70dB is not good for its class.
Are The Rubber Door Sealings The Problem?
Door seals are one of the possible reasons for the cabin noise posed by Tesla Model 3 owners and others, but they are not the only one.
Testing has shown that replacing the rubber door seals with new aftermarket ones can reduce the noise level in the cabin by as much as 8dB on neighborhood/city roads traveling at 30mph and by 7dB on the highway traveling at 70mph.
It’s not very dramatic in itself, but it shows that the rubber door seals are a clear contributing factor to the problems drivers are having with noise in the Model 3.
Is The Model 3 Louder Than Other Electric Cars?
Most tests have revealed that without any mitigating measures, the Tesla Model 3 interior experiences about 58-64dB when traveling at slower speeds of about 30-40mph, and 65-74dB when traveling at higher speeds of up to 70mph.
The new Nissan Leaf was tested in 2018 and only experienced 67dB when traveling at high speeds, even managing 65dB in one 70mph test.
The Chevy Bolt is similar but reaches that sound level at a slower speed.
The Bolt when tested revealed cabin noise of about 65dB when traveling at 55mph, which raised up to 80dB when encountering road bumps, potholes, etc.
On the more luxurious side, the Jaguar I-Pace managed 63dB at 50mph, and 66dB at 62mph, hitting 68dB at 75mph.
The BMW i3 on average gets 64dB at 50mph, and 66dB at 62mph, hitting 71dB at 75mph.
As we can see from these examples, the Tesla Model 3 is arguably slightly louder than some of the other popular electric models on the market, but it’s hard to know how noticeable it would really be for the average human driver.
Is It A Design Problem Or An Assembly Problem?
There seems to be a combination of design and assembly problems. In terms of design, it seems that Tesla’s choice of door sealing was not ideal to combat the problem of road noise.
In addition, there appear to be issues of a lack of reinforcement in the “Frunk” (front-end trunk) which is partially what is causing wind noise.
A lack of reinforcement is undoubtedly a design issue.
The choice of tires that the driver takes is also a contributing factor, which is arguably a design issue, but further compounded by assembly problems (see below).
The 19” wheels with winter tires offered on the Model 3 appear to be the noisiest.
For assembly, however, there appear to be issues with some production models and their door/panel alignment, as well as in the window trim.
If your Tesla Model 3 has these issues, then it will certainly feel noisier than others.
Did The Double Glass Fix The Problem?
Several independent tests on the 2021 Tesla Model 3 compared with the previous 2017-2020 Model 3s have revealed that the double glass has not fixed the problems of cabin noise.
Some speculate that the chief reason for installing the double glass is in fact to provide better heat insulation and not primarily to help mitigate cabin noise.
When you factor in other issues such as door/panel alignment, frunk reinforcement, door sealings, and tires, changing the glass is unlikely to make a great amount of difference.
Are There Misalignments Creating Extra Wind Noise?
While it is not true of all Tesla models, there have been a significant number of cases reported of misalignments and gaps in the car doors and body panels.
It is clearly not the majority of Tesla cars, but even Elon Musk has admitted that rushes to meet production targets have led to some quality problems in some models, especially the Model 3 and Model X.
Misalignments in the door and body panels will inevitably generate additional cabin noise. This is because misaligned doors and body panels mean gaps, and gaps allow greater noise.
The key to solving cabin noise is first through sealing various gaps, and second through the creation of further noise-damping at the source.
For example, when there are gaps in your door and windows, sound naturally comes through and makes the cabin noisy.
The size of the gap on something like a car does not make a massive difference. All will generate noticeable noise increases.
This noise increase is especially pronounced when traveling at speed.
The faster you go, the more wind resistance you encounter and thus the greater potential for the wind noise in your passenger cabin.
Do The Sealing Kits For Noise Reduction Work?
Yes, when you apply a high-quality sealing kit correctly, it will result in a decent reduction in cabin noise.
Of course, it won’t completely eliminate the problem of cabin noise, but the reduction can be as good as 7-8dB when traveling at speed, and that is certainly noticeable.
Those who have reported no difference in noise after installing sealing kits have most likely chosen a kit that was unsuitable for their Tesla Model 3 or was not properly installed.
If the sealing kit was cut wrongly, not securely put in place, or otherwise unevenly applied in the right places, then it won’t have an effect.
The sealing has to be complete, intact, and comprehensively covering all the required areas.
Do Tesla Acoustic Tires Reduce Noise?
Yes, acoustic tires lined with a layer of polyurethane foam have been clearly shown to help reduce cabin and overall noise levels.
Though not by a huge amount, the damping effect of a properly applied layer of the foam can really help to mitigate the excess cabin noise.
Like any other noise reduction measure, it won’t eliminate the noise, but it should provide some additional comfort, especially if combined with panel misalignments being fixed, new door sealings being applied, and the new double glass in the 2021 model.
Together, the measures should help to reduce cabin noise levels to something more comfortable.