The Logbook

Guide: Tesla Model 3 Coilovers

This is a buyer's guide to Coilovers for the Tesla Model 3 SR, LR, and Performance models. It goes over the considerations when installing coilovers as well as a comprehensive list of current coilovers available on the market. If you have a product you think should be included or corrections to this guide please email me!



Considerations When Choosing Coilovers

If you are reading this, you probably are looking for a solution to lower your car with the ability to adjust the ride height to your precise specifications. I have covered the benefits of lowering a car in the Tesla Model 3 Lowering Springs Guide. All of the same pros and cons apply, but there is one major drawback that should be discussed in detail that is specific to coilovers.

Ohlins DFV Coilovers for Tesla Model 3

ร–hlins Road and Track DFV Coilovers for Tesla Model 3

Increased NVH

The acronym NVH stands for Noise, Vibration, Harshness. The Tesla Model 3 was designed to have a relatively quiet cabin. There are no combustion noises to mask minor squeaks and rattles. Unfortunately, this means that a small increase in NVH that you may not have noticed on an internal combustion engine (ICE) car may be far more apparent in daily driving an EV.

When using lowering springs to lower a car, you are replacing just one component in the suspension. The reuse of rubber mounts and sometimes the addition of rubber cushioning between spring coils results in little to no additional noise at the expense of potential harshness depending on the characteristics of the spring itself. When installing coilovers, you are changing springs, dampers, and potentially the mounting points which connect to the vehicle itself. Many coilover manufacturers have used their expertise from years of developing for ICE vehicles to design performance suspension systems, but have not had to significantly optimize for NVH. To help minimize NVH in daily use, look for manufacturers who call for reusing your factory rubber mounts rather than solid mounts. If you subscribe to the #becauseracecar philosophy, you may have more tolerance for NVH for that extra bit of performance. Just be aware this may be more prevalent if you have previous modified an ICE vehicle.

Damper Adjustments

Most dampers on the market offer the ability to adjust "stiffness" in order to dial in cornering performance and ride quality. The vast majority of coilovers on the market have a single adjustment knob. Known as 1-way coilovers, compression or bump dampening is preset from the factory, and the user is able to adjust the rebound. A deep dive in to compression and rebound is well beyond the scope of this article, but you can think of rebound as the ability of the damper to bounce back when pushed upon. Increasing rebound pushes the tire back towards the ground more aggressively to increase grip.

I found one Tesla Model 3 coilover that advertised "1024 different settings to adjust". When choosing a damper, more adjustability is not necessarily an advantage for the average driver. Having more settings may increase granularity in adjustments, but you realistically won't be moving between 24 clicks from full stiff and the 25th click. Optimizing 4-way coilovers for both high-speed and low-speed compression and rebound adjustments can be a tricky task and, if we are speaking honestly, many 1-way coilover owners do not know how to optimize performance from their single knob. Examine your use case and whether or not you will be adjusting your coilovers much at all. I know I would personally prefer cycling through 16 clicks instead of 36 clicks.

Valving

Dampers contain different types of valve design to control the flow of shock oil. Damper characteristics are measured on special shock dynos and are plotted with the the piston velocity on one axis and the damping force on the other. There are three main terms that describe the shape of damping curves: progressive, linear, and digressive. The minute details of damper tuning as well as other types of damper curves are well outside the scope of this article, but as a tl;dr, progressive applications are typically reserved for off-road applications while street cars will utilize a linear or digressive design.

The majority of coilover dampers on the market feature linear valving. As the velocity of compression and rebound increases, the force will (duh) increase linearly. In a digressively valved damper, the force will decrease as velocity increases. Dampers can be digressive on compression and linear on rebound, vice versa, or both. Each damper design has its pros and cons. Translated to handling characteristics, digressive rate dampers will be stiffer from the outset of handling body movements instead of building up to it gradually as in the case of a linear damper.

For a great explanation of linear vs. digressive valving I will refer you to "The ร–hlins Guy"

The Ohlins Guy is staunchly anti-digressive valving for reasons noted in his video. Proponents of digressively valved dampers argue that they are active and compliant over large bumps and rough roads while being firm and resistant towards smaller body motions, therefore increasing stability. Much of this is up to personal preference, but if you are experiencing what you feel is an "overdamped" setup for the street, your dampers may be digressively valved. Many swear by how well the Ohlins R&T DFV, which are a digressively valved damper, perform on the street. At the end of the day, if you have a poorly matched damper to your vehicle's characteristics and spring rates, the piston designs do not matter.

Spring Rates

The spring rate is the amount of force necessary to compress or extend a spring. Spring rates are stated in pounds per inch (lb/in) or kilograms per millimeter (kg/mm), the latter of which is sometimes shortened to simply "k". For many coilover manufacturers, the spring rate seems to be part of their special sauce and they do not list it with their products. On the Tesla Model 3 you will generally find rates around the 10k to 12k range. Given the weight difference between the RWD and AWD models, you will tend to find higher spring rates in the front on coilovers designed for the AWD.

As I have mentioned before, when optimizing handling performance the goal is to optimize grip. We want the tires to maintain contact with the ground. It is a bit counter-intuitive but a softer spring will maintain contact with the ground more efficiently than a stiffer spring. Springs are designed to support the weight of the car. Lowering spring and coilover manufacturers use higher spring rates than the factory suspension in order to keep the dampers from bottoming out as a result of the decreased suspension travel from a lower ride height as well as to control the pitching and diving of the car during acceleration and braking. I add this to dispell the myth that bigger is better. Engineering Explained on YouTube has a very nerdy (I mean this affectionately) explanation on why softer spring rates are "better". A higher spring rate will not necessarily mean a better handling car. An outrageously high spring rate will effectively reduce grip.

Inverted vs. Conventional Dampers

Many coilovers will advertise having inverted dampers. For some they will feature "non-inverted" or conventional dampers on the front and inverted dampers on the rear. On an inverted damper the shaft and dust boot will be on the bottom with the damper body on top. This is the opposite of a conventional or "non-inverted" damper that has the shaft on top. The advantages of an inverted damper are a reduction in unsprung weight which allows the suspension to control and respond to loads more efficiently.

Inverted dampers are an especially effective upgrade on MacPherson strut designs, which incorporates the damper as one of the control arms. This puts cornering load on the piston shaft on a conventional design. The Tesla Model 3 incorporates a double wishbone suspension in front and a multi-link suspension in rear. This means the Model 3 does not take advantage of the additional rigidity from an inverted damper. The primary advantage of an inverted damper on a Tesla Model 3 is a reduction in unsprung weight.

Construction and Mounting Points

I wrote about the potential for increased NVH at the beginning of this article, but it bears repeating that you should be wary of whether or not your new coilovers re-use the top mounts that came with the car. New and different does not mean better in this case, when it comes to reducing vibration and noise. The other consideration when thinking about the construction of your coilovers is the material and any corrosion resistance if you live in climates where environmental factors are a factor. Though you may live in sunny Southern California, the salty ocean air can corrode vehicle parts just as effectively as road salts in winter.

Some coilover manufacturers make parts for OEM manufacturers and apply the same techniques for corrosion resistance for their aftermarket coilovers. Other manufacturers, like KW, will use special materials to resist the elements. The right materials will not only increase the longevity of your coilovers but also make them easier to adjust. The threaded adjustable spring perches on coilovers can easily seize, taking away one of the significant advantages of choosing coilovers at all.

Finally, high-end coilovers are built with damper servicability and rebuilding in mind. Some lower priced coilovers like the TEIN Flex Z are designed to replace the entire sealed damper as a unit. Others, such as a KW or ร–hlins, are designed to be serviced and customized by specialized professionals with new seals, pistons, and fluid. At the end of the day, it may not be worth rebuilding a set of inexpensive coilovers when you calculate the labor cost of the rebuild and the uninstallation. It may, however, reduce the long-term ownership costs of a higher priced set.

Coilovers vs Lowering Springs

If you are already reading this article, I probably do not need to convince you that coilovers will generally allow for a better matched spring and damper combo over simply installing lowering springs. A properly designed coilover system will not only allow you to adjust and dial in the exact ride height you want, they will typically come with a matched set of dampers to adjust for the decrease in relative suspension travel. Furthermore, having near infinite ride height adjustability will allow you to corner balance a car to optimize its load transfer characteristics.

It should be noted, however, that there are many hastily designed coilovers on the market that offer poorly matched dampers with needlessly high spring rates. In those cases, a set of lowering springs and aftermarket dampers properly designed for the application will result in far better comfort and performance. If you have read the details of this article you have a far higher understanding of coilovers than the number of people that have them installed and I hope this will help you make a better decision on the best coilover for your use case.

The Guide

The following is what is believed to be a complete list of all aftermarket coil spring coilovers available for the Tesla Model 3. I have excluded models that include a coil and air spring component. Manufacturers will typically list their applications as either RWD or AWD to include both the Performance and Long Range models. Some will also just list a single application for the entire Model 3 platform. The difference in these products typically has to do with spring rates and damper tuning to compensate for the different weights of the different drivetrain configurations. If a manufacturer lists them as separate, I have attempted to note this in the chart below.

I had a deep moral dilemma in including some of the sub-$800 coilovers listed below. Some companies had URL slugs for 90s Acura Integras for their Tesla products and others listed RWD Teslas as being Dual Motor. On the lower end of the price spectrum you can almost guarantee that a product was cloned at the source factory in Taiwan and thrown together with a generic damper. This is not a knock against the Taiwanese, as I am Taiwanese myself. Simply stating a fact. Whether or not the spring rates were even tested on the platform is a huge question mark, and some do not include the rates in their literature. Worse yet, sites will often list generic product photos across multiple lines so your guess is as good as mine if top hats will be included or if the OEM rear rubber mounts are re-used. Inclusion in this list should not be considered an endorsement, this was simply meant to serve as a complete guide. I hope to write up a deep dive on recommendations in the near future.

A quick note on table values. I listed the coilovers intended use as "Purpose". There are a few outliers, but Street is just as it sounds, meant solely for street use. A coilover marked as Sport was intended for dual daily driving and track day use, while Track is for the most hardcore setups not designed for reducing NVH. Spring rates denoted with ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ mean proprietary and these rates were not listed with the product. As far as adjustability goes, a number without a letter denotes clicks of rebound adjustment. Other acronyms are R for Rebound, C for Compression/Bump, HS for High Speed, and LS for Low Speed.

I specifically excluded a couple of products. Though MeisterR lists a Tesla Model 3 application, their product page is practically empty except for a price. There are sprint racing series in Europe that run the MeisterR with good results, but for the purposes of this chart I had to consider their Model 3 coilover vaporware. I also specifically excluded the MSS Adjustable Spring Kit. Before the turn of the millenium we used to call adjustable height spring collars "coilovers", but the MSS product does not include dampers and is not comparable to the other products in the chart.

If you know of a product that I missed or are a manufacturer looking to add something to the list, please email hello@emotive.engineering. Prices are as of the publish date and are subject to change, especially given global supply chain issues as of this writing. I will make an attempt to update the list and pricing at least annually as more products come to market.

Model 3 AWD Dual Motor Performance or Long Range Coilovers

Product Purpose Spring Rates Adjustability Top Hats Rebuildable Price
BC Racing BR Series Sport 16k/6k 30 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1195
Border Racing DR Series Drag ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM โ“ $1220
Border Racing P1 Series Rally Asphalt 16k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1220
Border Racing R1 Series Track 18.6k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1220
Border Racing S1 Series Street 14.5k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1090
Border Racing SP Series Sport 16k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1380
Border Racing SR Series Race ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 1024 Pillowball โ“ $2800
D2 Racing RS Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 36 Rubber โ“ $1600
FIVE8 SS Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ โ›” Rubber โ“ $768
Flatout ClubSport Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 20 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2345
Flatout SR Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 20 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $1580
Function + Form (F2) Type 4 Sport 10k/8k 24 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1890
Gecko Racing G-Racing Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1220
Gecko Racing G-Street Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 Rubber โ“ $1020
Godspeed MonoRS Sport 8k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $860
KW V3 Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
12C
OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $3214
MCS 1WNR Track Custom 18 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $3050*
MCS 2-Way Track Custom 18HSC+
18R
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $6050*
MCS 2WNR Track Custom 14C+
18R
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $3910*
MCS 3-Way Track Custom 18HSC+
10LSC+
18R
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $7710*
MCS 4-Way Track Custom 18HSC+
10LSC+
18HSR+
10LSR
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $10810*
Megan EZII Street 11k/11k 15 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $999
Mountain Pass Performance Comfort Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ โ›” OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $1820
Mountain Pass Performance Comfort Adjustable Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
12C
OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2740
Mountain Pass Performance Sport Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
12C
OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2740
Mountain Pass Performance 3-Way EXR Competition Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
18HSC+
18LSC
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $6450
Ohlins Sport 11.2k/12.2k 32 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $3190
Ohlins by Redwood Competition Race / HPDE Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM or
Pillowball
โ˜‘๏ธ $4175
Ohlins by Redwood Grand Touring Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM or
Pillowball
โ˜‘๏ธ $3850
Ohlins by Redwood Performance Street Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM or
Pillowball
โ˜‘๏ธ $3950
Pedders eXtreme XA Sport 12k/11k 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1350
Riaction Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1174
RS-R Sports*i Sport 9k/8.5k 36 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $2399
SF Racing Sport Sport 12k/12k 32 Rubber โ“ $1019
SF Racing Track Track 14k/8k 32 Rubber โ“ $1099
Silver's NEOMAX Sport 12k/9k 24 Pillowball โ“ $1199
Slammedenuff Unknown ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1395
TEIN Flex Z Street 10k/10k 16 Rubber โ›” $1200
Unplugged Performance Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2495
Unplugged Performance Pro-Race 2-Way Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $4995
Unplugged Performance Pro-Race 3-Way Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $8495
Unplugged Performance Race Spec Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 30 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $2995
Yellow Speed Dynamic Pro Sport Sport 14k/10k 33 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1395

*MCS does not sell pre-packaged coilovers. A damper is selected specifically for an application and ancillary components such as springs and top hats are selected for a truly custom setup.

Model 3 RWD Standard Range Coilovers

Product Purpose Spring Rates Adjustability Top Hats Rebuildable Price
BC Racing BR Series Sport 16k/6k 30 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1195
Border Racing DR Series Drag ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM โ“ $1220
Border Racing P1 Series Rally Asphalt 16k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1220
Border Racing R1 Series Track 18.6k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1220
Border Racing S1 Series Street 14.5k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1090
Border Racing SP Series Sport 16k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $1380
Border Racing SR Series Race ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 1024 Pillowball โ“ $2800
D2 Racing RS Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 36 Rubber โ“ $1300
FIVE8 SS Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ โ›” Rubber โ“ $768
Flatout ClubSport Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 20 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2345
Flatout SR Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 20 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $1580
Fortune Auto 500 Street 11k/9k 24 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1849
Fortune Auto 510 Sport Custom 24 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $2449
Function + Form (F2) Type 4 Sport 8k/8k 24 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1890
Gecko Racing G-Racing Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1215
Gecko Racing G-Street Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 Rubber โ“ $1015
Godspeed MonoRS Sport 8k/8k 32 OEM โ“ $765
KSport Kontrol Pro Street 12k/10k 36 Rubber,
OEM Rear
โ“ $1190
KW V3 Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
12C
OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2794
MCS 1WNR Track Custom 18 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $3050*
MCS 2-Way Track Custom 18HSC+
18R
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $6050*
MCS 2WNR Track Custom 14C+
18R
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $3910*
MCS 3-Way Track Custom 18HSC+
10LSC+
18R
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $7710*
MCS 4-Way Track Custom 18HSC+
10LSC+
18HSR+
10LSR
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $10810*
Megan EZII Street 8k/11k 15 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $999
Mountain Pass Performance Comfort Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ โ›” OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $1620
Mountain Pass Performance Comfort Adjustable Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
12C
OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2490
Mountain Pass Performance Sport Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
12C
OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2490
Mountain Pass Performance 3-Way EXR Competition Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16R+
18HSC+
18LSC
Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $6450
Ohlins Sport 11.2k/12.2k 32 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $3190
Ohlins by Redwood Competition Race / HPDE Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM or
Pillowball
โ˜‘๏ธ $4075
Ohlins by Redwood Grand Touring Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM or
Pillowball
โ˜‘๏ธ $3750
Ohlins by Redwood Performance Street Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 OEM or
Pillowball
โ˜‘๏ธ $3850
Pedders eXtreme XA Sport 10k/11k 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1278
Riaction Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1142
RS-R Sports*i Sport 8k/8.4k 36 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $2199
SF Racing Sport Sport 12k/12k 32 Rubber โ“ $1019
SF Racing Track Track 14k/8k 32 Rubber โ“ $1099
Silver's NEOMAX Sport 12k/9k 24 Pillowball โ“ $1199
Slammedenuff ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 32 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1395
ST Suspensions XA Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 16 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $1884
TEIN Flex Z Street 9k/10k 16 Rubber โ›” $1200
Unplugged Performance Street ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 OEM โ˜‘๏ธ $2295
Unplugged Performance Pro-Race 2-Way Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $4695
Unplugged Performance Pro-Race 3-Way Track ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 24 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $8295
Unplugged Performance Race Spec Sport ๐Ÿ…ฟ๏ธ 30 Pillowball โ˜‘๏ธ $2795
Yellow Speed Dynamic Pro Sport Sport 12k/14k 33 Rubber โ˜‘๏ธ $1399

*MCS does not sell pre-packaged coilovers. A damper is selected specifically for an application and ancillary components such as springs and top hats are selected for a truly custom setup.

Errata

I hope this guide has given you a high-level overview of the benefits of coilovers and the offerings available for your Tesla Model 3. With amazing weight distribution and electric torque, the Model 3 makes for an awesomely fun track toy. This can be made even more fun with a lower center of gravity, more traction, and a properly balanced suspension. If you know of a product that I missed, incorrectly marked characteristics, or are a manufacturer looking to add something to the list, please email hello@emotive.engineering. I hope to keep this guide as current as possible. Happy motoring!

About the Author

Steven Chen

Chief Engineering Officer at Emotive Engineering. Addicted to cars. Send hate mail to steven@emotive.engineering.