If you have been following the Tesla forums or Facebook groups, you may have been caught wind of the most anticipated summer product releases for the Tesla Model 3 aftermarket. Arriving to U.S. shores just a few short months ago, the Tein Flex Z Coilovers and the "off-the-shelf" Öhlins Road and Track DFV Coilovers bring both a value and premium offering to the growing selection of coilover choices for the Model 3. If you have read the Model 3 Coilovers Guide, you will see that there were already a plethora of options. So what sets these two new releases apart?
TEIN FLEX Z Coilovers
At a retail price of just $1,250, the Tein Flex Z is one of the more affordable coilovers for the Tesla Model 3 on the market. Do not be fooled by the price. The Tein's feature a high-strength steel construction with the classic TEIN green powdercoat and a corrosion resistant coating. The TEINs come with reinforced rubber upper mounts as well as front top hats and rear shock mounts. This makes installation a breeze as you do not have to mess with spring compressors or disassembling the rear shock assembly.
Tein Flex Z Coilovers for Tesla Model 3 AWD LR and Performance.
TEIN has separate part numbers for the RWD Single Motor and AWD Dual Motor cars. This is due to a different design for the front strut as the RWD does not need to clear the front axle, as well as different spring rates given the weight differences of each trim. The AWD rates are 10kg/mm, or 560lb/in, at all four corners while the RWD has 9kg/mm front and 10kg/mm rear. The spring rates are firm, but have been chosen for street use rather than track use.
A word of caution for those who want to minimize the amount of lowering with their coilovers. The adjustable rear spring perches run out of thread when set to approximately -1.1" lowering, meaning you will have approximately a minimum of 1.1" / ~30mm of lowering in the rear. Please note that given the motion ratios of the suspension 1mm adjustment at the spring perch is not a 1mm difference in ride height. Tein recommends a range of -1.8" to -1.0" lowering in front and -2.0" to -1.2" in the rear to match the damping characteristics. This is more than fine to dial in an appropriate ride height.
TEIN Flex Z Rear Spring Perch Limits
As a new product to the market there is not a whole lot to say about the longevity of these coilovers, but our customers who have installed them are amazed by the ride improvement. Tein typically recommends their dampers be serviced at around 3 years or 36,000 miles. This is a conservative figure and the Flex Z dampers are not designed to be rebuilt. In fact, this is one of the reasons Tein is able to offer these dampers at such value pricing. The Flex Z using a "sealed structure" damper which is closely related to their EnduraPro damper line. Rather than rebuilding the internal components of the damper, the entire absorber unit can be replaced when worn. This allows for shorter down time and do-it-yourself replacement.
As of this writing, the TEIN Flex Z is the absolute best Tesla Model 3 coilover value on the market. Streetable yet sporty levels of spring rate are paired with proper damping which complement 16-levels of adjustment. If you were considering lowering springs for your Tesla Model 3, the TEIN are not a very large jump in cost once you consider the total cost of installation and alignment. We will continue to talk to customers about their long-term thoughts.
Öhlins R&T DFV Coilovers
Ohlins Coilovers are not 100% new to the Tesla Model 3 and Y market. As a long-time Öhlins shop, Redwood Motorsports has been offering their special line of DFV coilovers for a number of years now with custom spring rates and damper valving, motorsports grade shock oil, and their own custom hardware. This new release is the "off-the-shelf" OTS standard offering direct from Öhlins. The same part number is shared for all Tesla Model 3s and Model Ys.
A plethora of Mountain Pass Performance Arms to go with Ohlins R&T DFV Coilovers.
What makes this coilover exciting is the price. At $3,190, these Öhlins represent significant value for the overall package. The KW V3 and the Öhlins R&T DFV have long been though of the go-to dual purpose coilover for decades. The E9X-generation BMW M3 has a similar suspension layout and is similarly a heavy high-powered car. Historically the KW V3 have been seen as a "budget" option and the Öhlins R&T as a premium product, but the price gap between the two applications has narrowed over the years. In fact, the Öhlins Tesla Model 3 application is now less expensive than the KW V3 AWD application and just a couple hundred more than the RWD application.
This kit has been in testing with Öhlins Sweden for quite some time and, if you know anything about the EV market, adoption of EVs in Sweden is higher than here in sunny California. Öhlins spent many months testing valving and spring rates in daily use to engineer a solution that was home on daily driven Roads as much as on the weekend at the Track. The R&T DFV absolutely live up to their moniker. Öhlins patented Dual Flow Valve technology is meant to give their dampers the same characteristics on compression (pushed in to the car) and rebound (pulled from the car) while doing so with more sensitivity and speed. This high response allows your suspension to absorb small bumps well while simultaneously being able to control larger movements such as hard cornering. To nerd out on Öhlins' DFV technology head over to MotoIQs for a great writeup on the subject.
Installation on the Öhlins is definitely more involved than the TEIN product, but is no more difficult than assembling Swedish furniture. The pro of this approach is that you know how your coilovers function as a system and their individual components, the con is that installation takes a bit more time. This is especially true as the OTS Öhlins kit requires reuse of your OEM front top hats and rear upper shock mount. In our experience on Project Emotiv3, the rear perch on the Öhlins needs to be set slightly lower than the factory recommended 25mm. 15mm worked well to even out the ride height with the Öhlins specified front pre-load and ride height. This is opposite to the Tein where you have to lower the car a minimum of 1.1". The Öhlins will not allow you to slam the car extremely low. The battery pack on our cars are pretty low as it is, so this should not be seen as much of a limitation - especially for track duty.
Product Testing the Öhlins at Buttonwillow Raceway
Our freshly installed Öhlins R&T DFV were installed on the shop car and driven to Buttonwillow Raceway. This 500 mile round trip features pothole ridden highways, fun high-speed twistys, and some of California's most boring scenery along Interstate 5. At their street settings, the Öhlins ride like pillowy goodness. While some have opted to spec slightly lower spring rates (Öhlins says you can go 20% in either direction), I personally have no problem with the stock rates for daily driving. A few more track days are needed to dial in the settings and get comfortable with the new coilovers, but they seem to be worth every penny spent just for the Road in R&T. There will definitely be more feedback to come on the Öhlins as track duty continues.
In Stock and Ready Ship
The long wait for coilovers is over. As of this writing both the Tein Flex Z and Öhlins R&T for Tesla Model 3 are in stock and ready to ship. Looking forward to getting these on a Model Y for feedback as well. Until next time, happy motoring!