A comprehensive guide on preparing for, taking delivery of, and owning a Tesla Model 3.
I couldn't find a good resource for the soup-to-nuts process of buying a Model 3, so I made one. This document is adapted from Will Fealey's UK-based guide on the Model S. It's been Americanized and edited for the Model 3, with many new links and additional resources since Will's was originally written.
Congratulations! You've configured a Model 3. Now comes the hardest part: waiting.
You'll receive an email from Tesla saying something to the effect of "We'll be in touch!" Do not get financing quotes at this time. They expire after 30-days, and you will need to re-run credit checks.
Depending on your financing choice during configuration, you'll see an "Edit Design" button on your account page all the way up until your car starts being built (this can be in as little as ten days before taking delivery). If you elected the "Cash" option for financing, your "Edit Design" button will disappear immediately, but it is still accessible by visiting https://www.tesla.com/teslaaccount/edit-design/RNXXXXXXXXXXX. Use this link to (relatively) officially check the status of your order up to 7 days before your delivery date.
You will eventually be contacted by a Tesla Delivery Advisor/Scheduler who will confirm your delivery date. Make sure your Tesla account reflects this date.
<30 days before delivery
Now is the time to get financing quotes from credit unions, banks, etc. Whatever quotes you get, if your credit history is excellent, use Lightstream to get an unsecured cash loan. They will beat any approved rate you send them.
Ensure you have the routing/account number of the account(s) you will be transferring funds from on delivery day (especially important on weekends).
<10 days before delivery
If applicable, finalize your financeer.
Your "Edit Design" button and/or back-door link should stop working. If it doesn't, your delivery date is probably going to be delayed.
<7 days before delivery
Check your account for an assigned Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and Motor Vehicle Purchase Agreement (MVPA). If they are not showing up, the back-door method is to try buying a Tesla Wall Connector. When you're checking out, if it says "No VIN assigned," you truly do not have a VIN. Your delivery date is probably going to be delayed.
If you have a VIN, call your insurance to schedule the coverage date.
Before you take delivery, you should:
- Watch the Model 3 walkthrough videos on the support section of Tesla.com. These are great at getting you started with the basics and will speed up your handover process.
- Review the information supplied on the Tesla Support pages, these pages go over details on financing, trade-ins, vehicle registration, insurance, warranty, etc.
- Attend a Tesla owner orientation event. You will meet other owners and learn lots of handy tips about general ownership, driving and living with the car.
- Get a home charger installed. Tesla has a list of recommended installers. You can also check YouTube to do a DIY installation.
- Download and read a copy of the owners manual. It will come in handy on your phone/computer for when you need it.
- Read What They Don't Tell You When You Buy an Electric Car
- Grab a good tire inflator.
- Join the official Tesla forum, the unofficial Tesla Motors Club forum, and r/teslamotors subreddit.
On delivery day, prior to arrival:
- Have the Tesla app installed on your smartphone prior to arrival for delivery.
- Bring your driver’s license.
- If your car will be registered to more than one person, each person on the registration needs to be at the delivery appointment to sign final documents.
- Bring written or digital proof of your down payment having been made and the final payment details or financing details. If you are financing your car, make sure your loan has been funded before you arrive to take delivery and that you have some kind of proof you can provide to Tesla should they ask about it.
- Bring a printed insurance card or other proof of insurance that shows your Model 3 is insured.
- Since the delivery area where you will inspect your Model 3 may be dark, bring a flashlight.
Delivery day in-person vehicle inspection:
*NOTE: Do not sign final documents, or wire funds, until a full vehicle inspection is completed.
SECTION A - Verify pre-delivery vehicle records
- Check for correct name and address on your paperwork.
- Confirm vehicle's VIN matches your paperwork.
- Check display screen for any information that does not match the car.
SECTION B - Exterior inspection
- Check for correct vehicle body color and wheels.
- Inspect body exterior paint for defects. NOTE: By and large, this should really be the only item which should cause you to reject a delivery.
- Inspect vehicle underside (front & rear) for signs of damage.
- Check for any obvious body panel misalignment.
- Inspect wheel rims for damage.
- Inspect all glass for signs of distortion or cracks.
- Check for proper windshield and windshield trim installation.
- Inspect all edges of the roof glass panel and rear window.
- Test all doors to ensure they open and close without unreasonable effort. Check paint in areas such as door hinges, that are not visible when doors are closed. Some deliveries have reported incomplete body painting in hidden areas.
- Test opening and closing of trunk and frunk. Check paint in areas that are not visible when frunk and trunk are closed. Some deliveries have reported incomplete body painting in hidden areas.
- Check for the towing eye under the frunk mat.
- Ensure door windows auto-close completely when doors are closed.
- Check for front license plate bracket (if applicable in your state).
- Check all front and rear exterior lights for signs of internal condensation.
SECTION C - Interior inspection
- Watch for any error messages on the display screen.
- Touch the Tesla T at the top of the screen to bring up the "About Your Tesla" window. Tap the unicorn drawing to access the Sketch Pad. Leave the Sketch Pad up for a minute to make sure there are no phantom touches happening on the display.
- Test driver & passenger door emergency release.
- Check all 4 windows to ensure they open and close properly.
- Inspect interior seat upholstery, door surfaces, dash, headliner & carpets (including passenger compartment, frunk, and trunk).
- Check left & right clothing hook operation.
- Check all seat belts for proper operation.
- Check rear seats for proper fold-down operation.
- Test sound system to ensure all speakers are working (move fade/balance to all four points to verify)
- Test steering wheel position controls to ensure proper operation.
- Press the center of the steering wheel to make sure the car's horn works.
- Test windshield wipers.
- Test rear view camera.
- Check side mirrors for proper operation of folding and position adjustment.
- Check sunvisor operation and mirror condition.
SECTION D - Lighting inspection
- Vanity mirror lights.
- Front overhead driver & passenger lights.
- Rear overhead left & right side lights.
- Ambient lights
- Driver & passenger foot wells
- Driver & passenger door pockets
- Rear left & right door pockets.
- Driver & passenger door puddle lights.
- Console middle compartment light.
- Console rear compartment light.
- All door latch button lights.
- All door window button lights.
- Steering wheel control lights.
- Glovebox light (check glovebox opening and closing).
- Frunk light.
- Trunk lights (2).
- Fog lights.
- Headlights (low & high-beam).
- Front park lights.
- Front turn signal lights.
- Left & right side turn signal lights.
- Rear running lights.
- Brake lights.
- Rear turn signal lights.
- Sunvisor driver & passenger lights.
SECTION E - Inspect charging ability
- Check charge port door for proper operation.
- Check charge port indicator light.
- Ensure vehicle will accept a charge.
- Check mobile charging kit. Test it to ensure it works. 4a. J1772 adapter. 4b. NEMA 5-15 120v adapter. 4c. NEMA 14-50 240v adapter. 4d. Mobile Connector with cable.
SECTION F - Verify region-specific equipment
- Maryland deliveries should include Tesla's officical inflation kit.
SECTION G - Inspect pairing connectivity
- Test both key cards to ensure they work with your car. Keep one key card on your person in case the phone app does not operate properly.
- Attempt to pair your smartphone to your car over Bluetooth.
Verify post-delivery vehicle records
- Ask your delivery specialist to make sure that your car is marked as DELIVERED in Tesla's network. There have been reports of cars being delivered and the phone app doesn't allow log-in the following day. This is due to the oversight of the car not being identified as having been delivered in Tesla's system.
- Make sure you have copies of all paperwork necessary for good documentation of your purchase, including a copy of your signed purchase agreement. If your delivery specialist suggests that you can get your documents electronically on your Tesla account, ask for paper copies you can take with you anyway. Having physical copies with you ensures you will get them.
You can additionally check the Master Model 3 Delivery Checklist
Note: Pointing these out before you leave is important but if you only notice something days later, don't worry. Tesla is known to rectify these issues either immediately or on your next visit to the service center. If you have a car you're not happy taking away that day, you have every right to decline the handover until the problems are fixed.
As part of the walkthrough with a Tesla rep, ensure you cover:
- How to charge / work a supercharger / open the charge flap.
- Make sure correct closing technique for frunk is demonstrated.
- Autopilot usage.
- How to find superchargers / other chargers.
- How to open / move between apps on the display.
- Pair your phone and connect / reconnect Bluetooth.
- How to use Satellite Radio, Podcasts, and Spotify.
- Steering wheel buttons / how to change what each do.
- How to do a full reset of the main screen.
- How to adjust seating, save profiles, have mirrors drop / not drop when reversing.
- Review all settings pages.
- Use of the Android or iPhone apps.
- Where to find roadside assistance info from the main screen.
- Your local service center support number.
After your first drive:
- Keep driving!
- Download Plugshare to find chargers.
- Go and try a supercharger (also a good excuse for a first drive)
- Consider having the paint protected with ceramic paint protection, which will help prevent scratches, stone chips, etc.
- Install a dash camera. Many owners opt for the BlackVue brand. UPDATE: This is now part of the car with the V9 update.
- Consider alloy wheel insurance or protection.
- Learn how to properly wash your car.
- Be aware the Model 3 does not come with a spare tire.
- When your registration arrives, check that it's the correct model listed (LR AWD, etc.), as it could affect selling your car in the future, insurance coverage, etc.
- Respond to the surveys that Tesla periodically sends. This the best way that you can directly impact improvements to the car and company.