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Tesla Model 3 Burning Smell – Why And What To Do?

You’re in your Tesla Model 3 and smell something that seems like it’s burning. Why did that smell occur, and what can you do to get rid of it? We researched these concerns for you and here are the answers we found.

That burning smell coming from your Tesla Model 3 may be due to a range of sources, from a dirty heater to a burnt accessory belt. Getting rid of the odor means identifying its origin. Then you can use the correct procedure based on your findings.

Keep reading as we talk about the potential causes of that burning smell in greater detail. We’ll also tackle some possible solutions that may help you in eliminating the foul smell from the vehicle.

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A Tesla Model 3 all electric vehicle driving down a country road, Tesla Model 3 Burning Smell - Why And What To Do?

Why Does It Smell Like Something Is Burning In My Tesla Model 3?

The burning smell emanating from your Tesla Model 3 may come from different sources. Some of the possible origins of this odor are:

Dirty Heater

Some Tesla Model 3s, particularly the early releases, have built-in heating units. Take note that this built-in heat pump can become dirty over time. This dirt buildup can burn because of the heat, causing the burning smell. Cleaning the car’s HVAC ducts may eliminate this concern.

Incorrect Charging Cord

Using aftermarket charging cords that aren’t compatible with Tesla’s vehicles may cause short-circuits within the car’s systems. These incidents may lead to damaged wires, which may also be the cause of the burning smell.

Keep in mind that failure to repair or replace damaged electronics in vehicles, including the Tesla Model 3, may bring about further problems. So avoid using third-party parts and accessories with Tesla vehicles before consulting with the car manufacturer.

At this point, you might be curious if you can use a Tesla charger on a Hyundai Ioniq. Read our post on that particular subject to learn the answer.

Faulty Charging Port

If you encounter a charge port error on your Tesla Model 3, it might also come with a burnt smell. Check if this assembly is at fault by opening the cover manually.

You may need to replace the entire charging module if the stench comes from this area and the green LED isn’t illuminating while you’re trying to charge.

Burnt Accessory Belt

Also called the serpentine belt, this part helps move different parts of the engine like the alternator and the AC’s compressor. But it can also become worn because of age or everyday wear and tear.

Once it begins wearing out, it may accumulate unnecessary friction that can lead to the burning smell.

Aside from these issues, your Tesla Model 3’s tires might be wearing out faster than intended because you parked it on a hot surface for extended periods. If so, you may want to read our post on how long do tires last on a Tesla to understand their durability and longevity.

White Tesla Model 3 parked on the street

How Do You Get Rid Of Tesla Model 3 Burning Smell?

Keep in mind that if you can't find the source of the burning smell, it might be best to send your Model 3 to a reliable Tesla service center. Remember, tinkering with the vehicle more than you should might put it at risk of acquiring additional problems.

Moving forward, this section aims to teach you how to remove the burning smell from your Tesla Model 3 based on the results of your troubleshooting:

Replace The Cabin Air Filter

Tesla recommends replacing the cabin air filter at least once every 2 years. Follow these steps to complete this task:

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement cabin air filter
  • Flathead screwdriver•
  • Torque wrench

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Remove the four clips underneath the passenger side of the dashboard.
  2. Take out the plastic bezel that the clips secured and set it aside temporarily.
  3. Remove the carpet and side panel of the Model 3’s passenger area.
  4. Carefully remove the yellow-orange cable from its mount.
  5. Use the torque wrench to remove the screw on top of the yellow-orange cable. Take out the small panel afterward, which should also expose the filter.
  6. Remove the old filter and replace it with the new one.
  7. Reinstall the removed parts, start the vehicle, and turn on the HVAC system.
  8. Check if the burning smell persists.

Check out this replacement cabin filter for Tesla Model 3 on Amazon.

You can also watch this video if you need a visual guide for this procedure. The following clip also shows the process on how to clean a Tesla Model 3’s evaporators:

Repair The Charging Port

Tesla Model 3 charging at home in front of the house

Before continuing with this operation, bear in mind that tinkering with the Model 3’s charging port may void your warranty. Also, the assembly generally has an intricate array of electronics that demands sufficient knowledge and skill on that subject.

So send your vehicle to a reliable Tesla service center if you’re not confident in tackling this job. But if you want to continue, here are the steps that may help fix a broken charging port and perhaps eliminate the burning smell:

What You’ll Need

  • Aluminum foil
  • Needle-nose pliers

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Roll a piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Grasp the rolled foil with the needle-nose pliers and stick it into the hole where the prong used to be.
  3. Roll another piece of foil and stick it into Model 3’s charger. Pay attention to the location of this foil as it should make contact with the foil in the charging port.
  4. Insert the charger into the part and check if the issues persist.

You can protect this setup by covering the charging port. A compatible dust cover should do well in protecting the charging module from particles and other potential issues.

Check out this Tesla Model 3 charging port dust cover on Amazon.

Watch the video below to gain additional insight into the steps mentioned above. However, this process might not be suitable for your specific scenario. If not, think about going through with other possible fixes:

Is Tesla Model 3 A Reliable Car?

Tesla Model 3 Performance 2021 MY drives on a highway

The Tesla Model 3 is a fairly reliable car. However, it still has its fair share of drawbacks. Aside from the burning smell that might come from the vehicle, some unknown noises may emanate from it. These sounds may also appear even while driving on highways.

Its performance may also vary based on different circumstances. For instance, some users report that their Tesla Model 3s may become slower than usual in cold weather.

Also, the automatic windshield wipers might not function as intended, which makes manual operation for the assembly the better option.

On the other hand, the indoor climate control system can be quite consistent. The built-in HVAC system often functions as intended to set the cabin’s temperature to the correct level based on outside readings.

Does Tesla Model 3 Have A Lot Of Problems?

Tesla Model 3 driving down on a country road

Apart from the Tesla Model 3 occasionally produce a burning smell, it might also be susceptible to other issues. These potential concerns are:

Entry Disabled

The Tesla Model 3 has no physical key. That means that the vehicle may deny entry to anyone, including the driver if the automatic doors malfunction.

One of the possible reasons for this error is an overheating CPU. This mishap led the carmaker to recall about 130,000 vehicles.

Premature Paint Degradation

Generally, the car's paint should last about 10 to 15 years before some degradation occurs. Some Tesla Model 3s have paint jobs that may degrade earlier than that period.

One user filed a lawsuit against Tesla after he noticed paint chipping from his Model 3 only after about 6 months of use.

Door Gaps

Gaps in automobile doors can become the precursor to different issues, such as air and noise escaping the cabin. Some Tesla Model 3 units have this problem as certain users complained that they found the gaps even after the vehicles came from the manufacturer.

Despite the existence of these gaps, these slits often pose little to no threat to decreasing a Model 3's overall driving performance. However, it might lead to the door failing to close or fall off if left unchecked. 

Final Words

The Tesla Model 3 may produce a burning smell because of different reasons. This stench may come from a dirty or faulty HVAC filter or a worn serpentine belt.

Make sure to troubleshoot the vehicle first to find the source of the scent. Once found, you can either use DIY methods or send the Model 3 to a trustworthy technician to help you solve this problem.