How is this Car Different From all Other Cars?
March 30, 2021
By Henry Farkas
My Tesla Model 3, unimaginatively named "Blue Telsa," is relatively new. I bought it in June 2020 during the pandemic. Didn't really need it. Not going many places. Bought it anyway. I'd been thinking about buying one for a long time.
Because it was a pandemic, they arranged a touchless buying experience. They called me from the Tesla place when the car arrived. They said it was the blue Model 3 outside the door of the showroom. It just so happens that I live relatively near the Tesla Service Center in Owings Mills, Maryland It looks more like a regular car dealership than most of the Tesla stores.
So I went there, and I couldn't figure out how to get into the car. Remember touchless? Well, there wasn't even a salesperson around. I had gone on a test drive a few months previously, before the pandemic. The salesperson had opened the door for me. I remembered that the model S has a handle that comes out to greet you when you put your hand near it. Not the Model 3. After poking and prodding a bit, I called the number they gave me and spoke to someone inside the showroom. He pointed out that if I pressed in on the back of the handle with my thumb, the front part of the handle will swivel out from the door, and I could grab it with my fingers. It's nice that the handles are flush with the doors. Less drag and less wind noise when driving at highway speeds. But people unfamiliar with the Model 3, including some of the Model S and X owners, won't be able to open the doors of your Model 3.
Then, I sat in the car and signed the papers. I put the papers and the check in the envelope and put it in the slot in the door of the showroom. I gotta say, this was the quickest car buying experience I've ever had, and I've been driving for sixty years. On the other hand, this car has lots of differences, and I didn't get an orientation. Fortunately, YouTube has the orientation. Here's a link to one of them.
Shifting is a bit different than most other cars. The shift lever goes back to a neutral position when you shift so you need to use other cues to know what gear you're in. I was used to this because I used to drive a Prius, and they have the same issue. Here are the clues.
If you're in Park, the picture of your car on the center screen is seen from the left front. The picture of your car, with its original color, is angled towards the left lower corner of the screen. Push down on the steering column mounted gearshift lever for Drive and up for Reverse.
In Reverse, the picture of the car is seen from the top, and you get a big picture from your backup camera with lines showing you where the car is going to go if you back up. That's a really good clue that you're in Reverse gear. Turn the steering wheel, and the lines move.
If you're in drive, the car is pictured as if you're looking at the car from the rear and slightly above. You can see that the car is going to go forward. If you're going less than five mph such as backing out of your driveway, you don't need to stop before shifting to Drive. You don't even need to step on the brake. Just shift to Drive, and the electric motor will stop the car and immediately start it going forward.
That will get you on the road. There are lots of helpful videos on YouTube about the features of the Model 3. Those videos are an excellent way to learn about your new car. Go to YouTube and search on Tesla Model 3.