Electric Tech Explored

Does the Tesla Model 3 Have a HEPA Filter?

by Emily Nicholls | Updated: April 12th, 2022
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The average American drives 14,263 miles a year, often in polluted cities and environments. Tesla has long been an advocate for tackling pollution, spurring the introduction of HEPA-rated filters in their vehicles. 

Tesla originally introduced the HEPA-rated air filters to the Model X in 2015 to help tackle the reduction of local air pollution with electric vehicles but also to reduce the impact of air pollution on its cars’ occupants too. It was next rolled out in the Model S, and most recently as standard in the Model Y. However, when it came to fitting the Model 3 out with top-notch air filters, the vehicle was deemed too small to accommodate the large HEPA filters.

So, What Is The Big Deal About Tesla HEPA Air Filters?

According to Tesla, the HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air filters in the Model X are about 10 times larger than a normal car filter, and 100 times more effective than premium automotive filters, removing 99.97% of fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold spores. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) defines a HEPA filter as being capable of removing at least 99.97% of pollen, dust, mold, and bacteria, as well as any other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns or more.

When operating at full capacity, Tesla has claimed its HEPA air filters are even enough to protect against a bioweapon attack, which brought about the name of its feature Bioweapon Defense Mode. 

To illustrate the HEPA filters’ effectiveness visually, Tesla recently posted a HEPA filter demo on YouTube using thick red smoke to illustrate how efficient the filter is when used with the Bioweapon Defense Mode. The demo puts Tesla Model Y and a similarly sized BMW SUV in an airtight bubble before letting off red smoke grenades. Within 60 seconds, the footage shows that the air inside the Tesla car is absolutely clear whilst the other car is filled with red smoke. 

Why Can’t Model 3 Vehicles Get The HEPA Filter?

When it came to kitting out the Model 3 with top-of-the-range air filters, Tesla came across a challenge – the vehicle just was not big enough to house the large HEPA filters and therefore Bioweapon Defense Mode was just not going to work. With the Model 3 vehicles, the filters are located in the passenger footwell area, however, the area is not large enough to house the HEPA filters. 

Bioweapon Defense Mode is available in all the Models except the Model 3, but their HEPA filters are in the frunk. Many have speculated if it would be possible to house HEPA filters in the frunk of the Model 3 but Tesla has responded saying that the frunk in the Model 3 is not large enough to install HEPA filters.

What Filters Does The Model 3 Have?

Tesla Model 3 back view
Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer licensed under CC BY 2.0

So what are the Model 3 air filters like then? Although not HEPA certified, Tesla claims to prevent pollen, industrial fallout, road dust, and other particles from entering the cabin through the vents. They are certainly not the bold claims of the air filters in the other models, but the Model 3 filters still do their job. 

Replacing Tesla Filters

Tesla recommends replacing the Model 3 filters every 2 years, or every year if living in China. The cabin filters can be purchased at the Tesla online store.

One thing to bear in mind is that removing and re-installing the Model 3 air filters can be a little cumbersome, requiring some technical experience, working with nuts and bolts, and removing the clips. Tesla does provide a set of detailed instructions for anyone who does want to replace the air filters themselves and there is always a plentiful supply of tutorials on YouTube for the more visual learner. 

Tesla Model 3 filters vs Hepa

While Tesla Model 3 air filters do prevent pollen, industrial fallout, road dust, and other particles, they don’t have the HEPA filters claims of being 100 times more effective than premium automotive filters or removing 99.97% of fine particulate matter, gaseous pollutants, bacteria, and viruses.

In a time where lack of clean air is a problem for many, this may be something to consider for people wanting to buy the Tesla Model 3.