Thermal expansion in dash (crackling and popping)

Thermal expansion in dash (crackling and popping)


I could use your help here. Has anyone had thermal expansion issues? Ie crackling in their dash or under the armrest? I’ve had this issue since I’ve purchased the car in August and with the warm weather recently, it’s starting to bother me. In short, when it’s hot and I throw the AC on, or it’s cold and I turn the heater on, my entire dash starts to crackle and pop like rice krispies until it reaches temperature after about 5 minutes. It’s now gotten to the point where if it’s warm in the car from sitting in the sun and I roll down the windows, it will crackle and pop without ever turning the AC or fan on. Ambient air is now simply making it pop.

Has anyone run into this issue and if so, how did the SC remedy? I’ve posted about this awhile back, but I went to the SC some time ago and they said it’s a known issue and they’re waiting on a replacement part to be made. I thought I’d just tough it out and waited. Well, that was about 3 months ago. And if 99% of cars rolling off the line are fine, mine should be able to be fixed in my mind. A total guess, but it’s making me start to think that some sort of grease, foam padding or silicon wasn’t installed properly at assembly. Just a hunch based on seeing wafer padding around vents in my previous cars. Before I go back to the SC, I’m looking to see if others have tackled this issue. Anyone else have some thoughts?

Thanks for your help.

AWDTesla | 5 April, 2019

I personally haven't experienced that but were still hovering around 0 Celsius.

jhn | 5 April, 2019

I've had my 3 since September and not noticed this issue until this past month. Driving to work in the morning only. That is when the car is going from cold to warm most rapidly. It's still around freezing or just below at night here, then warms pretty quickly in the strong spring sun as I drive east.
I was worried that the sounds might be thermal expansion of the windshield or its seals. I would be slightly relieved if it was the dash. Something I'm still assessing but interested to see what others experience as well.

stevehendler | 5 April, 2019

In my case (not as severe), if you look to the ends of the wood/grey panel on the dash, where it meets with the door panel, you will see grey end caps if you open the front doors. That area seems to be the source of the expansion noise. Those caps, in conjunction with some clips, hold that wood panel on, so taking a look there would be a good starting point. Try pressing on the corner there where the cap meets the panel and you may notice the clicking changes.

There is a company that will take that trim panel as a core and ship back another covered in carbon fiber wrap. They have a video on their website showing how to remove it. Anyone know the name?

jimglas | 5 April, 2019

I haven't noticed, but I routinely pre-warm the car interior.

Frank99 | 5 April, 2019

I've had my car since last May, and live in Phoenix, so I've experienced a lot of Hot interior/AC On cycles, and a much more modest number of Cold (OK, Cool) Interior/Heater on cycles. I've never heard a single crackle or pop from the dash, so it's not a fundamental part of the vehicle design. I don't know how much work the SC will put into looking into this, but I'd certainly put them on the spot as much as possible. You may find yourself doing a lot of the detective work - stevehendler's suggestion might be a good one to try.

stevehendler | 5 April, 2019
Mike UpNorth | 5 April, 2019

+1 Jimglas

Jlomb436 | 5 April, 2019

Thanks everyone for your input and thoughts.

I have been hounding the service center (I've brought it in twice for the same thing) but I will stay on them. I also think it's more than the end caps, but it seems like it's all over the dash. I can hear it near the windshield and then closer to the vents as well. I actually have taken video of this and gave it to the SC. Once I'm not at work, I'll try and upload.

nvjx | 5 April, 2019

I have a 2018 M3 picked up in 2/18 which has the same crackle/pop issue in the mornings and I live in SF Bay area. When the sun warms up the car in the morning I hear these sounds from the dash.

ayhtida | 5 April, 2019

Where in the world are you? I'm in Arizona where the temps are getting awfully close to 90F. Today was the first time I heard the crackling when I got in the car and turned on the AC. Interestingly, I don't remember this being the case when I took delivery last August when days were even warmer (maybe I was ignoring it while on the honeymoon period LOL).

I'm going into the SC on Monday for something else, and will ask.

Jlomb436 | 9 April, 2019

Thanks, keep us updated! I plan to e-mail SC this weekend to make an appointment.

chrismurphy | 11 April, 2019

I'm having this exact issue. Please keep us posted on what the problem is.

parmesan | 11 April, 2019

The sound on mine came from the around the steering column. I re-calibrated the steering wheel position after moving it in all directions and the crackling seems to have reduced.

chrismurphy | 11 April, 2019

Mine is more like it's coming from the dash vents, especially toward the outer parts of the dash.

Jlomb436 | 11 April, 2019

I'm 100% certain it's form my vents. I also have an absurd amount of rattles and stuff in my car as well. LOVE the car to death, but these have been my few complaints. I have videos of the crackling noises. Maybe I'll try and upload them so you all can see.

Magic 8 Ball | 11 April, 2019

Here's the deal with pops, rattles, pings,and kazows.
Every car has them and more come and go as the car ages.
Some people are more critical of some noises vs others.

As you get older, and learn to not replace the batteries in your hearing aides, the noises all go away.

Carl Thompson | 11 April, 2019

I just recounted and I realize I'm now up to 13 distinct rattles and creaks in my year old Model 3:

1. A pillar rattle (driver's side)
2. A pillar rattle (passenger's side)
3. B pillar rattle (driver's side)
4. C pillar rattle (driver's side)
5. C pillar rattle (passenger's side)
6. Dash rattle (driver's side)
7. Dash rattle (passenger's side)
8. Dash rattle (center #1)
9. Dash rattle (center #2)
10. Steering column rattle
11. Non-located passenger side rattle (maybe seat belt?)
12. Dash creak (driver's side)
13. Seat creak (driver's side)

Most have been fixed. 2 went away on their own. Other's are intermittent enough that they don't bother me to the point of aggravation.

But it's a lot. Far too many for a quality car.

And before someone use the old excuse "it's an electric car so you're hearing stuff you wouldn't hear in an ICE car because of engine noise" ... This is my 5th EV. I know what what I should and shouldn't be hearing.

Jlomb436 | 11 April, 2019


I share your sentiments. I'm not crazy picky, but I also spent $60k. I've mentioned this before (maybe in another thread), but I had a 12 year old Acura that had fewer rattles. It's a FANTASTIC car though and I wouldn't go back to an ICE and maybe never buy anything but a Tesla.

The dash is driving me nuts though. For 10 minutes I get jiffy pop noises every time the heat or ac is on. As mentioned, I'm planning to make an appointment this weekend and I'll update those who are curious.

chrismurphy | 11 April, 2019


I know exactly what you're talking about. I have the same weird popping noises from my dash/vents too. Only seems to happen when the car has been sitting for a while and the interior is warm/hot. In a situation like that, all cars have some heat expansion noises to some degree, but this goes way beyond anything I've heard before and lasts for a few minutes. The strange thing for me is that it doesn't do it every time, but, when it does, it's really loud and undeniable. I LOVE this car, which is what makes these noises so disappointing.

kcheng | 11 April, 2019

For those with the creaking around the vents, I'd do the vent removal and reinstall that you can watch in that rpmtesla video at vimeo linked above. Looks super easy, and you may find that the install wasn't seated nicely, causing the creaking.

For the area between the dash and windshield glass, I use a long spudger, and just insert it between the glass and dash, to find the creak. Eventually, I'll put a little piece of black spongy foam in the creaky spots.

andrewsjra | 15 May, 2019

I too have the issue and it can be very annoying unless your stereo is turned up loud. I also notice when I go over bumps or enter driveways that it cracks as well. I had mobile service come out and install some padded tape underneath the dash but that didn’t work. He said if it still happens I would need to take it into the SC. The problem I have is I got mine wrapped in carbon fiber I bought from RPM TESLA. Everything including an install a local shop I paid over $200. If TESLA was going to replace the dash I’d have to wrap it again. Not sure it’s worth it despite the annoying noise. As a comparison, my wife’s model 3 dash doesn’t make these cracking noises.

andy.connor.e | 16 May, 2019

happens in my non-tesla as well. Wish it didnt happen, but thats what happens when you have too much plastic in areas that are exposed to extremely high temperature variance.

Jlomb436 | 13 June, 2019


I took my vehicle in for this AC issue, 2 very prominent rattles and for a part to be replaced that they damaged on a previous visit. In short, they said the AC function was normal. I gave some pushback as 3 co-workers don't have these noises coming from their dash. They also wanted to charge me to fix the 2 rattles.

I expressed my concerns with this and will reach out to the service manager. I'd be curious to know if anyone had any updates.

shjin | 22 June, 2019

I have fixed this myself. This is caused by the trim pieces on each end if wood trim on the dash. It is too tightly coupled with a clip that is glued and expansion/contraction causes the trim piece moves and makes piping sound.

You can remove the piece and verify that the crackling/popping sound does not happen anymore. If so, insulate the clip's end with some fabric and reattach it. In my case I used wire loom tape.

See pics here

rkalbiarEV | 23 June, 2019

Yeah, kinda annoying but luckily most of mine are fairly quite or short lived.

gballant4570 | 23 June, 2019

Probably depends a lot on conditions. I have not heard any of the popping and creaking, but my car maintains a more even temperature due to where its parked, along with my own preferences. I park it in a semi-temp controlled building when its not being driven, with cabin overtemp enabled just in case. When I am driving it I leave the AC on when I make a stop and get out of the car (during hot weather) so that it stays 68 degrees F inside the car rather than heating up. During cold weather I likewise don't let the car cold soak much.