Love the car - Can't Stand the Seats! Back pain 2 day test drive.

Love the car - Can't Stand the Seats! Back pain 2 day test drive.

I currently drive a large American 4-door sedan but the Tesla caught my eye. Did lots of online research and yesterday went to the local dealership to check things out. Wow I was hooked. I was given a Model 3 for a 2 day test drive. I got the car for a 2 day test drive (because the dealership was closed on Sunday) and let's just say that this car is AMAZING! I love it. Most fun I've had driving a car in my life.

My current car has firm leather seats that are kinda flat in the back and a nice cushy suspension.

Well, after 2 days in the model 3 my back hurt so darn much I can't even get out of bed by day 2. I had the lumbar support off (as I do with my current car) and was laying into the seats. My spine and my upper back and shoulders are so darn sore I had to go in for a massage today. Even walking causes back pain. I even tried driving the car with one of my pillows behind my upper back and it didn't help at all.

The ride is also stiff and tight feeling, whereas my current car is soft.

I don't understand what's causing this but I can't drop $50k on a car that causes me to have sore back like this. Has anyone else had this issue before? Any suggestions? I love this car but I'm not going to be able to purchase it because of the sore back issue.

I sat in my own car today and I was like aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that feels soooooo good it was like heaven sitting on those seats compared to the model 3.

Magic 8 Ball | 8 mars 2019

@jwzizz58 Have you discussed this with a physician? Few experience pain in a Model 3 seat and most likely cause of your pain is something to do with your physic, IMO. It is possible you have a defective seat but that would be rare. To test if it is your seat can you try another Model 3?

Magic 8 Ball | 8 mars 2019


andy.connor.e | 8 mars 2019

Car seat comfortability is not a vehicle dependent thing. That is a human dependent thing. If they dont like the seats, then they dont like the seats.

Rt002k | 8 mars 2019

"The car's not defective, you're defective!"

Constructive contribution to the jwzizz's problem. Sounds like he/she is simply incompatible with the seat design.

I'm assuming you've tried tilting the seat back a bit (seat and back, not just reclining the back) and moving closer to the wheel? I have found that I'm more comfortable in this car with the steering wheel closer to me than in other cars.

eplaskett | 8 mars 2019

Rt002k +1

Agree on the steering wheel. I have it telescoped all the way out and would still like it a bit closer to me. I am 5'11 with reasonably long legs and somewhat short arms for someone my height - any time I buy a suit or sportcoat, the sleeves need altering more than anything else. My 3's seats are super comfortable, and I am OK with where I have the wheel, but if I could move it an inch closer, I would. (Moving the seat an inch farther forward, however, would result in my knees' being too bent.)

It's funny: short arms or not, I have never driven another car where I felt I had to have the steering wheel telescoped all the way out. I suppose the lack of a traditional dashboard in the 3 results in a default position a bit farther away than that of most cars.

meni | 8 mars 2019

OP is a FUD troll.

- There are no Tesla dealerships.
- M3 seat comfort is not a common complaint.

Moving on.

tom8959 | 8 mars 2019

Yeah, this thread is a joke. Took my wife to an orthopedist yesterday because she had thrown out her back - she actually felt great just sitting in the passenger seat. Yes, that's right, the Model 3 seats actually relieve severe back pain! my wife's case, anyway.

ODWms | 8 mars 2019

There are always going to be outliers; there’ll always be people who have specific issues that will deviate from the norm. No car company can make a single product that is going to be perfect for everyone. For me, these are the best seats I’ve had in a car in over 4 decades of driving, bar none. I think most will probably agree. That’s more than a car company can ask.

jwzizz58 | 10 mars 2019

@Magic 8 Ball, Tesla was great, and had the seat replaced. Same problem.

I had no back issues prior to buying the car. If I switch cars with my wife and drive her Acura for a week, my back feels amazing. As soon as I drive my model 3, I get horrible aches in my back, neck and shoulders within minutes that take days to go away. Just the way it is (for me, and probably a minority if other owners).

I’ve been to the doc, that’s how I ended up in PT. No health issues, just a car seat that violently disagrees with me.

I appreciate all of the responses by the way. @eplaskett, inclining the seat bottom seems to have helped a bit. Thanks for the suggestion!

I can’t say it’s the seat shape, the vibration/stiff ride, etc. i don’t know. What I can tell you is it’s been hell on my health and is exactly as OP described. I love the car otherwise, but it’s a fact that prospective buyers should know. I’m not a shill or full of shit as some have suggested. Just sharing my experience.

jjgunn | 10 mars 2019

lilbean | February 5, 2019
Now I have to pee!
Oh oh! Pregnant? or just finish that 2nd bottle of Cab from Solvang?

Carl Thompson | 10 mars 2019


Unlike my previous cars where the lumbar support helped my back I've found in the Model 3 I have to completely disable the lumbar support or I get pain. But when I've reduced the lumbar support to its lowest and adjust the seat just right (kind of tilted forward, raised a bit high off the floor and a bit further away from the steering wheel) I get no back pain and I am reasonably comfortable.

The seats have a lot of adjustments and it took me a long time to find right combination. It took me even longer because the right combination wasn't what I would have expected based on my previous cars. Keep trying, hopefully you'll find what works for you!

JakeMacaw84 | 11 mars 2019

I'm coming from a c6 corvette, I don't think the model 3 should be a problem LMAO.

jithesh | 11 mars 2019

Car seats are like mattresses. No one design satisfies all.

Firaz.ashraf | 11 mars 2019

Very generally, you need to manage posture and also pressure. Most back pain is generated by strain and lack of stretching of muscles or pressure on nerves. Please pay careful attention to the angle at which you sit - With good posture, does the seat feel like its putting acute feedback on your hamstrings? You want to make sure to incline/decline the seat to minimize the pressure.

andy.connor.e | 11 mars 2019

My previous car would push me into the middle, otherwise my head would hit the door frame area. That actually has screwed up my normal sitting position to that my spine drifts to the right pretty much automatically. Make sure you are comfortable in your car!

ColoDriver | 11 mars 2019

My Model 3 seats fit me okay, but not great. No car seats have ever fit me better than my 2001 Volvo. The Model 3 seats hit me right at the should blades. I have relieved some of that pressure by raising the seat, moving closer to the steering wheel, almost fully deflating the lumbar support (counter-intuitive but it worked) and bending the lumbar support rods. After all that, I would rate them a B which is good enough for a car that's otherwise an A..

ODWms | 11 mars 2019

I still have my 2008 Volvo S40, it replaced my previous 2005 S40. Both seats exactly the same. I loved both cars, and they served me well. Great seats, but neither can touch the Model 3 seats for comfort in my opinion, by a long shot.

chiropod | 11 mars 2019

I've had my 3P since November, replacing a BMW 435. My seats in this car are quite comfortable, comparable to the bmw.

ajstroberg | 11 mars 2019

My subjective call is the M3 seats are ok, nearly in the class of an old SAAB. My advice for the man with back pain: see a real Physical Therapist (an RPT or even DPT) not for shake & bake, but rather an ergonomic eval of the match between the driver and the car. Several adjustments are not obvious.

jwzizz58 | 14 mars 2019

@ColoDriver how did you go about bending lumbar support rods?

RedPillSucks | 14 mars 2019

hmm not sure about the lumbar support rods but there was a video of someone bending the headrest rods so they weren't weird on his neck.

rdh37 | 14 mars 2019

I truly hope that the OP can find a comfortable position. My wife and I looked at an X. The seats in it are very uncomfortable for me. I am 6'5" and 230 lbs. Certainly not way overweight but I am wider than the "wings" on those seats. The 3 seats are the most comfortable I have been in a car since the old Caddy whales. Once I settle in, it is great though I still have not yet done a drive over about an hour. The easy entry mode is wonderful and deals with most of the issues I have getting out of the car when I cannot fully open the door. Still fiddling with the many available adjustments in a premium seat but enjoying it immensely. Have a nice day.

Baltfan | 14 mars 2019

Is there anyone that denies that the lumbar still bulges slightly out when it is completely deflated? In other words, there is a slight curve in the lumbar area. Many car seats can be have a completely flat lumbar area when deflated. That would be my choice, though I love my car and seem to have found a position lately that is working better for me. Never had a problem beyond maybe the first week getting comfortable with any other car. Still own two other cars that never give me issues.

Baltfan | 14 mars 2019

Also, I should say from a cushion feel standpoint, I very much enjoy the M3 seats.

TexasBob | 14 mars 2019

In this ongoing weird thread - I have back pain / no you don't / yes i do / well you shouldn't / well I do - I thought I would offer something that has helped me.

I have lower back issues. I find the model 3 seats are great for me (6'2") EXCEPT for the lumbar. So I bought this $15 memory foam insert from amazon and 8,000 miles later I have never had any discomfort. Won't help with the shoulder/upper back issues, but if you have lumbar issues in my experience, $15 well spent!

You may now resume arguing about whether or not the OP and jwzizz58 actually do/should have back pain. Sheesh.

Cabassi | 14 mars 2019

I wonder if part of the reason people are having discomfort (me included, but it's not that bad unless I go for a really long drive) is because the seats are lower/closer to the floor than in most cars, making it so your legs are up higher. This distributes your weight differently, putting more pressure on your lower back. I moved my seat up to the highest position and it felt better. (Unfortunately that meant my forward view was a bit more obstructed by the bar above the windshield, as I'm pretty tall.)

jwzizz58 | 14 mars 2019

ajstroberg, I’m seeing a DPT.

I agree with Baltfan, the lumbar area juts out even fully deflated. It’s just an odd shaped narrow curvy seat compared to the rest of the industry. Works great for most, but debilitating for some.

Here’s the thing, I’ve given the car a full 6 months, pushed through daily pain, and have spent dozens of hours in PT (if that’s not dedication to a product I don’t know what is). As others have stated, some seats are just not for everyone. And looking at the model Y, the seats look unsurprisingly identical. So even though it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever owned, I may need to ditch it and sadly count myself out of the club.

Carl Thompson | 14 mars 2019


Have you tried to see if the older seat design works better for you assuming you have the new? (Or the other way around)

lordcn1 | 15 mars 2019

Suggestion from someone who has had two disk operations, distance runner etc: The car sits a lot lower than typical SUV. More like entering a MAC F-1. Open the door, stand 90 Deg from the center line of the seat so you are facing abeam (left 90 DEG) of the car, sit straight down, THEN rotate body,, legs etc so you are seated straight ahead. Twisting and trying to sit down all at once likely the cause. That fixed my problem. Had similar pain for a few days until I ingress-ed as described.

Rt002k | 15 mars 2019

@jwzizz - seeing if you can find aftermarket seats may be a good option for you. Would hate to see you give up the best car you've owned because of the seats if there may be an economical alternative available.

bheck11 | 15 mars 2019

@jwzizz58: Have you tried a separate back support? I have a Thermarest lumbar travel pillow that I've used in other cars and it does wonders for me. Of course, every back is different!

Meanwhile, I've managed to adjust the Model 3 seat to work for me (thank goodness). Good luck with your continued quest.

ColoDriver | 15 mars 2019


This is where I got the idea. If you decide to start messing with the inside of your car seats, well, if you break it you buy it! :-)

https : //

The fifth post down, there are nice pictures and good description of what Cintoman did to make his lumbar support fit his back.

Good luck!

SO | 15 mars 2019

You mean not everyone has the same body shape, size and support needs?

Better sell your M3 and get back to your wonderful leather seats!!!!!! The longer you wait, the more money you lose on your M3.

jwzizz58 | 15 mars 2019

Thanks all!
ColoDriver Thx for the link

Just picked up a sacro-ease from relaxtheback. Going to live with that for 2 weeks and report back

jwzizz58 | 13 mai 2019

Checking back in...
The sacro ease was just a giant apparatus, didn’t really fit into the diminutive model 3 seats. So ended up using a seat cover to sort of fill in the seat. It’s not terrible, but still not great.

An honest and full on disappointment for me. I’d warn anyone who is thinking about buying one of these to definitely do the extended test drive and pay close attention to the seats. I blew $50k on something that has given me a health and quality of life issues. A mistake.

jwzizz58 | 13 mai 2019

Checking back in...
The sacro ease was just a giant apparatus, didn’t really fit into the diminutive model 3 seats. So ended up using a seat cover to sort of fill in the seat. It’s not terrible, but still not great.

An honest and full on disappointment for me. I’d warn anyone who is thinking about buying one of these to definitely do the extended test drive and pay close attention to the seats. I blew $50k on something that has given me a health and quality of life issues. A mistake.

Tuning In | 13 mai 2019

Now it’s the interior of a $35k car, if that helps taper expectations.

lbowroom | 13 mai 2019

So bizarre. The model 3 has the most comfortable seats I've ever owned. Another 50 or so co-workers have one too and I've never heard a complaint. Would love to see a full body photo to see what we're working with.

Tuning In | 13 mai 2019

I love the seats and the spring rate is perfect. But there are some who prefer that of a Camry. The car wasn’t designed to ride like that. Can’t make everyone happy.

The only passenger so far that has found it uncomfortable was a older co-worker on the really big side. For that, he needs a Model S and the Model 3 seats are just too small for him.

johnw | 13 mai 2019

I guess one size doesn't fit all- I find the Model 3 seats to be superb. I did a 4k trip and it was fantastic. Did you try doing some adjustments on the position? They're super adjustable. You'll regret not getting one.

ODWms | 14 mai 2019

@lbowroom, that’s been my experience. Best seats in any car I’ve ever owned.

lilbean | 14 mai 2019

Maybe he's short.

rdh37 | 14 mai 2019

I think I posted here before but 6'5" and 230 lbs. My model 3 is the most comfortable car I have ever driven. A bit tough to get in and out but easy entry really helps. Sorry that the OP hates it. Wish that there was some after market product that could help but I am not aware of any. BTW, my parents had a Camry; I was always very uncomfortable driving that car. Would feel like a pretzel whenever I got out of it. Have a nice day.

hcdavis3 | 14 mai 2019

My drivers seat was uncomfortable at first and I did have some lower back pain after driving, but messing around with the seat settings I’ve found my sweet spot and it’s very comfortable now.

SteveWin1 | 14 mai 2019

If the seat doesn't feel comfortable to you and you're a normal height, you might want to see a doctor to see if there's an issue with your back. The Model 3 has never felt anything other than wonderful to me. Maybe your lumbar support controls are messed up?

Mike UpNorth | 14 mai 2019

The comfort of the seats is one of my favorite features of owning the 3.
Came from 2 Audi's prior to the 3 for reference.

RMast | 14 mai 2019

The seats do definitely "feel" VERY comfortable for me, I love them and everyone comments about them but I tend to think they are bad "ergonomically/metaphysically" (prob not the right words but hope you get the idea) bc I did start getting back pain right after I got the car, (never had before) I refuse to think the car is the reason bc I love the car too much but a coincidence indeed. It wont go away after rehab, tons of rest, the works...tried dif seating/lumbar/non lumbar what all you people said I think I think theres something to this, even though people dismiss it as FUD. I couldn't love and appreciate Tesla/Musk more so this isn't FUD but valid feedback...the seats may be designed to feel good for some but bad for the spine (and no i'm no expert just a feeling)...My new theory is I nudged a discs with too much acceleration that my body wasn't used to but again refuse to stop doing that and if that's the cause will just deal with a bad back. :) | 14 mai 2019

@RMast - Not FUD. Some people find one car seat bad vs another for their specific body. My friend with a bad back loves my Tesla seats, but hates the Lexus seats she has. I find both cars are comfortable on long drives. She sticks all sorts of extra pads to make her driver's seat work for her.

I'm not sure what to suggest - try various back/bottom pads and you may find one that does the trick. Doubt it's the solution, but she finds if the seat leans back more than normal in most cars, it works better for her (but she has to push the seat way up). It's an awful position for me.

calvin940 | 14 mai 2019

I love my seat. Super comfortable. I think those finding issues with the seat either haven't spent enough time with adjustments or may have some other muscular or skeletal issue.

CharleyBC | 14 mai 2019

The front seats in the 3 are actually therapeutic for my spinal injury. It's the most comfortable place I know of that I can sit. But bodies are all different. It's a shame that the same seat that's so wonderful for me is literally a pain for someone else. Maybe spend some time with someone who's a seating ergonomic specialist to evaluate what's wrong. If it can't be addressed by the various adjustments, maybe they can recommend some supplementary pad or other product.