Model 3 Auto-dimming - dangerous flaw

Model 3 Auto-dimming - dangerous flaw

I have been a Tesla Model 3 owner for 3 weeks now. Incredible car. Just nice in almost every way. Hands down the smartest car I have ever driven!

There are a few major flaws... lack of audible warning for lane changes when a car is in the blindspot (almost every new car has them now) and lack of same audible warning for cross-traffic (cars approaching from side) when backing out of a parking spot.

By far, the most serious flaw is the auto-dimming mirrors. I have almost been involved in two accidents on the highway at night because I can't see out of the rear view mirrors. For me, it is almost like you have put on very dark sunglasses at night. I can see points of light, but the mirrors are so dark that I cannot figure out whether cars are a few feet or a mile away. Yes, a shoulder check is mandatory. But rear-view mirrors are just as necessary.

I have not had this issue in any other car. I have contacted Tesla Service, and they say that the feature can be disabled in software for the Model S, but there is no option to do so for the Model 3. I was told of the light sensor above the cameras in the windshield - covering that up with hockey tape had no effect.

This feature is outright dangerous for me, and I am considering my options.

1) The best option would be for Tesla to allow us to disable the auto-dimming feature. Any help with this would be appreciated.

2) I am considering not driving the Model 3 after dark. A bit impractical, and sad to put such a nice car on the shelf

3) I am considering looking for a glass cutting service to cut mirrors to shape so I can stick them on over top of the existing mirrors. Would be a shame to have to do this to such a wonderful car. Might have to come to this, though, as I want to live to purchase another Tesla :0)

Help is much appreciated!

eplaskett | 22 oktober 2018

I get where you're coming from. Have you ever had a car with auto-dimming side mirrors before? My first experience with them was not dissimilar to your own, was with my old Lexus IS300. I quickly got accustomed to the darkened mirrors, however, and eventually came to appreciate them. When I replaced the Lexus with a VW CC, which did not have that feature, I missed it quite bit as I would often get dazzled by lights from behind, particularly in the driver's side mirror. I am glad to have it again on the Model 3.

One question: do you have your side mirrors adjusted properly, i.e., the Click and Clack way? If not, you might want to try it. Not only does it eliminate your blind spots, but additionally, you'll almost always see at least one headlight of any car that might be hiding out in those areas, which would help mitigate the auto-dimming effect of the mirrors.

Magic 8 Ball | 22 oktober 2018

Oh, boy (roll eyes).

brianchi73 | 22 oktober 2018

I completely agree. I am afraid to change lanes at night sometimes because if there is a car with no headlights on (which happens more often than it should) then it would be very, very hard to see them in those extremely dark rear and side view mirrors.

Magic 8 Ball | 22 oktober 2018

People, when will you stop playing Goldilocks?

I will find the dings to be distracting, but would welcome a revolving flashing red light hanging down from the rear view mirror.

If they change the mirrors I will find them too bright and "dangerous" by directing too much stray light in my eyes.

Life is dangerous, get used to it.

alexiosp | 22 oktober 2018

I like the dimming mirrors, i dont think that is safety issue. Perhaps, Tesla can have the option to disable them if preferred.

I am curious, have you tinted the side windows?

jamespompi | 22 oktober 2018

I have 15% tint on the rear making it basically impossible to see out of the back at night, I think making it adjustable to the user would be ideal, but I wonder if the hardware even has that functionality..

jdcollins5 | 22 oktober 2018

I also like the auto dimming mirrors but I am used to them. I certainly would not sensationalize a thread title or call them a dangerous flaw just because I had a problem with them.

CharleyBC | 22 oktober 2018

"I was told of the light sensor above the cameras in the windshield - covering that up with hockey tape had no effect."

Exactly backwards. Taping the sensor will make the car think it is night time, and thus invoke dimming, not prevent it. To fool the system, you'd have to shine a light into the sensor.

rkalbiarEV | 22 oktober 2018

Just allow us to turn it off. Easy peasy.

richard.tso | 22 oktober 2018

Thanks for the link to the rear view mirror adjustments. I'll be sure to give it a try! I have tried sticking on the 2" concave mirrors, but they aren't that much help, especially at night.

My Model 3 is "out of the box"... there was no additional tinting. I happen to have an Lexus IS300. Never noticed any auto-dimming (also had a Lexus !S350, which I traded in for the Tesla). I believe there is auto-dimming on the inside rear view mirror, but not the outside ones.

As for "living dangerously", I'm afraid I am one of those who prefer not to take unnecessary risks while driving. Life is dangerous enough without adding risk.

Best case for me is to have them disabled. Tesla, please help!

richard.tso | 22 oktober 2018

Hi jd,

Apologies. Not my intent to sensationalize at all. I think the Model 3 is a fantastic car. Definitely, the best I have ever owned.

However, for me, the auto-dimming is a very serious problem, and a serious safety concern.

mikes | 22 oktober 2018

It would be great if that feature could be turned on and off to the drivers liking and according to the driving condition. I don't see a problem in town or on a highway. As I live rural I have no traffic and no lights around me and with the mirrors dimmed it is almost impossible to see anything behind the car, especially when backing up.

navinsiri | 22 oktober 2018

If it bothers you that much the rear view mirror can be unplugged pretty easily. You just need to pop off the cover behind the mirror and there is a connector right there. Unplug it and the auto dimming should be disabled.

eplaskett | 22 oktober 2018


Interesting... I am quite sure that my 2002 IS300 had auto-dimming outside mirrors. Just searched an old IS forum and plenty of people have posted on there that their cars had them as well. I wonder if it's a feature that varied from year to year.

In any event, I hope that you find an option that works for you on the Model 3 mirrors, and that you otherwise continue to enjoy the car!

AMAZEU | 22 oktober 2018

go to a glass shop and get them to replace the mirror or just glue a new one over the stock glass

slingshot18 | 22 oktober 2018

You can't see out of them? Strange. Mine look totally fine when darkened. Darker than during the day, but everything is still totally clear at night.

Quinten | 22 oktober 2018

What there is auto-dim mirrors? I did not know that.... my van has it for the rear mirror but not the side. I hardly drive at night so I never knew it had it.

ReD eXiLe ms us | 22 oktober 2018

richard.tso: I... don't have this... 'problem' at all. I live in a rural area. People love to drive with their high beams on, blinding me from behind at night. I have often hoped for relief from this assault. It seems this feature is the exact thing I need. Because ICEHOLES in pickup trucks seem to get an evil thrill out of attempts to feign forcing others off the road. I used to turn on my high beams to return the favor as they passed, but I realized it was a bad idea. I now avert my eyes and concentrate on the white line on the right border of the highway as a guide to my position on the road, and the path ahead.

"What's behind you... doesn't matter." -- Enzo Ferrari

maztec | 22 oktober 2018

The driver-side mirror and the rear-view mirror auto-dim. Passenger mirror does not dim.

I do wish I could set the level of dim or turn it on and off. Generally it is fine, but a few times I have had it turn on and completely foul up my ability to see outside. Just like the autowipers, it doesn't always know the best setting. I do a bug report when it gets too dark for a condition that it shouldn't.

Kathy Applebaum | 22 oktober 2018

Interesting -- I would never buy a car WITHOUT auto dimming mirrors. The headlights from cars behind me blind me too easily without this feature.

kevin | 22 oktober 2018

I'm confused by this conversation. The M3 manual says: "Except when in Reverse, the rear view mirror automatically dims in proportion to the level of glare from the headlights of a vehicle behind you." If the car behind you is glaring its headlights at you, why would dimming the mirror make it harder to see? Why would anybody want more glare?

The comments here makes it seem that the mirror dims when it's night time. That's now what it does. It dims when headlights shine on the mirror. I would suggest that anyone who is having problems seeing dim things in a Tesla rear view mirror at night either has a defective mirror, or needs a visit to an eye doctor.

I've driven Model 3 and Model S for 2 years, and never had a problem with the mirrors at night. Auto-dim is great.

kevin | 22 oktober 2018

Errrr. "That's NOT what it does"

Atoms | 22 oktober 2018

I understand what you are saying. After many months I’ve still not adjusted. I can’t tell if there are cars in the lane beside me or not. There is no tint on the windows and we plan to add 50% tint which will just make the situation worse.
I’m not going to stop driving at night, just need to be especially careful. I turn on AP just to help change lanes since this greatly improves safety.
Hopefully I’ll get used to this “feature” in the future with more hours driving at night.
FSD May make the complaint a moot point.

ameris | 22 oktober 2018

Wow. Just wow!
First of all - I guess you've never have been blinded by an asshole behind you running full on high beams for no reason...for miles. Because if you had been then you would know that THAT can kill you. I was blinded on multiple occasions with rather cheap(and not so cheap) rental cars that have no dimming at all.
Second - you do realize that at night the dimming mirrors are supposed to show you the headlights and not the whole car and color of its paint or a brand logo it carries, correct? I think the issue here is assumptions you have about what you expect to see in a mirror vs. not.
I drive a lot, drove across the United States 4 times already, with different cars and a box truck with a trailer(not trying to compare myself to the semi drivers, but for a regular guy I do drive a lot and rather far) and with that experience in mind I can tell you that dimming mirrors will save your life and you should try to get used to them rather than disable them.
When you have a bright light for an extended period of time in your peripheral vision your eyes adapt and can easily miss a darker object that replaces that light suddenly (like another car turning in behind you on a highway or a motorcycle) and that is incredibly dangerous for you and whoever is following you, especially on a busy highway. Don't believe me? Try having a flashlight on a side from you for 15 minutes looking straight and then turn it off, you will see a bright hue where the light was. Dimming feature is meant to reduce the brightness to the acceptable levels that will not harm your eyes at prolonged periods of time...replacing that with a random piece of mirror is asking for trouble.

I don't think disabling the dimming feature is necessary as an option. It is a safety feature and same as one's airbag should always be on.

sbeggs | 22 oktober 2018

Just turn on the rear camera, and leave it on all the time at night (ducks!)

richard.tso | 22 oktober 2018

I have driven hundreds of thousands of miles as well, and have experience with a huge array of cars (lots of rental miles). I have had other cars with auto-dimming mirrors. None are nearly as aggressive as what I have on the Model 3. I can't see anything but very dim lights in the mirrors at night. And no, it does not adjust to headlights in behind me. It is dark all the time at night.

It might not matter to a race car driver what's behind them, but it's critically important on our busy highways to know what's around you at all times.

I'll take the Model 3 in to see if they can unplug it like @navinsiri suggested.

By the way @eplaskett, looks like they put the auto-dimming in the Lexus IS300 in your model year. My 2001 IS has the old fashioned flip up dimming mirror. My family absolutely loves that little IS300 and we will never part with it!

eplaskett | 22 oktober 2018


I hope you find a solution that works for you. While my experience is not the same as your own, as the auto-dimming mirrors seem to work OK for me, but time will tell - quite literally, as in a couple of weeks we will lose an hour and my drive home for work will suddenly be in the dark. I hope that they will continue to work well for me.

As for the IS300, yes, I really never should have gotten rid of mine. It was a fantastic car. I waited for the 2002 variant as I wanted a stick shift, which was not offered in 2001 and was hard to come by even once released; I had to get one shipped from a dealer about 500 miles away. It was so much fun to drive, and required very little maintenance. The VW CC was the only impulsive car purchase I have ever made, and was consequently the only bad one I have made as well. I was only too glad to get rid of it in July in favor of the Model 3. That said, while I really should have kept the IS300 longer, surely it would be gone by now, and then I would have been faced with replacing a newer car with the Model 3, which I would have been reluctant to do - even the seven years I had with the CC was a relatively short period for me, as I like to keep cars for 9-10 years or more if I can.

Enjoy the Model 3 in good health!

contact | 22 oktober 2018

I too am having this same issue. My bmw prior had auto dimming mirrors but no where near this dark it’s absolutely obsurd they wouldn’t have an option to disable this. It’s extremely dangerous in my personal opinion!

mikes | 23 oktober 2018

I agree with richard.tso the mirrors go dark at night time even if there is no light behind the car whatsoever. This makes it impossible to see especially when backing up in pitch dark. And I'm not talking about dark in the city I'm talking about dark in the forest where I live.

ebmcs03 | 23 oktober 2018
spereira | 3 januari 2020

I completely agree with richard.tso. At night the mirrors become so dark I can barely see cars in the side mirrors or rear view mirror. My eyes are above average (I had them tested) and I can see perfectly fine in the dark, but these darkened mirrors are just dangerous. It's really hard to estimate the speed of the cars behind me because I can only see their headlights. If a car has no headlights on, I doubt I would even notice them. This morning (when it was still dark outside), I completely missed a motorcycle taking over. This usually never happens to me! And this is coming from someone with 10 years of driving experience and 4 years of riding experience. I understand that this is to prevent being blinded at night and of course this has happened to me many times in the past. But I actually prefer to be blinded every now and then to be in the dark constantly by these darkened mirrors. It's only a matter of time before I get into an accident with these mirrors.

Tesla: The Model 3 is an amazing car, but please add an option to disabled this feature.

DirkFirkin | 3 januari 2020

I didn‘t even notice the mirrors dimmed in the dark...

Sarah R | 3 januari 2020

These mirrors are wonderful. No blinding light from the guy hanging out off your quarter panel. I completely disagree with the OP. These self darkening mirrors are a safety feature and they work well.

crmedved | 3 januari 2020

To the people having trouble with their mirrors being too dark - did you tint your front windows or something? I've never had an issue with the mirrors being "too dark"... I actually kinda wish they dimmed more. I still occasionally need to get away from some other drivers because they leave their high beams on or angled their lights up and it is crazy annoying.

stingray.don | 3 januari 2020

I never noticed an issue with the dimming. I payed attention on my drive to work in dark today, and there was no issue. The only time I can see it being a problem would be a dark night without street lights and a car with their headlights off, but that would the case with any car. Dangerous? Hardly.

FactDoc | 3 januari 2020

Just buy FSD, the car will do it for you

WW_spb | 3 januari 2020

Agree, should be able to turn off

NorthValley | 3 januari 2020

Agree about it should be a feature you can control but personally, no issues at all.

apodbdrs | 3 januari 2020

Mirrors are fine with me,but 95% of my highway driving is on AP, so much safer even in lane changing. Lovemy Model 3.

Magic 8 Ball | 3 januari 2020

richard left the building over a year ago.