High-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filters have been around for a while and serve as the gold standard for keeping the air in any space free of contaminants. While Tesla introduced HEPA filters and the so-called bioweapon defense mode in their Model S, X, and Y improving the air quality in the vehicles, you may find yourself wondering about the situation in the Model 3.

The Tesla Model 3 doesn’t have a HEPA filter. This is because it doesn’t have enough usable space to accommodate such an installation. However, the standard filtration system in the Model 3 can keep cabin air fresh when the car is set to recirculation.

In this article, I’ll cover all you need to know about Tesla’s HEPA filter and the situation with the Model 3.

The Tesla HEPA Filter Examined

HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of contaminants 0.3 microns (µm) in size in the air, including bacteria, mold, pollen, and dust. Tesla has added this powerful filter to some of its pricier models over the last few years.

The HEPA filter system in Model S, X, and Y is ten times bigger than your regular car filter. It’s also 100 times more effective because it can remove super fine particulate matter, gaseous pollutants, and other contaminants from the air.

On its own, the HEPA filter system probably won’t attract as much attention. However, Tesla combined the filters with their so-called Bioweapon Defense Mode, promising protection even during a chemical attack. 

While some people have called this a marketing gimmick, many Tesla owners have praised the system’s ability to keep the air in the cabin toxin-free.

In fact, many Tesla owners have mentioned enjoying clean air in their vehicles during wildfires in California and other places. There’s no doubt that the filters help protect drivers from local air pollution in these emergency situations.

On a similar note, I also wrote a troubleshooting guide for when Tesla Air Conditioning Is Not Working. Check out the tips and tricks that I found.

HEPA Filters: The Tesla Model 3 Situation

With many Model X, S, and Y owners gushing about the efficacy of the HEPA filters in their units, some Model 3 owners took to social media to ask Elon Musk if the Model 3 has the filters. He cleared the air quickly, stating that the Model 3 didn’t have enough space to accommodate the HEPA filter setup.

However, in January 2021, an email with erroneous content from Tesla Germany started the debate again by stating that the Model 3 now had the filter.

The news gained traction quickly, and as you’d expect, the brand published a correction. The Model 3 still doesn’t have HEPA filters to date.

The Tesla Model 3 has a standard air purification system that isn’t hospital grade, but it is powerful enough to improve the air quality in the cabin. It doesn’t have the Bioweapon Defense Mode. However, by utilizing some of the system’s features, drivers can enjoy clean air. 

According to Elon Musk, you’ll need to set the airflow in your Model 3 to the “Recirculating Mode” and raise the blower speed to level five. Third-party tests using a sensor show that using the recommendation above can lower the air toxicity in the cabin from unhealthy (150 μg/m^3) to healthy (<30 μg/m^3) in a few minutes.

Model X, S, Y HEPA FilterModel 3 Filter
Captures 99.97% of airborne particles, including bacteria and viruses.Captures dust, pollen, and mold spores.
Provides complete protection from car fumes and smoke.Provides some protection against car fumes and smoke.
Complete filtration system activated at the touch of a button.Requires some manual intervention to provide deeper air filtration.
The table below shows the key differences between the HEPA filter in the Tesla Model X, S, and Y and the filter in the Model 3.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the Model 3 Feature a HEPA Filter In the Future?

The Model 3 is unlikely to feature a HEPA filter system in the future. Tesla is yet to find a way to compress the HEPA filtration system into the smaller Model 3.

Can I Install My Own HEPA Filters In the Model 3?

If you have the right technical skills, you can theoretically install your own HEPA filter in the Model 3. It’s a modification that will make for an extremely expensive addition.

The brand is also unlikely to change the size of the model 3 anytime soon. Therefore, it may take a while before we see HEPA filters in the Model 3—if ever.

You’ll need to move so many parts around and squeeze in the filter system making it highly impractical for even the most experienced engineers. There’s also the small matter of voiding your warranty, which is never ideal.

EV Speedy’s Take

HEPA filters are nice to have in a car if the air quality in your area is poor. The Bioweapon Defense Mode on the Model X, S, and Y is nice to have, but you probably won’t need it. If you have a Model 3, the built-in filter is more than enough to keep the cabin air healthy.

If you need more powerful filtration, crank up the blower and turn on recirculation. I don’t think the Model 3 needs HEPA filters—especially if it’s going to add a few thousand to the price.

Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

A renowned Tesla enthusiast, and successful entrepreneur, enlightens global audiences through his compelling EV narratives. Discover more about his electric journey on his About Me page. Venture to read Erwin's incredible story that's reshaping the future of motoring. Want to spark a conversation with Erwin? Visit his Contact page, and let’s electrify the world together.