One of our members, Teresa Keller, posted in the Facebook group asking for assistance with the installation of the Hansshow Model 3 automatic trunk/hatch kit. The kit is designed to add a power lift hatch to the Model 3 much like what the Model S has. While there are a couple of these kits on the market, Teresa chose this one for the features it provides (such as being able to open and close the hatch from the main screen, mobile app, hatch button and an additional button mounted inside the trunk lid) and because she had seen previous installs on the Internet. In fact, prior to the installation date at my house, Teresa shared with me a YouTube video of the installation that was well documented and over an hour long. I watched that the day before and took mental notes on some of the steps we would need to accomplish. What we later discovered is that the Model 3 in the YouTube video and the Hansshow kit shown were both slightly different from what we were working with, but more on that later.
We decided to open up the installation to other members of the club to come and assist with or take pictures and provide moral support. One member, Phanindra Kankanampati, had previously installed a similar kit on his Model 3 so his experience helped immensely with routing wires and other tasks that were repeated between the kits/installs. We began around 11:45am on Sunday November 10, 2019. The first step was to remove some of the inner plastic trim pieces from the hatch and trunk area. Per the advice of the video, Teresa purchased some extra green clips in case we broke any getting the hatch trim off but we did not break any of them. Having the proper plastic wedge tools was extremely helpful in removing pins and clips, I will have to take a picture of the tools and append to the article.
Once these trim pieces were removed from the hatch lid, upper portion of the trunk and the lower trunk lip it is time to remove the tail lights. Here are a couple of pictures from that process:
There are 2 – 8mm nuts holding each tail light in that are removed from the trunk, along with the top large plastic head (octagonal) screw pin that must be unscrewed and removed before the tail light itself can be pulled outward from the body of the car. There are 2 press in pins near the outer edge that came out easily for us but some videos show tail lights sticking in this area so yours may be harder to get out. Once the tail lights are removed then it is time to install the new powered struts in place of the original gas shock struts that hold up the trunk lid (hatch – I’m going to use those terms interchangeably, and might even use tailgate) The kit comes with two powered struts, one for each side of the trunk. In order to install them you must first remove the existing struts. As a safety measure please put a towel in between the existing hatch strut and the rear glass of the car. There have been reports of people popping the struts loose only to have them bang into and chip or crack the glass and you certainly don’t want that to happen. The factory struts are held in by a small clip at each end. We used a small flat blade screwdriver to loosen the clip and then simply pulled the strut loose from the hatch, the connection between the two is like a ball joint. Once the original strut was removed on the passenger side of the car we installed the new powered strut by simply pressing it onto the hatch pins. If the connectors at the top and bottom of the new strut are not lined up it is OK to twist the strut halves until the connectors are lined up with the pins then simply press on. The wire to the powered strut will be at the bottom and will need to be run through the oval shaped hole in the body where the tail light wiring plug connects. It is a tight fit but there is room for both the wire and the original tail light plug as shown in one of the following photos. When we completed the passenger site we moved onto the drivers side. For some reason, the drivers side was a little harder to remove the original strut at the top but we eventually were able to break it free while still protecting the glass. We then ran the wire for new strut through the oval opening on the drivers side of the car and then reinstalled the tail lights. At first the tail light may want to stick up a little because the wire going through the oval opening will be pressing on the tail light connector, but once you tighten down the 8mm nuts down and the octagonal plastic head positioning pin the tail lights should line up as normal. The following photos depict this portion of the installation process:
At this point we had accomplished what I could call the physical portion of the installation process and it was now time to move on to the electronic or wiring portion of the installation. Looking at the photos we had completed the physical portion within the first 30 minutes but then upon removal of all the wiring harnesses from the box we discovered that the kit was not the same as what had been shown in the YouTube video so we pulled up the installation guide from the Hansshow website and the YouTube video and attempted to make sense of what we were seeing. I will save the electronic portion for the Part 2 Article soon to follow, stay tuned!