One of the nice things about the Model 3 is that it comes with 2 spots in the forward section of the center console where you can charge phones by plugging them into the connectors that stick up from the black bottom bar. (There are also wireless solutions that replace the connectors with pads behind the rubber mat) Unfortunately, both the wired and wireless solutions rely on the USB ports for charging power that are hidden just below the panel where the phones rest. For me, this posed 2 problems. First, I was using one of those USB ports for a USB thumb drive full of my favorite music which would mean only 1 phone could charge at a time. I suppose if I never had a passenger needing to charge this might not be an issue, but I didn’t want to be discourteous to any potential passenger phone charging needs. The second issue for me is that my phone is a bit older and after 2 OS upgrades it readily chews through battery power even with apps shutdown it just doesn’t hold a charge like it used to so I find myself needing to charge it more. My phone support rapid/fast charging and when plugged in at home it charges quickly. Sadly the USB ports doesn’t support rapid charging (#TeslaFixThis) but I do have a lighter socket charger that provides 2 high speed USB charging ports. However, the lighter socket is in the middle center console and unless I wanted to drop my phone in there all the time that solution wasn’t ideal either.
I hit on the idea of wiring up the forward charging port not to the forward USB ports but rather to the lighter socket USB charger in the middle console. All it takes is a little wiring right? Well, yes and no. Tesla didn’t provide any pass through from the middle console to the forward console, hence this article to show you how to do it. My solution also frees up the 2nd forward USB port which can be used for a passenger to be able to charge at the same time I am charging and my USB stick is plugged in. First here is a picture of how the forward phone charger position and the USB stick were plugged in to start:
Step 1 is to remove the side black plastic trim piece on the side of the center console. This piece just snaps in with clips so all you have to do is pull it out. Simply pull with an even force, wiggle as needed and the piece will pop out as you work your way down the side of the center console. The following picture shows this piece removed:
Step 2 is to remove the silver trim piece that is held on by torx screws. Grab your trusty torx driver and you can quickly remove the screws and the silver trim piece per these following photos:
Step 3 With the silver trim piece removed you can now run a USB extension wire down the side of the console. I purchased one from Microcenter for around $12 and of heavy gauge. I plugged the male USB end into the lighter socket in the middle console, then I removed one of the rubber bumpers that the middle console rests on (you could drill it but my wire was pretty thick so there wouldn’t have been much rubber left and I opted to remove it altogether and the console doesn’t interfere with the wire). You then thread the wire along the side of the center console in the channel under where the silver piece was previously attached. See this photo for an example:
Step 4 Now all that remains is to route the wire into the front console area so that it can be attached to the cable that would plug into the front USB port. I experimented with a couple of places and what I was happiest with was what is shown in this next picture. I notched the plastic in this location with a pair of snips so that the wire could pass into the front center console without obstructing the console lid from opening or closing. Here is a picture where I chose the location but had not yet notched the plastic:
Step 5 is to simply connect the female end of the USB extension cable to the cable that come from the phone mount and tuck that away in the front center console. You should also check at this point that your phone charges as it should. Once you verify this then it is simply a matter of reversing the install process and re-attaching the removed silver and black trim pieces. Once done you now have high speed phone charging for the driver (you could run 2 cables and provide high speed charging for both from the lighter socket USB device) and you still have regular charging and a USB portable drive for music. If you have any questions about this article please leave a comment here, or ask in our Forums and I will be happy to answer whatever I can. Here is a picture showing my phone is fast charging: