Everyone that ever reported a paint problem with their Tesla Model 3s has been accused of offroading them. Or of being reckless with their cars, even the brand-new ones. Some heard that this only happened due to salt and because they lived in icy climates. Tesla is even offering mudflaps that make things worse in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. That theory fails when even sunny California is getting that. Unfortunately, Benjamin Haley witnessed in a very personal note, as the video above shows.
Gallery: Tesla Model 3 Paint Problems Now Hit Consumers In California And UK
“I bought the car in November of 2018. All the damage was done last winter. I've been off work taking care of my wife this winter so I haven't driven the roads this year to cause even more damage to the car.”
You can see Haley’s car is clean but looks full of sand. Well, that’s not sand: it’s a severe case of stone and sand chipping.
“I noticed it about a month after they started putting it down. By that time, the damage was already done. I've contacted and shown the San Rafael, CA SC. They said ‘nope sorry.’ Then I called them again just recently and again they said ‘no, not coved by warranty.’”
Haley is another flabbergast customer that has had cars for a long time and driven then over the same roads without the same sort of deterioration.
“Myself and hundreds of other drivers drive over red cinder every day when it's slick or snowing. I’ve done so for many years with no problems. Never a concern with other cars. People would go crazy if this happened to all cars around here.”
We warned Haley about the recent changes Tesla made to shield against paint issue claims like his. He was already aware of them.
“I was just looking at the warranty tonight. They know for a fact they have paint problems. I just want mine fixed.”
As we did with Visanji T. Gala and his accident with his brand-new Model S, we told Haley about the reactions making his story appear here at InsideEVs could provoke. He did not back away.
“People can attack all they want. I can show on Google Maps exactly where they put down the cinders when it's slick or snowing. The damage happened so fast it was crazy! None of my cars or my coworker's cars get this type of damage. I have never taken my car down a gravel road.”
Again, it is a tough situation for a Tesla fan to endure, especially one going through so much besides this. Haley only wants Tesla to be upfront.
“I love the car and hate to put up a bad video up about it. Not sure if you ever heard of ‘The Trunk Shield.’ I designed it to keep my things safe in our trunks from theft.”
As you can see, he loves his Model 3. That is also the case for Veronika Skcih, who belongs to several Tesla groups on Facebook. She posted this in one of them.
Skcih also seems to live in California, and she has done as Tesla’s manual says, washing her car manually. Apparently, that did as much damage as washing it any other way.
We tried to contact Skcih but have not heard back from her so far. If she replies to our messages, we’ll let you know more about this “bubbly” problem. If you also happen to have something like this, get in touch with us.
The first case in the UK
The UK is not exactly a sunny place, but it is not known for being cold and snowy as well. The Tesla Model 3 was presented there in June 2019. We thought it would be too soon for the car to have the same issues it is getting in other parts of the world, but it wasn’t. Ask Ben Trudgill about that. He brought us the first case there, but there are probably others we still have not heard about.
If you think Trudgill was one of the first to get the Model 3 there, you’ll be negatively surprised to hear he only got his car on November 15: that has barely completed three months in his hands.
“On the original pickup date, November 4, 2019, the car came with light scratches down the side, and a small chip on the right-hand side, in front of the rear wheel. It also had a few clear coat drips and oversprays. The most serious issue was that the boot did not shut. Tesla then kept the car to be fixed by the service team.”
That made Trudgill wait until the date we first mentioned.
“On November 15, I picked the car up after being assured everything had been completed other than the one chip which would have to be resprayed in a body shop. As it turns out, they hadn't touched the light scratches at all. I also noticed that the car was covered in severe orange peel.
I was told by Tesla delivery that they would set up a service appointment and a body shop appointment for me and that I did not have to do anything."
The UK Model 3 owner waited for the appointment. And waited. And waited.
“About a week later, after hearing nothing, I set up an appointment for January 10, 2020, on the app so I could add photos and some other details.”
The number of issues with his EV at that point is disappointing.
“Creaks came from the dashboard, rear left door seal needed refitting, door mirrors being glitchy and sometimes not opening fully – somehow fixed themselves – and windows that sometimes opened an inch while it was locked – also fixed itself? The lights also have a lot of fog in them.”
We have mentioned some of these issues in our guide to buy a new Model 3. The one of the rear left door seal in need of refitting reminds us of the A-pillar rust issue. One of the signs of this problem is the rear left door alignment.
Trudgill was surprised once again, also for the worst.
“I received an automatic text from Tesla saying that, as I had requested paintwork issues to be fixed outside of their 100-mile warranty, they would not touch the car and they gave me a list of approved body shops. I then had to ring through the delivery centre to get passed to service to speak to them. I couldn't get through so, in the end, I had to drive to Birmingham from Leicester – about 1hr15 – to speak to them in person. They assured me it was a mistake and would all be sorted. They also said they hadn't heard anything from the delivery team about the issues. The service appointment was also moved to February 5 to ensure the body shop was available.”
Trudgill tried to act in anticipation. That was when he noticed the issue that brought his story here.
“So I wanted to drop my car off on the 4th so I did not have to have a day off work. I had the car cleaned on the 3rd in the evening. I then spotted on the rear left. Right in front of the rear wheels, there were hundreds of small scratches in the paint. The clear coat around this area feels softer than in the rest of the car, which I suspect is the problem, and grit from the winter roads has scratched the paint.”
When he got to the appointment, he told the technician about the problem.
“Their paint specialist confirmed that the clear coat should be hard by now and that this should not have occurred. I was given the usual talk of how Tesla paint has improved massively and that it is on par with their competitors, as he had worked on BMW paint before moving to Tesla. I also requested that they obtain some of the mudguards and install them if possible to help prevent further deterioration. They said they would do all they could themselves and then take to the body shop for they couldn't do themselves.”
Trudgill expected to get his car as he should have when first laid his hands on it.
“At about 4 PM on the 5th, I received a call saying the vast majority of the work had been completed, but the hundreds of scratches in the paint near the wheels would not be covered and they would not repaint them, even though there is a larger chip in that same panel that was there on delivery.”
Trudgill still has not taken his car back.
“I have no idea how well the stuff has been done but can update you when I find out so you have a more complete story.”
With all that going on, what’s Trudgill’s opinion on Tesla?
“That’s pretty bad! Once I have it in writing from Tesla that they won't do anything, I am going to contact our motoring ombudsmen. It is a government-run service that provides free legal advice for things like this. They can even bring a case against them. Failing that, I also have motor legal insurance so have that route if I want.”
What about the car? Would Trudgill buy it again?
“I'm really in two minds about the car. The car itself is fantastic and I love driving it, but the paint is shocking and the service via the app thing is very stressful. If I would have known about how this would go, I would not have accepted the car and taken a refund.”
Sadly, more and more Tesla owners are getting in touch with us with the same feeling. The Facebook group with their complaints gets bigger every day. Tesla does not talk to the press, but the company should at least speak to its customers to reassure they have made a good choice. It is much better than keep trying to prove they haven’t.