‘Thin’ Paint, or Low Quality Paint, visible Primer
Some Tesla 3 Owners think the pain is too thin, causing premature wearing and quality issues in the appearance of their fairly new vehicles. On other Model 3 vehicles, the primer color is showing in ‘hidden’ areas like inbetween the doors and under the hood and trunk lid.
There are some areas that don’t even seem to have any paint which has caused rusting to appear on recently delivered vehicles.
In this video (from May 2019), some places that have primer showing are body parts that are blocked by other pieces – the mounting surface around the base of the trunk hinge didn’t get painted because the hinge was mounted first and the paint spray was blocked. How do other vehicle makers deal with this?
Easily damaged paint causing pre-mature rust
Here is a video from a Canadian Model 3 Owner, with a video detailing the rust he is seeing on his Tesla Model 3 that he received in early 2018. The video explains that because of the design, the debris on the road will hit the rear wing and make the paint peel.
Mudflaps installed on the vehicle may help substantially. Most of the paint chips reported are in the rocker panels, and the lower rear door openings, and other areas that road debris hits after being lifted up by the wheels.
Misaligned Front Left Fender Rubbing on Body
The left front fender on some Tesla Model 3 vehicles seems to be installed too tightly to the vehicle, causing the top tip of the fender to make contact with the uni-body structure of the Model 3. Over time, the tip rubs against the body and causes the paint to wear off which then leaves metal exposed to the elements, and susceptible to rusting.
It’s not clear if all Model 3 vehicles have this issue, or only some, as most VINs reported are between 200,000 and 240,000.
Possible fix: Since Tesla hasn’t claimed responsibility, or moved swiftly to fix the issues, some owners have decided to adjust their fenders themselves before the paint wears through. Other owners refuse to do it because they say it is Tesla’s error and Tesla needs to fix it. It’s up to you if you want to try this, not sure if it affects the warranty at all.
Step 1: With the drivers door open, look forward at the edge of the fender and you will see the tip that is rubbing (the large red arrow), and the bolt you need to loosen (the small red arrow at the bottom of the image)
Step 2: Loosen the bolt, move the fender out just slightly – it doesn’t need to move more than 1-2 mm – just enough it isn’t making contact at the tip anymore. A tip is to put a piece of cardstock inbetween the fender tip and the body to keep the space while you tighten the bolt.
Step 3: Tighten the bolt, and after tightening, ensure that a piece of paper slides between the fender tip and the body
Tesla updates owners manual for Rust Prevention Technique
During a May 2019 update, Tesla also updated the Model 3 owners manual to include sections relating to rust prevention:
To avoid corrosive damage that may not be covered by the warranty, rinse away any road salt from the underside of the vehicle, wheel wells, and brakes. After cleaning the vehicle, dry the brakes by going on a short drive and applying the brakes multiple times.Src: InsideEVs
Groups working together to get a response from Tesla
As of September 2019, Tesla hadn’t responded to these owners complaints.
There is a Facebook Group for affected owners here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/359891901375063/
On the website NoNoNo.com, there is a group complaint filed against Tesla that says “Evidently, Tesla is claiming these issues are not within its warranty. We find this disrespectful towards customers”
At 38,000 km the paint in the tire well is starting flake. Paint near the door handles has dulled and scratched (apparently human skin is quite abrasive). Rear rocker panels are also getting chewed up. Tesla service in Toronto and Mississauga refuse to look at it or do anything about it.Ray V src