Skip to main content

Some Cybertruck buyers were surprised by Tesla’s warning about corrosion and how often they must clean their six-figure EVs. One such owner shared the “Cleaning” page of the manual with me on Twitter. And when I wrote it up, the internet had a field day. Read on to find out what folks said, along with the truth about how often you’ll have to clean your Cybertruck.

The EV’s manual says, “To prevent damage to the exterior, immediately remove corrosive substances (such as grease, oil, bird droppings, tree resin, dead insects, tar spots, road salt, industrial fallout, etc.). Do not wait until Cybertruck is due for a complete wash. If necessary, use denatured alcohol…”

Telsa Cybertruck shown parked in right front angle view in an urban setting
Tesla Cybertruck | Roman Tiraspolsky via iStock

The manual goes on to claim that the Cybertruck’s stainless steel exterior makes it dent and scratch resistant. “Cybertruck does not have a clear coat on the surface of the exterior body panels, meaning any scratches that appear are in the stainless steel panels themselves.”

I reported on this information with the title, “Tesla: You’ll Have to Wipe Dead Bugs and Bird Poop off Your Cybertruck ASAP to Avoid Corrosion.” And I posted it to Twitter with the caption “Good thing birds aren’t real” which is a reference to a (shockingly) popular conspiracy theory that birds are government drones.

Not only did the post go viral on Twitter, where it was picked up by several huge accounts such as The Autopian, and @drill, but it got reposted to several huge subreddits. These included /r/cars and /r/NotTheOnion, which specializes in true news stories that sound fake.

The NotTheOnion post got 27,000 upvotes and 3,300 comments. The top-ranked comment was from piray003: “So basically your $90k truck of the future will be completely f***ed after one Michigan winter.” IronbloodPrime came in second place, “These will hold up really well in states that use salt on their roads in the winter! /s”

Tesla Cybertruck body panels
Tesla Cybertruck pre-production prototype | Nic Coury/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Samniss_Arandeen may have won the award for most sarcastic: “Wow! It’s almost like paint serves an important practical function in addition to an aesthetic one!” And finally, the most upvotes overall go to DerTechie’s two-part comment: “Did…Did they not clear coat that? I had just assumed they were silver for the wonky 80s industrial vibes.” They then read the article and added, “Edit: holy sh*t. They actually didn’t clear coat that. There’s a reason we do that.”

But many internet citizens were a bit more balanced with their commentary. On Twitter, @SunriseBlade pointed out, “Key here is that ‘stainless’ just means fewer and not no stains.”

In my article, I had asked why the manual insisted on calling the Cybertruck just “Cybertruck.” User @TheWarOnTesla explained that this was a trend started by Steve Jobs with the Macintosh which was referred to as just “Macintosh” in its manual. I still think it’s a stupid trend. We have grammar for a reason. But, it’s always good to know the history.

The redditors over on /r/cars had a more nuanced view. Recoil42 said, “This is pretty normal care advice, honestly. Bird poop and tree sap are corrosive for every car, and that’s always been the case.” Some agreed: “Ask any car enthusiast what to do if tree sap gets on your car. Every one of them will say pray to your god.” Others disagreed: “Come on man, the whole premise of this car was durability. That includes the finish.”

One Twitter user revealed a critical fact: every Tesla has the “Immediately remove corrosive substances” paragraph in its manual. That of course includes cars with regular, painted bodies. That doesn’t mean the Cybertruck won’t corrode faster. But the manual isn’t evidence that Tesla expects it to.

On Reddit, TacoBellMysteryMeat made a great point, “Wait, they didn’t even clear coat it? Given it’s structural body panels I wonder if the chromium content is lower than other stainless steel, making it stronger, but less rust resistant.” And it makes me very curious where the Cybertruck’s HFS comes down on the classic rust versus strength tradeoff.

Justin_Memer pointed out, “Delorean isn’t covered either, they literally fix scratches with scotchbrite pads.”

So there you have it. Like owners of classic Deloreans, Cybertruck drivers may end up just taking off a skim of metal when they get a scratch. It sounds time intensive, but at least its possible.

I still can’t imagine what a pain it will be to keep the huge flat expanse of stainless–where most vehicles have a grille–completely clean of bug splatters and tarmac/oil from the road. And I can’t think of an excuse for having a single windshield wiper that leaves such a huge blindspot. But then again, I’m not in line to buy a Cybertruck.

See my original article, You’ll have to wipe dead bugs and bird poop off your Cybertruck ASAP, or find out what makes the Cybertruck so difficult to manufacture in the video below: