Hybrids & Electrics

Is the Tesla Model Y Having Paint Issues?

The new Tesla Model Y isn’t flashy, but it’s exactly what many consumers have been asking for. It’s larger than the Model 3 but more practical and less expensive than the Model X. However, as is often the case with new first-year cars, the first Model Ys have reportedly been delivered with defects. And unfortunately, these are issues Tesla has struggled with in the past.

The Tesla Model Y’s paint (and other) defects

2020 Tesla Model Y
2020 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

Chicago Auto Pros is a Chicagoland area detailer, which provides restoration and detailing services for a variety of vehicles. The shop recently took in a brand-new Tesla Model Y for a client. As the shop workers describe in the video below, the crossover only has 36 miles on the clock, and it came directly from the Tesla service center. Which is why it’s very surprising to see so many defects on it.

As InsideEVs describes, the Tesla Model Y has numerous marks, imperfections, and flaws. There are swirl marks from sanders, enclosed debris, scratches, and even peeling paint. But these can all be repaired. What’s more problematic are the wide gaps and misaligned panels on the Model Y. The window trim, tailgate, and spoiler all have fitment issues. Even the interior has faults, which includes a broken 2nd-row folding mechanism.

To be fair, as Chicago Auto Pros and r/Cars sub-Reddit users point out, paint problems aren’t uncommon on vehicle production lines. I used to work as an automotive paint engineer, and I can speak first-hand as to how difficult it is to spray a car 100% correctly. That’s why the painted car bodies pass through special inspection areas, so workers can correct flaws before delivering the cars to dealerships.

Automotive paint is also incredibly sensitive. Often, automotive paint workers are banned from using certain deodorants or shampoos, because the residue can cause paint defects. The temperature, humidity, and airflow within a facility can also drastically affect paint quality. Old paint can also linger in the lines, and throw off the desired color.

Those panel gaps and broken parts, however, are more difficult to explain. Especially since this isn’t the first time Tesla’s had to deal with issues like these.

Tesla’s had paint problems before

Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation for the Model 3 and Model S for a time precisely because of similar defects. There were numerous reports of defective paint, loose trim and even cracked windows, not to mention software glitches with the center screen.

In addition, The Drive reports that in 2019 Finland’s Center of Commerce inspected a Model 3 after its owner complained of excessive paint damage after less than 1400 miles of driving. The inspection found the paint was both thinner and softer than it was required to be. Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained reported similar paint imperfections and panel fit problems with his personal 2018 Tesla Model 3.

InsideEVs reports numerous owners have reported their Model 3s chip extremely easily, and defects like orange peel, overspray, and sagging paint aren’t unheard-of. And even though hand-washing is gentler than going through a car wash, some Model 3 owners report they also damaged their paint while hand-washing their cars.

Roadshow reports Tesla has seemingly started to address these issues. However, the company also had to reduce the number of color options it offers in order to do so. And, based on what Chicago Auto Pros saw on the Model Y, it’s clear Tesla still needs to work on its QC.

Other automakers have struggled with this, too

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Tesla is merely the latest automaker that’s been dealing with paint and coating issues. Toyota famously had to recall numerous trucks and SUVs because of poor paint and insufficient rust protection.

There’s also another EV-maker that’s been having paint quality problems: Porsche. Quite a few Taycans have been reported with orange peel and missing or misaligned trim pieces. There have also been reports of Taycans catching on fire, potentially tied to their batteries.

However, the difference is that Toyota learned from these mistakes, and Porsche likely will, as well. Tesla, though, has been struggling with these issues for some time. Hopefully, the desire for the Model Y will help drive some changes at Tesla.

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