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  • Writer's pictureSebastian J.

How To Protect & Maintain My Tesla?


Blue Tesla Model S Plaid in Los Angeles

Understanding Tesla

Everybody knows Tesla, right? They're the EV giant taking over the roads, one of the few solely electric vehicle manufacturers and the best part, ran by a guy who now builds rockets.

By now, the models currently being produced by Tesla are the Models S, 3, X, Y, Cybertruck and Semi (we are still waiting on the Roadster). We can all agree that although the occasional bugs and errors, the real product of Tesla is their technology, we'll get to that later.

Tesla Fremont Factory

Tesla designs a very minimal, simple and sleek car. I believe the simplicity of their designs is what attracts the people most. From the perspective of us here at Rarity Auto, think about it, there isn't a pesky grill, excessive brake dust (if any), grimy exhaust pipes, complicated interiors with air vents on every panel and buttons for everything. Instead you're given one screen to control the whole car with the exception of the individual steering and door control buttons. This design style leads to the incredible ease of maintaining your car. Coming from someone who has touched many cars, the Tesla design, by far, is the most efficient and maintainable car I have come across.

Tesla Interior Photo, wireless charging

Although visually appealing, it's important to look deeper into the material itself. It's easy to make something look good but it's not as easy to make those things hold up to daily use in the conditions intended. What that means is more often than not, something that looks good and high quality is often sensitive and fragile. The reason behind this is because from a business perspective, when developing a vehicle within a certain market while producing in volume, it's much more cost effective to source economical materials and finish those with the "high-end" look. Take a look at Teslas interior above. Looks nice, right? Well it is but on countless occasions we have seen Teslas with failing interiors. This entails things such as peeling steering wheels, tearing in the seats, warping panels and peeling of that fancy looking silver trim. Things start to get ugly after a while and many Tesla owners can't explain why. You may think Tesla materials just aren't durable, that holds some truth but we have a better answer for you that will be hard to hear... it's you. Yes, 9/10 times we encounter these types of problems, the owner is almost always responsible for it.

"How am I the problem?"

Let's take a look at some of your habits while in the car. Let us know which of the following applies to you and we'll post a response to the results after we receive enough submissions.

What applies to you?

  • I apply hand lotion in the car.

  • I apply my makeup in the car.

  • I spray perfume/cologne in the car.

  • I get in the car after a workout without showering.

You can vote for more than one answer.

Your Interior Isn't The Only Victim Here

We can't forget about the portion of the car that is exposed to the elements 100% of the time, the exterior. You may be aware of the infamous uneven panel gaps, extremely thin paint and more fragile than average windshields just to name a few. Tesla acknowledges the issues brought to their attention and will correct what they deem is within their liability. All of these points bring us back to what I mentioned earlier, Teslas real product is their tech. When you buy a Tesla, you are buying one large mobile, road legal computer. Of course they must make a stylish product, much like Apples approach in the handheld tech world (soon to be automotive as well, so we've heard here and there.)

When you understand this aspect of the manufacturer, it becomes easier to understand that Teslas priority isn't all on the looks but more the functionality and advancements of their technology. When you buy a Tesla you are buying the iPhone of cars. There are others out there, sure, some better for certain needs varying from person to person but ultimately the Tesla audience is interested in their features not the car itself.

Back to the exterior of the car, we are faced with the points made above. Let's talk about the uneven gaps, pretty much all over the car. Now there really isn't a way to prevent this as the car is already built and your only solution is to catch it during the delivery of your car and brought to Teslas attention. If noticed at a later time, If I'm not mistaken, they will still correct the issue at one of their service centers local to you.

Most commonly known among the automotive industry, the extremely thin paint. You may notice the excessive flaws in the paint and how easy it is to damage it. Not to mention, the adhesion to the car itself is very very weak. We have noticed this in the past during a vinyl wrap removal. Damage to the paint leading to exposed panels, like a front end rock chip, even though a very small area, will weaken the bond. For example, when we removed a portion of the wrap in an area where a rock chip was present, the surrounding layer of paint peeled right off along with the vinyl. After we saw this could happen, it's now mentioned when we educate our customers of the risks down the line when getting a vinyl wrap installed specifically on a Tesla vehicle. It's important to note this is only a risk when the car is already in a used condition with damage to the paint. A way to avoid this is to touch-up the damaged area before installation which is a decision for the customer. Another paint issue I can point out is how frustratingly easy it is to scratch the clear coat. Tesla paint is very susceptible to swirling and micro scratches. If you're not familiar with those, swirling and micro scratching occurs any time something touches the surface, yes even wind blowing things around can cause this. Most common causes include drive-thru car washes, inexperienced DIY car washes, debris, etc. It can happen on any car but more easily on Teslas. It's only normal but it isn't exactly the most appealing to look at. This is commonly known as soft paint, ask anybody in the automotive industry and they'll tell you the same thing. Other manufacturers have this problem as well but not all that problematic and I'll explain shortly why it's very common with Teslas and not any other manufacturer.

The last point I'm going to make is the windshield glass. Some Tesla owners may already have dealt with this issue but incase you are not aware, the windshield will crack at the flick of a finger (exaggeration). Countless times have we been called for a chipped or cracked windshield. Aside from PPF and vinyl wraps, it's the runner up for popular Tesla services. Windshield chip repairs and full replacements are something Tesla owners are no stranger to. Now the only reason for this that I can come up with is Tesla wanted to be efficient here as well. When designing their cars, I would imagine that cutting back on the thickness of the glass will aid in weight reduction as well as cost (for the manufacturer at least). It's pretty obvious that from the hood to the trunk, it's mainly glass, on most models, running from the windshield to the roof and down to the rear windshield. Now I haven't got the call yet but I have heard and seen other places dealing with cracked roof glass. I'm not surprised but we all know the front windshield is most common for damage. So what's the reason for the extremely fragile glass? Tesla. Just Tesla.

Tesla Model S Grey

The Reason Your Tesla Paint Is So Fragile

Up until recently, all Tesla vehicles were manufactured here in California. Most of the country by now knows that California comes with a lot of laws, rules and regulations. As a citizen we have a lot to abide by but a business is another ball game. In paint, and many other substances, there is something called VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). You can find more information here. VOCs are emitted as a toxic gas and the state of California has put restrictions on the use of products that create this gas. You're probably wondering if this has something to do with the paint, yes it does. During the factory painting process, under normal circumstances, VOCs are emitted and California does not like that. Being that Tesla held majority of it's manufacturing in California, the manufacturer had to comply and find a solution. The solution? I can't give you specifics because I wasn't involved with this directly but essentially what happened is Tesla had to adjust the painting process to comply. This could mean not using certain chemicals or paints that allow the finished product to hold up to years of wear and tear. So why Tesla and not other manufacturers? Simple, they're not made here. Toyota doesn't have to abide by California VOC regulations, same goes for Honda, Chevy or even Lamborghini. I'm not an expert in VOC or government regulations but I can tell you why something is the way it is. Tesla paint is an ongoing battle because of the regulations Tesla as a manufacturer has to abide by as long as they are manufacturing in California.

Your Solution

By now you're probably thinking how to protect and maintain your Tesla. Let's make sure you know what's out there that can potentially save you the hassle of dealing with these problems.

Interior materials failing? If you selected any of the options outlined in the poll, you will have to take that into consideration and adjust accordingly. Following your adjustments, it is crucial that you either clean the car yourself or preferably hire a professional who will know how to care for the materials. Aside from regular cleaning, protection is an option. These days we are able to ceramic coat a cars interior. This helps in protecting the surfaces by creating a solid barrier between the surface and potential contamination. Not to mention when a ceramic coating is applied, it protects the material from UV rays as well. One of the main contributors in failing materials.

Thin paint is a pain in the trunk... Rock chips and scratches? Don't worry we can prevent those things. It is important to do this while the car is brand new, preferably straight from pickup. You have a couple of options. Paint protection film (PPF), vinyl wrap or a ceramic coating. If you're looking for ultimate protection, PPF is the only way to go. This will prevent things such as fading paint, scratches, mild impact damage, staining, hard water damage and more. A vinyl wrap, although mostly used for customization, does still provide a protective barrier between the elements and your car. Vinyl is not as strong and resistant as PPF but when we're talking about paint preservation, it still has its benefits. Now the more common, budget friendly option is a ceramic coating. A ceramic coating is essentially a shell that's applied to a surface. This shell goes on wet and dries to create an invisible layer of protection. A nano barrier acting as another clear coat in a sense. The cool part? This coating fills any valleys in the paint creating a flat surface. Paint will almost always come with an uneven surface even though it looks and feels smooth. Take a look at our diagram below.

This is the bare surface of paint.

Tesla paint surface without a ceramic coating

This is paint with a ceramic coated surface.

Tesla paint surface after a ceramic coating is applied.

The bare paint surface allows contamination to lock on to the car and stay there until agitated. The problem? Agitation creates swirls and micro scratches. Not only does a ceramic coating protect the paint from harmful UV rays, acid rain, hard water and more, it also allows for extremely easy maintenance. Dirt, dust and any other debris flying around that would otherwise normally stick to your car would now fly right over the surface. Why? because there are no microscopic dips in the paint to catch the debris. Let's say the car looks like it is catching this debris, it's as easy as a foam and rinse to wash it right off! Now there are exceptions to what is able to wash right off, something that may have landed on the car and dried up would need some sort of agitation. This is why it's important to keep your car cleaned regularly so we can avoid using more aggressive techniques. All things considered, a ceramic coating is a good choice when you are looking for some protection but don't have the budget for PPF. Think of it as a "permanent" wax coating that offers a longer lifespan, better protection and an even better appearance. That's right, the car would look even better than when you bought it. The preparation process includes a paint correction commonly known as a polish, leveling out most of the imperfections. The near perfect flat surface of the ceramic coating allows for no light refraction resulting in a beautiful gloss finish.

Last thing I'll touch up on here is the sensitivity of those thin Tesla windshields. I can't tell you how to avoid road debris flying through the air but I can advise you on how to protect against it when it does happen. A fairly new and unknown product, windshield protection film (WPF). Imagine the almost invisible screen protector on your phone, you drop it and instead of the phone screen cracking, the screen protector takes the hit. The same concept applies to windshields, a much more intricate installation process but well worth it when it saves you over a thousand dollars for a windshield replacement.

Rarity Auto Los Angeles mobile detailing truck. detailing, mobile detailing, car wash, mobile car wash, ceramic coating, vinyl wrap, paint protection film, PPF, windshield protection film, WPF

The Verdict

We can't deny the facts of Teslas material and structural imperfections, but can we blame the manufacturer that focuses more on the advancement of their technology? If you are the consumer that values the features over the physical product or maybe you are one to love the design and physical product just as much, I hope that you have found some ways to better protect the car from the inevitable. Either way you look at it, the car is an investment and active physical protection (not an insurance policy) is a must. You would buy a case and screen protector for your brand new phone right, why not do the same for something that costs $50,000+ more? Save yourself the headache, protect and maintain your car so it lasts as long as you need it to.


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