Tesla Model S’s are stunning. Instant torque and acceleration, quality interior materials, the bleeding edge of automotive technology, no more fill-ups at the gas station and gorgeous lines make Model S’s desirable to many car enthusiasts. But, like all automobiles, they are also prone to elements that would have TMS’s looking rough and feeling aged in short order. Swirl marks and rock chips plague stock Tesla Model S owners. What Detailed Designs Auto Spa is offering Tesla Model S owners in Atlanta is an opportunity to have their cars as well protected as possible. By providing Atlanta with quality professional car detailing, paint correction, clear bra installation and coating systems, we are offering a one-stop solution for car care and protection for new and used cars.
Today we will be taking a look at a Tesla Model S owner who faced a difficult scenario. While I know the story inside and out, I really wanted the readers to be able to hear it in his own words. Here is the story as he tells it:
My obsession with Tesla started from the moment I saw the first concept drawings of the roadster. In fact, I bought shares of their stock pretty early on. I spent almost a year pricing out the same Model S over and over and driving my friends and family crazy talking about this car. At some point I realized that the money I had made from my early investment in their stock would make a very nice down payment on the car of my dreams. I finally bit the bullet and decided to arrange for a test drive. After a couple test drives I started getting more serious about my Model S purchase.
Working with the friendly staff at the Marietta service center I quickly realized that buying a service loaner would not only get me behind the wheel of my dream car months more quickly, but would also allow me to upgrade from the standard Model S to the Performance version without breaking my budget. I was elated. After a couple weeks of searching, a service loaner became available that was an incredible deal. The sales associate was able to get a few pictures of the car to me. Unfortunately, they were low resolution and not particularly helpful. One was of the exterior front, one was of the interior, and there were two pictures of two wheels that had curb rash. Since it was a service loaner, it was understood that I would be required to fix the wheels. Even though the car wasn’t my first color choice (pearl white), I couldn’t pass it up. Before I knew it, I had given the green light to have Tesla ship a black P85 with tan leather from California to Georgia. My dream car was now just weeks away. I quickly applied for a car loan and worked with Tesla’s preferred trade-in company AutoNation. Since I only had one car, I arranged to trade in my vehicle the day I was scheduled to pick-up my Model S.
This is when the trouble started…
Not only did Tesla request to delay my pickup date, which caused me to have to rearrange my plans with the insurance company and Auto Nation, but they also tried to cancel the 2nd date they arranged. This time the reason was because they weren’t able to give it a full detail. Apparently, on my new pick-up date, their only “master detailer” had an emergency and couldn’t finish my car. Unfortunately I was stuck with no options, my car trade-in was set in stone and I had no other car to drive. In addition to that, I was going out of town and needed the car. I pleaded with Tesla and told them I didn’t mind picking up a dirty car, but they were somewhat uncooperative. Their policy was not to let anyone take delivery of a car that hadn’t been detailed. I asked why I couldn’t just bring the car back and have it detailed when I got back in town, but they told me if I did that I would have to pay for a detailing. At that point, I was upset and told them that I was picking up the car no matter what on the scheduled date with or without the detail. They relented and agreed that I could come pick the car up that evening – just a little later. This turned into much later. When they finally told me to come get the car, by then it was dark outside and all of their staff were leaving for the night. Many of them were still there because their time clocking system was having problems despite it being well after 8pm.
I was given a tour of my car in a dark, poorly lit parking lot. I tried my best to inspect the car and was mainly focused on the interior B-pillar wear, rear tire tread, and other minor things I had read about on the forums. My car did have some minor B-pillar wear but wasn’t nearly as some of the pictures I had seen online. The tires looked fine. I was not able to inspect the paint due to the darkness and even if I had a flashlight that would’ve made this possible, I didn’t yet know the paint was problematic on dark-colored Teslas. After I returned from my vacation, I drove the car for a few days. It was poor weather and I wasn’t able to wash it right away. On the first clear weekend I had, I did my best to wash it the best I could. During that process I noticed a few deep scratches that I was hoping I could polish out with a good wax job. Since I didn’t have any good quality wax, I decided to pay a premium mobile detailer to come out and wash and wax my car. I had never paid for this type of service before and was shocked to find out how much they cost. I bit my tongue and paid for the service. I watched the two men spent almost 3hrs on my car between the washing and waxing, which made me feel somewhat better about the price. Before they started the first coat of wax, I showed them the deepest scratches I hoped could be remedied. They paid special attention to those areas, applying multiple coats; their efforts did improve things slightly, but the scratches were still visible.
Disappointed by the lack of success I searched the forums for other Tesla owners with paint problems. I was shocked to discover that not only had other owners noticed that the paint was extremely easy to scratch, they also were complaining that brand new cars were arriving with marring and swirling. Basically this was clear coat damage most likely caused by either improper detailing or drying. I felt sick to my stomach. I had noticed some of the deeper scratches on my car, but now that I had seen good pictures of the swirling and marring, I immediately took my car and parked it in the direct sunlight. I leaned in close to the paint, now empowered with the knowledge of what to look for. My car was covered in swirls and marring – it was worse than any pictures I had seen online. Not only had I picked the car up in the dark, but it had also now been over a month since I took delivery. There’s no way they would do anything to fix this I thought, especially on a service loaner. I was having some sporadic problems with a door handle not opening on the front passenger door, so I called to make an appointment with Tesla. During the call I mentioned the paint problems, and the service manager basically reminded me that I had taken delivery and that service loaners were as-is. Unfortunately, this was the reaction I expected based off of how Tesla was responding to other owners with this same problem. Even new owners who had taken delivery and not noticed the problems right away were getting this same response. You took delivery, how do we know you didn’t do this to the paint?
At this point I set out researching paint correction, sealants, and transparent film “clear-bras.” I found two individuals in the metro Atlanta area, and settled on Jean-Claude at Detailed Designs Auto Spa because he could do both the paint correction and clear bra install back to back. Not only did Jean-Claude spend many hours with me on the phone explaining the pros and cons of different approaches, he also educated me on what these options meant long-term. I appreciated his efforts to answer all my questions, no matter uninformed; he was patient and very helpful. After having him perform his top of the line “gold level” paint correction, I decided to go with an almost full Suntek clear bra installation on the entire car. The only part we didn’t wrap was the rear lift gate. The whole job was more money than I had originally planned to spend but I was afraid that if I didn’t, I might end up with more swirling, marring, or deep scratches later that would need to be fixed again. So I bit the bullet and went with an almost full clear bra wrap. Before having this work done, I always had this nagging feeling that my car was damaged goods. It was still enjoyable to drive, but I always had this lingering dread in the back of my mind that the car was imperfect and flawed. After Jean-Claude was done with his magic my car now feels like the beautiful machine it was always supposed to be. I highly recommend his work. He truly made my car enjoyable again and it looks absolutely stunning when full detailed.
As for Tesla, I still love and believe in the company. However, everyone who has approached me about my car has asked me if there was anything I didn’t like about the car. It’s safe to say every single one of those people now knows they should try to buy a lighter color. I have emphasized to all of them that if they do go with a dark colored paint to know what to look for and be sure to go over the paint with a fine-toothed comb before accepting delivery. I also advise anyone who is seriously considering a Tesla to at least get a clear bra on the front of the car to save themselves headaches down the road. Most of them are shocked to hear that such a beautifully designed machine could come with so many problems on the exterior. I do not think all owners suffer this problem, but it is definitely not uncommon. Buyer beware!
I am proud to say that the owner provided me with this testimonial and story 3 months after his service. After returning for a one on one clinic to learn car care theory and techniques, the owner has been maintaining the finish of his Tesla very well. The protection services fit the way he lives with his car ideally and he now has the peace of mind while driving it that it is well protected.
Without further delay, here are some pictures that accompany the story and give a good idea of what this client experienced. Here are some shots of the Tesla Model S as it arrived at our shop:
Holograms and swirl marks were everywhere…
Paint correction begins:
Notice the rock chips on the lower left portion of the door. With clear bra, those rock chips would not be there.
Once the paint correction was complete, we installed the clear bra. But if you watched our video about the defect masking abilities of clear bra, seeing just the final shots with clear bra will not tell the whole tale of paint correction projects. To get a true idea of how the paint came out, direct sunlight shots without clear bra tells the whole story. Here are the post paint correction, but, pre-clear bra photographs.
After we had the paint inspected by high output halogen, LED lighting and direct sunlight we prepped the surfaces for clear bra. Clear bra was then installed on every panel except for the edges of the panoramic glass roof and the hatch back. The owner felt that clear bra over those surfaces would have been a bit overkill for how he lives with his Tesla.
After paint correction and installation of clear bra film, this Tesla Model S that resides in Atlanta came out looking 10/10 and was as well protected from road debris as possible!
Wish to work with the products we used on this project?
While it’s near impossible to outline exactly what we used on every panel, what I am happy to do is to offer up a list of the products we used. Because we aim for certain results and do not follow rigid rules for only using specific products, our workflow for large paint correction jobs is very organic. I would like to give one suggestion to other professionals that are aiming to take their results to another level. Step away from what is comfortable. Don’t always order or use the same products for paint correction. We have many go-to products for paint correction and even on some projects we may use a vast array of products to get amazing results. Try a similar approach yourself. Play with different products in an attempt to step up your game. Sure, it takes longer to use many different pads, products and methods…but the results are worth it!
- Makita Rotary
- Flex 3401 VRG
- Griot’s Garage DA
- Lake Country 4″ Rotary Backing Plate
- Lake Country 6″ Rotary Backing Plate
- 4″ and 6″ Purple Foamed Wool Pads
- LC Yellow Pads
- LC Orange Pads
- LC White Pads
- LC Black Pads
- Meguiar’s M101
- Meguiar’s M105
- Meguiar’s M205
- Menzerna SI 1500
- Menzerna SF 4500
- Carpro Reflect
- Blue Painter’s tTape
- Carpro Reset
- Carpro Iron-X
- NanoSkin AutoScrub Fine Wash Mitt
- P21S TAW
- Sonax Full Effect
- Wheel Woolies
- Carpro Eraser (use after every pass of your pad/product to lay bare what you’ve really done to the paint)
- Boar’s Hair Detailing Brush
- Ultima Tire and Trim Guard Plus
- Carpro DLUX
Buy Products From This Article
Purchase the products used in this article individually or in one convenient package here!
- New Car Detail: Porsche GT3 Paint Correction, Clear Bra & Nano-Coating
- 2014 Corvette Stingray Complete Detail with Clear Bra and Vinyl Wrap Install: Part 1 of 2
- BMW 328i Heavy Swirl Removal & Correction
- Video: Menzerna Medium Cut 2500 | How to Polish Paint in 1 Step!
- Maserati GranTurismo: A New Lease On Life