Staggering Estimate!

Staggering Estimate!

So my car was hit last week while parallel parked. I was at lunch when it happened but judging from the damage it looked as if the car in front of me backed up travelling at a speed of 5 mph or less. There is only one Tesla approved body shop in the Orlando, FL area and I just heard from my adjuster that their estimate for a new hood painted and installed is over $10,000! Naturally the adjuster is balking at that. The breakdown is approximately $2000 parts and $8000 labor. They will be negotiating and hopefully I will not be charged any more than my deductible. I may be without the car for I don't know how long - all this for a small dent that you could barely see! It would be nice to get a loaner but I am not feeling that either. I will not be bringing my Tesla to lunch anymore and parking on the street!

DTsea | 17 april 2014

Why posted 4 times

Mathew98 | 17 april 2014


carlk | 17 april 2014

Well CSAA/AAA here is the Bay Area where Tesla is headquartered charges me only $800 a year vs S1800 for the Porsche Cayman S I still own. Their reason is it costs much more to repair a Porsche because of the higher parts cost. I would think they have more experiences with Tesla than insurance companies in other parts of the country.

LEvans | 17 april 2014

Could you post photos of the damage and a copy of the insurance estimate with your personal info redacted? It would give the forum more of a basis to assist you with ideas on dealing with the situation. Just for the heck of it, have you taken the car to a reputed very high end body shop to see what they had to say?

If the damage is so limited most high-end body shops that work with aluminum should be able to get this fixed for you.

michael1800 | 17 april 2014

That certainly is a lot of labor. I wonder how much of that is for the VOC painting and how much of the front of the car has to be disassembled in order to replace the hood. Still though, I feel your pain--They're saying mine is out of commission for about 2-3 months (25k) for the crushed rear right fender area. I'm not sure if the insurance will cover a rental replacement for that long. Fun times.

LEvans | 17 april 2014

Hi Michael, did you also file a diminished value claim? Why is it taking 2-3 months? That's a crazy long time. Is it to get the parts?

Seems I've been reading a lot of stories about how the Tesla certified body shops are inefficient and crazy expensive for small repairs.

If this keeps up we will likely see Tesla insurance rates go up.

The OP's claims of $10K damage for a parking mishap seems excessive. Would this be the same with any other aluminum car?

Too bad the did not design this car where you can snap in and snap out body parts for minor repairs.

jordanrichard | 17 april 2014

These "Tesla Certified" shops are existing body shops that just meet the requirements of Tesla. I recently learned that there is only 1 body shop in CT that is certified to work on them. The shop has to send people to Tesla in CA to learn how to repair the cars. From the videos at the factory, Tesla uses 4 different types of fasteners to attach the various panels. Perhaps Tesla is following what the Germans use to do and that was to over engineer/ over build their cars. So repairing them involves a lot more work.

dbower | 17 april 2014

I just received a mid-year premium notice from my insurer (State Farm in GA), meaning that they recalculated what they need to be charging for Tesla coverage - and the additional premium was $400. This was in addition to the premium that they already charged me for the time period. Troubling sign.

Car t man | 17 april 2014

If these are actual costs, insurers will likely try to up premiums. Quotes like these don't go down well with insurances.

Captain_Zap | 17 april 2014

When the front of my car was gouged, I got 3 estimates from different high-end certified aluminum shops. The estimates varied from a few hundred to a couple grand. I didn't have to get any parts replaced though. The shop did a great job. The Signature Red Paint matched perfectly. I told Tesla about them and suggested that they add them to their list. I had experience in the past with my BMW and Jaguar. They always did great work. I ended up not reporting it to my insurance because it was way under my deductible.

TESLA CA | 18 april 2014

As an Automotive collision repair shop owner for the past 27 years, would recommend to any Tesla owner to take their vehicles to any experienced professional body shop that they know or have visited before to get the most minor or moderate repairs done! Thea word " Authorized" does not mean much especially if you have a high deductible or paying the total repair amount out of your own pocket. Believe it or not I only carry a $500 deductible on all my cars. Remember you always have the right to negotiate the cost of repairs, specially for their labor rates.

notice | 18 april 2014

I'm having my good replaced after damage from falling ice. Estimate from Boston area authorizes tesla body shop was just over 4k.

dowopdave | 19 april 2014

Notice......I would love to get the details of your hood replacement and installation. Can you please email me @

gshriber | 19 april 2014

Tesla Seattle gave me the same estimate from their "authorized repair shop" ($10k for a front hood dent). I was shocked to see that more than half of the cost was labor on the paint. Hoping I can find another shop willing to do the work.

BE WARNED, if you dent your hood (which is very easy, a car backed into me going less than 5 miles per hour and it creased the front lip) it will cost you big time.

ev4good | 19 april 2014

Like dbower, I also just received a mid-year premium notice from State Farm (SoCal). For me the increase is about $72 ($144 annual premium). The invoice says, “The claim experience on your make and model of vehicle has resulted in an increase to your vehicle rating group for collision coverage.”

I have no accidents or tickets, multi-car coverage, low mileage and long term “loyalty”discounts, etc. I dread to think how much the increase would be otherwise.

BTW, some insurers offer EV discounts. Do a web search to find out if your insurance company might offer this; e.g., enter [your state] EV car insurance discount. If so, you might save a few bucks. Unfortunately, in California, State Farm does not offer an EV discount.

Pungoteague_Dave | 19 april 2014

I also just received an interim billing from State Farm increasing my (accident-free) rate by $225 for six months, up about 50%, based solely on their experience rating for the Model S. It turns out that the aluminum parts and labor costs are much higher than steel/plastic - well over double according to my agent. He said to expect more increases. In my case, this is now at our prior Porsche Turbo price levels.

LEvans | 19 april 2014

I think at some point Tesla needs to get a handle on this repair situation and present a way to get minor damage fixed without incurring a cost of $10-$30K.

I think insurance companies have been pretty good with pricing insurance for the Model S at the inception but the last thing we/Tesla need is for their cars to get a nasty reputation that they are impossibly expensive to fix minor body damage and it will greatly increase the insurance premiums and add to the total cost of owing a Tesla.

Also this would greatly affect the resale value of used Teslas 3-5 years down the road. It would not be good for the brand to see a bunch of banged up Model S vehicles being driven everywhere because they are ridiculously expensive to fix.

If you have a minor fender-bender or hood damage there needs to be a way to get that fixed at a reasonable cost without having all the Tesla insurance premiums double or worse.

Pungoteague_Dave | 19 april 2014

What are they to do? The materials and car construction methods result in expensive body parts and labor techniques. Repairing aluminum bodies costs at least twice as much as steel. That's just a fact, and Tesla doesn't have a magic potion to make it go away. Some things can't be solved.

When Ford recently announced that it will produce the 2015 F-150 pickup with an aluminum body, the initial reports were that repairs and body parts costs will be dramatically higher, potentially threatening the truck's position as the best selling light vehicle. It is seen as the biggest single risk that Ford has taken in many years:

michael1800 | 19 april 2014

That's pretty much the problem: low-VOC/water-based paint and aluminum paneling. Perhaps someone else can shed more light on why the paint is necessary (it IS very environmentally friendly), but the aluminum is not going to change.

Based on those two things alone, I'd suspect insurance rates will creep up for most people as insurance companies deal with more and more claims in regards to the Model S.

ualdriver | 19 april 2014

Concerning the OP's damaged hood, wouldn't it be cheaper to just replace the whole hood rather than fix it?

Bighorn | 19 april 2014

I think the labor rates quoted would have me considering a wrap job.

GoBlue88 | 19 april 2014

@michael1800. I'm guessing the paint type is probably due to environmental regulations in CA since that is the state where the painting takes place. If the factory was n Texas, we'd probably have more robust paint on the Model S.

That said, I'm sure Elon is on board with being as environmentally friendly as possible.

TFMethane | 19 april 2014

This sounds like another deep-pockets issue. You roll into a body shop with a Tesla, and they know you can afford to pay a lot, so they quote high.

Agree with @Tesla CA: go to someone you trust and ask them if they can handle aluminum or refer you to a trustworthy body shop that can. This industry is rife with shadiness, so caveat emptor.

ye | 19 april 2014

Who paints the new hood? It sounds like the body shop does. Wouldn't it be cheaper if Tesla did it?

Car t man | 20 april 2014

1. This can kill the reality and perception of this being a good purchase for 30 years to come, so it needs to be fixed. Just like the tire issue had to be mitigated and improved, this absolutely needs to follow, before it causes any
critical damage in consumer perception.

2. Easily dented or damaged panels should be of other materials, not necessarily aluminum. The hood does not carry and weight or has any structural function, just like bumpers. It should be made of composite materials. Also, Tesla needs to equip SCs with such basic parts in colors matching cars sold and bring at least some of these repairs inhouse. At least for main parts
replacement. And set up equipment for automated painting of such basic parts,
not just full cars. It could collect dented, chipped and otherwise damaged
basic parts, straighten them our centrally and put them back into circulation, whereas the driver should get a new part on first visit, with paying the difference + some premium. A reasonable premium since he/she just returned the same material in return. Centralizing the work on it/labor, should make it much cheaper.

3. It should at least offer a variation of the car with composite panels and
parts. Any limo, taxi or other such use will probably dwindle quickly otherwise. The buy back program from Tesla is an important factor, but who knows if Tesla's offer won't be something like what one would expect, minus
some 10k for a dent.. Then it would be unpleasant. This should be addressed.

ye | 20 april 2014

Car t man said: "And set up equipment for automated painting of such basic parts, not just full cars."

Oh, I see. Of course. Tesla currently only paints whole cars at once. That's why the body shop has to do it.

TFMethane | 20 april 2014

Market forces are at play here, and @Car t man, you point out the first thing that has made me want to sell my Tesla stock in a while.

The Ford F150 being made of aluminum will drive body shops to learn to handle aluminum. If aluminum doesn't break Ford, then the large numbers of aluminum cars on the road in the next few years will drive competition to make our body work cheaper.

However, that will likely take several years. In the meantime, there will be a lot of people complaining about expensive bodywork on their Teslas, and insurance premiums will rise.

You're right... this is the Achilles heel of Tesla. I'm kicking myself for not anticipating it.

TFMethane | 20 april 2014

And I'm annoyed at Tesla for not having a comprehensive solution in place. (like placing body shops in SC's).

I haven't been this annoyed since they delivered my car without talking to me about charging. I was ignorant and it took me a week to come up with a solution (while my car sat in the driveway, uncharged).

Car is electric: have comprehensive plans to make the consumer charging experience as smooth as possible.
Car is aluminum: have comprehensive plans to make aluminum bodywork as smooth as possible.

A couple of duhs.

SamO | 20 april 2014

Body work is expensive but human injuries cost way more. Premiums are likely to fall (long term) once the lack of serious injuries and deaths are more apparent.

Right now the cost of aluminum repair is manifesting. Driving the safest car ever made takes time to be digested by insurance companies.

stussy5555 | 20 april 2014

Then Auto Body and Paint
1231 W Robinson St, Orlando, FL 32805

My Tesla got swiped in a parking lot crushing down the hood and front tail light. They had to fix the form on the hood and repaint. They did a really good job and the price was very fair. I think authorized means more money. That's about it. I would get a quote from these guys.

TFMethane | 20 april 2014

@SamO good point. However, injuries to other drivers (i.e. liability) will be unchanged, at best. And the car being a fast one, it may be worse if people drive it recklessly.

Not that one example makes a trend. We'll see what the data ultimately shows.

Mark E | 20 april 2014

Aluminum panels aren't that new. My 928 has aluminum doors, front guards and bonnet (hood). I learned a long time ago that some repair shops will jack up the price if they think you can afford it.

ye | 20 april 2014

Front tail light?

stussy5555 | 20 april 2014

Meant to say front head light. You get the idea.

justineet | 20 april 2014

Sounds like a rip off to put a new hood and paint it $8.000?? It' not like they r laboring to fix the old, damaged hood..

Mog | 20 april 2014

After I'd had my car for 6 days I had someone rear-end me. I did not go to the "authorized" body shop but rather to a high-end shop that I've used before. My one caution about this choice is that it took an unreasonably long time to get the parts from Tesla. The shop called, emailed and basically didn't get stellar response from Tesla. ( I would add the that the shop owner had a friend at the factory, and that didn't help much.) I saw some of the emails so I know it was not just the shop blowing smoke. This was a year ago, so things might be better now, but if I had the choice to make again, I would at least consider the wait time for parts and whether the shop had an existing relationship with Tesla.

dowopdave | 21 april 2014

@ how do they take out a small crease on the hood? I didnt know this could be done effectively. Would a trained eye detect it? I am also in Orlando and my car has been sitting at Daya's Custom Auto Body shop now for a week and they are still in negioations with All State. This is crazy!

TomServo | 21 april 2014

I owned a 2008 Jaguar XK (aluminum frame and body panels) and there were many references in the Owner's Manual about taking the car to a Jaguar Authorized Repair Facility, in fact during the B2B warranty Jaguar would pay towing. I was run into and decided to take the car to a local highly regarded facility close to home, the Jaguar Repair Facility was hundreds of miles away.

Turns out Jaguar threw every obstacle they could at the non Jaguar shop dragging out the repair by at least 2 months. That was one of the reason's a traded it on a vette. BTW the repair from the non Jaguar was flawless, but it took over two months of having to fight Jaguar in securing parts.

Rocky_H | 21 april 2014

@TFMethane: You said this: "I haven't been this annoyed since they delivered my car without talking to me about charging. I was ignorant and it took me a week to come up with a solution (while my car sat in the driveway, uncharged)."

When did you get your car delivered? I got an email from Tesla several weeks before delivery, telling me about the home charging options and including a link on how to get a NEMA 14-50 installed. Did you get your car quite a while ago, before they started sending out that heads-up email?

Red Sage ca us | 21 april 2014

One thing to keep in mind is that Tesla Motors is a car company. Literally. They build cars as they are ordered.

Unlike others, which are basically spare parts companies. They just make parts, and make parts, and make parts, and make some more parts... all the time. Because they expect the parts to break. They expect the cars to need replacements. They make sure there are plenty of places to get them.

Some 'body shops' are actually 'remove and replace' shops. They don't actually know how to repair body damage. So if they decide to replace an entire panel, rather than repairing it, they only have one source to buy those parts. Tesla Motors.

Since Tesla is currently sending sheet metal in one end of their factory, and driving cars out the other end... they might not exactly have parts lying around as a reserve for body shops and stuff.

Gizmotoy | 21 april 2014

@Mark E: Pretty much. My Mitsubishi has all-aluminum body panels from the front doors forward including the hood and roof. Replacing the hood is nowhere near $10k. $900 for the OEM part/installation and $1k to repaint (non-metallic).

Pungoteague_Dave | 21 april 2014

@Red Sage - If Tesla has not sufficiently planned for supplying replacement parts, then they aren't a real car company because cars start getting damaged the day the first one is delivered. I think you are wrong - they do understand the need to replace body panels. Estimating the need may be a bit off, but they are just as much in the car support business as they are in the car manufacturing business. Without being an efficient parts supplier, they quickly will lose the ability to sell anything.

The only thing that any car manufacturer (including Tesla) makes is body panels, and in Tesla's case, they also assemble, but do not manufacture, the battery assemblies. Every other part is sourced from past manufacturers just like any other manufacturer (brakes from Brembo, suspensions from Continental, glass from PGW, tires from... etc.)

Red Sage ca us | 21 april 2014

I was only speaking in terms of their priorities. At this point, it is better to be slightly behind the curve in spare parts for repairs, than at all behind in current manufacturing. I do believe that the biggest issue at hand is not either supply, or difficulty of working with aluminum, but body shops' attempt to see 'what the market can bear'.

I've mentioned before that Tesla Motors wants to avoid the mistakes that have befallen other auto manufacturers. There's a warehouse in Texas that has enough parts left over to build a few hundred DeLoreans. I would just cry, and cry, and cry if this happened to Tesla. Wouldn't you?

NOLEK SUM | 21 april 2014

I just had the identical experience on a smaller scale. My insurer, GEICO (not for long), refused to pay the body shop labor rates and turned my $500 deductible into a $1400 deductible. This is the only body shop in Arizona authorized by Tesla to do repairs. Their technicians have been to Tesla to be trained. They tell me the process for repairing aluminum is completely different, involving special bonding instead of welding, etc.

I appealed the decision of the adjuster a couple of rungs up the ladder with no success. I have since written letters to their CEO, their president, and Warren Buffett. Then when I picked up the car, the body shop told me just to pay them GEICO amount plus my deductible. They said they will go after GEICO for the $700 difference and they seem to think they will get it.

Both the tesla service manager and the body shop told me upfront that I would have real problems with Geico.

My body shop guy has a lot of experience with insurance and Tesla. They tell me they repair a lot of Teslas. After doing a lot of research, I have concluded that the following is the way to properly ensure this vehicle. The body shop guys told me that very few companies can handle the Tesla.

Talk to your local service manager and find out the name of the body shop in your area who is authorized by Tesla. Then: bodyshop and speak to their Tesla specialist. He will be able to tell you which companies are best to work with. Mine recommended ACE and Chubb, both of which focus exclusively on HNW customers.

Find a professional broker who also focuses on placing insurance for HNW clientele. I am using Bennett and Porter. I ended up with a company called Encompass, which is the high-end product of Allstate. Now my body shop told me that Encompass will also balk at their rates. But my broker tells me that since they are writing an "Agreed Value" ( this means full replacement if totaled) policy on the Tesla, they cannot protest any rates ever. | 21 april 2014

What does the "authorized" tag get you anyway--can non-authorized shops get parts, paint, etc?


Brian H | 21 april 2014

And HNW means what?

NKYTA | 21 april 2014

@Brian, I can only imagine - High Net Worth?

J.T. | 21 april 2014


Steve_W | 21 april 2014

I have a question. How can an insurance company raise the rate mid-term? I can understand them changing the rate when the policy comes up for renewal, but how can they do that during the course of a current policy?

Pungoteague_Dave | 21 april 2014

It is MUCH worse to get behind on parts availability for existing owners than to delay delivery of new cars. Beyond worse - it is inexcusable. Servicing existing customers must always come first, especially in a new business that is trying to establish a quality reputation.

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it."

- Warren Buffett