Quality of Upholstery? (Leather)

Quality of Upholstery? (Leather)

I'd like to hear the opinion of some long-term (relatively speaking) owners on this. Has any of you ever noticed the same?
I realize that the test cars are heavily used, but since I live in Europe, they cannot have been more than a few months old. One of the loose threads was on the seat and the other one was on the door cover.
Thanks for sharing your experiences!

AmpedRealtor | 07. Juli 2013

Here is a thread of interest for you regarding premature wear of one particular spot along the B-pillar:

Some people are seeing wear in this area, others are not. The vehicles in the showrooms most likely have wear in this area given the large number of people who get in and out of the cars there.

stevenmaifert | 07. Juli 2013

I'm not sure if it's a materials quality issue, or simply a poor design, but it is an issue. I'm very careful not to brush up against the B pillar when I get in and out of the car. Hopefully some after market genius will come up with a wear guard that we can put there that won't detract from the appearance of the car.

AmpedRealtor | 07. Juli 2013

@ stevenmaifert, from my inside sales representative at Tesla:

"I would like to respond to your inquiry about the improvement of Model S B-pillars. Our design and production teams are actively working on an improved design to combat B-pillar wear and tear and a new material may be used for future Model S. If you feel it would be best to hold your Model S order at this time, I can assist you in placing a hold. There is no way to know if a new solution will be able to be retrofit for current cars at this point in time."

The problem is both material and design. First, the design makes it easy to rub on this area as you are entering and exiting the vehicle because it is angled towards the front and is located right where your waist and rear end pivot into the seat. That is an intentional design choice that is causing higher wear on the material in that area. Tesla is apparently re-evaluating the material to use something that doesn't wear as easily, as well as a possible design change. If you look at other cars, typically this area is either not located where it could be rubbed or it contains material that is more resistant to rubbing (plastic, rubber, etc.).

If this is a deal breaker, don't buy the car because there is no assurance that any improved design will be available to current owners. I found it interesting that she ended with the disclaimer at the end that it may not be available for retrofit. That tells me that they are envisioning a pretty big change to the design that would not be easily implemented in current cars. This is just speculation, of course.

jbm6207 | 07. Juli 2013

I have had my Model S for three months and noticed this wear pattern about three weeks ago. I set up a profile to move the seat as far forward as I can and still get in and out of the car (I had to elevate the steering wheel also). It is a bit of a pain having to do this every time I get out of the car, but it seems to have helped; at least the wear marks do not seem to be getting much worse.

I have also considered going to one of the local shops that do exterior covering and seeing if they could come up with something to cover that area. So far moving the seat seems to be working, so I'll probably hold off on doing this for a bit.

stevenmaifert | 07. Juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor - Thanks for the post. At least Tesla acknowledges the issue.

chrisdl | 07. Juli 2013

This is excellent input, thank you very much, people.
It is not a deal breaker for me, because I count on the warranty to cover such production faults. Obviously, I would prefer nothing to break on any car I buy, but since we don't live in utopia, I'm trying to be realistic.

However, I learned a lot from the information you all gave. From what I read on the Tesla Motors Club forum (stevenmaifert's link) I found out that the first cars with a different type of leather are already shipping. I'm hopeful that my car will not have the problem. Let me quote from that thread:

ddruz says: "My car is VIN 82xx. The material on the B and C pillars areas that wear is the same as the adjacent doors, a relatively soft leather.

My coworker just received his car last week, VIN 110xx. The material on the same areas of his car is identical to the dashboard material which appears to be a harder leather. His adjacent door material is the same as mine, the softer leather.

It will be interesting to see if the sturdier material on the B and C pillar wear areas on more recent cars will be enough to mitigate the problem."

Captain_Zap | 07. Juli 2013

Short people don't have pillar wear problems because the seat is farther forward most of the time.

chrisdl | 07. Juli 2013

I talked to my wife again, and she says she's certain she saw a loose thread on the right side of the passenger seat while she was sitting down. It wasn't a broken thread, but it look like the end of the thread wasn't tucked in properly. (She compared it with when you nit a sock and you forget to tuck in the end of the thread. You'd get a little piece of loose thread sticking out, which is what this looked like.)

She's positive that it was not on the B-pillar but on the seat itself (she doesn't remember if it was the seat back or the seat bottom).
Did anybody ever notice anything like this?

AmpedRealtor | 07. Juli 2013

@ chrisdl,

You should be aware that the warranty does not cover "wear and tear" items. The premature wear that owners have reported along the B-pillar is not something that is covered under the warranty.

chrisdl | 07. Juli 2013

According to the Tesla warranty statement, premature wear and tear is covered. Normal wear and tear isn't, but leather seats wearing out in a few months is hardly normal.
I don't expect any problems with the warranty being applied, should that be necessary. Especially since Tesla boasts to "create the world's best service and warranty program". I trust Tesla on that one (and I hope I'm right).

AmpedRealtor | 07. Juli 2013

@ chrisdl,

I hope you are right, too! :)

bioengr | 07. Juli 2013

Very glad to see this thread. I started noticing wear in my March-delivered S a few weeks ago. At first, I thought it was my fault but after looking at it closely and discussing with others, it is clear this is "premature wear" as chrisl describes. I have been extremely careful getting in and out since noticing the problem. But this definitely needs to be addressed. I have an appointment with at the Costa Mesa service center in a couple of weeks.

This is one of very few problems I've had with the S. I hope they address permanently for future owners and for us earlier owners. It would be very sad to has such a visible spot look bad on such a nice car.

AmpedRealtor | 07. Juli 2013

@ bioengr, can you please check back in and let us know what the service center says? The fact that my inside sales rep qualified her statements by saying "there is no way to know if a new solution will be able to be retrofit for current cars at this point in time" tells me that it would not be covered under warranty - otherwise why would she say that? If it's a warranted item, she would have said as much to put my mind at ease - not say she would be happy to put my order on hold if this was a concern.

So I'm hoping for the best, but I don't see Tesla honoring wear along the seat/B-pillar as a warranty repair.

bioengr | 12. Juli 2013

Update... I called service today to see about rescheduling my appt. I was able to talk to Raul at the corp. office. He asked about the wear and I sent him pictures. He is ordering parts to match my leather for my appt (July 23)... nice. I'll report in after I get my car back.

GeekEV | 12. Juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor - I'm betting that if they can, they will.

San Diego Tesla | 12. Juli 2013

Here's the email response that I received from George Blankenship (head of sales at Tesla) on the issue:

Thanks for the email.

This issue arises based upon how one enters and exits the car and how frequently. I took delivery of my car on August 18th of last year and it has zero signs of wear. I am currently in Florida, or I would snap a quick photo for you.

The cars in our showroom take extraordinary punishment every day. Our average store sees about 5,000 visitors per week. Many of these visitors get into the display car. This pillar, as well as other areas of our display cars, show wear and tear because of the extraordinary frequency of use.

Most people get in and out of their car twice per day. Some average 6 to 8 times per day. The cars on our sales floor average about 120 to 200 "in and outs" per day depending upon the store. They experience about a month of use per day. About 2 1/2 years worth of use per month.

That said, we have replaced the piece at the b pillar for customers that have experienced a problem and will continue to do so in the future.

Have a great week!


tobi_ger | 12. Juli 2013

That's great news, thanks for sharing!

ChrisPDX | 12. Juli 2013

Believe it or not the DeLorean had a very similar issue. Part of the trim that your butt slides across when entering/exiting would wear down. The vinyl stitching would come apart and show the padding underneath it. If things got worse, that part of the trim would start to separate from the main trim panel! DMC solved this by recovering the whole panel with a single piece of vacuum formed plastic. Not being a spot where your body would normally be in contact the change from vinyl to plastic was no big deal and since it didn't wear, the results looked much better. For owners with the older vinyl, they came out with plastic caps that you could attach. It covered the worn vinyl and any exposed padding.

If this becomes a major issue down the line, I'm sure Tesla or a 3rd party will come out with a plastic cap of some sort to cover the wear and prevent any further damage.

J.T. | 13. Juli 2013

My wife pointed out the loose threads on the B pillar and mentioned that clear nail polish might be the bandage that area needs. However, if GeorgeB says that Tesla will replace the worn part under warranty then I'm not sure i want to mess with it.

kalel65 | 17. Juli 2013

I have the same wear and tear and noticed it after 3 or 4 months. A Tesla rep said they wouldn't cover the repair. Seems excessive to me.

petero | 18. Juli 2013

Slightly off subject. I have noticed a number of small dents on the brushed metal trim on the door that I presume has occurred from the seatbelt buckle being released and striking the metal trim
(on passenger side too). Anyone else notice this?

AmpedRealtor | 18. Juli 2013

@ kalel65, you probably should provide your service center with the text of John Blankenship's email (see above) and insist they replace the worn material on your B-pillar under warranty.

kalel65 | 18. Juli 2013

Great idea AmpedRealtor! Thanks, will do and let you know.

jeffgoldstein | 12. August 2013

Is the premature B-pillar wear only a leather issue with Performance models/the new extended leather option, or has it been seen with standard interior/non-P leather seats? Looks to me like the material on my 85S with leather seats may be synthetic and more durable? Since I drive with the seat as far back as it can go, my Enter/Exit profile moves the seat Forward to make it less likely I'll rub the pillar. Am I being overly cautious?

Qwiksilver | 21. November 2014

Have the same problem. I will have it replaced by Tesla. The mean time I have covered these
vulnerable areas with matte black gaffers tape, as suggested by another Tesla owner.
Obviously I have a black interior. The tape is easy to work with, smooth, malleable, strong, and
blends in well with the car's finish. Unless I would point it out, it's not noticeable.
Gaffers tape leaves no residue, and can be replaced as needed.
It's my solution until Tesla come out with a fix.

hpjtv | 21. November 2014

@Qwiksilver thanks for the info.