Embarrassing fit and finish for $57K car

Embarrassing fit and finish for $57K car

Before I get into my Model 3 fit and finish issues, let me first say that overall I love the new Model 3. It's a revelation, a work of genius, and ridiculously fun to drive. But I'm not totally in love with the one I was sold. For a $57K car (I payed cash) I'm a little heartbroken by its surprisingly poor fit and finish. Here's my list:

- Driver's door rear seam bulges outward about a 1/2 to 3/4 centimeters halfway down, causing obvious panel line discontinuity.
- Right rear door handle is sunken in well beyond the other door handles (also by about 1/2 to 3/4 centimeters)
- Lumps under the leather on top of the steering wheel
- Left A-Pillar headliner bulges out towards the bottom (this is a common issue).
- The most minor - right steering wheel stalk plastic top cover pops upward leaving a gap. I'm trying a DYI fix with double sided tape.

While none of these issues impede driving, I can't help but always see them to the point of constant irritation.

The Tesla service people have been typically excellent at doing their best to resolve the issues. I make sure to always be courteous and understanding, so we have a friendly rapport. Their plan is to replace but not repair, so a replacement steering wheel, stalk piece, and door handle are on order. As for the door seam and a-pillar, they say both fall within their tolerances. I'm surprised by this. Every other car I've looked at since (whether its'a KIA tor BMW) has perfectly aligned door seams and a-pillar headliners.

For the door panel misalignment Tesla said I should take the car to a body shop, which I did. The mechanic said he'd never seen a car built so poorly this century. He also said body work wouldn't fix such poor door manufacture and that the rear door needs to be completely replaced. All that being said I have a feeling my car was one of those rushed through production on that last week of the latest quarter - especially considering almost all Model 3 I've seen on the road and at Telsa stores don't have these issues.

Again I love the Model 3. I just wish mine had the same level of build quality as every other car I owned for the past 20 years, wether it be my Audi A4, Audi TT, VW GTI or my very first used beater, a Ford Taurus.

Edit: Link to pictures of the issues:

ebmcs03 | April 23, 2018

That’s kinda sad to read about these mis alignments. I hope it’s gotten better by now and the recent shut down won’t have new issues.

cars | April 23, 2018

What is your approx. VIN?

cmacfarland | April 23, 2018

Once they learned you were paying cash they gave you the lemon.

MarylandS85 | April 23, 2018

I paid cash when I picked up my Model 3 almost a month ago (VIN 71xx), and it’s nearly flawless. The only issue is the rear right door handle sticks.

Madatgascar | April 23, 2018

They need to fix door panel misalignment. Body shops are for accidents. Can you post pictures? I thought they had gotten past this.

lilbean | April 23, 2018

Post pictures.

mos6507 | April 23, 2018

When people post this, please put the date you received your car. I'm assuming you recently got it, but please post the date.

vmulla | April 23, 2018

Is VIN 7xxx pre factory shutdown #1 or post?
I'd expect the car to be better than mine if it was made after the factory shut down.

I can empathize with the OP. The initial quality was disappointing for a 57k car. Tesla service fixed many of the issues I pointed out patiently to the point where I'm now satisfied with the car. There are still some minor issues but oh well, they don't bother me now more than a dirty car would.
My recommendation - veiw the Munro down analysis, it will help you understand your M3. He makes fair points about the car.

spuzzz123 | April 23, 2018

Looks like you've started a brand new thread for essentially the same complaints you posted on April 11. Why not just update that thread? Perhaps you are just venting - in which case, I do feel for you. I guess I got lucky, having nearly same VIN (you said your vin was around 108xx) and absolutely none of the problems you've described. Or perhaps you got the unlucky lemon. Well I hope Tesla fixes them to your satisfaction. Good luck!

WantMY | April 23, 2018

Dude I experienced Model 3 outside and inside - it is sub 30K vehicle. Personally, I may opt to wait for Y model with hopes the rear seat will be more adequate with at least > 12" drop. It seems, due to high floor many current BEV designers chose SUV'ish body shape to counter high floor with raised roof line. Will see soon.

spuzzz123 | April 23, 2018

" it is sub 30K vehicle." -- you'll probably want to change your name then!

rand889 | April 23, 2018

i got mine 3 weeks ago and i have the similar fit and finish issues. i think the description of built like a kia from the mid 90's is accurate. another comment is that tesla isn't building cars to make money is also sounding true. once the car leaves the line and has quality issues then it's just eats away at their profits. my first trip to the service center is today to address the fit and finish issues. so far the only techicals issues i have had are lines down the screen (reboot), passenger mirror reset to the wrong position, and problems with the phone key after 14.13 ota.

jordanrichard | April 23, 2018

If I may ask, what relevance is it that you "paid cash"? Whoopty eFing deal. So you walked in their with a bag or briefcase filled with a bunch of benjamins, or was it a check.? Since I am guessing it wasn't the former, but the later, your check is no different than a check from a bank on the behalf of their customer who took out a loan.

voss.ken | April 23, 2018

I picked up VIN 18XXX last week and the fit and finish including panel alignment is as good as any car in the price range.

Speaking of price range, I paid over $60k with options, tax & license but is it really fair to compare this with other $60,000 cars?

Lets not forget that this is really a $35k car, we are choosing to add $20k in options because we are impatient and don't want to wait and then there is roughly another $5k in sales tax, license & destination fee.

Now, if I compare it to other cars with a base price of $35k the model 3 is far superior in every way. I think that sometimes people forget that the base price of a Chevy Volt is also about $35k, add the options and it is up to $45, tax and license and you are looking at $50k out the door. The model 3 blows away the VOLT in every way

jordanrichard | April 23, 2018

"Lets not forget that this is really a $35k car, we are choosing to add $20k in options because we are impatient and don't want to wait and then there is roughly another $5k in sales tax, license & destination fee. " +1,000

Look at the price of an AMG S-Class. Do you actually think the AMG cars go through a different paint booth? AMG versions are nothing more than an engine and maybe a suspension change. The AMG division just builds engines and sends them to the factory to put them into the cars. I once saw a AMG that had a worse paint job than a Honda.

globalMan | April 23, 2018

Having read so many Model 3 quality issues, I believe the "embarrassment" is less on the quality, but more (much more) on Tesla allowing these "embarrassing" issues exposed to the world by delivering them, instead of filtering them out ahead of delivery. A pure quality control issue at the delivery centers.

jordanrichard | April 23, 2018

gllivyl do keep in mind that "so many" could be attributed to people regurgitating what they heard. For example, 1 person could report an issue and Insideevs reports it. Then Forbes, CNBC, Bloomberg, EVTrek, Market watch, Yahoo financial etc. report the same story but people get the impression that there is a big problem and is widespread because everyone is reporting it.

spuzzz123 | April 23, 2018

Wondering when (or if) I will get a survey for my satisfaction with the car? I got one for my satisfaction with delivery experience, but they asked nothing about the car itself. I'd like to see survey results. It's so hard to discern from the anecdotes here on the forum -- its a mostly "self selecting" group of respondents -- that is people who are extraordinarily happy or unhappy with the product -- which is precisely why reading through these things looks so schizophrenic. (Unfortunately some surveys can be that way too...I am much more motivated to respond to a survey when I am unhappy.)

meni | April 23, 2018

Thanks for the info and support. Some responses:

- My VIN ends with 10899.
- I forgot to mention that my driver seat base is split open exposing the wiring underneath. This is a known issue and a replacement is on order.
- I can certainly take photos and post here. Just need to figure out how since this forum doesn’t allow photo uploads.

djharrington | April 23, 2018

@Meni: you can use image hosts like imgur, etc. I didn’t want to set up an account, so I simple tweet and then post links to the tweet ... but I have a funny twitter name, so beware the consequences ;)

Without seeing pictures of the panel alignments, it’s hard to comment with completely accuracy. However, when I’ve worked on past cars, door alignments (and also where doors meet fenders) are usually easy to adjust by adjusting the door hinge on either the frame or the door, or adjusting the latch the door latches closed on. I’ve never looked at a misalignment like this and thought to myself “the manufacturer sucks” (I’ve adjusted doors on a Porsche, a LandRover, and Audi, and a Nissan, with the Land Rover being due to me taking the door completely off in a project). Instead, I think, “Ok, there’s some factory worker whose job it is to bolt these things on, he’s trying to get home to dinner, got it close enough and called it quits.” It was always an easy fix, so I just did it. On my S and 3, I had nothing to fix. Maybe I’m an outlier, but I don’t think so (based on how many thousands of Tesla’s are constantly being delivered, and the relatively few complaints that are posted). I look forward to see some pics, but I’m sure your car will turn out right as rain in the end (call me blissfully optimistic). Glad you love the overall experience of the car.

globalMan | April 23, 2018

Sometimes, it is not the number of negative reports that is of significance; it is rather the types of problems found by untrained eyes (customers) and yet escaped the eyes of the trained specialists (quality control specialists) that bother me.

JAD | April 23, 2018

Also, once people are thinking about an issue, they spend a lot of time looking for the issue that they would never have noticed otherwise. Go over your other car with a fine comb looking for fit and finish issues and they are there. I would rather have an imperfect panel gap and have circuit boards from an F15 and a drive train a league above the competition. If gaps are that important, buy a Lexus. Desirable cars like Porsche, Ferrari etc are not desired for their panel gaps, but the driving experience which is amazing with the Tesla.

Beef Jerky | April 23, 2018

Say what you want, people. I only trust my idol and spiritual leader Elon. Your measuring ruler is defective.

andrewlee05 | April 23, 2018

I have similar fit and finish issues with my M3. VIN 86XX. Tesla sent it to a body shop and I will re-attempt delivery tomorrow (hopefully it's done by EOD today).

meni | April 23, 2018

Wow, a Tesla is sending it to the body shop? I’m at a body shop now and about to get an estimate that I’ll need to pay out of pocket. As I posted before Tesla said it’s not their problem.

jvcesare | April 23, 2018

This hand wringing over Fit and Finish reminds me of something I studied in a psych class once: The Windshield Pitting Mystery of 1954

lilbean | April 23, 2018

Tesla would take responsibility.

GAGSTESLA | April 23, 2018

Interesting thread. I got my 3 in December (very low VIN) and to my eye, I see nothing wrong. Went to a Tesla meet up and someone did a write up about the panel gaps. I wish they would have pointed them out to me while I was there (maybe I am glad they didn't).

meni | April 23, 2018

I was quoted $200 for the panel gap fix. Not as steep as expected so I’m biting the bullet. Work will happen in a couple days so I’ll let you know how it goes. So weird to have to take a brand new car with no damage to a body shop.

andrewlee05 | April 23, 2018

I think the manager knew I was bound to find more issues, especially since I showed up with a checklist. My issues were mostly minor, but some major - rear door edge looked like someone took a bite out of the door (to exaggerate) - it's as if the door edge was dented before painting and then they painted over it. You could see the indentation at an angle - new car should not be like that plus that same door had a paint chip on the edge already - the service center tech said the dent was from the factory and the chip could be from anywhere. Neither belong on a BRAND NEW car.

mschaffer11 | April 23, 2018

Who know what to believe about anonymous poster's complaints? I have no idea what if any of this is true.

lilbean | April 23, 2018

This is not true. Tesla fixes any problems on new cars.

meni | April 23, 2018

@lilbean as I said Tesla told me the panel gap issue is my problem. My service agent told me that the mechanic (who I didn’t meet) said they won’t fix it because the gap was within their tolerances. This was from a tech at the Los Angeles Centinela service center. I will post photos soon.

kuri.siji | April 23, 2018

I am wondering did any of you notice these issues while taking car delivery ? Any tips on what to check during delivery would really help people like me who are up next(mine could be in May). Perhaps a video/pics of your issues ?

rmg007 | April 23, 2018

Let me make sure I understand this correctly...OP is "embarrassed" because he paid *cash* for a $57k vehicle that is "ridiculously fun to drive," but has some bulges and lumps between ½ to ¾ of a centimeter AND Tesla is going to replace those parts??

meni | April 23, 2018

Here are photos of my issues. Tesla will replace the steering wheel, stalk, and door handle. They won't fix the door body panel issue, so I'm fixing that on my own out of pocket.

This is the first time I'm attempting to embed an Imgur URL so not sure if it'll work:

meni | April 23, 2018
EvrGrn | April 23, 2018

I'd be embarrassed too if my new car had such obvious manufacturing defects and I accepted it at delivery anyway.

meni | April 23, 2018

@EvrGrn agreed, I should be embarrassed. After taking delivery of 4 previous cars with none of these kind of build quality issues I got complacent and just expected normal build quality from a modern car. Next time I buy a car I’ll definitely inspect it In detail. Especially if it’s a Tesla.

lilbean | April 23, 2018

Thanks for posting pictures. I looks like a simple fix. Maybe the door just needs to be adjusted at the hinge.

SO | April 23, 2018

The seat looks bad and the stalk is somewhat noticeable. But beyond that, my other non Tesla cars are worse.

mark1234 | April 23, 2018

I have non of those problems on mine.
Picked It up a week ago.

spuzzz123 | April 23, 2018

EZ EvrGrn - He's posted the pics for our benefit - it's easy to get swept away in the excitement of delivery. The seat is ridiculous and don't blame you at all for being upset. I haven't really looked at my steering wheel or stalk closely enough to notice these imperfections. Nor have I looked at my doors at this oblique angle to see if the reflection lines up. But you certainly have a beef with the seat.

Tesla-David | April 23, 2018

The fit and finish on our M3 vin # 45XX is excellent, and we are very happy with our M3.

bayareakid2008 | April 23, 2018

Anyone know what happens if you refuse delivery for defects?

meni | April 23, 2018

Here's my a-pillar trim issue. I've seen this on other M3's so it seems pretty widespread and not a problem for most owners. It does bother me so I guess I'm picky. My Tesla service rep said this is common and considered normal, and said there's no fix at the moment.

LostInTx | April 23, 2018

After viewing the images, I agree with the OP that these type deficiencies are unacceptable and I almost guarantee that Elon Musk would agree.

The issue isn't so much that Tesla is struggling with production quality but that allegedly trained eyes in QC or delivery staff missed these obvious issues. Except, well, they probably were missed but rather allowed to pass on by.

I'm still waiting for my VIN but the more I read, the more stringent I'll be at delivery time.

andrewlee05 | April 23, 2018

Wait, is that A-pillar bulge a defect? I saw that on my car, but didn't say anything.

meni | April 23, 2018

@andrewlee05 according to Tesla that pillar trim bulge is normal and they don't have a fix. So you're good. I personally don't understand how this is considered within normal tolerances since no other car I've been in has this kind of trim misalignment. But again i'm picky.

kuri.siji | April 23, 2018

In Canada a fully loaded cost is $72K. At that price you are paying the cost of a Mercedes SUV. If you are getting Kia for the price of a Mercedes, that is not acceptable.