Paint on model3 is so fragile

Paint on model3 is so fragile

2018 Model 3 Black (PBSB) color Duel motor version.
When car delivered in December, a rainy day, he suggested not to wash car for a week or so as it has a fresh paint, 3 days old at that point of time, it may prone to scratches.

After a month of delivery I tried to manually wash it at a car wash, though automated car wash may put scratches on it.

Washed happily to see the my shiny black color car back again!!
Too early to be happy once I hand dried with paper towels I see most of the car have scratch marks from foam brush, I wash the brush very well with high pressure water, and two big scratches where I can see bases white color coating on the car :(

Ordered paint touchup kit hopefully that's gonna fix the big scratches.

Thinking about a ceramic coating or vinyl wrap or some other solutions to avoid any further such damages to the car.

Suggestions to owners:
Gentle wash only!!

leed31 | January 30, 2019

"...I hand dried with paper towels I see most of the car have scratch "

You dried your vehicle with paper towels? That would definitely put scratches on your vehicle as well.

lilbean | January 30, 2019

Paper towels? Smh!

Shesmyne2 | January 30, 2019

The paper towels and foam brush were the culprits.
A clear coat treatment would fix that for sure.
For future washes there are many threads on here-basics are micro fiber drying towels/cloths and a good wash product like Meguilars or ONR.
Good Luck.

Still Grinning ;-)

Bighorn | January 30, 2019

Thanks for the Cliff notes. Wtaf?

jimglas | January 30, 2019

Next time use Brillo pads, they give more uniform scratches than paper towels

Magic 8 Ball | January 30, 2019

Yes, gentle wash only for happy finish.

Pierogi | January 30, 2019

Never use the foam brush at the car wash. Guaranteed scratches.

Tronguy | January 30, 2019

Yep, microfiber cloth or Ye Olde Standby: Chamois. Either the fake or the real stuff will do for drying off cars.
Heck, everybody knows the only thing paper towels are good for is drying up messes on the floor or a table! Try that on, say, one's eyeglasses and it'll be Scratch City. Or the paint on any car, unless, eventually, one wants that "matt look" from all the scratches.

rkalbiarEV | January 30, 2019

This has got to be a joke...

Coastal Cruiser. | January 30, 2019

pavanforest, thanx for sharing your story. Based upon many reports, from both owners and detailers, the Model 3 has much "softer" paint/clearcoat than other cars. So while proper washing techniques are necessary for any car, it seems to go double for the Model 3. You can search youtube (and this forum) for some great advice on both the two bucket method as well as the Rinse-less method.

Regardless, I would recommend you move to get a good ceramic coat on the car ASAP.

CharleyBC | January 30, 2019

Well, it's all relative. Paper towels are better than sandpaper.

It seems there have been a number of reports on this forum over time about fragility of the standard black paint. Maybe there was a bigger advantage than just personal preference in the $1,500 we paid for white. I've been impressed with the durability of the paint. And it's the easiest paint to clean of any car I've ever owned. Having said that, we picked up our first few teeny nicks in the bumper this weekend when we ended up behind a gravel-shedding truck on I-680. But no washing injuries!

SPeditor | January 30, 2019

Could anyone recommend a good place in north Los Angeles/Ventura County that specializes in ceramic coating for Tesla cars? Anywhere between Burbank & Thousand Oaks.

Thanks in advance.

niniliu1211 | January 30, 2019

SMH. Learn how to properly wash a car first. That poor car.

Tyguy | January 30, 2019

LOL. Good one, OP. I assume this is a sarcastic post in response to all the others that proclaim total surprise when a black car shows swirls more than a light colored car.

Pretty funny. You had me until the paper towels part and then I just LOLed. Still laughing...

Tyguy | January 30, 2019

.....and on the outside chance you were serious, then I recommend this product....on the whole car:

lilbean | January 30, 2019

SP Editor Call Mitch at 818-339-4909

I just thought of something. Sandpaper would get a great stealth matte finish.

lilbean | January 30, 2019

He's in Agoura Hills. Eco Shine Auto.

Magic 8 Ball | January 30, 2019

' puts the lotion on the skin or else you gets the hose again.'

pjohri | January 30, 2019

I have clear bra on the full front.
Ceramic coat (Carpro Cquartz UK) on the entire car over clear bra.

My wash process is
- Rinse with 1700 PSI or less pressure washer
- Car pro reset Shampoo with a foam gun (using 1700 pressure washer and foam adaptor)
- Use car wash mitt (like chemical guys) to rinse foam off
- Rinse mitts repeatedly with fresh water after each panel
- Rinse with water again using pressure water
- Use Reload carpro spray ( silica spray), this helps keep ceramic coating intact. Buff and dry with microfiber towels

When I'm doing a smaller wash ( Aero Cosmetics waterless)
- Rinse with water
- Use Aero cosmetics wash, spray on panel by panel, and dry/buff panel by panel using a microfiber towel

M3phan | January 30, 2019

Good lord.

hammer @OR-US | January 30, 2019

Black car, Washed with a brush, dried with paper towels. Just run your fingers down a blackboard why dont ya'

lilbean | January 30, 2019

I saw someone washing their car at the car wash. They were using the squeegee to wash it and dried it with the gas station paper towels. It was a brand new BMW. Hahaha. Those people are really out there.

TAC | January 30, 2019

sure is, see my post here on my experience..
stay away from car washes that make contact, watch junkman2000 youtube videos and do the 2 bucket wash. Im now even drying my car with a leaf blower.

pavanforest | January 31, 2019

Well my 99 Camry withstand car washes, very rough car washes.
What I worry about is paint off!! on a car wash and see primer white coating, I don't mind of small swirls on car that can be covered with ease.
Good to know that paper towels they sell at car wash is bad to wipe off excess water, probably I went to wrong car wash they don't have air blowers or air guns over that, thank you guys!!

derotam | January 31, 2019

I think you are missing the point about paper towels... ALL paper towels are BAD to use to dry a car.

...singing softly... quick- er scratch-er up-er...

AWDTesla | January 31, 2019

I'll post pics of mine @TAC. Make yours look good ;-P

-FUD master | January 31, 2019

Car color (any car) has a large effect. Black tends to show scratches far more than light colors. I agree with others than paper towels causes scratches and should never be used.

Ok, the soft paint myth returns! Yes, unethical sales people pushing coatings may tell you your car (no matter the brand or model) uses soft paint. It's a scam and run, don't walk away. Coatings can be useful, but don't fall for some the scams out there.

For everything you ever wanted to know about Tesla paint and debunking various myths:

outdoorfunguy85 | February 9, 2019

Ask help from the veteran installers, why not visit Gatorwraps and request for a quote. I believe they have installers for a vinyl wrap in all major cities.

Mamafonz | February 9, 2019

TeslaTap, Thank you for the helpful article about auto paint. I am still kind of confused, however. I have had my Toyotas washed in regular car washes for years. I always thought that it was just fine. But now I bought myself a Tesla model 3 and folks say not to use the carwashes. I have tired the "touches" stuff and it leaves the car dirty. I live in Colorado; we get snow and salt and chemicals and sand on the roads in order to make the roads drivable. A touches car wash does not get this stuff off. I see You Tube videos about using the "two bucket" method and so forth, but I am a 71-year old woman with a broken wrist. If I never was bothered by the result from car washes on my Toyotas, will the results on my Tesla really be horrible? Or will it be just like a normal Toyota finish?

Mamafonz | February 9, 2019

Ummm. I just noticed the spell check did not like the word "touchless" and changed it to "touches." sorry

lilbean | February 9, 2019

Sorry to hear about your broken wrist. If I was closer to you, I’d wash it for you.

ODWms | February 10, 2019

I’m not convinced that the Tesla Model 3 paint is so “fragile” as some have commented. If anything, there are a slew of us that took delivery of our cars so close to the manufacturing time that the paint was still uncured and soft. Compare to other manufacturers whose demand is such that cars don’t get into the eventual owner’s hands for many months, well after the paint has hardened, and the results are different. | February 10, 2019

@Mamafonz - use a car wash - the paint is no different than your prior cars. The downside of some car washes is the brushes or other automated wipes can trap sand or tiny rocks and then as they go over your car will make fine scratch marks on your car. When this happens, it doesn't matter what brand or model car. Now it turns out many people just don't care and can live with these tiny abrasions. They can often be buffed out or hidden with a wax job. Some automated car washes are better than others and/or keep their equipment in top shape. Touchless car washes are also a great way to go.

The reason for doing a hand wash is to protect the paint from the risk of tiny scratches. With a more expensive car, people tend to be more careful of the car and the extra cost to have a hand wash may be worth it to some (or do it yourself). It has zero to do with Tesla or the paint they use.

@ODWms - I agree it's not fragile - not even if you got the car 5 minutes after it left the factory. Factory paint is baked on in large oven, so it totally cured when it leaves the oven inside the factory. For body shops, it's quite different as you can't put the car in a high-heat oven, so the paint typically cures in 2-3 days (but sometimes can take a month due to many factors).

aperfectecho | February 11, 2019

With respect, I disagree.
While the paint may not be "fragile" per se, the clearcoat (at a minimum) is a lot less durable than other cars I've owned.
I had a 2009 VW Gti for almost 10 years, and in that time, I had to replace the windshield twice (once for a poorly-repaired chip that wasn't a crack, and once for a spreading crack), and the paint itself looked new when I sold it. I even chose the OB to "match" the VW when I got my 3, because I liked that paint color so much.
Now, with my 3, I'm surprised how many road chips, scratches, and swirls I see already. Also, a total of 3 chips/cracks in the glass already, at less than 5K miles. One on the glass roof.
I love the Model 3, but the paint and cracks in the glass already don't inspire confidence.
I also think that it's silly to think I needed to drive the car right from the dealer when I picked up to a paint place for "correction" and protection film, in order to keep it from chipping up immediately.

patpeke | February 13, 2019

Rule: Tesla is a car. That's a full stop. The paint is no more "fragile" than any other car. It's mass produced, it's not a boutique automobile that's as fragile as a bull in a china shop. So stop with the fan boy stuff. I should expect to treat it like any other automobile in a car wash - (the only drawback is there's no "car wash mode" that keeps the car in neutral - outside of "tow mode" that is). Tesla's market success comes with people being able to buy it, use it like a car (which - surprise- it is!), and wash it quickly and conveniently with no undue or unexpected damage to the paint. I take my 3 to a hand car wash in the neighborhood I live in. No worries. I've taken into a sit-thru car wash, with brushes. It left a few very faint, hard to see swirl marks. Big deal. So let's keep it as it should be- it's a car, not a masterpiece. It faces greater threats to the paint while traveling on newly chip-sealed roads, dirt roads, and in a rain/snow storm with gravel spread on the pavement.

rxlawdude | February 13, 2019

@aperfectecho, "I had a 2009 VW Gti for almost 10 years..."

Manufactured under 2009 VOC requirements. Point being, how would a 2019 VW's paint hold up compared to the M3.

Granted, California's VOC limits are strict. Probably stricter than Wolfsburg, Germany and definitely stricter than the VW plant in Mexico or Tennessee. But there's no evidence that Tesla paint is inherently inferior to other manufacturers'.

EM34ME | February 13, 2019

"Ok, the soft paint myth returns! Yes, unethical sales people pushing coatings may tell you your car (no matter the brand or model) uses soft paint. It's a scam and run, don't walk away. Coatings can be useful, but don't fall for some the scams out there."

@TeslaTap, you are 100% spot on. Here is the latest:

My 6 week old Pearl White car is in a Tesla certified body shop. It was hit by someone in a Bunz. Fortunately the damage is mostly cosmetic. While in the shop, I asked them to see if they could color sand some of the orange peel out (which is in the clear coat). They wanted to check the paint depth first.

Today a representative from BASF brought a milmeter to check the depth of paint. For background, BASF is the largest supplier of automotive paint for cars built in the US. He said all of BASF paints are low VOC, regardless of State. He said the depth of the paint on my car (December 2018 build) is 4 mils which includes base coat, color coat, and clear coat. He said this is typical for all US cars regardless of price point. For comparison, the Tesla body shop puts on 6 to 7 mils when they do a repaint so they can color sand the finish. BASF said 4 mils is not sufficient for a color sand. It will ruin the color coat under and would require a complete re-paint in a couple of years. BASF said the amount of orange peel on my car was way better than average. He said leave it alone. He said that the paint on a Tesla is not "soft" and is no better or no worse than any car priced under $250K.

I asked the body shop how much it would cost to put on another 3 mils of clear coat on my car and then color sand to perfection...................$5K to $6K.

EM34ME | February 13, 2019

In addition, BASF supplies Tesla with all their paints.