Paint quality problem? Why all the wraps?

Paint quality problem? Why all the wraps?

I have been surprised at how many owners seem to be wrapping new cars with one of the clear films. On top of that, I have never heard of a manufacturer offering wrap as a new car option. Is there a problem with Model S paint quality? I paid extra for the MC red and I expect it to be perfect on delivery and durable in use (I expect delivery in a couple of weeks). I take care of my cars very carefully. Should I expect to have to take some kind of extra care with my Tesla?

danej | September 28, 2013

My factory paint (blue) is quite bad. Detailer says he hasn't seen such a bad finish in many years. Mine has spots everywhere, he suspects "solvent pop". I think it was rushed through production (yay, first profitable quarter ever!) and put outside for a couple weeks while the finish was still soft.

Suturecabre | September 28, 2013

I had 3M clearbra installed on my S550 when I got it.....This is just one of the more progressive things that Tesla is known for doing, many sports/luxury car enthusiasts already get these films on their cars along the front bumper and fenders, sometimes the entire hood. These are the same type of people that would get their bumpers resprayed instead if not for the film, not something a typical car owner is known for doing but not uncommon among cars in this price range.

KennyB@US-FL | September 28, 2013

Also, since Tesla is located in California, they are required to used more environmentally friendly paints which tend to be softer than what other manufacturers use. Additionally, in the past 10 years or so most auto paint applications have tended to be much thinner than in times past. I've been applying hood, fender clear bras on my cars since 2005. It saves the front end from chips in a big way.

WayneH | September 28, 2013

Sorry to hear about the car paint problem.
Have you contacted a Tesla service center? Will they repaint it for free? | September 28, 2013

Paint protection works and is becoming quite popular. Most manufacturers have areas of the car covered (eg the rear quarter panels) to protect against rocks kicked up. Toyota offers hood and fender protection as standard offering on its Camry now ($395 option).

ir | September 28, 2013

My Model S was hit by a 60+ mph rock while going 80+ mph in the opposite direction. It took a small gouge from my paint armor where it would have normally taken a chip off any normal paint job.

Go to your neighborhood grocery store and look at the hoods of older cars. How many notches are there from stone strikes? They are all makes and models, so paint quality has nothing to do with it. I hope to take off the wrap in 4-8 years to reveal a nearly perfect factory finish.

Gizmotoy | September 28, 2013

I think there's a lot of psychological overlap between those that wrap their phones in cases and clear shields and those that wrap their car. I can't say I fall in that category, though. A car, like a phone, is made to be used. It gets a few chips here and there, but that's what happens to cars. And this from someone fanatical about washing and detailing his car.

My current car came with paint armor from the factory, and I can't imagine a more terrible thing to have on it. The fact that its white makes it really obvious that dirt gets trapped around the edges, and it's a nightmare to clean. So if you do get it wrapped, make sure it goes around the edges of the sheet metal instead of stopping 1/8" short, especially on light colors.

In the same way I like to interact with the glass and metal of my phone, I want to touch the metal of the car when I wash it or open the frunk. Not having chips would be nice, certainly, but not at the cost of that tactile relationship. Rubbing your hand over your car's metal after you've just clay barred it is fantastic.

loefvinc | September 28, 2013

I ordered paint armor on my 2010 Infiniti FX. After my 2005 looked like it was sandblasted from rocks driving it daily on the highway, this was quite a good option for me. After 3 years it had no paint chips. It was not even a question for me - ordered it immediately.


carlk | September 29, 2013

Many owners of expensive cars get their cars wrapped for extra protection of their investment. Check this gallery for example.

@Gizmotoy I totally agree with you about people casing their iPhones but the clear film wrap of the car is very different. You usually keep your car much longer than you phone and a good wrap job is very indistinguishable.

AmpedRealtor | September 29, 2013

The reason people are wrapping their cars has nothing to do with the quality of the paint job and everything to do with the price of the car. Many Model S owners spent double what they've ever spent on a vehicle before, so naturally they would like to protect their investment. What I don't like about the wrapping process is that it requires removal of all trim pieces, emblems, etc. I would hate to have a brand new car go through that process, it seems unnecessarily invasive.

GDH | September 29, 2013

@Amped, I wouldn't worry about that stuff it all snaps on or is double sticky tape, easily reapplied. I'm doing opti coat when I get my S.

kakeuter | September 29, 2013

Having your car wrapped in clear film is a very smart decision, so long as it's done properly (wrapped edges and full coverage). One thing to keep in mind, if the paint condition is poor to begin with (Teslas are known for this unfortunately), you will need to have the vehicle prepped by a detailer to remove the defects BEFORE applying the clear film. Many car owners (and clear film installers) think it's possible to apply the film and rid themselves of the paint defects, however, you will merely magnify the swirls/scratches if you do not have them removed before the film is installed.

Once you have the film installed, it's still recommended to have it protected with a proper sealant or coating to keep the film from prematurely "yellowing."


jeffsstuff | September 29, 2013

What does this process typically cost for a vehicle like this? I don't need specifics, just a ballpark idea.

kakeuter | September 29, 2013

@jeffsstuff Depends how much you get wrapped, if it's fully wrapped or a kit. I could see the cost being anywhere from $400 (partial front-end wrap) to $5000 or more for a full vehicle wrap.


olanmills | September 29, 2013

I don't know about the paint quality, but that has nothing to do with why I got my car wrapped.

My previous car got lots of little paint chips on the hood and pits on the plast fascia. The wrap prevents that.

kakeuter | September 29, 2013

@olanmills - Correct, clear film is used to prevent rock chips. I was referring to the condition of the paint below the clear film and that it's important to prep the surface before installing the wrap. Clear film is definitely a smart choice.


hwye81k | September 29, 2013

dbower - I have had the MC red on mine since May. The only thing I've done to the car is to apply some liquid glass. The paint has held up very well so far. No complaints.

thranx | September 30, 2013

Xpel wrap for the front half of the car (hood, front end, front doors) was quoted at $2200. Opticoat Pro installation (entire car including wheels) was $700. So I could wait until I feel the need to repair road damage and do three Opticoat Pro apps (adding touchup paint buffed in by pros) for less than the cost of one Xpel job on half the car.

If I had the money, I'd do the Opticoat Pro and then have the whole car Xpel-wrapped. Not being there at this point, it becomes a difficult call as to which is the better option.

TeslaOR | September 30, 2013

I don't wrap my sofa in plastic like my grandmother did and I don't wrap my car either. I notice the imperfections in the wraps and bras that come over time. We have a local paint shop that has fixed the few dings that I have gotten over the past 15 years at about $200 a pop.

Seven months of grinning and still a perfect paint job.

carlk | September 30, 2013

@TeslaOR I don't think it's the same as wrapping your sofa with plastics but the cost is certainly a consideration. I agree it may not be worthwhile to wrap a $30K Camry but I would not save the money for an $100K investment.

You may want to try hand wash your car once and see if you're still grinning. ;-)

AmpedRealtor | September 30, 2013

@ thranx,

You are comparing two completely different products that do two completely different things. Opti Coat is nothing more than a chemical, like wax, which bonds with your paint. It does nothing to protect your paint from impact damage. The only way to protect from impact damage is to use a physical barrier between the impacter and the paint surface. That would be the Xpel. It is a an actual clear plastic film that is wrapped around the body panels of your car.

Please do not expect a "wax" product like Opti Coat to do anything to protect your paint from impact damage.

Fred O | September 30, 2013

@AR thanks for clearing this up in a few sentences.

JPPTM | September 30, 2013

There are different issues at play here.

CA low VOC compliant water based paint--seems to be softer and more prone to damage (swirls, scratches, as well as impact).

Desire to protect/preserve finish on expensive vehicle (nothing new--all car dealers now offer some kind of protection, be it a wrap/film or a chemical application).

FWIW, I am not into wraps or films, but recognize that the paint is soft. I chose to do a chemical application, specifically by having my professional detailer apply OptiCoat pro, a thick ceramic based clear coat. He did apply a thicker layer at impact points. This will of course not protect against major rock chips, and probably not as well as a film or wrap would.

Please take the time to search here using and also go to the TMC site and search there for much more information.

Pungoteague_Dave | October 4, 2013

I have done clear bras on all my cars since 2005 to avoid the unavoidable stone chips.

Regarding paint quality, we can't really expect these cars to be up to MB or BMW quality. After all, the TM paint shop is left over from the Toyota/GM joint venture, so the equipment must be at east 15 years old IIRC. We get Toyota/Chevrolet quality paint jobs as the price of innovation. I had to have my rear bumper repainted due to a parking lot ding and the TM-approved body shop said it was the worst paint they'd seen on a recent car.

Same for body panel figments, which TM has had issues with since the start. They now have new front and rear bumper part numbers and special retrofit kits for cars with older bumpers. If the kit won't do it, TM is now offering to replace the bumpers. My car is going in on Oct 30 for two new bumpers, as the fix kit still left my bumpers misaligned where the bumper meets the body in the wheel well.

Flyshacker | October 4, 2013

I never heard of wraps until I started visiting this site! I have never owned a car that was expensive enough to wrap. I don't even know if I have seen a wrapped car. But I am convinced (so far) to go with the OptiCoat Pro and the Xpel wrap on my Model S. My delivery will be in 2014.

My question is: So if a rock hits the wrap, isn't a tear in the wrap going to show? I know you are protecting the paint with the wrap, but every rock that would have chipped the paint will still tear the wrap, won't it?

Secondly: How often do you generally replace the wrap? How do you know when to replace it? How do you maintain the wrap? (I can't imagine waxing over the wrap.) What about the OptiCoat - how often does that need redoing? Does it get chipped or sun damaged?

Thank you! I expect that your answers will help a lot of visitors here besides me.

ir | October 4, 2013

On light scratches, the wrap has some ability to "self-heal". In my case it left a tiny chip in the armor.

At that point, the entire panel needs to be peeled off and a new one applied. How often is really a matter of your ego vs. wallet. For that tiny ding, I'll wait. In a separate incident where I rubbed against my garage door frame, the damage was big and I had it replaced. The paint was perfectly protected, only a small divot in the aluminum was left (which no paint armor would protect anyways).

JPPTM | October 4, 2013

Pungoteague--are you sure TM is reusing the old NUMMI/GM paint shop?? The part of the factory that they have rehabbed/cleaned up is all new, with new stamping equipment, new transporters, new robotic machines, etc. I have been on the tour. The video available showing the paint line looks pretty high tech. This is IMHO not a technology issue but a 'feature' of the available paints and clear coats legal to use in CA.

Bighorn | October 4, 2013

Based on the Nat Geo documentary, I doubt the paint robots are repurposed from NUMMI days.

dglauz | October 4, 2013

I got the film on my red S. I had about a hundred little chips in my 6 yr old prius and did not want that in my new car. After about 12 month while on the freeway a nearby truck made a rock hoot sideways at my car and hit it just behind the front wheel well. dented the metal and did not chip the paint, due to the armor. Another instance is in tight quarters I rubbed a house with my front bumper; transferred paint from the house to my bumper, looked really bad. When I took the car in for service, TM sent it to a detailer ad the house paint is removed and the bumper is unmarred while the film is a little distorted. Cannot even notice the scrape.

I recommend to get the film, it is cheap ding insurance.

Pungoteague_Dave | October 4, 2013

I don't know the reality, but when TM bought the NUMMI facility they said that it came with all the stamping and painting equipment, which was intended to be reused in the new operation. They have since said that they converted areas into the clean factory format and relocated much of the old equipment into the TM line. IIRC, that included the robotic equipment, which was reprinted red and hung with Tesla logos. Since painting equipment hasn't changed much despite some new-tech water based green paints, I doubt that TM would have bought new. The coolest stuff in the Nat Geo documentary, the robots, were repurposed.

armstrong_mathew | November 18, 2013

Wrapping is so common nowadays and I guess it's cheaper to a repaint and can be easy to remove. My brother had a S model and he didn't really like the factory paint and he went for a chameleon wrap from Club Ink, Toronto. It really changed the whole class look of the ride.

dborn | November 19, 2013

Pun go, not true about the robots. Did the factory tour in 2011, and the brand new robots were still being programmed, and factory reps were on hand to show them off. ( robot factory reps, that is). The plastic molding machines were repurposed, and the stamping machines were also refurbs, the largest of which, the largest in North America, was brought in from Detroit. Don't know about paint line as we were specifically shown it, or for that matter, the second floor, where they apparently make the battery packs.

dborn | November 19, 2013

"NOT" shown it - need edit...

Skhiyara | August 17, 2014

Does anyone know a good vendor in the Fremont Plant area who can wrap the entire car ?

bostoncde | August 27, 2014

Unfortunately I did not get my blue 60 wrapped, and i dont know if I drove thru a rock storm, but my car has a ton of little white marks on hood. Very frustrating considering car is a little over a year old. Chips look white so after cleaning car it looks like i have crap on it.

Diana.littlebird | November 22, 2014

Help 2 inch square flake of paint just came off my 7 week old tesla s while giving it a wash. There's no damage it's just come off (along with the 'l' so now it's a 'mode' s not a 'model'').

Any one else experiencing these problems?

Captain_Zap | November 22, 2014

My car is two years old and the paint is still like new. No wraps necessary. Just wax.

FREE ENERGY | November 29, 2014

What about dash wraps in different fabrics color and style ?

johncrab | November 29, 2014

I thought about the paint armor and decided against it because I was buying pearl white. I've never seen any plastic that did not yellow at least somewhat after years in the Arizona sun. I had a loaner recently in black which had paint armor and it looked good. If it yellows, it won't be noticed.

I'm just very old school with my cars. I enjoy hand-applying the best paste wax (Griot's) I can find and enjoying the shine. I know rock dings in the paint are inevitable over time but I try to stay out of the grit wash of big trucks and allow extra following distance behind anything on the road.

I also have to say that my model S has the best paint job of any car I have ever owner. It's just spectacular in every way.

Sully | November 29, 2014

I expected q good but not great paint job, my 1 week old car surprised e with the paint quality. Better than my Audi A6. Time will tell how it wears but initial take is higher than expected.
I know the car will suffer rings and dents. Wraps may improve resale but I think I'm keeping my car and a little ding means nicely used

VK2014 | November 29, 2014

@johncrab: I just purchased a Pearl White MS (pending delivery) and was thinking about wrapping the front. Driving around the Phx valley and my current BMW M has rock chips everywhere across the lower body molding.

Captain_Zap | November 29, 2014


Dings? Where do you live? I'll avoid the area.

I think wraps are more for areas that get their cars sandblasted. It could be road sand from trucks or wild, roaming sand.

My car's paint has held up well over the past two years with just wax.

Ralph_G | November 29, 2014

I wrapped my car in 3M from new. Two days after the install a landscaping trailer hit a bump, the hood looked like a shot gun blast went off from the dirt. I've seen numerous stones bounce off of the hood with no damage. I had a piece of front spoiler come off a car in front of me which slide across my hood up the windshield and across the roof. This impact scratched the 3M but I was able to buff 90% of it out. Let's not forget our favorite season, winter and all the sand that gets dumped on the road which then gets sucked up by other vehicles and flies around acting like a sand blaster. Like you all I've invested well over $100k, when I sell the car the worn vinyl can be peeled off revealing a brand new paint finish no wax or Opti coat can do that imo. Definitely worth the $3500 investment.

Brian H | November 29, 2014

Better to buff out (wear down) wrap scratches than paint.

mybluetesla | November 30, 2014

Being a bit of a detailing geek, when I took delivery of my S85 a couple of months ago one of the first things I did was inspect the paint with a high-powered LED flashlight. The paint wasn't bad, but there were definitely defects such as minor swirling. Fresh-from-factory gold standard from Tesla certainly isn't immaculate.

So immediately after I drove the car from the delivery center and had the paint corrected and wrapped (initially just front, but later the rest). For me, preserving original factory clear is paramount since I intend to keep the car for 10+ years. A wrap to me is an expendable, replaceable layer (I think it's about 150 - 200 microns). I can't have the factory repaint my car and a third-party repaint isn't going to be that great. I'm guessing latest clear film technology might still yellow over time (or more specifically, the adhesive yellows, not the film itself to my understanding), but I'll take that in the name of protecting original paint.

Around the Bay Area at least, I encounter plenty of construction trucks on the freeway always hauling dirt which inevitable bounces their way towards me. XPEL has saved me at least a few times already.

I found this quite informative:

Tstolz | November 30, 2014

Why not enjoy the paint, save $3,500 and let the next owner wrap it at his cost?

Sully | November 30, 2014

C_Z: just one of those flyover states where we are polite and friendly. Dings I suppose happen everywhere ...

Ralph_G | November 30, 2014

Tstolz The point is that in 4 or five years when you go to sell the car will have a higher value because of the better condition or maybe if the car still looks fantastic you may want to keep it longer. A repainted car has less value than an original finish.

3s-a-charm | November 30, 2014

I'd like to hear from anyone who leases the vehicle with the intention of giving it back after 3 years or trading for something else - do you still go for a paint protection?

Ralph_G | November 30, 2014

My car is leased, pride of ownership in either form is important to me I don't want to drive a car that looks all beat up. My car my have a higher residual value because it was cared for so selling it could put more money in my pocket. It's no different for my work vehicles, all are in great condition because my team members understand the importance of a clean appearance when we show up at customers home, it instills confidence.