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Can we talk about Tesla paint real quick?

ryanjeffords

Member
Dec 19, 2020
227
303
Texas
I picked up a Multi-coat Red Model Y on February 13th. It came in great condition. The gaps were consistent (within 1mm at least) and the paint looked stunning. I took the car home and dropped it off for a full frontal PPF and tint the following week.

I've been driving the car for the past month and half and while the paint still looks great from 3-5', if you get up close and catch a reflection of the clear coat... there's tiny scratches EVERYWHERE. I've noticed the door handles have a BUNCH of what looks like nail/finger marks from trying to grab the handle. These appear to be just in the clear and definitely something that could be corrected, but OMG I can't believe how many "marks" I've found after only a month.

I assume this is why folks ceramic coat their cars? Or...will ceramic coating even protect against that?

Either way, I'm glad the car looks great from 5' but I'm a little let down on how easily this clear coat gets scratches. :(
 

Pianewman

Member
Oct 28, 2020
740
441
Fort Worth
I believe Tesla paint is chemically nothing special, meaning it is neither stronger nor weaker than industry standard. There are folks here that speculate that these paint issues are because the paint isn't fully cured prior to release to the public. High demand has caused Tesla to move the cars quickly from production onto trucks and into the consumers hands. (How many of US were crying hysterically about production delays????)

Auto paint requires curing, either by baking at the factory, or simply "x" amount of time prior to release to the consumer. I think Tesla is doing neither.

The good news is your paint can be "corrected", which is the NEW way of saying "polishing" with a very, very fine abrasive. This should be done by a reputable, experienced shop. Follow with ceramic, or similar product, and you should be fine.
 

ryanjeffords

Member
Dec 19, 2020
227
303
Texas
I believe Tesla paint is chemically nothing special, meaning it is neither stronger nor weaker than industry standard. There are folks here that speculate that these paint issues are because the paint isn't fully cured prior to release to the public. High demand has caused Tesla to move the cars quickly from production onto trucks and into the consumers hands. (How many of US were crying hysterically about production delays????)

Auto paint requires curing, either by baking at the factory, or simply "x" amount of time prior to release to the consumer. I think Tesla is doing neither.

The good news is your paint can be "corrected", which is the NEW way of saying "polishing" with a very, very fine abrasive. This should be done by a reputable, experienced shop. Follow with ceramic, or similar product, and you should be fine.
That's a great explanation and sounds about right.

Would that mean that after a period of time, the paint WILL cure and receive less of these delicate scratches? (in theory)
 

Pianewman

Member
Oct 28, 2020
740
441
Fort Worth
In my opinion, yes. I'm no paint expert, but it's my understanding that actual curing time for automobile type paints is 30+ days. In TX heat/sun, probably less, but wintertime? Longer?

I waited 30 days prior to having ceramic applied, but I had the luxury of keeping the car garaged prior to the coating. I think I avoided the fine scratches you're referring to.
 

DupaCannon

Member
Feb 25, 2021
30
23
Cleveland
Some automotive paints are simply softer than other, e.g., traditionally Japanese paints vs. German, but there are no real ‘rules’ there.

Soft paint marrs more easily, but likewise is easier to correct.

Harder paint does not scratch as easily, but requires heavier correction.

There is no perfect paint; just trade-offs. Adding a ceramic coating adds an additional sacrificial layer and can add a harder ‘shell’ on soft paint, but it will still scratch (just less so) and still require correction and replacement where necessary.
 

Pianewman

Member
Oct 28, 2020
740
441
Fort Worth
There are several here that seem intent on wrapping their cars right after delivery. Ditto for ceramic. I'm wondering what effect this has on paint that hasn't really cured?

Any paint authorities care to respond?
 

DupaCannon

Member
Feb 25, 2021
30
23
Cleveland
There are two sides to this. The article seems to be based on aftermarket resprays, where the paint isn’t baked in many cases. The curing / off-gassing would probably take longer in those cases than would happen in a modern car plant.

Still, I had a car a couple of years ago with a $13K paint job from the factory, and it turned up with horrible streaks in the panels. Some you could visibly feel. What was it? They had applied the plastic protective film at the factory before all of the off-gassing had completed. The paint was a disaster, but the manufacturer produced and internal bulletin on the issue and the answer was simply to leave the car in the sun for a couple of days and let it bake. It worked. The paint just fixed itself, but that’s only because that plastic protective coating was removed, allowing the off-gassing to complete.

Not sure if ‘curing’ is technically still an issue based on modern paint, but off-gassing is still a real thing.
 

Pianewman

Member
Oct 28, 2020
740
441
Fort Worth
...and then you add in the environmentally friendlier water-based paint vs. solvent-based, and the discussion gets even more interesting.

I still contend that Teslas are just...too..."fresh"...to be released to consumers. Purely opinion, of course!
 

DupaCannon

Member
Feb 25, 2021
30
23
Cleveland
I’m assuming the base coat (color) is water-based but the clear coat is 2k? No idea. Bring on the Gigafactory Texas. I think we’ll magically see much better paint, purely by coincidence, or course...

The only paint issues on my car are in the base coat, but I had the same issue on a BMW, only the BMW was way worse.
 

Moose22

New Member
Mar 22, 2021
1
0
Dallas, TX
There are several here that seem intent on wrapping their cars right after delivery. Ditto for ceramic. I'm wondering what effect this has on paint that hasn't really cured?

Any paint authorities care to respond?
Paint tests are generally pretty crude (e.g. wet tape on a coupon to test adhesion). I'd give Tesla the benefit of the doubt that the paint is adequately cured when it leaves the factory. Paint/epoxies etc. typically have a few cure times listed on the data sheets. They'll list a cure to handling (~ 24 hours) and then go super conservative with a ~30 day full cure. All of these times usually have accelerated cures defined as well (baking).

Totally possible Tesla has cars leaving the factory without hitting a full cure per some specification. I'd argue it probably makes very little difference. Almost all engineering specifications related to paint are performance oriented and the goal here is aesthetics. Unfortunately I'd be shocked if there was good data on paints at various stages of cure in combination with wraps and ceramic coatings (all with different chemistries).

TLDR; my take is that there are too many variables to know for sure. I've never seen paint failures on forums like these that would indicate that this is a problem.
 

Chiefsfan

Member
Nov 12, 2020
36
4
Chesterfield, Mo
I picked up a Multi-coat Red Model Y on February 13th. It came in great condition. The gaps were consistent (within 1mm at least) and the paint looked stunning. I took the car home and dropped it off for a full frontal PPF and tint the following week.

I've been driving the car for the past month and half and while the paint still looks great from 3-5', if you get up close and catch a reflection of the clear coat... there's tiny scratches EVERYWHERE. I've noticed the door handles have a BUNCH of what looks like nail/finger marks from trying to grab the handle. These appear to be just in the clear and definitely something that could be corrected, but OMG I can't believe how many "marks" I've found after only a month.

I assume this is why folks ceramic coat their cars? Or...will ceramic coating even protect against that?

Either way, I'm glad the car looks great from 5' but I'm a little let down on how easily this clear coat gets scratches. :(
I have an 2016 Audi Q3. I don’t have any paint chips from road debris and no scratching. Is Audi paint different?
 

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