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Expensive Parking Sensor Repair after 3 Months

Just wanted to vent a bit... I took the delivery of my M3 in mid-December 2020. Everything has been fine and I am loving the car. Unfortunately, on a super windy day this week, my wife drove into a small flying board of some kind on highway 401. The board hit the car just right and pushed one of the front parking sensors in.

I scheduled a service appointment and was expecting a $175 bill to reseat the sensor. It turned out to be a ~$1900 bill to replace the front bumper. The explanation given was that the plastic seating in the bumper was gone so there is nothing to attach the sensor to. The only way to fix the issue is to replace the whole bumper...

Has anyone had a similar issue before? I suppose it is bad luck. But I can't stop but think the build quality/fragility of the car is partly to blame...

Plastics do break, and glue wouldn't necessarily do a great job... You could try to see if there's a way to wedge something back there and make it work but it's art more than science. I've seen clips broken on bumpers of different makes of cars. A flying board of a couple pounds hit at 120km/h has a lot of energy in that hit. I'm actually surprised the bumper itself didn't crack.
EDIT: Plus the cold makes plastics brittle.
Agree with what @GtiMart said - a pic of the outside may look cosmetic but underneath I'm guessing there's some serious damage and the labour to remove and re-mount isn't small either. There may even be paint work involved here (not sure the bumper will come painted?) which is always expensive.

If it's any consolation, check out these minor scuffs on e-Trons that cost $7-8000 to fix - similar whole bumper replacements in some cases. Starts to sound like you got a bargain. This isn't a Tesla "build quality/fragility" thing.
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Similar happened to me...debris hit the front at 65 MPH and push in a sensor.

Successful fix so far (1.5 years): Pull frunk tub (10 mm bolts, pretty easy), Gorilla glue and a piece of sturdy foam (not soft and cushiony, but the mostly firm blocks of foam from shipping boxes) to wedge the sensor between a solid frame member and the inside of the front bumper.

Worth a try if you don't mind a little DIY labor. long=ish arms and small hands help a lot when digging down behind the front bumper!
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The labour cost wasn’t too bad. Bulk of the cost was for the bumper itself, which I assume came painted. The repair took about 3 hours, so probably not enough time to paint and dry on the day of.

The sensor was not replaced. I would have been fine driving with a damaged/scuffed bumper if there is no safety concern and the parking sensor works.

Unfortunately for me Tesla could not seat the sensor without a new bumper. It seems to be an expensive and wasteful (material-wise) option to fix broken plastic and seat a sensor. In any case, I went ahead with the repair and will still enjoy the car. Just gotta be more watchful for flying objects in the future...


Active Member
Feb 28, 2017
This is not a Tesla thing. Virtually any car would have similar bill if the damage was the same.
Yup. Had something similar happen to a headlight on a VW Rabbit years ago. Some piece of something hit the light and while the plastic and the bulb were fine, the clips that hold the light in place broke, and the light was flopping around like a ping pong ball. Despite the light still working an no paint damage, it was close to a grand to replace the light. -.- Couldn’t be fixed since the clips were part of the light assembly.
I rear-ended someone in my Model 3 at about 5km/h; a significant jolt, but no visible damage. So much for safety collision avoidance. He was stopped, I was looking back to merge during a right turn, thought he'd already gone - he only went forward a few feet.

There was no visible damage to either car, although it was a pretty solid hit. We exchanged info, I drove off, and about 1/2km further the car notified me that safety features and cruise control were disabled. Turns out the bracket holding the radar unit was broken. Repair included new radar unit, and repainting bumper (which apparently had scratch damage from the front license plate holder being moved). Net cost to insurance was over $2000, nearly $3000, fortunately only $200 for me. Most annoying part was no cruise control, even, for almost a month. Plus we got the car back, and the radar still needed calibration so we had to take it back to the shop.

Fun fact: the fine print in my plastic wrap says it needs to be inspected by the installer once a year. Fortunately, we'd taken the car back for warranty replacement of a piece of the wrap the year before and had the inspection done at that time. Before insurance would pay for the wrap on the newly painted bumper, they wanted evidence we'd had the warranty-required inspection done. And if we hadn't jumped in the body shop was about to replace the wrap with an inferior brand. We took it to the original installer.

(Wrap warranty replacement - There is a seam along the rocker panel under the doors between two pieces. Originally the wrap under the doors was one piece. Dirt started to seep in the seam from by the front wheel going backward, so they replaced that piece with two separate pieces cut along that seam.)

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