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How bad is M3 paint in reality?

Fernand

Active Member
Mar 22, 2019
1,501
1,516
Northern california
I somehow doubt that the OP is going to spend thousands on professionally-applied couch covers or tactical coatings. But if pride of auto is very important to him, there are many under $100 "ceramic", "quartz" and glaze products that he could read up on and apply himself for better than factory gloss and paint durability. Blind the doubters when your glowing blue beast emerges from the garage!

I haven't bothered, but e.g. this one has had great reviews and real-world 2-3 year test results.
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Mosby

Member
Mar 10, 2020
26
217
Fairfax, VA
I’m on the verge of ordering a M3 SR+ in Blue, especially after test driving one and the recent updates. I’m a realist; I’m prepared to find a quirk or two on delivery day (and beyond), however one thing that still gives me pause are the horror stories regarding paint quality. I know that those who have been impacted are probably the most vocal and yet others have received nearly flawless products. But I’m just wondering what my odds are of getting a vehicle with mismatched panels, thin/bare spots, orange peel, and just generally a coat that is likely to fail in the 5+ years I intend to own the car. Are these paint issues hyperbole? Does anyone know if there have been improvements in Q4 2020 so far? What is the process if I refuse delivery? Looks aren’t everything, but I also don’t expect a car with that price tag to be a rust bucket after a few years of light daily driving in New England where there is occasional snow (Salt/sand) from Nov-March. I’ve had Audis for the past 15 years and while I’m looking for something new and exciting, I have to say that upon trade-in, my last 2 vehicles and my current 2014 A4 look(ed) nearly as good as they did the day I bought them. Am I overly ambitious that the M3 can hold up in the same way?

Fernand
I'm amazed at the wide range of contagious bitching on this forum. My black late-2018 delivered Model 3 was great, on a par with current high industry standards. It looks new to this day, though it's never garaged, and black is notoriously tricky. And I believe their paint lines have only gotten better. Several neighbors have Model 3 or Y 2020 deliveries and are very happy. The dark silver finish looks the most striking to me, more than the blue. But I've only seen a few up close.

There are a few cases where paint or body issues appear warranted, things can slip by, Tesla is growing at a breakneck pace. But some people have expectations that cannot be met. Do you inspect a car with a micrometer and look for 1/32" panel misalignments? And I suppose some former Lamborghini owners expect a hand-rubbed multi-layered paint job that you won't get in a production vehicle. Audis look like most other cars to me, maybe I'm not looking close enough. Current paint technology is pretty good. Rust bucket? Not likely. I think you'll love the car, all around. Welcome to a great adventure.
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Great summary!
 

RacerChris

Member
Jan 3, 2020
56
26
Indiana
I’m on the verge of ordering a M3 SR+ in Blue, especially after test driving one and the recent updates. I’m a realist; I’m prepared to find a quirk or two on delivery day (and beyond), however one thing that still gives me pause are the horror stories regarding paint quality. I know that those who have been impacted are probably the most vocal and yet others have received nearly flawless products. But I’m just wondering what my odds are of getting a vehicle with mismatched panels, thin/bare spots, orange peel, and just generally a coat that is likely to fail in the 5+ years I intend to own the car. Are these paint issues hyperbole? Does anyone know if there have been improvements in Q4 2020 so far? What is the process if I refuse delivery? Looks aren’t everything, but I also don’t expect a car with that price tag to be a rust bucket after a few years of light daily driving in New England where there is occasional snow (Salt/sand) from Nov-March. I’ve had Audis for the past 15 years and while I’m looking for something new and exciting, I have to say that upon trade-in, my last 2 vehicles and my current 2014 A4 look(ed) nearly as good as they did the day I bought them. Am I overly ambitious that the M3 can hold up in the same way?

I have a gray Model 3 Stealth that is one year old - The paint has held up well (I autocross it also) and the quality is pretty good. Not as good as my Boxster I had, but also not bad. There is a small amount of orange peel if you look at it at the right angle but its not bad at all. I think a good wax job really helps it pop. I'm sure you could do a good clay bar/seal job and wax and it would look really good. I wouldn't be worried.
 

zhu-

custom title
Oct 24, 2018
901
763
NJ
Compared to my two previous Mercedes C class my 2018 Model 3 paint appears to be exactly on par. I hand wash my car so I notice any chips and in two years and 17k miles I only have one nearly unnoticeable paint chip on the hood and I recall a lot of debris has hit me from trucks driving too close to the barriers and kicking up dust. I park outside and have only used the green ONR to wash/wax and even today after a 15-min wash my car look as good as day 1.

Paint does have obvious orange peels from some angles but so do $120k Mercedes and I don't think Tesla's, or at least my Model 3 is better or worse.
 

Kat Jacks

Supporting Member
Sep 26, 2020
119
89
Maine
I’m on the verge of ordering a M3 SR+ in Blue, especially after test driving one and the recent updates. I’m a realist; I’m prepared to find a quirk or two on delivery day (and beyond), however one thing that still gives me pause are the horror stories regarding paint quality. I know that those who have been impacted are probably the most vocal and yet others have received nearly flawless products. But I’m just wondering what my odds are of getting a vehicle with mismatched panels, thin/bare spots, orange peel, and just generally a coat that is likely to fail in the 5+ years I intend to own the car. Are these paint issues hyperbole? Does anyone know if there have been improvements in Q4 2020 so far? What is the process if I refuse delivery? Looks aren’t everything, but I also don’t expect a car with that price tag to be a rust bucket after a few years of light daily driving in New England where there is occasional snow (Salt/sand) from Nov-March. I’ve had Audis for the past 15 years and while I’m looking for something new and exciting, I have to say that upon trade-in, my last 2 vehicles and my current 2014 A4 look(ed) nearly as good as they did the day I bought them. Am I overly ambitious that the M3 can hold up in the same way?

I just got my M3 three weeks ago; She's red and the paint is beautiful. But living in Maine with the approaching winter, I decided to get the PPF on the front and ceramic coating overall. I just returned yesterday (Wednesday night). I drove to Dedham, MA to have it done at Craft Detailing, which I highly recommend. I'm going back there in 2 weeks for the first washing and they'll give me good info on how to best care for the exterior year round.
I did buy Gyeon glass cleaner and ONR cleaner for casual washing. I used both products a few times during first 3 weeks I had my Red Beauty. Bought both on Amazon; they come from FL.
 

Altes

Member
Sep 30, 2016
625
470
SF Bay area
I’m on the verge of ordering a M3 SR+ in Blue, especially after test driving one and the recent updates. I’m a realist; I’m prepared to find a quirk or two on delivery day (and beyond), however one thing that still gives me pause are the horror stories regarding paint quality. I know that those who have been impacted are probably the most vocal and yet others have received nearly flawless products. But I’m just wondering what my odds are of getting a vehicle with mismatched panels, thin/bare spots, orange peel, and just generally a coat that is likely to fail in the 5+ years I intend to own the car. Are these paint issues hyperbole? Does anyone know if there have been improvements in Q4 2020 so far? What is the process if I refuse delivery? Looks aren’t everything, but I also don’t expect a car with that price tag to be a rust bucket after a few years of light daily driving in New England where there is occasional snow (Salt/sand) from Nov-March. I’ve had Audis for the past 15 years and while I’m looking for something new and exciting, I have to say that upon trade-in, my last 2 vehicles and my current 2014 A4 look(ed) nearly as good as they did the day I bought them. Am I overly ambitious that the M3 can hold up in the same way?
5169stBwr5L._SY445_.jpg
 
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CertLive

Member
Dec 15, 2019
612
369
United Kindom
Mine was a Late 2019 SR+ in Black. From pickup lots of things trapped under the paint in places. Most of it smooth, Dekra checked the thickness it was to a good standard no thinning. Side rear bumper scratched to the white coat easy, had black car before older without this though, definitely not the thickest. After 11 months seemed to look OK just needed correction and it would have been fine, SC couldn't organise that properly lol. Missing on parts of the boot but this was to Tesla spec you know by the hinges. Corrosion under the frunk paint by one of rubber stoppers. My experience and compare with the other comments yes panel gaps and misaligned door and handles.
 

Atari2600

Active Member
Oct 4, 2017
1,025
835
Cincinnati
The car was painted in California so you can say it’s better than watercolor paint you buy at Hobby Lobby but not by much.
I wrapped the front and the rockers on mine September 2018. I’m glad I did because I have zero paint issues in those locations.

However my umbrella got away from me and the tip of it put a scratch on my trunk. On another occasion I opened my trunk in a low overhang situation in a parking garage and put a couple chip marks on the top edge on the trunk. I really wish I had wrapped the trunk since I have been assaulting the paint on it. I’ll probably put a lip spoiler on it to fix it but I hate those things.

My previous daily driver was a 2015 WRX and the paint on it was equally weak.
 

P3dStealth

Member
Nov 12, 2019
933
998
USA
I carefully examine teslas in the lot when I go for service and the paint is just paint but the quality of them applying it is quite bad. Most people don't notice the defects. I think tesla QA fixes only what's easily visible. If they think someone will buy it QA is like ship it. The car looks good even knowing how to find mistakes. It makes me feel better about my car when I find the other mistakes in the lot. Mostly what I see is blotchy or light application in areas like the lower front bumper or lower wheel well, missing paint in corners, rear bumpers that don't match well in white and blue models. Below is an example but you can't see this from standing. I haven't been able to find defects in black. I think it's because a defect in black is more visible so they notice it and fix it.

IMG_20200706_093247.jpg
 
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thewallaby

Member
Jun 26, 2017
95
57
Norway
Why not buy a BMW with perfect paint and double the price then?
Look, there is no golden deal. If you bought a P100D for 90-100k+ and had demands about spotless and perfect paint i would understand you. But at that price range, with this performance, tech, design, comfort, fuel-price etc... you do not have the right to complain about a small hair in the clear coat. Nitpickers on youtube do that because it brings them views from the ''Horror - stories''.... We live in a weird world.
I just ordered my LRm3 in white because i have your concerns about the finish and the money i saved from the red for example, i will pay it later to wrap the car if i am not happy with it. Don't most do that anyways? If you are so picky, you can wrap it in a very similar colour to the factory one and it will be perfect.
But like i said, in this price range you cant have it all. Deal with it or go buy a far more expensive and thirsty bad boi...
I say go for it, open your mind, be realistic and you will have a very fun ride with Tesla.
 

kpedraja

Member
Oct 3, 2018
154
186
Seattle
September 2018 build. I didn't have paint issues with the car upon delivery but it was definitely very thin and soft paint. One drive over a mountain pass with sand on it produced significant damage. Obvious road rash on the rockers and wheel wells. I'd driven the same pass multiple times in the same conditions with a 2016 Audi A3 and never had so much as a nick. It was bad enough that Tesla repaired it under warranty. I’ve since had partial PPF installed. YMMV.
 
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hellocar

Member
Jan 26, 2020
166
100
New Jersey
My red 2020 looks great, but there are a couple round discolored spots that show in certain artificial parking garage lighting only. Seems like paint defects were probably repaired at the factory. I do notice those in my garage at night, but when it’s out in the sun in the daytime, you can’t see that stuff, and the car looks stunning.

For someone who is very particular and detail oriented about paint, Tesla might not be a good choice right now. For me it’s not a big concern. As many have advised, if your car does have any cosmetic defects that you simply cannot live with, you should reject at delivery.
 

AGARubberDuck

Member
Nov 19, 2019
59
66
MN
Tesla as a vehicle is an 11th hour effort - they are a technology company. IMO, the level of enthusiasm for the actual car is in equal, opposite correlation to the vehicle a person is coming from. This is narrow and anecdotal, but owners I know that are completely enamored with a Tesla have come from the tuner/hot hatch crowd. People coming from an actual luxury brand are luke warm and compare the price of a tesla to a similarly-priced ICE vehicle, leaving disappointment.
I have a blue 2020 model 3 (November 2019 deliver) and the paint is fine for a lease. Yes there is under spray. Yes there are defects. Yes doors were not in alignment upon delivery. No, it doesn't hold a candle to the build quality of a Porsche but it was a less-expensive foray into EVs than a Taycan.
BTW- I'm completely sold on EV. I've since purchased two Chevy Bolts for my technicians to use as service vehicles.
 
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one2many

Member
Aug 16, 2019
572
744
germany
Tesla as a vehicle is an 11th hour effort - they are a technology company. IMO, the level of enthusiasm for the actual car is in equal, opposite correlation to the vehicle a person is coming from. This is narrow and anecdotal, but owners I know that are completely enamored with a Tesla have come from the tuner/hot hatch crowd. People coming from an actual luxury brand are luke warm and compare the price of a tesla to a similarly-priced ICE vehicle, leaving disappointment.
I have a blue 2020 model 3 (November 2019 deliver) and the paint is fine for a lease. Yes there is under spray. Yes there are defects. Yes doors were not in alignment upon delivery. No, it doesn't hold a candle to the build quality of a Porsche but it was a less-expensive foray into EVs than a Taycan.
BTW- I'm completely sold on EV. I've since purchased two Chevy Bolts for my technicians to use as service vehicles.

OK, i will take a dive into what I do not understand and I can be way out there.
1. he likes EV
2. Tesla does not compare to a $170,000 dollar car, well maybe until you service it
3. luke warm on other ICE vs Tesla, are we talking VW
4. A lease car is a partner you are going to dump, really who cares
5. Bolt's burn up and are fun to service
6. Luxury brands are just more expensive not proven better
7. Well on the Jack Daniels scale of what the hell are you talking about could be a 6
8. Its a car not a 747 jet, not a Lambo, and not a VW
9. What the hell was the question
 

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