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How bad is M3 paint in reality?

subieworx

Member
May 29, 2020
88
46
ohio
It's crappy. In 200 miles I got two hug rock chips on the leading edge of the hood. Had those touched up and the entire front PPF'd. In 250 more miles I got two big chips over the rear wheels.

Also had to have three dents taken out of the front left fender and one out of the hood that were there predelivery.
 

one2many

Member
Aug 16, 2019
572
744
germany
Darn, someone who read my entire post, I had A S Class that rusted out
at 8 years, about $100,000 bucks as crows will fly, great car but a car made
in hell, Merc's have the star but ......
 

P3dStealth

Member
Nov 12, 2019
933
998
USA
I don't get this? People are saying paint defects are ok because the car was in the 50k price range?

I know this is a tesla forum with Tesla fans and I too am one of them but I've worked on a lot of cars. I enjoy modifying and working on cars.

These cars have bad build quality. Great cars but I find mistakes everytime I take the thing apart. The paint is the same way. I literally have the car on jack stands right now for a mod and noticed they forgot to put plastic clips in one of my wheel liners. I'm writing this while looking up the clips.

If you want to compare it to other vehicles fine... I have a toyota corolla that is perfect in every way. The car drives like a bathtub compare to the Tesla but it's made perfect. I also have a Hummer h3, toyota tacoma, ford explorer and jeep wrangler. All of them came perfect except the jeep it had transmission problems. Don't give excuses or justify these things. It is not within spec at any price range. It drives better and is more fun than any of the other vehicles though.

I can't comment on paint life for the 3 long term but after 3 months the hood and front were chipping abnormally fast so I PPFd it myself. I am not sure if it's the paint or the fact that it doesn't have a grill.
 
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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,559
3,231
Maine
I don't get this? People are saying paint defects are ok because the car was in the 50k price range?

I know this is a tesla forum with Tesla fans and I too am one of them but I've worked on a lot of cars. I enjoy modifying and working on cars.

These cars have bad build quality. Great cars but I find mistakes everytime I take the thing apart. The paint is the same way. I literally have the car on jack stands right now for a mod and noticed they forgot to put plastic clips in one of my wheel liners. I'm writing this while looking up the clips.

If you want to compare it to other vehicles fine... I have a toyota corolla that is perfect in every way. The car drives like a bathtub compare to the Tesla but it's made perfect. I also have a Hummer h3, toyota tacoma, ford explorer and jeep wrangler. All of them came perfect except the jeep it had transmission problems. Don't give excuses or justify these things. It is not within spec at any price range. It drives better and is more fun than any of the other vehicles though.

I can't comment on paint life for the 3 long term but after 3 months the hood and front were chipping abnormally fast so I PPFd it myself. I am not sure if it's the paint or the fact that it doesn't have a grill.
As far as the wheel liner clips go, they decided at some point in production, back in 2018, that 3 of the clips were unnecessary, so stopped installing them. Of course, it's disconcerting to owners to see 3 holes in the liner without clips, but it seems to work.
 

EmOne

Member
Mar 28, 2020
214
156
Chicago
March, 2020 white Performance. Less orange peel than my most recent Bimmers (2009 M3, 2011 1M) but more than my two Porsches and the older Bimmers. More importantly, at 4 thousand miles, already a great deal of "acne" on leading edges of the rear bumper. Not sure if they even used any primer, as all chips seem to go all the way thru, largest is pencil eraser. Not panicking because this by far worst panel and made of plastic. So far front bumper holding up much better and no chips at all on the metal panels including the hood. Given all the complaints about color match on rear bumper, I think it is painted separately from the rest of the car and with lousy tech. I'm hoping that paint will hold up better where it matters (rust) but am watching! Car is so amazing I am not that bothered by the paint and minor alignment stuff which absolutely is not up to the comparably priced peers; but where else can you buy a car that humbles $200,000 sports cars in the real world, costs nothing to run and costs &60K?!
 

P3dStealth

Member
Nov 12, 2019
933
998
USA
As far as the wheel liner clips go, they decided at some point in production, back in 2018, that 3 of the clips were unnecessary, so stopped installing them. Of course, it's disconcerting to owners to see 3 holes in the liner without clips, but it seems to work.

That is a different thing. I can see where they removed the clips because the holes aren't even in the body panel anymore they are just in the plastic on both sides. I had clips missing from only one side that the other had. I fixed it today already.

Also my tail light had no nuts holding it on. None. I found this out while installing my power trunk. What is really funny is I brought the car in and pointed out the gap for the light was not the same on both sides months ago. They told me it was within spec. They even put it on the invoice. It said checked body panel alignment or something like that.
I fixed it with nuts from home depot. It lines up perfect now.
 
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P3dStealth

Member
Nov 12, 2019
933
998
USA
March, 2020 white Performance. Less orange peel than my most recent Bimmers (2009 M3, 2011 1M) but more than my two Porsches and the older Bimmers. More importantly, at 4 thousand miles, already a great deal of "acne" on leading edges of the rear bumper. Not sure if they even used any primer, as all chips seem to go all the way thru, largest is pencil eraser. Not panicking because this by far worst panel and made of plastic. So far front bumper holding up much better and no chips at all on the metal panels including the hood. Given all the complaints about color match on rear bumper, I think it is painted separately from the rest of the car and with lousy tech. I'm hoping that paint will hold up better where it matters (rust) but am watching! Car is so amazing I am not that bothered by the paint and minor alignment stuff which absolutely is not up to the comparably priced peers; but where else can you buy a car that humbles $200,000 sports cars in the real world, costs nothing to run and costs &60K?!

Are you talking about the spot covered by the PPF tesla is selling? I was thinking of getting it before winter.

Model 3 All Weather Protection Kits

Also you are right. They must be painting the bumpers separately because you can even order a bumper from the service center and it comes from tesla pre painted. It's a good thing but very difficult to match perfectly.
 

Xambler

Member
Dec 17, 2019
152
166
Cape Coral, Fl
Got our 2020 model 3 in mid December 2019...no paint issues or alignment issues at all and after 9000 miles (some mountain gravel road driving, some deeply rutted mountain roads we had to creep over, 3000+ miles freeway road trips), only 2 chips the size of a pin point (so small wife hasn’t even notice them :) ).

What I’ve done to protect the car. Waxed it with a nano wax right after purchase. Then basically keep it washed from then on with water and hand dry with soft clothes...special window microfiber clothes for the glass. Bought a small strip of 3M PPF and cut two pieces for the driver and passenger door sill plates (they scratch easily) AND put tiny strips of PPF under the mud flaps that I bought to protect the paint near the wheel wells on gravel roads. The rest of the 10’ roll of PPF will be my wife’s lifetime supply of Apple Watch screen protectors (really works well for that ).

Just curious...the service center guy said he rarely saw issues with red Teslas when we picked ours up...since they had 10 white Teslas, one black Tesla, and our red one I don’t know if that was just because not that many are shipped so just the odds, or whether they pay extra care as red multi coat costs extra. Thoughts?
 

alexgr

Member
Aug 13, 2019
650
531
Tulsa
I've got my M3 in August 2019. Tesla paint is sh$t ... so I protected it: full front PPF, ceramic wax once in a few months, hand washing and drying, stored in garage every night. Zero issues after 14 months, it looks like new. For contrast, my Accord's paint is TOTAL sh$t, it was re-painted twice (!) under recall. I think if you understand the limitations of paint work on your car you can protect it to remain in nearly prestine condition for a long time, it will take some time and some $$, but it's probably worth it as the car, technically, is better than anything I've been driving in my life before... so, it's my wife's car now :( and I've pre-ordered a CT (I expect no paint issues on that one!).

Edit: it's 14k+ now and we took a round trip from Tulsa to San Diego and back in winter and there is not a single paint chip (PPF rules, I guess).
 
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alexgr

Member
Aug 13, 2019
650
531
Tulsa
Just curious...the service center guy said he rarely saw issues with red Teslas when we picked ours up...since they had 10 white Teslas, one black Tesla, and our red one I don’t know if that was just because not that many are shipped so just the odds, or whether they pay extra care as red multi coat costs extra. Thoughts?

As white is a free multicoat paint, I think it is most popular, so there will be more white cars and fewer red cars. Non-multicoat paint (black) can be easier damaged, I guess, so (budget-permitting) get PPF if you have a black car.
 

JBHemlock

Member
Dec 16, 2019
46
42
Seattle, WA
I've owned my 2020 M3 for almost a year now, and the paint still looks good. I've noticed a few dings (the highways on my commute are pretty bad, and trucks kicking up rocks are a common occurrance), but nothing terrible.

I did read horror stories about car washes scratching teslas pretty badly, so I only wash mine at a touchless car wash. Other than that, though, I just drive the thing like normal. I'd considered having a coating applied when I first got it, but I think I'm just going to run with it. In ten year or so I might just have it repainted.
 

Hybrid_GHOST

Member
Sep 19, 2020
67
40
Tennessee
PSA.. don’t get the Tesla touch up paint match is sh%t.. the dr color chip is better match. Watch frugal Tesla guy video on this. I recently took my car in for a factory decry pint fix. And they touched up 2 small rock chips. And it looks terrible I will be redoing with the dr color chip. Also the paint that had the small chip would hv easily peeled if messed with rather than break off
 
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Stanwood Steve

2018 Performance Model 3
Mar 30, 2019
131
173
Stanwood, WA
My car (delivered early August 2018) had two very small paint chips below driver's side mirror that a delivery inspector at the Bellevue, WA Tesla dealer noted (that I didn't even see). They repaired those and I can't even tell they had been there. I had PPF installed on the front of the car up the hood, mirror fronts and in front of the rear wheels since they flair out slightly. I did this soon after I received the car. Paint has held up well and I don't see any difference in quality from my Toyota or other vehicles I've owned. Paint seems great to me!
 

AlexMasters

Member
Mar 14, 2020
81
61
Kingston Upon Thames
My car is about to go in for a complete respray under warranty because of pitting in the clear coat. The paint finish (MSM) is ok but soft and very prone to swirl marks, and i am very careful with my wash technique. My previous Merc E63 had a nice, hard lacquer coat but still picked up chips and scratches - no paint is immune to external damage. However, with care, it still looked good when i sold it after five years. I am hoping that the lacquer coat will be well repaired, and given they are doing it with the same clear coat as Rolls Royce use (BASF Glasurit) it will be better, but its a great shame that there was a problem with the paint as delivered from the factory.

Otherwise, build on my M3P is ok - dimensional tolerances are acceptable and the few issues with door rubber positioning have been fixed with adjustments. No interior squeaks or rattles other than the drivers side wheel arch liner rubbing the wing (fender). I'm going to try a rubber 'u' channel edge profile like this to fix that.

In terms of general build, My E63 It did have a lot of suspension and other problems - knocking struts, anti roll bar links, a new steering rack and lower front suspension arm due to split bushes and the strut top bearing needed to be realigned. The Pano roof also needed to be fixed due to squeaking and I never did find a get rid of the rattles in the back of the car. TOne of the intelligent headlamp unit failed due to water ingress and needed to be replaced. Thank god I was running the manufacturer's factory and extended warranty, otherwise the cost would have been wallet-melting.

In contrast, my M3P has needed a LTE module replacing under warranty, so very good reliability, at least so far. The main difference is that the Mercedes dealers were always happy to do warranty work as they were paid by the factory or the warranty company and took a generous view with things they could have wriggled out of, as it was a revenue stream. Given Tesla own the distribution and service centre operation, I doubt they will be as liberal.
 
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KuramaKitsune

Member
Oct 27, 2020
9
2
Ca
the paint is soft
i literally just set my jacket on the hood while trying to re-calibrate my headlights.
and it kept sliding off 2-3 times,
now that part of my hood is all swirly and lightly borked
i really hope its just the wax coat i attempted to apply...
 

beachsideev

Member
May 23, 2020
278
136
usa
I've had cars that cost a lot less with better paint jobs. There are multiple spots where it looks like there is something stuck in the paint. There was a big spot on the front bumper where the clear coat was completely missing along with a big paint run on the underside along where the front vent opening is located. A body shop pointed this out to me. They also said the paint on the front and rear bumper covers don't match the body. Certainly not what I would expect for a "pseudo luxury" car.

I still love the car though.

(Feb 20 build, white paint)
 

JaredM3

Member
Jul 6, 2020
22
80
Ottawa
I took delivery of a white LR on June 30, 2020.

Was pretty excited so tried to give it my best inspection but really just wanted to drive it. Paint looked good, very nice. About a week later a found about a 4-5inch run, kind of under the side skirt, and noticed the rear bumper color match was way off. While washing it (NO Pressure washer, I never use one on any of my cars), paint flaked off my rear bumper corner where it meets the rear fender.

Service replaced the bumper without issue, and the paint match is spot on now, so maybe the paint flake was a blessing in disguise. Never mentioned about the run as You can’t see it.

My entire car is wrapped in Xpel Clearshield now, and I run RallyArmor mudflaps... ready for Canadian winter!
 

dmurphy

Buster: 11/25/14 - 6/20/21. So sorely missed.
Dec 7, 2018
3,550
4,739
New Jersey - Morris County
Look, they're both rusting away!! You can actually see the paint dripping off ...

Just kidding. To paraphase an old saying, "If you think it's perfect or it's trash, you're right." Look hard enough and you'll see what you want to see.


IMG_5913.jpeg
 

Mattopotamus

Member
Jun 7, 2020
353
251
Atlanta
Look, they're both rusting away!! You can actually see the paint dripping off ...

Just kidding. To paraphase an old saying, "If you think it's perfect or it's trash, you're right." Look hard enough and you'll see what you want to see.


View attachment 603117

Really well said. I will agree with pretty much everyone in this thread that the paint is soft. I do a lot of highway driving so there are a fair amount of rock chips. With that said, I am probably the only person that notices them. If you really care PPF is a must; otherwise, just drive the car and consider it normal wear/tear.
 

thewallaby

Member
Jun 26, 2017
95
57
Norway
I am waiting for my white m3. I am thinking to either do a total white wrap or a front bumper and rear wheel arch PPF with pillar delete. The price is exactly the same where i live (2000USD). I do not know why... But it seems to me that a total wrap would be better for the car and the effect would be the same for me.... i am also putting mud flaps on all wheels as we have lots of snow, salt and stones in the winter...
 

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