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Paint quality upon delivery - Model S


Active Member
May 13, 2012
I had both swirls and holograms. I took my car to my detailer and had it fixed, Tesla footed the bill. There isn't a service center nearby.

Here is a link with photos of my car before and after detail.


Wow...those were some bad holograms.

I'd give my paint a 7 on delivery. The car was clean. There were some minor swirls. No holograms. There is orange peeling around the quarter panels. Other than that, the paint has been pretty good. I did a complete detail on the car after 6 months of ownership and got rid of most of the swirls; I didn't tackle the orange peel simply because I don't have the experience to do that. I don't know how many people notice the orange peeling -- probably only nuts like myself.


Jul 30, 2013
Paint was 9 at delivery. But there is a major issue with the paint, due to the fact that Teslas are made in California. Due to the very stringent pollution rules and regs in CA, some paints sold in other states cannot be sold here, some have been reformulated, and some can only be bought in quart cans (...absurd, as I can presumably go to Nevada to buy larger quantities). The CA compliant water based finish that Tesla uses is beautiful but soft, and will scratch easily. I waited over 2 months before seeing a local expert to have it professionally OptiCoated. Even though I was/am meticulous about caring for my car (hand wash only, Griots Garage products), it took my detailer a full day to 'perfect' the paint before applying OptiCoat. Joe @ Orinda Auto Detail actually wishes he could get every Model S from the factory @ delivery before TM does their own in house final polish/wax (he actually asked--not possible). He notes that it is all but impossible to have perfect paint straight out of the paint shop/line as there usually are a few specks of dust, etc which need to be polished out. FWIW, Joe also notes that some folks with other ICE vehicles with really good hard paint finishes (he notes Lexus and Mercedes) will take their vehicles out of state from CA to have body work/paint done since the local CA body shops cannot use the factory original high VOC paints.

My personal recommendation is, if you are not going to add a wrap/film (...I am personally not a fan), get your Model S to your local (and hopefully knowledgable) detailer for some kind of tune-up and paint protection, be it OptiCoat or something else.


This morning I spoke with a friend of mine who is the manager of the best (IMO) body shop in the area where I live. I asked him about paint types in California. He agreed our paints are different BUT, the clear coat is the same. There can be quality differences among brands but the clear coat should be good. It has been my experience that scratching and swirls, etc are caused by poor washing practices and improper products. Auto detailing and paint care can, and does, occupy a forum all of it's own. I feel many owners could benefit from learning the proper way to care for their cars.

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