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What I learned about PPF/Ceramic Coatings and Tesla paint- the HARD way!

RachH

"Christine" Model 3 Blk Obsidian, LR, AWD
Jun 28, 2018
127
140
Denton, TX
Hello all!

I have had a lot of experience with my Tesla- road trips, car accident (and waiting on parts) and finally getting PPF/Ceramic coating. This will be kind of long but if you are worried about your car's paint and/or are interested in getting PPF/Ceramic then there is some good info to know in here.

Things to know about Tesla cars compared to regular cars that I found out the hard way:

- The paint, since they are built in CA, is crappy water based paint. Please note that this is NOT Tesla's fault- it is California's fault due to their very strict laws. I see a lot of people getting mad at Tesla and it's not their fault.
- Pretty much every other car out there is not water based paint because the laws in other states are not as strict as CA
- Because of that, it is more prone to chips, scratches and other damage and not just from rocks. I got damage from blowing sand as well
- I got side swiped two months after getting the car and drove around for 4 months waiting on parts. When the parts finally got in, the body shop explained about the paint in CA and the law around it. AND since the body shop is in CA, they too use water based paint to repair the vehicles so even if the car was not purchased here, if it's repaired here, then it's the water based paint.
- I had rock/sand/bug- yes bug- damage on the frunk, the front bumper, the front lights, the windshield and part of the front fenders. I was astounded by the extent of the damage when I don't remember ANY rocks flying at me at any time at all. AND I have lived on a dirt/gravel road (with a different car) and never had this kind of damage. My car isn't even a year old.
- Because of this, I got PPF on the whole front of the car, the fenders and the two front doors since people tend to ding doors. Since I invested so much in this car I figured it was worth it in the long run due to the crappy paint.
- On the original Roadster (and I think the original S), PPF was applied to parts of the car to protect it. At least that is what my X said who has the original Roadster and S. So my feeling was to get it.

*And on a side note, it saved the front of his car in a very minor fender bender- he just removed the PPF after the collision. Of course the Roadster is made of a different material so don't count on that with your 3.

Now....this is what I learned about the PPF and the Ceramic Coating- AND what to look out for so you don't learn the hard way like I did.

First I live in LA so wanted to find someplace close by that didn't cost an arm and a leg- which can be tricky sometimes- and had great reviews. I found this place but before you get to excited, I would unfortunately NOT recommend them. I opted for the Crystal Serum Ultra with the EXO as well as the PPF and window tinting just so you know exactly what I got: Tesla Model 3 Group Buy | Auto Detailing Service | Concours Auto Spa | Los Angeles CA

I was super excited to get it all done at once and the pictures on their site looked great. I did some research on the ceramic and PPF, but not to extensively, since I had read about others getting this done here on the forums. Big thanks to all of you guys who do the leg work for all of us :)

They had my car for 3 days and they said that would be enough time to do everything. What they didn't tell me was that a bunch of their guys were gone to a conference so they were short on help.

I was told that my car would be done around 3pm so I got there around 3:15pm. When I got there, the PPF was done but my car was still dirty (they were supposed to clean it really well before applying the ceramic). He made the mistake of letting me see the 'progress' before he told me it would be ready by 5pm. I picked up the car at 5pm but it didn't look that much different as to when I had dropped it off. Something didn't feel right. It didn't help that the shop had left a shammy in my back window, they had not even vacuumed my car and the windows were dirty. Not at all like they advertise that the inside would look as good as the outside. And I could see rock damage under the PPF on the hood. Ugh!!!!!

That's when I decided to REALLY do some research.

I wasn't sure where to start so I contacted another certified Crystal Serum Ultra shop and ask about application- because the timing it took for the guy at Concour to apply didn't feel right to me. He confirmed my fears:

- They didn't do the paint correction they advertised that they would do. I had swirls on the back of the car and some on the side. To fix that is a huge pain.

- Crystal Serum Ultra (only allowed to be applied through a certified shop) takes about an hour to apply. It's kind of thick so he said he likes to work with a second person to follow behind him when he's applying it to wipe it. He said if you make a mistake, you have to do some hard core stripping/buffing to get it off. He said you really want it done right the first time- thus why it's such a huge pain if you don't fix the paint first.

- He also said you want to give it at least 2 hrs to dry before applying the EXO.

I told the guy who was helping me after the fact- Mike from Coast to Coast (stand up guy)- that it would have been impossible for the shop to apply the EXO due to the time frame they had. My car was still dirty and they hadn't even started to apply the Ultra when I was there at 3:15 and I picked up at 5pm. He agreed.

AND Mike went even more above and beyond and met up with me to look at my car. So incredible of him since he was getting nothing out of it (he will get my business from now on). He verified all I said. And he told me about.....

- VERY IMPORTANT, every Crystal Serum Ultra has a 9 yr guarantee so if anything goes wrong, it gets reapplied for free and the shop is supposed to give you a card with the guarantee number. The shop didn't give me that.

- Cleaning it is not as easy as you would think. I thought it would be easier and more convenient and it kind of is and kind of isn't. You can't just go through an auto car wash (not that you would really want to with the Tesla paint anyway). You can't use the soap that you get in the manual self car wash where you use the sprayers cause it's too harsh. You have to use special soap. You have to use spot free rinse. You have to use special cloths.

And some of you probably do this already but I didn't. I wanted it to be as easy as possible and it isn't so much- especially since I have a car port and not a garage. It takes a lot more time and care than I was expected but it's up to you what you want to do or not. Just wanted to put that out there.

I went for my follow up appointment with the owner in the Torrence shop. I had called him before I came in and told him that I was not happy. He kind of laughed and said he would 'make it right and make it up to me'.

They washed my car in Torrence and cleaned it like it should have been cleaned the first time in the Marina Del Rey location. Then I had to make another appointment in Marina Del Rey to get the EXO applied and everything fixed like it should be fixed.

It took me another day of having no car but they fixed it and hopefully it's fixed like it should have been fixed. They also gave me my guarantee card- after I asked for it. MAKE SURE TO ASK FOR YOURS WHEREVER YOU GO!! I attached a picture of one.

Final note...and why I do not recommend Concour....the owner who said he would 'make it right and make it up to me', when I called him on that to see what he was going to do, he laughed and said 'oh I just said that to say that' hahahaha. Ugh.

He said well at least you weren't like the other customer that day who had their wheels powder coated and we forgot to tighten the lug nuts and his tire almost came off hahahahaha. Not funny dude. Not funny. And note, don't tell another customer that kind of thing. It doesn't give me confidence and make me want to refer anyone.

They finally let me know they would give me 5 washes to make up for it. And I will see how long it takes to get my group buy rebate.

Hope that helps!!!!
 

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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,712
3,376
Maine
Wow, not funny dude! Unfortunately, Obsidian Black is not a low-maintenance color, but it does look amazing when clean and shiny!
 
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DrComputer

TeslaClubLA President
Jan 29, 2009
1,154
418
Sherman Oaks, CA
Just an FYI that Sticker City in Sherman Oaks does an excellent job and they do a ton a Tesla's every day. They are an XPel shop and they have done my Model X with both the XPel paint protection film and the new XPel fusion ceramic coating. They also did my original Roadster with Xpel PPF. Excellent service and great staff.
 
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RachH

"Christine" Model 3 Blk Obsidian, LR, AWD
Jun 28, 2018
127
140
Denton, TX
What was the other shop you contacted to get the real info? Im in LA and picking up my M3P tomorrow.

I just realized that I misspoke in my original post because I was so pissed typing all of that up and remembering it all.

His name is Mike and he is the owner of City to City (not Coast to Coast) in LA. He will even come to you. I was REALLY impressed by his knowledge and his no B.S. and the fact that he helped me knowing I had already spent my money. Nice guy!
 
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RachH

"Christine" Model 3 Blk Obsidian, LR, AWD
Jun 28, 2018
127
140
Denton, TX
Tldr is ‘To long didn’t read’. Some put a condensed version of a long post at the bottom for those that don’t have time to read the entire post.

All I can say is if reading about the paint/PPF experience is important to you then you will read. If it's not then just look at the bullet points.

This is a forum, where to me (and I am guessing many others from the MANY informative posts I have read on this forum) write about the details to help everyone out.

I know in this texting and short 'you tube' video world of short attention span focus these days a lot of us get used to just bullet points but I believe in a full picture personally. No one said you, or anyone else, has to read it but the info is there if you want to none the less. I promise to not be offended and/or take it personally if you don't :)
 

03DSG

Active Member
Apr 5, 2016
2,153
2,460
Ontario
All I can say is if reading about the paint/PPF experience is important to you then you will read. If it's not then just look at the bullet points.

This is a forum, where to me (and I am guessing many others from the MANY informative posts I have read on this forum) write about the details to help everyone out.

I know in this texting and short 'you tube' video world of short attention span focus these days a lot of us get used to just bullet points but I believe in a full picture personally. No one said you, or anyone else, has to read it but the info is there if you want to none the less. I promise to not be offended and/or take it personally if you don't :)

I read your post in full. I was only trying to help by responding to your inquiry (Huh?!?) of tldr.
 
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RachH

"Christine" Model 3 Blk Obsidian, LR, AWD
Jun 28, 2018
127
140
Denton, TX
I read your post in full. I was only trying to help by responding to your inquiry (Huh?!?) of tldr.

Sorry about that- I thought I was responding to the original poster. My mistake. I should have looked and checked who responded. Thank you for letting me know :)
 
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RachH

"Christine" Model 3 Blk Obsidian, LR, AWD
Jun 28, 2018
127
140
Denton, TX
Wasn't the consensus on this forum that the paint issues have little to do with the use of water-based paint?
It's said to be used by the European manufacturers and none of their vehicles are exhibiting the kind of issues that Tesla's paint has.

Here's a reference to the use of water-based paint, from 2012:
How Waterborne Paint Is Changing the Auto Industry | SEMA

From what the guys at the body shop told me, unfortunately the paint is now water based. Anything done in CA has to be water based due to the strict laws that have gone into affect. They could be wrong but they seemed pretty certain and since the work on the cars, I took them at their word.

AND with the damage I had all over the bottom part of my car and on the frunk, I am guessing it is true. I'll look into more and see if I can find anything specific.
 

RachH

"Christine" Model 3 Blk Obsidian, LR, AWD
Jun 28, 2018
127
140
Denton, TX
Oh yes....I forgot to add one more very important thing to consider with PPF.....

If you have paint chips/dings, if they aren't actually sanding everything down and repainting it- they are just going to do a small 'patch' or something- then I don't recommend doing it under the PPF. I saw a car that had that done and you could really tell. It had kind of a weird bumpy look and it showed up much more.

The body shop just did a paint correction ON TOP of the PPF for one of my bigger dings on my frunk and it was not noticeable at all. That being said, not sure how long it is going to last. Good thing I got the touch up kit from Tesla.
 
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TeeEmCee

Member
Nov 16, 2015
901
727
Null
From what the guys at the body shop told me, unfortunately the paint is now water based. Anything done in CA has to be water based due to the strict laws that have gone into affect. They could be wrong but they seemed pretty certain and since the work on the cars, I took them at their word.

Right, but the Euro mfgs use water-based paint as well, for the same environmental reasons.

There must be something else that causes all these paint issues. Perhaps the fact that, since the paint shop was (still is?) their big bottleneck, the line is programmed such that each car goes through far too quickly? That would be consistent with the observed spray patterns, with the underside of the trunk and frunk, the door hinge areas etc. receiving very little spray or none. Perhaps, aside from insufficient paint coverage, they also rush the curing.
 
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