All My Tesla Model Y Repairs in the First Year and a Half

Delivery Day at Tesla

My Tesla ownership experience has certainly gone through more ups and downs than anyone I know. I’ve got many friends with problem-free cars, and I’ve driven about a dozen other Tesla products without issues. But I got dealt a whole bingo card of issues with my September 2022 Fremont-built Model Y Long Range that were only recently resolved. After a bit of a love/hate relationship with this car in the first year, it is now in a state where I can enjoy it.

I must note that I am a big fan of EVs and a supporter of Tesla. By sharing my story I am not trying to make the product or the company look bad. To the contrary, I want to give a shoutout to Tesla Service for listening to my concerns and addressing all my problems with care and under warranty. These teams don’t get enough credit for maintaining a rapidly growing fleet of Teslas. And, I hope this list is also useful to anyone taking delivery of a new car so that similar issues can be identified and resolved early.

I had a total of six scheduled service appointments in the first 15 months and 20,000 km (and two unscheduled drop-ins), only one of which had an actual maintenance component and a cost of CAD$227.81 to clean and lubricate the brakes (Hooray for cheap EV maintenance!). The rest of the appointments had untold thousands of dollars spent on warranty work to make this car right.

The Big Issues That Were Fixed

1. Paint/Panel Issues at Delivery [Solved ✅]

I was told by my Delivery Advisor that picking up the car would take just 15 minutes to sign the papers. That is probably what they would have preferred, during that end-of-quarter rush in late September. However, it’s a big ticket purchase so I spent a good hour combing through the car inside and out for issues. This is when I found:

Rough orange peel paint texture
Rough orange peel paint texture
Paintless dent removal needed
Paintless dent removal needed
Front fender caved near door
Front fender caved near door
  • The small PPF sheets that protect rear doors from stone chips were still in the frunk, the staff had seemingly forgotten to install them.
  • There was a two two-inch patch of rough “orange peel” texture paint on the liftgage.
  • There was a small circular impact dent on the liftgare. Likely from transportation.
  • The front fender on the passenger side of the car was obviously bent inwards. Did something get jammed between the door and the fender on the production line?
  • My Model Y was also missing mud flaps from the factory, as I would notice months later.

I reported these issues to staff before accepting delivery, and I had the option to reject this vehicle that day. In retrospect, that would have been the right call if I had known what else was coming. But the staff convinced me that those problems could be handled post-delivery. Financing rates were climbing by the month in 2022, and it would have been weeks until I had another opportunity to accept another vehicle, so I accepted it.

The paint and panel issues were resolved in a Tesla-contracted body shop three weeks after delivery. But I was perhaps feeling a little salty that my brand new car already needed a respray in two places. I would have been fine if they had instead comped a carbon spoiler to cover up the paint defects on the liftage, but they refused.

2. Water Ingress From Liftgate [Solved ✅]

Honestly, I don’t know if the trunk leaks were an issue from the factory, or if it was introduced when the liftgate was resprayed after delivery. But for most of the first year of ownership, I’ve had to deal with a small amount of water entering the trunk area during heavy rain and car washes. I’ve meticulously wiped away water from the trunk area with a towel to keep mold from forming.

On the first Service visit for this issue, the techs tried to align the door position by adjusting the rubber stoppers. After water kept getting past the weatherstripping, the car had another brief visit to another body shop because the leak was identified to originate in a different area. But even after the second visit to the body shop, there was still a small amount of water entering the cabin. It wasn’t until the third issue with the liftgate was addressed that the leaks were finally fixed (below).

Water would constantly get past the seals
Water would constantly get past the seals

3. Liftgate and Door Alignment Issues [Solved ✅]

Eight months into ownership the rear liftgate door began to make banging noises when the car rolled over even the smallest imperfections in the road, as if the liftgate wasn’t closing tight enough and banging into the body. I took it into Service in May 2023, and after a lengthy appointment, techs fixed the leaks and the closing tension at the same time. I believe they applied the sealant fix from a service bulletin that was sent out a month prior.

Driver's door
Driver’s door
Rear left passenger door, closed.
Rear left passenger door, closed.

Two of my doors also needed to be realigned. About six months after delivery, I noticed that the driver’s door was not closing flush with the body. I was surprised to see this because I never slam doors. A very kind mobile service technician came to me to reseat and re-torque the door latch striker plate on the body so that the door sits properly flush when closed. That could have been the end of this story, but two months later I noticed that the driver’s side rear door was sticking out even further. How can it be? I don’t even use my rear doors 95% of the time. The rear door alignment was fixed along with the liftgate last summer. I had no door issues on the right side of the vehicle, so I’m wondering if the bolts were not torqued completely during assembly on the left side.

4. Window Motor Clunking Noise [Solved ✅]

Sometime in the spring of 2023, the driver’s window began to make a loud clunking noise every time the window glass reached the top. Because of Tesla’s frameless door design, the window motor was making this clunking sound every time the driver’s door closed too. The Service technicians first tried to reprogram the window motor endpoints, but after it didn’t help they ended up replacing the “front window regulator” and other misc components in the door to fix the problem.

5. Front-Drive Unit Chirping Noise [Solved ✅]

This is the big one that caused the most grief for me. Just two months after accepting the car, the outside temperature began to plummet as we were entering winter. At this point, I noticed an annoying chirping noise coming from the front of the car when driving at highway speeds in colder weather. A consistent high-pitch chirp that was audible even when listening to music, it was super irritating. I’ve definitely avoided going on certain winter road trips because I didn’t want to get upset. During my six service appointments, I raised this chirping issue in four of them. The noise was initially dismissed as “within spec” by the first technician.

But I kept troubleshooting, collecting data, and reading OBD values on my own to understand specific conditions when the chirping engaged. In summary; when the drivetrain temperature readings were below ~30°C and the vehicle drove faster than 90 kph (55mph), the chirps would start and get progressively louder with speed. Supercharging (or pre-conditioning for fast charging) would dump heat into the system and temporarily fix the chirping, but it wasn’t a viable solution. And living in Canada meant that the environment was cold enough to cause chirping 7-8 months out of the year.

On my second visit, the technician acknowledged the problem on a road test but did not have a solution to offer. He mentioned the problem was waiting for the Engineering team to come up with a fix before they could take action. So months went by, and it was becoming colder again as I was approaching my second winter with the car. The chirping was going to be a deal breaker for me and I’ve considered several times to sell the car at a steep depreciation loss. But after numerous follow-ups with Service and Corporate, they finally road-tested the car again last December and replaced the front drive unit (motor) in February. The chirping was gone and my sanity was intact.

The Smaller Things I’ve Had to Look Past and Let Go

Warped Frunk Lid

I’m not going to rant about panel gaps, I knew what I was getting into before buying this car. But I was a bit puzzled when I noticed that the frunk lid (hood) was warped towards the front and sticking up unevenly. When I brought this up during my first service appointment, naively I expected a replacement hood. But the techs adjusted the stoppers to sit to make the hood lower on the body making the gap smaller. It’s still obvious from 30 feet once you see it. But I’ve decided to let it go, and use my car’s derpy smile to spot it in parking lots full of Teslas.

Front Fog & Taillight Fog

I haven’t seen this on any new-ish car before. But both sets of front fog lights and taillights form internal fogging after washes and heavy rain. It goes away within hours, but I don’t know if I should be concerned for long term longevity.

Intermittent Rear Seat Rattles

I observed rattles from the rear seats literally during the first drive home from the delivery center. Although I’ve raised the issue with Service, it was not reproducible during the technician’s road test. Rattles still show up over rough asphalt every now and then, but I just drown it out with music. I’ve also learned that the rear seats rattle less when they are in their most vertical position.

Moisture in the Door; Window Glass Stays Wet

Whenever I wash the car or go through heavy rain, it seems that moisture is trapped inside the door for literally days at a time. If I open and close the driver’s window glass two days after washing the car, the glass usually comes up wet out of the door. This is extremely annoying for somebody who hand-washes their cars and appreciates streak-free window glass. I’ve never seen water stay in the door this long before.

On a related note, I don’t love the frameless window design. It’s just a compromise for the sake of style with no other benefit. Not only does it force the window motor to do extra work all the time, but during cold winter months when the weatherstripping seal is harder and less pliable I’ve noticed the window glass squeaking against the seal when the chassis flexes over speed bumps.

Would I Buy Another Tesla?

I believe I’ve been dealt an especially problematic vehicle with a lot of issues, because I spoke with a lot of Tesla owners and nobody else had it as bad as I did. Despite these experiences, I am encouraged to see this relatively young automaker stand behind their products. Tesla’s hard working Service teams eventually fixed the main hardware defects while the car was substantially improved with software updates in the time I’ve owned it. I have no problem recommending Teslas to friends because the quality is constantly improving, and the pricing is now substantially lower. I’ve driven most of the EVs available for sale today. Each Tesla model is still among the most compelling EVs in their respective classes, despite increased competition.

But personally, I do feel understandably bummed out after spending so much time and energy on service visits. I absolutely baby my cars with frequent hand washes, meticulous maintenance, and I park like an anti-social maniac as far as possible from other cars. I waited ten months for this car to be delivered, and while I didn’t buy this car at peak Tesla prices, I still bought it before recent price drops and government incentives. I may have higher expectations than most customers, but why shouldn’t I? In late-2022, the $82,000 Canadian dollars I paid for my Model Y Long Range could have gotten me into an Audi SQ5, Mercedes AMG GLC43, or a base Porsche Macan. High prices invite high expectations. (For context; the same spec Model Y is ~$60k CAD now in 2024, and it ships to Canada from Giga-Shanghai where build quality is anecdotally better)

My Model Y is now in great condition like it should have been from the start, and I plan to keep it for a while after everything we’ve been through together. I’m more likely to add another smaller two-door car than to replace my Model Y anytime soon, but if Tesla had such a product in my price range I’d certainly buy from the company again. I already know a lot of staff on a first name basis. 🙂

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