Elon Musk is running out of corners to cut.
A Tesla owner in Finland recently had the paint of his Model 3 inspected, revealing "extremely poor readings" for both thickness and hardness, according to a new article by Ed Niedermayer at The Drive.
As Tesla continues to negotiate the settlement of about 19 air quality violations from its Fremont, California paint shop, concerns continue to grow about the easily worn paint that the company is using for its Model 3.
It’s unclear whether or not there’s a connection between the company's air quality violations and the quality of the paint that it's using, but issues with paint are one of the several reasons that Consumer Reports dropped its Model 3 recommendation this year.
The inspection was requested by lawyers representing Joni Savolainen, a Model 3 owner who was in disbelief at the damage to his car's paint after driving just 1,367 miles. The inspection was conducted by Finland's Central Chamber of Commerce and was requested after "repeated attempts" to get Tesla to fix the issue.
Savolainen and a Canadian Tesla owner named Roger-Pierre Gravel are considering legal action against the company over the weak paint on their vehicles, which is an issue that has been widely documented on Tesla forums, with reports of prematurely chipped paint.
The inspection report, written in Finnish, was previously available through a link in the Drive article. Now, the link is coming up dead.
The inspection report noted stone chips on "the rear of the fender arches, the skirtings, the lower parts of the doors and the front... and the rear of the rear wheel arches," as well as incomplete paint in interior areas around "the front and rear hinges, from the underside of the doors, the A and B pillars" and elsewhere. The report also calls the fitting of doors and hatches "inadequate," noting that poor fit contributed to paint wearing away from the door openings. The inspector also noted that the way the Model 3's wheels protrude from the wheel arch, as well as the lack of mudflaps, contributed to the rock chip damage to Savolainen's car.
The inspection used a standard hardness test known as the Wolff-Wilborn pencil scratch test and the inspection rated the Model 3's paint hardness "F", which is several levels softer than the 2H-3H level that is standard for many automobiles. Savolainen's Model 3 was also found to have much thinner paint than the standard 110-115 microns. His vehicle averaged 106 microns.
In areas where the paint had already chipped, thickness was "well below the lower tolerance range given by the manufacturer" according to the inspection report.
The paint on the bottom of the left and right rear doors measured just 72 microns, while the bottom of the left and right front doors measured just 71 and 74 microns, respectively.
"In my opinion, there were discrepancies in the thickness of the paint on the subject of the inspection because, in my experience, automotive paint of the tested price range has a thickness of 110-150 µm and there are no completely unpainted areas in visible parts of the vehicle, doorways, or other areas. In addition, during my career in the automotive industry, I have not encountered a situation where the amount of rock blast on the sides of a car with this amount of driving and the conditions described. Joni Savolainen said that the car was driven only on permanent pavements. However, this cannot be verified by technical methods...
the total thickness of the paint on the subject's flanks are extremely thin and the paint film is soft, which is why stone blemishes are more easily formed in these areas than in areas with a thicker paint layer. The thickness of the paint film is determined by the new car in the production process."
Savolainen says that he’s going to continue to try and get Tesla to "make the situation right." Good luck with that.