By on January 19, 2015

Black Tesla Model S

No matter how minor or major an accident, Tesla Model S owners and their insurers will feel the financial pain from Tesla’s certified shops.

According to Green Car Reports, the EV’s nearly all-aluminum frame and body panels make repair work on even a minor fender-bender difficult, though that is only half of the story. Reported estimates from Tesla’s certified shops include:

  • $10,000 to repair a “minor but long” scratch
  • $45,000 for “minor front-end damage”
  • $7,000 for repair of a small dent and scratch that required no replacement of parts
  • $30,000 for “minor fender and door damage”
  • $11,000 for a minor scrape on the rear panel, including a $155 charge to “ensure battery remains charged” during the repair

As aluminum “has no memory,” per Peotter’s Body Shop owner Larry Peotter, repairing a Model S is much harder than a vehicle with steel components. Rivets and bonding agents made specifically for use with the metal also add to both time and labor. Authorized shops also pass the costs associated with Tesla’s repair training program — with equipment and tools worth $100,000 alone — to their customers, though Peotter didn’t say by how much.

Though insurance pays for these costs, Model S owners — especially those who never owned a premium vehicle before — are still finding these prices hard to swallow. Some owners have gone as far as to take their vehicle to non-Tesla certified shops experienced with aluminum, coming away with estimates some two-thirds less than what they were charged at Tesla-approved businesses. On the other hand, Tesla won’t sell parts to any shop other than those it trained.

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98 Comments on “Repair Estimates For Tesla Model S Higher At Certified Shops...”


  • avatar

    Blaming the high cost on the fact the Model S uses Aluminum body is a big stretch.

    Audi, Mercedes, BMW use aluminum to save weight in their premium models. The new Ford Pickup will use aluminum. Do these cars have 5 figure repair estimates for minor damage? No!

    Aluminum does add some extra cost, most shops recommend replacing dented panels rather than panel beat since aluminum doesn’t panel beat very well. So that does add cost.

    For example the 2011/12 Nissan LEAF used aluminum panels to save weight. A deer strike meant I had to replace the following body panels new front fender (aluminum). new drivers door (aluminum), hood (aluminum), bumper cover (plastic) and a headlight.

    Cost $7,500

    The most expensive part? The headlight at over $900.

    Tesla is expensive because Tesla is expensive. ALuminum body panels do not make repairs this challenging.

    I get that frame damage would be expensive, but simple scratches/dents?

    • 0 avatar

      And this is why having a car that’s radically different than most other cars on the road is such a problem. Early adopters of the Model S have basically bought an exotic car being sold at “luxury car” prices.

      It’s a toy for the rich.

      Insurance for a Model S P85D is higher than insurance for a Hellcat. I checked.

      And that’s with my 5-year good driver discount and a bunch of other discounts.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        They hellcat is also a toy for the rich. What’s your point?

        • 0 avatar
          jdogma

          The Hellcat, being based on the Challenger shares body panels and other parts with related high volume models. The aftermarket makes replacement panels and other parts. Not so with the Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        beastpilot

        Insurance is higher on a $100,000 car than a $60,000 car? Tell me more.

        • 0 avatar

          Compare the Model S P85D to the Audi RS7.
          The Model S is still way more.

          Call up your insurance company. I’ll wait.

          • 0 avatar
            hgrunt

            Let us know what you find out, then. What’s “Way more”?

            Insurance companies work off of actuarial data, and each company may vary.

            If anything, here’s why the RS7 is cheaper to insure:

            There are more Model S on the road than RS7s, and people tend to drive the Model S much more. As an example, Audi sold just under 9000 A7s in 2013, vs 18-20,000 Model Ss.

            The RS7 may not be much different in cost to fix, but the risk exposure is very different, vs the Model S.

    • 0 avatar

      According to the Green Car Journal article, some Tesla owners are giong to non-authorized shops that can handle aluminum and getting repairs that cost as little as one tenth the Tesla shop charges.

      • 0 avatar
        LuciferV8

        “some Tesla owners are going to non-authorized shops that can handle aluminum and getting repairs that cost as little as one tenth the Tesla shop charges”

        Good. Luxury dealership repair costs are always considerably more expensive than they need to be. The reason for this is that the owners of luxury cars are usually:
        1. Ignorant of what it really takes to repair their cars.
        2. Easily duped by luxury branding and thus easily convinced that only the dealership knows what to do and/or how to do it best.
        3. Rich enough to not complain about the price.

        Tesla is no exception to the rule. I would venture that the while a small portion of the Model S owner base know their vehicles’ functions and engineering completely, a large portion of Model S owners are geek posers who like to repeatedly and enthusiastically shout SCIENCE! while never actually applying the scientific method themselves. This portion of the Model S owner base is likely to put up with operating costs even higher than the average luxury owner, simply because they haven’t got the sense to shop around. In other words, this is exactly the behavior expected from the same crowd who can be reliably counted on to stand in line for hours to nab the latest iteration of the iPhone.

        I suspect that many have had bad experiences with and/or heavy confusion about conventional cars, and are running toward the electric car as a misplaced method of coping with past trauma.
        They eventually find out that while the gas is gone, the laws of physics still remain, and the maintenance/repair costs associated with owning an electric car just manifest in different ways than they would for an I.C.E. powered ride.

        The perfect illustration of this mentality can be seen in The Oatmeal’s bombastic paean to his Model S:
        http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla_model_s
        Plenty of magical space car adoration, spiced with a tinge of F— YOU DAD! millennial angst in there.

        Mind you, The Oatmeal has a great strip and a fairly good sense of humor, so a lot of that can be taken with a grain of salt.

        Organizations that purport to write with a pretense of serious journalism have no such excuse.

        Remember this guy?:
        http://www.wired.com/2014/03/car-dealers-fear-teslas-plan-end-oil-changes-forever/

        Ok, you saved a couple bucks on oil and timing belts, but how much is that scratch and dent repair bill again?

        Don’t get me wrong, the electric car is a great thing, but it needs to be appreciated with a sense of reality.

        Hopefully, the kind of utopian drivel peddled by Wired is on its way out, at least as far as the electric car is concerned.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think the article says the charges are justified. Looks like gouging to me, because they can.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @JPWhite:

      My 12 Leaf just had the same parts replaced (except for the hood and door), due to a corner crunch. The total came to about $4000 – the parts were $2000 of that, and the headlight was $650. They even had to stretch the frame back a bit. This was at a certified Nissan repair shop.

      I think your shop is gouging.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Car and Driver had a fender bender in a long-term A8. It was about $29k to repair.

  • avatar

    Repairs are the second stream of revenue. Henry Ford is reputed to have said that he’d GIVE them the car if he could be assured of all the later parts sales. Jamie Kitman wrote an article about the Edsel where it was said the replacement parts were better than the OE parts…the car had planned obsolescence from the factory. I had one BMW dealer brake job…and after that eye watering bill for something I’d done in the past in my driveway, and would again in the future, I went over the bill. The individual parts, plus labor, were designed to hit a price point…not have any relation to actual prices of things. Marketing as applied to repairs. Planned obsolescence clearly also applies to Acura/Honda cats and bluetooth modules

    Another poster pointed out that if you can afford to keep an old luxury/sportscar running, you can probably afford a new one.

    This is why I’ll never buy a car without an aftermarket. I learned this with my 16v Golf GTi. Any part that was VW was cheap. Any part that was 16v only (spark plug wires, for example) was three times as much. Yes, they knew what they could charge for.

    So, a Tesla is expensive to fix ? Proprietary parts and service ? What a surprise. Try to buy a “shop manual” for a normal car today. It is a lot tougher than in the past. Indeed, you need a computer for any non OBD stuff, and no, you won’t be able to get this cheap. If you are a pro and pay @10k per year, you can, but that exempts all of us shade tree or blocked driveway guys.

    I can’t imagine this will be good for the “used Tesla” market, if any.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      How do you know there is planned obsolescence regarding Acura/Honda cats? Are you aware that catalytic converters are covered 8 years/80,000 miles under Federal Emission Law? As for shop manuals, ALLDATA DIY 5 year (vehicle specific) subscriptions are about $30. They also give you TSB and recall info.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Every designed part has a projected lifespan. Some people are genuinely suprised when they learn that isn’t “forever”.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Ideally a cat should last a very long time if not the “lifetime”, not merely 8/80K. Its not a timing belt.

          • 0 avatar
            Exfordtech

            8/80k is the warranty. It is not unheard of for a cat to last well beyond that. The majority of cat failures I would imagine are due to impact damage breaking up the catalyst brick or poor vehicle maintenance resulting in contamination. At what point in vehicle ownership would you feel ok about paying for the repairs and maintenance on your car?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            A cat is part of the exhaust system but in fairness it is a compliance part at best. If a person picks up some ridiculously high miled or damaged vehicle I say its part for the course, but if I buy used X in the last twelve model years with avg miles and I have to put a $400 cat in, I’d say its a fail – especially with today’s sky high valuations vs real income.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Some (many, most?) people treat timing belts as lifetime items. If anything is built in planned obsolescence, it’s an interference engine with a timing belt. They do however tell you when to change it to prevent bad things from happening.

            Ideally a catalytic converter would last for the usable life of the car, but sometimes there are circumstances with an engine malfunction or due to the cat location under the car that shorten its life. Those are usually the main contributors to early catalyst failures, rather than “planned obsolescence” of that part in particular.

            Planned obsolescence isn’t as sinister in reality. The new generation car has to look better, perform better and have better features to make the old car obsolete. Regulations make them obsolete too. The old model doesn’t fail beyond repair in less than 5 years as they once did. As the average car on the road is now over 11 years old, it’s pretty clear manufacturers haven’t intenionally built them with a self destruct feature. Some times they do, but it’s usually by accident.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @danio

            We used to have all sorts of cat/emissions issues in the late 80s stuff but I haven’t encountered a clogged cat in over a decade (which is excellent). I just hope this stays as such for folks as things age.

          • 0 avatar

            I have a car with 310k. I refer to it as parts flying in formation, of varying ages. I’m on my fourth set of control arm bushings…fourth set of shocks..second PS pump…third alternator…fourth battery..too many brakes to count…a variety of plastic parts, like three expansion tanks…so I got the “lifespan” part and don’t expect things to last forever.

            I’m still upset that my cat dies at 90k, because every other car I’ve ever had I’ve only replaced o2 sensors. The Acura had the timing belt and every other bit done on schedule. It DID make it out of the emissions warranty…the CE light began at 88k. This is a $1300 day at the dealer, and unlike a timing belt, isn’t an expected expense at this mileage.

          • 0 avatar
            Exfordtech

            A clogged cat, especially since the advent of OBD2, is usually due to an issue upstream of the cat, like incomplete combustion, misfires, coolant contamination, not the cat itself. Another killer is frequent short trip driving such as for distances in which the vehicle never even approaches normal operating temperature. An example might be someone with less than a 5 mile commute. I know it’s rare, but I know someone who had a 1/2 mile commute. Personally I would have walked, but couldn’t convince her of what that commute was doing to her car, but she’s a customer so they’re always right even when they’re wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            VelocityRed3

            ANECDOTAL ALERT

            I just had the cat replaced in my 2003 4-cylinder Honda Accord. It has approximately 178,000 miles. I believe I’m the 4th owner. Please resume the normal scheduled picking of nits. :)

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            It’s pretty well known that ingestion of too much antifreeze will finish off a cat.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It’s also said Henry Ford would send out reps to junkyards to see which Ford parts survived the most. Those overbuilt parts were then cheapened and lightened.

        It’s a scam in a way, this engineered obsolescence. OEMs are way ahead of us on this. Especially with all-new generations every 4 years. No need for it. But it sends you back to the dealer when looking for used parts. Used body and suspension parts rarely need to be new.

        But I want a car I can work on/diagnose myself after the warranty or take it to my shade tree mechanic. Or any random, gas station shop.

        My local Ford dealer fu*ks with shade tree mechanics, I’m sure of it. So my hack mechanic friend was working on a “tough” Taurus ‘no start’. He tows it the dealer for a diagnose. Came back as a ‘fuel pump’. He buys the Ford pump, tows it home, does the install, still no start. Tows it back to the dealer, then diagnosed the ‘computer’. New computer and still ‘no start’! I never found out what the “real” problem was, but probably a fuse or inertia switch.

        • 0 avatar
          healthy skeptic

          @DenverMike

          Read Danio’s comments above. Planned obsolescence is mostly a myth. Things wear out, and newer things tend to be better.

          Also, the dilemma for shade-tree mechanics is not a conspiracy of the OEMs, but more a reflection of the vastly increased sophistication and complexity of modern cars. That means it’s much harder to work on your own car, but the upside is that cars are far more reliable now than in the past, so the need to be a shade-tree mechanic in the first place is much less than before. Sucks if you’re a hobbyist, though.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          “It’s also said Henry Ford would send out reps to junkyards to see which Ford parts survived the most. Those overbuilt parts were then cheapened and lightened.”

          Auto makers do these things in order to meet a cars price point during production, “planned obsolescence” is more about silly stuff like yearly face-lifts.

          “If anything is built in planned obsolescence, it’s an interference engine with a timing belt”

          A better term would be “built in obsolescence”, but I agree with that. “Lifetime” transmission fluid is another scam meant to make car owners more assured with their purchase.

        • 0 avatar
          bk_moto

          I’m willing to bet that this is a case of the Ford dealer technician being just as incompetent a diagnostician as your hack mechanic friend rather than an effort by the Ford dealer to screw with him. Diagnostic skills are sadly lacking among today’s auto techs.

          What’s that old saying about never attributing to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity…

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        That explains why there isn’t a single HondaAcura left with a factory exhaust system.

        I don’t blame it on planned obsolescence though, moreso the cheap metal Toyonda are known to use.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Cats have rare earths in the inc platinum and gold IIRC. The older cats probably had higher amounts than the newer ones simply due to the commodity price at the time, hence they being one of the first things removed.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Platinum, rhodium, palladium among some others. No gold.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Darn and I was banking on a check with Cash 4 Gold.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            My ex’gf had a 2003 Sentra that needed an exhaust manifold cat a few years ago. It was a CARB part, so only the OEM would do. It was about $1,400. Fortunately, she was a teacher with a bunch of illegal students. One of their fathers got her car smogged with the bad cat, since laws are only for citizens.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @CJ

            Rofl on that last line.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          You guys can believe you’re not being very carefully and systematically, manipulated into returning to the dealer for parts and service, when you should be free to go anywhere for parts/service, or do it yourself, but that’s part of why I love Big 3 pickups, halfway into a 10 to 20 year generation. Not to mention their built-in durability for a real commercial hammering. So thats another reason for underutilizing pickup trucks.

          It might seem bizarre to you, but I’m getting really used to never returning to the dealer for ANYTHING 10+ years after the new purchase. Not even warranty work. And they can keep their FREE oil changes.

          But I was laughing when my dad drained the tranny fluid from his ’07 Tundra, thinking it was the crank case. No way for him to refill it!

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “You guys can believe you’re not being very carefully and systematically, manipulated into returning to the dealer for parts and service”

            Of course automakers try to do this, but not through the primary design intent of the product. That’s just a consequence. Some things, like lack of transission dipsticks are a warranty cost save. Turns out, some DIYers don’t actually know better than the engineers who designed the stuff. I know, I’ve never met one who didn’t either ;)

            There are other options for things that are worthwhile, the aftermarket is quick to exploit those opportunities. Buyers of off-make, low volume rarities are usually SOL, but they knew that getting in, right?

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            No I don’t think most buyers know or are aware, when buying the rare stuff, of what they’re really in for.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’s far more underhanded than unintentional. The Honda techs I know are always saying how Honda buries everything so they have to pull the intake manifold to get to the starter, for example. All the common stuff that fails is blocked by everything else. The DIY’ers get intimidated and bring them in. And these are ex Ford, GM and Toyota techs. And Hondas are like all the others that do an all-new generations every 4 years with a refresh in between. That’s way beyond the necessary, even if the drivetrain needs constant improvement. Some drivertrains are straight carryovers.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At Denver:

            Wasn’t there a thing about Honda disabling CELs on certain cars when customers brought them in?

            I wonder if the parts that commonly fail are from engine heat with where they’re located.

            Only hard diy I remember from my ’92 Accord was anything interior elated, to install a radio you had to remove the entire center console along with the shifter top.

            I’ve heard others complain about the brakes being hard to work with, and later Accords having a decorative bit of trim that likes to trap moisture, causing rust in the rear wheel well.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I worked for Crutchfield twenty years ago. We had a lab that developed all the home installation kits and directions for home installers. No idea what you’re talking about, as Hondas were far and away the easiest cars to install stereos in, with everything plug and play and interiors that could be taken apart and put back together without damage or replacement fasteners. Everything else from Mercedes-Benz to GM was considered junk to the installers. Not necessarily because it was always junk, but because their factory installations weren’t designed with common standards and their interior trims often broke during disassembly. I’m not sure Honda is any less prone than anyone else to make stereos that only work with their own accessories today, but I can say that a complete incompetent could install a DIN stereo receiver in a 1992 Accord with 100% success in 30 minutes, and that’s if they soldered all the connections on the harness.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @CJinSD – “I worked for Crutchfield twenty years ago. … I can say that a complete incompetent could install a DIN stereo receiver in a 1992 Accord with 100% success in 30 minutes”

            I concur. Back in the day, I ordered one from Crutchfield and installed it into my 1987 Acura Integra. The speaker housings were also prewired.

            The Integra also came with a technical manual which described the engine, electrical systems, and suspension.

            Now contrast that with a 10,000 mile service for a Porsche Macan:

            http://www.edmunds.com/porsche/macan/2015/long-term-road-test/2015-porsche-macan-10000-mile-service.html

            A 9 quart synthetic oil change came to $418.12. $2.50 went to topping off the windshield wiper fluid!!

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            At CJ:

            Let me rephrase that, it was hard compared to my Volvo 240 of the time which only needed 3 screws removed and a small panel.

            Compared to a GM or a Benz I’m sure that a Honda would be easy. I haven’t had the misfortune to work on a GM interior, yet.

          • 0 avatar
            bk_moto

            Of course it can be easily refilled! All you have to do is place the truck on a rotisserie, invert it, and fill through the drain hole. Simple! :-)

            Though I’m curious why they would bother to include a drain plug if there was no way to refill it.

      • 0 avatar

        Good to know…thank you !!!!!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Rare, expensive cars are expensive to fix (even ones that don’t use gas) – what a shocking concept (said no one with a clue ever).

  • avatar
    stingray65

    There is no such thing as a free-lunch. In order to hit CAFE numbers the auto-makers are having to resort to exotic materials and components that save weight or increase efficiency. Aluminum and carbon-fiber body and chassis components are definitely going to cost more to replace or repair, which will raise insurance rates. Stop-start components, turbo-chargers, hybrid batteries, 8-9 speed automatics, 7 speed dual clutch manuals, electric water pumps and A/C compressors, 4 valve DOHC heads, etc. are all going to be more expensive to repair/replace and may mean the car gets to the scrappage stage sooner than simpler cars, because the repair costs exceed the value of the car sooner. Higher insurance costs, higher repair costs, and lower resale values will almost certainly negate any cost savings from lower fuel use, but governments are forcing these technologies on us to save the planet.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of the ‘expensive stuff’ you mention to meet CAFE standards are for gasoline vehicles. I imagine this trend will continue which wil increase vehicle cost and repair costs.

      EV’s are simpler and the weight factor will diminish overtime as battery packs provide more range and/or weigh less as battery densities improve.

      A case in point is the Nissan LEAF. 2011/12 vehicles used aluminum to save weight. The 2013 models on have a redesigned battery pack that weighs several hundred pounds less, and they switched to steel in place of aluminum panels. Result: a slightly increased range and slightly better economy with fewer exotic materials.

      Battery technology improvements will reduce the importance of exotic materials to meet economy standards.

      It doesn’t looked good for the ICE vehicle, more rosy for the EV.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      ” electric water pumps and A/C compressors”

      Are much more reliable and durable than than belt driven – see the Prius as a prime example.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        +1

        when i was young radiator fans were directly driven by engine belt and it run synchronous with the engine. Meaning many overheated cars in stop-and-go. now all radiator fans are electric and can provide full power at ICE idle if needed. Reliability hasn’t been an issue, especially compared to then common belt failures.

        In addition with electric oil and water pump you can run oil pump faster at idle, when the motor is cold. Or you could start oil pump a second before ICE to lubricate it better. You also can vary pump speed, saving fuel and bearing life. the E-motor is more reliable than any other component in a car.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          How long ago was this? Most mechanically driven systems I’ve seen have fan clutches for precisely this scenario. As the fluid ins1de of the fan clutch heats up the clutch slips less and less, causing it to connect the fan to the belt more directly, moving more air through the radiator.

          • 0 avatar
            healthy skeptic

            No wonder E-motors made a huge improvement. That system sounds like it’s begging for failure.

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            Admittedly I was a child back then and in Germany… so the US situation mayhave been different. But know Mercedes and other expensive cars had the the visco-clutch you describe. cheaper cars had no such clutch and fan ran at any time.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            skeptic,

            Fan clutches reliability wise can be hit or miss. I say this as someone who’s replaced one in a 1996 4Runner and one in a 1998 MPV. My brother with a 1989 MPV replaced his as well. In all of our cases, the failure mode has been one in which the clutch locks up, which simple causes maximum cooling all the time. Not ideal but better than the other alternative. A belt ripping would leave no cooling fan, so that is another failure point. I keep up on belt maintenance/tension so it’s never been a problem.

            Electric fan motors can and do fail, as do switches/relays that control them. They probably are cheaper to make and are more efficient for reducing drag on the motor (no belt to drive).

            Another interesting point is that offroad, in deep fording scenarios, a fan clutch is preferable because the fan has less of a chance of breaking against the water since it is not rigidly driven by a motor. Some guys run bypass switches on electric fans that they must remember to flip before and after fording a stream. But these are very rare scenarios of course.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            On US domestics, it was optional in the late ’60s on some cars, typically those with factory air conditioning. Probably became commonplace in the ’70s.

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            When I worked at an auto parts store in the late ’80s, we sold a ton of replacement fan clutches. They were not made to last at all. Most were for GM vehicles.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    This article contains no value.

    Small series luxury cars from tiny manufacturer with tiny repair shop network are expensive to fix? and repairs in OEM shop are more expensive than non-OEM shops?

    shocking… what else, earth not flat

    “Some owners have gone as far as to take their vehicle to non-Tesla certified shops … coming away with estimates some two-thirds less than what they were charged at Tesla-approved businesses. .. Tesla won’t sell parts to any shop other than those it trained.”
    How did those independent shops provide an estimate if they can’t buy parts and don’t know part cost?

    At the cost of repair they may as well salvage the expensive battery and buy a new car.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The article would be a lot more useful if they compared repair costs to those at certified Audi A8 body shops. There’s a lot of specialized equipment and training involved in repairing aluminum-structured cars (not just aluminum panels like the F150).

  • avatar
    Toad

    This will kill the used Tesla market. Between aircraft level service/repair costs, the unknown battery life, and the occasional complete drivetrain replacement you would have to be crazy to be the second owner of one of these, especially out of warranty.

    Bonus points for Tesla not selling parts to “unauthorized” repair shops.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      Has anyone else bothered to notice that these all quotes for what is basically cosmetic work? How would the expense of having scratches removed keep me from buying a vehicle that mechanically will cost me virtually nothing?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Mark my words; buyers of the new Ford F Series pickup are going to be in shock when they discover the true, full cost of (a) repair work (even minor) to their trucks as a result of scratches, dings, dents & accidents, and (b) the inevitable higher than than average auto insurance premiums necessitated by high cost of such repair work.

    Automotive News reported that there was a near Ford Dealership mutiny that required the intervention of some very senior Ford Executives because Ford Dealerships were being required to expend huge sums of $$$ to upgrade their paint/body shops to prepare to work on the aluminum body panels on damaged F Series pickups, and also because they were having major difficulty hiring techs with the appropriate level of training & experience to perform body work on such animals.

    Ford ended up having to subsidize a huge % of the costs of the dealership body shop equipment acquisition costs, and implement a program to provide assurances there’d be sufficient numbers of skilled technicians able to perform such body work to quell such concerns (for now).

    It’s a good thing that alleged 700 pounds in weight savings produced such dramatic fuel economy increases (NOT).

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      “scratches, dings, dents & accidents” just mean your truck is well broken in; like your boots. Concepts I’m quite sure are alien to you.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I don’t wear boots or a cowboy hat.

        And I hate “country music.”

        You “got me” there.

        Most new pickup truck drivers I see are as worried about scratches & dents as Stingray owners are, and they accessorize their trucks with the most ornate decor imaginable.

        Wait until they get the insurance rate premium increase on top of their already high insurance premium after their 1st fender bender in the parking lot of Five Guys.

        • 0 avatar

          Cars have been made with aluminum for years. The biggest issue is that aluminum doesn’t panel beat well and what used to be a quick repair may involve more parts replacement. ALuminum also requires different welding equipment and techniques.

          The labor cost will be similar. The increase doesn’t have to be impactful to insurance. I very much doubt Ford entered into this totally blind and stupid regarding repair costs.

          A good side effect of the Ford dealers having to spend money and get trained to work on Aluminum cars is now they can bid to repair Audi, Mercedes and BMW cars as well. ANd Tesla’s too if they ever relax their grip on parts.

      • 0 avatar
        kovakp

        @el scotto

        Plus boomers will love dented aluminum panels; they can pretend they’re this:

        http://tinyurl.com/nkrbx9c

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Most of that will be a non-issue once more cars use aluminum. I’m sure the first aircraft made of aluminum caused the same concerns. Today I don’t think airlines want to go back to wood and cloth for airplanes because there are more skilled wood workers.

      In addition I think most body damage is due to corrosion, not accidents. 100% of 12 year old cars in the rustbelt have corrosion (make that 5 years for Mazdas). I don’t think 100% of them have been in an accident. So the non-corrosion far outweighs accident repair difficulty.

      nowadays when you are in an accident you also have to install new airbags etc., but I don’t want to go back to the old simple days without airbag because without i didn’t need to worry about repair being dead. Cars also crumble more to protect passengers, so they are more likely to be total damage anyway as they sacrifice themselves for the passengers.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        No matter how much some people claim “economies of scale,” the simple fact is that aluminum body panels are dramatically more difficult to repair/work on versus steel ones.

        It’s one thing to have aluminum or mainly aluminum (alloy) hoods on vehicles; vertical surface body panels fabricated of aluminum are going to easily cost 2x as much to repair compared to steel ones.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          But, you have to weigh that against the vastly superior corrosion resistance of aluminum, no? You don’t seem to be doing that.

        • 0 avatar
          HerrKaLeun

          Did Cadillac announce to use Aluminum panels, or what is your agenda?

          Back before cars were galvanized they were cheaper to repair because the body shop didn’t need to worry about maintaining rust-proofing and the non-galvanized spare parts likely were cheaper. On the other hand they corroded away before 5 years old. Are you also arguing you want to go back to pre-galvanized? Same with today’s high tension steel that likeley cost more than the old stuff. So what is your point?

          and do you have hard data on insurance cost, or are you just making this up?

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Aww man! DW went 3 or more posts without bringing up Cadillac, and you do it for him? WHY?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            DW’s on the wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

            For those not initiated in the complexity of working, cutting, welding, bending, forming, painting, etc.,aluminum versus galvanized steel (I’m no expert, but know enough to see that Ford’s PR machine is doing a masterful job at tamping down what is legitimate concern over F Series future repair costs), just merely google “aluminum dust.”

        • 0 avatar

          The answer to the higher repair costs of aluminum panels is simple enough. Don’t repair them. Replace them. The painters will enjoy painting a brand new surface rather than a bondo special.

          The drivers door had to be replaced on my LEAF due to the difficulty of repairing it. The door shell was $640, the hood $320. Hardly a huge cost issue when both the cost of the hood and door shell added together was the same as the headlight.

          I remember repairing starter motors when it was cost effective to do so, now its cheaper and easier to replace.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The answer isn’t so easy. Replacing structural panels like quarter panels requires special bonding techniques in many cases (adhesives, rivets etc.). Prepping aluminum panels also requires additional care to avoid iron contamination that will cause adhesion and corrosion issues.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      For will sell millions of F series trucks: even if only a small percentage need body repairs the resulting demand will create a huge supply of aftermarket parts and body shops to work on them. This will in turn help keep Ford dealers somewhat honest.

      Tesla will sell, at best, thousands of cars and only a small percentage will need body work. The low demand for body parts and service will keep prices in the stratosphere.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @Deadwieght

      Odd, my aluminum bodied Range Rover costs exactly the same to insure as the steel bodied Jeep it replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @DW – As common as fullsize pickups are, they’re a small part of what body shops see. Any meaningful F-150 incident usually means a bumper replacement. Maybe a grill, headlight or tailgate too, occasionally.

      The most expensive part for insurance companies covering fullsize pickups has to be the damage they do to Camrys and such.

      Minor to moderate dents to my F-150, I won’t even fix. It’s a “truck”, get real.. Earns you clout at The Home Depot and trail head.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If it really costs $100,000 to set up a Tesla repair facility, then that would explain the charges.

    There aren’t that many Teslas on the road, therefore there aren’t many of them that need body work. The repair shops have to recoup their initial investment — it’s not as if they’re part of a charity repair network, and there aren’t going to be that many customers who can help them to recover those costs.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Even if it costs a million dollars to set up a franchise tire store, you can’t try to recoup that on the 1st 5 customers. $100,000 has to hurt, especially if most of it is a franchise buy-in fee. But that shouldn’t be my problem as a car owner. That cost should be spread out over 20 years or more.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The drive-train in the electric B-Class is all Tesla. I was shocked to find out that there is no manual high voltage disconnect. There is a diagnosis wire that runs near all the high voltage lines. If that is broken it’s supposed to disconnect the contacter and therefore the battery. However, it’s apparently common in accidents for this system to fail, and stay on. If this happens. The battery system has to be powered down by a Tesla specialist who wears a linesman suit while disconnecting the still live cables.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      This isn’t different for hybrids and their high-voltage batteries. not an issue as emergency responders are trained to handle it. AFAIK they shut off the battery reliably, no known issues. Not dangerous compared to riding on 10 gallons of gasoline…

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        It is different, because the Teslas don’t have a manual disconnect. The 10 gallons of gasoline can’t transmit a serious shock to anyone touching metal body panels. We are not talking about first responders, but technicians that need to put the car back together. A firefighter will just take a big pair of insulated bolt cutters, and cut through the cables.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          To get an electric shock, you need to complete an electric circuit with your body. The battery in a Tesla isn’t referenced to ground, but between its plus and minus terminals.

          So how are you planning on shocking yourself by touching either terminal, even if one bare wire is touching the aluminum body? There’s an answer to this – how many birds electrocute themselves sitting on a wire at 15,000 volts?

          None. They’re not connecting themselves between two points of different electric potential on the same circuit. I have seen a seagull disappear in a puff of smoke and feathers, alighting on a recloser, where terminals are only a foot apart. And you can’t train them.

          The worry with the battery pack on a damaged EV is the possibility of shorting the plus to minus, at which the battery will immediately overheat and likely blow up.

          But you can worry about just touching the Tesla’s body if you want to.

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            Electrocution is not the concern, it is arcing. Google arcflash videos and you see that 600 V DC can work like a grenade.

            Hope you are not serious claiming cutting the DC wire is a good idea.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Good idea or bad idea, it’s what most first responders will do. Go through a junkyard that has many hybrids, and you will see most cables cut through near where the battery was.

            As for the risk of electric shock, we are talking about servicing a car where a crash has caused damage to the cars electrical system. In the Tesla system it’s diagnostic system can get confused and leave the battery connected even though it should disconnect. There is no manual disconnect like there is on most other electric cars and hybrids with high voltage systems. This is information is from Tesla’s service engineering. Apparently it has happened many times, and is the reason a Tesla specialist has to come out in a linesman’s suit to manfully disconnect the power cables. Also, since the cables run next to each other, what do you think the likely hood is of only one being breached in the a crash and not the other?

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            New is scary, so new is bad.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Why is everyone missing my point of no manual disconnect? It has nothing to do with the new technology. If the Volt was missing this, everyone would be freaking out saying how could it not have such a critical safety feature.

    • 0 avatar

      There needs to be standardization with regard to disconnects. If the EV Manufacturers don’t come together on this, then it will take just one bad accident that kills an emergency worker that will result in the OEM’s having to comply with a regulation, which will no doubt differ from country to country.

      The LEAF has a high voltage disconnect. If you know where it is *and* have the right type/size screwdriver handy to remove four bolts that secure the access panel. The access panel isn’t labelled or color coded. How dumb is that? I replaced the bolts with Allen head bolts and taped the right sized Allen wrench to the access panel. I try at least to give the emergency workers a chance of making my car safe in an accident scenario.

  • avatar
    mrcool1122

    Yup, it does cost more than some other cars. I had to pay a good amount to replace a rear quarter panel recently. But, at the end, I got a shiny solid Tesla back.

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