Can You Spot $7,000 Worth Of Damage On This Tesla Model 3?

The Tesla Model 3 is the entry point to the EV maker’s range and in theory, it should be much friendlier to the owner’s wallet than say, the Model S.

When Chris Boylan of Clean Technica accidentally clipped a parking sign backing out of a parking space with his brand new Model 3, he expected to pay a few hundred dollars in order to fix the 4-inch dent on the front left fender.

Boylan took his Tesla Model 3 to Precision Autoworks, one of the only few Tesla-authorized repair shops in New York, and decided to file an insurance claim in order to fix the small dent. After a few days had passed with no updates, Boylan asked his insurance company what was the hold-up. “Well the shop’s estimate was a bit higher than we expected.” How much higher? “Nearly $7,000, of which $5,000 was labor.”

Clearly this is one very expensive dent to fix, especially if you consider the Model 3’s more simple design against the all-aluminum structure of the Model S. As it turns out, there’s still quite a bit of aluminum in the Model 3.

“With the type of damage your car sustained and the materials involved, we could not repair the fender but had to order a replacement,” the shop explained to Boylan. “Also, the specific color of your car we call Electric Blue and it uses a special process that requires 3 layers of paint and primer. And to match it precisely with the surrounding body means that we have to blend the paint on these surrounding panels. And all of this takes time and paint.”

Apparently one of the most complicated and labor-intensive parts of the job is the removal and installation of new parts. In order to repair the fender, much of the left side of the car requires disassembly and reassembly and that includes trim pieces, moldings, the driver’s mirror, as well as the front bumper. And once the bumper is reinstalled, you also have to re-calibrate the front distance sensor. The repair also requires the disassembly of the rear seats in order to access and disconnect the high-voltage battery pack.

Eventually Boylan’s insurance company sent their own expert to assess the cost of the damage. The second estimate was not far off from the shop’s own appraisal, at $6,250. The repair was approved and the dent was eventually fixed.

Photos Chris Boylan / Cleantechnica

  • BlackPegasus
  • TrevP

    WTF is up with the miscellaneous charges?? Are those for the disassembly and reassembly? I’d like to know the exact reason for other and miscellaneous charges, but that’s just me. Either way it seems like insurance covered it anyways.

    • BlackPegasus

      I wanted the same answers. So went to the original article on Clean Technica’s website. Much more detailed. It stated that the fender could NOT be repaired but instead, replaced. It utilizes aluminum on steel so it complicates repair jobs. The new fender was ordered. Removal and installation also required recalibration of sensors which meant more labor hours. Yep 😣

      • TrevP

        I see

      • cashifyer

        Also, they know they can charge you sh*t-load since the insurance is going to cover it.
        they would probably not charge that much if it came from the customers pocket.


    24h of work to replace fender??? It’s whole 3 days off work from 8 to 5…. Maybe they changing parts with power off mind?

    • DMJ

      Apparently it’s easier to do a heart transplant.

      • Brent Morrison

        More rewarding and faster too

  • BS…3 estimate rule applies here.

  • iea96

    In order to replace the fender you also have to remove the front bumper and the side mirror, that’s understandable. But the rear seats too? What a joke

  • haudit

    Surely this shows how poorly thought through the Model 3’s design is? $7,000 to repair a tiny ding in the front fender is insane.

  • europeon

    This is simply bad engineering. That’s why Tesla is not a real car company and it’s just a toy company of some guy with more money (sort of) than sense.
    The real car companies, the ones that Tesla fanboys are bashing everyday for not wanting change, having huge inertia, and being stuck in old practices, take into account something called repairability when designing their cars.
    I (an my friends) owned high end cars with parts made out of aluminum and carbon, all painted in candy multiple layers paint, and I don’t EVER remember a bodywork bill being even a third as high as this one.

    Also… $125 / hour for bodywork? WHAT THE… Bentley and Ferrari bodyshops charge less than that.

    • New York.


      • haudit

        “The repair also requires the disassembly of the rear seats in order to access and disconnect the high-voltage battery pack.”

        That is unquestionably bad design. I can’t wait to see how much of the car has to be disassembled if you need to change a head or tail lamp.

  • Salih Ahzem

    I wonder how much it would have been on an old Acura NSX which also has all aluminum structure.

    • Astonman

      I had mine fixed in 2006 or so for about $500. I knew the body shop and they gave me a little bit of a deal. Left front fender. A little kid didn’t know any better and left a shopping cart on a slanted sidewalk and it rolled down and came off the curb when he tried to correct it. Hit my baby….

  • DMJ

    With less than that (4.500 euros) I repleced the entire front of my BMW F30 3-series (bumper, grilles, fog lights, head lights, left front fender and hood repair) in the official BMW service center, including labour, metallic paint and VAT.

    • LeStori

      But your BMW is old tech….

  • lagunas3ca

    Slow news day.

    • LeStori

      Not really. The quote shows some serious design and repair problems with a Tesla 3 Supposedly a Tesla3 starts at $35,000 in the USA. A minor repair costing a 5th of the car, means it will be scrap very easily.


    Well, the only good thing I can say is at least now I understand how Teslas can end up with salvage titles with easily repairable damage. The repair costs and labor is just mind blowing.

    Oh and don’t buy a salvage titled Tesla otherwise you’re asking for trouble.

    • Astonman

      That pretty much applies to any car.

  • Brent Morrison

    Teslas are meant to be disposable like your phone

  • Vassilis

    That’s just silly.

  • LeStori

    Technology does not come cheap!. Seems like a serious design flaw if you have to remove the rear seats inorder to disable the battery pack.


  • Arthur Burnside

    And Tesla claims they engineered the car to be simple to build. But apparently they forgot that cars get body damage. Amateur automaker.
    Insurance rates will hit the ceiling. Not the “cheap to own car” that Tesla promised.

  • TheBelltower

    Can you spot $25k worth of damage? Tesla really does need to get a handle on this. Especially if they intend on ever becoming mainstream.

  • TheBelltower
  • pcurve

    I had very similar damage on my 2005 Accord that also bled into front bumper. It cost $950 to repair. Yeah there was no blending with front door, but it came out fine.

  • More reasons to not buy one.

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