Tesla’s build quality has always been sub-optimal. Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained has covered issues with his own Model 3, and Sandy Munro’s famous “Kia in the ‘90s” quote from 2018 even prompted a response from Elon himself.
Recently, it seemed that things had improved over in Fremont. Model 3s have kept shipping, but complaints haven’t seemed to ramp up on the same scale. Did Tesla improve their build quality, or did we all just get used to how bad things are?
Professional detailer and TikToker Jessica Tran of JT Mobile Detailing seems to think the answer lies with the latter. You may remember Tran from such videos as restoring a years-abandoned Infiniti, or her “What Your Car Says About You” series, but her experience working closely with so many different cars puts her in a good position to judge fit and finish.
In a recent video, she went over a series of fit and finish issues with her roommate’s 2020 Model 3. Everything from panel gaps to paint thickness was an issue, and she spared no effort in pointing them all out. Tran even busted out a paint meter to compare the thickness of paint between the Model 3 and her own decades-old Accord. From TikTok:
As always, the Weird Nerds rushed to Tran’s comments to defend the Model 3. Many hinged on the idea that this particular Model 3 in the video was an older car, before Tesla had worked out many of its quality assurance quirks. Unfortunately for many of these commenters, Tran is bold enough to read the comments — and respond with her own informed takes.
Many other commenters, however, agreed with Tran’s thesis — that Tesla build quality is disappointing for any automaker, let alone a luxury one, and that traditional carmakers still hold the EV crown.
While it’s great to hear from industry stalwarts like Jason Fenske and Sandy Monro about build quality issues, it’s important to remember that their cars make up a negligible percentage of the Model 3s out in the world. Through social media, more information on the actual build quality of these vehicles can be crowdsourced — and trends in fit and finish can be identified.