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Some early owners of Tesla's Model 3 are reporting quality problems. Do buyers care?

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

For them, he said, misaligned body panels and electrical snafus are often overlooked because Tesla offers cutting-edge technology not available in other cars, such as over-the-air software updates to fix computer glitches and add new features. Schey, in fact, reported his car was fixed on Friday with a software update.

Parvis Ghajar of Calabasas told The Times he was a bit disappointed in his Model 3.

"The car is extremely noisy at speeds about 50 to 60 miles per hour," he said. Ghajar also owns a Model S, which he likes, but said "this one is not as aerodynamic; it's definitely more noisy inside because of the wind."

He hasn't complained to Tesla "because there's not much to be done about it." His wife is the car's main driver and "she's happy," he said. "She's comparing it to her Mini. If you're asking about my own experience, I might have bought something different."

Tesla said he was one of the first non-employees to buy a car and that the company continues to refine the vehicles as it ramps up production.

But noise isn't the only complaint from owners on the Tesla Motors Club site; others pick apart the appearance, mainly the poor fit of body panels.

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In one thread, titled "Sunk-in hood," a Bethesda, Md., man with the username "Norge" said "the hood is significantly lower than the fenders. around half a centimeter." He showed pictures, and others chimed in to report the same defect.

Tesla offered to replace the hood, he said, "But it would be delivered in black primer and sent to a local Tesla-certified body shop for painting here in Maryland. This is when you start (to) feel like you have bought a used car and wonder what implications this would have on resale." He decided to keep the hood he's got.

In addition to a sunken hood, a San Jose man said on the message board that a parking brake error keeps popping up, the driver side interior trim was not assembled correctly, and both headlight housings are protruding from the body panels, when they're supposed to be flush.

Quality complaints are expected with any new car. But longtime automotive engineer Sandy Munro, whose firm tore down a Model 3 for a detailed inspection, said the quality problems are like "something we've never seen before, not since like the '70s or something." That's when a poor record of quality among Detroit automakers helped create a receptive U.S. market for Toyota, Honda and other Japanese car companies.


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