The long wait to get your Tesla Model 3 repaired

Recently I had a small accident in my Tesla model 3. The car still works but needs some major parts such as a door frame, side mirror and some panels replaced. Little did I know how tedious the process would be. My expectation was that I’d be able to schedule a drop off at the nearly Tesla service facility within a few days. How naive I was; even the WSJ ran a story about how painful it is for Tesla Model 3 owners to get repairs done.

Lesson 1) I had no idea that Tesla does not do any body work.

This is only partially true since they did open a body shop in San Jose, CA and a one other location recently but that only helps a minority of Tesla owners. Plus if you read the reviews of the Tesla owned body shop, it doesn’t really help anyone (hint: they’re horrible except for small repairs).

Lesson 2) Tesla certifies just about any average body shop to repair Teslas.

Tesla has a handy page on their website that will direct you to certified body shops near you. But don’t just go to any body shop listed on their site; do your research. You’ll see that many of them have really horrible reviews. Sift through online forums to find the one that works best for you.

Lesson 3) You’re likely looking at a 8-12 week wait to get your car repaired.

I called literally everyone on the Tesla supplied list and others that I found myself. Everyone mentioned that there is a 4-6 week waiting period for parts. In addition, most shops are backed up by excessive demand so they won’t be able to even take the car for 8 weeks. Even Tesla’s own body shop quoted a 7 week wait to take the car (you’d think they get parts easier!). Depending on the severity of repairs, add another 4-6 weeks repair period. All in, you’re looking at up to 12 weeks of waiting time. I was lucky that my car was still drivable. Also, rental coverage on the insurance policy helps a LOT here (more on that below).

So, what steps can one take to minimize the pain? Sadly you can’t avoid it!

Maximize your Rental Coverage

On your insurance policy, pick the highest available tier of rental coverage for your Tesla e.g. Geico in CA offers a $50/day or $1,500 maximum coverage. You can pick a cheap car like a Corolla for $25/day and use it to cover the waiting and repair period. BUT make sure you have rental coverage and that it’s good to cover you in case your car is truly disabled

Don’t wait after an accident

ASAP after the accident, shortlist bodyshops, make an appointment and get on that waiting list. The sooner you do it, the quicker you get your car back. This is especially true if you have a minor accident and feel like procrastinating since your car is drivable. If you truly love your car, you may even want to find your preferred body shop even before you need them!

Get your insurance adjuster out

If you’re using insurance (and please do since any repairs are likely expensive!), you’ll need your adjuster to give you a estimated repair bill to take to your chosen body shop. Set your insurance adjuster appointment up as the first step. A lot of insurance companies offer in-home or office visits by adjusters to make this easy. Also, you may be able to take your car to your insurer’s preferred body shop to get both an estimate and get on their waiting list. I have mixed feelings about the latter since I prefer to do my own research when it comes to body shop reviews and repairs.

Setup your Dashcam

If you’d like to see the footage of any forward facing accidents! A little known feature in the Tesla Model 3, allows you to plug in a USB drive to enable a dash cam using Tesla’s existing camera.

Lastly, Tweet at Elon to tell him how horrible the process is BUT that you still love your car. When you get your car back, you’ll forgive all the misgivings and fall in love once again. Especially true if you’ve been driving that Corolla for 8-12 weeks! Also, be thankful that Model 3 parts cost A LOT less than the Model S; my bodyshop told me the side mirror on the Model 3 is $300 or so but the Model S, the same part runs $1,200!

How was your repair experience? Any other helpful tips to add? We love comments, please let them here for other fellow owners!