Accidents seem to always happen when we are distracted. That is what happened a couple weeks ago when my wife was hurried because she was running late for an appointment. I added to the distractions because I had opened the garage door and been the last driver. So, my wife was putting on her safety belt, putting the car in reverse, changing the music streaming, and changing the music streaming service all at once.
While trying to do all this at once, you notice that the display shows the HomeLink menu right next to the driver menu. It is likely that as she was changing the driver profile from Paul to Christy, she accidentally hit the homelink button. Or maybe she hit the homelink button intentionally because the garage door is usually closed when she gets in the car and she didn’t notice I had opened the garage door. She couldn’t see the garage door in the rearview camera because the camera goes off when you start playing with music streaming. The camera also points down and wouldn’t see the door coming down from the top anyway. She could turn around and look out that beautiful glass roof and back window, but who does that?
When my wife came in to tell me about the accident, she was surprised the car didn’t beep before the impact. After I calmed her down, I mentioned the ultrasonic sensors are very low to the ground and wouldn’t catch a garage door coming down.
When my wife came in to tell me about the boo boo, I was dealing with another car issue. My son had gotten his first flat tire and I was calling a tow truck for him. What a day for Fosse family cars! As a side note, Hyundai Assurance (their roadside assistance service) gets 5/5 stars for answering the phone right away and providing great service for my last gas car.
The first problem to solve in the case of the Model 3 was the garage door wouldn’t open (since it was bent and had been moved off the track on one side). This meant my wife missed her appointment anyway (though, she could have taken an Uber). We called a garage door repair service and the serviceman did a great job replacing the hurricane braces and pounding out the door so that I didn’t have to buy a new garage door. I should also mention that looking at the damage to the reinforced garage door compared to the minor damage to the car is further evidence that Tesla engineers the car with high-strength steel to be protect the passenger compartment. We have written extensively about Tesla’s unique safety attributes, which give me confidence that we are driving one of the the safest cars on the road today.
After getting the garage door fixed (on the same day so that we could get out of our garage), I contacted my insurance and a few repair shops to get their advice. I sent pictures to a paintless dent repair shop and they said the damage was too extensive to use their dent pullers. I was also not impressed that they said that if there were able to pull the dent, it would cost $2,000 to $2,500, which was more than the other two alternatives of slapping body filler on the dent or replacing the trunk lid.
I had one shop offer to do the body filler for $1,000 (but not fix the cracked taillight). I would have done that if the car was 5 or 6 years old and just paid cash to avoid the insurance claim. If the car was 10 years old, I would have just left the dent and cracked taillight in the car, since it doesn’t affect the function of the trunk. But since the car is less than 2 years old (and I wanted to write an article on the repair experience), I decided to have it fixed right at the local Tesla-authorized body shop.
Unfortunately, the independent shop in Tampa quit accepting Tesla vehicles because they said that it took 3 months or more to get parts. The independent Tesla-authorized shop in Oldsmar (a suburb to the west of Tampa) says that parts availability has greatly improved and parts only take about 5 days to get. I’m also getting an estimate from the local Tesla Service Center.
So, it looks like it will go a lot better than when Tommy did something similar to TFL’s Model 3 last year and CleanTechnica’s Chris Boylan did (to another area of the Model 3) nearly 2 years ago. The good part of my story is the damage was limited to one isolated body part. Another improvement is that Tesla has improved its spare parts distribution. Furthermore, supporting collision repair businesses have more experience repairing Tesla vehicles.
I’ll publish another article after the repair is complete with more info on how the repair went. As a driver with 3 driving-age kids, I unfortunately have been involved in too many incidents like this over the last 20 years, so I have more experience doing this than I want. So far, the experience has been a bit of a pain, since I feel the need to use a Tesla-authorized shop instead of the body shop I usually use. If they are able to get parts as quickly as they said, though, it isn’t a big deal to use another shop.
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