My Tesla Model 3 Got A Boo Boo, Part Deux: An “Exotic” Experience

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About a month ago I wrote an article about how my wife accidentally backed our Tesla Model 3 into our home’s garage door. In that article, it looked like the repair was going to be fast and reasonable in price, similar to repairs I’ve done to Honda and Toyota cars I’ve owned in the past. I promised to publish another article after the repair was complete to see if it was that easy. This is that article.

Posted labor rates.

So, has Tesla parts availability improved greatly, as the shop in Oldsmar claimed? Yes and no. They did get the part within a week after they ordered it, but it had a defect and they had to order another one, which took another week. This is far better than last year, when it was taking 3 months or more to get parts, but not as good as the situation I have experienced with Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai parts. Tesla has improved the situation (in my admittedly anecdotal survey size of one) tremendously, but still has a ways to go.  I have never owned a premium sedan before purchasing this Tesla (yes, I’m one of the many who did the “Tesla stretch“), so I don’t have first-hand experience on how Tesla repairs compare to repairs for other premium brands like BMW or Lexus.

Original estimate.
Cost of repairs.

As you can see, the cost to me was still just my $500 deductible, but since my insurance company picked up $3,107.21 instead of the estimated $1,338.21, my insurance rates might go up a bit more in the future. Some of that increase would happen with any car if they found the force of the impact did more damage than the original adjuster saw. They explained to me that the impact pushed the trunk lid into the mountings and they had to do some minor repairs there.

However, with a “non-exotic” brand like Toyota or Honda, the price for body and paint labor would have been $46 an hour verses $95 an hour. You may notice they had even higher rates posted on the wall. They told me that Tesla had recently told them they couldn’t charge more than $95 an hour for those items. That price premium for Tesla accounted for $764 or 43% of the $1,769 price increase of the repair. The rest of the increase was caused by hidden damage that would be common on any repair of this type. Interestingly (to me at least), the $144.95 an hour mechanical labor rate is the same for exotic and non-exotic cars.

No discussion of exotics would be complete without a picture of Joe Exotic. 🙂 Picture credit: State of Florida/public domain (Santa Rose County Jail).

I don’t really consider Tesla “Exotic” like “Joe Exotic,” but I couldn’t resist including his image. I loved watching Tiger King and I do live a couple of miles from “Big Cat Rescue” in Tampa and visited the animal sanctuary many years ago.


In my articles on Tesla, I have consistently focused on how affordable the cars are and how they cost less to own than other premium sedans, and can even be as affordable on a Total Cost of Ownership basis as “regular” cars like a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.  I would say this repair experience puts that assertion in question. If the insurance companies see that it costs twice as much to repair a Model 3 as a Honda, won’t Tesla insurance rates be double? Maybe, maybe not. Insurance covers a lot more than just fixing your car. It also covers medical bills and the damage your car does to others. Maybe the greatly enhanced safety of the Model 3 will lower bodily injury claims enough to counter the higher repair costs. Maybe the superior active safety systems will continue to reduce the number of accidents.

I do think that, as millions of Tesla vehicles are sold over the next decade, more body repair shops will learn to fix the cars and competition will lower the costs of repairing the vehicles.

So, for right now, Tesla insurance rates are very compatible to Honda and Toyota rates in my situation and I hope they continue to improve, but somewhat higher repair costs have the potential to be a problem if these costs don’t continue to go down.

Right after this repair was complete, my wife was following a large truck that kicked up a rock in front of her and that caused a rock chip in the front part of the all glass roof.  But that is a story for another article. Don’t change the channel. Stay tuned for part 3 of this saga.

If you decide to order a Tesla, use a friend’s referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3 (you can’t use it on the Model Y or Cybertruck yet). Now good for $250 off either solar panels or a solar roof, too! If you don’t have any friends with a Tesla, use mine:

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Paul Fosse

I have been a software engineer for over 30 years, first developing EDI software, then developing data warehouse systems. Along the way, I've also had the chance to help start a software consulting firm and do portfolio management. In 2010, I took an interest in electric cars because gas was getting expensive. In 2015, I started reading CleanTechnica and took an interest in solar, mainly because it was a threat to my oil and gas investments. Follow me on Twitter @atj721 Tesla investor. Tesla referral code:

Paul Fosse has 230 posts and counting. See all posts by Paul Fosse