Tesla Scratches: Repair Cost vs. DIY

By Muhammad Hassan •  Updated: 06/10/22 •  11 min read

Just when you thought you’re the best driver in the world and ready to take on Vin Diesel in a Fast & Furious kinda race with your Tesla . . .

Screeeetcchhhh . . . Bad idea . . . Wasn’t it? 

Don’t fret though; scratches are inevitable. 

You might end up brushing your car against something or having a friend of yours do it as a friendly gesture to you.

Worry not. I have just the solutions for you that worked for every other Tesla owner like you.

Without further ado, let’s hop into it.

Why Teslas Get Scratched So Much

Apparently, two major reasons make a Tesla prone to scratches and dents. 

The first is its paint quality. Instead of using enamel, Tesla uses water-based paint that is environment-friendly but is not as tough as traditional car paint and proves to be weak against atmospheric impacts.

The second is vandalism. Teslas are prone to vandalism, and a lot of cases have popped up recently where people can be seen scratching Teslas apparently for no reason. 

Here’s an act of vandalism against a new Tesla Model Y caught on its dashcam:

Credit to CBS Denver

Teslas cost a handsome amount of money, and finding it scratched without any particular reason seems stressful, but as they say, “To every problem, there’s a solution.”

So does this!

How Much a Tesla Scratch Repair Cost

A scratch repair job on a Tesla will cost you depending on the severity and the location of the scratches. Let’s look at different repairing techniques that can get your Tesla as good as new.

1. Pay a Professional Shop to Do a Full Paint Job ($150–$3,500)

Teslas have unique designs and use water-based paint, so there’s a need for a specific set of expertise to fix a scratched Tesla car. That’s why a body shop owner may charge you a little higher than a normal scratched car (ICE cars, I mean).

If you have minimal scratches and minor dents on your Tesla, the body shops will charge you around $150, but for deep and serious scratches, the price may rise to $2,500. Similarly, the price for a full paint job ranges between $1,000 and $3,500. 

Should you go this route or not?

While going through a community forum, I encountered an interesting conversation between Tesla owners who were not willing to pay a full paint job for little dents and scratches — I believe for sound reasons. Have a look; this will answer your question: 

I got a scratch a month or 2 ago on the side of my Blue Model S and decided today to get an estimate on repair of said scratch since it sticks out like a sore thumb when I get the car detailed. 2 of my quotes came back at $1300 and $2900 for the repair and I wanted to see what others have experienced. I have attached a photo of the scratch with a $1 bill for scale.

Matt M

That sounds absolutely insane for that little thing.

I’d also just fix it myself with a paint correction kit.

Cucubits (Replying to Matt M)

$1300 & $2900 does sound a little out of the park to me. I paid a PDR guy less than that to fix 2 dents. Also, when did the $1 bill look like that hahaha!

P85DBeast (Replying to Matt M)

So this conversation makes it clear that this method is only ideal when you have serious scratches on your car and a touch-up paint won’t be any good. 

2. Pay a Professional Shop for Paintless Dent Repair ($500–$800)

A full paint job is undoubtedly the ultimate solution, but you don’t always need to spend this much money because there are some cheaper options you can consider.

If you just need to repair some dents, paintless dent repair is the most suitable option because it’s fast and efficient enough to leave you satisfied. 

You can bring your Tesla to its stock condition for around $500 to $800 depending on the location and severity of the dent.

However, there’s always a need for a professional to do the job because if you go the DIY route, the paint may get cracked during the process, which will eventually force you to go for a paint job.

For instance, a small ding on the hood costs $750 to this Tesla owner. See for yourself:

Proper painting requires blending in around that spot and then clear coating, color sanding, and finishing. As a point of reference, a small ding/scratch on my hood cost $750.

SoCal Buzz 

I’m pretty sure this is not what you’d want.

3. DIY: Use a Paint Repair Kit ($40–$60)

This is my favorite route — economical and fun.

Why would you want to take your Tesla to a body shop just to fix some minor scratches and touch-ups when there is a DIY solution available from Tesla itself!

Tesla Paint Repair Kit 

Credit to Tesla Shop

This is Tesla’s affordable paint repair kit that can be purchased from the Tesla store to fix minor touch-ups and cover up paint chips in a matter of hours. The application is simple and easy and doesn’t need any professional skills.

Here’s a YouTube video tutorial from Josh Teder explaining the step-by-step procedure:

Credit to 6 Months Later Reviews

Alternative solution: Color N Drive for Tesla Automotive 

This is another worth-mentioning paint repair kit for Teslas by Color N Drive, which can be found on Amazon, that is equally efficient and economical if you want a product other than Tesla’s.

The paint quality is almost equal to that of Tesla’s paint repair kit, and you can DIY it by following the simple steps described in the following tutorial video from the Frank George YouTube channel:

4. DIY: Use a Scratch Remover (around $25)

Another cool option for removing scratches is a scratch remover polish, but this only works for minor scratches. You can find a lot of products on Amazon, but I have fetched the best for you.

Carfidant Scratch & Swirl Remover

Carfidant Scratch & Swirl Remover is the cheapest solution from Amazon to minor scratches and touch-ups. 

It comes with a buffer solution and a sponge so you can evenly apply it to the required spot. 

It doesn’t completely remove the scratches though but minimizes them in a way that they’re only visible when you pinpoint them.

This YouTube video from the Tesla Joy Youtube channel shows how Carfident scratch remover works with minor scratches:

Do Tesla Service Centers Fix Scratches?

Third-party repair options might fix your car, but they charge a lot, and many Tesla owners are worried about their draining bank accounts, but not anymore!

Tesla service centers and the Tesla Mobile Service fleet offer repair services to their customers countrywide. 

The services include full paint job, paintless dent repair, scratch removal, touch-ups, and replacement of body parts such as fenders, bumpers, and side mirrors.

So it would be best if you can DIY at home because it won’t cost you much, but for some professional aid, I would recommend you to book an appointment at a Tesla service center.

Although, per my research, some service centers might try to ghost you as they did to several Model 3 owners. So you’ll just have to contact them again and again until they listen to your problems.

Tips to Prevent Scratches on Your Tesla

Prevention is better than cure!

This is one key rule that applies to everything, including your vehicle. There are various effective methods you can adopt to prevent your EV from getting dents, dings, or scratches. Let’s look at them.

1. Get a Ceramic Coating for Your Tesla

Credit to August Precision

Ceramic coating is a liquid solution that acts as a thin layer of glass when applied to a vehicle’s body. 

As a result, it gives a glossy look to your vehicle, making its body repellent to water, dust, and mud particles.

If you’re a DIY enthusiast, the ceramic coating might be the best option for you because you can choose between different methods and do it all by yourself. The necessary equipment may cost you around $200. 

Another benefit of DIY is that it saves you a wholesome amount because many body repair shops will cost you $800 to $2,000 for the ceramic coating.

It might feel a little expensive, but a few dollars spent on it might save you from paying hefty amounts in paint repair jobs in the future.

2. Apply a PPF (Paint Protection Film) to Your Tesla

A paint protection film is a recommended option if you want to protect your Tesla from scratches, rock chips, and road grime. It protects the original paint and gives a glossy look to your car.

PPF works great with ceramic coating, making your car repellant to physical and chemical scratches and easy to clean and giving it a like-new finish. 

Sounds strange to use both simultaneously? Hear it from Tesla owners:

I am getting mixed answers. Is it possible to get the paint correct and ceramic coating and then PPF on top of it. I love the glossy look that ceramic brings but need PPF for California roads

gearbox

There are people that get both and it’s ppf first then the ceramic coating on top of that.

ay221 (Replying to gearbox)

You should install PPF first and then install the ceramic coating on top of the PPF. If a coating has already been installed, it is best to polish it off, apply the PPF, and then reapply the coating on top of the PPF.

joebruin77 (Replying to gearbox)

The cost of PPF can be expensive or cheap at the same time.

A full-body PPF from a body repair shop costs around $5,000, which is a lot of money for many users. You can go for only front-end PPF, which costs around $2,000, but there’s also a flip side to that. 

A DIY that will cost you from $150 to $200 for all the necessary equipment is the best way to get the job done without paying extra bucks.

3. Get Rim Protectors for Rim Scratches/Curb Rash 

Rims are also subject to scratches and curb rashes, so you need to take care of that as well. Curb rash protection can cost you $40–$50 if you go the DIY route, while a professional repair may cost you up to $300.

To protect your rims from regular scratches and curb rashes, a good-quality rim cover can be effective. You can find some of the best covers over here.

To save your vehicle from getting a curb rash, you can adopt different protection techniques, but the best way is to drive and park carefully in the first place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Teslas expensive to insure? 

Sure they are. Teslas have higher repair costs which make them expensive to insure. Average car insurance costs around $1,700 per year, but for a Tesla, the price may rise to $2,800 per year.

How do you get a dent out of the quarter panel? 

To get a dent out of the quarter panel, follow these simple steps: 

How much do scratches devalue a car?

According to Lake Marion Collision, a light accident causing minor scratches can devalue a car up to 5%–15%, while a major accident causing serious damage may devalue your car by 10%–20%.

Final Thoughts: Tesla Scratches

To conclude, we can say that even small scratches and dents can make your Tesla look bad, and not getting them fixed timely can cause a serious problem in the long run. 

You can tackle most touch-ups by yourself, and it’s the most recommended method by the Tesla community as it saves you from spending extra money on body shop repairs. 

However, if the issue gets out of your hand, you should consult a professional, and I would recommend consulting a Tesla service center rather than a third-party shop.

That’s all from me. If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

Muhammad Hassan

Engineer by trade and writer by passion, Hassan is an automotive enthusiast who thinks EVs are the future. At TTU, he discusses the coolest features and products Model 3 owners look for -- so they can better experience their cars. In his free time, he enjoys tea, reading, and listening to podcasts.

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