New car, new car smell! Everything working as it should! Well, mostly. No one expects issues with their new car, but if you notice an interior problem, will Tesla fix it? Let’s take a look at what’s covered.
Tesla will fix interior problems within 12 months or 12,500 miles of purchase if it is a manufacturing problem. Seat belts have a longer warranty at 5 years or 60,000 miles. Damage caused by personal use is not covered.
In this article, we’ll look at the types of interior problems you might incur and how to go about getting them fixed. They include:
- Interior panel issues
- Seat Belt problems and recalls
- Seats and Seat alignment problems
- Steering Wheel Cover breakdown
Tesla Interior Panel Issues
The interior panels of a Tesla can be a little uneven or gappy. Interior parts are covered under warranty, 12 months or 12,500 miles whichever comes first.
This only covers production, manufacturing, or assembly issues and not anything that has broken or become damaged through wear and tear by the owner.
Interior panel gaps occur because of poor quality control on the assembly line. Musk has commented in the past that it’s easier to send a rocket to space than it is to achieve the perfect assembly line.
The reason is that Tesla just doesn’t have the longevity of manufacturing like other well-known car brands. The parts used for interior panels may not have all been produced on the same day, and so may have a slightly different shade color or even size.
Add this to the human element, where different days call for different staff members who have different styles or ways of application. So I hear you ask, Why is there no ultimate quality control? Well, the quality control for a lot of time, on your Tesla is left to the new Tesla owner.
Tesla policy is if the customer logs a service call about the interior panels, then Tesla will agree to fix it, but otherwise, it will leave the factory as is. So the customer is quality control.
Hidden Features You Need to Know – Today!
Tesla Seat Belts and Recalls
Seat Belt Chime
Seat belts in any car, not just in Tesla, are a top safety concern. In February 2022, the NHTSA flagged a Tesla seat belt issue. All cars must have a seat belt chime, meaning that if you begin to drive without a belt engaged then a warning chime will sound. This will get louder the further you drive.
The NHTSA noted that in the Tesla this was not happening, and 800,000 have been involved in a recall. Teslas are different in that the Brake pedal starts the car and a chime should then alert the driver to buckle up.
But it seems that if you exit the car momentarily and reenter the car, (you may have forgotten something at the house or office) the chime will not activate and you can then drive the car without a belt.
The software will alert you if you exceed 14mph, so for most a very short distance and amount of time, but the NHTSA was not happy that this could be manipulated in any way.
The recall was for the following Years and Models:
|Model S & Model X||2021 – 2022|
|Model 3||2017 – 2022|
|Model Y||2020 – 2022|
An OTA (Over The Air) update was released to rectify the problem and no accidents were reported according to Tesla because of the error but seat belt safety is never something that can be ignored.
Seat Belt Disconnecting
In a separate investigation, the NHTSA is looking at 2022/2023 Model X seat belts after it was reported that two customers received defective seat belts on purchase.
Approximately 50,000 vehicles may be under scrutiny as the pre-tensioner and anchor on the seat belt were said to be disconnecting.
It’s thought to be caused by poor assembly and quality control which Tesla suffers with continually.
With only two complaints out of 50,000, it’s a very small failure rate but even one seat belt failure can lead to a fatal crash or serious injury, so it can’t be ignored. If you have this particular Model from this timespan I would check your seat belt.
Rear Seat Belts
The rear seat belt alarm can be activated by a child seat or booster seat in place. The chime is weight-activated and the car seat itself can mimic the weight of a person.
This can be disabled onscreen (USA only). The icon will change from the seat belt warning to the child seat.
If you regularly travel with children you won’t want to disable this, especially if they are sitting in booster seats and are buckling themselves in. Kids get distracted and don’t always do as you ask. Amazing, I know!
Tesla seats are made from Vegan leather, a slight contradiction in itself, as the meaning of ‘Leather’ specifically means a material made or derived from animal skin. Tesla seats are derived from plastic and plant extracts. Musk’s philosophy that all animal products be removed from his car production is very very much in place but not 100% good for the planet. Although plant extracts are a positive, plastic production is ultimately made from oil and oil by-products.
Seats are covered under the Body Parts and Interior Warranty meaning that Tesla will repair any faults that may occur but only if the fault is due to manufacturing or production problems, and occurs within 12 months of purchase. Items such as uneven stitching or stitching, or stitching separating will be covered by Tesla but surprisingly bubbling seats may not always be covered.
Bubbling seats is an occurrence that happens when the vegan leather separates from the base material when it reacts with certain products such as hair oil, gel, natural head oil (headrest), or in the base of the seat when it comes into contact with skin products such as fake tan or sunscreen.
Tesla can tell what has caused the bubbling and unfortunately, if it is from driver/owner use then the cost can be quite hefty. A replacement chair reupholstery can be as much as $750 (per seat).
Pre-2019 models were using a lower-grade synthetic leather and were more prone to the dreaded bubbling. The particular glue that was used was also not up to scratch. It’s always good to check your paperwork before assuming it’s not covered as many pre-2019 models were repaired by Tesla because of widespread complaints of seat bubbling.
Tesla Seat Protection
If you have recently purchased a Tesla (especially if you have opted for the Ultra White Seats) I would recommend treating your seats. You can request a Teflon coating from the dealership that will prolong the life of your seats.
You still need to take care of your seats day to day. Tesla is very specific on how you should choose to clean your seats to keep them in tip-top condition.
Seats should be wiped clean with non-scented wipes or mild soap. Anything that contains alcohol or citrus will damage and discolor your seats.
Although Musk maintains the Ultra White seats will repel even Red Wine, it’s not a test I would be brave enough to try, but many online have!
I’ve written a post all about the seats – Is It Worth Getting Ultra White Seats?
Even well-known cleaning products can react badly with vegan leather so check carefully before you go at it. If you need to use something more than a wipe, use a very gentle soap and never a strong detergent.
Tesla Seat Alignment
Tesla seats are by all accounts incredibly comfortable. They are never going to live up to a luxury-built Mercedes seat but in saying that they are still very well-built. They are adjustable, have climate control, both hot and cold in some models, and have back support but in some models, the leg and head space could be more generous, especially for the price tag attached to some models.
The rear seats in the Model 3 can seem a little cramped but in other models, it’s the third row that is space limited. Unless the third row is predominantly used by children they’re not worth the extra cost per area.
Tesla Seat Alignment Quirk
Although not necessarily a seat alignment problem, it is worth knowing that Model Y and 3 seats have a slight adjustment quirk attached to them. In 2022, Tesla upgraded the seat motors on the Y and 3 with new motors from a German company, Brose. It seems the new motors have a slightly unusual, Big Brother aspect to them, wherein they reduce the seat functionality if you appear to be overusing the seat adjustment for the forward and rear movement (not the lumbar control).
You will get a notification of ‘Excessive Use of Seat Track Motor Detected’ if you adjust for a second time within 90 seconds of the first use. If you ignore the notification within an additional 30 seconds the seat tracker will disable completely for five minutes.
Tesla hasn’t announced what the reasoning is behind this but it’s most likely to save the motor life and reduce overall cost for warranty repairs.
Although it’s not a huge inconvenience it is pretty common for two people to share a car and those two people are not identical in height. It can take a bit of adjustment to get your seat in a comfortable driving position. But in saying that it doesn’t instantly disable, it does give you a warning and to prevent fully disabling you just need to be a bit more patient with your time. But interesting to know nonetheless.
Tesla Steering Wheel
The steering wheel material is a vegan leather similar to the seats. It is showing the same bubbling or wearing that the seats have displayed. Tesla says an upgrade of material is due July 2023 and they are looking at the problems that customers are reporting.
The main concern is the wearing of the out layer, which in truth is not life or death but looks pretty nasty when it starts to degrade, especially on a new car.
The material used is not conducive to being held all the time, which of course, it should be. The position of your hands, especially with the yoke, is the same the whole time and the oils in your hands are causing it to bubble and blister. This causes it to separate from the wheel and fall off.
Tesla’s explanations range from gripping the wheel too hard, turning your hands back and forth on the wheel, to having too much product on your hands.
I can understand to a certain extent but also think that for the cost outlay for a Tesla, I should be able to grip the steering wheel without it falling apart.
So will they fix it? The answer is yes they will repair it but not indefinitely. They might repair it once, possibly twice but after that, you’re on your own. As I said, they are talking about an upgrade and this will hopefully stop or alleviate the issue, but if they feel that it has been a result of something you as the owner are doing then you might have to pay for the repair, which could be as much as $1000.
Owners have noticed that since we have all become more aware of our hand hygiene (Covid) the steering wheel material has not faired so well. The alcohol content in hand sanitizers plays havoc with the gue and adhesion.
Many owners have suggested a steering wheel cover, but this is not a solution, especially for the yoke, just a band-aid. But a cover can cause further problems with agitation through friction which can lead to bubbling and wear.
And why should you have to cover your wheel in fairness? Just because Tesla has opted for the vegan route, shouldn’t mean that my hands can’t be sanitized (or even clean) every time I drive.
Hopefully, the 2023 upgrade will solve the steering wheel bubble issue and we won’t have to concern ourselves so much with our hands being too clean.
I’ve written a ton on common Tesla issues, which hopefully you won’t ever experience, but if you do, we have you covered with these posts:
Check out the Tesla troubleshooting page for problem Teslas.
Check out the Tesla charging page for common Tesla charging problems.
Check out the Tesla category page for a list of popular Tesla posts.
If you are curious about other EV models, check out the EV FAQ category.
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