Tesla admits that a problem with Model 3 vehicles led to them losing the body panel on their rear bumper when driving in puddles of water.

Early on, the Model 3 had some issues with the body panel on the rear bumper falling off after driving through what drivers have described as heavy rain or water puddles.

That’s obviously not normal, and Tesla said that it was investigating the situation, but we never heard back from the automaker. Some owners had issue with Tesla performing the repair under warranty as the company argues over how deep the water was that car owners drove through.

Later, Electrek reported on a Tesla Model 3 design flaw that results in sand and water getting stuck in the underbody.

Eric Bolduc, an anti-rust body shop owner in Quebec who specializes in Tesla vehicles, documented the issue in detail and believes that it puts pressure on the rear bumper.

He believes it could be linked to the issue with the rear body panel, and he has witnessed the issue on many Tesla Model 3 vehicles.

At the time, Tesla again said that it was looking into the issue, but we haven’t heard back from them.

Now fast-forward to earlier this year when a video of Tesla Model 3 losing its rear bumper panel in puddle of water went viral.

It looks like this event made Tesla finally acknowledge that a design defect on Model 3 vehicles built before May 21, 2019, lead to this problem.

Tesla wrote in a service bulletin obtained by Electrek:

In rare instances, certain components on Model 3 vehicles built at the Fremont Factory before May 21, 2019, might be damaged when driving through standing water on a road or highway with poor drainage or pooling water. In these rare instances, the rear fascia might detach from the vehicle and harnesses and/or body fasteners/mounts might also be damaged. This document clarifies that damage caused during these instances is covered under warranty.

It apparently affects all Model 3 vehicles built up to May 2019, at which point Tesla apparently changed the rear fascia diffuser as well as the front and mid aero shields.

Therefore, it seems like the previous design of these parts contributed to the problem with the water pulling off the rear panel.

Here’s the Tesla service bulletin in full:

View this document on Scribd

Electrek’s Take

Ladies and gentlemen, it took two years, but we finally got confirmation from Tesla that it was indeed a design flaw that cause those rear fascia to fall off.

Also, the document confirms that Tesla will perform the repair under warranty. That’s a nice confirmation.

But I feel like over a year between when the defect is first reported and fixed, and two years before Tesla acknowledged it, doesn’t show the company at its best.

Tesla is generally fairly quick and proactive to fix issues, but this is not a good example. Also, it again shows a lack of communication with customers.

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