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Tesla Adds Another Chronic Defect to Its List: Rusted Reinforcement Bars

Tesla vehicles are known as much for being fast as for presenting chronic issues. Water leaks, paint problems, spontaneously-breaking glasses, MCU failures, and a long etcetera are now joined by something we have never reported: rust in front reinforcement bars. In a TMC forum thread for Model S owners, at least 15 cases emerged from 2016 until December 26, 2021.
Tesla Model S presents rust problems with its front bumper reinforcement bar 10 photos
Signs of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barSigns of rust problems with Tesla Model S's front bumper reinforcement barTesla Model S presents rust problems with its front bumper reinforcement barTesla Model S presents rust problems with its front bumper reinforcement bar
The first reported case – on January 13, 2016 – came from the user Terminator, who perceived rust drops in their front bumper. When creating the post, the TMC forum user said it was probably a steel component that did not get proper rust protection. Despite that, the usual Tesla fans tried to make fun of that by stating the obvious: plastic does not rust. Some others tried to blame something in Terminator's garage.

It was only after the user SeminoleFSU wrote about also having that issue that the focus shifted to the real problem. Terminator said the Tesla Service Center admitted that the rust was coming from an unprotected bumper reinforcer. After that, ten other cases were reported in 2016 alone. In 2019, there were two more. The last one dates from 2021.

Although the user AmpedRealtor said Tesla would have identified the issue “in a certain VIN range” on February 6, 2016, that did not stop new cases from emerging. In fact, AmpedRealtor expressed disappointment with Tesla for fixing his car “only if it's a proactive campaign or if I complain about something specific that is covered by a service bulletin.”

In 2019, the user BlueBella discovered their then-brand-new Model S with less than 2,000 miles on it also had the problem. That means it was not limited to the VINs the Tesla Service Center mentioned to Terminator in 2016. The 2021 case came with no comments from user Smile2013, only with a photo of a badly rusted impact bar.

For a company that states safety is its primary concern, a rusted bumper reinforcer completely loses its purpose. If Tesla identified the component had issues in certain VINs, it should have issued a recall. If the problem got back in 2019 and even later, it was not adequately addressed.

We would ask Tesla if the issue only affects Model S units or if other vehicles made by the company also present it, but it does not talk to the press. The case is that the other EV models from the company – and more recent Model Ss – present a more closed front bumper. Either that design protects the reinforcement bar better – avoiding the rust – or it is hiding the problem more effectively. If you happen to know about cases involving other Tesla models, please share them with us.

 
 
 
 
 

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