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Tesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. Again
Paul Petrunia loves his 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD, taking part in some Tesla groups on Facebook to discuss it. He was pretty happy about his car, apart from a steep range loss. On December 14, 2021, he also joined the group of Model 3 owners who lost their rear bumpers on rainy days.

Tesla Model 3 Lost Its Rear Bumper in Pooling Water – It Cost $25,000 to Fix the EV

Tesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. AgainTesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. AgainTesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. AgainTesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. AgainTesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. AgainTesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day. Again
The problem is not new. The first reported case we are aware of happened on August 12, 2018, brought up by a Reddit post. New situations were made public in July 2020, and even a technical service bulletin from Tesla about the problem emerged: the SB-20-12-003.

According to this document, Tesla conceived a new rear bumper for the Model 3 on May 21, 2019. Theoretically, a tow hitch access cutout would help the rear bumper have better water drainage. It didn’t: I also wrote the story of Luís Terceiro. He bought his Model 3 on May 29, 2019, and still lost its rear bumper on a rainy morning. It already presented the cutout.



Petrunia discovered the issue the hard way.

“I was driving from Downtown LA to South Pasadena and came across a puddle on the 5 to 110 interchange. I was driving slowly due to the rain and noticed the large puddle at the last minute after a curve in the road. I proceeded through it slowly. The car was working fine after the water tore off the rear bumper. I actually didn't even realize there was a problem until about five miles later – when I was exiting the freeway and could hear the bumper dragging. I was able to drive to my office without any problem.”

The Model 3 owner said he was going at about 45 mph. He never imagined something like that could happen.

“I have lived in a very rainy part of the world and have gone through countless puddles much deeper than this one without any issues. After the incident, I learned that my model-year Model 3 had a problem known to Tesla that causes this very specific damage.”

Tesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day\. Again
As we already mentioned, Petrunia’s Model 3 is from 2018. He “purchased it new in September 2018 (at a much higher cost than they are currently selling for – before they reduced their prices).”

Tesla’s SB-20-12-003 states that “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.”

The document then calls these situations “rare” and describes that “the rear fascia might detach from the vehicle and harnesses and/or body fasteners/mounts might also be damaged.” The important part for customers is “that damage caused during these instances is covered under warranty.” That’s what Petrunia expected, but things did not go this way.

“I sent a message to Tesla informing them of the damage to my car resulting from the faulty part but didn't get any response from them until they were informed by the body shop, ordering parts for the car. At that point, they closed my case, without any comment, then told me after I inquired that they closed it because I was getting it repaired myself. They did not respond to any of my inquiries about the known problem that Tesla had previously acknowledged, nor did they respond to my request that Tesla fixed this because it is a defect.”

Tesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day\. Again
Ironically, Petrunia wanted a bike rack in his car and had Rack Attack prepare the rear bumper for one. That created a cutout on the rear fascia similar to that on bumpers made after May 21, 2019. It did not prevent the damage. On top of that, Petrunia was to receive more bad news.

“The body shop charged $13,000 to recondition the housing around the battery pack. I understand that Teslas have very water-tight packs, so I doubt there was any damage to the battery pack. I truly believe the car only needed a replacement for the rear bumper and plastic panel underneath, which would have cost far less than the $25,000 repair that my insurance paid.”

You read that right: the repair cost $25,000. Luckily for Petrunia, the insurance company covered that, which will obviously bite the Tesla owner back.

“It's frustrating because my insurance premium will likely go up due to such an expensive repair that is considered to be my fault, even though this is a known problem that Tesla has publicly acknowledged and resolved in later model-year Model 3s.”

Tesla Model 3 loses rear bumper on a rainy day\. Again
Not quite, as we already told you. That doesn’t change the fact that Petrunia still loves the car.

“I'd like to make sure, however, that I'm not portrayed as someone who is unhappy with my car or Tesla. Regardless of this specific issue, the car is amazing and exceeds any of the more than 20 cars that I've owned over the years. I'm just unhappy with this particular experience.”

We also asked him about his issues with his battery pack. He said that he purchased a Long Range and ended up with a Standard Range Plus in a matter of four years.

“I'm one of the unfortunate buyers who has had more battery degradation than 99% of other owners. I'm down to around 270 miles of range at 100% from 310 miles when new. This is within spec, so there's nothing Tesla will do about it unless it drops below 30% degradation before eight years of ownership. I don't believe this is related to phantom drain. I suspect there are bad cells in the pack.”

Petrunia kindly shared with us the video that shows the rear bumper fascia waving the car goodbye all of a sudden. You can check it below.

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