Tesla accused of painting over car cracks in Germany


Tesla is involved in three court cases in Europe for painting over underbody cracks, disguising body damage, and an autonomous technology failure.

Paul Gover


US electric car specialist Tesla is facing legal action on three fronts in Germany as a Model 3 owner launches a court case after he discovered the company had tried to conceal cracks in the body by painting over them.

Another owner in Germany has complained about damaged bodywork, as another was awarded more than $AU140,000 after complaining about a faulty autonomous driving system.

One owner of a Model 3 who alleged a Tesla service centre painted over cracks without making a repair when he reported the problem in his Model 3.

He had discovered the underbody cracks while changing tyres.


The legal case will be decided by the District Court of Munich, which must rule if the damage is a manufacturing fault or possibly the result of a crash, according to the German newspaper – Bild – that first reported the details.

An independent expert appointed for the case reportedly says the car would not pass Germany’s tough vehicle safety inspection for the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association – which means it would be considered unsafe.

Advice from Tesla allegedly said “the factory process was improved on April 26, 2021” according to the lawyer in the case, Christoph Lindner.

The German news outlet EFahrer, which is also reporting on the case, said Tesla told the owner the cracks were of a “cosmetic nature”.

In an earlier hearing at the same court, a Tesla owner allegedly discovered scratched, deformed and torn jacking points on a car that was the result of a manufacturing error at the Tesla factory in Fremont in California.


There has been no result yet from either of the cases involving bodywork, but Tesla has been ordered to repair the majority of the purchase price — €99,416 ($AU 146,877) — to the owner of a 2017 Tesla Model X SUV with a faulty autonomous driving system.

The German court ruled the vehicle did not reliably recognise obstacles such as the narrowing of a construction site and would at times activate the brakes unnecessarily, which could be a “massive hazard” in city centres and lead to collisions, respected German publication Der Spiegel reported.

Tesla lawyers had argued its ‘Autopilot’ autonomous driving system was not designed for city traffic.

But the German court said it was not feasible for drivers to switch the feature on and off manually in different settings as it would distract from driving.

Paul Gover

Paul Gover has been a motoring journalist for more than 40 years, working on newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television. A qualified general news journalist and sports reporter, his passion for motoring led him to Wheels, Motor, Car Australia, Which Car and Auto Action magazines. He is a champion racing driver as well as a World Car of the Year judge.

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