One of the Tesla Model 3‘s more prominent design flaws is a rear bumper cover that is prone to being stripped from the car when water is allowed to accumulate inside it, either from standing water or intense downpours. Owners of brand-new Model 3s have reportedly paid thousands of dollars to replace their bumpers (and repair the damage to other parts done by their separation) as a result of what Tesla now tacitly acknowledges is an engineering defect.
InsideEVs reports that Tesla has issued a service bulletin noting that Model 3s built before May 21, 2019, may sustain damage as a result of “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,” it continues. “This document clarifies that damage caused during these instances is covered under warranty.”
So, what happened on May 21, 2019? Per the source above, reddit sleuths managed to pin down that date as the transition to a new design for the lower liner of the rear bumper cover. The new part includes a pre-cut section designed to be removed for the installation of a tow hitch.
This cut-out appears to improve the bumper liner’s drainage capacity, but at least one owner has reported a bumper cover separation on a vehicle manufactured in 2020 and provided photographic evidence that the installed bumper liner was indeed of the revised design; that owner paid $3,800 to have the resulting damage repaired.