Whenever I discover a new problem with a Tesla, investors and advocates argue that it is anecdotal evidence. Trying to explain that early cases could lead to others never helped. Yet, it was always what followed. This is the first story I write in which they are absolutely right: only one vehicle has the problem I am reporting, but it needs attention. That’s what led this Austin-made Model Y owner to publicly ask if his car is the only one affected by a cracked front casting.
NK advised one of the people who interacted with him to “also check on the passenger side.” That means he probably did the same and found nothing wrong there. It makes no difference: the casting is a single piece that covers both sides of the car. If one of them presents structural issues, the entire component may have to be replaced.
According to NK, he has contacted Tesla, “but they do not seem as concerned” as he is. On Reddit, one of the commenters said that the “cracks are within specs.” Customers facing issues hear that so frequently from Tesla Service Centers that they turned the expression into an in-joke. Cracked_Tesla confirmed hearing that: “That’s what I’ve been told so far, but I’m fighting it.”
Some commenters said the car probably crashed, but NK denied that. He bought his car new in March and never suffered any collisions with it. His Tesla Service Center would probably have told him the same if that were the case. However, it only said that there was nothing wrong with his vehicle. Other commenters noted that it was probably only the paint that cracked, but the Model Y owner does not think that’s the case. The casting has a skinny paint layer, and the cracks look reasonably deep.
Those who took NK seriously tried to learn how to identify if their Model Ys were made in Austin or elsewhere. That’s relevant because only the Austin-made Model Y comes with a casting for the front structure for the American market. NK taught them that the “11th digit in your VIN is an A” if the vehicle was made in the Texan factory.
In September 2020, Elon Musk said that the German Model Y was supposed to be “a radical redesign of the core technology of building a car” because of these castings. In other words, they also have it. Although each factory produces its own cast part, owners of the German Model Y may also want to have a look at these components in their vehicles. Giga Shanghai may soon adopt the same manufacturing strategy, as will Project Highland – the Model 3 refresh. That said, Chinese-made Model Y units should not have the problem.
If more people notice cracks in their electric SUVs’ front castings, that may cause problems not only for Tesla but also for every carmaker planning to use the same approach. Volkswagen, NIO, XPeng, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota have already said they want to use these components. The BMW CEO said his company sees “much more efficient ways to build a car body.” Oliver Zipse also noted that “partially lower manufacturing cost is overcompensated by casting costs,” stressing that repairability would become “too expensive” with them. This situation may prove Zipse right.
So far, no other Model Y owner reported the same problem. NK shared that he is happy if the issue is limited to his car. Honestly, that’s good news for everybody, including those driving next to these Teslas. If one of these castings fails while the battery electric vehicle (BEV) is on the road, it may cause serious collisions. But what if other units present the same problem? What if they are in a worse shape?
These structural components demand a bit of work to be inspected, which will probably make most owners ignore NK’s alert. Sandy Munro was disappointed with the clips that held the plastic component in place in his first Model Y teardown: some were broken, and the cover was loose. If your Austin-made Model Y is in the same situation, you may finally see that from a positive angle: that will make the inspection easier. On a negative note, removing a plastic cover that is properly attached to the car may break a few clips. Anyone thinking about checking the front casting must anticipate that.
In a way, that’s theoretically the worst thing that can happen in this inspection. Seeing cracks in your Model Y’s front casting will not be good news, but at least you will be aware of the problem. That’s much better than learning about it when it breaks. If there is nothing wrong, you may join Tesla investors and advocates and claim this is only anecdotal evidence – which it admittedly is at this point. I sincerely hope that’s the case, but what if it isn’t, and your electric SUV has the same problem?
If this is not an isolated case, Tesla will have to come up with a solution for it. Will it replace the defective front castings? Will it weld them, as Dan Roelofsen, from 519 Kustomz, said that was possible? At this point, the responsible thing to do is to amplify NK’s request for Austin-made electric SUVs to be verified. If you own a Model Y with an A in the 11th position in its VIN, please get it checked or do it yourself – and let Cracked_Tesla learn about the results. It does not cost much to be on the safe side of this story.