What’s the Best Approach for a DIY Paint Chip Repair on a Tesla Model 3?

March 20, 2024

Imagine you’re driving your stunning white pearl Tesla Model 3, turning heads wherever you go. Then, the inevitable happens: you get paint chips. Maybe it’s from a rogue pebble or a careless car door in a parking lot, but those tiny imperfections mar your vehicle’s glossy perfection. Fortunately, you don’t have to rush to a professional for every little chip. There’s a cost-effective, DIY solution to keep your Tesla looking as good as new.

Identifying the Perfect Match

Before commencing any repair process, it’s crucial to identify the perfect paint match for your Tesla Model 3. To do so, you will need to find your vehicle’s paint code. This is a unique identifier that allows paint suppliers to create a precise match for your car’s original color. For Tesla vehicles, the paint code is located on the driver’s side door jamb.

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When you have your code, you can then select the correct paint product. A multitude of online retailers offer Tesla-specific paint repair kits, but not all are created equal. Look for a kit that includes everything you’ll need for the process: paint, primer, clearcoat, and necessary applicators.

Keep in mind that Tesla’s white pearl paint is a multi-stage paint, which means it requires several layers to achieve the final color and finish. Be sure to select a kit that caters to this requirement. The price may vary, but typically a comprehensive kit should cost you between $50 to $70.

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Preparing for the Repair

Before diving into the repair process, you need to prepare your Tesla. Start by cleaning the area around the paint chip with a mild detergent to remove any dirt or wax. Once clean, rinse and dry the area thoroughly.

Next, use an automotive paint cleaner to target any residual wax or grease. Apply the cleaner to a microfiber cloth, then gently rub the affected area. Rinse and dry again, then repeat this process until the surface is squeaky clean.

The success of this DIY project largely depends on your preparation, so don’t rush through this step. Residual contaminants could prevent the new paint from bonding correctly.

Applying the Paint

Now that your vehicle is prepared, you can commence with the actual paint repair. Start by shaking your paint bottle for at least a minute to ensure the color is well mixed. Then, using the applicator provided in your kit, carefully apply the paint to the chip.

It’s better to apply too little paint than too much. If the paint overflows the chip, it can create a blob that’s harder to blend with the surrounding paint.

The paint will need to dry for a few hours, but check the product instructions for the exact drying time. Once it’s dry, you can decide whether another coat is needed. This process may need to be repeated several times, particularly with a multi-stage paint like Tesla’s white pearl.

Blending the Paint

Once you’re satisfied with the color coverage, it’s time to blend the new paint with the old. Your repair kit should include a clear coat, which is vital for this step.

Just like with the paint, shake the clear coat bottle well before applying. Then, carefully cover the newly painted chip with a thin layer of clear coat. Allow the coat to dry as per the instructions on the bottle.

You may need to apply several layers of clear coat, allowing each to dry before applying the next. This process will help the new paint blend seamlessly with the old, making your chip repair virtually invisible.

The Final Touches

The final step in this DIY process is polishing the paint. Once your final layer of clear coat is completely dry, use a small piece of fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the area. This will smooth out any bumps or ridges in the clear coat.

After sanding, apply a polishing compound using a microfiber cloth. Rub the compound in a circular motion over the chip and surrounding area. Once the compound is dry, buff it off with a clean microfiber cloth.

The polishing step will restore the shine to your paint and make your repair blend seamlessly with the rest of your vehicle. And voila! You’ve successfully repaired a paint chip on your Tesla Model 3.

Dealing with paint chips can be frustrating, but with the right products, a bit of patience, and a methodical approach, you can keep your Tesla looking like it just rolled off the lot.

The Importance of Multiple Applications

It is crucial to remember that repairing paint chips in a Tesla Model 3 involves applying multiple layers of paint. This is because Tesla’s pearl white paint is a multistage finish, which means each layer contributes to the final color and gloss of your vehicle’s exterior.

When applying paint to the chip, do so sparingly. It’s better to have a little less than needed than to have too much. Excess paint can overflow, resulting in a noticeable blob that doesn’t blend with the surrounding paint. The paint needs to dry before you decide if another coat is necessary. The amount of time this takes can vary, so consult the instructions provided with your repair kit.

If you find that you need to apply more paint, repeat the process as many times as necessary. But remember, patience is key. Rushing can lead to mistakes, and even if the process takes a while, the end result will be worth your time.

Dealing with Curb Rash

Another common occurrence that can damage the paint on your Tesla Model 3 is curb rash. This happens when your wheels scrape against a curb, leading to unsightly scratches on the rims. Fortunately, there are solutions available for this issue as well.

First, you’ll need to clean the area and remove any loose material. Use sandpaper to smooth out the surface and make it level. Then, apply a primer to prepare the area for paint. After the primer has dried, you can apply the paint. Remember to apply it in thin coats, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

After the paint has dried, apply a clear coat to seal and protect the paint. You may need to apply several coats of clear coat to achieve a smooth, glossy finish. Finally, use a high-quality wheel wax to add a protective layer and enhance the shine of your rims.


Maintaining the pristine look of your Tesla Model 3 can seem like a daunting task. But with the right tools and approach, you can manage paint chips and curb rash effectively and affordably. Whether using a repair kit or taking a DIY approach, your vehicle’s paint job is worth preserving.

The paint code of your vehicle is the key to finding a perfect match product for your repairs. A comprehensive repair kit, which includes a paint bottle, primer, clearcoat, and essential applicators, can provide an effective solution to address paint chips. And with attention to detail in the preparation phase and patience in applying multiple layers of paint and blending solution, you can achieve a seamless repair.

Similarly, dealing with curb rash involves a methodical approach and the use of appropriate products. By following a step-by-step process, you can repair and protect your rims, keeping them looking polished and new.

In conclusion, owning a Tesla Model 3 involves some care and maintenance to keep it looking its best. But with a bit of effort and the right approach, you can keep your vehicle looking as stunning as it did the day you drove it off the lot.