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We waited months for Tesla to repair accident damage

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In May we accidentally backed our Tesla Model 3 into a wall. No other car was involved and it seemingly caused minimal damage. It was travelling at less than 5mph.

I was advised to take it to Werren’s Bedford, a Tesla-approved bodyshop recommended by the manufacturer’s Milton Keynes service centre and approved by my car insurer, Admiral.

It is now October and I still don’t have the car back. After long delays, the bodywork repairs were apparently completed in July, at which point I was told the car still needed one last part: a driver’s seatbelt assembly. This took a further nine weeks to arrive owing to problems in the Tesla supply chain.

Although it was delivered at the end of September, I have been told there appears to be a fault with the part, or with its electronic connection to the car. Werren’s says it has requested remote dial-in assistance from Tesla and pre-emptively ordered a replacement in case of an unresolvable fault with the one fitted. I have continued to pay Tesla’s finance company, from which I lease the car for £500 a month.

The finance arm has already agreed to calculate compensation for Tesla’s part in the delays, but has not offered anything concrete. What should I do?

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JR, Bedfordshire

Back in 2018 the Sunday Times ran a story about the problems that Tesla owners were having getting their vehicles fixed after accidents, and your story suggests this is still an issue – no doubt made worse by the current worldwide supply chain problems. One of the problems with the latest cars is that they are packed with electronics, which are easily damaged, and expensive and complicated to fix after even minor prangs.

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I repeatedly asked Tesla about your case. It has not responded, but I gather that is normal for this company. Last October it reportedly eliminated its PR department.

However, I was at least able to get you your car back. No one was available at the body shop at Werren’s to discuss your case. But they did indicate they were waiting for authorisation from your insurer Admiral to release the car, so I called it. Mysteriously, a couple of hours later it was released, so at least you have it back. Admiral has apologised for the delays, said it was investigating what went wrong, and has offered you £200 compensation.

In terms of the finance, I would ask for at least two months’ repayments to be returned. A car that cannot be repaired in a timely manner is arguably not fit for purpose. If you and Tesla cannot agree an outcome, let the Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicate. Have any other Tesla owners experienced this, too?

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