I wrote before about my mishap, the disagreement between me and my garage door over exactly where the door frame was. The result was a dent on the left side of the car. It was about the size of a baseball right along the seam between the two sections of the side rear. For some reason, I didn’t take a photograph of the dent per se, but it was captured in the photo from my service visit, and here’s the dent somewhat visible in the center:
Everyone who looked at it and offered an opinion, including the Tesla serviceman, hesitated and noted the fact that the seam involved made a simple repair questionable. Aluminum is tricky to work with and I thought I was in for a multi-thousand-dollar repair at a body shop involving Bondo and painting.
Paintless Dent Repair
By all accounts the premier paintless dent repair (PDR) shop in my area is Shane Jacks’ Upstate Dent Pro. PDR is a process of pushing the dent out from the inside (or pulling) with special tools. My sincere thanks to Doug Payne at Extreme Colors for the recommendation. One thing that impressed me about UDP is that Michelin Tire’s Greenville SC research center used this shop to fix hail damage to its Tesla Model S. In preparation for the repair appointment I found a video on YouTube detailing the disassembly of the right trunk area and provided it to UDP.
Before the service visit, I decided to put the car in “Valet Mode.” This can be done with the Tesla Mobile App, or by pressing the driver profile icon while the car is in park, and selecting Valet from the drop down list. In Valet mode, the power output of the battery is limited, speed is restricted to 70 mph, the front trunk and glove box are locked, Autopilot is off, navigation is off, HomeLink is off, and it’s not possible to disable remote access to the car. The Tesla Mobile App is comforting in a situation like this. The app shows a picture of where your car is. I could see my car’s icon in the parking lot when I left it, and inside the shop.
The repair required an overnight stay. My wife picked me up in her Toyota Camry and drove home, but it was my lot to pick up pizza in the evening. The pizza restaurant is 0.7 miles from my house, making my drive in the Camry 1.4 miles in total. It was Hell!
Exaggerating a little, I might be. This gas car didn’t have a touch screen of any kind. When I pressed the brake pedal nothing happened, not even a light winked! I actually had to take a key out of my pocket, insert and turn it to start the thing. Then when I tried to put it in gear, the windshield wipers came on. No backup camera. No side warning sensors for the garage door. It would creep like you can’t imagine anytime I took my foot off the brake, which by the way I had to use way too much. Every time I pressed the accelerator it made this roaring sound, and it was distinctly lackluster in acceleration. And finally when I arrived at the restaurant, I couldn’t pull the key out of the ignition– I had to put the car in Park first. When I walked away, it wouldn’t lock without my getting the key out again. I was totally wasted by the end of my 1.4 mile ordeal.
Next day I went to pick up the car and I could not see a sign of the dent. It was fixed. My car was redeemed. Instead of a mid 4-figure price tag, I was out $500.
There was a strange twist to the story. As I was finally turning onto the main road near my house, it started hailing. It was small hail, and no damage, but I was certainly anxious sitting at that slow traffic light waiting for it to turn green.
So the story was over, almost. When I got home, I had to put the car in the garage, the situation that caused the dent in the first place. Now I always use Summon to park the car, backed into the garage. My wife’s car is almost always present, and Summon seems to need that bit of help to position itself. Her car wasn’t there this time, so Summon put the car too far away from the wall in her direction and I had to adjust it myself. It was hard to do and visibility was limited, but I made it in without a new dent.