Tesla Model Y-2022-05-blue-exterior-profile-sedan

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2022 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com image by Christian Lantry

When the Tesla Model Y first went on sale in early 2020, it was plagued by reports of poor build quality. But with deliveries in late 2021, how good or bad is our Model Y? Maybe somewhere in the middle. Our car had to go back to a Tesla service center to have the paint fixed and checked for some issues, but we didn’t find a car with severely skewed body panels or separate second-row seat cushions.

Related: Our first Tesla Model Y road trip started with a flat tire

This is where our Model Y landed:

paint defect

The exterior panels, doors, bonnet and tailgate of the Model Y exterior fit together in specification compared to what we see on other new cars. This doesn’t always seem to be the case with our Model Y, however: We did find a flaw that looked like the edge of the driver’s door had swayed into the body at some point and threw paint all the way down to the metal on either side. The door and the car.

We scheduled a service appointment to correct the paint, but the Model Y then came back with only one side of the defect painted. A later date was scheduled on the other side, and the paint patch looks good enough for its place – low on the door – though the original blemish marks still appear.

backlight condensation

Tesla Model Y-2021-06-blue-details-exterior-sedan2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com image by Joe Bruzek

Condensation in both taillight housings has come and gone since day one with our Model Y. Tesla claims it’s normal, according to service messages on the mobile app:

“There may be occasional condensation inside the exterior lighting lenses of any vehicle due to changes in weather conditions, and it can be intermittent. Condensation is normal and goes away over time. The clearing process is accelerated when the lights are in dry, high temperature environments and when the vehicle is in motion.”

The letter goes on to say that environmental factors such as high humidity or temperature fluctuations can increase the potential for natural condensation, and can stay on for longer due to the lower heat emitted by the LEDs used on the Model Y. (We must add this LED technology to the outside lighting diffused on the Wide range.) The Tesla letter also adds that Model Y headlights use clear exterior lenses, which “can result in clearer condensation” than red lenses used on other cars. Other automakers also state a normal level of condensation, which is usually communicated through technical service bulletins that alert service technicians of potential common problems or non-safety towing complaints. Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan, and Volkswagen all have flyers explaining the level of normal condensation and what’s not.

While lens condensation can be considered normal, the frequent occurrence on our Model Y is an unsightly appearance to live with. Knowing how to handle other cars also doesn’t make it look any less broken.

window alignment

Tesla Model Y-2021-13- blue-exterior-sedan2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com image by Joe Bruzek

The driver’s window sometimes defaults to a lower position versus fully closed in the upper groove, as other windows do. We mentioned the seemingly random mode during a service appointment, as Tesla considered it a normal operation. The representatives gave us instructions on how to reset the windows, but that doesn’t seem to fix the problem.

At first we thought something was broken, we looked in the owner’s manual and speculated that this might be a feature for driving in cold weather and not a malfunction. “The Model Y automatically makes a slight adjustment to the position of the windows to make it easier to open the doors in cold temperatures,” says the owner’s manual.

The Model Y uses frameless windows that come close to the body of the car, like a traditional coupe. By contrast, a framed door surrounds the window, and the entire ensemble moves together when the door is opened or closed. In the winter, ice may build up at Model Y windows, which can prevent the window from dropping a bit from its seal and allowing the door to open. In cold weather, it’s lowered a little further from the door seal, which may explain the interruption in the height of the window. The window was fully seated on a rare 65-degree December day in the Chicago area. We’ll also take note if we have any issues opening the door in cold weather.

Tesla Model Y-2021-14- blue-details-exterior-sedan2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com image by Joe Bruzek

Shop 2021 Tesla Model Y near you

blank screen

Three times in less than 400 miles, the Model Y’s large 15-inch touchscreen refused to start. It lay empty for minutes while the rest of the car was drivable. Slow screens and those that randomly restart aren’t uncommon in new cars – we noticed them recently with Lexus’ updated touchscreen in the redesigned NX – but unlike in other cars, the speedometer, climate and important controls are in the car. Just in the screen. The service center sent instructions on how to reboot the screen and said it takes advantage of periodic restarts, like a smartphone. Three times in less than 400 miles is excessive, however, and the Tesla service team discovered something unusual during the diagnostic check when we provided the exact date and time when the problem occurred. (It’s a good idea to sign in so you have a history to report for diagnostics.) We noticed a delayed start to OS version 2021.35.102, and have since updated to 11.0, 2021.44.30. We will monitor the start of the blank screen to see if the screen is optimized or just as difficult.

Camera intensification

Tesla-model-y-2021-25-blue-details-exterior-sedan2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com image by Joe Bruzek

Recently, a camera on the passenger side door pillar (one of eight) collected condensation inside the case, resulting in a warning message: “The right door pillar cam is clogged or blind. Clean the cam or wait until you regain vision.”

The visibility obstruction was enough to limit the Tesla’s autopilot features intermittently for a 30-minute drive as the condensation remained. We didn’t take the car in service for this issue because the Tesla already recognizes condensation in the cam housing. The owner’s manual lists an alternative solution: Route the climate vents to the door pillars.

“Condensation can form inside camera enclosures, especially if you park your vehicle outside in cold or damp conditions,” the manual says. “The touch screen may display an alert stating that the camera is blocked and that some or all autopilot features may be temporarily restricted until the camera is clearly visible. To dry out the condensation proactively, precondition the cabin by setting it to a warm temperature, and the windshield defroster turned on. and directing the front air vents toward the door pillars (see mobile app).

Takeaway

tesla-model-y-2021-15-blue-details-exterior-rear-corner-sedan2021 Tesla Model Y | Cars.com image by Joe Bruzek

Many of these accidents lack treatments or are considered part of the normal process. We’ll try the ventilation technology the next time camera condensation occurs, but we’re a little frustrated with some of the issues we explained above. On top of that, some will likely continue while you’re driving where it’s cold and wet (we’re in the Midwest, after all).

However, the big question is whether living with these quirks (or just minor problems, depending on which way you see it) is worth it, considering the other things the Y Model does well. Two months on, we still have a long way to go to answer that with our long-term model Y.

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