April 10, 2024
Tesla's Stainless Steel Cybertrucks

Orange spots on the stainless steel panels are appearing after it rains, according to drivers

It seems the stainless steel panels of the Tesla Cybertruck are not really stain “less,” and are turning out to be no less vulnerable to stains than stainless kitchen equipment, which rapidly develop grease and water stains. Some Tesla Cybertruck owners are noticing persistent orange stains on the exterior of their EVs, which could represent early indicators of rust and corrosion, according to Futurism.

Despite the recent introduction of these Tesla EVs — and the limited road time they’ve been subjected to — Cybertrucks are already developing defects on their body panels, forcing owners to dispute what’s causing the early symptoms of rust on forums. From Futurism:

One Cybertruck Owners Club forum member says they started noticing small orange flecks appearing on his truck after driving it in the rain for just two days.

“Just picked up my Cybertruck today,” they wrote. “The advisor specifically mentioned the cybertrucks develop orange rust marks in the rain and that required the vehicle to be buffed out.”

The Cybertruck owner posted followup photos after washing the vehicle down with soap, and they didn’t inspire much confidence, showing body panels already pockmarked with small orange spots.

Another user noticed similar orange specks on his truck after driving it through rain in Los Angeles.

“They documented the corrosion, and told me they’ll give me a call next month when the tools have arrived and they can perform the service/repair,” the user wrote after taking their vehicle to their local service center. “The Cybertruck has 381 miles on it, and has spent much of the 11 days in my custody parked in front of my house.”

Debate raged in response to the threads, with some arguing that the discoloration could be due to carbon dust, stray filings, or other contaminants.

The stainless steel construction of the Cybertruck has proven to be a headache not only for Elon Musk and Tesla assembly lines, but for early adopters as well. Owners believe the EVs are not genuinely stain proof, and even the Tesla Cybertruck manual says the steel panels are sensitive to such corrosive chemicals as grease, oil, tree resin, dead insects, etc., which should be cleaned off soon to prevent corrosion.

The forum discussion from the Cybertruck Owners Club even says that rust stains and corrosion are “the norm,” which doesn’t inspire confidence in the long-term prospects of the boxy EV hailed as unbreakable by Musk. Despite its name and what it implies, stainless steel is vulnerable to discoloration and marring. It’s not quite stain- and rust-proof, but is only resistant to these, as the German tech experts at Notebook Check explain:

Refining steel does not automatically mean making it stainless. Depending on the proportion of chromium, titanium, nickel, nitrogen and other additives, this results in very different properties. These range from better formability and a maximum degree of hardness to permanent rust resistance, even against acids.

The choice of additives and the subsequent shaping of the components with a particular type of steel is, of course, always a question of cost. And Tesla may have made the wrong decision here with the Cybertruck.

Tesla’s cleaning recommendations for the Cybertruck also confirm the impression that the steel grade is one of the less resistant variants.

In particular, oil and acidic soiling, such as tar or bird droppings, should be cleaned immediately with an alcohol-based solvent. Immediately afterwards, rinsing with clear water or a pH-adjusted soap is recommended. This type of cleaning should be necessary after every longer ride.

Some Cybertruck owners say their fellow Cybertruckers are blowing things out of proportion, and one said it’s a good idea to not “…drive it in the rain, or get it wet.” Others expressed anger that Tesla’s options for protecting the steel panels cost thousands of dollars. The Cybertruck’s price upon its release was already more than originally advertised, so dishing out more money for a Tesla wrap is hardly ideal. Others are in favor of their Cybertrucks developing orange stains, saying that they’re looking forward to the patina the stainless steel may develop.

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