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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the course of 3.5 years, the chrome trim on my car has become cloudy with kind of a rainbow tinge to it, like when metal is exposed to high heat.

And as you would expect, a mobile tech once told me that's caused in part by heat (because it's hot in Florida) and part by car washes - any car washes. Apparently the chemicals in the soap from washing the car damage the chrome material applied to the plastic. The mobile tech also told me the damage is permanent, and the only way to fix it is to replace all of the "bright work".

Aside from being kind of disappointed that a car would have chrome attached to it that is not designed for heat or to be washed (now I understand the actual reason they replaced it with black), I guess if I'm going to have to replace it all someday, that buys me some time to experiment with it.

I already tried spray detailer, Rain-X, windex, foaming windshield cleaner, plain wet rag, plain dry rag, and soap. I have not yet tried a clay bar, though I do have one. I also have not tried using abrasives like barkeeper's friend or polishing compound, because I'd have to remove them all from the car first to avoid damaging the paint.

Any other ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Vinyl wrap or plastidip the brightwork.
That's kind of a last resort in my mind, because it's more of an investment both in time and money - I would also want to do the mirrors and door handles to match, and I'm not sure I am that good with vinyl or paint to do those correctly. I do know of a tint place that would do it, not sure of the cost for it.

I would probably use real paint vs plastidip though because I hear it does not stick well to chrome.
 

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Have you been going through touchless car washes? I ask as my brightwork has been great over 2.75 years in the Florida sun, stored outside…but only hand washes. On another thread they go over how the ph levels of those touchless car washes, which do a good job listening the dirt, stain both the bright and black trim so it’s not just a chrome issue. In fact, it looks worse in the black trim. The mobile tech may be right about having to replace or cover (vinyl or spray), but if you keep going to the same touchless car wash (if that is indeed what you do), it will likely happen again. I’m not saying you have to hand wash it yourself, but maybe try to find a car wash that markets as neutral water and chemicals as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Have you been going through touchless car washes? I ask as my brightwork has been great over 2.75 years in the Florida sun, stored outside…but only hand washes. On another thread they go over how the ph levels of those touchless car washes, which do a good job listening the dirt, stain both the bright and black trim so it's not just a chrome issue. In fact, it looks worse in the black trim. The mobile tech may be right about having to replace or cover (vinyl or spray), but if you keep going to the same touchless car wash (if that is indeed what you do), it will likely happen again. I'm not saying you have to hand wash it yourself, but maybe try to find a car wash that markets as neutral water and chemicals as possible.
The TSB on the subject said that any car washes will damage the trim, and that it requires replacement to fix the issue. So if I would have to pay to replace the trim, I guess I would have no choice but go hand car wash only, and just not wash it until I have time to do that (that Dirty Tesla guy on Youtube is laughing at us all now), because after shelling out that kind of money I wouldn't want one single car wash that I thought was safe to ruin it all again. I would feel more comfortable experimenting with which car wash to try if I had some kind of repair procedure.

I'm not sure about the solution they propose (replacing all of the pieces) or if it can be covered or repaired somehow, since Tesla generally says to replace anything that's damaged. When the tech replaced a cracked piece under warranty, he left the old one here for me to experiment on, so I can test various things without damaging the car. I can also maybe get small pieces of vinyl and spray part of it to see if the discoloration shows through.

This thread is mainly looking for suggestions to that, because considering the number of pieces, replacing all of the brightwork would probably would be like $800-$1000 - maybe double that because I'm not sure the rearmost piece can be replaced without removing or replacing the wedge-shaped glass.

As a side note, though I can't do anything about it now but express annoyance here, this is the first car I've owned that can be damaged simply by using car washes instead of hand washing or hand detailing every time. My Mitsubishi I had before this I took to a pretty new Shell soft cloth car wash occasionally (which was admittedly a pretty good soft cloth wash!) and I've never had anything damaged in the process. Maybe this is normal in the exotic car realm, but I never thought of a Model 3 as being particularly delicate like a Ferrari or Mclaren. I tried to do the right thing by avoiding abrasive washes, and it ends up possibly costing me more in damage than I ever imagined.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Since it was Sat I decided to give the clay bar a try. It did absolutely nothing, which means it’s not surface damage, it’s the chrome coating itself that’s damaged.

So that leaves the abrasives test on the spare piece I have. If that doesn’t work, then I‘m down to covering or replacement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Update: I found this article:


Which features this:

Screen Shot 2021-12-18 at 4.31.28 PM.png


I don't know if that's true, because the article isn't from Tesla - but I made a service request to see if it's true.

It's going to be a dicey service request, because the App told me I can pick Mobile Service on Monday the 20th between 11:30 and 3:30, or I can wait until after January 1st. So I picked the Monday appointment, and hoping I didn't just fall into a trap where the tech shows up on Monday with a bunch of trim expecting to be paid because no one read the dispatch correctly!

EDIT: They now tell me I have to do this at the Service Center, and scheduled me for Jan 7th (trying to move it so they don't keep the car over the weekend). Initial estimate for that is $0.00, but I'm going to confirm that at least a couple more times before leaving the car there.
 

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I would probably use real paint vs plastidip though because I hear it does not stick well to chrome.
Not sure where you heard that. It sticks VERY well to chrome, as many users (myself included) can attest.

The only thing I've found that it won't stick to very well is anything that has been freshly waxed or ceramic coated. So clean off any was (or polish off any ceramic coating) before applying to a surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Not sure where you heard that. It sticks VERY well to chrome, as many users (myself included) can attest.

The only thing I've found that it won't stick to very well is anything that has been freshly waxed or ceramic coated. So clean off any was (or polish off any ceramic coating) before applying to a surface.
Speaking of polishing, that's another issue - the cloudy residue is not a smooth texture. So if Tesla doesn't replace all of the pieces in Jan, I would have to sand them before applying either paint or tint.

If they do replace them, I will see if I can get vinyl applied to them at least so it won't be damaged again. Since I don't know the precise cause, it's too much of a chance to take - it could be I start hand washing it and the chrome doesn't like the hard water here, or the detailer reacts with it.
 
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