Tesla's Cybertruck may not be so stainless after all

'Literally bulletproof' but needs constant cleaning to stave off corrosion

It's only been a few months since Tesla's long-awaited Cybertruck made its way to those at the front of the queue, but the arrival has been tarnished for some.

CEO Elon Musk first unveiled the electric pickup model back in 2019, claiming that its "ultra-hard stainless steel" body and "transparent metal" glass were "literally bulletproof."

Though beset with production issues and missing its speculative 2021-22 release, its unique polygonal design – as with anything Tesla and Musk-related – attracted legions of devotees eager to get their hands on the steering wheel.

This unique design isn't without shortfalls, at least according to reports in the Cybertruck Owners Club forum. A trending thread titled "Rust Spots/Corrosion is the Norm" from a user going by "Raxar" states:

Just picked up my Cybertruck today. The advisor specifically mentioned the cybertrucks develop orange rust marks in the rain and that required the vehicle to be buffed out. I know I heard the story of never take out your Delorean in the rain but I just never read anything about rust and Cybertrucks.

This, as you might expect, provoked a strong reaction from the faithful. "Liar. Is this fun for you?" one asked, while another incorrectly riposted: "If it 'rusts', it's not stainless steel." This is a common misconception. Stainless steel is resistant to rust, but not completely immune.

Members pondered whether orange stains could be caused by "rail dust" from certain vehicles being delivered via train, yet Raxar posted some images of his Cybertruck's body after driving it for "2 days in rain."

The tiny specks may not seem like a big deal, but given that the Cybertruck price went from $40,000 in 2019 to $60,000 in 2023, we understand why owners might want their cars to appear pristine at all times.

In a separate thread, another user, vertigo3pc, reported that "corrosion was forming on the metal" of his brand-new Cybertruck after 11 days in the "LA rain," leading some to worry that the steel body was becoming contaminated during production.

However, corrosion reports may stem from owners believing that "ultra-hard stainless steel" doesn't require much care. Tesla, it appears, would vehemently disagree.

Another thread from January included a screenshot of Cybertruck's maintenance documentation, where it is said that the car does not have a clear coat. In more typical cars, clear coat is the outermost layer of transparent paint that serves as a protective barrier, preventing UV radiation and weather from damaging the colored paint layer. Clear coat also takes abrasions that might otherwise scratch the paint job.

The user warns: "The Cybertruck's exterior is susceptible to corrosion, as acknowledged in the manual. Once the oxide barrier is compromised, corrosion initiates. The manual advises prompt removal of corrosive substances, emphasizing not to wait until the Cybertruck is scheduled for a full wash."

The documentation says: "To prevent damage to the exterior, immediately remove corrosive substances (such as grease, oil, bird droppings, tree resin, dead insects, tar spots, road salt, industrial fallout, etc.). Do not wait until Cybertruck is due for a complete wash. If necessary use denatured alcohol to remove tar spots and stubborn grease stains, then immediately wash the area with water and a mild, non-detergent soap to remove the alcohol."

It sounds like a lot of work if even a five-minute dash for milk might result in a midge besmirching the body. Tesla explicitly states: "The stainless steel exterior of Cybertruck is more resistant to dents and dings than most other vehicles. However, Cybertruck does not have a clear coat on the surface of the exterior body panels, meaning any scratches that appear are in the stainless steel panels themselves."

The Register asked Tesla whether it agreed with the description of Cybertruck corrosion as the "norm," and if not, what the company expected to cause the spots documented. We will update the article if a response is forthcoming. ®

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