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Surrey Tesla owner still waiting for repairs, nine months after accident

Last Updated Nov 24, 2018 at 12:01 am PDT

A picture of Rex Gao's Tesla right after the accident (Courtesy of Rex Gao)

It took four months just to get a replacement part for the damaged Tesla

ICBC acknowledges there is a backlog of Teslas waiting for repair

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Drivers interested in buying a Tesla might want to look into how long it takes to get repairs done in the Lower Mainland.

Surrey resident Rex Gao has been waiting since February, when he had his accident, and he still doesn’t know when he’ll be able to drive it.

The Model S, which he had bought in the spring of 2017, needed work on its suspension after the crash. He waited four months for the necessary part to arrive from Tesla to his Vancouver auto body shop.

“I was so excited that I got the part. I ran into the body shop but they said ‘Not yet. You cannot get your car repaired. There’s a car before yours.'”

Gao says at his auto body shop, there is only one frame bench for Teslas to be mounted on to be repaired.

Going to another shop wasn’t an option. ICBC says only five auto body shops in the Lower Mainland are certified to work on Tesla cars. Some of those auto body shops only have two certified technicians.

Gao finally got a call from his auto body shop earlier this month to say they can finally begin repairs.

“I said ‘That’s good news. When can we finish it?’ They said ‘We don’t know. We may need other body parts.'”

To top it all off, Gao is paying roughly $1,300 in lease payments every month. He says Tesla couldn’t offer him a courtesy car, but it did compensate him for three and a half months of lease payments.

“If I knew that we would have to wait that long for repairs, I would never have bought a Tesla. You never know when you’re going to need repairs. When your repairs start, your nightmare starts. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating and I can’t sleep at night.”

ICBC acknowledges there is a backlog for repairs on Teslas. In fact it says it has taken measures to help store damaged cars on its own property, as auto body shops run out of room to handle the cars awaiting servicing.

“For this reason, we stay in regular communication with these shops about their ability to take further vehicles for repairs and we have been storing vehicles on our property to help when the shops reach capacity,” ICBC said in a statement.

It also says the backlog isn’t specific to BC and that the biggest challenge is the availability of parts – and the months it often takes to get them.

“We completely understand our customers’ frustration when they experience delays in getting their Tesla vehicle repaired,” the statement reads.

“We’ve been exploring ways that we can help reduce wait times but the core issue is the availability of parts. When we receive a claim for a Tesla vehicle, we expedite the process when possible so these vehicles are estimated more quickly to determine whether they’re repairable.”

NEWS 1130 reached out to Tesla. Their emailed response referred to recent Tweets issued by CEO Elon Musk which say “Tesla body shops now operating in California aiming for same day body repair in most cases” and “Tesla body shops are ramping up fast. Aiming to go from 30+ days using external body repair shops to same day body repair with prestocked parts at Tesla service centers.”


The Twitter thread shows many customers are unhappy with the wait for parts.

Gao has no idea when he’ll have his car.