'I looked up and the roof was gone': California family says they were driving their new Tesla Model Y home when the roof blew clear off

Isabella Jibilian
·4 min read
tesla roof falls off
On the left, the Chien family's new Tesla Model Y when they picked it up from the dealership. On the right, a photo after the roof flew off. Courtesy of Nathaniel Chien; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
  • The Chien family was driving their Tesla Model Y home on Sunday, after purchasing it that morning, when the roof detached from the car and fell onto the road behind them, family members said.

  • "I looked up and the roof was gone," Walter Chien, a cardiologist from Stockton, CA, told Business Insider.

  • This isn't the first complaint a customer has made about Tesla's quality control.

  • Over the past few months, Model Y owners have reported issues ranging from panel gaps to backseats that aren't attached to the rest of the car.

  • Tesla and the Dublin-Amador Plaza Tesla service center did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A California family said they were driving their new Tesla Model Y home on Sunday after purchasing it when the roof of the car blew clear off.

"Suddenly, there was a lot of wind; it sounded like there was a window open," said Nathaniel Chien, 19, in an interview with Business Insider. "And then suddenly it lifted off."

His father, Walter Chien, a 63-year-old cardiologist, was riding in the back seat, trying to figure out the Tesla app, when he heard the blowing. "I looked up and the roof was gone," he told Business Insider.

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In recent months, Tesla has faced repeated complaints about its electric SUV's quality control. The Drive called the Model Y a "quality nightmare," since buyers have detailed issues ranging from gaps between panels and loose seatbelts to backseats that aren't attached to the rest of the car. In September, Business Insider reported that a Tesla owner found non-standard parts like plastic straps and faux wood, that looked like they were from "Home Depot," holding the cooling unit of their Mode Y in place. 

In an internal email leaked in June, Elon Musk addressed quality concerns, telling employees that they needed to "minimize rectification needs" from Model Y manufacturing, according to prior Business Insider reporting. Rectification means that a car needs to be fixed between heading off the production line and being delivered to the consumer.

Given the online chatter, Walter Chien said he expected some issues when he, his wife, and his son picked up the car from the Dublin, California Tesla service center Sunday morning. He said he originally noticed that there was a gap on the front hood, with one side wider than the other, and had arranged to get the issue fixed. His son, Nathaniel, also said that he noticed a little creaking coming from the roof when they drove through a parking lot.

"You expect this kind of problem, but you don't expect the roof to come off," Walter Chien said. 

The family was driving at about 70 miles per hour on interstate 580 when the roof detached, Nathaniel Chien said. A representative from California Highway Patrol said that they weren't aware of any accidents resulting from the car part on the road.

"None of us knew how to react," said Nathaniel Chien. "We didn't scream or anything. There was an initial panic and then we drove in a shocked silence all the way back."

The family returned to the Tesla service center in the new white Model Y, where the staff apologized, told them they hadn't seen anything like this before, offered to service the car, and gave the family a rental, Nathaniel Chien said. The Chiens declined to have the Model Y serviced, instead choosing to return it altogether.

On Monday, Walter Chien said that he spoke with a Tesla representative, who said that "everything was done correctly" when manufacturing the car. "To me, that was more concerning," Chien told Business Insider.

Tesla and the Dublin-Amador Plaza Tesla service center did not respond to requests for comment about the incident.

Now, the family is still deciding whether to accept an offer to pick up a different Model Y or jettison buying a Tesla altogether. 

"It's up to my wife," Walter Chien said. She was the one driving when the roof detached and the car is legally hers, he said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider