"This is the only car that I've ever heard of where a car wash can damage the wiring."

Washed Up

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has once again been playing up his dubious claims that the Cybertruck will not only be able to float — perhaps technically true in some very narrow sense of the word — but even serve as a functional boat.

Before it can fully live up to its yachting potential, though, Cybertruck owners will have to wait on a "mod package" to be released on some yet unspecified date, Musk said this week on X. We've heard that one before. Even then, this mod will only enable the vehicle to swim "at least 100 meters," a not-especially-inspiring minimum range.

There are at least a few good reasons to doubt if these claims will hold water (and if this is Musk's idea of a joke, many of his fans aren't in on it). We'll start with this alarming anecdote about how one Tesla owner's 2018 Model 3 handled a considerably less formidable aquatic environment than the rivers, lakes, and seas the Cybertruck will purportedly be able to traverse: a car wash.

The owner, Andrew Lundeen, told Reuters as part of its recent investigation into the automaker's reliability that his car lost power steering after driving it over a speed bump. When he took it in for repairs, a Tesla service manager told him that his power steering connector had corroded. The manager said that the likely culprit, unbelievably, was a car wash. Perhaps giving away the scope of the issue, he described this to Lundeen as a known problem.

"This is the only car that I've ever heard of where a car wash can damage the wiring," Lundeen told Reuters.

Unmoored Expectations

You'd have good reason to harbor some skepticism over the complaints of one aggrieved car owner. But broadly, it's hard to deny the widespread criticisms raised over Tesla's quality control.

The Reuters investigation found that tens of thousands of the automaker's EVs had steering or suspension parts that prematurely failed over the past several years — even in brand new cars.

"All I can tell you," the Tesla manager allegedly told Lundeen, "is we're not a 100-year-old company like GM and Ford. We haven't worked all the bugs out yet."

Circling back to the alleged aquatic vulnerabilities, another Tesla owner complained that their car's battery was destroyed after merely driving it in the rain, leaving them with some $20,000 in repairs.

The Cybertruck itself is certainly no stranger to concerns over build quality. Ahead of its long delayed release, the gaudy SUV was repeatedly lampooned for its shoddy construction, with misaligned panels and large panel gaps — which might be fine for your average car, but this is a potential sea-faring vessel we're talking about. In a leaked email, Musk was reportedly angry about this, telling factory workers that any flaw "shows up like a sore thumb."

Now, however, he's sounding pretty assured that there aren't too many issues left to iron out before the Cybertruck can be fully amphibian. "Mostly just need to upgrade cabin door seals," he said on X. We won't be holding our breath.

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