Does Tesla's $100,000 Cybertruck Really Rust? Customers Are Instigating "Rust-Gate"

Numerous Tesla customers are complaining that their expensive trucks have developed rust.

Bianca Piazza - Author

Feb. 22 2024, Published 10:53 a.m. ET

Owned by celebrities like Lady Gaga, the Tesla Cybertruck is Hollywood's favorite flashy whip of the moment. With a somewhat futuristic look and serious Mad Max vibes, the electric truck claims to be "built for any planet.” Featuring shatter-resistant glass, 11,000-pound towing capacity, and a stainless steel exterior, the Tesla Cybertruck — released in late November 2023 — is a beaut.

Just three months later, however, furious Cybertruck owners are complaining of orange rust spots.

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The viral situation, which several publications are calling "rust-gate," has Cybertruck owners fuming, as their $61,000-to-$100,000 trucks are somehow speckled with rust after less than a year of use. What gives, Elon? That "no paint, no chips" exterior isn't looking too appealing anymore.

Photo of a Tesla Cybertruck parked on a city street
Source: Getty Images
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Rusty Tesla Cybertrucks have sparked a slew of headlines in February 2024.

When spending upwards of $61,000 on, well, anything really, but a vehicle especially, most expect high quality. So, when Cybertruck users started noticing tiny orange specks decorating their vehicle's stainless steel exterior in In February 2024, they were rightfully upset.

According to German industrial engineering company thyssenkrupp, whether a stainless steel is susceptible to corrosion depends on its chromium content. A higher chromium content prevents future rusting.

So, what's going on with Cybertrucks specifically? As per reports from owners who've vented about their misfortune on the Cybertruck Owners Club forum, tiny rust dots are to be expected.

A user named Raxar wrote in January 2024 that when picking up their Cybertruck, the advisor "specifically mentioned the Cybertrucks develop orange rust marks in the rain and that required the vehicle to be buffed out."

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Chromium, shmomium, this shouldn't be happening, right? Well, instead of simply letting the internet spread click-worthy headlines and the same few images, YouTuber Justin Demaree, known as Bearded Tesla Guy, came to the rescue, releasing an informative video.

In the video, he explained that Tesla's stainless steel is a mysterious custom blend, so it's hard to say how it will "patina over time."

"This is a porous material to some degree, but it's not supposed to rust," he said in his Feb. 16, 2024, video.

Photo of Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiling the Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne in 2019
Source: Getty Images
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Do Tesla Cybertrucks rust, or is it just rust dust? The orange spots may be a surface-level issue.

Demaree went on to explain that the exterior itself is not what's rusting. He noted that rust dust, or tiny particles that have landed on the Cybertruck's surface, have likely "embedded" themselves into the material.

"When it's exposed to rain, because that's more of a steel compound, it's going to rust," Demaree explained, adding that oxidation occurs.

According to Demaree, these particles may have come from train rails, as wheels running against the rails lead tiny fragments (sometimes called rail dust) of steel to go flying, or from the factory itself, as rotary polishing or body work can cause the same corrosion.

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Here's how to clean rust dust off a Tesla Cybertruck.

"Sometimes when new cars would arrive at a dealership, especially white ones, it would look like the car was 'rusting.' It doesn't just wipe away, it has to be buffed off," Demaree told Business Insider.

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Demaree and John Hoel of Florida's Peacefield farm sanctuary, who owns a Cybertruck, both recommend buffing out these specks with Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser on a rag. Demaree warns Cybertruck owners to be gentle, as the trusty product is in fact a "cutting agent."

Tesla Cybertruck lead engineer Wes Morill applauded Demaree's video on Twitter.

"Stainless is reactive, and free iron that sits on it will rust," he tweeted on Feb. 16, 2024. Morill recommends using Citri Surf 77 to clean off the rust; and for more stubborn marks, he suggests a blue Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scour Pad, "as it won't leave any marks on the metal."

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Should Cybertruck owners have to resort to elbow grease to keep their new whips spotless? Probably not, but at least the mystery of rust-gate has been solved.

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