Tesla convertible? Model Y roof flies off while owners drive down California highway

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Nathaniel Galicia Chien was driving down Interstate 580 with his parents in their brand-new Tesla Model Y when he started to hear a lot of wind.

“I thought a window was open,” Chien recalled in an email to The Verge, “but half a minute later the entire glass top of the roof just flew off in the wind.”

Chien said the incident occurred hours after he and his parents picked up the new Model Y from the Tesla dealership in Dublin, California. Right off the bat, they noticed some minor “fit and finish” problems, such as “spacing issues and unevenness in the gaps that are pretty well-known issues with new Teslas.” But they didn’t expect any problems with the crossover’s mammoth panoramic glass roof, and certainly not on the same day they drove it off the dealer’s lot.

For years, Tesla has been plagued by quality issues, but it seems to have grown worse with the release of the Model Y in 2019. Just this past summer, Tesla scored last in a survey of customers by researcher JD Power. Owners have flocked to online forums to complain about paint and trim problems, indentations in the seats, and loose seatbelts. But an entire roof flying off on the highway is a new kind of problem for Tesla.

No one was injured by the flying detached glass roof. Chien said his family notified California Highway Patrol to let them know about the potential hazard on the interstate and then drove back to the dealership in Dublin with their now convertible Model Y.

Chien said Tesla’s service representatives said that “either the seal on the roof was faulty, or they somehow just forgot to seal the roof on entirely.” The dealers offered to service the Model Y for free and give Chien’s family a rental in the meantime, but the family declined the offer. Chien said his parents are likely to buy a different vehicle altogether.

“Luckily, I don’t think anyone was hurt,” Chien said, “and it’s easy to laugh about it in hindsight, but this could be a serious problem if it happens again.”

The Tesla service center in Dublin did not return a message seeking comment. A spokesperson for Tesla also did not respond.

The original Tesla Roadster comes with a removable roof that stores in the trunk of the vehicle, while the refreshed version is expected to come with a hardtop. There have been Tesla Model 3s modified into convertibles and compact pickup trucks, but always intentionally and never while driving down the highway.

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