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18 - The Skirts of a Scotsman

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

No, not those kinds of skirts, well, sort of. Only the manliest of manly men can walk around the highlands of Scotland with nothing between the brisk arctic air and their undercarriage but a plaid kilt. So I wanted my Tesla to look as manly as the skirted men who brought us titans, like Scrooge McDuck. If you've never heard the term, side skirts are aerodynamic panels that sit beneath the doors, usually under your rocker panels. They span the length of the doors and can vary in terms of length, depth, width, height, and structure. When done correctly, they can serve an actual aerodynamic purpose by limiting or directing the airflow under a car. Most of the time, though, they just make your car look more aggressive.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Driver’s side

Skirt lessons aside, I discussed how important it was to me to start customizing my Tesla as soon as possible in my last post. Most of the past cars I owned were old buckets and couldn't be customized like modern cars. The only new car I ever owned was my Dodge Challenger, and it took me years to afford new mufflers. As a result, I never got to do anything else I wanted before trading it in. Teslas are amazing cars with great styling, but I feel like my car needs to look a little bit more like the supercar it is, rather than just an ultra-modern grocery getter.

My first real step forward was tinting the windows, which gave the car a slight edge. The dark tint built upon the dark and aggressive theme of the rear spoiler and carbon fiber accents (which came with the car). The tint was a great start, but I had three additional modifications I really wanted to make: side skirts, a front lip/splitter, and chrome blackout. So the first item I started shopping for was side skirts. In modern times, I thought it would be easy to just select from a few different brands of side skirts, order what I wanted, and install them at home a few days later. Unfortunately, I was a little too optimistic. Finding ready-to-install parts for a Model S, especially a pre-facelift one, proved much more challenging than I expected.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Measuring for side skirts.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. Measuring for side skirts.

I naively thought parts would be available from major manufacturers, but that was not the case. The only "name brand" side skirts I could find were made by Unplugged Performance and RevoZport. Most of the other skirts I saw were all white label replicas of each other and were all sourced from the same manufacturers from Alibaba. If you've never heard the term, white label products are basically anything you get manufactured from China with different brand names. It's the modern equivalent of buying Fruity O's cereal instead of Fruit Loops- same delicious styrofoam, different packaging.

What's different in modern times is tens of thousands of white label products of all types are all over Amazon, eBay, and the internet in general. Another significant difference is anyone, even your dog, can sell these products on the internet with their own branding. So, it's not just Target, Walmart, or Smart and Final slapping different names on the same 20lb bag of styrofoam treats- literally anyone can have that bag of fruity cancer-o's branded with their name and sold on the internet.


Nowadays, instead of just trying to understand the differences between Target, Walmart, or Smart and Final branded fruity bits, it's like there are 10,000 different "brands" of fruit-flavored rings out there. They are all slightly different, with different packaging and description verbiage, but are all the same. Since I couldn't find many "name brand" side skirts, I had to dog paddle through the ocean of white label products to find what I wanted. Hopefully, my following tales of woe will save you a lot of time and effort if you're looking for side skirts for your Tesla or any other car. My apologies if my analogy made you hungry for Fruit Loops. Hopefully, it'll give you something to snack on while reading about auto body materials.


Auto Body Materials

It may be challenging to find this information succinctly consolidated on one page, so I thought I’d help by putting a matrix here for you. The goal is to help define some of the materials I’ll talk about as I discuss options for side skirts. I’m not an expert, but I know just enough to be dangerous.


Carbon Fiber

Category

Description

Material

Carbon Fiber

Common Name

Carbon Fiber

General Quality

Very High

Durability

Very Low

Cost

Very High

Notes

Comes in wet or dry, gloss or matte finishes. Real carbon fiber is hard to find. Most listings you’ll find for carbon fiber are lies. Usually, it will be called carbon fiber, but it’s really a layer of carbon fiber over FRP, which is really just FRP.

Fiberglass

Category

Description

Material

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic/Polymer

Common Name

FRP/Duraflex

General Quality

Very Low

Durability

Very Low

Cost

Low

Notes

​​Don’t be fooled, this isn’t as good as it sounds. For most automotive applications on the internet, this will be straight fiberglass. Most parts won’t be high quality FRP, they will be fiberglass which is cheap, and it breaks quite easily.

Polypropylene

Category

Description

Material

Polypropylene

Common Name

PP

General Quality

Medium-Low

Durability

Very High

Cost

Low

Notes

​It’s hard to find parts made from PP. Depending upon the application, it can be great or terrible. Most PP in automotive applications will be soft, which makes it very durable. But, it will look terrible if it forms a straight line or angle.

ABS

Category

Description

Material

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

Common Name

ABS

General Quality

High

Durability

Medium

Cost

Medium-Low

Notes

​ABS is pretty good material in general for automotive applications. It’s hard enough to form rigid and clean lines, but soft enough to be a little flexible if impacted. For a lot of applications, it can be too rigid, which is why you’ll see it for small accent pieces, but not splitters or other large pieces. ABS is uncommon for a lot of parts.

Polyurethane

Category

Description

Material

Urethane/Polyurethane

Common Name

Urethane

General Quality

Very High

Durability

Very High

Cost

High

Notes

​This is what most OEM body panels on modern cars are made of. It is very durable and flexible. This is probably one of the best materials for body parts or accessories. Generally speaking, only name brand and higher end companies use urethane.

Aluminum

Category

Description

Material

Aluminum

Common Name

Aluminum

General Quality

Very High

Durability

Very High

Cost

Medium-Low

Notes

Aluminum can be great for body parts and accent pieces as long as it’s thick enough to be rigid. Depending upon the exact composition, it can be heavier than the preceding counterparts, but not by a lot. You’ll find some custom pieces in aluminum, but not too many mass-produced parts. This can be a really good option in the right application.


Unplugged Performance

The first brand I looked at seriously was Unplugged Performance (UP). I'd heard their name in Tesla circles, and they aspire to be the AMG of Tesla. Sounds great, and I believe they may have the quality to prove it. I've never seen their products in person, but they are one of the only manufacturers in the US making Tesla products from real carbon fiber and real urethane. Out of all the companies I found, they are the only ones who make urethane Tesla parts and one of only a few who make genuine carbon fiber parts.

I've never seen these in person, but I'd assume they're high quality given UP's reputation. Unfortunately, with that high quality comes a high price. An unpainted set of side skirts costs $1,875, and a painted set costs up to $2,895. They used to sell a genuine carbon fiber set that cost well over $3,000. In addition to the high price, I had a few issues with their side skirts. I really wanted something in real carbon fiber to match the existing theme of the car, but I couldn't justify almost $4,000 (including installation) for side skirts. Not only is that a bit out of my price range, but carbon fiber is fragile in the context of an everyday driver and costly to repair. The idea of hanging four grand off the sides of my car every day just made me a little queasy.

The next issue was the general appearance and maintenance if I bought the painted set. The durability of urethane is hard to beat, but it just wasn't the style I was looking for. I wanted skirts that looked more aggressive and tied into the carbon fiber from an aesthetic perspective. I could also see maintenance being an issue with painted urethane. Mostly because I'm lazy, and cheap, like Scrooge McDuck. The lower portion of the current rocker panels is a rigid, weather-resistant, grey urethane. So, if it gets hit with rocks, road debris, or the skull of a zombie, it's almost entirely unnoticeable. If you put a painted piece that low, even with a Paint Protective Film (PPF), it will get rock chips and scratches from road debris. The PPF would mitigate a lot of damage, but it means replacing the PPF frequently.

Overall, the UP side skirts are a great, high-quality product. One of the things I really like about them is, they are a US company. Their headquarters is in Hawthorne, California, right next to Tesla. But, if the styling was a little different, and I wasn't so lazy, I probably would have purchased from them. But, if they appeal to you, these may be the right side skirts for you.


Tesla Model S with custom side skirts. Photo courtesy of Unplugged Performance.

RevoZport

This company has a great website, and I've seen articles about them all over the internet from different media outlets. They seem legitimate, and from the pictures of their products, they appear to be high quality. But it's tough to find actual reviews from customers. I never really dug too deep into vetting them because the design didn't really appeal to me. I like the subtle design, but I think it's a little too subtle for me. Also, the all-carbon-fiber version looks great, but it seems like too much carbon fiber. I know, picky, but what are you gonna do? Finally, I had the same concerns as with Unplugged Performance from a maintenance perspective.

Their pricing is much more reasonable than Unplugged Performance at $900 for FRP and $1,400 for carbon fiber. The pricing sounds excellent, but I'd be concerned about the quality at that price. At $1,400 for carbon fiber, it's probably not solid carbon fiber. It's likely a layer of carbon fiber over FRP. If I purchased the FRP, it would have to be painted and possibly installed. That could increase the cost from $900 to $1,500+.

I like the look of their side skirts and body kits, but it just wasn't what I was looking for. On top of that, it seems difficult to tell how legitimate they really are. I doubt journalists who wrote articles based on their press releases dug into quality control and fitment. At those prices, it's also a bit of a red flag. I'm not sure how much better their products would be than other white label products, but it might be worth taking a chance with them if you like the design.


Tesla Model S with carbon fiber side skirts. Photo courtesy of RevoZport.

Other Manufacturers

I didn’t care for the Unplugged or RevoZport side skirts, and the market is limited for 2012-16 pre-facelift Tesla aftermarket parts. So, I measured my rocker panels and sought out another car with similar dimensions. After hours and hours of searching, I found that Dodge Chargers have similar rocker panels lengths. So, I started looking for name-brand or custom-fit side skirts that fit a Dodge Charger. My options were limited because I didn’t want side skirts with pre-drilled holes and cutouts for a Charger because it could make a mess when I tried to install them. It didn’t matter too much because I didn’t find brands I felt comfortable with. But, I did find a couple other companies that make custom side skirts. Here are some of the other companies I found.


Family Customs

They have a clean website with a lot of options. It is a relatively simple website, and it doesn't feel like they are selling white label products at all. Also, their pictures are good and don't look Photoshopped. I only looked at their Charger skirts at the time. But it seems like they've expanded their product lineup to include the Tesla Model X. I like that they are in California. If possible, I prefer doing business locally, within the states, Canada, or Europe.

The only reservation I have is the same reservation I have with all three companies in this section. I'm not sure if these are actually made to order in-house. What could be happening is they order generic products from overseas, do some finishing work, then sell them as made here. Also, as with the others I'll discuss, I'm not 100% sure the carbon fiber parts are real carbon fiber. Based on clues I've picked up from looking at so many different companies and websites, I'm just speculating about their carbon fiber's production source and authenticity.

I didn't buy from this company because I felt like the side skirts were too thin. I wanted a similar design and look, but maybe twice the thickness. If I bought these side skirts, it also seemed like I'd be obligated to buy the same style of front and rear spoilers. They look great, especially on this Model X, but it just wasn't the theme I wanted for the car overall.


Tesla Model X with custom side skirts and splitter. Photo courtesy of Family Customs.

KNG Wraps

This is another company that appears to be very similar to Family Customs in many ways. It might even be from the same owner, just under a different brand. My pros and cons are effectively the same for KNG Wraps as they are for Family Customs. I preferred Family Customs because I’m more inclined to believe Family Customs isn’t a white label product. I can’t articulate why precisely, but I saw little things on KNG Wraps’ website that didn’t instill as much confidence. I also appreciate that this company is also in California. I wouldn’t let my reservations deter you. If you see something you like, check out their website and give them a call.


Dodge Charger with custom side skirts and splitter. Courtesy of KNG Wraps.

Vicrez

I want to like Vicrez a lot because they've done an excellent job with their branding. Their website is clean, professional, and well organized. It looks like they produce skirts in-house, but I have my reservations- as I do with the other two companies I mentioned. I really wanted to like their products and website a lot. But, I noticed they sold several Tesla splitters and white label products that were explicitly branded with the Vicrez brand.

That didn't really bother me, but the amount of work they put into photoshopping the images of the products with their branding is what concerned me. It made me feel like they were also manufacturing the products, not just selling them. After searching for so many skirts and splitters, I recognized a lot of the stock pictures from white label product manufacturers. But, by far, Vicrez modified them the most.

Their photoshop skills are excellent. So why did this phase me a little? Well, they're clearly selling white label, generic products- but that made me wonder if they were really producing the custom-made splitters they claimed to make. It also made me wonder if their seemingly excellent pictures were also just photoshopped with their products added on. You see a lot of that on eBay and other websites, but it's rarely this sophisticated. To be fair, it could be a mix of things. Maybe they make many custom products in-house for some car brands but then use white label products for other car brands.

Reservations aside, they have a great website, very professional, and well done. But, the same issue persisted with Vicrez, as with the previous two. I just didn't like the skirts' style, they were too thin. But, give them a chance if you see something you want.


Tesla Model S with custom side skirts and front splitter. Courtesy of Vicrez.

VIS Racing

I found VIS Racing as I was looking for side skirts, and their website looks legit. They offer a lot of different products for a lot of different cars. They offer carbon fiber, urethane, and fiberglass parts, which seems like a pretty good selection. However, for the pre-facelift Model S, the choices are quite limited. They have one set of carbon fiber side skirts they offer, which are expensive, $2,300. They claim to be all carbon fiber. For that price, they better be. But they probably aren’t. They’re probably carbon fiber over fiberglass like a lot of similar products. I like VIS because their Model S parts appear unique to them. It looks like they design and make their own parts. I’ve looked at almost every pre-facelift Model S side skirt out there, and I never found another place selling this same design.

I have no idea as far as fit and finish, quality, etc. I searched dozens of forums where guys talk about VIS kits for other makes and models, and the reviews seem mixed. Some people loved them, and some said they were junk. One person on a forum did make a good point of clarification. They said the actual VIS parts are good, high-quality parts, but the quality is a crapshoot if you order the other brands they sell.


Quick side note. I’m writing this in 2022, and I’m shocked at how hard it seems to be to get reviews and information on a lot of these companies and products. Literally, everything is on the internet these days, and it looks like some niches of aftermarket auto parts are a black hole. So hopefully, some of my writings will help you and others looking for aftermarket parts.

Anyway, let me get back on topic. Aesthetically, the parts look great in the pictures. It’s got a subtle lower lip and a neat little shark fin on the end. It’s a cool style, and it looks well done. But, it’s just not for me. It’s a lot more carbon fiber than I care for. I was looking for something a little more subtle on the carbon fiber side. Sure, I could have the upper part painted, but after paying for the skirts, shipping, installation, and paint, I’d be into a set of side skirts for well over $3,000. As I’ve mentioned before, if they are real carbon fiber, I don’t like the idea of having three G’s hanging off the side of the car all the time. But, overall, they looked cool. If they fit as well as they should for $2,300, they might be a good match for you. But they just weren’t the style I was looking for.


Custom Tesla Model S. Courtesy of VIS Racing.

Branded Summary

White Label Bargain Bin

When I set out to find side skirts, I thought it would be a brief search. I was willing to spend a reasonable amount of money, I had a car that was less than three years old, and it was a popular car. So, all that led me to believe it would be easy to find side skirts. I just thought the ultimate issue would be price. I never thought I’d be sifting through white label products on eBay for side skirts on a car that originally cost almost $150,000. Before digging into my findings, let me share a little more background on the white label automotive world.


Background

To be fair, there's nothing inherently wrong with most types of white label products. Almost any white label product you get at the grocery or drug store is safe and comparable to the brand-name product it's modeled after. White label products are everywhere, but the automotive aftermarket accessory space has become crowded with white label versions of almost every part imaginable. But, most of those products aren't even remotely close to the branded products they are modeled after.


Many of those products aren't even modeled after a highly developed product or brand to make things worse. Meaning, it's not like they take an Original Engine Manufacturer (OEM) Tesla spoiler, copy it perfectly, then produce 1,000 of them at half the cost. Instead, many of those companies just make their own mold of a spoiler, very loosely based on a Tesla design, and make 1,000 copies of them. So from a design and production standpoint, these products are not only poorly designed at inception, but they are poorly produced as well.


These products then end up on sites like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. But, what makes them confusing to the average consumer like us is that there can be subtle changes in the manufacturing at each brand's request because of the white label process. So, you may look at 10 different listings from 10 different companies. Each listing may look different, but the products are 99% identical. It's a very confusing process for the unsuspecting consumer because you think one brand or seller is better than another, but they're all selling the same product. Sometimes they'll even use the same stock pictures from the manufacturer, but Photoshop new elements or backgrounds into the images and add different text or colors.


My apologies for the rambling, but I wanted to share some of these details so you have a good understanding of what you're dealing with when you scroll through Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, etc. It's also important to understand that the quality of these products is highly suspect most of the time. You're gambling when you buy these products, they could be great, or they could be a disaster. You just never know what you'll get until it arrives at your doorstep. I'll share a few fun stories about other white label products I bought for the Tesla later.


Parsing the Products

Now that I’ve got that long preface and forewarning out of the way, let’s dig into the bargain bin to show you what I found. After all my searching, I found there were only about a dozen different styles of side skirts. As I’ve forewarned, many look slightly different from website to website or seller to seller. So it may seem like there are 50 styles out there, but it’s only about a dozen. Below is a table that shows some of the white label and branded styles I found.

Style

Link

Skirts

Skirts on Car

1


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a fin near the back.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Shown installed on a car. Side skirts with a fin near the back.

2


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts that taper near the front.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts that taper near the front. Shown installed on a car.

3


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a fin near the back and dogbone shape..


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a fin near the back and dogbone shape. Installed on a car.

4


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a wide accent near the end at taper at the front.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a wide accent near the end at taper at the front. Shown installed on a Tesla Model S.

2 Pc CF


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.
Carbon fiber side skirts on at Madness Auto Works.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Two Piece full side skirts.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Two Piece full side skirts. Shown installed on a Tesla Model S.

UP Style


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Driven by Style.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Extreme Dimensions.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Carid.


Custom Carbon fiber/FRP style side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Unplugged Performance style, not their side skirts.


Custom Carbon fiber/FRP style side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Unplugged Performance style, not their side skirts. Shown installed on a Tesla Model S.

Revo Style


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Full length side skirts, RevoZsport style, but not made by RezoZport.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Full length side skirts, RevoZsport style, but not made by RezoZport. Shown installed on a car.

3 Pc ABS


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom carbon fiber style 3 piece side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a fin near the back.


Custom carbon fiber style 3 piece side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with a fin near the back. Shown installed on a Tesla Model 3.

Weirdo



Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber style FRP side skirts for Tesla Model S. Side skirts with a big hook in the back.


Custom Carbon fiber style FRP side skirts for Tesla Model S. Side skirts with a big hook in the back. Shown installed on a car in China.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

All in, I've shared about 20 different options with you for pre-facelift Tesla Model S side skirts. There are a few more styles out there in the vast interwebs, but this covers most of them. If you own a 2016.5+ Model S, there are more and better options out there. I shared all the name-brand skirts I found, along with a lot of the generic ones you'll find all over the dank hiding spots in the internet. It seems like a consolidated list now, but as I was looking for skirts originally, it was crazy difficult to try and wrap my head around all the options. I didn't include every link, but if I had, there would be a dozen links for almost every style to dozens of random aftermarket websites.


I got stuck in this weird cycle of searching all over the internet, eBay, and Amazon for something slightly different than what I had been finding. Shockingly enough, on page 12 of Google's search results, right after KFC's secret recipe, I'd find a new website with a slightly different variation of the skirts. But, there were ever-diminishing returns. As I dug deeper, usually, I'd find the website was just a variant of another website, and the "new" skirts I found were basically the same as another set of skirts I found on eBay. The websites and eBay sellers can be creative sometimes. They'll doctor up images and descriptions enough to make it look like you've found something new or different, but it's actually more of the same.


When you look through all the spots on the internet like I did, you'll probably go through the same cycle of exciting discovery and sober disappointment. I was glad I looked at so many options. It narrowed my focus considerably. I was willing to pay quite a bit for the right look. But, all the expensive name brands just weren't my style. They were too bulky. I wanted something a little more subtle. The lip on the RevoZport style was subtle, but it was too subtle. I narrowed it down to skirts that were almost flat, but I wanted them to have a little more heft than the aluminum-style ones. I felt like those didn't match the car's theme I was aspiring to.


Once I had a feel for the thickness of the side skirt I was looking for, the only remaining issue was the shape. Trying to decide on a shape was especially difficult because there are very few customized Tesla Model S's, so I didn't even have a reference point. My car didn't have to be especially unique. I'd be perfectly happy finding pics of another Model S (MS) and just copying that style. Because there are few customized MS's, I had to envision what each skirt would look like when it was bolted to the underside of my car. Unfortunately, it'd be a one-shot deal too. I wasn't going to churn through different skirts trying to find the perfect fit for my 5,000lb ruby red Cinderella.


The rectangular ones were just too plain, the dog bone ones didn't really match the style I was looking for, the ones with the shark fin seemed a little flashy, and it seemed like they could be a trip hazard. Style 4 proved to be just what I was looking for. It wasn't too flat, but it wasn't too flashy. I really liked how the taper towards the back of the skirt accentuates the back of the car nicely. That wide taper on the back of the skirts lines up perfectly with the rear door jamb. So, it's like that taper is the beginning of this aggressive series of vertical angles on the rear three-quarter section of the car. The skirt creates a horizontal line connecting the skirt in front of the wheel to the winglet/canard under the rear bumper. Hopefully, they looked as good as I envisioned after spending time/money on installation.


Making the Purchase

Buying most things off the internet isn't really a big deal anymore. Most websites have pretty liberal return policies. Of course, the exception is in the aftermarket auto parts world for body kits and components. Some places still charge restocking fees. The parts are huge so shipping them back is expensive and on your dime. You have to make sure the part is in pristine condition, or you'll waste a bunch of time arguing with someone over how you didn't scratch the part- it came that way. It can be really stressful to buy large auto body parts online.


On top of all the logistical issues, you have to deal with entirely unknown websites with zero online reviews and parts of questionable quality that are shipped directly from some sketchy third-rate factory in China. With all those concerns in mind, as you can imagine, paying $500-$1,500 for a part and having it arrive damaged or with significant defects is a scary prospect. I wanted to mitigate all these risks as much as possible, so if I got a bad part or had other issues, I wouldn't be completely hosed.


I looked at all the different websites, and there was no assurance on most of them that I would receive a part that fit and looked correct. Most of the independent websites I found, even the really clean-looking ones, ultimately felt sketchy. Amazon is pretty good about allowing for easy returns if there are issues, but I couldn't find the skirts I wanted on Amazon from a seller with free returns. Independents were out, and so was Amazon, so I started checking out sellers on eBay.


eBay is a lot like Amazon nowadays. There are 1,000 listings for exactly the same product but from different sellers with slightly different pictures and descriptions. I poured over listing after listing until my eyes bled and my brain was numb- as though I just sat through 16 hours of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Finally, I realized several sellers seemed to get products from the same importer in Southern California. I also noticed recurring brand names with higher quality photos and listings, JcSportline and Ikon Motorsports. These sellers had thousands of positive reviews and very few negative reviews. Of course, it's hard to trust Amazon and eBay reviews in modern times. You never know what is legit. But, it's all I had, so I went with it.


I narrowed the field to a couple of sellers with many excellent reviews and checked out their shipping and return policies. I focused on sellers that adopted eBay's Money Back Guarantee and seller-paid return shipping. If the product was damaged or didn't fit, I didn't want to be stuck with a $100 shipping bill on a $300 part. As I mentioned earlier, I also didn't want to be stuck with the part, so having a solid return policy is essential. Many sellers on eBay have 50 different qualifiers for what is actually returnable and how much, if any, your restocking fee will be. I didn't want to get in a battle with a seller because a part arrived at my door smashed in half or because it was a terrible fit. Only having the seller's assurance just wasn't enough for me. I wanted something more substantial. Since eBay has been stepping up efforts to improve their brand, I was confident that if something didn't work out, eBay would side with me and not the seller.

I suppose all these things may seem obvious as you read this, or obvious in hindsight for me. But, it took a lot of digging for me to find a seller and selling platform that I thought wouldn’t hose me out of $400 in random Chinese parts if things didn’t work out. Since Amazon wasn’t an option, eBay provided the most assurances. I found a seller that would provide free shipping, had good reviews, would pay for return shipping if needed, and was backed by eBay’s Money Back Guarantee. I recommend going down a similar path if you’re taking a gamble on random parts from overseas. Happy hunting!


Below is a link to the actual eBay listing I purchased from, a link to an active listing, Amazon and Alibaba listings:

Style 4

Skirts

Skirts on Car


Carbon fiber side skirts on Amazon.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on eBay.
Carbon fiber side skirts on Alibaba.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with an accent near the rear and taper at the front.


Custom Carbon fiber side skirts for Tesla Model S or cars with similar rocker panel lengths. Side skirts with an accent near the rear and taper at the front. Shown installed on a Tesla Model S.

Tesla Model S Side Skirt Unboxing

I nervously pulled the trigger and ordered the skirts. A week later, a giant box arrived on my porch. I dragged the box into the garage, took some pictures, and immediately opened it to see what was inside. It could go one of two ways, they could be awesome, and it was a great purchase, or I got screwed and was going to spend the next week fighting with eBay and the seller over junk parts. I really hoped it would be the first option.


The skirts were packed well, the box was rigid with extra supports inside and out, and the skirts were wrapped with several layers of foam insulation and bubble wrap. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a subtle indication the parts may not be complete garbage. I carefully unwrapped each skirt and inspected every square inch of them. They had a nice wet gloss carbon fiber shine and looked almost perfect. I was shocked. The next test was critical, though, to determine how good they would really look on the car. At nearly 7 feet long, how straight and true they were, was critical. If they were wavy or kinked, they would look terrible under the car. So, I held them up and looked down the edge of each one, like I was inspecting a pool cue at a dive bar. I was astonished to see the first one was almost perfectly straight. The second one wasn’t as straight, but it was pretty good. It was about 90% straight.


To be honest, I think I got lucky. The odds of getting two, or even one perfectly straight one seems low to me. Not because I don’t have faith in the seller, but because of the sheer volume of these products that are probably churned out of a Chinese factory with little to no quality control. It worked out for me, but as I’ve mentioned, even with all the assurances I tried to stack in my favor, you just never know what you’ll get. So approach with caution if you’re buying these types of parts on the internet.


 

Putting my Skirts on One Side at a Time

I had to wait 3 agonizing days until the weekend to try and install the skirts. As I've shared before, jacking up a Tesla is a pain, so I bought Race Ramps to allow me to get under the car and install the skirts. I very cautiously pulled the car into the garage, set up the ramps, and had my wife help me guide the car into position on the ramps. Then, I removed the ramp piece and just left the blocks so I could slide under the car easily. I also made sure to put a chock at the back wheels with my bright red flag, and I put jack stands under the control arms, just in case the ramp blocks failed.


I slid under the car and started looking around. I inspected the bottom of each rocker then checked out the door jambs. I was disappointed to learn there was no sound or prominent place to install the skirts. Also, I didn't have as much clearance as I had hoped, so installing the skirts from that narrow position under the car would be nearly impossible. Thankfully, I could use the ramps to change the oil on the Tesla when it was due for its first oil change. Another fault in the plan was the skirts would have to be notched to allow space for the jack points on the car. They would have to be big notches, 2-3 inches deep and about 6 inches long. My garage is pretty well set up for most things, but making a precision cut on those skirts in my garage would not be an easy task. I'd have to defer to the professionals.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts test fit on passenger side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts test fit on passenger side.

An important preface before I go further, I've been working on cars for almost 25 years, so I'm pretty competent. But, I'm not an expert, and I'm not an engineer. However, I approach things with an engineer's mindset. This means projects usually take too long and cost more than they should, but they are pretty solid when I'm done. So, I don't mind installing skirts or splitters because I try to be very cautious, and I tend to over-engineer things.


When it comes to a lot of these types of generic, non-spec, bargain bin parts, they rarely come with useful instructions or functional installation hardware. It's kind of crazy. If you're going to the effort of making these parts and charging hundreds or thousands of dollars for them, why not spend a little extra time and money engineering them to fit right out of the box, with the proper hardware? But, alas, most of this stuff doesn't work that way. The sellers don't provide instructions, and they usually give you junk screws that aren't safe, and I wouldn't trust double-sided tape securing my troll doll collection to the shelf over my headboard. Never install parts like this on your own unless you absolutely know what you are doing, and never use the garbage hardware they provide unless you're certain it will work. Even I still get excited about the prospect of installing this stuff ASAP, but it's not worth it if a part falls off your car on the freeway at triple-digit speeds and ends up impaling someone.


Since I didn't feel comfortable accessing the car from underneath, cutting the skirts, or securing them properly, I searched through Yelp for someone to help. I messaged or called about a dozen local body shops, and most weren't interested in custom work. I got about 3 estimates that ranged from $150 to $600. The $150 amount seemed sketchy, so I reached out to a shop that quoted me $300 and asked some follow-up questions. I was really pleased with their professionalism and prior experience with other custom work.


I scheduled an appointment that day and dropped the car off about a week later at the body shop. I had mocked up the skirts before committing to installation, and they looked pretty good. But, I wasn't prepared for how great they looked when I picked them up. They looked amazing and were installed really well.


They cut clean notches for the jack points and used solid hardware to secure the skirts to the rockers. The only issue was a slight gap between the rocker and the skirt, near the front of the car. The gap wasn't an installation problem. It was a function of the shape of the rockers. Meaning the rockers aren't perfectly flat all the way across the bottom. They have these little lips at the front and back. The gap was tiny, though, barely noticeable, less than a quarter of an inch. I thanked the shop manager for the excellent job and headed home to stare at my car.


I used some double-sided black foam insulation to fill the gaps between the skirts and the rockers when I got home. I also spent about three hours wrapping the skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF), on the top and the bottom of the skirts. I wanted the top to have UV and chip protection, and I wanted the underside to be protected from road debris. I do not recommend wrapping those skirts, or similar skirts, in PPF on your own unless you're experienced. They look clean, but it took a lot of time, stretching, and trimming to wrap them. Also, they have an odd shape near the back, where the skirts get wider, and you can't just wrap a complex shape like that from top to bottom without a lot of effort because it folds back in on itself, and it looks terrible. Wrapping odd shapes in PPF is not an easy task unless you have a lot of experience or the patience of a saint.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side, view from under the car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side, view from under the car.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Passenger side, under the car..

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Driver side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts wrapping skirts in Paint Protective Film (PPF) after installation. Driver side, under the car..
 
 

Showing Off my Skirts

I know this was a long story, but I wanted to provide as much information as I could, hoping it would save you some time or help prevent a bad decision. If you can get brand-name aftermarket parts installed at your body shop, you're in luck. All my preceding struggles will seem pointless. But, if your car is hard to find parts for, like mine, and you've got to go digging around the bargain bin for generic parts, it can take some time and effort.


After all that work, I'm really excited about how the skirts turned out. They match the other accent pieces, flow with the car's body lines, and make that 762hp monster look like the thug in a tuxedo it really is.


Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Passenger’s side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Front.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Passenger’s side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Passenger’s side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Driver’s side.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Front.

Red 2016 Tesla Model S P90DL with Ludicrous Mode. New custom carbon fiber skirts: Front.
 

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