Survey shows Tesla Model S has average reliability

Tesla owners tell CR about problems

Published: October 28, 2014 02:15 PM

Last August, we reported about the various small problems we’d experienced with our otherwise outstanding Tesla Model S, which we’d then driven nearly 16,000 miles.

Now, with the data from our latest annual reliability survey, we found that other owners have had service experiences similar to ours. That survey netted a sample size of 1,353 Model Ss. Comparing the Model S with all other cars the same age, our analysis pegged its predicted reliability as “average.” That’s good enough for Consumer Reports to continue to recommend it.

Most of the reported problems related to slow-responding retractable door handles and some body-component issues. Our car, for example, had a creak emanating from the base of the windshield, which Tesla fixed for us under warranty. Early 2012 examples also suffered some driveline issues, which Tesla proactively rectified.

In the grand scheme of things, an average score, while not impressive, isn’t terrible either. Lots of high-end cars have an average score, including, for instance, the Acura RLX. A few, largely from Lexus and Audi, are outstanding, but many, such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Cadillac XTS are far worse.

In some circles there has been a tendency to either over-react or to gloss over Tesla’s teething problems. Thankfully, here at CR we don’t have to react to such hearsay. The findings we share with you are based on first-hand experience and actual data rather than assumptions, however plausible those assumptions may seem.

Gabe Shenhar

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